The "Degrassi: The Next Generation" alum announced her exit and move to "the next chapter" of her life Monday on Instagram after spending a festive weekend at Georgia's Lake Lanier with her costars and showrunner Julie Plec, with whom she shared a selfie in the post.
Photos from the cast and crew's celebration initially sparked exit rumors, which the female lead acknowledged head-on in her post.
The actress played the long-running supernatural series' female lead, Elena Gilbert, a compassionate teen-turned-doppelganger-turned-vampire, and made up a crucial point in Salvatore brothers' love triangle.
"I want to be the first to tell you that it wasn't just a holiday celebration, it was a goodbye party," the 26-year-old wrote. "I always knew I wanted Elena's story to be a six season adventure, and within those six years I got the journey of a lifetime. I was a human, a vampire, a doppelganger, a crazy immortal, a doppelganger pretending to be human, a human pretending to be a doppelganger. I got kidnapped, killed, resurrected, tortured, cursed, body-snatched, was dead and undead, and there's still so much more to come before the season finale in May."
It's unclear how Dobrev's exit will affect the series, but it seems that Plec and her crew planned for it.
"Saying goodbye to Nina is both bittersweet and beautiful," Plec said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. "After six-plus years together, the entire cast and crew of 'The Vampire Diaries' has reached a level of closeness that I don't think any of us ever expected. Nina is excited to spread her wings, get some rest, travel the world and also take it by storm, and we support her a thousand-fold. We will miss Nina and the four hundred characters she played, but we look forward to the insane and exciting challenge of continuing to tell stories of our Salvatore Brothers and our much-loved and gifted ensemble."
Dobrev has anchored the show since its arrival in 2009 at the height of the "Twilight" series' popularity, and she took on numerous characters during her six-season run. But it was her role as the pined-after object of affection for Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) that kept her story going.
Adding even more fan interest, in real life the actress dated "Lost" alum Somerhalder for three years, and their on-screen chemistry earned them a People's Choice Award. They split in May 2013 and Somerhalder, who also directed a recent episode of "TVD," got engaged this year to "Twilight" alum Nikki Reed.
"Elena fell in love not once, but twice, with two epic soulmates, and I myself made some of the best friends I'll ever know and built an extended family I will love forever. There's more to come before we wrap this up, and I promise you'll get to hear all about my experiences over the next month as we approach the season finale," Dobrev continued.
The "Let's Be Cops" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" actress promised followers more tidbits about how Elena's journey ends and gave a shout-out to the series' hard-core fan base.
"I want to share this goodbye with all of you (this weekend's pictures were just the beginning). You, the wonderful fandom who gave more love, support and passion than anyone could have ever imagined seven years ago, when a young Degrassi girl from Canada showed up in LA to audition for 'that Twilight TV show.' ;-) I love you all. Fasten your seatbelts. If you think you know what's coming, you don't. Love, Nina."
"The Vampire Diaries," which gave rise to spin-off series "The Originals," shepherded the fledgling network to high ratings as its flagship series during its first few seasons, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Dobrev's departure this season follows that of costars Steven R. McQueen (Elena's brother Jeremy) and Marguerite MacIntyre (Sheriff Forbes). Michael Trevino (Tyler) has also signed on for the ABC pilot "The Kingmakers," the Hollywood Reporter said.
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