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The Vampire Diaries to Explore Family, Friendship on Season 4

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We may be months away from The Vampire Diaries Season 4 - an extra month, no less, with The CW pushing its fall premieres back until October - but producer Julie Plec was on hand for a panel at the ATX Television Festival in Austin this weekend and offered up a number of teases to keep fans buzzing throughout the summer.

And it all starts with a friendship that will turn into a major focus of the new season.

"I always look at Caroline as Stefan's future Lexi," Plec told an enthusiastic crowned. "You've seen little pockets of a friendship spark between them, and I see Caroline in the long run of the series becoming that important in Stefan's life."

What will bring the pair together when TVD returns? The desire to help Elena with her transition, Plec said, explaining that "Caroline is an acolyte of the Stefan school of sobriety."

Among other tidbits revealed at the panel:

Caroline and Matt will "have another moment," according to Plec.

Alaric may return, even with Matthew Davis starring on Cult and his character confirmed to be dead. "As long as Jeremy can see ghosts and Alaric is out there in the universe, then there's a window there," Plec said.

Without delving specifically into the love triangle, Plec did acknowledge that Damon has grown over three seasons, saying he has done terrible things in the "name of love, pain, abandonment, self-preservation, survival and family" and that "he's going to keep evolving and Elena's feelings for him are going to continue to evolve."

Finally, it's "time" for the arrival of Bonnie's dad, Plec spoiled: "This year is a big year of transitions. It's the end of senior year, and there's a rich home life for everybody we're going to explore."

Writing on Season 4 of The Vampire Diaries begins today. Which of these storylines has you most excited?

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Damon now deserves Elena....

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i think that katherine and stephen make a great couple and tyler and caroline also make a perfect couple

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Perfect couples in my opinion is Elijah + Katherine (I had a huge think about this and thought it could work)
Stefan + Elena (I didn't have to think I have no doubts)
Damon + Dr Fell ( alright)
Tyler + Hayley/phoebe ( WoW)
Caroline and klaus or Matt( IDK????)

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Yes i do hope damon will get a chance to prove his lve towards elena, i think in this season elena ll knw the truth that daman was the first one to see elena and fall in daman love

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Ugh. This season is going to suck. The will they or won't they drama worked on Friends, House, and the X Files, but the Damon/ Elena stuff is so tired and played out. This show is a convoluted, bloated, boring mess. I'm done.

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season 3's finale was shocking and can't wait for season 4. There's going to be BIG changes around the cast. =O

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Damon will hook up with dr. Fell. They had a bunch of scenes together at the end of season 3. Time for Paul to share his real life love as Ian shares Nina.

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I LOVE Elijah and love Klaus. Eljiah *sigh* is just the perfect blend of complex emotions/morale/honourable and kinda hawt >.

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Oh come on! Just give Damon a vampire girl (not elena) because I do believe he deserves a whole break from the Kathrine/elena deal. Someone like Rose who immediately saw past his exterior and liked him straight away! Leave Stefan and Elena alone, its clear that their love is pure and beautiful!

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Stefan and elena should get back together after all they've been through.Damon and katherine should find their way back to each other