Once Upon a Time may have new faces and a different look when it returns for season seven, but the hit ABC show’s creators don’t want fans to worry too much about the changes.
As Entertainment Tonight reports, show creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis talked about the cast changes — specifically the departures of Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas and others — at Disney’s D23 on Saturday. According to Horowitz, the changes were all part of a long-term strategy.
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“There was a long-term plan of this story we were telling over the last six seasons and it felt like it was time to close the chapter and start a new one,” Horowitz said.
Kitsis added, “It felt like it was time for certain characters to get their happy ending and create a way to keep moving forward with something new.”
The pair did confirm that Morrison would return for one episode to close out Emma’s story in the new season. They also revealed that there would be other appearances from previous regulars as well, reassuring fans that their investment in the show has not been in vain.
“Those six years were all about building those stories to the conclusion we were trying to get to. But they weren’t so much happy endings as happy beginnings,” Horowitz said. “We really want to make sure we honor what happened over those six years, what those characters went through and where they ended up.”
“We’re not interested in erasing those six years or making people feel like they wasted six years rooting for them,” Kitsis added.
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Horowitz also explained that even with the major changes, including a Seattle setting instead of the more familiar Storybrooke, season seven isn’t a reboot.
“As much as there is new stuff and some [new] characters, what came before matters and is still a huge part of what the show is. It’s a new chapter going in a new direction. It’s not a complete reset or a complete reboot, it’s a new chapter,” he said.
Kitsis revealed that season seven will pick up with Jared Gilmore’s younger Henry rather than directly with the season six finale’s cliffhanger that showed adult Henry (Andrew J. West) meeting his daughter Lucy (Alison Fernandez) at his door.
“We’re going to pick up with Jared’s Henry and we’re going to find him as he leaves home,” Kitsis said.
Other reveals from the panel include what Colin O’Donoghue’s Captain Hook is dealing with and just how quickly viewers will get to see that evolution.
“We meet Colin in new circumstances in the premiere and in the second episode, we really delve into what happened to him,” Horowitz said, explaining that there will be flashbacks that “will explain where he is, what he is, what happened.”
Horowitz and Kitsis didn’t reveal everything about the upcoming season, though. As for whether Emma and Hook have a child together, fans will just have to wait and see.
“[We’ll] answer that at the beginning of the season,” Kitsis said.
Once Upon a Time will return to ABC Fridays this fall.
Photo: Twitter / @etnow