((Update, “Shelle” will last air March 24th, our contacts at the show tell us.))

Many fans have been shocked to learn that one of DOOL‘s best loved couples, Shawn and Belle Brady, are leaving the show. Despite the recent departure of a few cast members and an influx of new ones, there weren’t many hints leading up to now that Salem’s troubled young couple was heading for story oblivion. The news even seemed to take Martha Madison (Belle Brady) and Brandon Beemer (Shawn Brady) off-guard.

Martha issued this statement on her official website:

“I’m sorry/sad to say that we have, in fact, been released from our contracts. It was explained to us on Friday that this was a storyline dictated move by the writers, and that, at this time, we were free to move on to other work. We have both been incredibly grateful for the time that we’ve had there, and we will still be taping for the next few weeks.

I want to thank you all for all of your support over the years. However, I’m a firm believer that where one door closes, another will open. I think I can speak for Brandon too when I say that we are excited about what lies ahead in our lives and careers.”

After spending years watching the couple grow up on-screen through the pitfalls of high school romance, through matrimonial messes, affairs and struggling to take care of their young daughter Claire, outraged fans have already started a campaign to combat the departure of the couple. If you wish to voice your support, please visit saveshelle.shawn-belle.net to let your protest be heard.