Emmerdale fans have been left devastated by Ryan Hawley’s exit – and fear Robert Sugden will be killed off.
The actor, who played the role for five years, will reportedly be taking a break from the ITV soap at the end of this year.
A source told The Sun : “Emmerdale fans have loved every minute of RobRon’s story, and what Ryan has brought to playing Robert.
“But he has decided to take a break from the show for the foreseeable future and try other projects.
Robron has developed a devoted following that are ‘heartbroken’ and have speculated on how Robert will be written out of the show.
Devastated viewers took to Twitter after discovering the sad news about Ryan’s departure.
One heartbroken fan said: “One I’m numb right now. I don’t even know what I’m feeling. I’m sad #RyanHawley is leaving, but if that’s his choice I’m happy/excited for him and whatever comes next.
“But my #Robron heart is utterly shattered How are they gonna write him out? I dread to think!”
Another added: “My heart is actually broken now. I could cry. I can’t believe Ryan is leaving”
A third said: “I am absolutely gutted to read Ryan Hawley is leaving #Emmerdale. Not just for Robron (even though I love them) but because Rob is my favourite character by miles. So versatile, there is no one quite like him and Ryan is brilliant. I’m going to miss him”
Already there has been lots of theories on how Robert will leave the village.
Some have suggested that Robert will have to be killed off because his love for Aaron is too strong.
This would be similar to how Coronation Street decided to split up Kate Connor and Rana Nazir by killing the nurse in the factory roof collapse.
“If they split Aaron and Robert up I will be so so annoyed, I hate to think about it the only way that #emmerdale can properly do this is to kill robert off,” said one fan.
Others believe that Robert may be sent to prison for attacking sister Victoria’s rapist.
In upcoming episodes, Robert manages to track down Lee and looks set to get revenge.
This would eave the door open for Ryan to return to the role at any point in the future and stop Aaron and Robert from splitting up.
One viewer speculated: “Sad news and I guess his exit might end up being connected with the current rape storyline with Victoria”
Another theory is that Robert will be recast once again – with four actors having taken on the role.
Richard Smith was first to play the character as a baby in 1986, while Christopher Smith had the longest stint from 1989 until 2001.
Karl Davies starred as Robert until 2009, then Ryan Hawley took the baton in 2014.
One fan said: “Just recast him. For the love of god. It’s a soap. He’s Robert Sugden. Recast the man!!! We all love Ryan, but it’s the character that matters. Give another actor a shot”