The Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev
“The Vampire Diaries” executive producer Julie Plec teases when fans will see Nina Dobrev as Elena again. CW

Fans of the hit CW show “Vampire Diaries” got a surprise on Friday’s Season 7 finale when Nina Dobrev returned … kind of. The actress, who left the show last year, made a cameo in the episode but it was only her voice. Still Dobrev’s return to “Vampire Diaries” was a big deal, and something executive producer Julie Plec said she appreciated.

In an interview with TVLine following the episode airing, Plec said that Dobrev came back to the set to do an ADR, automated dialogue replacement. “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,’” Plec said. “She chose to do it in person, which was great, because it was a nice little personal Nina visit.”

Plec also said fans will get to actually see Dobrev’s character Elena again, but it might be a while. The executive producer explained that she and Dobrev agreed that she would reprise the role of Damon’s (Ian Somerhalder) girlfriend on the series finale. “It’s what she and I agreed on when she decided to move on, and it’s what I’ve got in my head,” she said. “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.”

As previously reported, Somerhalder announced last month that he was leaving the show after Season 8. After accidentally misleading fans to believe that “The Vampire Diaries” was ending next year, he took to Twitter to explain that what he was trying to say was that he was leaving. “Last weekend I talked to an audience at a Q&A about the end of #TVD and how excited I was to make what I believe — my last year — be as great as possible,” he wrote. “Somehow in my infinite wisdom and end-of-season foggy brain, I managed to make it sound like the show was coming to an end.”

Even though Somerhalder clarified his remarks, Plec previously said she didn’t see the show continuing on without Somerhalder or his co-star Paul Wesley, who plays Stefan. “My end game needs to, in my opinion, emotionally run parallel with the end game of Paul and Ian — more so than the network and the studio,” she said in a January interview with Variety. “When those boys decide that they’re done telling stories … I need to be done. I feel like I owe them that and I owe the show that.”