Once Upon a Time will be losing quite a few core characters when it returns for its newly announced seventh season. Following the heartbreaking announcement of Jennifer Morrison's exit as Emma Swan, ABC has confirmed that Rebecca Mader (Zelena), Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming), Jared Gilmore (Henry), and Emilie de Ravin (Belle) will not be returning after season six. Lana Parrilla (Regina), Robert Carlyle (Rumple), and Colin O'Donoghue (Captain Hook) are all confirmed to return. On Friday, showrunners Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz gave a heartfelt farewell to the exiting cast in an official statement:
Words can't do justice to what Ginny, Josh, Emilie, Rebecca and Jared brought to Once Upon a Time . . . but we'll try . . . never have we had the privilege of working with a more talented group of collaborators. Each brought unique talent, incredible intelligence, and their own individual bit of magic as they gave life to these iconic characters . . . We can't thank them enough for the hard work, dedication and passion they delivered day in and day out. Without them there would be no Once Upon a Time. As Once continues, this group will always be the beating heart of the show. And even though we won't be with them every week, in a show about magic and hope, we fervently believe it won't be the last we see of them.
Ginny reinvented Snow White for a modern audience — there was no way she would be stuck cleaning up after dwarfs, she created an iconic empowered heroine for the 21st century. Josh mined the depths of Prince Charming — a character who in myth was just a "type" but in his superlative interpretation became a complex man fighting for love and family.
Emilie took the character of Belle to a deep and soulful place, bringing great intelligence and warmth to the character, making her fiercely independent, strong willed but also an eternal optimist who saw only the best in all those she encountered.
Rebecca took us on a broomstick roller coaster ride as she reinvented the Wicked Witch of the West by finding the pain beneath the green. She made the character soar to incredible heights while always keeping her grounded and relatable.
Jared literally grew up before the eyes of millions, from a child actor with enormous innate talent to a young man whose abilities continue to astound as he created a character who truly, as we say on the show, has the heart of the truest believer.
There are set endpoints to different stories, but that doesn't mean there aren't new stories for different characters. I think that by the end of the season finale, a lot of what we've been doing for the last six years is wrapped up — we hope in a very satisfying way — and then we move forward in a way that at the end of it, hopefully you'll see what we're hoping to do in season seven.
While it's hard to imagine how the show will go on without these beloved characters, some fans think the upcoming finale will include a time jump with guest star Andrew J. West playing an adult Henry. There might even been a change of scenery as well, by taking the trio back to the Wish Realm. Does that mean Sean Maguire will also reprise his fan-favourite role as Robin Hood? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.