As far as Matt Donovan is concerned, Mystic Falls is his town. After all, he grew up there. That’s where he fell in love with Elena, where he was quarterback of the football team, and where he somehow remained human for eight seasons of The Vampire Diaries, despite the fact that nearly everyone he loved either died or became undead. Not to mention that by the end of the series, Matt (played by Zach Roerig) was the new sheriff in town, a role he still fills when the new Vampire Diaries and The Originals spin-off Legacies premieres. Except now, he’s got a firm stance on supernatural creatures.
“For the first time, Matt Donovan isn’t torn by a commitment to protecting his best friends against other people in their peer group,” showrunner Julie Plec says. “His singular goal is to keep the supernatural business on the DL, if not out of Mystic Falls, and to protect the town. So that puts him continually at odds with Alaric and the kids at the school. He says very clearly in an early episode, ‘If I get so much as a wind of your kids causing any trouble, I will come for them.’ So he’s both friend and antagonist at the same time.”
After all, the Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted might seem harmless enough — a bunch of supernatural teens trying to navigate life — but Matt, of all people, knows that even the supernatural beings with the best intentions can make mistakes. (Let’s not forget that he lost his sister because of vampires.)
“The point of this series is that every single one of these kids has enough darkness inside of them that they could end up being the big bad of a season,” Plec continues. “And yet, on a daily basis, the show is about them fighting for the best version of themselves. So for somebody like Matt Donovan, he wants to give them the benefit of the doubt, but he also has a bit of a zero-tolerance policy because he knows what they’re capable of.”
With Alaric serving as the protector of these kids — he’s headmaster at the Salvatore School — he might find himself facing off with the sheriff. “You’ll see Matt Donovan draw a line and Alaric draw a line, and they know where they stand,” says Matthew Davis, who plays Alaric. “It’s about keeping the peace, and if the peace can’t be met, then there’s gonna be hell to pay, and I think their friendship will be on the sacrificial altar if things don’t work out.”
After all, this isn’t the exact same Matt Donovan that fans will remember. This is a guy who’s spent the majority of his very human life surrounded by supernatural beings, and that changes a guy. “He’s going a bit insane at this point,” Roerig says. “He kind of went off the deep end. We see him in the future a little more frazzled and a little out of his mind from the vampires. He’s crazy sheriff Matt Donovan.”