Though Nina Dobrev officially left the show at the end of last season, the actress may not have spent her last day filming The CW series.
"We would have loved Nina to stay," CW president Mark Pedowitz told reporters at a Television Critics Association panel on Tuesday. "She did a great job for the six years she was on the show. She is welcome back any time she wants to come back."
Dobrev told PEOPLE in May she was "very torn" about leaving the series.
"I was very aware of how lucky I am – and how lucky I've been over the past six years – to have this incredible family, and [I'm] very aware of how much I'm going to miss them," she said.
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But moving forward without Dobrev, 26, starring in the upcoming season has given the show's creative team the opportunity to refocus the show – and Pedowitz thinks that a good thing.
"They started last year – going into this coming season – focusing on [Ian Somerhalder's] Damon and [Paul Wesley's] Stefan. As you know, we've had great success doing shows about brothers," Pedowitz said, alluding to The CW's hit series Supernatural. "[And] Kat Graham and Candice Accola's characters are stepping up in ways that we are very happy with."
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The next season of The Vampire Diaries is slated to debut Oct. 8 on The CW.