Jennifer Morrison‘s Emma Swan song is nigh.
TVLine has confirmed that Morrison will not be returning to Once Upon a Time as a series regular for Season 7, in the event the fantasy series is renewed by ABC. Morrison broke the news of her exit early Monday on Instagram (see below), while also noting that she has agreed to return for one Season 7 episode (in the event the show is renewed).
The development comes just days before Once airs its two-hour Season 6 finale, on Sunday, May 14 at 8/7c.
Morrison had been one of four cast members invited to renew their expiring contract, along with Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle and Colin O’Donoghue (all three of whom are expected to re-sign, says our sister site Deadline).
In a statement, series co-creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis said, “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.”
With original cast members’ contracts expiring at season’s end, and with two new characters being introduced in the finale as part of a narrative “reset,” the Once creators told TVLine the end of this chapter in the series was designed to account for any exits, even those that may appear to be up in the air. “Any changes that we have to accommodate have been accommodated,” Kitsis said in mid-April. “We planned this finale from the beginning of the year, so whoever stays and whoever goes… all those questions have already been dealt with. The audience does not have to fear [anything feeling] incomplete.”
In the event that Once Upon a Time earns a Season 7 — it currently ranks fifth in the demo among ABC dramas (behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Designated Survivor and HTGAWM), and eighth in total audience — the door is open for Morrison to reprise her role as needed, for that one promised episode. “[J]ust because Jennifer won’t be back every week doesn’t mean we won’t see our Savior again,” Horowitz and Kitsis said in their statement.