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Warning: major, major, major spoilers ahead for the Vampire Diaries series finale, appropriately titled "I Was Feeling Epic."
After eight seasons of ups, downs, doppelgangers, deaths, and resurrections, The Vampire Diaries has officially come to an end. Katherine made it back to Mystic Falls in one last attempt to mess everything up for the Salvatore boys, and she very nearly succeeded...if not for some handy witchcraft, some brotherly love, and a whole lot of self-sacrifice. The good news is that the Mystic Falls crew finally managed to defeat Katherine. The bad news is that one of the Salvatores was going to have to die for the plan to succeed. Human Stefan was the one to ultimately give up his life to get rid of Katherine, and the final sequence was an utter emotional rollercoaster.
I won't lie: I was fine for most of the episode. I was okay when Elena and Bonnie reunited after Bonnie's heart stopped, I only got slightly sniffly when Stefan and Caroline were saying their grand farewells, and I was merely a bit emotional when the Salvatore bros were hashing things out down in the tunnels before parting. I was even okay when the reveal came that Stefan was really, truly, 100% not-coming-back-to-life-this-time dead. It wasn't until he walked out of the high school, saw his long-dead BFF Lexi, and got a happy hug that the waterworks started. By the time we got to the bros hugging it out in the afterlife, I was done. And here I thought I was going to make it through just fine.
Then, of course, the finale brought back just about every significant character who has ever played a part on the show. We had Elizabeth Forbes and Jo. We had Jeremy and the rest of the Gilberts. We had the Bennet family of witches. Even Klaus found a way to be included, and Joseph Morgan was nowhere to be seen. At least his fans on The Vampire Diaries got to see him reach out to Caroline once more, as the benefactor to her Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted. The Vampire Diaries used its version of the afterlife to give an ending that had to be satisfying to an awful lot of fans. It was a rough ending for fans of Stefan/Caroline, but at least the wedding in the penultimate episode gave them one final happy moment.
Thankfully, Nina Dobrev made it back for the series finale to play both Elena and Katherine, and it's hard to imagine what the show would have done if the Vampire Diaries team hadn't been able to get her back to finish the series. The show has introduced plenty of epic (and not-so-epic) villains over the years, but Katherine vs. the Salvatore brothers has been the key conflict of the entire series. The Vampire Diaries has really been about Stefan and Damon ever since Elena was cursed, and it was only fitting that they banded together to fight their old nemesis together at the very end.
The Vampire Diaries has never been a perfect show, and the stories haven't always made sense. There have been some real clunkers of episodes, and definitely some plots that I would untwist if given the chance. That said, the finale was a solid hour of television that managed to combine tragedy with peace. What more could we have really hoped for out of a Vampire Diaries finale?
Unfortunately for fans who have been tuning in faithfully over the past eight years, the show has finally come to an end, and there don't seem to be any plans for spinoff. Some Vampire Diaries characters are likely to show up on The Originals, however, so we may not have seen the last of all of them. The Originals returns for Season 4 on Friday, March 17 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Be sure to take a look at our midseason TV premiere schedule to see what else you can watch.