It’s a sad week for Once Upon A Time fans. Jennifer Morrison, who plays the savior of Storybrooke Emma Swan, confirmed she is leaving the fairy tale drama Monday morning.
“My 6 years on ONCE UPON A TIME has changed my life in the most beautiful ways,” the actress wrote on her Facebook page.” 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.”
This marks the first big exit from the series. But we can recall her on-screen parents Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas told fans earlier this year that they might not be returning for Once Upon A Time Season 7 either.
Goodwin and Dallas, who portrays Snow White and Charming, respectively, got married and welcomed two kids through the course of OUAT‘s run, so deciding to leave the show makes sense. However, Morrison’s sudden departure is a bit of a shocker. Her character, Emma, has led the drama since it debuted back in 2011. Although the story’s focus has somehow shifted to other characters like Regina and Rumpelstiltskin, her role has remained pivotal that the thought of OUAT continuing without her is nearly unthinkable.
What Morrison’s Departure Means
Now, the question is: just how would the show continue without Morrison?
As much as we want the show not to replace her, one strategy the show might consider moving forward would be to replace her.
Recasting a character is unheard of in the drama’s history. Tom Ellis initially portrayed Robin Hood in Season 2, but Sean Maguire took over the role in Season 3 after scheduling conflicts prevented the original actor from reprising the role. Then again, he only played the outlaw hero for one episode whereas Morrison has been Emma Swan for six long years. It’s totally understandable if fans wouldn’t come to terms with a major character being recast so late on in the series.
How Once Upon A Time Season 7 Continues
If the show decides to let Emma Swan go, though, in what direction would the story go from Season 6? Here are a few suggestions, per Bustle:
Henry realizes his destiny.
Henry has always been the driving force behind the fairy tales. He was the one who brought Emma in StoryBrooke. Just like her biological mom, Henry has a heart of a hero too. However, he’s often left on the sideline as his two powerful mothers take the center stage.
Once the Black Fairy’s curse is finished, the destinies of the Storybrooke residents could change. Perhaps he’d get to be in charge of his own come Season 7.
Regina becomes a single mom again.
With Emma gone, the publication reports Lana Parilla’s character will be a single mother again and this experience will be completely different than the first time around. Will Regina be able to fulfill this role once again?
Hook faces the ultimate test.
Season 7 could open up more possibilities for Hook’s character development. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Colin O’Donoghue who plays the role shared, “[Hook] realizes he can’t run away anymore. He’s not the same Hook. He has to confront the issues and deal with them head-on and whatever happens happens, which is part of who he is as a changed man.”
Considering he and Emma were recently married, it should be interesting to see how Hook will confront this problem alone. Although it would certainly be better if they take the journey together.
Rumple learns from his mistakes.
As the son of the Black Fairy who has been responsible for most of the bad luck in both Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest, Rumple played a role in making the Black Fairy’s curse happen. This suggests he may have a lot to answer for in Season 7. Perhaps his guilt may finally get the best of him and he’ll learn from his mistakes.
We learn about other Storybrooke residents
Throughout the course of OUAT, fans met a number of Storybrooke residents. So the easiest approach would be to explore them and give them a chance of a happy ending.
Whichever strategy it is, note that this cast shakeup has already been hinted before. ABC Chief Channing Dungey previously said Once Upon A Time Season 7 would be “a springboard in a new direction from a narrative standpoint.” But are they really recasting Emma Swan’s character? The show has yet to confirm the matter but they did reveal new characters will be introduced next season if it gets renewed. Morrison has also agreed to appear in one more episode then that’s it.