This is Fairy Tale Land. It's filled with magic, monsters and all of the characters we all know from stories growing up. It's real, and so are the people in it. But unlike the "happily ever after" you may have heard about, their stories continued, and The Evil Queen cast a Dark Curse over the land....
This is Storybrooke. It's a quiet, little, New England town filled with people who go about their everyday lives with no idea who they really are. The Queen's Curse has trapped them here and placed her in near-complete control. They have no real memories and no real hope.
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
Nothing is more important than family, and these characters' bonds are as strong as the line between good and evil is blurry. Mary Margaret and Emma—mother and daughter reunited—were sucked into a portal that transported them to what was left of Fairy Tale Land. It was there that they met Mulan and Aurora, who helped them evade Cora and Hook and enabled them to travel back to Storybrooke, reuniting them with Emma's father, David, and her son, Henry. But Cora and Hook found another portal into town, where Cora set about reuniting with her own daughter, Regina. Cora then attempted to find Mr. Gold's dagger in a play to take him down and become the Dark One herself. Hook had also aspired to kill Mr. Gold, not for power but for revenge. And Mr. Gold set out to find his son, Bae, which he did, in New York, with the aid of Emma and Henry. Much to everyone's surprise, Bae turned out to be Emma's former love, Neal, and Henry's father. Back in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret did something completely against her nature—she used dark magic to kill Cora—causing her own heart to darken. And Greg Mendell—who saw magic in the town as a boy and believes Regina knows where he can find his father—along with his partner, Tamara, planned to eradicate magic completely from our world using a trigger that Regina had planted within her curse. During the struggle to save Storybrooke, Neal was shot by Tamara and fell through a portal to the Enchanted Forest—barely alive—where he was found by Aurora, Mulan and Prince Phillip. Although their plan was foiled, Greg and Tamara kidnapped Henry and brought him through a portal to their "Home Office," believing that they might still be able to use him to destroy magic in all worlds. With the aid of Hook and his ship, Emma, Mary Margaret, David, Mr. Gold and Regina used the last magic bean to follow Henry, Greg and Tamara... to Neverland.
First order of business this season: save Henry. But Neverland is a much darker place than you remember, and in order for our heroes to accomplish their mission, they'll have to face a foe more powerful than the Dark One himself. What does Peter Pan want with Henry? Can our heroes put aside their differences and work together? Will Aurora, Mulan and Prince Phillip be able to nurse Neal back to health and reunite him with his family? New fairytale characters will be revealed and old acquaintances will be revisited. So think of a wonderful thought... because our Neverland's going to be a fever dream that just won't break.
To ensure that no one in fairytale 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.
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.
Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two master storytellers behind Lost and Tron: Legacy, invite everyone to brace themselves for a modern fairytale with thrilling twists and hints of darkness, brimming with wonder and filled with the magic of our most beloved stories.
"We kept circling back to the idea of fairy tales. The very first stories that you hear when you're a kid. They're full of magic and heroics and fear and joy. But we also found fairy tales are full of all these unanswered questions. Like why is Grumpy grumpy? Why is Geppetto so lonely that he'd actually carve a little boy out of wood? And did The Evil Queen really try to kill Snow White simply because of vanity? With Once Upon A Time, we set out to explore those questions and not re-tell these stories but attempt to dig beneath what we all know and try to discover something new."
- Adam Horowitz, Co-Creator/Executive Producer