They’re the three words that everyone longs to hear… supernatural or not. They’re the reason behind every action. They’re the motivation behind every plot. And they’re the incentive behind everyone constantly trying to be a martyr on The Vampire Diaries. You’ve heard them before, and odds are you’ve dreamt of a Salvatore brother or two whispering them in your ear one day: I. love. you.
And there hasn’t been a shortage of those three words ever since Elena (Nina Dobrev) first uttered them to Stefan (Paul Wesley) in Season 1, Episode 10, “The Turning Point.” But through the many I love you’s, we’ve managed to pick out 10 that made us sigh, cry, and picture ourselves on the receiving end of them, over and over again.
“I love you so much.”: If Stefan Salvatore is anything (other than sexy), he is sincere. And in the middle of his first human-blood spiral in Season 1, Stefan’s fear of hurting Elena was only conquered by her confidence in him, which elicited one of the most genuine I love you’s he’s ever uttered.
Season 1, Episode 18
“I don’t deserve you.”: Damon’s (Ian Somerhalder) Season 2 I love you to Elena was one for the record books. From the tears in his eyes to the fact that he compelled her to forget it, this was one of Damon’s most selfless moments. Not only did it make us jealous of Elena, but it broke our hearts for the blue-eyed Salvatore.
Season 2, Episode 8
Stefan mouths to it to Elena: After Caroline (Candice Accola) was tortured for the first time, Stefan asked Elena and Bonnie (Kat Graham) for a little help in the form of a much-needed girls’ night. And when Stefan dropped them off on Caroline’s doorstep, Elena mouthed I love you to him, and the pause he took to stare at her before he mouthed it back… yeah, if that moment were a GIF (which we’re sure it is and are now going to find), we’d play it on repeat.
Season 2, Episode 13
Elena leaves to go with Klaus: When you have to send the woman you love away to be killed, you make your last I love you count. And that’s exactly what Stefan did when he said goodbye to Elena before Klaus (Joseph Morgan) took her away in Season 2.
Season 2, Episode 20
Tyler and Caroline: Despite the struggle of being sired to Klaus, Tyler (Michael Trevino) refused to give up on his relationship with Caroline. And when he crashed her birthday celebration to pull her away and say those three words for the first time, the look on her face said it all. Let’s just forget about what happened next.
Season 3, Episode 11
Bonnie begs the witches for help: When the Sheriff shot Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) in Season 2, it was Bonnie who knew how to save him. But when the witch spirits didn’t want to help, she confessed her love for him, and luckily, that’s all Emily needed to hear.
Season 2, Episode 22
“I love you, Stefan. Hold onto that. Never let that go.”: You know the moment: Stefan called Elena in the Season 3 opener, and Stelena fans were given just a little bit of hope.
Season 3, Episode 1
“I will always love you.”: After a season of being torn apart in every possible way, Stefan’s confession to Elena that he still felt the same made us swoon… and cry.
Season 3, Episode 18
“No matter what happens, it’s the best choice I ever made.”: Elena’s on-the-verge-of-death confession that she chose Stefan was one of those highly anticipated moments that did not disappoint us. At all.
Season 4, Episode 1
“I’m telling you that it’s the most real thing that I’ve ever felt in my life.”: Sired or not, Elena finally told Damon what she’d been feeling since she was turned. The expression on his face said it all, and then he asked her to come to him.
Season 4, Episode 10
So while we go back and watch all of these moments again and pretend that we’re Caroline or Elena, let us know which I love you is your all-time favorite! Is it something we missed? Damon on his deathbed? Elena and Stefan saying it for the first time? Matt saying it to Caroline?
Samantha Highfill is a contributing writer to Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter at @samhighfill.