Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched the season 6 finale of The Vampire Diaries, stop reading now.
So, Elena Gilbert has said her goodbyes. Thanks to Kai’s spell, she is linked to Bonnie, which means that so long as Bonnie’s alive, Elena can’t be. In other words, Elena’s going to be asleep for approximately 60 years or so while Bonnie lives a (probably not normal at all) human life. The good news? Elena lives!
Speaking of which, when we asked executive producer Julie Plec why they chose not to end the series with Dobrev’s departure, Plec said, “It didn’t feel like it was time to be done. It felt like there were so many relationships that were shifting and moving. And as beautiful as the Damon and Elena love story was, allowing them to get a place of being happy together, where do you go with Damon after that? Is he just going to be the happy boyfriend for the next three seasons?”
The short answer is no. Speaking to season 7, Plec revealed that Elena’s departure “actually lets us take Damon down a different road and have more fun with his character and [get back to] that season 1 Damon that everybody loved so much and that Ian [Somerhalder] himself loved so much.”
And if Plec has any say in it, season 7 won’t be the show’s last either. “There’s a whole new mythology that we have teed up. We even have a pitch for how season 7 can launch us into season 8. So in spite of the grief that I’m getting and some people’s extremely vehement opinions that the show cannot and should not continue without her, emotionally I wish we still had her, but creatively I do feel like there’s an absolute ton of story left to tell and a lot of really terrific actors and characters that we love who are willing to stay to do it.”
And don’t forget about the new villains, the heretics, whom Plec compared to the Original family: “What’s fun about [the heretics] is, in the same way that the Original family had a very unique and distinct identity, these heretics are people too, with deep, lush histories and vivid personalities and they’re not just one-note villains. They’ve had loss and love and friendship and failures and all those things that make them really fascinating individually and I look forward to giving them all their own characterization.”
Furthermore, when asked about the symmetry of having Elena choose Stefan for three seasons and Damon for three seasons, Plec said it was more of an “ironic” circumstance than anything else. “Not knowing that she would be gone at the end of six, it certainly wasn’t the plan from the beginning. It did feel once we got three seasons deep that as Damon and Elena were really starting to get exciting that it was a good time to make that transition. Had the show and Nina gone nine years, maybe the transition would have happened away from Damon. Who knows? It’s impossible to know but because we had this ending, the season was about getting [Damon and Elena] to the best possible place they could ever be in with each other and so we leaned into their relationship and their love story and wanted to honor it and make it as beautiful as possible before she said goodbye.”
And speaking to how this might affect the series ending she came up with in season 2 alongside then executive producer Kevin Williamson, Plec said, “Actually it doesn’t really. The sentiment of what we wanted our characters to be feeling when the series was over I think has definitely remained the same; the execution of it will be obviously a bit different.”
However, it might not be that different considering that Dobrev has said she’d be happy to return for a series finale. “Nina has always said that if there’s something for her to do in the series finale that she will be there to do it,” Plec said. “When she left, she said, ‘I want to see this character to its end at the end of the show, so I can’t wait to come back and put her to bed again.’”