Warning: This post contains spoilers from the series finales of both The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.
When The Vampire Diaries introduced viewers to the supernatural-laden town of Mystic Falls in 2009, the CW series quickly became known for its shocking twists (and superhot vampires). But with an incredibly passionate fan base, keeping those twists secret became more complicated than the show’s central love triangle. “In the social media universe, and specifically the fan communities, information is power,” showrunner Julie Plec tells EW. “It’s all commodity trading. If you want more followers, insider information is going to get attention.”
And with so many people working on any given show, as Plec puts it, “There are so many ways to poke holes from inside the ship.” That’s why, over the eight-season run of The Vampire Diaries, they employed many different methods to try and identify leaks. “We had private investigators in our office looking for bugs,” Plec says. “We had to take internal action against our closed-caption vendors because somebody was leaking to the internet.”
And yet, when it came time to kill off the show’s hero (played by Paul Wesley) in the 2017 series finale, Plec was done keeping secrets. “We didn’t do a single thing to protect Stefan’s death,” she says. After eight years of leaks and extreme measures, all it took to pull off one of the series’ biggest twists was… nothing.
But the same couldn’t be said for the Vampire Diaries spin-off, The Originals, which faced a big bad it could not defeat in its final season: Twitter. “Someone accidentally posted our whiteboard with the entire season plan on it,” Plec says, recalling the moment a writer tweeted a photo of the writers’ room, not realizing the board in the background revealed that Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), a series regular since season 1, was going to die.
“We had started shooting, but we hadn’t shot that,” Plec says of the death. “We could either stay the course to kill Hayley or not, but our entire season pitch was built around killing Hayley.”
Ultimately, the writers decided to stick with the original plan. “Had this been season 2, where the success of the show was built on ratings and press, I may have thought to change everything so it was all a surprise,” Plec says. “But it was season 5 of a show that had a dedicated fan base. It was unfortunate that it happened, but it didn’t seem like it merited changing the whole season.”
Ten months later, fans watched Hayley die, precisely as the whiteboard had promised.
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