The Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev

Vampire Diaries Finale: The Story Behind Nina Dobrev's Surprise Cameo

Heads up: The following article contains spoilers from Friday’s Vampire Diaries season finale. Treat it like the Armory vault and proceed at your own peril…

Exactly one year after bidding The Vampire Diaries a fond farewell, Nina Dobrev returned for Friday’s hectic season finale — or, at least, her voice did.

Unlike the time we saw Elena earlier this season — when old footage was recycled for the scene in which Damon thought he burned her sleeping body — Dobrev recorded new material for this week’s episode, in which the mysterious villain of the vault enticed Damon with his girlfriend’s voice.

“In this particular case, she came in and did the ADR, [short for automated dialogue replacement],” executive producer Julie Plec tells TVLine. “I reached out and said, ‘We can either cobble it together from a bunch of episodes, or you can come in and see everybody and do ADR. She chose to do it in person, which was great, because it was a nice little personal Nina visit.”

As for when we might see Dobrev as Elena again, Plec says she’s sticking with her original plan of having her return for the series finale — whenever that may be.

“It’s what she and I kind of agreed on when she decided to move on, and it’s what I’ve got in my head,” Plec says. “Obviously things can change throughout time, if the show goes on longer than we expect it to, or if we all collectively decide it would be fun to bring her back earlier, and she wanted to. But in my opinion, she was very clear about what she wanted the next step in her life to be, and she’s doing a great job of achieving that. So I’m sticking with my side of the plan, which is to bring her back at the very end.”

Were you surprised to hear Elena’s voice this week? Drop a comment with your thoughts on the finale below.