Well, this is not easy.
No, wait. Make that more like WHHHHYYYYYYY????????!!!!
That is, if they are able to speak.
Sadly, according to sources, it's a process that has been in the works for quite some time, and although fans often want to shake an angry pitchfork at the producers when departures like this happen, we can tell you that, based on everything we know, the departure is truly Nina's choice. After six seasons of long hours, and for a big part of it, playing two demanding roles, she has said she's simply ready to get some rest, reclaim some of her freedom and move on to other opportunities.
It seemed the impossible story that couldn't possibly be true when I first reported on this back in August: That Nina had not signed on for season seven and was having hesitations about continuing on with the show, although Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder had already signed their deals. At the time, we just reported it as "one of the main trio," because it would have been most uncool to name Nina at that time, especially since there was a good chance she would end up signing on.
So what happens next? Well, back in October, I sat down with TVD boss Julie Plec to talk about the possibility of Nina, a k a "one of the main trio leaving," and she told me: "The thought of it actually hurts me a little." She also described the process of figuring out the show without a main actor as, "Sad, nostalgic, scary and yet super stimulating."
Watch everything Julie had to say in the video right here:
"We want [season six] to be the best possible season we've ever made," Plec told me, "so fans are so emotionally invested in everybody, so that they can say ‘Oh my god, the show in season six is as fresh as ever.' So if we were to lose anybody going in to season seven, whether some of our actors die, whether, whatever happens...Whether they actually move on to live a happy life, then the challenge becomes how do you do the same great job in a newer context, a different context? We have a lot of people who are already set to return, so the show has plenty of opportunities to tell good stories and those that don't survive, just the thought of it actually hurts me a little. We'll see. But it's an exciting challenge."
While fans will go through many emotions—there are more like 50 stages of grief when it comes to a beloved TV character farewell—the upside is that, by all accounts, The Vampire Diaries will continue. We know Nina won't be a series regular, and sadly, Michael Trevino also is leaving the show. But Ian, Paul, Candice Accola and Kat Graham are all on board for season seven, which was already officially picked up by the CW in January.
"Nina is the soul of Vampire Diaries" has been trending on Twitter around the world tonight, and man, do we hear you. I'm crying real tears with you. But maybe, just maybe, Plec and Caroline Dries and their team of writers can pull it off? They certainly have created a new, Nina-less couple with a fierce fandom in Caroline (Accola) and Stefan (Wesley), who just won E! Online's Top Couple. All part of, surely, what Plec meant when she said she wanted fans to invest in all the characters, in the event someone notable would leave.