How does Vampire Diaries end
“The Vampire Diaries” ended with Damon finally at peace and with his brother. The CW

The coffin is officially closed on “The Vampire Diaries.” After eight seasons, the series finale revealed the ultimate fates of the Salvatores and their loved ones. The final hour brought a few more twists and plenty of familiar faces (including Elena) back to give it the best send off possible. Unfortunately, that meant on a beloved character had to die.

The Season 8 finale kicked off where the last episode left off. Vicki (Kayla Ewell) is ringing the Maxwell bell to destroy Mystic Falls with hellfire on Katherine’s (Nina Dobrev) behalf. Bonnie (Kat Graham) fell to the ground after she experienced magic when she helped the girls get out of the house.

While Bonnie’s heart stops, she dreams of Elena (Nina Dobrev) on a bed in the woods. The two embrace, but Elena tells Bonnie that she can’t die. This is all wrong, but Bonnie insists she’s ready. Enzo (Michael Malarkey) shows up and says it’s not her time. He yanks her back to the real world where Caroline (Candice King) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) have revived her.

Damon (Ian Somerhalder) attacks Vicki and throws her out a window. That doesn’t do much, though. Vicki is already dead, so she just wakes up a few seconds later every time she is killed. Damon gives Matt (Zach Roerig) the job of preventing Vicki from getting to the bell. Vicki is determined to ring the bell every five minutes to avoid returning to hell. Katherine has promised her oblivion. Matt calls the cops to evacuate the town for a gas leak again.

READ: The best pranks the “Vampire Diaries” cast pulled

Damon and Stefan go back to the Salvatore mansion and are shocked to find that Elena woke up. Damon embraces Elena, but then he drops her. He realizes that this is too good to be true. It’s Katherine.

Katherine has hidden Elena’s body. She reveals that she’s been Cade’s boss the entire time. At 10 p.m. the entire town, along with Elena, will burn. They stab her with a dagger made of her own bones, which at least knocks her out. They need to find Elena before they ditch town.

Caroline stays behind to help Stefan search for Elena’s body. Alaric (Matt Davis) wants her to come with him and the girls. He thinks she is going to die, but she promises that she’ll be safe (which is a promise no one on “The Vampire Diaries” should ever make).

Stefan finds Elena in the high school, but there’s a spell on the room. Katherine has Elena’s body trapped in the boiler room, much like how she was once trapped in the tomb.

Vampire Diaries Bonnie
Bonnie knew how to save Mystic Falls in “The Vampire Diaries” series finale. The CW

It turns out that the bone dagger only sends her to hell, but it doesn’t keep her there. Katherine comes back and taunts Damon. She says Elena will choose Stefan when she wakes up because he is the better man. Damon stabs her again.

Stefan has come up with a plan, but it’s one that’s dangerous. Caroline says she made a promise to her girls, and Stefan says goodbye to her.

Alaric and Bonnie take the girls to the Armory to stay safe. Bonnie sees the plan Alaric was coming up with before the wedding, and she realizes that she can use her rediscovered magic to make it work. She just needs Katherine in Hell when the hellfire erupts.

Damon is determined to make sure Katherine is in Hell when Bonnie sends the hellfire into the tunnels beneath Mystic Falls. Stefan, however, thinks it should be him. They both think that this will be redemption for their sins, and they’re willing to let the hellfire kill them.

When Caroline gets to the Armory, Ric and the girls are in a rush to leave. Bonnie tells Caroline that she loves her and she promises she’ll be fine. Ric is going to fill her in in the car.

Vampire Diaries series finale recap
Bonnie and Caroline rush to say goodbye before a big battle in the series finale of “The Vampire Diaries.” The CW

Once Caroline is in the car, Alaric tells her the plan. Stefan is supposed to sacrifice himself. Caroline calls him and leaves a teary voicemail. “I need you to know that I understand. I love you. I will love you forever. I understand,” she tells him.

Stefan is still confronting Damon. Although he wants to return to his wife, Stefan feels he owes this to Damon. He forced his big brother to become a vampire, but he wanted Damon to be a good man and find happiness. Damon gets teary, but he compels his little brother to leave.

As Vicki rings the bell for the last time, Bonnie starts chanting in the Armory. The hellfire is forced underground into the tunnels, but it heads to Bonnie. “You can’t have me, it’s not my time,” Bonnie says as she feels the hellfire growing stronger.

Enzo shows up to tell her that she can stay strong and reminds her that she isn’t alone. Her grandmother (Jasmine Guy) is holding her hand and helps with the chanting. More Bennett witches from the past show up to push the fire back into the bell. “I did it,” Bonnie says before she collapses to the ground.

The next scene in the “Vampire Diaries” series finale shows Elena looking at a trophy case. She rounds a corner and runs into Stefan. She asks why she’s here. “Damon wanted to sacrifice everything to save you to save this town to save everything,” Stefan says. But he didn’t let his brother do that.

Stefan reveals that he took vervain, so Damon couldn’t compel him. He stole a syringe from an ambulance and gave Damon the cure from his blood. That means Stefan died. He was the one who made sure Katherine was in Hell when the hellfire hit. “Goodbye, brother,” were his last words.

Stefan tells Elena that he recently saw the Damon he knew when he was a kid. He wanted that guy to live, and he wants Elena to know the truly good Damon. “He’s the better man. He’s the right man,” Stefan says as he wipes a tear from Elena’s eyes.

“There’s something I have to say,” Stefan says before he whispers something to Elena. He walks off into a bright light and sees Lexi (Arielle Kebbel) in the high school parking lot. The dead best friends happily embrace.

TVD Elena returns
Elena finally woke up in the “Vampire Diaries” Season 8 finale. The CW

Elena wakes up — for real this time! — and the first person she sees is Bonnie. It turns out that her magic is stronger that Kai’s. “It took some time, but I think I finally figured this witch thing out,” Bonnie laughs. The two are immediately sad, though. Elena asks where Damon is, and he’s with Caroline, saying goodbye.

Stefan is dead and put to rest in the Salvatore family crypt. Damon asks Caroline if she thinks peace exists. She does, and she thinks they’ll see Stefan again someday. However, Damon still believes he’s going to hell. “Don’t be so sure,” Caroline says.

Damon and Elena reunite outside the cemetery with a romantic kiss. Elena sits down with Caroline to tell her Stefan’s last message before his death. “I heard her, and I will love her forever too,” he said. Caroline is thrilled.

They leave mementos for Stefan: Damon’s ring, Elena’s vervain necklace and Caroline’s Mystic Falls snow globe key chain.

READ: How Nina Dobrev said goodbye to ‘Vampire Diaries’

The “Vampire Diaries” series finale ends with an epilogue showing many characters living their lives while their loved ones look on from the afterlife. Vicki and Tyler (Michael Trevino) watch Matt as he lives on as a Sheriff. Bonnie goes on with her life, dedicated to traveling, but she can still see Enzo.

Damon wants to fulfill Stefan’s last wishes. His mansion is used for the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted, which Alaric and Caroline run with help from Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen). Alaric’s fiancée Jo (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) and Caroline’s mother Liz (Marguerite MacIntyre) watch over them. Someone else is helping Caroline too. Klaus (Joseph Morgan) did not appear, but he sent her a big donation for the school.

Elena is seen outside the Salvatore mausoleum in hospital scrubs with a diamond ring on her left hand. She’s writing in her diary about Stefan. “He brought me back to life, and I’m going to live it as best I can for as long as I can,” she writes as a crow spooks her. It's a nice throwback to the “Vampire Diaries” pilot.

Elena tells the audience that she believes peace exists, and it’s proven. We see her in the afterlife. She reunites with her parents, Jenna (Sara Canning) and her biological father John (David Anders) in the last moments. She says Damon isn’t so sure he has escaped Hell, but he has. Damon is shown in the afterlife, reuniting with Stefan.

That’s where the Salvatore brothers’ story ends: with both finally at peace.