Credit: The CW

Elena (Nina Dobrev) has been the heart of The Vampire Diaries since it premiered four and half seasons ago. The immortal love triangle she’s been involved in since day one has been compelling (pun totally intended), and we’ve loved watching all the supernatural goings on in Mystic Falls and beyond. But it’s been compassionate, thoughtful, moral, and kind Elena Gilbert whose provided the show the emotional center it needed to keep from spinning off into total and utter blood-sucking insanity.

 

Even when season four introduced us to the new, undead version of Elena, she was still the same girl we’d met years early —  albeit it with a new set of ethical and romantic conundrums to sort through. Gone were the days of her worries being strictly Damon (Ian Somerhalder) or Stefan (Paul Wesley) related. The turning of Elena Gilbert meant adding problems like “oh man, it is so awesome to drink blood from the sexy college co-eds at this frat party” and “it sucks that I can drink human blood without losing control but that my boyfriend can’t because he used to be affectionately known as ‘The Ripper’” and other moral dilemmas.

 

It wasn’t until the death of her brother, Jeremy, that Elena really went off the rails and became someone new and different than she’d been as a human. Sure, grief impacts us all deeply, but when your closest friends aren’t equipped to walk you through that grief, the end result of their comfort is a little different. In Elena’s case, this meant Damon using his sire bond with her at Stefan’s request to push her grief away. Damon interprets this as a request to turn off Elena’s humanity, and does just that, to Stefan’s great irritation.  

 

Sire bond? We don’t need no stinkin’ sire bond!

 

While Stefan is predictably outraged, Damon doesn’t see what the big deal is. After all, the sire bond worked to rid her of her human feelings, surely he can call upon it to turn them back on. This seems reasonable, right? Until Elena disobeys Damon’s request not to drink from anybody at school, and goes after a cheerleader from a competing school. It quickly becomes clear that Damon’s bond with Elena doesn’t work with her humanity switch turned. All bets are off when it comes to handling this newly wild child!

 

Paging Mae West

 

While Elena has always been in touch with her, uh, sexuality, the humanity-off version of this vamp has shed all of the modesty that comes with being emotionally aware. This means doing stuff like sauntering into a room where Damon, Stefan, and Caroline (Candice Accola) stand waiting — completely nude, and totally carefree. It also means using her hold over Damon in New York. Once in the city that never sleeps in a bid to gather the intel he’s acquired on Katherine Pierce (Nina Dobrev), Elena lures Damon to the roof with promises of sex. This doesn’t go according to plan, Damon being the master of using sex as a weapon, but goodness gracious you can’t blame an emotionless vamp for trying!

 

Girls just wanna have fun

 

Elena and Rebekah (Claire Holt) have never exactly been best friends. They both have reasons to hold a grudge against each other. Elena would be well-within her rights never to speak to Rebekah again or maybe to shove her off a cliff. After all, Rebekah was responsible for Elena careening off the Wickery Bridge and into a new life as a vampire. Rebekah on the other hand, has been staked by pretty much every character on the show, Elena included. Suffice to say, there’s no love lost there. That’s why it was so much fun to see Rebekah and Elena — sans humanity — team up and hit the road together in search of the Cure. sure, it wasn’t long before they were at each other’s throats again, but two of Mystic Falls toughest ladies teaming up for a road trip? Pretty awesome.