It’s not uncommon for actors to decide to leave a TV show once it starts growing grey (typically around Season 5 or 6 in most cases), and it appears “Once Upon a Time” is no different.
With a Season 7 renewal still up in the air, Deadline reports that “Once Upon a Time” is planning to shake things up next year if they get the green light from ABC. Specifically, they’re going to lose quite a few main characters.
Considering how large the ensemble has grown, it’s probably for the best that Storybrooke gets a little less crowded, and we can already see the evidence of which characters might get dropped from Season 7.
You may have noticed that Henry (Jared Gilmore) has played a far less integral part in Season 6 than he has in previous years. Where once Henry was in every episode, battling side by side with his Savior mother, he’s now faded into the background, reappearing every few episodes to play his part and then disappear again. While he may have been the hook that reeled viewers in during Season 1, he’s now an expendable character as far as relevance and screen time go.
We’re not sure how “Once Upon a Time” would believably write out Henry’s character, since it’s obvious that Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) are absolutely not expendable. Something major would have to happen for these two to conceivably say goodbye to their son.
Luckily, that brings us to our next pair of characters who might be getting gone in Season 7.
The Charmings — Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) specifically — have had far less to do this year than usual. The new sleeping curse that keeps them apart continually drops one or the other (whoever happens to be asleep that day) from the narrative of the episode. It’s also apparent that Snow has become a sounding board for Regina’s character in recent episodes, while David (Josh Dallas) has taken on a similar role for Hook (Colin O’Donoghue). If push came to shove, these characters could drop out of the show with minimal damage to the overall plot.
After breaking this sleeping curse, we would understand if Snow and Charming would want to leave Storybrooke and all its magical drama behind for the real world. If they decide to take Henry with them (for protection or just for a regular life) that would be the only circumstance we could see Emma and Regina relinquishing their parenting duties — which brings us to our next clue…
The resurgence of the “town line” storyline seems to indicate that the protection spell surrounding Storybrooke is going to be broken soon. That would mean characters would be free to come and go as they please. Once leaving town is an option, certain characters that need to be written off can receive the proper sendoff they deserve as they strike out on their own in the real world.
This kind of shake-up can only be a good thing for “Once Upon a Time” if it does end up happening. The main cast has become cluttered, and there’s not enough time to give all these characters meaningful storylines that connect to the overall arc of the season. Focusing in on the core four — Emma, Regina, Rumple, and Hook — could help keep weave a tighter, more coherent plot in future seasons.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.