The CW
Samantha Highfill
January 22, 2014 AT 10:48 PM EST

The Vampire Diaries‘ upcoming 100th episode centers on our favorite evil vixen in what could be her final moments. After Katherine Pierce had a heart attack and fell down the Salvatores’ stairs in the mid-season finale, we’re scared that it might finally be time to say goodbye to the woman who once loved both Salvatore brothers but never loved anyone more than herself. So to honor what could potentially be the most memorable death (or near-death) scene in season 5, we’re reliving similar moments from the past four seasons.

Join me and my fellow TVD-lover Mandi Bierly as we walk down a tear-filled memory lane and pick out our most memorable death scenes leading up to the show’s return. Today, we move to season 3, which kicked off with Stefan killing many a stranger — and poor Andie — before the Originals returned to Mystic Falls, bringing with them a number of transformations (Tyler!) and even more deaths (Elena!). Here are the moments we’ll never forget:

Samantha’s pick:

Of all the deaths in TVD history, there was one that made me sob a little harder than the rest — Alaric. Not only did I love Alaric as a character, but the way in which the show handled his death in “Do Not Go Gentle” gives me chills just thinking about it. Right in the middle of one of Mystic Falls High School’s famous decade dances, Esther stole Elena away. She was cooking up a plan that would allow her to use Elena’s blood in a spell that would turn Alaric into the ultimate Original vampire hunter. At the cemetery, she and evil Alaric set things in motion. Alaric drank the necessary blood, and then Esther killed him. Luckily, when he woke up, he was back to his normal self, so instead of hurting Elena, he killed Ester. But then the reality of it all set it: He could either transition into what Esther wanted him to be, or he could choose to die.

Here come the tears. Alaric tells Jeremy that he’s not going to complete the transition, that after what he’d done, maybe he had it coming. Alaric, after promising not to give Jer the “man of the house” speech, hugs his sort-of son before Jer leaves him alone with Elena. Before she can blame herself for everything, Alaric tells her that, “Taking care of you and Jeremy has been the closest I’ve ever come to the life I always wanted.” Then Alaric hugs his sort-of daughter and walks her outside, where, unexpectedly, everyone Alaric cares about has gathered.

As The Fray’s “Be Still” sings about morning never coming and “know that I’m with you,” Alaric gives one last look at every person he loves, from his best friend Damon to his then-girlfriend Meredith. And watching Alaric attempt to give them a smile that he can’t help but let turn into a frown? I just can’t handle it.

All of that isn’t even mentioning Alaric’s last conversation with Damon, when they joke about Damon giving him a dream and how Alaric has to actually die to get an apology out of his drinking buddy. Both men cry as they enjoy their last drink together. Of course, Alaric doesn’t stay dead. A possessed Bonnie shows up and feeds him her blood, but for me, that death scene will never stop breaking my heart.

Honorable mention: Klaus’ desiccation, if only for the amazing face-off between Klaus and his former bestie Stefan.

Mandi’s pick:

Elena’s death. The May 3, 2012 season 3 finale culminated with some of the finest underwater acting ever by Nina Dobrev. Elena drowned after Rebekah forced Matt’s truck to swerve off the same bridge that Elena’s parents’ car fell from the night Stefan first saw her. It was a beautifully edited scene, cutting back and forth from present day — with Elena trying to rouse Matt and insisting to Stefan that he rescue him first — to the past, when Elena mouthed a simultaneously heartbreaking and comforting “I love you” to her father (a Dobrev improv), who instructed Stefan to rescue Elena before him. Meanwhile, Damon fought with then-vampire Alaric, whose life was bound to Elena’s. When Alaric fell, Damon cradled him and tearfully repeated, “You are not dead. You are not dead.” We knew it was Elena he was talking about. What was brilliant: Like the Salvatore brothers, we were stunned — did the star of the show really just die? — because we also didn’t yet know that Dr. Meredith Fell had given Elena some of Damon’s blood earlier in the night. When Elena awoke with a gasp in the hospital morgue, the show was forever changed. Poetic: By loving Elena enough to respect her choice to die, Stefan unknowingly helped turn her into what she never wanted to become (meaning a vampire and someone who’d allow herself to acknowledge her feelings for her boyfriend’s brother).

Honorable mention: Bill Forbes’ death after he refused to complete the transition into a vampire. I’ve said it half a dozen times over the years: If Candice Accola (Caroline) cries, I cry, and we both wept during the episode “Bringing Out the Dead.” She thought her father not wanting to become a vampire meant he still hated her, but he didn’t. “You’re strong, you’re beautiful, you’re good,” he said. It still gives me chills. “And even after everything that’s happened to you,” he continued, “you are exactly who your mother and I hoped you’d grow up to be.” Caroline begged her “daddy” not to leave her, but, “This is life,” her father said. “This is what it means to be human.” In the end, that’s what this show is really about.

Do you agree? What’s your most memorable death from season 3?

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