Why Nina Dobrev Leave ‘The Vampire Diaries’: Her Exit Explained – Hollywood Life

Why Did Nina Dobrev Leave ‘The Vampire Diaries’: Her Unexpected Exit Explained

Nina Dobrev's roles as Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce in 'The Vampire Diaries' were epic, to say the least. Why did Nina leave the show before it came to an end in 2017? Here's a full breakdown of her exit.

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Image Credit: The CW/Everett Collection

  • 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.

Nina Dobrev
Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley in the early days of ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ (The CW/Everett Collection)

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,” showrunner Julie Plec 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.

Nina Dobrev
Nina Dobrev in the ‘TVD’ series finale. (The CW/Everett Collection)

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.

Nina Dobrev
Nina Dobrev with boyfriend Shaun White at ‘The Out-Laws’ premiere. (John Salangsang/Shutterstock)

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.”