Rumors of her departure began when cast and crew members posted, and then removed, Instagram photos of Dobrev with the hashtag #WeWillMissYouNina over the weekend.
The actress made her own announcement on Instagram, with a shot of herself and executive producer Julie Plec. Check out her heartfelt statement:
"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," Dobrev wrote. "I was a human, a vampire, a doppelganger, a crazy immortal, a doppelganger pretending to be human, a human pretending to be a doppelganger. I got kidnapped, killed, resurrected, tortured, cursed, body-snatched, was dead and undead, and there's still so much more to come before the season finale in May. Elena fell in love not once, but twice, with two epic soulmates, and I myself made some of the best friends I'll ever know and built an extended family I will love forever.
"There's more to come before we wrap this up, and I promise you'll get to hear all about my experiences over the next month as we approach the season finale...but until then I invite you to hop on the roller coaster ride that is Elena Gilbert's life and join me as I celebrate her and prepare to say goodbye to her — and to my work family — as I move on to the next chapter of my life."
Dobrev thanked the show's fans for their support for the past six seasons, and cautioned "fasten your seatbelts. If you think you know what's coming, you don't."
"Saying goodbye to Nina is both bittersweet and beautiful," said Plec. "After six-plus years together, the entire cast and crew of The Vampire Diaries has reached a level of closeness that I don't think any of us ever expected. Nina is excited to spread her wings, get some rest, travel the world and also take it by storm, and we support her a thousand-fold. We will miss Nina and the four hundred characters she played, but we look forward to the insane and exciting challenge of continuing to tell stories of our Salvatore Brothers and our much-loved and gifted ensemble."
Whether Elena will die or walk away from Mystic Falls has yet to be determined.
Plec also addressed the departure of Michael Trevino, who was recently cast in the ABC pilot Kingmakers. "Even though he's also going to be out in the world exploring new opportunities, we looked forward to finding creative ways to make sure he and his character Tyler Lockwood always remain a part of the show."
Will you miss Dobrev? What are your ideas for how Elena should leave?
VIDEO: Watch Dobrev talk about Elena's journey this season