The final season of the long-running CW series “The Vampire Diaries” was announced today at Comic-Con by executive producer Julie Plec, who was joined at the show’s panel with returning executive producer Kevin Williamson and cast members Ian Somerhalder (Damon), Paul Wesley (Stefan), Candice King (Caroline), Kat Graham (Bonnie), Zach Roerig (Matt), Matt Davis (Alaric) and Michael Malarkey (Enzo).

In announcing that the eighth season would be the last, Plec said to the Comic-Con crowd, “It’s bittersweet and emotional and we’re all going to be crying in about five minutes but we wanted to be the ones to tell you guys first because you’ve been with us on this run and it’s been a beautiful run.” A video featuring the cast, Plec and Williamson talking of the journey over clips from the entire series run was shown. When the lights came up, many on the panel were wiping away tears.

Though Plec said she wasn’t fully sure they’d get an eighth season, she explained, “We made a real effort to make sure that our finale last year had all the closure it could possibly have, just in case the worst happened…for us it was being able to resolve relationships and then just tee up a hint of a new villain and a new problem.”

Of the unnamed villain, whose creepy, long finger was seen in the finale and will play a big part in the new episodes, Plec didn’t offer too many details but did say, “It’s a new take on villains for us. It’s definitely something that’s rooted back all the way to ancient times.”

Williamson was excited when Plec explained this villain to him. “I thought it was a clever and cool way to infuse Mystic Falls with this ultimate evil and it’s like a little cherry on top with the mythology of Mystic Falls and that’s what I love about it.”

Plec also revealed that much of the action in the new season would take place back to the show’s home. “We start the season back in Mystic Falls. Damon and Enzo are not (there) so in that way we work to bring them back in to the fold for good or bad.”

Of where we left off last season, Damon and Enzo will be very changed for a to-be-revealed reason. “There’s mysterious elements of almost mind control going on that we haven’t really had go on before,” Malarkey said, “but it’s really, really interesting how it’s playing out.”

“Ultimately you’re used to seeing Damon or Enzo or any of these characters exert that power over someone else,” Somerhalder said. “So when you see them ultimately in this realm where they literally have no control over their actions…in their minds, they’re still them so it’s that conflict and that struggle is what we all look for and it’s truly a gem as an actor to play.”

For Bonnie, Graham teased that she has quite a journey ahead. “A lot of last season was about the development of the relationship that Bonnie had with Enzo and obviously Bonnie and Damon and then you see the crumbling in the season finale of her and she also doesn’t have her magic so the thing that made her feel like herself, and also her best friends, are not there…she’s literally at ground zero.”

One thing Plec lamented we won’t see before the series wraps up is a chance to see our cast of characters get a bit more musical. “Sadly I have not been able to make my musical episode fly,” she said. “With regret, I have to let that one go.”

“Vampire Diaries” returns for season 8 on October 21 at 8pm on the CW.