As sad as we are to say goodbye to The Vampire Diaries, imagine how the cast must feel.

With most of the stars having been there from the beginning, the CW drama has come to define a huge portion of their lives and careers. And so while they might be looking forward to the next chapter, the series finale is understandably bittersweet for the actors who have grown up alongside their characters over the past eight years.

During a recent press screening, some of the stars were able to share their favorite memories from working on the long-running drama — all of which emphasize the sweet parallels between the family the Mystic Falls gang became onscreen and the family the actors became in real life.

Zach Roerig (Matt): The pilot

"I guess I'd [say] the pilot. A lot of us were very young, kind of early in our careers and there was a certain excitement. There was an electric buzz in Vancouver especially around, I remember, the casting of Stefan. Most of us were there in Vancouver waiting to see who they were going to cast. I remember Kayla Ewell and Nina [Dobrev] floating around pictures on their phones of who they might pick. I saw a picture of Paul [Wesley] and then we later met. It was just the beginning of the very formative years of all our lives."

Paul Wesley (Stefan): How the show changed him

"As an actor, you audition for something and you get a job, shoot that job, go away, shoot the next job — it all kind of comes and goes. And with something like this, I never knew walking into that room it would be eight years of my life and that I'd start the job as a certain kind of person and I'd leave as a completely different person. So it's shaped my entire existence and a lot of my formative years and my twenties. And so the show's forever going to be ingrained in my personality, which is a major deal. I didn't sign up for that when I walked into the audition, but I'm very grateful for it."

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Michael Malarkey (Enzo): His first episode in Season 5

"That first episode that I shot with Ian [Somerhalder], it was all in the cell. It felt like we were shooting this little short film, all my scenes that we were shooting together. And we just had this instant connection and understanding of each other. And I think when you come onto a show late in the game, it's rare that you have that synergy with one of the main actors on the show. And I found that subsequently with these guys and the rest of the cast and was embraced into this world and feel like I've been there for forever. And it all started with that episode."

Ian Somerhalder (Damon): The people (and the fart jokes)

"The newness of it in the beginning was really special. I think the bonding of this cast and crew. That's who you miss most of all when you leave these things. It's not performing every day or the writing. You miss the cast and you miss the crew. You miss all the people that make it work because you effectively become a family. Paul and I have been joking for years while we've literally been killing each other or staking people. In the middle of it, there's all the sudden a fart joke and you're hysterically laughing and everyone's covered in blood. There's just these really funny juxtapositions and there are just too many to count. It's an era of our lives."

The Vampire Diaries series finale airs Friday at 9/8c on the CW after a one-hour retrospective.

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