‘The Vampire Diaries’: Why Elena and Stefan’s Breakup Scene Angered Paul Wesley

Elena and Stefan’s relationship was the foundation of The Vampire Diaries. And when they broke up in season 2, the fandom was shook to its core. In a recent interview with Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley revealed how he felt while filming Elena and Stefan’s breakup in season 2, revealing the process made him “a little bit angry” with the episode’s director.

'The Vampire Diaries' stars Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev stand closely together as they pose in front of a purple background. Wesley wears a grey T-shirt, Dobrev wears a sleeveless, collared dress that's baby blue on top and black on bottom.
‘The Vampire Diaries’ stars Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev | Robert Benson/WireImage

Why do Elena and Stefan break up in ‘The Vampire Diaries’?

Elena and Stefan started falling in love in The Vampire Diaries pilot. It didn’t take long for them to get together and fall fully in love. But Katherine Pierce’s shocking return to Mystic Falls changed everything.

In season 1, Katherine was only seen in flashbacks. And Damon spent his time trying to open the tomb and save her. But she was never in it. And she returned to Mystic Falls for Stefan, not Damon. And in season 2, she made breaking up Elena and Stefan her main goal. (Well, that, and protecting herself from Klaus Mikaelson and the other Original vampires.)

Stefan and Elena pretended to break up in order to appease Katherine. But she figured out their ruse, and it landed Elena’s Aunt Jenna in the hospital. Katherine had already caused a lot of damage to their lives at that point. She turned Caroline Forbes into a vampire and would clearly make good on her promise to hurt more people, like Jeremy. To protect her loved ones, Elena broke up with Stefan for real in The Vampire Diaries Season 2 Episode 6, “Plan B.” The scene goes:

I’m so sorry.

We were stupid sneaking around thinking that we weren’t going to get caught.

I know.

We did this. Stefan, Jenna’s in the hospital. And Jeremy could be next. All because we didn’t listen to her, because we’re together. Stefan…

I know what you’re gonna say.

Then let me say it. I’ve been so selfish because I love you so much. And I know how much you love me. But it’s over. Stefan, it has to be.

Elena, I don’t…

No, Stefan. It has to be.

The breakup was unexpected and heartbreaking. But Dobrev and Wesley’s performances in it remain some of the show’s most memorable.

Paul Wesley was going through personal hardships while filming Elena and Stefan’s breakup

Speaking with The Vampire Diaries creator Julie Plec and Dobrev, Wesley said his performance in that scene was influenced by his own experiences.

“I remember doing at least four [takes] that were, like, pretty good,” he told Entertainment Weekly’s Binge podcast. “I also was dealing with a couple things in my personal life.”

Wesley didn’t share what made his personal life so difficult at the time. But he did try to keep it all separated from his work on The Vampire Diaries. He said:

“I didn’t really want to go to dark places because I was trying to keep my head above water in real life, frankly. And so [director John] Behring kept pushing me. Maybe he sensed I was going through something and so he really wanted that on screen, and I remember just getting a little bit angry at him, even though it was his job. I would do the same as a director. When you’re creating film or television, the whole point of it is to be honest and pure.”

'The Vampire Diaries' stars Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley stand closely together as they pose for photos among fans of The CW series.
‘The Vampire Diaries’ stars Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley | Fred Duval/FilmMagic

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The tears and heartbreak on Stefan’s face was Wesley processing his feelings about his personal life in real time, Wesley said. And while it was cathartic, the actor didn’t like that he had to work out his feelings before he felt ready. Wesley shared:

“That crying, that whole breakup was [me] dealing with my own stuff, essentially, on screen. And then I remember after we shot it I was a little relieved, but then also a little bit angry that I had to deal with that and then I had to go home and deal with that. But at the end of the day, it’s on screen, it works so great for the scene, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

“Plan B” wasn’t the end of Stefan and Elena’s relationship. But it was never the same. Stefan was forced to go off with Klaus, and Damon and Elena grew closer in his absence. Elena eventually admitted to her feelings for Damon, but she chose Stefan because she never stopped loving him. However, after Elena became a vampire, she chose Damon over Stefan. In the end, Damon and Elena and Stefan and Caroline ended up being endgame.