You've read the news, you've wept into your Brothers Grimm collection, but now it's time to digest the hard facts. The very idea that they might replace Jennifer Morrison on Once Upon A Time might be unthinkable, but we do need to think about it. When the 38-year-old actor announced via Instagram that she had decided to move on from the show, this threw quite a spanner in the works. After all, she plays the lead character Emma Swan — so one strategy the show might take moving forward would be to replace her. Bustle has reached out to ABC for comment, but has yet to receive a response.
This isn't unheard of in the show's history. Robin Hood was initially played by Tom Ellis in Season 2, but Sean Maguire took over the role in Season 3 after scheduling conflicts prevented Ellis from reprising the role. That said, Robin Hood was recast fairly early on in the character's story arc, after Ellis had played the character in just one episode. It's hard to imagine fans being able to come to terms with such a major character being recast so late on in the series.
And it isn't as if the show hasn't seemed prepared for her departure for a while now. That whole prophecy stating Emma Swan is fated to die? Honestly, it's felt like the show has been on the verge of writing out the character for a while.
Sure, Emma survived her battle with Gideon, but, given Gideon's response that this was far from over, it seemed likely that the team behind the show were gearing up to use Season 7 as an opportunity to potentially write Swan out. This would also be backed up by the character's history. She's the Savior — a Savior — and, as Jafar has pointed out, Saviors don't get happy endings.
While the early seasons were heavily focused on Henry Mills' birth mother, as the show has matured, there's been less and less focus on the character as we once knew her. Earlier in 2017, ABC chief Channing Dungey claimed that Season 7 would be used to launch the show in a new direction and while he stressed that this "doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re not bringing cast back" he did state that they were asking themselves "How do you kind of hit the reset button in a way that gives you an opportunity to expand the stories that we’re telling?"
Given the fact that the show seemed to both be trying to create a convincing storyline to write out the former bail bond agent and is focused on taking its story in a new direction, I'd be all sorts of surprised if they went to all the trouble of replacing the actor. So, sorry Emma Swan fans, but it looks like aside from that one last episode that Morrison has agreed to shoot, it's time to bid adieu to the owner of the most enviable red leather jacket collection in Storybrooke.