Damon Salvatore is one of the main characters in the popular TV show The Vampire Diaries. Throughout the show’s 8 seasons, Damon goes through immense character development, starting out as a ruthless vampire who cares about no one but himself, to becoming a selfless hero who is willing to sacrifice everything for the people he loves.
Damon’s character arc
When viewers are first introduced to Damon in Season 1, he is portrayed as the villainous older brother of Stefan Salvatore. While Stefan lives a moral life sustained only on animal blood, Damon embraces the violent nature of being a vampire. He kills innocent people without remorse and selfishly does whatever benefits him in the moment.
However, meeting Elena Gilbert begins to change Damon. He falls deeply in love with her, and for the first time starts to show that he actually cares about someone other than himself. This leads to an internal battle within Damon, between holding onto his dark vampire instincts and changing into a better person worthy of Elena’s love.
Over the seasons, Damon forms bonds with other characters as well, like Stefan, Bonnie, Caroline, and Alaric. His loyalty to his friends and willingness to die for them demonstrates his transformation into a hero. He seamlessly switches between ruthless vampire and selfless protector multiple times throughout the show, but overall continues on an redemption arc.
Does Damon become human?
In the final season, Damon makes the ultimate sacrifice – he decides to live the rest of his human life with Elena, instead of taking the cure himself. This proves just how much he has grown to selflessly love her. However, he remains a vampire until the very last episode.
In the series finale, Damon and Stefan die together, fulfilling a prophecy that their lives are linked. This allows Elena and the others to live out the rest of their natural lives. In the afterlife, Damon reunites with Elena and they embrace. The final scene shows Damon walking through the town square as a human.
While Damon was never able to physically take the cure and become human within the timeline of the show, this ending implies that in death he was able to shed his vampirism and live as a regular human with Elena forever. So metaphorically, at the end Damon does finally get his humanity back.
Evidence for Damon’s humanity
There are several key pieces of evidence throughout the show that demonstrate Damon becoming more human:
- Forming genuine relationships – Damon starts to truly care for people like Elena, Stefan, and Bonnie instead of just using people for his own gain.
- Sacrificing for others – Damon is willing to die or let Elena go if it will protect her and his friends.
- Controlling bloodlust – Damon learns to drink blood bags instead of killing innocent people, showing he has self-control.
- Feeling remorse – Damon starts to feel crushing guilt when he harms people, evidencing his regaining humanity.
- Valuing human life – Damon stops taking human life for granted and does what he can to save people.
While Damon continues to struggle with doing the right thing versus giving in to his darker vampire impulses, he ultimately ends up choosing humanity and compassion over violence and selfishness time and time again. His fierce loyalty and willingness to sacrifice himself to save those he loves makes him a hero, even if he remains a vampire himself.
Does Damon see himself as human?
For most of the series, Damon sees himself as a vampire, not a human. He embraces the power, immortality, and violence that come with being a vampire. Damon uses vampire compulsion on people with no remorse and makes no apologies for who he is.
However, meeting Elena makes Damon start to question himself. Her compassion and empathy bring out Damon’s buried humanity, making him recognize he can be better. Over time, Damon starts to see himself as capable of human emotion and morality, fighting against his darker vampire instincts.
By the end of the show, Damon sees his vampirism as more of a curse than a blessing. He longs for mortal life with Elena, wishing he could be human for her. He knows that as a vampire he will always struggle between light and dark. While Damon may always be a vampire biologically, he strives to hold onto his humanity in spirit.
Does Damon regain part of his humanity?
Yes, Damon absolutely regains part of his lost humanity over the course of the series. When viewers first meet Damon, there is not a shred of humanity left in him. He is a textbook sociopath – charming yet completely devoid of empathy, only focused on his own self-interest and gratification.
But Elena, Stefan, and Bonnie refuse to give up on him. They see glimpses of good in Damon and believe he can be redeemed. As Damon starts to care about them, he cannot deny the resurfacing of his human emotions. Damon feels love, heartbreak, remorse, joy, fear, and grief – emotions that had been lost to him for decades.
While Damon never becomes fully human again, he regains a great deal of the humanity he had lost. He forms meaningful relationships, mourns those he has lost, and puts others before himself – all evidence of his reawakened human heart beneath his vampire exterior.
Does Damon become more “human” by the end?
Absolutely. The character growth Damon undergoes over 8 seasons is staggering. In the beginning, he is entirely selfish and concerned only with his own agenda. He feels no remorse compelled humans for blood, he kills innocents without batting an eye, he has no regard for human life.
By the series finale, Damon has evolved into a completely different person. He puts his friends and Elena’s needs far above his own, sacrificing his own happiness for hers. He respects human life, only drinking donated blood bags. He feels crushing guilt when he harms someone innocent.
These changes do not mean Damon becomes less of a vampire in power and strength. But internally, he becomes much more human in morals, relationships, and emotional depth. Damon essentially develops a human conscience, overcoming the “switch off humanity” aspect of being a vampire.
Key examples of Damon’s humanity:
- He apologizes to Caroline for past mistreatment of her
- He develops a true brotherly bond with Stefan
- He is wracked with guilt after hurting Bonnie
- He restrains his bloodlust and drinking from humans
- He chooses to let Elena go, the ultimate selfless act
By the end, Damon has attained a great deal of humanity in his vampirism. He becomes a morally conscious, empathetic, and self-sacrificing hero – very human qualities despite his technical status as a vampire.
Does Damon become “good”?
This is debatable. Damon certainly commits many evil, horrible acts throughout the length of the show. He murders innocent people. He threatens and hurts his friends. When he loses his temper, his rage takes over.
Yet Damon also shows an incredible capacity for good. His love for Elena brings light to his darkness. He forms unbreakable bonds of loyalty. He stands up for the weak and oppressed. He ultimately gives his life to save others.
So does this make Damon “good” by the end? The truth likely lies somewhere in between. Damon tries his best to be good for Elena’s sake, but he still struggles immensely with his inner demons. Even in the finale, Damon asks Stefan: “How does this make me the good brother?” Stefan replies: “It doesn’t. We’re both good brothers.”
Damon becomes a better man who strives for good. But the stained truth of his vampire existence means he can never be purely good. His complex morality and motivations make the question impossible to definitively answer. The brothers agree that comparisons of “good vs evil” ultimately don’t matter – only their enduring love and sacrifices for each other.
Over the course of The Vampire Diaries, Damon Salvatore undergoes an incredible transformation from villain to hero. His hardened heart softens as he forms bonds with Elena, Stefan, and others. Damon rediscovers the capability to love, sacrifice, feel remorse, and value human life – elements of the humanity he had lost when he became a vampire.
While Damon never takes the cure to reverse his vampirism before the show’s end, the finale depicts him reuniting with Elena in the afterlife as a human. This suggests that Damon does metaphorically regain his lost humanity by the end of the series. His heroic arc is defined by the constant internal struggle between his vampiric dark side and rediscovered human conscience. Ultimately, Damon dies to save those he loves most – the greatest proof of his redemption.