Shocking character deaths are generally saved for a TV show’s season finale, but The Vampire Diaries is getting started early this season with a series regular’s death in Thursday’s penultimate episode. Who might die in Season 5, Episode 21 (“Promised Land”)?

According to TV Guide, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Elena (Nina Dobrev) actually take the news of their possibly impending deaths rather well, spending more time “goofing off than worrying.” But that will all change when the plot takes a serious turn: “Unfortunately, the duo will get a harsh reality check when the Grim Reaper does come knocking for someone by the end of the episode. In other words, if the Other Side can't be saved, a series regular may never come back.”

Yowza! This sounds serious. And, are we the only ones who think that tease was phrased in a way that implies the death will either be Stefan or Elena’s? We’ve speculated before that Stefan will die in the penultimate episode — and this tease seems to support that theory. Check out the sobering evidence in the Season 5 finale synopsis that Stefan will be recently-murdered come the final episode:

  • First of all, Stefan isn’t mentioned as carrying out any action of his own in the episode — and even Sheriff Forbes is in there.
  • "Heartbroken by an unexpected tragedy, Damon is focused on holding himself together.” Elena’s around for the ep, so who else would Damon be heartbroken for?
  • “Elena takes matters into her own hands and demands that Liv and Luke help her.” Demands! She’s desperate about something and needs the wonder twins to fix it.
  • “Liv’s off-hand remark regarding Stefan gets a surprisingly emotional response from Caroline.” Why else would Caroline get so emotional at the mere mention of Stefan? She isn’t crushing that hard yet, is she?

Of course, whoever dies in Thursday’s episode, that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. The Other Side isn’t gone yet, and everyone knows that — though the penultimate episode is important — the season finale will be full of shocking twists.

Which series regular do you think will die in Thursday’s episode? Share your theories in the comments below!

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Kayti Burt is a contributing writer for Wetpaint Entertainment with a penchant for all things pop culture. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!