'Once Upon a Time': Rebecca Mader Will Not Return for Season 7

The actress has played the Wicked Witch of the West since season three of the ABC drama.

The creative reboot for ABC's Once Upon a Time's newly announced season seven is coming into closer focus.

Following leading lady Jennifer Morrison's decision to exit the drama after the current sixth season, co-star Rebecca Mader announced late Thursday that she, too, would be leaving.

"A lot of you have been asking if I will be joining everyone in season seven, so I wanted to let you know personally that unfortunately I am not. This wasn't my choice but a creative decision of the show's that I totally respect and understand," she wrote on Instagram.

ABC renewed Once for a seventh season Thursday afternoon and confirmed that co-stars Lana Parrilla (Regina), Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold) and Colin O'Donoghue (Captain Hook) inked new deals to remain with the Disney-inspired fairy tale drama. Morrison's departure was formalized Monday; fellow leads Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White) and Josh Dallas (Prince Charming) are also expected to leave the series after its current sixth season.

The drama from creators/showrunners Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis is poised to feature a big time jump next season, which will include The Walking Dead alum Andrew J. West and Jane the Virgin's Alison Fernandez, who will make their debut in Sunday's season finale. West is rumored to play an older version of Jared Gilmore's Henry.

Mader has played the Wicked Witch of the West/Zelena since joining Once in season three. She was promoted to regular in season five. Given her role as the sister to Parrilla's Regina — around whom season seven is rumored to be built — Mader's departure comes as a bit of a surprise. 

Further clarity about season seven is expected to come Sunday in the two-hour season finale.

"There are set endpoints to different stories," Horowitz said recently of the super-sized episode. "But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new stories for different characters. I think that by the end of the season finale, a lot of what we’ve been doing for the last six years is wrapped up — we hope in a very satisfying way — and then we move forward in a way that at the end of it, hopefully you’ll see what we’re hoping to do in season seven."

Added Kitsis: "We feel like we’ve completed this story, and the next chapter of Once Upon a Time will be completely different. … Creatively, it's time to end a few stories."

Read Mader's full statement, below.


To my Darling Pretties, First of all I would like to start by congratulating Adam, Eddie, Lana, Bobby and Colin on the pick up of Once Upon A Time! I am truly happy for you all and most importantly for the fans that will get to keep tuning in each week to see where they will take us. A lot of you have been asking if I will be joining everyone in Season 7, so I wanted to let you know personally that unfortunately I am not. This wasn't my choice but a creative decision of the shows that I totally respect and understand. The most important thing is that you all know how much you mean to me. I am told frequently both online and in person that by being a part of such a special show I have in some way changed someone's life. This is hugely meaningful to me. I am here to let you know that I am the one who has been changed. Not just by playing such a well written multi-dimensional character but by the fandom itself. I have heard your stories, your pain, your struggles, your achievements and I have truly felt you. I have learned. I have grown. I am a better person because of you, the fans and everyone that blessed me with this opportunity to play such an iconic role. Congrats all and thank you! I look forward to the next. I invite you to come with me on this journey. I am forever changed. And I'm wicked. And Wicked Always Wins. Forever yours, Bex