6:00pm PT by Marisa Roffman
'The Vampire Diaries' Postmortem: Producers, Steven R. McQueen on Jeremy's Exit Twist
[Warning: Major spoilers ahead for The Vampire Diaries' "Stay."]
The Vampire Diaries bid farewell to original cast member Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy) in Thursday's "Stay," but there was a twist: instead of Jeremy going off to art school as had been teased — and as most of his friends and family had been led to believe — he set out to continue hunting vampires, with only Alaric (Matt Davis) knowing what was truly going on.
"I think the biggest point we wanted to make was when you come out of Mystic Falls, there is no such thing as a 'normal life,'" The Vampire Diaries executive producer Julie Plec told reporters. "As Elena (Nina Dobrev) said, 'Maybe smoking a joint with my brother is the most normal thing I've ever done.' Jeremy was someone who went through so much, and needed a purpose. For Elena, she believed [his purpose] was get out, be normal, go to art school, and [he]'ll be fine. Jeremy's secret is, 'I'm forever changed, but I'm going to use this change for the powers of good.' Of course, Elena would never go for it, because she's trying to be the protective big sister, but Alaric gets it … It's going to be Alaric's little secret for a while. Though he's going to be in trouble if Elena ever finds out."
"Him being an artist would feel like he's settling," The Vampire Diaries showrunner (and co-writer of "Stay" with co-executive producer Brian Young) Caroline Dries added. "And so it felt like it was his destiny [to go off and hunt] — that's what he's good at."
Jeremy making it out alive is an accomplishment by itself. (And, of course, another character didn't make it out of "Stay" alive.
"Julie's whole thing was, look, we've seen Jeremy die a few times, and we just really wanted [his exit] to feel special, and official, too," Dries acknowledged. "We mean it this time. Grown-up closure. That's why he felt it was right for him to become a man."
"It feels like a victory in a way: he got out," Young added. "He made it out, he's going to be great, and succeed."
And for McQueen, Jeremy exiting the show alive meant that his final days on set got to be filled with (mostly) lighter scenes.
"The [goodbye] scenes were kind of fun," McQueen said. "The scenes where we were at the Mystic Grill drinking and stuff, it was a fun day. We were all cracking jokes. The last scene I shot was Enzo (Michael Malarkey) stepping on my face, so I was like, all right, whatever! [Our director for the episode, Chris] Grismer shot [the scene] nine times before I was like, 'So, Grismer, do we have the shot down?' and all of a sudden they tilt the camera up to the door [by where we were shooting], and they all come running out with these superhero costumes and some cake, and I got my face shoved in the cake. They kept filming the entire time, which was cool."
Jeremy's continued existence also leaves the door open for McQueen to return, a chance he said he'd welcome "if they invite me!" "He has a standing invite for weddings, funerals and whatever else might come along," Plec assured. "And, [for] Bonnie (Kat Graham), of course."
The Bonnie-Jeremy off/on relationship ended fairly unresolved — Jeremy had a lovely moment "with" Bonnie in the previous episode, "The Day I Tried To Live," but she wasn't aware he was watching her in the prison world as she attempted (and then fought against) a suicide attempt — as he left Mystic Falls while her fate (and potential return home) was very much up in the air.
"Our decision to say goodbye to Jeremy in the middle of the season was really born out of wanting to feel like his character made a strong decision in spite of his circumstance," Plec said. "It couldn't really line up with Bonnie's journey, because her journey, right now, is never-ending. We don't know when she'll be back [home in present day], or what will come of her. So he really needed to make decisions for himself, mostly because of Bonnie['s ordeal] sort of being the final straw. So there still will be a conversation to be had -- or at least a reunion of sorts to deal with — once we get our Bonnie back. But Jeremy needed to get up and get on that bus and go."
With Jeremy now off on his own adventures of vampire fighting, Plec acknowledged that the idea of going back to see Jeremy post-Mystic Falls will likely inevitably be "put up on the [writers' room] board of actual spinoff options or one-off episodes — the Jeremy Gilbert summer series." But there are no active plans to see that come to fruition yet — or for any other potential spinoff to join The Originals.
"There's always talk [about expanding the world," Plec allowed. "When you're a studio and a network that has two shows that exist fairly well in their own separate universes, there's always talk about opportunities to do that again. Not gratuitously, but creatively. I don't have a pitch for one right now, there's not one in the works, but we always chat about it."
What did you think of Jeremy's exit? Were you surprised he opted to hunt vampires instead of go to art school? Would you watch that spinoff? The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Click here to read our postmortem with the producers and star behind Thursday's heartbreaking death on the series.