Why Did Nina Dobrev Leave ‘The Vampire Diaries’? Her Unexpected Exit Explained (2023)

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  • Nina Dobrev played Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce in The Vampire Diaries.
  • Nina left the show in season 6.
  • Nina returned for the show’s eighth and final season.

The Vampire Diaries centered around (mostly saving) the one and only Elena Gilbert for the show’s first 6 seasons. Fans were then shocked when Nina Dobrev announced that she was leaving the hit series after season 6. Nina’s sudden departure changed the course of the show in its final two seasons.

With The Vampire Diaries available to stream on Max, new viewers are discovering the popular vampire drama and experiencing the shock of Nina’s exit for the first time. So, why did Nina leave The Vampire Diaries? How does she feel about the show now? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why Did Nina Dobrev Leave The Vampire Diaries?

Nina first announced she would be leaving The Vampire Diaries in a heartfelt Instagram post on April 6, 2015, during the show’s sixth season. With just a few episodes left in the season, Nina revealed that season 6 would be her last.

“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,” she wrote. The actress asked fans at the time to “hop on the roller coaster ride that is Elena Gilbert’s life and join me as I celebrate her and prepare to say goodbye to her — and to my work family — as I move on to the next chapter of my life.”

Nina revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the news of her exit “leaked a little earlier” than she had anticipated, so she was “forced” to “make a statement prematurely.” She added, “But it was a blessing in disguise, in retrospect. It didn’t hit me; I got to say goodbye with my family and with the fans. People made videos of — what was in their opinion — the best moments of the last six years. It helped me relive the last six years, and be nostalgic, grateful and look back at those moments and celebrate this experience as it ends, instead of mourn it after I left. I got to say goodbye to my family, and spend my last moments with them, and look back and remember how awesome it has been.”

Nina signed a six-year contract when the show began, so she always knew she’d be leaving the show after season 6. “I’ve loved working on this show,” she told SELF in 2015. “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.”

What Happened To Elena When Nina Dobrev Left?

The Vampire Diaries wrote in Nina’s exit in a clever way at the end of the sixth season. In the season 6 finale, the villainous Kai (Chris Wood) placed a sleeping spell on Elena that connected her to Bonnie (Kat Graham). As long as Bonnie stayed alive, Elena would stay comatose. Elena was aware of the stakes and wanted Bonnie to live a long life. Once Bonnie died, Elena would wake up exactly as she was.

Thankfully, Elena was able to say “goodbye” to her loved ones. Elena and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) shared a gut-wrenching goodbye that ended with a dance in the middle of the road where they first met. Once Elena was comatose, she was placed in a coffin and safely stored in the Salvatore mausoleum.

Did Nina Dobrev Return To The Vampire Diaries?

Yes, Nina returned for the series finale of The Vampire Diaries as both Elena and Katherine. She announced her return in an Instagram post on January 26, 2017. “I know it’s Thursday, but this is not a TBT. #BackOnSet #TVDForever,” she captioned a photo of her series finale script.

“I’m thrilled to bring this show to an end the way we always intended — with Nina back to help us say goodbye,” showrunnerJuliePlec said in a statement at the time. Executive producer Kevin Williamson added, “I’m so excited to have Nina back to ensure our farewell episode is truly epic!”

The series finale picks up in the midst of Stefan and Caroline’s wedding day. After Bonnie falls unconscious, she crosses paths with Elena and Enzo. Elena seemingly awakens from her coma, but it’s actually Katherine. Katherine quickly reveals her plan to destroy the town and everyone left in it with hellfire.

Damon is willing to sacrifice himself to make sure Katherine stays dead and goes back to hell. However, Stefan has a plan of his own. Damon thinks he compels Stefan to leave, but Stefan’s already taken vervain. Stefan gives Damon the cure for vampirism and dies with Katherine.

Stefan is able to share one last moment with Elena in the hallway of Mystic Fall High School where he tells her what’s happened. “He’s the better man. He’s the right man,” Stefan tells Elena before he finds Peace.

Elena writes in her diary for the first time since she’s woken up about being able to live again. Elena reunites with Bonnie after Bonnie is able to unlink them. Elena and Damon share an epic reunion. Elena tells Caroline the message Stefan gave her: “I will love her forever, too.”

Elena finished medical school and came home to Mystic Falls to live her life. She grew old with Damon and got the happy ending she always wanted. Elena found Peace in the end and was able to reunite with her parents, Jenna, and John.

What Is Nina Dobrev Doing Now?

Following her exit from The Vampire Diaries, Nina’s first series regular role was in the short-lived comedy series Fam in 2019. Her performance as Clem was radically different from her Vampire Diaries roles. Nina has also starred in films like XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Love Hard, Flatliners, Redeeming Love, and more. Her latest movie, The Out-Laws, hit Netflix on July 7. The actress has a couple of films in the works, including Reunion and The Bricklayer. She also had a Degrassi reunion with Drake and more in the rapper’s 2018 music video “I’m Upset.”

Nina and BFF Julianne Hough have launched their own wine brand, Fresh Vine Wine. Nina started dating Olympic snowboarder Shaun White in 2019.

Would She Ever Return For A Vampire Diaries Reboot?

The Vampire Diaries spawned two spinoffs: The Originals and Legacies. Even though there’s only been a handful of years since The Vampire Diaries ended, there’s already been talk amongst fans about the possibility of a reboot down the road. Nina addressed her feelings about a reboot on Sirius XM’s The Jess Cagle Show in July 2023.

“I think it’s way too soon to be talking about a reboot because the show didn’t even end that long ago, but I mean I know that I am very close with Paul and Kayla and Candice and Kat and the list goes on because, you know, it was such a big part of our lives for so many years. It’s hard to not stay in touch with everybody and see them when we can,” she said.

Paul Wesley had recently told InStyle that he would give another vampire-related project a “hard pass,” so Nina was asked if she felt the same way. “I don’t know. I mean, I think it always depends on the role and the director,” she said. “I don’t want to say never because if Steven Spielberg is directing or if Martin Scorsese has a vampire flick coming up and there’s a great role that will challenge me in some way, maybe, so I guess, yeah. Steven, call me. Martin, let me know.”

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Why did Nina Dobrev exit Vampire Diaries? ›

However, as The Vampire Diaries developed, its focus expanded beyond Elena to include an ensemble cast. Dobrev's departure led to a major shake-up as the show moved on without her. But the reason why she left The Vampire Diaries was simple: She was just ready to go.

What was the real reason Elena wasn't in Season 7? ›

It turns out that the decision not to return for season 7 was entirely her choice, and it was actually a super-important crossroads for the actress. In an interview with E! News, Nina explained: "If anything, the fact that [leaving] terrified me drove me even more.

Who played Elena Gilbert in Season 8? ›

Casting. On January 26, 2017, it was announced that Nina Dobrev would return as Elena Gilbert in the series finale. At the end of the episode, "It's Been a Hell of a Ride" on February 24, 2017, it was revealed that Dobrev would reprise her role of Katherine Pierce as well.

Does Elena become a vampire again in Season 7? ›

No, Elena doesn't stay a vampire. After becoming a vampire in season 4, she becomes a human again in season 6, episode 20. In this episode which is titled I'd Leave My Happy Home For You, Elena takes the cure and becomes human again.

Was Elena pregnant in Vampire Diaries? ›

Somtime during season six of The Vampire Diaries, Elena give birth to her and Jacob's first and only child, Bonnie Rebekah Fogerty. They named their daughter in honor of their two friends, Bonnie Bennett and Rebekah Mikaelson.

Why was Elena written out? ›

Nina Dobrev was ready to move on to bigger and better things

"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," Dobrev stated. And it certainly was a wild ride.

Why does Elena wake up in Season 8? ›

Elena finally wakes up because Bonnie has broken the spell over her. Elena reunites with Damon and the rest of the gang. Elena gives Caroline the message Stefan whispered into her ear, saying he did hear her voice message and will love her forever. In the epilogue, Elena continued to study at medical school.

Why did Elena look different in the last season? ›

Some suggest that Nina Dobrev looked very different in the 'Vampire Diaries' finale. For one thing, they suggest her weight had fluctuated since she last portrayed Elena. Plus, there were some "bad eyebrows and a bad wig" that added to the overall strange vibes of their favorite character.

Why did the writers put Elena to sleep? ›

So as long as Bonnie is alive, Elena can't be, which means that Elena went into a 60-plus year sleep in order to allow her best friend to attempt to find happiness. And with that, each member of Elena's life got a chance to say goodbye. It was nostalgic. It was heartbreaking.

Did Elena marry Elijah? ›

Damon Salvatore: Damon is Elena's former husband and the father of their children; Jenna, Grayson, Zachary, Stefanie, and Sarah Salvatore. Elijah Mikaelson: Elijah is the current husband of Elena Gilbert and the father of their son, Johnathan Mikaelson and an unnamed daughter.

Who was almost cast as Elena Gilbert? ›

6 Ashlee Simpson as Elena Gilbert

Jessica Simpson's younger sister had been singing and acting for a number of years, and had been involved in TV productions such as 7th Heaven and her own reality show, The Ashlee Simpson Show.

How does Elena wake up in Season 7? ›

5 or 6 years. Kai puts Elena in the coma in I'll Wed You in the Golden Summertime which takes place June 23, 2013. She does not wake up until just before May 2019, when Bonnie somehow finds a way of breaking the spell. This puts the time that Elena was in the coma at 6 years give or take, as mentioned above.

How did Damon become human? ›

Damon was a distant descendant of Silas and a 178-year-old vampire. He has become human since his younger brother, Stefan Salvatore, administered the Cure to him. In 1864, he became a vampire.

Why do Katherine and Elena look the same? ›

It is revealed that Elena is a Petrova Doppelgänger (like Katherine and Nadia), which is thus responsible for her being identical to her ancestor, Katherine Pierce (née Katerina Petrova). This also has the implication of making her a supernatural creature.

Why did Nina leave Vampire Diaries in Season 7? ›

Following her emotional post, Nina detailed her reasons for leaving the show in an interview with Self Magazine. She said that since she had started on the show as a young 20-year-old, she wanted to continue her growth as an actress outside of the show.

Why did Elena leave Damon? ›

After he tells her the truth, they mutually decide to end their relationship as they realize they have too much control over each other. However they end up sleeping together. But after that, Elena tells Damon that he has to let her go until they can figure things out.

Why did Elena change? ›

However, life had different plans for her, and in a bid to save Matt in the car accident orchestrated by Rebekah, she changed into a vampire. Her journey as a vampire was rocky and emotional, and it was clear why Elena never wanted to be one. It simply did not suit her.

Who plays Elena in the last episode? ›

Dobrev appeared in the final episode of the show as both Elena and her evil doppelgänger Katherine Pierce. The reason for Dobrev's departure from the show was fuelled by her desire to establish herself as a movie actress, as well as because of personal reasons.

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