TVLine has confirmed that Morrison will not be returning to Once Upon a Time as a show regular for Season 7, in the event the series is renewed by ABC. Jennifer 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 original cast members invited to renew their expiring contract, along with Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle, and Colin O’Donoghue.
In a statement, series co-creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis said, “The past six years of collaborating with Jennifer as Emma Swan has 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 the original casts’ 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 if she desires.
“Just 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.
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. Emma Swan is one my favorite characters that I have ever played. 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, and I will most certainly continue to watch ONCE UPON A TIME. The creativity of the show runners has always inspired me, and I cannot wait to see the ways that they continue to develop and reinvent the show. #Onceuponatime #EmmaSwan #UglyDucklings