We’ll admit that when The CW announced that The Originals was going to happen, we had our doubts. Could it differentiate itself enough from The Vampire Diaries to keep our interests? Could the Mikaelsons carry their own show? But after we sank our teeth into the amazingness that is the French Quarter, we couldn’t get enough! Here’s what we loved most about Season 1:

1. Killing Sophie

We were never huge fans of Sophie Deveraux (Daniella Pineda) and all of her witchy drama, but when the Powers That Be killed her off in the final moments of Season 1, Episode 13 (“Crescent City”), we took notice. While TVD has taken some flak for not killing off characters for good, The Originals decided to make this daring move. Not only did it deliver a real shock value, but it moved the storyline forward, cementing Monique Deveraux (Yasmine Al Bustami) as a force to be reckoned with.

2. Making Hayley a Hybrid

There was a lot of speculation concerning the fate of Hayley Marshall (Phoebe Tonkin) and her baby, Hope Mikaelson, in the Season 1 finale — Season 1, Episode 22 (“From a Cradle to a Grave”). We didn’t know if either would survive the hour, and when Hayley died in the church we were basically freaking out. Then, when we learned she was alive, it dawned on us that she had died with the baby’s blood in her body, meaning she was transitioning into a hybrid, thanks to Klaus Mikaelson’s (Joseph Morgan) blood. It was a great twist to keep everyone alive and to add yet another layer of character development to an already complicated character.

3. Giving Us Josh Rosza!

We’ll keep this one short. We love Josh Rosza (Steven Krueger) and his EDM-loving, boy-crazy self. Not only does he deliver line after line of pure gold each and every episode, but he’s a BFF to Davina Claire (Danielle Campbell) during even her darkest days. In short? He’s basically the Lexi Branson (Arielle Kebbel) of The Originals — especially since he now hosts Secrets From the Quarter, which is to The Originals what the Arielle’s Rehash is to TVD.

4. Handling Claire Holt’s Departure

We were heartbroken when Rebekah Mikaelson drove away from New Orleans at the end of Season 1, Episode 16 (“Farewell to Storyville”) — but we were even more shocked when we learned that Claire Holtwas leaving the show after that episode. We were glad that the character got a befitting farewell and that there was a hope of her returning in the future. When she showed up in the Season 1 finale to take baby Hope away from all the dangers of NOLA, it was an unexpected twist that pleased fans and gave the episode an added “aww” factor.

5. Always Keeping Us Guessing

The best thing about The Originals is that all supernatural factions in New Orleans are constantly at war. The werewolves, witches, humans, vampires, and Originals have been proved that alliances are fluid and always changing. You might think that there’s a relationship building between two groups or two people and then the next thing you know, everything is going absolutely bananas. Everyone is just trying to use everyone else to get what they want — and we love it.

6. Using the Past to Their Advantage

Just like TVDThe Originals is excellent at using flashbacks to help give the audience more information about the characters and their pasts — for example shining light on Marcel Gerard (Charles Michael Davis) and Klaus Mikaelson’s (Joseph Morgan) relationship. In addition to flashbacks, they also focused a lot on Mikael Mikaelson (Sebastian Roché), making him appear in flashbacks, in dreams, and then having Davina revive him. The cherry on top? It turns out Esther, the Original witch and mother to all the Mikaelsons, is back in action and ready to lead the witches to glory.

7. Not Paying Too Much Attention to Romance

TVD has always been centered around the love triangle between Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and the Salvatore bros. Sure, The Originals has had a bit of romance, but it hasn’t been the sole focus of the series. We all loved watching Hayley and Elijah Mikaelson (Daniel Gillies) get closer and put up with Klaus and Cami O'Connell (Leah Pipes) have their little run-ins, but these events took a backseat to the wheeling and dealing going on in the French Quarter. For a show that is more about family and power struggles, we were pretty proud that love was used sparingly — it made it more powerful when it did happen.

What did you love most about Season 1 of The Originals? Hit the comments and let us know!

Carson Blackwelder is an Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter and Google+!