Though the actor who plays Tyler Lockwood departs after the season 6 finale, Trevino tells PEOPLE, "On this type of show, nobody ever really leaves for good"

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
Updated May 14, 2015 09:00 PM
Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/The CW

During his six-year run as Tyler Lockwood on The Vampire Diaries, Michael Trevino truly was the focus of the series’ most interesting storylines.

However, in later seasons, Tyler had less and less to do as a consequence of the fact that being a werewolf – and, later, an out-of-control vampire/werewolf hybrid under the control of a maniacal, 1,000-year-old vampire – didn’t exactly endear him to the vampires on whom the show is primarily based.

So Trevino realizes that, with all characters, there is a time to move on. In a chat with PEOPLE, he says – earnestly, we might add – that he’s “surprised” that Tyler didn’t run out of things to do earlier, but that he’s “grateful” he lasted as long as he did.

The actor, 30, also reveals his favorite part about playing Tyler and answers the dangerous, million-dollar question: Who’s best for Caroline?

How are you feeling now that the show has wrapped? Relief? Sadness? Both?
I’ve gotta be honest – it hasn’t really hit me yet! I don’t think it will sink in until July, because that’s usually when we start up for the following season, so, all my TVD family will be back in Atlanta starting to film for season 7 and I’ll be at home sitting on my couch, like, “Wait a second!”

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Why did you feel like now was the right time to leave?
You know, it’s difficult to write for Tyler. The whole werewolf lineage and storyline itself is pretty difficult. Once you become a werewolf and you’ve taken on that transformation, you won’t really see Tyler hanging out with Stefan (Paul Wesley) or Damon (Ian Somerhalder). And werewolves are recluses – they stick to their own and they’re not always around, really.

To be honest, I’m surprised I didn’t run out of storyline earlier. Having Klaus (Joseph Morgan) come in and make Tyler the first hybrid kept me on the show and kept things interesting, along with the lovely relationship with Caroline (Candice Accola) that Tyler had. They really found a way to stretch out his storyline and so that fact we’ve made it to six seasons I’ll be forever grateful for that. I had a good run.

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So, you felt that storyline-wise, there just wasn’t anything left?
I had a sit-down talk with [TVD creator] Julie Plec and honestly it’s just difficult. They also don’t want to keep me on the show and have a repetitive storyline. Not only for myself, personally, as an actor, but then also for fans – they don’t want to see the same recycled storyline. That’s just the truth. As the show evolves, you have different characters come in because you need new energy. It was just a bit difficult to not have to repeat ourselves, when it came to Tyler, so it was just best to move on at this point.

What was your favorite part about playing Tyler?
Definitely the first werewolf transformation. That was exciting and nerve-racking, leading up to it. That was the first time we had ever done a transformation so it was new to all of us in terms of finding out a way to shoot it and execute it properly. Also, turning into a hybrid. There was a lot of physicality involved in playing Tyler Lockwood! He’s always turning or freaking out or getting into a fight or pulling on chains and screaming. For an actor, it’s pretty damn exhausting! But it was fun to go there and play that for six years.

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What was your most gratifying or meaningful interaction with the thriving TVD fandom?

We do these Vampire Diaries fan conventions and because of them I’ve been blessed to be able to travel the world. When we go on trips to Europe to see the fans there, the love and support that they show is still kind of crazy to me. Like, somebody halfway across the world watches this show or will even see me on the street and knows who I am. I’m lost in Europe, I don’t even know where I am and they’re like, “You’re Tyler Lockwood!”

It’s just crazy to see how far our show, our genre, reaches fans. They love it, and I love that they love it. It’s pretty amazing to have been part of a global phenomenon for the past six years. I’m so fortunate.

Tyler was in an on-and-off relationship with Caroline for ages, and so you know her pretty well. I have to ask – what’s your final answer on who’s best for Caroline? Tyler, Klaus, Matt or Stefan?

[ Laughs the laugh of the fearful] You know, I think she’s going to do well with Stefan. I’m going to play it safe. I think she’ll be fine with him. I think they’re going to need each other in season 7.

Are you going to going to be watching the show when it comes back?
Yeah, of course! I’ll be supportive. I’ll be calling all the guys and finding out if they like their storylines and what’s happening and how’s the vibe and asking them if they miss me – which, of course, they will. [Laughs]

What was your last day of filming like?
My actual last scene was with Nina Dobrev, and it’s funny because she and I rarely have one-on-one scenes together so it was good to have my final goodbye with her. Again, it hasn’t really hit me yet. It kind of just felt like another day, and I knew I was leaving but, then again, on this type of show, nobody ever really leaves for good. Nobody ever really is dead.

Would you be open to returning to TVD in the future? Is the door open?
Yeah! That, or any type of flashbacks. I would do it in a heartbeat. I love my Vampire Diaries family. They’ve been so good to me and to work with my friends and family again, I absolutely would.