Alaric J. "Ric" Saltzman is one of the main protagonists of The Vampire Diaries. He is portrayed by Matthew Davis.
When introduced, Alaric was a mysterious man who seemed outwardly warm and friendly both with his students, and with strangers. He was quick to give Jeremy a second chance, and immediately started to bond with Jenna. However, this facade showed a darker side, one tinged with guilt and grief. Namely, he carried the burden of the disappearance of his wife and a fierce dedication to discover what had happened to her. He proved to be an intelligent and talented vampire hunter, shown when he killed Logan Fell. However, he was also stubborn and dedicated to finding out what happened to his wife. Namely, he ignored Stefan's warnings to stay away from Damon and attacked him, which led to his first death.
His fixation on Isobel eventually came to pass when he learned of her transformation into a vampire and he managed to let her go, namely after she compelled him to do so, so that he could go along with his life. This allowed him to develop his relationship with Jenna.
Alaric started to warm up to the others and started to form a sort of partnership with Damon as they investigated what happened to Isobel and her connection to John Gilbert. This partnership eventually evolved into a particularly strong friendship, some even considering Damon to be Alaric's best friend, and Alaric as Damon's only friend.
However, after Jenna's death, Alaric was unhinged and started to fall into a state of depression when he was seen drinking away the pain. While he was portrayed as a moderate drinker before the incident, Jenna's death led him to develop a rather severe drinking problem with Meredith Fell calling him a borderline alcoholic. He tried to take care of Elena and Jeremy, but had difficulty living up to the task. This dark part of him was also emphasized due to the many times that he had died and came back to life. It also connected to his suppressed guilt at the way his life had taken and all the pain that had resulted from it which made him fall prey to the darkness within him and turned him into a serial killer.
Enhanced Original Vampire
After Alaric was turned into an Enhanced Original Vampire, his darker aspect took complete control, and although now a vampire, was determined to hunt down the Original family and end the existence of vampires, showing that that was all he cared about by agreeing to be desiccated after he had finished his work. His hatred of vampires and vampire sympathizers was just as potent as it had been during his fits of insanity, outing former friends to the Town Council to be hunted down. He also considered his real personality a disgrace, who had befriended the very things that had ruined his life and also was disgusted by ever having been friends with Damon.
Since returning from the Other Side, Alaric seemingly retains his original personality, coupled with his vampiric abilities. He was there for Elena as she grieved the loss of Damon and stood by the rest of the gang as Bonnie and Damon pass on. He admits to Elena that he hates every single part of being a vampire. He drinks from blood bags not from the vein, he seems to not be able to control his hunger when he smells blood.
For unknown reasons, Alaric completely reverted to his original personality when he died. When Bonnie dropped the veil to the Other Side, Alaric retained his vampire powers as well as his personality as if his darker personality simply disappeared when he died. It is possible Esther used magic while encouraging his dark side when he would die with the ring, making it so that after he transitioned his dark side would have full control. As it could have been part of Esther's spell, then it makes sense that he regained his true personality upon death, which would break Esther's tampering with his mind.