The Vampire Diaries and The Twilight Saga are two vampire-filled worlds that get both hate and love all at the same time. I, personally, am a fan of both. I have read all of the Twilight books and seen every movie; and I have watched every episode of The Vampire Diaries and continue too. I recognize some similarities but I also am very aware of the differences between the two worlds, and a few of those things will be what I'll bring up on this post. First, before I continue, I must clear up a few things that some may know or may not know about TVD.
The Vampire Diaries was originally a series of novels before it was a TV show; and Elena in the show and Elena in the books are almost completely different people, as well as a lot about the show is not like the books. So, with that being the case, I'll be speaking about Elena as according to the TV series. And I'll be speaking about Bella as according to the books and movie, because she is pretty much the exact same, to me at least in both. Now, on with the differences...
1. Bella wanted to become a Vampire; Elena did not want to become a vampire.
Elena had a different future in mind for herself, one that involved a family, which being a vampire wouldn't allow. She saw how becoming a vampire can turn you into a monster and how being one can bring so much misery and death that she had already experienced at a young age and obviously, didn't want for herself or anyone around her.
Bella wanted to be a vampire because when she looked at the vampires around her she saw striking beauty, which she didn't think she had; she saw strength, which she physically didn't have; she saw forever, which she wanted with Edward because she couldn't live without him because of her undying love and obsession with him. It offered her way more then she considered it could take from her.
2. Bella was quite emo, insecure, and introverted; Elena was friendly, active, and extroverted.
From my observation when reading, Bella actually got a lot of attention from her circle of friends more then she realized and most of those in that circle already thought she was absolutely beautiful and liked her; but she was kind of blind to all of it because of her insecurity, and how stuck-in-her head she was. She was most comfortable and normal when with Jacob or her dad, and eventually with Edward. Now, don't get me wrong, she wasn't a complete weirdo (besides being in love with a vampire) she was a nice and kind person, but she was so shy and uncomfortable in her own skin -in the first 3 books, for sure- that she made herself seem like weird company to be around most of the time.
Elena on the other hand was a friendly and extroverted person. She, also, like Bella managed to get all eyes on her without asking for it, but she could own it without showing how uncomfortable she was or being a snotty diva. She knew how to have fun and even show her sense of humor even when dealing with the craziest of problems. She had her quiet and sad moments but she didn't try to let it become her way of life everyday. She had a warmth and lightness to her personality that effected everyone she knew or could be around, even the people who hated her which would be another reason that made them hate her more.
*I also wanted to add that, I think the personality of each girl as they are the main female leads/characters helps sets the atmosphere for the story. With Bella's melancholiness and to her character giving the movies and books a melancholy vibe; and Elena's bubbliness and charm giving the show a certain carefree vibe.
3. The difference of the history and depth of the vampires.
The approach to the vampires of The Twilight Series were dramatically different then the regular approach we always get. They weren't really affected by wood or crosses, their skinned glistened like diamonds in sunlight instead of burned, some of them had powers, they had either golden eyes if they didn't drink human blood and red eyes if they did, there were clans of vampires instead of random vampires going around, and there was the eerie "Volturi" who were over all of the clans and kept the order of the vampires in the modern, human world.
There battles were with each other or within themselves more so instead of with the humans. Stephanie Meyer's approach gets a lot of heat because of how different and even bizarre it was. For example: the fact that when the vampires were killed by being torn apart it was like breaking ice, and in the sunlight their skinned sparkled like diamonds instead of them burning up. Now I have to agree that those particular things were bizarre but I highly admired her different approach and I think everything else was very pleasing and original.
The Vampire Diaries has a lot of magic involved in their vampire origin and lifestyle then Twilight. All the vampires originate from a different sibling in one single family of vampires, The Mikaelsons, where the five children were turned into vampires by their witch mother, Esther, for the sake of their safety. They have to wear magical daylight rings to not get burned and there are certain roots and potions that are either beneficial or fatal to the supernatural creatures.
This show also has more then just vampires involved on a regular bases or as a center of the show, there are wolves, witches, hybrids, dopplegangers, and vampire-witches as well. There is a lot less order, decency, and rule; but a whole lot more blood, fighting-for-humanity, and rule-breaking in this show. The vampires have qualities that we would be more familiar with, like a stake to the heart being fatal and them not being able to go in the daylight freely; while yet there are certain aspects to their abilities that are unique like their ability to compel and older vampires being able to compel even other vampires. There is a lot of history and depth to the vampires on this show that I greatly appreciate.