Admittedly, when we first saw this Vampire Diaries fan question, we thought it would be easier to answer. But we were wrong. So wrong. And with that in mind, we bring you: How old is Elena (Nina Dobrev) in Vampire Diaries Season 1?

If you’re asking solely about the character of Elena, the answer is 17, and we’ll tell you why. Season 1 opens in 2009 at the start of her junior year of high school. Though two seasons pass between the pilot and Season 3, Episode 1, “The Birthday” — as in, Elena’s 18th birthday — it was really only one calendar year in Mystic Falls. In Season 3, Elena became a senior in high school, which means that she finally hit the legal age to buy lotto tickets and become a vampire.

As a sidenote, Nina was 20 years old in the pilot of Vampire Diaries and turned 21 on January 9 of 2010, when the first season was still in production.

We’re actually sweating from doing all that math. We’re going to go calm down, watch a little TVD, and hope that no one ever asks us another question involving numbers. Please don't ask us how many hears younger she was than Stefan (Paul Wesley) at the time. (Oh, OK. It's 145.)

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