Once Upon a Time (TV series)

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Name: Once Upon a Time
Abbreviation(s): OUaT, OUAT
Creator: Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Date(s): October 23, 2011 - present
Medium: television
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: Official Website
DVD cover of Season 1
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Needs Less Canon: This article includes too much canon detail for the amount of fannish content given. Please add fannish context or remove unneeded trivia. Although a brief overview of canon is welcome, the focus of every page should be about the fandom; canon details are important if they can be associated with a particular fannish activity, fanwork, or fannish event. See What Fanlore is not for more information.

Needs Updating: This page is out of date. Editors are encouraged to add more recent information.

Once Upon a Time is an American fantasy-drama television series that began airing on ABC in 2011.

It had a one-season spinoff called Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, focusing on Alice and her adventures with Will Scarlett aka the Knave of Hearts, Cyrus, a genie and her true love, the White Rabbit, and the Red Queen.

Main Characters

Actor/Actress "Storybrooke" Alias Counterpart
Jennifer Morrison Emma Swan
Ginnifer Goodwin Mary Margaret Blanchard Snow White
Lana Parrilla Regina Mills Evil Queen
Josh Dallas David Nolan Prince Charming; Prince David
Robert Carlyle Mr. Gold Rumpelstiltskin; Beast; Crocodile
Jared S. Gilmore Henry Mills
Emilie de Ravin Belle French, Lacey Belle
Colin O'Donoghue Captain Killian "Hook" Jones
Michael Raymond-James Neal Cassidy Baelfire

See Category:Once Upon A Time Characters‎ for more characters.

Canon Overview

Season 1

The first season revolved around the arrival and actions of Emma Swan in the town of Storybrooke, Maine. Henry, Emma's 10-year-old biological son whom she gave up for adoption at birth, brought her to Storybrooke and worked to convince her that all the people there were characters from his book of fairy tales -- cursed to a mundane existence by his adoptive mother Regina, who is not only the mayor of the town but also the Evil Queen from Snow White -- and that Emma is the one who can undo the curse. Henry explains to her that Mary Margaret and David Nolan are Snow White and Prince Charming, who are her birth parents, although Emma doesn't believe him. However, she does befriend Mary Margaret and later moves in with her.

The show's format combines events happening in Storybrooke (usually shown from Emma's POV, or whoever the prominent character is in that episode) with flashbacks to related events that happened in the Enchanted Forest and the characters' former lives as fairy tale characters (which Emma does not believe in until the end of Season One).

Season 2

The second season followed the adventures of Emma and Snow as they were stuck in the Enchanted Forest, and trying to get back to Henry with the help of Mulan and Princess Aurora, while avoiding Regina's abusive mother, Cora, and Captain Hook.

Back in Storybrooke, everyone else was dealing with their own problems because magic was released into their world. David and Henry were trying to get Emma and Snow back, while Regina worked with Rumplestiltskin to . After defeating Cora and Hook in the Enchanted Forest, Emma and Snow are able to return. Cora and Hook manages to travel to Storybrooke, and Cora sets out to get Regina to join her - she does this by turning the town and Henry against her, thinking she had killed Archie (Jiminy Cricket). However it's revealed that Cora hadn't actually killed Archie, but made him a prisoner who Hook used to gather information about Rumplestiltskin (Mr. Gold). In order to hurt Rumplestiltskin, Hook decides to go after Belle like Rumplestiltskin had done to him.

With Emma and Snow back, Rumplestiltskin who sets out to find his son, Baelfire, with the help of Emma and Henry while Hook tries to get revenge against Gold. In the end, he shoots Belle causing her to fall back over the town border (which unless its Henry, Regina or Emma or character had an enchanted item, memory loss of any E.F. character that crosses it), she loses her memories of being Belle. It's revealed that Baelfire is Henry's real father and that he's getting married to another woman, Tamara- who is revealed to be teamed up with a mysterious group known as the "Home Office" that is trying to get rid of magic. This leads to a showdown between the town against Tamara and Greg (another visitor to Storybrooke that is revealed to be part of the group). This leads to Neal getting shot and falls down a portal, Henry getting kidnapped, and the town nearly destroyed if it hadn't been for Regina and Emma joining forces to stop the town from being destroyed. Emma, Snow, David, Regina, Rumplestiltskin, and Hook (now realigned with Emma and her family) join together to set out to Neverland to find Henry.

Season 3a

The first half of the third Season has us in Neverland, where a kidnapped Henry is held against his will by Peter Pan - who wants Henry for his heart, which is the heart of the truest believer. Believing his son dead, Rumplestiltskin tries to redeem himself by going after Pan himself, despite believing that this would ultimately end him; however once in Neverland, Rumple leaves the others behind thinking they would slow him down. Neal wakes up in the Enchanted Forest with Mulan, Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora, where he travels with Mulan to his father's castle where he finds Robin Hood. With help from Mulan and Robin Hood, Neal is able to travel to Neverland and manages to find his father. However, unable to trust him, Neal leaves his father behind and tries to save Henry - Pan instead captures him. Pan gives Emma a map to find her son, however it proves useless even after she unlocks it due to the fact that Pan can move his camp at will. Pan later tells Hook that Neal is alive after Hook and Emma share a kiss. In order to protect Emma, in case Pan was lying, Hook, David and Snow decide to keep the information secret - however Snow blurts it out immediately. Regina breaks away from them because she doesn't want to deal with another distraction and goes and finds Gold. Emma, Hook, David, and Snow find Neal in the center of the Echo Caves, where they can only reach him if they each reveal a deep secret about themselves. After revealing their secrets and freeing Neal, they team up back up with Tinkerbell, Rumple, and Regina.

Believing he is saving all of magic (and thus becoming a hero), Henry gives Pan his heart. However giving Pan his heart only strengthens Pan. Snow, Emma, and Regina go after him in order to save Henry. They manage to defeat him - enough to get Henry's heart back and leave Neverland along with Wendy and the Lost Boys; however Pan tricks Rumple into locking away Henry after switching bodies with him.

Once back in Storybrooke, Emma realizes that something is wrong with Henry - who had not recognized his book of fairytales. Pan, now in Henry's body, sets his Shadow to kill Mother Superior (Blue Fairy) and tricks Regina into letting him into her vault. He steals the Dark Curse that sent everyone to Storybrooke in order to create a New Neverland where he ruled over them. Rumple sacrifices himself in order to kill Pan, while Regina manages to alter Pan's curse. Instead of what Pan had designed for the curse, Regina and everyone one else in Storybrooke would go back to the Enchanted Forest (or their respected places they were before the Dark Curse had taken them) while Storybrooke would blink out of existence. Regina reveals that in order for the altered spell to work, Henry would have to stay behind as well as Emma. However Regina gives them false memories, as if Emma had never given Henry up for adoption at birth. A year later, Hook shows up on Emma's door step for help.

Season 3b

Storybrooke is back, no one can remember the year they spent in the Enchanted Forest. Emma almost got engaged to a flying monkey, Henry doesn't remember anyone, but Emma does. Snow is eight months pregnant. There are flying monkeys attacking people who try to cross the town line. Regina has found her "soulmate" in Robin Hood. Rumple's not as dead as we thought he was. The Wicked Witch of the West, aka Zelena, is Regina's older half-sister, has the Dark One's dagger, and wants everything Regina got that she never did.

Neal dies from bringing Rumple back to life. Hook clings to Emma like a swooning barnacle. Zelena steals Regina's heart, symbols of Charming's courage and Rumple's brain, and the new baby Snowing. Literally from Snow's arms immediately after she gave birth. Sound familiar?

Henry finally rmembers when Regina True Love's Kisses him on the forehead, Emma lost her magic from resuscitating Hook, and the only way to stop Zelena from rewriting the past is for Regina to step up and be a hero, which she does.

Then Rumple kills Zelena, the time portal opens, Emma and Hook stumble into it, accidentally rewrite how Snow and Charming met, and make it back to Storybrooke with a plus one- Maid Marian. And Regina's happy ending with Robin, Roland, and Henry is destroyed in one fell swoop, seriously damaging her friendship with Emma.

Season 4a

  1. OnceIsFrozen, featuring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and the mysterious Snow Queen. Currently in progress.

Emma and Regina are patching things up, Regina and Henry are trying to find out who wrote the story book, and the Snow Queen is trying to recruit Emma and Elsa, her niece, to be her sisters.

Creator Comments

"I could be wrong, but I think this is the first time anyone's shown Snow White with a sword, or pregnant."[1]

Realms of OUAT

  • Enchanted Forest/Misthaven - A land existing with the presence of magic as well as the inclusion of inhabitants who are prevalent to fairytales; such as Snow White, the Evil Queen, Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Pinocchio and so on.
  • Land Without Color - A land existing with the presence of science, and is colorless by nature. It is home to Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
  • Land Without Magic - A land void of magic, but is susceptible to those who possess it may pass through into this world. It is the home of Storybrooke, Maine - a town where it is cut off from the rest of the world due to Evil Queen's Dark Curse and later regains magic by Rumplestiltskin after the Dark Curse is broken by Emma Swan.
  • Netherworld - A land is entirely accessible only under the influence of the Sleeping Curse, or had been under the Sleeping Curse when the person is unconscious. Its known inhabitants are Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Henry Mills, and David Nolan.
  • Neverland - A land where no one can grow older in age, and is home to the forever youthful Peter Pan.
  • Wonderland - A land existing with the presence of magic like the Enchanted Forest. It also includes inhabitants who are prevalent to Alice in Wonderland book; such as Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit, Red Queen, Knave of Hearts and so on.
  • Victorian England - A land that runs perpetual to the Victorian London of the Land Without Magic and is home to Alice and her family.
  • Agrabah - A land that is across the desert from Prince Eric's kingdom and where Jafar and Cyrus is from.
  • Arendelle - A land that is across the seas from the Enchanted Forest - knowledge of magic was fairly unknown before Elsa and the Snow Queen despite the present of the trolls.
  • Land of Oz - A land based off the world in created in the Wizard of Oz. Zelena was sent here as a baby in a tornado, she later becomes the Wicked Witch.
  • 1920's England - A land set in perpetual 1920's England much like the Victorian England realm and serves as a home to Cruella de Vil.
  • Camelot - A land set in medieval times and serves as the home of Merlin, as well as the former home of Lancelot.
  • 'DunBroch/The Highlands - DunBroch is an island, separated from Camelot and the rest of the continent by the Ivory Sea. DunBroch is located north of Camelot.


This article or section needs expansion.

The show has several main female characters -- Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White), Emma, and Regina (the Evil Queen) -- who get a lot of on-screen time, and it more than passes the Bechdel Test. The character of Mr. Gold (Rumpelstiltskin) (played by actor Robert Carlyle) is also popular.

Other popular characters are Belle, Henry Mills, Ruby (Red Riding Hood), David Nolan (Prince "Charming" James), Killian Jones (Captain Hook), and Jefferson (aka the Mad Hatter).

The large and dysfunctional family tree of Henry Mills has been a large component in talk due to several big reveals in Season 2 (Baelfire as Henry's father, as such Rumpelstiltskin is Henry's grandfather) and Season 3 (Rumpelstiltskin's father is Peter Pan) [2] [3] and it was revealed by the creators that it would expand even more by the end of the season by at least two spots [4], which was later revealed to be Zelena (aka Wicked Witch of the West from Wizard of Oz) as Regina's half-sister along with Neal Nolan (the son of Snow & Charming).


Femslash Pairings

In 2015 Once Upon A Time fandom had the largest amount of femslash fanfiction posted on Archive of Our Own, much of this can be attributed to the SwanQueen ship[5]

Het Pairings

See also: List of OUAT Pairing Names

Slash Pairings

Slash pairings are fairly rare in Once Upon A Time fandom, making up less than 4% of fanfiction posted on Archive of Our Own, as of July 2018.[6]


In 2015, two of OUAT ships made it on the "Most reblogged ships" on Tumblr: Captain Swan (#5) and Swan Queen (#14)[7]. In 2016 Captain Swan made the list again.

In 2016, OUAT was ranked number eighth in the Top 20 "most reblogged" live-action television show on Tumblr, gaining one spot in popularity from the previous year[8]. In 2017, OUAT dropped 16 places, ranking 24th on the Top 30 "most reblogged" live-action television show on Tumblr[9]

Common Tropes and Themes


  • OUAT - is the common way to shorten the show's name.
  • Oncer is the common term to refer to a Once Upon a Time fan
  • Bowls of Soup is also a term used for fans, stemming from an inside joke revealed by Robert Carlyle at PaleyFest 2013.
  • H and K: fan acronym for showrunners Adam Horrowitz and Eddy Kitsiss, sometimes A and E is also used




See character or pairing pages for character or pairing specific art.


See character or pairing pages for character or pairing specific vids

OUAT Ladies:


Archives and Communities

LiveJournal Communities

See Category:Once Upon A Time Communities‎ for more.

Dreamwidth Communities

Fansites and Resources


  1. Quote by co-creator Edward Kitsis in TV Guide article by Denise Martin, 7 Aug 2011. (Accessed 16 Jan 2012)
  2. charmestswan. Disney According to Henry Mills Posted November 20 2013. (Accessed 21 November 2013)
  3. Nikki De Graeve at Entertainment Outlook. Once Upon a Family Tree Posted on November 18 2013. (Accessed 21 November 2013)
  4. Matt Webb Mitovich at TVLine. Henry's Recently Expanded Family Tree Will Grow Even More Posted November 21 2013. (Accessed 21 November 2013)
  5. TOASTYSTATS: Femslash stats, 2015
  6. A03 search results, July 17, 2018
  7. Tumblr 2015 Year in Review: Most Reblogged Ships.
  8. 2016′s Top TV Shows - Live Action
  9. 2017′s Top Live-Action TV Shows
  10. True Love's Kiss Question with Jane Espenson: Copy of the Twitter Question Examples of Snowing/Captain Swan/Rumbelle Kisses and the True Love's Kiss not working (Accessed 12 December 2013)