It was a huge shocker to all of Vampire Diaries fans when we heard that Nina Dobrev was leaving the show, but none of us can have been as dumbstruck as showrunner, Julie Plec.
Although Dobrev has always insisted she was committed to a six season run before leaving the show, Plec opened up in an interview with KCRW podcast about how she was desperate to retain the show's leading lady when Dobrev announced her planned exit. The Vampire Diaries big boss told the podcast hosts that:
"Nina had said earlier this year that she wanted to be done and we spent a little bit of time trying to talk her out of it. [We'd say,] ‘Oh, look at all these great plans of how you can stay!’” she explained. “And she finally was like, ‘No, I signed up for six years. I’ve done my six years. I’m ready to move on and spread my wings."
Plec also explained how, although it's been a huge blow to lose Nina, that there have been some positive side effects, she told fans that:
"This is taking the personal out of it completely, from a storytelling point of view it’s a great challenge. As writers in the room we’re finding it very rejuvenating. Just on a strictly creative exercise level."
Although the Mystic Falls ringleader has a reputation for showing no mercy, Plec also revealed that she has us all in mind when she revealed Dobrev was exiting the show instead of just killing her off in a shocking surprise. The showrunner explained that:
"I’m looking at Vampire Diaries, which is now six years deep, and it’s the main character. A lot of our audience — they’re still teenagers — and there is a profound attachment to this character and to this show. I started looking at it from a fan point of view and being like, ‘We need to tell them that it’s happening before it happens. You can’t just end the season and do what we’re going to do to this character.”
I, for one, am grateful for this decision! If Elena Gilbert just dropped dead without any forewarning, I would probably do the same in shock!