The Vampire Diaries co-creator Julie Plec has revealed why antagonist Katherine Pierce was killed off in season 5. The series, based on the books of the same name, premiered on The CW in September 2009. The Vampire Diaries followed the character of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) for most of its run, giving particular focus to her complicated relationships with the siblings Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder).
The show quickly became a hit, and one of the key reasons for its success was an ability to deliver (and commit to) some shocking cliffhangers. An early example of this occurred in the season 1 finale, when Katherine dramatically inserted herself into Elena’s life. Katherine, also portrayed by Dobrev, was a doppelgänger of Elena, and the vampire was able to trick her way into Elena’s home and wreak havoc. The chaotic scene that ensued set the tone for the rest of the supernatural drama, leading viewers to expect the unexpected from then on. It also confirmed that Katherine would be a formidable threat going forward, ensuring her presence in future episodes. However, new remarks reveal that Katherine’s popularity came at a cost.
Looking back on The Vampire Diaries as part of EW’s Binge podcast, series co-creator Plec reflected on Katherine’s return in season 5 and confessed that it wasn’t easy to bring the antagonist back into the fold. Katherine took over Elena’s body for a stretch of the season and Plec received some pushback from The CW regarding the character’s return. According to Plec, the network was concerned that Katherine featuring so heavily in the series would take a toll on Dobrev. Read Plec’s full comments below:
“We had to negotiate for the right to let Nina [Dobrev] play Katherine again because the season 2 Katherine [story] had really taken everything out of her and the network was being very protective. [The network] and studio were being very protective and they were like, ‘You can’t do that anymore, you can’t have Katherine.’ I literally think we had to say we’ll kill her in order to get permission to use her.”
Dobrev has been open about how it exhausting it was to play both the protagonist and one of the main antagonists on The Vampire Diaries. Despite being doppelgängers, the two characters were markedly different in their clothing, dialogue and even their movements. What’s more, beyond having to master the distinctions between Elena and Katherine and bring them to the screen, the two characters would occasionally share scenes together. All of these factors would have contributed to a more arduous filming schedule, likely leading to The CW’s concerns about overworking one of its main stars.
In the same vein, it was Katherine’s arrival that helped boost the drama’s reputation. Critics, as well as some viewers, went from dismissing the show as a mere continuation of the Twilight trend to lauding the performances of the cast and the audacious plot twists that kept fans intrigued. And while all of these features proved extremely rewarding for the show’s viewership, it also set the kind of momentum that the series couldn’t sustain. At least for a time, however, The Vampire Diaries was firing on all cylinders, and Dobrev’s revelatory portrayal of both Katherine and Elena was a significant part of that.
Source: EW’s Binge podcast (via EW)