Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) may just be the hero of The Vampire Diaries, which is why it hurt so bad to see him unceremoniously killed off in last night’s episode. Whether the death sticks or not (we guess not), we’re taking the time to appreciate our favorite hero-haired vampire. Here are Stefan’s five best moments on TVD.

Stefan lets Elena see him

In this classic Season 1 Stelena scene, Stefan is all ready to leave Mystic Falls when Elena (Nina Dobrev) tells him she loves him — and he just can’t make himself leave her side. While making out, Stefan goes into vamp mode and tries to turn his face away, but Elena won’t let him. “Don’t hide from me,” she says, and he doesn’t, staring into her eyes as “Cut” by Plumb plays in the background. In this moment, you can totally feel Stefan’s vulnerability and his choice to let Elena love him is one of the bravest he’s made. (Also, it’s Paul Wesley’s favorite Stelena scene.)

Stefan helps Caroline through her bloodlust

Whether you’re a Steroline shipper or a Steroline friend-shipper, it’s hard not to love the scene in Season 2, Episode 2 (“Brave New World”) that sees Stefan calming the recently-turned Caroline down after her first kill. He leads her into the bathroom, cleans the blood off of her face, and teaches her how to stay in control. Then, he tells Caroline (Candice Accola): “I promise you I will not let anything happen to you.” How can you not love this scene? This is where the Steroline friendship begins.

Stefan calls Elena on her birthday

Stefan is such a strong character that he doesn’t even have to speak to get the feels out of us. In Season 3, when he has turned Klaus’s (Joseph Morgan) murder buddie to save Elena, he has chosen not to feel. Still, he can’t help but call Elena on her birthday. He doesn’t say anything, just tears up as he listens to Elena’s voice as she tells him: “Stefan, if this is you, you’ll be okay. I love you, Stefan. Hold onto that. Never let that go.” The emotions!

Stefan tells Damon he’s happy for him

Stefan is a very emotionally complex guy. He’s also just about the most understanding friend a person can have in Mystic Falls. In the Season 4 finale, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena finally get together, and Stefan is a total mensch about it because he loves them both so much. Before Stefan drives off to dispose of Silas’ body (or, more accurately, to get locked into a vault, which is then pushed into a quarry by Silas), he tells Damon: “I’m not happy about Elena, but I’m not not happy for you, either.” It’s really hard not to root for this guy.

Stefan defends and comforts a dying Katherine

Stefan Salvatore isn’t just the kind of guy who forgives his friends. He forgives his enemies, too. When Katherine is dying in Season 5, Episode 11 (“500 Years of Solitude”), the entire fang gang is celebrating, remembering all of the terrible things she has done. Instead, Stefan chooses to toast to Katherine the Survivor, recalling all of the terrible things that happened to Katherine that made her the way she is today. Later, when she seems to be on her last breaths, he erases her memory of finding her family slaughtered, choosing mercy over vindictiveness. This is Stefan’s true strength, not any vampire superpowers.

What are your favorite Stefan Salvatore moments? Share them in the comments below!

Catch the Season 5 finale of The Vampire Diaries on Thursday, May 15 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

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