'Vampire Diaries' Shocker: Star Nina Dobrev Exits

'The Vampire Diaries' star will exit at the end of the current sixth season; co-star Michael Trevino also appears to be following her out the door.
The CW

The Vampire Diaries will return for a seventh season, but without its leading lady.

Series star Nina Dobrev (Elena) is exiting The CW drama, the actress announced Monday afternoon. 

"I've just spent the most beautiful weekend on Lake Lanier in Georgia with my own TVD Family, the cast and crew of The Vampire Diaries. I want to be the first to tell you that it wasn't just a holiday celebration, it was a goodbye party," she wrote on Instagram. "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. 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 in May. Elena fell in love not once, but twice, with two epic soulmates, and I myself made some of the best friends I'll ever know and built an extended family I will love forever. There's more to come before we wrap this up, and I promise you'll get to hear all about my experiences over the next month as we approach the season finale (I have given an exclusive interview for the June issue of SELF Magazine that I am excited for you to see!), but until then I invite you 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. I want to share this goodbye with all of you (this weekend's pictures were just the beginning). You, the wonderful fandom who gave more love, support and passion than anyone could have ever imagined seven years ago, when a young Degrassi girl from Canada showed up in LA to audition for 'that Twilight TV show.' ;-) I love you all. Fasten your seatbelts. If you think you know what's coming, you don't."

Dobrev's exit comes in a year when the series has lost several key players — including her onscreen brother, Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy), as well as Marguerite MacIntyre's Sheriff Forbes; Michael Trevino (Tyler) has booked ABC's The Kingmakers pilot — but the departure of the veteran drama's female lead is a particularly deep loss. During The Vampire Diaries' six-season run, Dobrev also has played Elena's dopplegangers Katherine, Amara and Tatia, in addition to serving as the central love interest for stars Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder

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Rumors of Dobrev's departure first circulated over the holiday weekend when crew members shared photos on social media from a group trip featuring the cast and exec producer Julie Plec with the hashtag #ninawewillmissyou.

"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," Plec said in a statement. "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 400 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."

Meanwhile, co-star Trevino's role in Kingmakers puts the actor's future with The Vampire Diaries in question as the role is in first position. (Meaning should the pilot move forward, he would leave The CW show.)

“Michael has been a beloved member of the Vampire Diaries family since Day 1," Plec said in a 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.”

Previously, The Vampire Diaries' Plec told THR there were big things ahead for Elena and her on-again boyfriend, Damon (played by Dobrev's real-life ex-boyfriend, Somerhalder) to close out the remainder of season six. 

"There is quite the doozy of a storyline coming for Damon and Elena, which is all about their relationship, and how it will work, and how they want to make it work," she said. "The nice thing is they found their way back to each other, and that's good, we want them to have made their way back to each other. But that comes with hurdles. And when you throw a mother and some other surprises into the mix, it definitely tests them in fun and really dynamic ways. Which, while bringing them together and keeping them strong, has them asking a lot of questions about how their future will be together, and what they want out of a future together — in a good way!"

No longer the network's flagship series, The Vampire Diaries, eclipsed by Arrow and its even more successful Flash spinoff, still drives some of The CW's biggest ratings. Season to date, it's averaging a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 2.7 million viewers. That's the tally after seven days of a DVR, though The CW gets atypical bumps from its own hosted streaming — where a significant chunk of younger viewers watch the show.

Dobrev, meanwhile, has become a fan favorite for her work on The Vampire Diaries. She has earned numerous Teen Choice Awards as well as People's Choice Awards for favorite actress and chemistry with Somerhalder. The series has helped make her a star — she has nearly 5.5 million Twitter followers — and has launched into a film career with feature roles, including in Let's Be Cops, The Roommate and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. She next has horror comedy The Final Girls — which she toplines — debuted in March.

Dobrev and Somerhalder dated for three years and split in 2013. Somerhalder is now engaged to actress Nikki Reed, whom he's been dating since 2014.

Lesley Goldberg and Michael O'Connell contributed to this report.