The "Once Upon a Time" showrunners probably wouldn't mind finding a portal to a new realm right about now. They are the ones who gave fans this fairy tale universe, and for that fans are grateful, but the two dudes have been under heavy fire ever since news came out that Season 7 would be something of a reboot, leading to the exit of several main characters.
Just before the Season 6 finale, it was revealed that six main cast members would not be returning as series regulars -- Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming), Rebecca Mader (Zelena), Emilie de Ravin (Belle), and Jared Gilmore (Henry).
Goodwin and Dallas had already planned to make Season 6 their last. Morrison decided to leave the show after being asked to return for Season 7. Both Mader and de Ravin said on social media that they would've liked to return for more "Once" but were not asked. And Season 7 is following the adult version of Gilmore's character, played by Andrew J. West, benching the OG Henry.
On top of the cast changes, ABC just announced that they're moving "Once Upon a Time" from Sundays to Fridays. It looked like a vote of no-confidence for Season 7, leading many fans to wonder why they didn't just go ahead and cancel the show completely, letting the Season 6 finale be the big happy ending.
TheWrap talked to OUAT creators/executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis about the many cast member exits, asking how they felt about the fan reaction to the shakeup. Here's what they both said in response:
Adam Horowitz: To be quite honest, we haven't looked at a lot of it because we can guess that the reactions [range] from, "I will never watch this show again," and "Rot in hell." But these are the same people two weeks ago that were saying, "When are they going to give someone their happy ending?" So if we listened to the internet, there's too many voices and too many opinions. What we felt was the show always was bold: At the end of Season 1, we broke the premise of the show, and we broke the curse. And I think everybody would agree six seasons later that if Emma still didn't believe in it, the show would not be on the air. So we felt it was time to end one adventure and begin a new one.
Edward Kitsis: We want the fans to enjoy the show, obviously, but we have to find the way to keep it surprising and keep it fresh and keep it moving forward. If there are questions about what we're going to do and how they feel about it, I think our hope is that when they see what we're planning to do, that they're just as engaged as they've always been.
One question might be why they didn't just make this new adventure a spinoff instead of having it be the seventh season of "Once Upon a Time." They could've ended the main show last week. But the answer to that may be because we will see the departing characters again. That's something the showrunners emphasized to TheWrap:
Horowitz: I think what we can tell is you can see everybody. Even people who have been dead on our show come back three years later. There's a difference between, "I want to do a couple [episodes] a year," and "I want to be there permanently."
Kitsis: I think if all goes according to plan, you'll see a lot of people pop in and out. It wasn't like we did a finale for Season 6 where there was a massacre at the end. These characters are going on, so we would love to have them go in and out as they can and if the story warrants it.
Ginnifer Goodwin did recently say she expected to return to "Once" at some point, maybe the series finale, it's just now time for a new story to take center stage. Jen Morrison said she agreed to return for one episode of Season 7, maybe the premiere or finale, if it's indeed the series finale.
Season 7 will follow adult Henry and his daughter Lucy, plus OG characters Regina (Lana Parrilla), Rumple (Robert Carlyle), and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue), as well as more regulars to be named later. Horowitz said we'll find out who Lucy's mother is right in the premiere, and "It will be somebody from the fairy-tale realm," giving further credence to the theory that it's Moana, and Henry's romance with Moana will be the next epic love story.
"Once Upon a Time" Season 7 will premiere this fall -- now on Fridays -- on ABC.
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