Once Upon a Time bid farewell to its audiences last May 18 after seven seasons on the air. Although the final season featured an almost-fully revamped cast, the original Storybrooke squad returned for the show’s swan song.
Once Upon a Time (OUAT) premiered back in 2011 with a promising plot: Emma Swan, a tough and cunning bail bondsperson, is greeted on her 28th birthday by her son at her door. Her son, Henry, later explains that she has to travel to a small town in Maine called Storybrooke, where lived a cast of characters eerily similar to the ones in the fairy-tale book that Henry has. Henry believes Emma was the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, and the Savior who will break the curse cast by the Evil Queen, Regina, who is also the Mayor of Storybrooke and Henry’s adoptive mother.
The show then started to unravel a complex yet compelling plot for its first season, involving famous fairy-tale characters such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, and many more. Each episode shows scenes from the character’s life back in their fairy-tale land, dubbed the Enchanted Forest, and juxtaposes them with their life as a human in Storybrooke.
By the end of the first season, both critics and audiences were impressed at how writers and showrunners Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis managed to weave together so many storylines together. Though Emma manages to break the spell and return the memories of everyone in Storybrooke at the end of the first season, they knew that viewers were hungry for more. The show was renewed for six seasons more.
In the season six finale, the showrunners took a risk by softly rebooting the show. The main plot, which largely involved Emma as the Savior was closed, and plenty of the major characters were either completely removed from the plot, or demoted to recurring characters. The sixth season ended with an opening to what seems to be a new chapter involving an adult Henry and his daughter, Lucy. In May 2017, it was announced that the seventh season would be the last of the show.
Although the show’s viewership dropped consistently as the show went on, the cast and creators were still determined to produce a good show. Throughout its run, the show was able to add more stories to the already-complex world of OUAT. Some prominent storylines include Peter Pan’s dark story arc; the appearance of the Wicked Witch of the West; the story arc featuring the Disney adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ice Queen; and story arcs featuring the likes of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and the Knights of the Round Table. OUAT was even given a one-season spinoff called Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013), which heavily featured Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin.
OUAT managed to introduce highly memorable characters which exhibited excellent growth throughout the series. The Evil Queen, or Regina Mills, was easily dismissed as the villain early on in the series. As the show progressed, however, the audience learned more and more about her past and were supportive once she finally started being on the side of the good guys. Rumpelstiltskin, or Mr. Gold, was yet another prominent villain, who seemed to switch sides often in the series. Rumpelstiltskin gained favor from viewers when he was shown to have a softer side as his and Belle’s love blossomed.
Speaking of love, the show was also great on the romance front. The love story of Prince Charming and Snow White and the running theme of them managing to find each other against all odds made us all believe in true love. Belle and Rumpelstiltskin’s love despite great challenges and Hook and Emma’s easy chemistry were all great additions to the show. Moreover, anyone who’s a fan of OUAT will tell you that Ruby and Dorothy deserved more than one kiss and that Sleeping Warrior (aka Mulan and Aurora) deserved a better love story.
Other than its complex plot, the show’s cast also played an important role in the show’s success. Led by Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan, the cast also featured the likes of Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White/Mary Margaret), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming/David Nolan), Lara Parilla (Evil Queen/Regina Mills), Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold), and Jared S. Gilmore (Henry Mills). Each character was impeccably cast and brought something new and unique to their classic characters. Moreover, the natural chemistry among the whole cast makes the entire show that much better to watch. Combine this excellent cast with lavish costumes, amazing effects, great cinematography, and a compelling plot, and you’ve got a successful show with a dedicated fanbase.
In the end, however, Once Upon a Time was not about Emma, Snow White, Prince Charming, Mr. Gold, Regina, Henry, or anybody else. Once Upon a Time was an all-encompassing story of love, hope, and family conquering all evil in the world. So cheers to Once Upon a Time, a unique show that recrafted our favorite childhood fairy tales into an intelligent piece of television. Here’s to hoping that the show has inspired at least one of us to become the Writers and the Saviors in our own stories.
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