It looks like it's all over for Emmerdale power couple Robron as reports claim actor Ryan Hawley has quit the show after five years as Robert Sugden.
Hawley wants to move on to new projects, say the Sun, and will be on screen until the end of 2019 before taking a break "for the foreseeable future."
The actor is the fourth person to play Robert since the character was born into the soap's most famous family back in 1986, and took over from Karl Davies when Robert was reintroduced in 2014 after almost a decade away.
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Robert's tumultuous relationship with tormented Aaron Dingle (Danny Miller) attracted an army of loyal fans who have followed the boys through their early secret fling while Robert was engaged to Chrissie White, through his support for Aaron when he confronted his abusive father Gordon Livesey, right up to Aaron forgiving his fella for getting Rebecca White pregnant while he was in prison.
With so many huge plots already under his belt, the mind boggles as to how Robert will exit the village – and it feels like none of the following theories are out of the question…
1. Robert cheats on Aaron? (again)
Surely the character's departure will focus on 'Robron', one of the most popular pairings in soap? The lads have survived so many setbacks, and since their 2018 wedding things have been fairly calm by their standards, so perhaps producers have an epic, emotional exit story in mind for when one half of the due inevitably get written out.
Rascal Robert's roving eye has got him in trouble before, but would another infidelity be too much for the fanbase to endure after the pair finally got their happy ending?
2. Robert is jailed for killing Victoria's rapist?
Robert is playing the protective big brother card and has vowed revenge on little sister Victoria Barton's (Isobel Hodgins) rapist Lee. After he roped Aaron in, the boys are currently engaging in a spot of intimidation as part of a general smear campaign to get justice – but what if it got out of hand and Lee ended up dead at Robert's hand? Could the last we see of Mr Sugden be when he's banged up for murder?
Rob already has blood on his hands, as he was responsible for the death of former sister-in-law Katie Sugden – and if he hadn't been trying to flee the country with baby son Seb, the Whites would never have been in the car that crashed and killed Chrissie and Lawrence. Just saying.
3. Rob kidnaps Victoria's baby?
Since Vic made the controversial decision to keep her baby conceived through her sexual assault ordeal, speculation has been rife that Robert and Aaron will raise the child after recently having put their surrogacy plans on hold. We predict a tug of love situation developing as Robron put pressure on Victoria to give her child up while she gets more attached to the idea of motherhood. And with the baby due around Christmas, what if Robert went rogue and did a runner with his nephew?
4. Robert has a tragic accident?
Emmerdale is not commenting either way on the reports that Hawley is leaving, and the tabloids claim it's just a break, but don't rule out Robert being killed off for maximum impact (and ratings). The show loves a stunt, and we've had helicopters and JCBs crashing around in recent years putting lives in peril – could Robron plan a romantic vow renewal only for some terrible accident to kill one of them off? Cue lots of Danny Miller crying, which always goes down well with the audience. But would such an important heritage character really be dispatched permanently?
5. Andy returns as Robert leaves?
Apart from Aaron, Robert's second most significant relationship has been with adopted brother Andy Sugden (Kelvin Fletcher), currently on the run for a crime he didn't commit. There's always a rumour rumbling that Andy is set to return, and making it part of Rob's exit is as good a time as any – does Andy come home because he's in need of an emergency organ transplant that only his sibling can provide and Robert dies on the operating table? Or is Robert the one who needs a vital organ and goes off in search of his missing bruv who is the only match, setting up an indefinite absence?
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