[Spoiler alert: The following contains information from Thursday's episode of The Vampire Diaries. Read at your own risk!]

The Vampire Diaries officially said goodbye to both Sheriff Forbes and Jeremy Gilbert, but not without a few twists along the way, of course.

On Thursday's heartbreaking episode, Mystic Falls' beloved Liz (Marguerite MacIntyre) passed away. Before she bit it, though, she attempted to solve a few cold cases, including the accident that killed Elena and Jeremy's parents. Turns out just like Liz's cancer, there was no supernatural involvement or supernatural explanation.

The Vampire Diaries: How will Caroline handle her mom's "expiration date"?

Also in the episode, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) left town for art school, but in a turn of events, it was revealed he's secretly off to hunt vampires for living. But why did the show plan his exit before Bonnie (Kat Graham) returns? And what was filming like for both McQueen and MacIntyre on their final days? Plus: How will everyone handle Forbes' funeral? And what's next after Caroline and Stefan finally kissed? Executive producers Julie Plec and Caroline Dries, along with McQueen and MacIntyre, answer a small group of reporters' burning questions below.

Why choose this peaceful, non-fatal, end for Jeremy?
Caroline Dries:
Jeremy has died a few times, so we really wanted it to feel special, but official too and like we mean it this time. [It was] grown-up closure. That's why we felt like it was right for him to become a man and say, "I'm ready."

Steven R. McQueen: It made my last couple of scenes fun. I got to joke around with everyone, rather than being sad about it. My last scene was Enzo's foot on my face and [director Chris] Grismer shot it a good nine times and then [everyone] all come running out in these superhero costumes with a big cake and I got my face shoved in the cake and they kept filming; I just saw it. [You can watch it here.]

On the Set: How Well Does Candice Accola Know Her Vampire Diaries Love Interests?

Why have Jeremy leave before Bonnie returns?
Julie Plec: Our decision to say goodbye to Jeremy in the middle of the season was born out of wanting to feel like his character made a strong decision in spite of his circumstance. It couldn't really line up with Bonnie's journey because her journey right now is never-ending and we don't know when she'll be back or what will come of her. He needed to make decisions for himself mostly because of Bonnie being the final straw. There were still be a conversation to be had or a reunion of sorts to deal with once we get our Bonnie back, but Jeremy needed to get up and go.

Why have him become a vampire hunter rather than really go to art school?
Plec: The biggest point we wanted to make is that when you come out of Mystic Falls, there is no such thing as a normal [life]. As Elena said, "Maybe smoking a joint with my brother is the most normal thing I've ever done." Jeremy was someone who went through so much and needed a purpose, and Elena believed it was get out and go to art school and be normal, but Jeremy's secret is, "I'm forever changed but I'm going to use this change for the powers of good." Of course, Elena would never go for it because she's trying to be the protective big sister but Alaric gets it.

How was it filming Forbes' death?
Marguerite MacIntyre:
I have to say ... the hardest thing for me has been that everybody knew it was coming so for weeks beforehand. Everyone has been very emotional with me and I'm like, "Dude, I'm fine." When we did the table read when I had the first scene where there was first trouble after Ian was like, "You get better right?" I'm like, "No." From then on he was very clingy.

On the Set: Take a tour of The Vampire Diaries (Damon's bedroom included!)

Plec: In this episode and next week's episode, we like to hit on the theme of the ordinary business of dying and there's so much emotion attached to it, but there are so many logistics attached to it from planning the funeral to picking out flower arrangements. All of these things we've done along the way with Caroline in spite the supernatural circumstance that was created with her mom getting a very human disease. We've enjoyed exploring the simple basic logistics of having to accept the death of someone you love and literally and figuratively put them in the ground. It's surprisingly emotional and we wanted to make sure we captured all those moments.

Dries: When [co-executive producer] Brian [Young] and I were trying to think of what the theme of this episode is we liked that there was no mystery to Elena's parents' death just like cancer just chooses you. Marguerite was sitting with Damon and was a dark scene and the studio and network read it and said, "Could there be some silver lining? This is so depressing, there's no answer to Elena's parents death or an upside to cancer!" And I'm like there is no upside to cancer, that's the whole point! So Julie asked Marguerite to write a thing of what would the sheriff would say to her daughter at her funeral and Julie shared it with me ... so we added the speech when Sheriff says to Damon about Caroline being extraordinary, but exceptionally ordinary. That sparked from what Marguerite had written about her own character. So it did add this silver lining that she is OK with that. So even though I was like, "This note is so annoying!" it brought the ideas together.

Plec: Marguerite and I have been good friends since we did Kyle XY together and three episodes into Season 1, we were looking for the sheriff and Kevin [Williamson] was like, "What about your friend Marguerite?" So I called her and said, "You want to be a sheriff? You can come to Atlanta and we can hang out together" and she came and entered our universe and six years later was the last parent standing, the last grownup standing. She has been on the chopping block of death since Episode 4 of Season 1 and over a certain amount of time her relationship with Caroline became so profound that we thought we'll never kill her because this mother-daughter relationship is one of the most important bonds on the show! So every time we talked about [her dying] I would burst into tears. The cancer story line killed all of us.

Who will replace her as sheriff then?
Plec:
That seat is going to remain vacant for awhile; it's an answer that will come in Season 7. But her death will put people on new paths and make them make choices about who they want to be and what they want to do with their lives so maybe someone's path will lead them in that direction.

Talk about the decision to not have Caroline there when she died.
Dries: Even though people die all the time, we wanted it to feel like a real death, so if Caroline were to have a conversation with the sheriff and she died 30 seconds later it wouldn't feel like real life. The original idea for the episode was that Caroline creates the perfect day with her mom and we were like, oh, there's no conflict with this story.

Plec: The original pitch was a bucket list, but she'd take a turn for the worse before she could do the last thing so Caroline would go into her mind and give her that last thing. Once we broke the investigative story line involving the parents and we realized the closure in that mystery put her to sleep we went this way. In the midst of all the pain and sadness, there is a beauty and peace to be found in your last moments and to send somebody off feeling like a character gave them that is really important.

Exclusive Video: Watch CW's insanely sad goodbye tribute to The Vampire Diaries' Jeremy Gilbert

What happens now that Caroline and Stefan kissed?
Plec: What's the first conversation you have after your first kiss? Right now, something pretty dramatic has happened so next episode is about judging when and how that first conversation is going to go.

What else can you say about the fallout next week?
Plec: The two people carrying the most weight in the next episode is Caroline and Damon. When all said and done, Liz was a surrogate mother and a best friend to him and a lot of what we talk about in the next episode is him being tasked with writing a eulogy and to stand in front of the town and honor his friend. He has a line that says, "This is ridiculous, this is making me have to be a nice person, I'm not a nice person." He's struggling with hero Damon as always, he wants to do right by his friend and fix a mistake in his past with regards to his mother, but is put out of his comfort zone.

What about Enzo and Sarah?
Plec: Enzo has this whole master plan that you can say is smart or dumb depending on where you stand on it. [Sarah is] going to throw him for a loop when she finally comes face to face with him again and he'll be surprised with her reaction to the fact that he's of some supernatural origin. [His plan] is not going well for him at the moment. Enzo is a guy deeply rooted in loyalty and we still haven't scratched the surface as to why and why Stefan's betrayal of Damon in Enzo's mind was so profound it makes Enzo want to go out of his way for sport to do things that will mess up Stefan's life. One of the things we do in the final chapter of this season ... is to start exploring the backstory of Enzo.

Reporting by Kate Stanhope

Are you sad to say goodbye to Jeremy and Sheriff Forbes?

The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one CW's parent companies.)

Take a tour of the set below!