In what must feel like the stake through the heart of millions of Vampire Diaries fans, The CW announced on Saturday that the hit drama series’ upcoming eighth season will be its last.
The news came at the show’s final Comic-Con panel in San Diego, where stars Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Kat Graham, Candice King, Zach Roerig, Matt Davis and Michael Malarkey were all on hand to tease the final season’s events along with executive producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson.
“For the past seven years, you’ve invited us into your homes,” they said in a goodbye video posted to YouTube. “We’ve gotten to know each other. We’ve become friends. We’ve become a family. And we’ve fallen madly in love.”
Each took the time to reflect on what the show has meant to them in the clip, and to thank their loyal fans.
“We are one giant family – every single person here,” Somerhalder, 37, said. “There’s something very special about that. We all enjoy being here and we all love each other and there’s an immense about respect. That’s special, and you don’t find that very often.”
“Doing 22 episodes a year for 7 years – I really think it’s shaped who I am today,” Wesley, 34, said. “And I hope I can retain a sense of gratitude and humility – that’s the thing I’m really trying to walk away with.”
The news shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, though, for fans following along with the show’s casting news. Original star Nina Dobrev left the show in 2015 after her six-season contract was up, and both Wesley and Somerholder have talked about leaving the show.
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Of the last season, Williamson promised fans “adventure, passion – and even a little danger.”
Plec told told EW she’d love for Dobrev to return.
“Nina has always said that if there s something for her to do in the series finale that she will be there to do it,” she said. “When she left, she said, ‘I want to see this character to its end at the end of the show, so I can t wait to come back and put her to bed again.’ ”
The final season of The Vampire Diaries premieres Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. on The CW. It’s series finale date will be announced soon.