When The Vampire Diaries premiered way back in 2009, everyone was tripping over themselves to compare it to Twilight, the vampire phenomenon currently sweeping the nation. Many creators may have seen this as an inescapable burden or pre-judgment, but executive producer Kevin Williamson thinks the comparison challenged TVD become the show it is today.

While celebrating the 100th episode, Kevin talked to TV Fanatic fondly about the intentional formation of a distinct TVD flavor that set it apart from its vampire-themed, book-based counterpart. “It was either going to be: The Vampire Diaries is going to be the last nail on the vampire coffin in terms of pop culture or it’s going to be the rip off of Twilight or it’s just never going to get picked up and see the light of day. And we just didn’t know,” Kevin remembers. “All I knew was that we knew was that we wanted to separate ourselves from Twilight, and it was very similar in the conceit of the book that we did everything we could to kind of create our own universe. The fact that Twilight existed challenged us and helped us I think make a better show because we didn’t want to be Twilight and we had to work really hard not to be.”

Mission accomplished, TVD! Though the pilot may have had a few too many Twilight-reminiscent scenes for our liking, this show was always something different. It quickly built a complex cast of characters and fully-realized world that supported unpredictable-yet-logical plot twists that left us reeling. (Kevin mentions the Season 1 finale cliffhanger in which Katherine kisses Damon, then chops Uncle John’s fingers off before revealing to the audience that she isn’t, in fact, Elena as one of his favorite TVD moments. A perfect example of the kind of honestly surprising moments TVD can pull off.) Basically, we wouldn’t trade TVD for Twilight for anything!

Do you think TVD has a lot in common with Twilight? How do you think they are different? Sound off in the comments below!

Catch the next episode of The Vampire Diaries on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on the CW, followed by an all-new episode of Reign.

Kayti Burt is a contributing writer for Wetpaint Entertainment with a penchant for all things pop culture. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!