Jennifer Morrison, the star of ABC’s fairytale family show ONCE UPON A TIME, took to social media Monday morning to announce that she will not be returning for a seventh season if the show gets renewed. The news comes right after the show’s musical episode Sunday night, which earned mostly positive reviews from critics and fans alike.
Morrison has starred as the series’ hero and lead, Emma Swan, since its premiere in 2011, going through many arcs, some better than others, including finding out she’s the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) to becoming the Dark One and finding her own true love with Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue).
The news is, perhaps, not as surprising as it may seem, as Morrison has been flexing the future of her career as of late. She’s currently getting ready to appear in the New York debut of Matthew Perry’s play The End of Longing and she has also been getting into the director’s chair more. In 2015 she directed the short film Warning Labels and her directorial debut on a feature film, Sun Dogs, is in the works with a great cast including Allison Janney, Ed O’Neill, and Melissa Benoist.
In her Instagram post announcing the news, Morrison stated she will appear in one episode if the show is renewed: “My 6 years on Once Upon a Time has changed my life in the most beautiful ways. I am absolutely blown away by the passion and commitment of the Oncer fans. I am so honored to have been a central part of such a special show. I will be forever grateful to Adam, Eddy, and ABC for giving me the gift of playing Emma Swan. As I move on to other creative endeavors, I will continue to attend the fan conventions whenever my professional schedule allows. I always look forward meeting the fans. If ABC Network does in fact order a season 7, I have agreed to appear in one episode.”
Series creators Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis also released a statement about the news: “The past six years of collaborating with Jennifer as Emma Swan have been truly magical. Watching her breathe life into Emma, she accomplished more than we could have dreamed possible — she gave life to a brand-new Disney Princess, filled with strength and intelligence and an incredible closet full of red leather jackets. We’ll miss seeing her every day, but her imprint upon Once Upon a Time is indelible. She will always be a part of the show and its heart and soul. That said, just because Jennifer won’t be back every week doesn’t mean we won’t see our savior again.”
However, there is now the question of how the show will proceed, if at all, without its Savior, nor Snow White and Prince Charming as Goodwin and Dallas have not been included for Season 7 plans for some time. Jared Gilmore’s Henry will also not be returning, which leaves Lana Parilla (Regina) and Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin) as the two leads with the potential to return and reports say they are close to negotiating their contracts. O’Donoghue has one more year on his contract so he will be returning no matter what if it gets renewed.
Plus, The Walking Dead‘s Andrew J. West will have a role in the Season 6 finale this weekend, which would become bigger in the possible new season. There have been rumors that a new season would slightly reboot the show (whether with a time-jump or something else), but there has been no official report about the specific plans for a seventh season yet.
For fans, it is difficult to imagine the show without the beating heart of Emma Swan, and it remains to be seen whether or not they will stick around for a new season without her. This uncertainty also explores the idea that it’s best when shows end on their own terms, rather than being dragged out or canceled abruptly.
Perhaps it would be best if the show ends now with the story of Emma Swan.
Anya Crittenton | Associate Editor