The morning after her beloved character, Emma Swan, married Colin O'Donoghue's Captain Hook during a special musical episode, Morrison posted on Instagram that Season 6 would be her last as a series regular on the show. Morrison, O'Donoghue, Lana Parrilla, and Robert Carlyle all entered contract negotiations in the event of a Season 7 renewal back in March, with Morrison being the first to officially make a decision either way.
"As I reached the end of my six-year contract on Once Upon a Time, I was faced with a significant decision," Morrison wrote. "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."
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
Morrison added that she'll appear in one episode next year if ABC renews the show, and in a statement sent to TVLine, Once producers Kitsis and Horowitz 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."
With many of the cast members' contracts expiring at the end of Season 6, Kitsis and Horowitz planned ahead for any potential exits. May 14's two-part season finale will serve as a reset of sorts, with two new characters — Andrew J. West's "strong yet vulnerable" leading man and Alison Fernandez's "precocious 10-year-old with a constant twinkle of mischief in her eye" — joining the series as new potential leads before the end of the night.
"Any changes that we have to accommodate have been accommodated," Kitsis said. "We planned this finale from the beginning of the year, so whoever stays and whoever goes ... all those questions have already been dealt with. The audience does not have to fear [anything feeling] incomplete."
Once Upon a Time's Season 6 finale will air on Sunday, May 14 at 8/7c.