Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from the series finale of The Vampire Diaries. Read at your own risk!
After eight seasons of love triangles, brother bonding, decade dances, and immortal foes, The Vampire Diaries ended with Stefan Salvatore saving the day. But this time, saving the day cost him his life.
In the show’s series finale, Stefan sacrificed himself in order to kill Katherine Pierce and destroy hell. In doing so, he was able to find peace, and by hour’s end, a human Damon and a human Elena would join him in that peace, with both of them reuniting with their families — Elena hugging her parents on her front porch and Damon getting one last brother hug at the Salvatore mansion.
As for everyone else: We left Matt contemplating a run for mayor, Bonnie on her way to travel the world, and Caroline and Ric opening a school for their daughters and other “gifted” children like them. (Yes, Klaus Mikaelson was a major donor.)
So while fans figure out their feelings on the finale, EW talked to the cast about their reaction when they first read the show’s farewell:
Candice King (Caroline Forbes): As a viewer of television and a lover of series finales, from just a fan perspective, I think it is incredibly fulfilling and emotional and it leaves doors open but it also brings a lot of closure. I was just excited. I kind of knew some tidbits just from talking with Julie [Plec] before, but I just thought it was a beautiful ending to eight years of twists and turns and characters and love interests and heartbreaks and triangles and ships and death and life and all that’s in between.
Matt Davis (Alaric Saltzman): I got pretty emotional about it. Anytime you have that moment where characters from the past reappear and merge, I always get emotional about that.
Ian Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore): Well, it’s not the ending that Paul and I always thought we would get — just the two bros in some Speedos on the beach drinking some rum. These things are hard to write. You obviously want to pay off an audience for going on a very long journey with you. The writers themselves want to pay off their own artistic integrity. And so it’s invariably difficult to satisfy everyone, and that’s what I find so interesting about the endings of TV shows that people go on and on and on discussing. You’re never going to satisfy an entire populous of people. The interpretation that you leave is what you leave. This is the end of our show.
Zach Roerig (Matt Donovan): I think ending this show was probably the hardest thing Julie’s ever had to do in writing. She and Kevin [Williamson] did a great job. But I just really loved Stefan’s sacrifice — that was a beautiful way to end it. It kind of diffused any of the feelings that were going on from all the things that have happened before, especially with Bonnie. I thought it was really beautifully written.
Paul Wesley (Stefan Salvatore): I didn’t [know ahead of time about death]. I had been telling them that I think Stefan should die. He’s been the Ripper; he was the one who caused his brother to turn into a vampire. All the murders Damon did were all my fault really, if it comes down to the genesis of it. I just felt like he’s been the hero of the story to a degree and it only made sense for him to die at the end. They totally teased me and said that he wouldn’t die, so they really taunted me for a couple months. I read the finale script on an airplane. The first five acts, I was kind of like, “Okay yeah, this is interesting,” but it didn’t really hit me until the sixth act. And then the sixth act I teared up and I never really tear up when it comes to sentimental Vampire Diaries-esque things. I thought how it ended was powerful.
Nina Dobrev (Elena Gilbert/Katherine Pierce): I am satisfied with the way the show ends — the fact that Elena finds peace and becomes human, which is what she always wanted. She gets to be with the man that she loves, which is what she always wanted. She gets to say goodbye to her former love and now best friend. I cried during a lot of moments. I didn’t get the chance to be at the final read-through unfortunately but maybe that’s for the best because I would’ve been a mess. I cried during Stefan and Caroline’s final moments, because it broke my heart. I cried at the end when I read that Elena was writing in the diary again, when Elena basically says the same sentence that I did in the pilot eight years ago.