I reviewed this show from the first episode of season 3 until the fifth episode of this season. For the first few seasons, TVD was must-watch TV for me. It wasn't perfect, but it was fun, twisty, and constantly surprising. I think the show definitely peaked in seasons 2 and 3 with the arrival of the Mikaelsons and everything that came along with them. Seasons 4 and 5 were good and then season 6 return the show to top form with the arrival of the best villain since Klaus Mikaelson: Kai Parker. After that, it was all downhill. While Season 8 did get better int he last couple of episodes, it really wasn't enough to save the season.
One problem that I've always had with this show is that they never really focused enough on some of the characters. The central characters were always the Salvatores, Elena, and Caroline. Bonnie got uneven amount of attention while Matt was criminally underused, Jeremy became whatever was needed by the story, and Tyler was just there. If any of these four ever had a storyline, it was never about them, but was rather about moving the story of the central 4 forward. Maybe that isn't a horrible thing, but it always bugged me. All four of these characters could (and were) gone for long stretches and nothing seemed to be adversely affected, which is just sad.
My other problem with the show was that they kept repeating the same stories where Damon would go off the rails and Stefan would sacrifice to save him leading Damon to do something drastic to bring Stefan back. And yes, I do realize that other shows do something similar, but at least those shows always did something to keep it from feeling like a stale retread of the same story. TVD never seemed to catch onto how to do that. I also think the show never recovered from the loss of Elena. While her presence drove much of what happened in the last two seasons, not having her there definitely hurt the show.
As for the finale, while I did enjoy most of it, there were some glaring problems. Well, one really. If the Salvatores were really trying to save Mystic Falls, why not just grab Vicki and lock her away somewhere while they dealt with Katherine? Since neither Matt nor his father were likely to ring the bell, keeping Vicki locked away would have kept the town safe and would have negated the need for some of the sacrifices that were made. I know that my way entails less drama, but it was super obvious what they should have done which made the episode that much less enjoyable.
All that being said, I am glad I watched this show. The first few amazing years were probably some of my favorite years of TV. Those were the first time I was consistently surprised by a show and what it would do. Killing Vicki int he middle of season 1 and then killing Jenna at the end of season 2 really drove the point home that very few people were actually safe on this show. And that made for some good and anxious tv episodes. There were also some amazing couples who I just loved, especially Klaus/Caroline and Jeremy/Bonnie. There were also some interesting pairings hinted at such as Elena and Elijah.
Overall, I did enjoy the show, I just really wish they had kept the quality up in the last couple of seasons. While they weren't the worst episodes ever, they definitely were nowhere near as good as the first couple of seasons (and Season 6). Will I miss the show? Sure. Will I mourn its end? Sorry, but no.