After six years of playing Elena Gilbert (and her many doppelgängers), Nina Dobrev has announced that she's leaving The Vampire Diaries at the end of its current sixth season. She wrote:
Julie Plec, executive producer of The Vampire Diaries, said in a statement, "Saying goodbye to Nina is both bittersweet and beautiful. After six-plus years together, the entire cast and crew of The Vampire Diaries has reached a level of closeness that I don't think any of us ever expected. Nina is excited to spread her wings, get some rest, travel the world and also take it by storm, and we support her a thousand-fold. We will miss Nina and the four hundred characters she played, but we look forward to the insane and exciting challenge of continuing to tell stories of our Salvatore Brothers and our much-loved and gifted ensemble."
Plec also revealed that Michael Trevino, who has played Tyler Lockwood since Season 1, will not be returning to the show on a regular basis. "Michael has been a beloved member of The Vampire Diaries family since day one," she said in the statement. "Even though he's also going to be out in the world exploring new opportunities, we look forward to finding creative ways to make sure he and his character Tyler Lockwood always remain a part of the show."
Rumors Dobrev was leaving the show began to surface this weekend when several members of the cast and crew posted pictures from a lakeside retreat on Instagram with the hashtag #NinaWeWillMissYou.
It remains to be seen if her exit involves Elena being killed off the show, but Dobrev told BuzzFeed News in May that she believes characters need to die for The Vampire Diaries to remain relevant. "In the beginning, the shock value of killing Vicki [Kayla Ewell] in the first few episodes made us stand out," Dobrev said. "As soon as you start bringing people back, you kinda lose that. I mean, it's great for me, personally, because I get to hang out with my friends, but from a story standpoint, now you don't care or believe when someone dies because you've seen how easily they can come back. The witches can always fix it, somehow. It's been six years, so I think it would be good to go down the list and cross them off."