The residents of the Enchanted Forest face their greatest challenge yet as The Evil Queen, Captain Hook and Rumpelstiltskin join forces with a grown-up Henry Mills and his daughter, Lucy, on an epic quest to bring hope to their world and ours. New fairy tale characters and old search for true love, find adventure and take sides in the ongoing struggle of good against evil.
Once Upon A Time is, at its core, a story about hope.
"For us, that's what a fairy tale is. It's that ability to think your life will get better. It's why you buy a lottery ticket—because if you win you get to tell your boss that you're quitting and you get to move to Paris or wherever and be who you always wanted to be. And that's Cinderella, right? One day she's sweeping up and the next she's going to the ball. Adam and I just wanted to write about something hopeful that for one hour a week allows one to put everything aside and have that feeling that your dreams just may come true."
- Edward Kitsis, Co-Creator/Executive Producer
About Season 1: Emma Swan's life has been anything but a fairytale. A 28-year-old bail bondsperson, she's been taking care of herself since she was abandoned as a baby. But when Henry—the son she gave up 10 years ago—finds her, everything changes. Henry is desperate for his mom's help and thinks that Emma is actually the long, lost daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. Yes, the actual Snow White and Prince Charming. Even stranger, Henry believes that Storybrooke, the sleepy New England town he calls home, is really part of a curse cast by the Evil Queen, freezing fairytale characters in the modern world with no memory of their former selves.
Of course the seen-it-all Emma doesn't believe a word, but when she gets to Storybrooke, she can't help sensing that everything's not quite what it seems. As Henry shows Emma around with the help of his fairytale book, the town, and its inhabitants like Henry's therapist Archie Hopper and the enigmatic Mr. Gold, seem just strange enough to set off her already suspicious nature. She becomes even more concerned for Henry when she meets his adopted mother, Regina, who he suspects is none other than the Evil Queen herself!
Storybrooke is a place where magic has been forgotten—but is still powerfully close—and happily ever after seems just out of reach. In order to understand where the fairytale world's former inhabitants came from, and what ultimately led to the Evil Queen's wrath, you'll need a glimpse into their previous lives. But it might just turn everything you've ever believed about these characters upside-down. Meanwhile, the epic battle for the future of all worlds, modern and fairytale alike, is about to begin. For good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell. For detailed recaps please visit Once Upon a Time's Season 1 Episode Guide.
About Season 2: To ensure that no one in Fairy Tale Land—especially Snow White—had any more "happily ever afters," Evil Queen Regina cast a curse which trapped the fairy tale characters, frozen in time, and brought them into our modern world. Although still alive, they had no knowledge of their former selves and were sleepwalking through life—ageless—for 28 years, until a savior arrived in the form of Emma Swan. Unbeknownst to Emma, she was the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who had whisked her out of Fairy Tale Land and into our world as an infant to save her from The Curse. Abandoned as a baby, Emma's life was anything but magical; her last job was as a bail bondsperson, but she mostly drifted without much of a life plan. When her 10-year-old son, Henry—whom she had given up for adoption years earlier—appeared on her doorstep with a book of fairy tales and a wild story about how Emma was the progeny of fairy tale characters trapped in a town called Storybrooke, she thought he was crazy. But curiosity got the better of her, and when she brought Henry back to the town—where Regina, ever the control freak, had made herself mayor and was also Henry's adoptive mother—Emma soon discovered that Storybrooke was more than it seemed. Over time she came to believe the stories were true, began to see cracks in the curse, and was finally able to break it.
Reality and myth were merged as the fairy tale characters began awakening, once The Curse was lifted, and remembered who they were. But to their dismay they were not transported back to fairy tale land. And to make matters worse, Rumplestiltskin—aka Mr. Gold—in an effort to gain the upper hand in his power struggle with Regina, introduced magic into the town. In fairy tales magic has its place, but in our world it can have unfathomable consequences. Now the fairy tale characters must contend with magic in their quest to find a way home, as new fairy tale characters are revealed, old acquaintances are revisited, and some we had come to believe could be trusted will turn against their own kind. For detailed recaps please visit Once Upon a Time's Season 2 Episode Guide.
About Season 3: Welcome to Storybrooke, Maine, a small town that probably won't show up on your GPS, but it's a magical place to visit. Reality and myth merged after Emma broke Regina's curse, which had deprived the fairytale characters of their memories and trapped them in our modern world. When they finally regained their identities, our heroes were dismayed to discover that they weren't transported back to Fairy Tale Land. To make matters worse, Rumplestiltskin—aka Mr. Gold—decided to escalate his power struggle with Regina by introducing magic into the town. But this is our world, and magic always has a tendency to yield unfathomable consequences.
The first order of business this season was to save Henry, who had been kidnapped and transported through a portal to Neverland. But Neverland was a much darker place than one remembers, and our heroes had to face a foe more powerful than the Dark One himself—Peter Pan. After being tricked and led astray for days—and learning that he was also Rumplestiltskin's father—Pan was defeated and trapped inside Pandora's Box. Our heroes returned to Storybrooke, only to discover that Pan had switched bodies with Henry and was about to enact a curse that would have killed every living soul in town. But after discovering the switch and restoring Henry back into his body, Rumplestiltskin paid the ultimate price by sacrificing his life and killing Pan. In turn, Regina obliterated her original curse, which erased Storybrooke from existence and whisked its residents back to Fairy Tale Land, leaving Emma and Henry together back in our world with pleasant memories—but with no memories of Storybrooke or its residents, and with Storybrooke itself seemingly gone for good. And they all lived happily ever after... Hardly!
All is not well back in the Enchanted Forest when Hook comes calling on Emma in New York City in an attempt to jog her memory so that she can once again help her fairy tale family and friends out of a desperate situation. Everyone she holds dear is in danger as a new foe emerges—the Wicked Witch of the West. Hook now must enlist Emma in an epic struggle that spans worlds: with the highest stakes possible—the fate of her family. No one remembers how they were transported back or the past year they had spent back in Fairy Tale Land. But someone in town is responsible for this curse, and all clues point to the Wicked Witch of the West.
The Wicked Witch, aka Zelena, forced Rumplestiltskin to help her carry out her evil plan. The struggle between them leads to the death of Neal. A trip to Oz reveals that Zelena is Regina's half-sister. She plots to go back in time to kill Snow White's mother, whose actions sent her down a wicked path. An epic battle takes place. In the end, Rumplestiltskin kills the Wicked Witch while setting forth the opening of a time portal. Emma and Hook are pulled inside. They return to Storybrooke with a prisoner from a far off place. Regina is crushed to see that it's Marian, Robin Hood's first love. Someone else came forth from the time portal. Her name is Elsa. She demonstrates her power to freeze anything as she makes her way toward downtown Storybrooke. For detailed recaps please visit Once Upon a Time's Season 3 Episode Guide.
About Season 4: Storybrooke has frozen over. Elsa, a mysterious figure from a land known as Arendelle, arrives. She has incredible powers that allow her freeze anything in an instant. Elsa, who is searching for her sister, Anna, isn't the only one in Storybrooke with icy instincts. The Snow Queen has ties to Elsa, Anna and Emma Swan. She casts the Spell of Shattered Sight which causes everyone in town to turn on each other. Once the Snow Queen realizes that a painful belief she had about her sisters was unwarranted, she sacrifices herself to save Storybrooke. Elsa and Anna return to Arendelle to follow through with their mother's wishes by bringing back memories of their aunts.
After defeating Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West, Emma and Hook were pulled into her time portal, which brought them back to the Enchanted Forest of the past. When Emma was captured by The Evil Queen, she met a female prisoner scheduled to be executed. She was able to whisk herself, Hook and the prisoner back to present day Storybrooke. The prisoner was none other than Robin Hood's wife, Marian, who was presumed dead in the previous timeline. Regina and Robin Hood had fallen in love with one another, but with Marian's return, their relationship suffers a crushing blow.
When Belle realizes that Rumplestiltskin will never give up his quest for power, she banishes him from Storybrooke into the real world. She later strikes up a relationship with Will Scarlet, a former member of Robin Hood's Merry Men. As for Rumple, he joins forces with a trio of evil ladies known as the Queens of Darkness—Cruella de Vil, Ursula the Sea Witch and Maleficent, to make his way back inside Storybrooke. One of the Queens, Maleficent, blames Snow White and Prince Charming for the loss of her only daughter, Lily, who is actually alive and has ties to Emma.
Henry initiates Operation: Mongoose in an attempt to find the Author of the storybook. Rumplestiltskin forms an alliance with Zelena, who has been posing as Marian the entire time. She's pregnant with Robin Hood's unborn child. The Sorcerer's Apprentice tests Henry to be the next Author. He pulls the Darkness from Mr. Gold's heart, but is unable to contain it in the magic hat. Emma knows the Darkness must be tethered to a person to be contained. She asks her family and friends to find a way to save her moments before being consumed in a swirling cloud of blackness. A search must begin for the only one who can destroy the Darkness and save Emma. Our heroes must find the mysterious Sorcerer known as Merlin. For detailed recaps please visit Once Upon a Time's Season 4 Episode Guide.
About Season 5: There was an enchanted forest filled with all the classic fairy tale characters we know and love… until a curse trapped them in a place called Storybrooke. After the curse was broken, new dangers, magical forces, and exciting worlds have continued to emerge. Now, the fairytale characters cope with Emma's new role as The Dark One and begin the search for Merlin. This is a journey that will take our heroes from the Enchanted Forest to Camelot and along the way bring many surprises, including encounters with a brave and headstrong Scottish princess named Merida. For detailed recaps please visit Once Upon a Time's Season 5 Episode Guide