Considering this the (relative) blindside of Once Upon a Time this season — Jennifer Morrison is going to be leaving following the season 6 finale of the ABC show.
Morrison herself was the first person to confirm the news, saying the following in part on Facebook about her choice to depart the show after being a part of it since the pilot:
“As I reached the end of my 6 year contract on ONCE UPON A TIME, I was faced with a significant decision. ABC, Eddy Kitsis, and Adam Horowitz very generously invited me to continue as a series regular. After very careful consideration, I have decided that creatively and personally, it is time for me to move on.”
Morrison went on to add that she will appear in one episode of Once Upon a Time this season, which serves as further evidence that Emma Swan is not completely gone from the world and the show. The reality here is that the end result now isn’t all that different from what was announced in advance. There were reports out there that Morrison would potentially recur in a seventh season, but would not be a regular. This news is a slightly-modified version of that, and it will be disappointing to many, no doubt. You can also make the case that without Emma, it’s hard to really have a show since she was the heart and soul of it. She was the one person who was basically different from everyone else in Storybrooke in that she didn’t spend years at the town going in.
So where does this news leave the remainder of the show? Well, that’s a little bit more complicated. According to a new report coming in from Deadline, Lana Parrilla and Robert Carlyle are both nearing deals to return as regulars for season 7, while Colin O’Donoghue already has a contract to return. (How in the world we see Hook without Emma is going to be one of the strangest parts of this show.) Andrew J. West of The Walking Dead is going to make his own first appearance during the show’s finale, and odds are that he will be a regular during the seventh season, as well.
Ultimately, we find ourselves with an interesting dilemma leaving into the seventh season of the show. You cannot imagine the show without Emma, but you also don’t want to take away an opportunity from the other cast and crew members who loved the work and value the employment. Morrison shouldn’t be responsible for dictating their future, so they deserve a chance to continue. Meanwhile, the writers are responsible for bringing us the Emma character, and they deserve a chance to try to move the show forward without her.