The Drama Club: Why Do ‘Vampire Diaries’ Characters Keep Going AWOL?

by | April 22, 2010 at 7:34 AM | The Drama Club, Vampire Diaries

Katerina Graham on The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

Katerina Graham on The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

Bonnie Finally Returns to Mystic Falls

I have been contemplating putting out an APB for ‘Vampire Diaries‘  Bonnie (Katerina Graham).  She has not appeared in any episodes since her grandmother died, in episode 14. Due to the show’s lengthy hiatus, that means the teen witch has been MIA from Mystic Falls since February. Fortunately, this does not mean Bonnie has been written off the show.  She will return in Thursday’s episode, “Miss Mystic Falls.”  Matt (Zach Roerig) and Caroline (Candice Accola) also pulled a disappearing act mid-season, and despite his series regular status, Tyler (Michael Trevino)  has only been in about half the episodes.

Several other series do not use all of their stars in every episode, even though they continue to appear in the opening credits.  There have been episodes of ‘Gossip Girl‘ without Jenny (Taylor Momsen), Nate (Chace Crawford), and even a sad Chuck free episode in season one.   ‘90210‘s’ Navid (Michael Steger) spent a significant portion of season one off-screen.  Though the CW does it most often, shows with large casts like ABC’s  ‘Lost‘ and even their comedy ‘Modern Family‘ have been known to leave some characters out of a few episodes.

I wondered what went into these decisions.  Did the writers simply have no use for the character in the episode?   Did the network dislike the characters?  Did the characters end up on the cutting room floor because the episode came out too long?  Was it a cost-cutting issue, since an actor who does not appear in an episode usually does not have to be paid?  Is it a way of punishing an annoying actor? Well, only if it’s Katherine Heigl.  According to a network representative, it’s a little bit of both.  Stars are not always contractually guaranteed to appear in every episode of a series. Sometimes, they might be guaranteed to appear in as little as 13 episodes, and actually end up being used in 16.  The showrunners generally have control over how many episodes a character appears in, but with shows under increasing pressure to lower their budgets, sending a character out of town for a couple weeks can be a good way of controlling costs.

So, ‘Vampire Diaires’ — which has a low budget for a series with a lot of special effects and action scenes, as well as a well structured, complex mythology that puts ‘FlashForward‘ to shame — undoubtedly had both story and financial reasons for sending the powerful witch who may be able to re-entomb Mystic Falls’ vampire population away.

Below is a sneak peek at tonight’s episode.  Now that Stefan’s tasted human blood, will he be able to give it up?  Who will win the Miss Mystic Falls pageant?  These questions — and many more — will be asked and answered.