You know, for all of the ranting I’ve done about season three this year, The Vampire Diaries remains as one of my favorite series on television today. (Check back with me next year.) And season 3, while as a whole was rocky at best, was still entertaining…mainly if you downplay the enhanced love triangle drama in your memories. Otherwise, it was The Love Triangle Show. But anyway…

Season 3 still provided some truly genuine shocks and somehow did gore and suspense like we’ve never experience on this show before, in the best possible way. And after everyone started erroneously linking to my top moments of the first half of season 3 weeks ago, I decided I should make another, more official list of my favorite moments (and aspects, really) of this third outing without the need to feel cheeky or comedic. I know it’s been a long time since the end of the season, but as my mother always says: Better late than never!

Here they are…

16. Damon and Rebekah sexytimes

Sometimes, it’s not really hard to make a good scene: just put two really good-looking people together and have them pant a lot. Anyway, that’s what made this scene work.

15. Katherine’s “Ka-boom!”

Katherine is the best. No arguments here. So her final episode this season needed to shine the light on her and all of her glory…which it did. But my favorite part, even though we all knew it was Katherine once she got stabbed, was her reveal that she duped everyone into thinking she was Elena (yet again, but still). And that “Ka-boom!” Please, Katherine: come back, pronto!

14. Anna and Jeremy reunion

Seeing that I have an unnatural obsession with Anna on The Vampire Diaries, it’s no surprise that she’s on my favorite moments of season 3 list. And while her return should merit its own slot in this list, I was most excited when Jeremy and Anna shared a kiss. Their chemistry is absolutely undeniable, even when she’s dead… or undead for that matter.

13. The bloodline twist

After a series of repetitive episodes, came “The Murder of One” which dropped this little bomb on us: if you kill one Original vampire, all the vampires in its bloodline will die as well! It was one of the most “TVD is BACK!” moments — and it very much helped propel momentum during the hiatus, proving that that Vampire Diaries still has a trick or two up its sleeve.

12. Bill Forbes dies

I don’t like that Caroline’s dad died, but I love this scene because it’s one of the few moments on The Vampire Diaries where it tugged at my heartstrings. And more so, Candice Accola and Jack Coleman played it beautifully, especially off each other. More so, I love the idea behind why Bill wants to die: “My strength is all in my beliefs.” Beautifully stated, and something this show oftentimes forgets about its moral code.

11. Damon and Elena’s official first kiss

I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t as hot as Katherine and Damon’s in season one (and not as hot as Damon and Elena’s kiss later on in the season) but something about this scene is so quaint and beautiful, right down to the music. “It’s everything you wanted, it’s everything you don’t…” you know me so well, TVD. This episode even had me fangirling!

10. Rebekah’s “But I haven’t lived at all”

The Original Family really started to come on this show and crowd things up, but surprisingly over the course of several episodes I found my favorite in Rebekah. Again, I don’t know if it’s fantastic writing or if Claire Holt is an amazing actress or both, but this scene with her mother where she explains that she hasn’t “lived at all” almost killed me as it perfectly portrays all of her insecurities.

9. Stefan’s “I’m sorry” beheading

Stefan the Ripper has been universally loved, but one of his best scenes was sort of his origins, when Damon asks him to drink a strange woman’s blood — what follows is Stefan going off the rails and completely beheading her. Paul Wesley’s “I’m sorry…I’m so sorry” thereafter was creepy, to boot!

8. Damon and Elena bed scene

I absolutely love 3×08 “Ordinary People” as a whole (including Rebekah crying in the beginning of this video), but for all of the Damon and Elena moments (including about three other in-bed scenes) during this season, my absolute favorite is their bed scene during this episode. It was the first moment I truly understood what all the Damon and Elena fans were seeing between both of the characters, and the quiet rhythm they played off each other was just a perk.

7. The closet scene

There were also a ton of Stefan and Elena scenes — and while 3×03 “The End of the Affair” was a good episode for the couple overall, my favorite moment of perhaps the entire series is this closet scene. The tension is absolutely palpable, and I mean the threat of immediate danger. And that little fake out (“look what I found!”) was just cruel, in a very satisfying way. I love the suspense of this scene!

6. Bonnie has a house

I’m only half serious. Honestly, I’m extremely glad that they have at least given Bonnie a foyer and a bed and so this scene with Jamie where she actually has a house was an absolute plus. That said, even though the writing for Bonnie can sometimes be lacking, it’s mostly a metaphor for her character. She got a few good scenes this season: telling her mother off a bit, a reunion with her grandmother, making decisions for herself in the finale, and maybe veering into the darkness…who knows?

5. Matt and Elena: Regular Beings to the Rescue!

One of my favorite pairings this season is Matt and Elena! Together, during the back half of the season, they broke into Meredith’s home, got busted, shared important conversations, and even killed an Original! They were like a weirdly competent human being team that sometimes made a mistake or two. And they were glorious.

4. Stefan makes man drink blood

I seriously regard this as one of the creepiest moments on television. (Well, y’know, network television.) In the 1920s, when Stefan was in full Ripper mode and hanging out with Rebekah and Klaus, he was a “sick freak!” Including this moment when he makes Liam drink his own wife’s blood. It still gives me the jeebies!

3. Klaus is an actual threat

Can we just be honest here and say Klaus was mostly peaked as a villain during episode five? Okay, good. Because he absolutely excelled in episode 3×05 when he was an actual threat to anybody — I mean, he turned Tyler into a hybrid. And that slap he gave Elena, whoa! Basically, Klaus was absolutely flawless in 3×05 “The Reckoning” as he always should have been. Unfortunately, it’s mostly downhill from here — he catches feelings, starts drawing, and is never again believable as a threat.

2. Elena stabs Rebekah in the back

3×09 “Homecoming” has been called sloppy and uneven by many, but it’s perhaps my favorite episode of season 3. And just as I was beginning to fall in love with Rebekah, Elena stabs her in the back — figuratively and literally. And it was amazing, both as a viewer and for the Elena character. It’s always best when Elena harms not herself.

1. Evilaric attacks people

The only saving grace for the second half of this season was “Evilaric,” which is Alaric in all of his evilness. It finally actually put people in danger and used characters that the audience actually cares about. And this scene above where he attacks Meredith, no matter how much I don’t care about Meredith, was one of the very few moments in Vampire Diaries history where suspense was in full force. Even I was screaming out “RUN!!!!” And of course, it was all played masterfully by Matt Davis. Evilaric: thank you for making season 3.5 bearable.

And that about wraps it up for my favorite moments from season 3. There were others, I’m sure, that I won’t be able to list without rewatching, but that should sum it up. Hopefully there are a ton more in season 4!