‘Once Upon a Time’ to return without original stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Jared Gilmore

ABC has renewed the fantasy series “Once Upon a Time” but most of the cast won’t be back for this seventh season. We already knew that star Jennifer Morrison was bowing out; she announced that news on Monday, just hours after her character, Emma Swann, got her happy ending with Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) on a musical episode.

Now comes word that original cast members Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas, who have played Emma’s parents Snow White and Prince Charming — are exiting as is Jared Gilmore who has played her son Henry. Also out are Emilie de Ravin, who joined in season one as Belle, and Rebecca Mader, who first appeared as the Wicked Witch in season three and signed on as a regular in season five.

Co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are moving the story in a new direction. Indeed, this Sunday’s two-hour finale will introduce two new characters including a young man who has lost hope and now lives as a recluse. Could he be a grown-up version of Henry, the boy whose search for his birth mother Emma to the dismay of his adoptive mother Regina (Lana Parrilla) kicked off the series back in 2011.

O’Donoghue, Parilla and Robert Carlyle, who plays Rumpelstiltskin, will return for season seven. Morrison has committed to appearing in one episode to wrap up her character’s storyline. Perhaps the other exiting actors will make appearances as well as they are all leaving on good terms. Horowitz and Kitsis praised each of them in a statement:

“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 re-invented 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 relateable. And 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.”

Sorry, Dan Stevens (‘Beauty and the Beast’):
77% say Robert Carlyle (‘Once Upon a Time’) is the better Beast

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