The 25-year-old, who has played Eli Dingle since 2006, said it was the right time to move on.
He said: “It will be sad to leave – I’ve made a lot of good friends there but I think it is time to move on as far as my career is concerned.”
His next career move will be in a spin-off TV series of Shane Meadows’ This Is England, in which he plays Woody.
An Emmerdale spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that Joseph Gilgun will be leaving Emmerdale early next year but we’re not ruling out the possibility of him returning to the show. We wish Joe all the very best for the future.”
Aww, we’ll miss you Eli!