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Inside Nina Dobrev's Emotional 'Vampire Diaries' Exit

It could have been a lot worse, Delena fans.

Fans were completely shocked when Nina Dobrev announced she was leaving "The Vampire Diaries" on Instagram last month. But for the "TVD" Powers That Be, specifically executive producer Julie Plec, the plan to wrap up Elena Gilbert's storyline had been set months prior.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about crafting the perfect season finale, Plec opened up about Dobrev's decision to leave the series after six seasons and the creative impact it made on the show. For one, next week's "Vampire Diaries" season finale would have looked very different had Dobrev not decided to leave the show.

"We had one for our cliffhanger ending that leaves everybody’s life in the balance," Plec said. "And then we spend the first part of next season saying goodbye to our character, or we have the, 'Well, she’s leaving, so therefore the entire thing we were going to do for half of next season, we now have to do in one episode and our cliffhanger can no longer be a cliffhanger, which means it has to be the penultimate episode.'" (So, yeah, you definitely don't want to miss tonight's penultimate episode.)

Despite how you feel about the show's continuation without Dobrev at the helm, Plec said that when writing the finale, she wanted to respect the character and the show's fans, who have had a seriously emotional past few weeks. But it could have been worse, Delena shippers.

"I -- as a fan, trying to read myself, what I would think watching a show -- said there was no way this can be a surprise," she said.

"It would be unforgivable for us to play this out and then at the end of the episode as we go into summer, then announce, 'Oh, and by the way, this was her last episode, she's never coming back,'" she added. "That would be absolutely, completely unforgivable. I, as a fan, would never forgive my favorite show for doing that."

Instead, Plec and the writers came up with an emotional storyline that would honor Dobrev's character. All that was left was the announcement itself, which was carefully crafted -- and perfectly timed -- by Plec and Dobrev.

"We came up with the idea of announcing it prior to the last run of episodes so the last run of episodes felt like it was a countdown to, and a celebration and heartbreak leading to the departure of this character," she said. "We were literally planning which day to announce it and something leaked out of our crew BBQ and all of a sudden Twitter was like, 'Wait a second, is Nina Dobrev leaving 'The Vampire Diaries?'' And we’re like, 'Welp, I guess we’re announcing it today.'"

"But in terms of the strategy of how to announce it, that was something we'd been talking about for months," Plec continued. "And the timeline was something I believed with utmost passion had to happen well in advance of the finale so that the fans had time to register the news and to watch how we worked our way towards her departure."

Yep. We're already tearing up just thinking about it.