AceShowbiz - For the first time without %cNina Dobrev%, "The Vampire Diaries" hit San Diego Comic-Con. Attending the panel on Sunday, July 12, co-creator Julie Plec and stars %cIan Somerhalder%, %cPaul Wesley%, %cKaterina Graham% and %cCandice Accola% revealed what's next on the show post-Elena (Dobrev).
"Of course it's bittersweet [to be here without Nina]," said Plec. But as Somerhalder claimed, "It's just an evolution of the story. Stories come, stories go - this is Mystic Falls without Elena Gilbert." Somerhalder, however, jokingly noted that Elena is not dead and "she's just taking a little nap." Accola said Elena's presence would still be felt in the first few episodes of upcoming season 7.
Graham chimed in on the end of Elena's storyline, "I thought it was a really clever way to keep Elena there and keep her presence there and keep the door open in a lot of ways for her to come back. But it also created an interesting dynamic going into season 7 for Bonnie and Damon and them to have to deal with the fact that Bonnie's alive and Elena's not."
Somerhalder teased that without the love of his life, the old and naughty Damon would be back. "It's the old f***ing Damon, the Damon that we really fell in love with. That's the goal - let's bring that back, that energy, that sexy, volatile, fun, scary, dangerous - a lot of that s**t that made you guys fall in love with him to begin with," he exicted the crowd. "I'm bringing it back!"
Plec added, "The challenge for Damon is Elena said to him to please live your life and be who you are. The [question] is, 'Who am I without this girl by my side?' ... The line is going to get a little crooked, and he's going to hopscotch over it. We're going to get a lot of naughty Damon trying not to be naughty."
As for Caroline and Stefan's budding relationship, Accola said, "I love a good slow-burning relationship in a television series that you get to watch build." Plec continued sharing, "[They'll have] a lot of very unexpected twists and tuns, actually. The fun of this couple is they're just coming together, they're just getting cemented in their status. She's trying really, really hard not to be ready."
The love stories aside, these remaining characters will face against new villains, including three new women Valerie and a couple named Nora and Mary-Louise, who have been together for 120 years. Plec described them as "nasty, nasty, nasty girls."
Plec additionally said that there's more to come as there's no plan to end the show after the upcoming season 7. "I do not foresee the show ending after next season. I think we have more story to tell," she assured fans. "[But] I know how it ends."
Since the production on the seventh season had just begun, they didn't show any new footage. Instead, they played a fan-created video that compiled the romance, the villains and the violence. It also hilariously superimposed Kai's face onto Elena's body in Damon and Elena's kissing in the rain scene.