Elena Gilbert is a fictional character and protagonist from the The Vampire Diaries series of novels. In the television series of the same name set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, she is portrayed by Nina Dobrev. In the books, Elena was blonde, popular, selfish and a "mean girl". However the show's producers, Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, felt that it wasn't the right direction they wanted to go with their heroine in The Vampire Diaries television series. Instead, her "dark side" didn't exist, and she was nice, relatable and "the girl next door".