With Once Upon a Time set to go through a creative reboot, EW has rounded up all the intel from ABC and executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis on the upcoming seventh season. (Bookmark this page — we’ll keep updating with the latest news until the show returns this fall.)
When will it air?
The show will be moving from Sundays to Fridays at 8 p.m. ET for its seventh season, which will consist of 22 episodes. It will premiere on Oct. 6. Read our recap of the finale here to find out where we left off.
Who’s coming back?
Original stars Lana Parrilla (Evil Queen/Regina) and Robert Carlyle (Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold) will return alongside Colin O’Donoghue (Captain Hook), while Andrew J. West (adult Henry Mills) and Alison Fernandez (Henry’s daughter Lucy) join as new series regulars. Jennifer Morrison is also slated to return for at least one episode as Emma Swan, Jared Gilmore will briefly be back as a young Henry, and Emilie de Ravin will reprise her role as Belle for a Rumple-centric episode, in which Giles Matthey also returns as their son Gideon.
Who’s not returning?
Morrison won’t be back as a series regular after exiting the ABC fairy tale drama alongside Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White/Mary Margaret), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming/David), Rebecca Mader (Wicked Witch/Zelena), Emilie de Ravin (Belle), and Jared Gilmore (Henry Mills). However, the OUAT bosses have left the door open for any of the latter to return as well and plan to reveal what’s become of the characters even if they don’t appear.
What is season 7 about?
Here’s the logline from ABC: “After six seasons, the residents of the enchanted forest face their greatest challenge yet as the Evil Queen, Captain Hook, and Rumplestiltskin join forces with a grown-up Henry Mills and his daughter Lucy on an epic quest to once again bring hope to their world and ours. Along the way, new fairy tale characters and old search for true love, find adventure, and once again take sides in the struggle of good against evil, as classic tales are once more twisted and reimagined.” The fact that ABC used their fairy tale monikers — since, you know, the Evil Queen is a totally different person now — could simply be because these names are much more recognizable and therefore marketable. (After all, the logline came out during upfronts, which are the presentations for advertisers.)
Where does the new season pick up?
After a finale that provided a sense of closure for many characters and gave them their happy endings, the show has jumped ahead a decade,** where an adult Henry has been forced to flee the Enchanted Forest from some great new evil darkness, leaving his daughter Lucy in charge of the storybook. But when she arrived in Seattle to enlist her father’s help in saving their family, Henry didn’t seem to remember her for yet-to-be-revealed reasons. UPDATE**: “Adult Henry will actually be more than 10 years older than we last saw him,” Horowitz teased on Twitter on July 4.
UPDATE: The season premiere actually picks up not long after our favorite fairy tale characters got their happy endings, as we see a young Henry decide to leave Storybrooke in search of new stories to author. More details here.
What’s happened to Henry’s family?
After seemingly leaving home to find his own story, Henry went missing after facing the darkness. His daughter Lucy subsequently tracked him down to the real world, saying that his family needed his help. (Find out why only Hook, Regina and Rumple are in Hyperion Heights here.) Obviously, this will be part and parcel as to why many of the characters are M.I.A. next year, but the fact that Morrison is returning for just one episode has some fans fearing that Emma will die. With his family missing, Henry must step up as the new hero (he’s still the Author), bringing us into new worlds where we’ll meet new characters, some of whom may be new iterations of familiar faces we’ve seen before. The OUAT bosses do plan to branch out from the fairy tales we’ve already seen, adding new regular characters in the process. UPDATE: Gabrielle Anwar (Lady Tremaine) and Dania Ramirez (Cinderella) have joined the cast as new series regulars, while Adelaide Kane (Drizella), Mekia Cox (Tiana), and Rose Reynolds (Alice) will recur. More scoop here. SECOND UPDATE: Emma Booth has also joined the cast in a recurring capacity as a witch whose true identity will be revealed later in the season. Meegan Warner will also appear in one episode as a new iteration of Rapunzel.
What is the theme of the new season?
Belief. Though Henry had the heart of the truest believer, he has clearly lost that belief in the future, so Lucy will ostensibly have to help him get that back, much in the way a young Henry helped Emma do the same.
Who is Lucy’s mother?
Henry’s high school love Violet is not the mother. Some fans have theorized that Moana could be Lucy’s mother — there was a Polynesian mask on one of the portal doors, but Horowitz has since said that was not a clue about where the show is going next season. The OUAT bosses liken that pairing to a Once epic romance. UPDATE: Henry’s wife is a new iteration of Cinderella, played by Dania Ramirez. See their first meet below and get the scoop here.
Will everyone have “new identities”?
While promoting OUAT‘s move to Fridays at the upfronts, ABC chief Channing Dungey let slip that Hook, the Evil Queen, and Rumplestiltskin would return “with new identities, in a new city, facing a new curse.” An easy explanation — just a theory — is that another curse has hit, giving the trio (and anyone else affected, like possibly the M.I.A. Charmings) new identities much in the same way the Dark Curse did in creating the Storybrooke alter egos of Snow White (Mary-Margaret) and Jiminy Cricket (Dr. Hopper). UPDATE: It’s true! A new curse has hit, and you can see some of the trio’s alter egos here and you can read all about the new curse here.
What’s next for Hook, Regina, and Rumple?
Though we didn’t see them in the flash forward, the OUAT bosses have dropped scant clues on what’s next for the returning trio, including that Regina will still be “fighting for the people.” But TPTB have stressed that they’re not looking to rehash old redemption stories for each of the former villains. UPDATE: The OUAT bosses expanded on Hook’s new role, explaining we meet him in Seattle when the show returns, but the second hour, “A Pirate’s Life,” will explore what happened to him in the ensuing years. Read more here on whether Hook will go dark, if he and Emma had a child and if he still has eyes for Emma when the show returns.
How different will Once Upon a Time be in season 7?
Though many of the characters fans have come to know and love over the years are not slated to return, the OUAT bosses plan to “honor the DNA” of the show since season 7 does take place in the same universe, meaning we’ll still have dual story lines from past and present, as well as a world with no magic — but it won’t necessarily be Storybrooke-based. And the flashbacks could go even further back in time, considering both Hook and Rumple are hundreds of years old. UPDATE: “We’re going to find ourselves in a new book and a new universe with lots of new characters to tell, so we’re going to continue to flash back,” Kitsis confirmed at D23. “We’ll be in Seattle for modern day and we’ll flash back to the Enchanted Forest.” But since we’re seemingly seeing a new book with different iterations of characters, will this also be a different iteration of the Enchanted Forest?
What does the season premiere title mean?
As suspected, Hyperion Heights — the title of the season premiere — is the name of the new neighborhood that Henry will be living in Seattle. “You’re going to see it’s a neighborhood and that’s a great title for it… We have a really fun take on the city and this new forest and we can’t wait to show everybody.” Kitsis told the fans at D23. Horowitz added: “It is obviously an homage to Disney history. We’re always really conscious of that and we love to find ways to Put that in.” However, we haven’t seen the last of Storybrooke. “We may see it a few times throughout the year, absolutely,” Kitsis said.