The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev shocked fans in 2015 by leaving The CW teen supernatural drama in its sixth season. Based on the the popular series of vampire novels by L.J. Smith, the adaptation continued for two more seasons without her, which was unexpected, considering the show centered on Dobrev's Elena Gilbert, following her high school life shortly after she lost her parents in a car crash. Vampire brothers Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) roll into town after the accident as well, and throughout The Vampire Diaries, Elena finds herself in a love triangle with the two brothers as they attempt to protect her from the supernatural dangers that threaten her town.

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However, as The Vampire Diaries developed, its focus expanded beyond Elena, to the ensemble cast. Nevertheless, Dobrev's departure led to a major shake-up. But Dobrev's reason for leaving was simple: he was just ready to go.

NOTE: This article was updated on June 2, 2021, to include details about Nina Dobrev's return for The Vampire Diaries series finale, and her recent television and film credits.

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How Nina Dobrev Said Farewell to The Vampire Diaries Cast & Fans

The Vampire Diaries Elena

In April 2015, Dobrev used Instagram to inform fans her time on The Vampire Diaries was coming to a close. She shared that she spent the previous weekend with the cast and crew to say goodbye.

"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 to fans. "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."

How Nina Dobrev's Elena Was Written Off The Vampire Diaries

Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley in The Vampire Diaries Season 6 finale

The Vampire Diaries found a creative way to write off Elena, while keeping the door open for a possible return: In the Season 6 finale,  antagonist Kai Parker (Chris Wood) placed a sleeping spell on Elena, linking her to her best friend Bonnie (Kat Graham). Therefore, as long as Bonnie was alive, Elena remain in a deep sleep. Elena willingly went into that sleep to ensure her best friend would have a long life, giving Dobrev a clear exit. Damon and Stefan had already become a large focus of the first six seasons of The Vampire Diaries, so they were given an even more central role after Dobrev left.

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Nina Dobrev's Return in the Series Finale Gave Elena a Happy Ending

Nina Dobrev in The Vampire Diaries series finale

Despite Dobrev's departure, Elena's presence loomed over the rest of the series. Therefore, it was only natural for the former star of The Vampire Diaries to return in 2017 for the series finale.

In order to fully leverage Dobrev's guest role, the final episode, "I Was Feeling Epic," even included a cameo by Elena's doppelganger, Katherine. Much of the episode focused on the characters attempting to break the sleeping curse, and visiting Elena in her trapped state between life and death. Once she's finally freed by Bonnie, Elena is depicted living a long and happy life with Damon, with both of them now human.

What Nina Dobrev Has Done Since Leaving The Vampire Diaries

Nina Dobrev in Flatlines (2017)

Since her departure in 2015 as the star of The Vampire Diaries, Dobrev has continued her acting career, with roles in such films as Flatliners (2017), XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017), Dog Days (2018) and Run This Town (2019). She also starred in, and executive produced, the upcoming comedy Sick Girl. 

Dobrev's most notable post-Vampire Diaries television credit is her starring role in the short-lived CBS sitcom Fam. She is also set to star in, and executive produce, the upcoming TV adaptation of author Greer Macallister's 2019 historical thriller Woman 99.year.

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