The CW announced that The Vampire Diaries will be returning for an eighth season in 2016/2017! What would keep you interested in this next season?

The news of The Vampire Diaries renewal was met with some mixed reactions from fans who, for the most part, were bracing themselves for a potential cancellation. The reactions ranged from somewhere between this:

And this:

These mixed reactions are completely understandable! On the one hand, many fans agree that season 7 has been like a rejuvenation for the show. They have survived the loss of their lead actress, Nina Dobrev, and have been able to focus on other characters more and tell different kinds of stories in spite of it. I am thrilled that the show will be coming back, if only for the fact that I want them to be able to eventually end it on their terms, and not with a surprise cancellation from the network when it’s too late to change anything.

On the other hand, the show has changed quite a bit from the one we originally loved. It struggled to find its footing throughout most of season 5, and while fans generally liked seasons 6 and 7 better, many people were hoping that the show would end when Nina left. When it didn’t, they were willing to give them one more season to wrap everything up for the other characters before pulling the plug.

Even without the loss of Elena, after almost seven full seasons of non-stop action and romance, how much more story can be told about the same people and the same town without getting repetitive? Is there really anywhere left for these characters to go that will be interesting enough to keep you coming back? I think there are at least a couple of new things they can do to shake things up, and some things they can go back to to bring fans back to the golden age!

1. Get out of town

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Mystic Falls has provided us with an amazing backdrop for stories over seven seasons and over centuries of time in The Vampire Diaries world. Now however, it is barely a ghost of its former self. Matt Donovan is right about one thing, ever since Stefan came back to town, Mystic Falls has largely exceeded its normal wear and tear and at this point, I think the warranty might be finally void.

Related: The Vampire Diaries: Is Mystic Falls worth saving?

There are already some great options for places they can go. The obvious choice being Dallas since Caroline, Alaric and their family already live there. Some of the best days of this show were when they were constantly battling against “the council” in Mystic Falls. What if there was something similar in the big city of Dallas? What if Caroline had to deal with something like this at her job or at her children’s school?

Bringing back a large human element like a full city would make it really mean something to be a vampire again! If you’re only surrounded by supernatural beings (and Matt), it kind of takes the punch out of being supernatural. It has been fun to see the vampires lower on the totem pole with all the heretics around, but the initial draw of this show was vampires, so it would be great to get back to a place where we could explore vampirism again.

A big part of The Vampire Diaries has been diving into the supernatural history of Mystic Falls, but what about the supernatural history of other parts of the country/world? Another option would be somewhere the Salvatore brothers have lived before. We could explore something that happened to them in their past and it could connect to a larger history of that area.

What about somewhere with a larger witch culture? New Orleans would be on obvious choice, but Bonnie also has roots in Salem and the Gemini coven, which Josie and Lizzie technically belong to, were rooted in Portland. There is a ton of history out there to be explored, why should The Vampire Diaries keep limiting itself to one small town?

2. Incorporate more crossovers with ‘The Originals’

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Opening up the world to more characters and possibilities is almost never going to be a bad idea, especially when fans already know and love those characters and they already have a rapport with Salvatore and co. The ratings improved for the crossover event which just proves that these are dynamics the fans are dying to see. For more on this, read Why The Originals and The Vampire Diaries should do crossovers more often.

3. Explore some fan favorite relationships

the vampire diaries ships, klaroline, bamon, delena, stelena

The Vampire Diaries is a show that is built around relationships. There is a ton of great story outside of the romance of the show, but when a show is initially built around a love triangle, relationships are always going to be an integral part of the fandom.

Because of this initial love triangle, Stelena (Stefan/Elena) and Delena (Damon/Elena) are two of the relationships fans are most attached to. Obviously, these have been severely sidelined with the departure of Elena! We still get glimpses of Delena but it really isn’t the same.

The relationships on The Vampire Diaries right now all seem to be lacking something, especially the ones coming into play on the future side of the flash forward. While I’m not inherently opposed to Stefan/Valerie or Caroline/Alaric, we didn’t get to see how they began and I fear that the “bridge backs” won’t be enough to actually get fans on board. Some fans are still loyal to Steroline (Stefan/Caroline), but they never really took off the way that many people were hoping and have kind of simmered. Nora/Mary Louise is actually my favorite canon relationship at this point!

It’s no secret that Klaroline (Klaus/Caroline) is one of the most popular dynamics in the whole series. The show is actually in a place where they could potentially explore that and that could be just the thing to light the fire in this show again! It would definitely be interesting to see these two come together and incredibly compelling to watch.

Related: Klaroline returns on The Vampire Diaries: The ship’s five greatest moments

Klaroline, Delena, I see you too BonKai shippers… let’s face it, we’re obsessed with the “bad boy falls in love with innocent girl” trope. It’s not just bad boy-good girl either! Katherine with basically anyone is a good example of the opposite. Bonnie/Enzo could actually have this same potential, but I think they’ve been ruined before they even started.

Just like with Stefan and Caroline’s new pairings, we didn’t get to see this relationship develop. If we had, it could have done a lot to get fans on board with Enzo again. He has flip flopped so much that I’m actually not even sure if he fits into the “bad boy” type anymore. However, if the writers could somehow turn this around, it could be interesting.

Now, let’s talk about the Bamon (Bonnie/Damon) in the room. The writers have themselves backed into a corner on this one, because it is so polarizing. It is absolutely true that these two have great chemistry and their scenes together have been some of the highlights of both season 6 and 7. It is also true, though, that Damon’s true love is Bonnie’s best friend. It’s one thing for Damon to “live his life” by hooking up with Krystal with a K, but another thing entirely to begin an actual relationship with Elena’s best friend.

The logistics are tricky if they were ever to go this route for sure. However, how long can they keep putting these two together and ignoring that chemistry? The show could get to a point where it seems ridiculous that their friendship isn’t progressing further and some fans are already angry about this. While exploring this relationship would definitely make some fans extremely happy, it may be a breaking point for some others.

4. Lose the dead weight

the vampire diaries, enzo

This one is simple. Get rid of characters like Matt and Enzo that fans are getting bored with and leave more screen time for the characters we care about. Cool? Cool.

5. Raise the stakes! (As in literally raise the number of wooden stakes)

the vampire diaries

Currently on The Vampire Diaries, season 7, the stakes are that Stefan’s life is in danger, and Damon is offering to take his place. That’s big right?! The only problem is, exactly zero people believe that either of these men is going to die.

Julie Plec has made it abundantly clear that the show will keep going as long as Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder want to stay. Translation: if they’re done, the show’s done. The minute Nina Dobrev decided she was leaving, the protagonist armor of the lead four characters (Stefan, Damon, Bonnie and Caroline) grew about 1000 times thicker. We know they’re not going anywhere.

One way that this show has managed to keep the stakes high without deaths (although there have been plenty of deaths) in the past is with the rise and fall of relationships. That’s great, except it doesn’t work if everyone is in relationships the fans don’t care about!

There are some characters that are relatively dispensable. For example, Alaric, Matt, Josie and Lizzie. Putting these characters lives in danger would have a far greater impact than teasing us with the lives of the Salvatores.

With a large organization like the Armory at play, or whatever could meet them in their next destination, there is some potential for higher stakes. As long as the writers give us something to care about and then realistically threaten to take it away, it will be compelling! Julie Plec and the writers have worked magic before (I’m still in awe of how they handled the Stelena to Delena transition and Nina’s departure) and I’m confident they can do it again!

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