Our jaws dropped when The Vampire Diaries ended its fifth season finale with the death of what is arguably it's favorite characters and definitely one-half of the show's chosen romantic pairing. We're speaking, of course, about Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), the studly, sarcastic vampire with a heart of gold (well, bronze, at the very least). In last night's episode, he sacrificed himself in order to bring his brother back from the Other Side. The episode ended with he and Bonnie clasping hands and being sucked into whatever oblivion exists on the other side of the Other Side. Though things may look dire for Damon, we're calling shenanigans on this "death." Here are three reasons why Damon can't be dead (for good).

Ian is still under contract. The three big TVD stars — Ian, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Welsey — are under contract through six seasons, which means, if Ian's contract includes the "We may kill you clause" allegedly featured in many TVD contracts, then it would be the show's decision to kill him off. We can't see TVD doing that. Even if the TVD Powers That Be wanted to, we can't imagine The CW letting them do that. There's also this humorous and recent tweet from TVD executive producer Julie Plec to consider: "Dear @iansomerhalder, stop telling people I fired you. I don't have personal security." Ha!

These teases about Season 6. Paul Wesley told TV Guide about the upcoming season: "[The finale] definitely establishes new parameters in the environment we'll be shooting in Season 6. They reset things in a way, and the writers have the ability to now change the circumstances and locations of where the show takes place." To us, that sounds like Season 6 will be following the escapades of Damon and Bonnie on the Other Side. Not to mention that this marketing poster for the upcoming season teases a "journey back to each other." Delena angst, anyone?

It's Damon, freaking, Salvatore. Seriously? What is this show without Damon? (Note: we would say this about Elena and Stefan, as well). This show is about these core characters and the relationships they have with one another. We like to think of Damon's death as less of a tragedy and more of an inconvenience — not to mention Grams' vague mention of watching out for Bonnie certainly implies that there might be a loophole for getting out of permanent death (because isn't there always on this show?). Watching Elena and Stefan and Damon fight to reunite with their loved ones sounds like a great way to spend the first act of Season 6. Who's with us?

Do you think Damon is dead (forever)? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments below!

Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl for all things The Vampire Diaries. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!