When The Vampire Diaries premiered, the focus of the series was on a young woman named Elena Gilbert who was trying to navigate the ups and downs of life after losing her parents in a tragic accident. A year had passed, and everyone around Elena assumed that she’d be getting back to “normal,” but what is normal when you’ve lost the people you love?
Elena’s storyline brought her face-to-face with everything from the usual teenage drama to vampires and otherworldly beings in her hometown that remained unknown to her until she met brothers Damon and Stefan Salvatore. Damon and Stefan brought out different sides in Elena, and she grew to love them both. We’re still strong on team Stefan, but many fans can acknowledge that they both had an essential part to play in her story. The reasons for how and why they were there are explored in the 8-season series, but a couple of those seasons went on without Elena herself.
Elena Gilbert was played by Nina Dobrev, whose storyline wrapped up in season 6. Dobrev’s departure from the series has been a long-debated topic. Why exactly did Dobrev want to leave The Vampire Diaries? An Instagram post highlighting her experience on the series explains a lot. In the post, she explains that she always wanted Elena’s story to be a “six-season adventure.”
“I always knew I wanted Elena’s story to be a six-season adventure, and within those six years I got the journey of a lifetime. I was a human, a vampire, a doppelganger, a crazy immortal, a doppelganger pretending to be human, a human pretending to be a doppelganger. I got kidnapped, killed, resurrected, tortured, cursed, body-snatched, was dead and undead, and there’s still so much more to come before the season finale.”
In the rest of her Instagram post, Dobrev shared that the weekend on Lake Lanier with her Vampire Diaries family wasn’t a holiday season wrap party; it was the party to celebrate the end of her time as Elena. She knew her goodbye would surprise some fans and leave others heartbroken, but this was the arc that she always envisioned for herself and the character.
Some fans were convinced that Dobrev’s departure had something to do with her breakup from her on-screen and off-screen love interest, Ian Somerhalder. Somerhalder played Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries alongside Dobrev’s Elena Gilbert, but they remained friends after their separation.
After her time on The Vampire Diaries wrapped, she even gave an exclusive interview to SELF where she spoke about her journey of becoming Elena and what it meant to leave that world behind. Dobrev had this to say about the adventure:
“I’ve loved working on this show. It’s been such a crazy, awesome adventure, and I’ve been surrounded by so many people who I consider family. I know this is a new exciting step in the right direction for me, but it’s going to be so strange not to be with them.”
It seems that whatever the rumor mill spouted, Dobrev’s departure from the series was nothing more than a completed story arc and someone who still held a deep fondness for her on-set family.
Fans of The Vampire Diaries will remember that Dobrev came back for a finale surprise. As the series wrapped, we find out what became of Elena Gilbert-turned-Salvatore. That’s right — she married Damon, and they lived a beautiful life together. It was the dream for her character, the life she had hoped for.
You can rewatch The Vampire Diaries on Netflix to relive the drama, romance, and friendships in Mystic Falls.