Once Upon a Time: Jennifer Morrison Stepping Down After Season 6

Once Upon a Time star Jennifer Morrison says she is leaving the ABC fairy tale series after the Season 6 finale this coming Sunday. Morrison has been one of the core cast members in Once Upon a Time since the series began in 2011, along with Lana Parrilla, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Jared Gilmore and Robert Carlyle. Set in a fairy tale world frozen in time in Storybrooke, Maine, the series follows the mystical story (among others) of Emma Swan (Morrison), who is the daughter of Snow White (Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Dallas). Introducing several other classic fairy tale characters over the years, the fantasy series, despite its massive following, will reportedly be reimagined if it is picked up for Season 7.

With the anticipated change comes the first big exit from the series with Morrison's announcement on Instagram Monday morning; a day after the Season 6 penultimate episode where Emma was set to marry Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue). In a heartfelt letter to the fans and creatives from Once Upon a Time, says she's reached a "significant decision" as she fulfilled the sixth and final year of her series contract. You can see her note in the full post below:

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

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The door doesn't appear to be completely shut for Emma Swan fans, as Morrison also noted, "If ABC Network does in fact order a season 7, I have agreed to appear in one episode." Once Upon a Time creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis thanked Morrison for her commitment to the series, and expressed hope that Morrison will take more than one trip back to Storybrooke. In a statement (via Deadline), Horowitz and 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.  That said, just because Jennifer won’t be back every week doesn’t mean we won’t see our savior again.”

Morrison's exit from Once Upon a Time isn't expected to be the show's only departure. Deadline says if the Season 7 reboot goes on as planned, only three members of the current cast (apart from Morrison) were approached about coming back: Parilla (Regina/Evil Queen), Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin) and O'Donoghue. Deadline says Parilla and Carlyle's contracts are near to being renewed, while O'Donoghue, who joined the show in Season 2, is already under contract for Season 7. In addition, Andrew J. West (the cannibalistic Gareth from The Walking Dead) is making his Once Upon a Time debut in Sunday's finale and is signed on for Season 7 as well.

It will be interesting to see where Morrison's career goes from here, since her star power has risen considerably during her run on Once Upon a Time. She played a brief but pivotal role in the 2009 Star Trek movie reboot as James T. Kirk's mom; and if the movie series continues with Star Trek 4 and plans for Kirk (Chris Pine) to encounter his late father George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth), it may be a great opportunity to reintroduce Morrison as well.

Once Upon a Time airs on Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

Source: ABC, Jennifer MorrisonDeadline

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