Once Upon a Time Once Upon a Time title card

Genre Adventure
Created by Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin
Jennifer Morrison
Lana Parrilla
Josh Dallas
Jared S. Gilmore
Raphael Sbarge
Jamie Dornan
Robert Carlyle
Eion Bailey
Emilie de Ravin
Meghan Ory
Colin O'Donoghue
Michael Raymond-James
Michael Socha
Rebecca Mader
Sean Maguire
Composer(s) Mark Isham
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 123
Executive producer(s) Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Steve Pearlman
David H. Goodman
Andrew Chambliss
Producer(s) Damon Lindelof
Christine Boylan
Robert Hull
Kalinda Vazquez
Jane Espenson
Daniel T. Thomsen
Brian Wankum
Kathy Gilroy
Ian Goldberg
Liz Tigelaar
Samantha Thomas
Jerome Schwartz
Helga Ungurait
Location(s) Steveston, British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia
Cinematography Steven Fierberg
Stephen Jackson
Tony Mirza
Editor(s) Geofrey Hildrew
Mark Goldman
Scot J. Kelly
Joe Talbot Hall
Running time 43 minutes
Production company(s) ABC Studios
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Original network ABC
Original run October 23, 2011 – present
Status Returning Series
Related shows Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

Once Upon a Time is an American fairy tale television series that premiered on October 23, 2011, on ABC. The show takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, whose residents are characters from various fairy tales transported to the "real world" town and robbed of their real memories by a powerful curse. Episodes typically feature a primary storyline in Storybrooke, as well as a secondary storyline from another point in a character's life before the curse was enacted. The show airs Sundays at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT.

It borrows elements and characters from the Disney-franchise and popular Western literature, folklore, and fairy tales. Once Upon a Time was created by Lost and Tron: Legacy writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. A spin-off series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, consisting of 13 episodes, premiered on October 10, 2013, and concluded on April 3, 2014. On March 3, 2016, ABC renewed the series for a sixth season, which premiered on September 25, 2016.

Series Overview

The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales and other stories that were transported to the "real world" town and robbed of their original memories by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parrilla), using a powerful curse obtained from Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). The residents of Storybrooke, where Regina is mayor, have lived an unchanging existence for 28 years, unaware of their own lack of aging. The town's only hope lies with a bail-bonds person named Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), who was transported from the Enchanted Forest to our world via a magic wardrobe as an infant before she could be cursed. As such, she is the only person who can break the curse and restore the characters' lost memories. She is aided by her son, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore), with whom she has recently reunited after giving him up for adoption upon his birth, and his Once Upon a Time book of fairy tales that holds the key to breaking the curse. Henry is also the adopted son of Regina, providing a source of both conflict and common interest between the two women.

Episodes usually have one segment that details the characters' past lives that, when serialized, adds a piece to the puzzle about the characters and their connection to the events that preceded the curse and its consequences. The other, set in the present day, follows a similar pattern with a different outcome but also offers similar insights.

Season 1 (2011-12)

The first season premiered on October 23, 2011. The Evil Queen interrupts the wedding of Snow White and Prince Charming to announce that she will cast a curse on everyone that will leave her with the only happy ending. The majority of the fairy tale characters are transported to the town of Storybrooke, Maine, where they have been stripped of their original memories and identities as fairy tale characters. On her 28th birthday, Emma, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, is brought to Storybrooke by her biological son Henry Mills in the hopes of breaking the curse cast by his adoptive mother, the Evil Queen Regina.

Season 2 (2012–13)

The second season premiered on September 30, 2012. Despite Emma having broken the curse, the characters are not returned to the fairy tale world, and must deal with their own dual identities. With the introduction of magic into Storybrooke by Mr. Gold, the fates of the two worlds become intertwined, and new threats emerge in the form of Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue), Regina's mother Cora (Barbara Hershey), also known as the Queen of Hearts, and sinister operatives from our world with an agenda to destroy magic.

Season 3 (2013–14)

The third season premiered on September 29, 2013. It was split into two volumes, with the first eleven episodes running from September to December 2013, and the later half from March to May 2014. In the first volume, the main characters travel to Neverland to rescue Henry, who has been kidnapped by Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) as part of a plan to obtain the "Heart of the Truest Believer" from him. Their increasing power struggle with Pan continues in Storybrooke, which ultimately results in the complete reversal of the original curse. All the characters are returned to their original worlds, leaving Emma and Henry to escape to New York City. In the second volume, the characters are mysteriously brought back to a recreated Storybrooke with their memories of the previous year removed, and the envious Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader) from the Land of Oz appears with a plan to change the past. Once again, Emma is needed to save her family.

Season 4 (2014–15)

The fourth season premiered on September 28, 2014. It was also split into two volumes, with the first eleven episodes running from September to December 2014, and the later half from March to May 2015. A new storyline incorporating elements from Frozen was revealed when the time travel events of the previous season lead to the accidental arrival of Elsa (Georgina Haig) from the Enchanted Forest of the past to present-day Storybrooke. As she searches for her sister Anna (Elizabeth Lail) with the aid of the main characters, they encounter the Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell). Meanwhile, Regina seeks the Author of Henry's Once Upon a Time book so that she can finally have her happy ending. However, later on Mr. Gold returns, with the help of Cruella De Vil (Victoria Smurfit), Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten), and Ursula (Merrin Dungey), has his own plan to rewrite the rules governing the fates of all heroes and villains. Henry and Emma race to restore reality and the truth before the twisted inversion becomes permanent. However, the price leads to the ultimate sacrifice.

Season 5 (2015–16)

The fifth season was announced on May 7, 2015, and premiered on September 27, 2015. The first volume ran from September to December 2015, and the second volume from March to May 2016. The characters embark on a quest to Camelot to find the Sorcerer Merlin (Elliot Knight) in order to free Emma from the powers of an ancient darkness that threatens to destroy everything. To complicate matters, King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) is determined to forever alter the balance between light and darkness using the legendary Excalibur. As history and destiny collide, unsuspected consequences lead the characters to the Underworld where they encounter souls of those with unfinished business and must face Hades (Greg Germann). In an attempt to restore order to the chaos that has culminated, the characters' dangerous manipulations of magic lead to an exacerbation of the war between light and darkness, with the separation of Regina and her Evil Queen persona, as well as the arrival of Dr. Jekyll (Hank Harris) and Mr. Hyde (Sam Witwer).

Season 6 (2016-17)

The sixth season was announced on March 3, 2016, and premiered on September 25, 2016. The characters must defend Storybrooke from the combined threat of Mr. Hyde and an unleashed Evil Queen while the mysterious fate of saviors leads to Emma learning about the savior before her, Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz). The ongoing war on light and darkness ultimately leads to the arrival of the creator of the Dark Curse, the Black Fairy (Jamie Murray) as well as the final battle that was prophesied before the casting of the original curse.

Season 7

In May 2017, the series was renewed for a seventh season consisting of 22 episodes, which marks the beginning of a soft reboot. Years later, Lucy (Alison Fernandez) arrives in Seattle, Washington with her Once Upon a Time book to find her father, Henry Mills (Andrew J. West), who is needed by his family. The season will feature a new twist on the fairytales reimagined, introducing viewers to a new version of Cinderella, the wicked stepmother Lady Tramaine and wicked stepsister Drizella, along with a new setting tied to the reboot, which this time around will take place in a Seattle neighborhood called Hyperion Heights, where the cursed fictional characters blend in with the real world. Other confirmed characters in the season include Tiana and Alice, the latter a different version of the one played by Sophie Lowe in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.


Season Episodes Originally aired (U.S. dates) Nielsen ratings
First aired Last aired Viewers (millions) Viewers rank 18–49 rating/share 18-49 rank
1 22 October 23, 2011 May 13, 2012 11.71 28 4.1/10 18
2 22 September 30, 2012 May 12, 2013 10.24 35 3.6/9 18
3 22 September 29, 2013 May 11, 2014 9.38 35 3.3/8 12
4 22 September 28, 2014 May 10, 2015 8.98 50 3.2/7 17
5 23 September 27, 2015 May 15, 2016 6.32 69 2.2 34
6 22 September 25, 2016 May 14, 2017 4.39 105 1.5/5 70
7 22 October 6, 2017 TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA


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