Why Tom Ellis’ Robin Hood Was Recast

Once Upon A Time introduced its version of Robin Hood, originally played by Tom Ellis and later recast – but why? Let’s take a look.

Once Upon A Time introduced a number of characters from classic tales, among those Robin Hood, who went through a recast after his first appearance – here’s what happened. In 2011, viewers were introduced to a new take on classic fairy tales in the fantasy adventure drama TV series Once Upon a Time, created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. The series aired on ABC from 2011 to 2018 and came to an end after seven seasons full of magic, betrayal, heartbreak, and many, many popular characters from different tales and legends.

Once Upon A Time followed Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), who was found by her son Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore) after giving him up for adoption years before. Emma took him back to his mother, Regina (Lana Parrilla), who lived in the town of Storybrooke, Maine. After Regina repeatedly warned her to stay away from Storybrooke and Henry, Emma decided to stay, and Henry quickly shared his theory on how every Storybrooke resident was a fairy-tale character. The audience soon learned that Henry was right and the town’s people were fairy-tale characters who were dragged to the real world and robbed of their memories by Regina, who was actually the Evil Queen who used a powerful dark curse from Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) – and Emma was the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.

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This tragic but exciting backstory made it possible for Once Upon A Time to bring a variety of characters from different fairy tales to Storybrooke, though not exactly the versions that the audience knows through books and certain animated movies. Among those was Robin Hood, played by Tom Ellis, and who made his first appearance in the show in season 2, specifically in the episode “Lacey”. In it, and back in the Enchanted Forest, many years ago, Robin Hood broke into Rumplestiltskin’s castle and was about to steal a magic wand when he was caught by Rumple and Belle. Robin, confident in his skills and magical bow and arrow, tried to injure Rumple, but he was a lot smarter than him and Rumple locked him up. Belle then let him go, and Rumple forced her to accompany him in hunting down the thief. When they found him, they learned the wand was to heal Robin’s pregnant and ill lover, Marian, and Belle convinced Rumple to let him go.

Robin Hood returned to Once Upon A Time in season 3’s episode “The Heart of the Truest Believer” and became a recurring character, but he wasn’t played by Tom Ellis anymore. Instead, Sean Maguire took his place and played the character until Robin’s death in season 5’s episode “Last Rides”. Speaking to TVLine in 2013, Adam Horowitz explained Tom Ellis was unavailable to return for season 3 and so Sean Maguire was brought in, as Robin Hood was planned for a recurring arc. At the time, Tom Ellis was a part of the British sitcom Miranda, where he played Gary Preston, and had a minor role in the British mystery drama Agatha Christie’s Poirot, so it’s understandable that he couldn’t commit to a recurring role in Once Upon A Time.

Tom Ellis went on to star in the TV series Lucifer as the title character, and it’s the role that made him a widely known name. As for Sean Maguire, following his time in Once Upon A Time, he played Russell Lightbourne in The 100 and Sir Effingham in The Magicians. Had Tom Ellis returned as Robin Hood, it’s highly unlikely the audience would have seen him solving crimes as Lucifer Morningstar, so it all worked out for the best for both Tom Ellis and Sean Maguire.

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