The Vampire Diaries Preview: Get Ready for a Scary-Fun 'Ripper Stefan' Roadshow

A very bad man is coming to The Vampire Diaries, and his name Stefan. Ripper Stefan.

After two seasons of living his life as Saint Stefan (as Damon likes to call him), Elena’s good-hearted boyfriend did the unthinkable to save his brother. Stefan gave himself up to Klaus and drank from a human girl in exchange for the cure — Klaus’ blood — to Damon’s werewolf bite. But the scary fun of what executive producer Julie Plec calls “the Stefan/Klaus roadshow” is just beginning.

Joseph Morgan, the man who plays Klaus, has some thoughts about how bad — and good for viewers — Stefan’s horrific transformation is going to get. “What we’re going to get to see is how dark Stefan can go,” shared Mogran at Comic-Con. “The interesting thing is that Klaus has given Stefan permission to release that darker side of himself. We’re going to see…what Klaus’ ultimate goal is with Stefan and for Stefan.”

The answers won’t come quickly, though, and neither will a reunion with the residents of Mystic Falls. “This is not going to be a short storyline,” reveals Plec. “We’re going to be exploring the levels of Stefan and his dark side for hopefully a good amount of time.” Some of the questions that Plec says will arise during Stefan’s sojourn: “How long will he stay separated? Will they be able to help him, find him, rescue him, bring him back from the edge? Or will he keep fighting that?”

Of course, Stefan can’t stay away from the people he loves forever. Eventually, “he’ll probably make his way back to Mystic Falls,” says Plec. “Suddenly, it’ll be an interesting dynamic for Damon, who was the mysterious, evil dude who showed up in Season 1, leaving Stefan to clean up his messes. Now, it’s going to be a little bit of the reverse.”

It’ll also be a new chapter for sweethearts Stefan and Elena. Might “Ripper” be just one of many things the show will borrow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer next season? Will gone-darkside Stefan be just as cruel to Elena as Angelus was to Buffy?

“You’re going to see a very, very, very definitively different version of their relationship,” replies Plec. “Not just [in] one episode, but over a good part of the season.”

That journey is giving Paul Wesley plenty of new things to work with as Ripper Stefan. “I’ve been watching dailies. He’s really good,” raves executive producer Kevin Williamson. “He also has a swagger and a fun to the role that doesn’t exist as Stefan because he’s so the good boy. He’s so intense. He’s so broody. No one really gets to see the playful side of Paul Wesley. … As dark and as devilish and as nasty as he is [as Ripper Stefan], it makes him more fun.”

The Vampire Diaries returns to the CW with new episodes on Sept. 15.