Credit: Kurt Iswarienko/TV Guide Photo: The Cast of Vampire Diaries Pose in TV Guide Magazine, Fall 2009 Preview

You can learn a lot from a TV show. Especially when that series is our favorite drama about an average teen-turned-bloodsucker and the vampire brothers who love her. Today marks The Vampire Diaries four-year anniversary, and we’ve acquired a lot of knowledge from The CW show. As we eagerly await the Season 5 premiere, we’re looking back on just a few of the life lessons we’ve learned from Elena and Co.

Love hard. Stefan moved back to Mystic Falls for Elena. Damon changed his hard-partying, love-em-and-bite-em ways for her. Meanwhile E repeatedly tried to sacrifice herself for the safety of her family and friends. If we had to sum up TVD in one sentence we would say it’s about the things people do for love.

Be loyal. Bonnie’s crazy loyal to Elena — in fact, she’s ride-or-die. While we think that’s a bit much, we have learned from the witch of Mystic Falls that loyalty to one’s BFF ranks high on the supernatural and human scales.

Look at a person’s heart, not their age. Where would Elena be if she’d thought 145-year-old vamp Stefan was too old for her? Well, maybe her Aunt Jenna would still be alive, her brother wouldn’t need a live-forever ring, and her friends and neighbors wouldn’t be traumatized by the supernatural world. Okay, so maybe that’s not the best example. But, still, you know what we mean. When it comes to dating the undead, age is nothing but a number.

Trust no one — at least not wholeheartedly. Especially not a good-looking dude who just rolls into town. We’re just saying. Sheriff Forbes trusted her “friend” Damon and look where it got her. Ditto for Aunt Jenna and Alaric, and Jeremy and every woman who’s come into his long life. We hate to be so cynical, but people can betray you, even unintentionally. So life’s just easier when you hope for the best but not only expect the worst — you prepare for it by not trusting anyone 100 percent.

Don’t be afraid to make the hard decisions. “Kiss me. Or kill me. Which one will it be?” Katherine asked Damon. The elder Salvatore went for a smooch even though he knew, on some level, that she would break his heart. Say what you will about Damon, but he has a good (albeit dark) track record of doing what needs to be done. Not only did the bad boy Salvatore always adios the bodies, he cozied up to his enemies when the situation called for it and did things that would hurt Elena in the short term (but save her in the long run). When Rose needed to be put out of her misery, who did it? Damon. That bloodsucker’s not only willing to die for the cause, he’s willing to kill for it. That’s something the rest of Mystic Falls’ Scooby gang eventually caught on to.

No one’s all evil… or all good. Everyone thought Klaus was just a wicked big bad with no feelings. Then it turns out he’s a sensitive artist with family issues. (His dad tried to kill him for centuries, ya know?) The guy does have some redeeming qualities. (Maybe this means there’s hope for Silas?) On the flipside, pretty much every character on TVD has killed someone, and not always for the greatest of motivations. Remember Tyler’s hybrid friend Chris who met his unfortunate end at the hands of Jeremy? Yeah, that was pretty much just straight-up murder. Humans (and supernaturals) are complicated creatures!

Leave Mystic Falls before it gets dark. What they say about small town safety totally does not apply here. People go missing in Mystic Falls. On the regular. Especially from outside of The Grill or in the school’s parking lot during a carnival. So, take our word for it and get out of dodge before sundown.

Running away never solves anything. Tyler and Katherine both head for the hills at the slightest provocation. Yet something always drag them back to Mystic Falls, be it prom, love, or duty. Whenever they turn up, their problems are right where they left them. Even looking for solutions at the bottom of a glass (see, Damon) is a better coping mechanism.

A little bit of impulse control never hurt anyone. Damon, Damon, Damon. The list of people he’s killed just because he felt like it is long and painful to revisit. If only he’d been able to keep his emotions in check, Lexi would be around to notice Silas is walking around with Stefan’s face.

You’ve got to roll with the punches. Literally and figuratively. No one knows this more than Caroline. In just a few short months she died, woke up a vampire, and then discovered one of her close friends is a witch and the other is a werewolf. She’s had to erase her mother’s memory, help hide her neighbors’ corpses, and learn to live a kill-or-be-killed-life. And she did it all while holding on to her optimistic spirit. Basically, life handed Blondie blood and she turned it into a virgin Bloody Mary.