The Vampire Diaries is premiering its eight and final season tonight, and we're already having panic attacks at the thought of saying goodbye to our favorite undead darlings.
To help you prepare for the beginning of the end, ET called up the woman with all the answers, creator and showrunner Julie Plec, to get exclusive details on the series' "powerful" ending, The Originals crossover plans, and if former star Nina Dobrev will return for a final farewell.
Plus, is another TVD wedding headed our way? Read on for all the bloody-good scoop…
ET: Let's get right to the big pink vampire in the room. How are things going with getting Nina Dobrev to reprise her role as Elena?
Julie Plec: I feel very good about it! She and I have spoken and I know that she 100 percent wants to be there and I, of course, 100 percent want her to be there, and so it just comes down to stupid things like scheduling. Honestly, let's put it this way: I would be devastated if it weren't to work out, so I have a feeling the cards will be in all our favor.
If Nina does come back, how excited are you to watch that vision you've had for her all along come to life in the series finale?
[Laughs] Oh, I am very excited. We get little hints and teases of her face all through the season. Damon's memories of her play a big part of the season, and I was just looking at a scene yesterday and being able to see her face brought back so much emotion and nostalgia and sweetness. It's lovely to have her in the narrative in the way that she is.
We had the pleasure of debuting an exclusive sneak peek clip of the premiere earlier this week with Damon reading Fifty Shades of Grey. What was the decision behind that fandom crossover?
[Laughs] Well, Erika [Mitchell], who writes the books, is a friend of mine. We became friends because we met right after all the rumors that everyone wanted Ian Somerhalder to play Christian Grey. She and I got to have a great sort of fun with that, and a great laugh over that, and we became buddies, so it was fun to give a little shout out to her universe.
You yourself are a big TV watcher. Are you a fan of those series that choose to have a happy ending in their series finales?
Yeah, I am. I was trying to think of series finales that I've liked and disliked and, of course, in my mind probably one of the best-executed series finales of all time is Friday Night Lights. It just gave you a sense of perfect, beautiful closure, but also that peaceful sense that things were going to go on in that way that you loved it so much. Our show is supernatural, so sometimes closure means death and tragedy and sad endings -- which can be just as potent and powerful as happy endings -- so I have to imagine that we'll have a mixture of both.
We've had so many characters and actors say goodbye to Mystic Falls over the past eight years, could we be seeing a bunch of these familiar faces again this year?
Yes! It's kind of a joke of how long this list is, and every time I bring up a pitch for how to integrate someone from the past into an episode, someone always laughs at me. But honestly, part of the fun of the season is working in organic ways to see some familiar faces, and hopefully by the end of the season, we will have revisited at least a handful of them.
Has it been tricky balancing the timeline of The Vampire Diaries since it's currently not parallel with The Originals?
No, it's actually made it extremely easy, much to the chagrin of the people I'm sure would have loved multiple crossovers before the series comes to a close. But I do think the final episode will have some time-shifting, so I'm not worried about being inhibited from seeing The Originals again in The Vampire Diaries universe. I don’t know how or who, but I certainly think we can make it work on some level.
Is there a chance that next year -- after TVD comes to a close and if The Originals continues for another season -- we could see some Mystic Falls favorites show up in New Orleans?
A thousand percent. One of my goals is to find really exciting and organic ways to combine the universe just a little bit, whether it's a flavor or something more aggressive. There are a lot of really wonderful people that I work with that I'd like to continue working with, so it's certainly not out of the question that we could find ways to integrate them into The Originals.
We've had so many epic loves on this show. What can we expect from the romance side of things in this final season?
Well, when you're going towards the end, you can do anything you want. You can tear a couple apart violently, you can bring a couple together forever, you can declare love epically. You can do anything you want -- and we intend to do all of it.
Could we maybe see a Vampire Diaries wedding before it's all over?
Well, certainly if you made a list of things that everyone has been wanting to see, it's up there on the board.
The Vampire Diaries' eighth and final season premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
What are you hoping to see from the final season of TVD? Do you think Nina Dobrev will return? Share your thoughts with @LeanneAguilera on Twitter and pess play on our exclusive sneak peek below to see Damon reading his new favorite book!