Imagine a world in which Buffy the Vampire Slayer continued on for an 8th season after Sarah Michelle Gellar left. It just feels wrong, right? Well, that’s the reality facing Vampire Diaries fans now that Nina Dobrev has announced she is leaving the show at the end of the current season despite the fact that the CW already renewed it for another season. It’s not quite like the show is called “Elena’s Vampire Diaries” or that the titular diaries are all that important to the show anymore, but Dobrev’s Elena is one of only two characters on the show who appears to have a diary, the other being Paul Wesley’s Stefan Salvatore (or at least he used to). So, technically, unless someone else starts keeping a diary the show would be more accurately called “Vampire Diary” from this point forward. Beyond that bit of semantics, Elena is arguably the central character of the show. Even though she’s ceded the spotlight to Candice Accola’s Caroline in the back half of the current season, Dobrev leaving the show still registers as shocking. But Vampire Diaries fans may not be the only ones in for such a shock in the coming months.
When Dobrev made her announcement through Instagram, which is quickly becoming the go-to social media platform for celebrities, she curiously said, “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.” Of course she would have always known she wanted Elena’s story to end after six seasons because the contract she signed back when the show first started only obligated her to play Elena for six seasons, which is the standard length of a contract for series actors on an American TV show. So, what’s really happened here is that an actress has fulfilled a contract and decided against signing a new one. She’s possibly being followed out the door by co-star Michael Trevino (who plays Tyler Lockwood) since he’s booked an ABC pilot in first position, meaning that if it gets picked up it will supersede his Vampire Diaries obligations.
There are those who would prefer that the CW rescind its order for a seventh season and simply end the show with Nina Dobrev’s final episode. However, surely the CW wasn’t shocked by Dobrev’s departure, assuming they didn’t already know about it beforehand, depending on when exactly she made her decision. When they offered an early renewal for season 7, they must have been fully aware that while Dobrev was a question mark Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder were locks, both signed up through season 7. One could easily imagine a “Plan A” scenario in which the show about two brothers competing for the same girl continues on as it always has and a “Plan B” in which the show becomes about two brothers coping with that girl’s sudden departure. Dobrev has forced “Plan B,” and most likely seriously upped Candice Accola’s screen time.
A similar decision now lies before multiple other shows and networks. According to Deadline, these are the notable TV actors whose contracts expire after the current season:
- Nathan Fillion (Castle)
- Stana Katic (Castle)
- David Boreanaz (Bones)
- Emily Deschanel (Bones)
- Ted Danson (CSI)
- Almost everyone on Criminal Minds (Thomas Gibson, Joe Mantegna, Shemar Moore, Kirsten Vangsness, AJ Cook)
- Charlie McDermott (The Middle), who booked a pilot before everyone else in the cast negotiated new contracts to stay on the show. He’ll now become a recurring character on The Middle should his pilot get picked up.
Common sense would dictate that the people from Castle and Bones will re-up for at least another year, Castle because it’s still going strong and Bones because surely they’d like to actually have a final season which is promoted as such. Common sense would also dictate that it’s an all or none proposition meaning that Castle wouldn’t try to move on without Stana Katic or Bones with David Boreanaz. Law & Order: SVU has soldiered on with Mariska Hargitay after Chrstopher Meloni left, but Castle and Bones both seem far more dependent upon its central male/female pair than SVU ever did. However, Deadline says Fillion, Katic, Boreanaz, and Deschanel are all non-committal, possibly as a negotiating tactic, which is why neither show has been renewed yet. CSI is already considered a bubble show based upon its ratings, and Danson leaving might make cancellation a much easier decision. Who the heck knows about Criminal Minds, which has already undergone multiple cast turnovers.
Among the actors listed, it would be most shocking to see Fillion and/or Katic walk away from Castle (or for the show to continue without both of them), but it was shocking to see Dobrev leave Vampire Diaries and yet here we are.