ABC's fairy tale drama will be saying goodbye after the current seventh season, led by Lana Parrilla, Colin O'Donoghue and Robert Carlyle, later this year, co-showrunner and co-creator Adam Horowitz announced on Tuesday. The series finale for Once Upon a Time, which will have aired 156 episodes during its entire run, will air in May.
"Seven years ago we set out to create a show about hope, where even in the darkest of times, a happy ending would always be possible. But we never imagined the happy ending that was actually in store for all of us -- years and years of adventure, romance, magic and hope," Horowitz and co-showrunner/co-creator Eddy Kitsis said in the joint statement.
"We're so grateful to our brilliant collaborators -- the cast, crew, and writers -- as well as our partners at the studio and network for making this journey possible," the statement continued. "But most of all, we want to thank the fans. Their fierce loyalty and devotion was the real magic behind Once Upon a Time. We hope they join us for these last few hours as we journey to the Enchanted Forest for one more adventure."
Once Upon a Time debuted in 2011, quickly establishing itself as a hit family drama for ABC and the subject of passionate social media fervor among its loyal and vocal fans. But drastic changes after season six, from major cast exits (Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas were among those who left once their contracts expired) to a significant time-slot shift (from a plum Sunday time period to Friday evenings), forced the show to creatively reboot itself for its seventh season. Though Morrison and former regular Emilie DeRavin returned to wrap up their storylines, the show added several new cast members -- Andrew J. West, Dania Ramirez and Gabrielle Anwar -- to fill the void.
Horowitz toldVariety in a new interview that he and Kitsis knew that there was a realistic chance the seventh season could be the show's last.
"It’s not like this was like a shock. We knew this was a distinct possibility from the moment the season started" Horowitz said. "So it has always sort of been in the back of our minds designing things to wrap up the end of this year if need be. So we’re prepared and we’re well into our end game plan."
As for whether Once Upon a Time favorites will be turning up one last time before the series ends, Kitsis and Horowitz remained mum.
"There’s a chance that a few familiar faces from the original will be back, but we are very conscious of not wanting to take away the happy endings we gave last year. So there will be some familiar faces, but it won’t be another redo of what we did last year," Kitsis said.
"But we do have some surprises that we’re hoping to unfurl in the last few [episodes]," Horowitz added.
Once Upon a Time returns for the final episodes on Friday, March 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.