Vampire Diaries
Credit: Alan Markfield/THE CW

Vampire Diaries fans have already heard that season 4 may very well end with Elena (Nina Dobrev) graduating from high school. But here’s why: “Paul Wesley looked at me this year, and he’s like, ‘I don’t have to go back to high school, do I?'” exec producer Julie Plec tells EW with a laugh. “I said, ‘Yeah, you do. You’re in high school.’ He goes, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ I’m like, ‘You’re in high school. If you don’t go to high school, what’s the point?’ ‘I look so ridiculous. We all look so ridiculous. We’re 100 years old, we shouldn’t be in high school.’ I said, ‘Well, there’s one more year to go, so suck it up.'”

Of course, while Plec says she’s targeting an end of season ceremony, things could change. “But look, what I’ve been saying a lot about this season to the people at the network and in general is that the writers and I are really focusing on that time in your life as your adolescence is coming to an end, that milestone of graduation, and you are making decisions: Do I leave home for good? Do I stay? Can I part with this town that’s been so important to me? Do I part with these people who have been so important to me? Am I going out into the world and starting a life and growing up? Or am I gonna hide here where I’m comfortable even if it’s not the best place for me? There’s a lot of great questions that come along with graduation that our characters — both human and supernatural — are gonna be asking themselves about who they are, who they’re supposed to be, and what they’re supposed to do with their life moving forward.”

Dobrev, who sees Elena not only transitioning into a vampire this season but also into her womanhood, is definitely on board with the graduation plan. “Prom. Hello. Pretty dresses. Corsages,” she jokes. “But it is gonna be nice. Paul’s right. We’re all growing with the show and we’re becoming adults, and we can only play high school for so long and be believable and also challenged. I think it’s definitely time, and it’ll be a good button for the end of the season and for the next phase of The Vampire Diaries.”

P.S. Since she mentioned “pretty dresses,” we took the opportunity to ask where Elena scored that gorgeous ball gown on such short notice last season. “Trust me, I asked that exact same question,” Dobrev admits, laughing. “I’m pretty sure she was at school an hour before like, ‘We should go to the ball.’ And then she shows up in full hair and makeup and ball gown like it’s no big deal. I don’t know. Maybe her mom had it lying around? Maybe Bonnie has a hair and makeup spell, like a Cinderella story that happened off-camera that none of us saw?”

For more scoop on the new season of The Vampire Diaries and the buzz on 103 other shows, check out EW’s Fall TV Preview issue on newsstands now.

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The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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