Season 1
Once Upon a Time Season 1

No. of episodes


Original release

October 23, 2011 – May 13, 2012




A Land Without Magic




Season 2

The first season of the ABC television series Once Upon a Time premiered on October 23, 2011 and concluded on May 13, 2012. The series was created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. The series centers around the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke, and the Evil Queen's (Lana Parrilla) plot to destroy everyone's happiness so she can be the only one with a happy ending.

Once Upon a Time's first season received generally favorable reviews from critics who praised its cast, visuals, and twists on fairy tales, though some criticized its uneven tone. The pilot episode was watched by 12.93 million viewers and achieved an adult 18-49 rating/share of 4.0/10. Those numbers dipped late in the season to a series low of 8.36 million viewers and a 2.8/8 adult 18-49 rating/share in April 2012, but rebounded slightly for the season finale with 9.66 million viewers and a 3.3/10 adult 18-49 rating/share.


The show is based on the theory that there is an alternate universe where every classic fairy tale character (new and old) exists—a world that has a loose connection to our world. On the night of her 28th birthday, bail bonds collector Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is reunited with Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore)—the son she gave up for adoption ten years previous—and takes him back to his hometown of Storybrooke, Maine—a place where nothing is what it seems.

Henry has in his possession a large book of fairy tales and is convinced that Emma is the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), who sent her away so she would be protected from a powerful curse enacted by the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), a curse in which the queen is the only one with a happy ending. It's because of the curse that everyone in Storybrooke is frozen in time with no memories of their former selves—except for the Queen, who is Storybrooke's mayor and Henry's adoptive mother, Regina Mills. Emma refuses to believe a word of Henry's "theory" and returns Henry home, but then decides to remain in the New England town after getting attached to Henry which causes the hands of the clock tower to move for the first time in 28 years.

It's soon revealed that Snow and Charming, concerned for the safety of their unborn child, went to seek advice from the imprisoned trickster Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). In return for the child's name, he would tells them their only hope is the child, who would return on her 28th birthday and begin "The Final Battle". The child, an infant girl, is born on the day the Queen enacts her curse and is placed in a wardrobe carved out of an enchanted tree which takes the child to our world, where she is raised by adoptive parents as Emma Swan.

As Emma stays in Storybrooke and is soon elected as Sheriff following the sudden death of the previous Sheriff, Graham Humbert (Jamie Dornan), Regina's antagonistic attitude raises her suspicions and prompts her to move in with Henry's teacher Mary Margaret Blanchard, who is really her mother Snow White. Regina's bitter rivalry with Storybrooke's wealthiest resident, Mr. Gold, becomes heated when she learns he is aware of his true identity as Rumplestiltskin when she asks about Emma's relationship to the curse. Mary Margaret falls in love with David Nolan, a coma patient who, in reality is Emma's father Prince Charming, wakes up after she reads Henry's fairytale book to him as a favor to Henry. David, however, is married to Kathryn Nolan, the woman who is (in the fairy tale world) his ex-fiancee Princess Abigail daughter of King Midas. Unable to deny their love, David and Mary Margaret soon begin a secret relationship that becomes public and upsets Kathryn.

Kathryn eventually decides to go to Boston and let David be with Mary Margaret only to disappear before leaving Storybrooke, due to an effect of the curse being that no one can leave the town. Some time later an antique jewelry box which belonged to Mary Margaret when she was a child is found buried near the old toll bridge and is revealed to contain a human heart which is proven to be Kathryn's via DNA testing. Mary Margaret is arrested for Kathryn's supposed murder and is about to be prosecuted by corrupt District Attorney Albert Spencer (Alan Dale), who's really Prince Charming's adoptive father King George, when Kathryn is found alive in an alley. She reveals that someone abducted her and held her captive in a basement for several days but she managed to escape. When corrupt Daily Mirror chief editor Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito), who's actually the Magic Mirror, confesses to having abducted Kathryn in order to jump-start his career, Emma is not convinced and comes to the conclusion that Regina orchestrated the conspiracy.

Emma soon discovers that writer August W. Booth (Eion Bailey), who is the first stranger ever to arrive in town after she did, is from the Other World and that he is Pinocchio, who was sent to our world through the same wardrobe that brought Emma to watch over her. But he abandoned her out of fear and is slowly turning back into a wooden puppet. Emma then makes an attempt to take Henry out of Storybrooke forever, but is then forced to reconsider when he refuses to go. Emma makes a deal with Regina in which she leaves but still visits Henry on occasion.

But Regina knows Emma's true identity and has retrieved her poisoned apple (the same one she used on Snow White) in order to use it on Emma in the form of an apple turnover. Henry takes a bite of the turnover, collapses to the floor unconscious, and proves to Emma the curse is real. Emma, who now starts to believe after seeing flashbacks of her true past, is forced to forge an alliance with Regina and retrieves Rumplestiltskin's true love potion from underneath the Clock Tower, only to have Mr. Gold steal it leaving Emma halfway up the elevator shaft and Regina tied to a chair and gagged.

When Henry is pronounced dead, Emma and Regina return to the Hospital to say goodbye to his body. Emma kisses him on the forehead, causing a pulse of energy to engulf the entire town and restore everyone's true memories while freeing Henry from the effects of the poisoned apple. Snow and Charming reunite with each other and Regina returns to her mansion alone as Emma begins to wonder why no one is returning to the Other World since the curse is broken. Rumplestiltskin reunites with his true love Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and takes her to a Wishing Well deep in the heart of the forest, a well with the power to restore that which one had lost. He takes the potion and drops it into the well, causing a purple cloud to emerge and consume Storybrooke as the Clock Tower strikes 8:15.

Cast and characters



  • Meghan Ory as Red Riding Hood / Ruby
  • Beverley Elliott as Widow Lucas / Granny
  • Lee Arenberg as Grumpy / Leroy / Dreamy
  • Gabe Khouth as Sneezy / Tom Clark
  • David Paul Grove as Doc
  • Faustino Di Bauda as Sleepy / Walter
  • Mig Macario as Bashful
  • Michael Coleman as Happy
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Genie / Magic Mirror / Sidney Glass
  • Jeffrey Kasier as Dopey
  • Anastasia Griffith as Princess Abigail / Kathryn Nolan
  • Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy / Mother Superior
  • David Anders as Dr. Whale (He did not portray Frankenstein in this season so it should not be included as such)
  • Alan Dale as King George / Albert Spencer
  • Tony Perez as Henry
  • Tony Amendola as Geppetto / Marco
  • Emilie de Ravin as Belle
  • Sebastian Stan as Mad Hatter / Jefferson


  • Jakob Davies as Pinocchio / August Booth (August never went by Pinocchio so the distinction is not required.)
  • Kristin Bauer van Straten as Maleficent
  • Jessy Schram as Cinderella / Ashley Boyd
  • Tim Phillipps as Prince Thomas / Sean Hermann
  • Dylan Schmidt as Baelfire (There was no adult version this season.)
  • Richard Schiff as King Leopold
  • Barbara Hershey as Cora Mills / Queen of Hearts (Her surname was confirmed on her tombstone and she provided the voice for the Queen of Hearts.)
  • Ingrid Torrance as Nurse Ratched
  • Harry Groener as Martin
  • Carolyn Hennesy as Myrna
  • Gabrielle Rose as Ruth
  • Alex Zahara as King Midas
  • Brad Dourif as Zoso
  • Karley Scott Collins as Gretel / Ava Zimmer
  • Quinn Lord as Hansel / Nicholas Zimmer
  • Emma Caulfield as the Blind Witch
  • Geoff Gustafson as Stealthy
  • Eric Keenleyside as Sir Maurice / Moe French
  • Amy Acker as Nova / Sister Astrid
  • Jesse Hutch as Peter
  • Noah Bean as Daniel Colter
  • Bailee Madison as Young Snow White


Once Upon a Time is created and produced by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. In addition, Jane Espenson, Steve Pearlman, Kathy Gilroy, Damon Lindelof, and Brian Wankum are also producers. Liz Tigelaar also serve as series executive producers. Paul Kurta, Chad Oakes, Michael Frislev are producers, while Jordan Feiner and Keri Young are associate producers. Writers for season one episodes include: Kitsis, Horowitz, Espenson, Liz Tigelaar, David H. Goodman, Andrew Chambliss, and Ian Goldberg, with Daniel T. Thomsen writing an episode teleplay.


No. overall No. in season Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers (millions)
1 1 "Pilot" Mark Mylod Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz October 23, 2011 12.93
For Emma Swan, life has been anything but a happy ending. But on the night of her twenty-eighth birthday, she is confronted by a child claiming to be the son she gave up ten years ago and she is drawn to his hometown of Storybrooke – a place where fairytales are to be believed.
2 2 "The Thing You Love Most" Greg Beeman Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz October 30, 2011 11.74
Regina does everything in her power to force Emma out of Storybrooke and out of her and Henry's lives forever. Meanwhile the events surrounding the completion of the Dark Curse are revealed along with a revelation that forces the Evil Queen to choose between exacting her revenge, or protecting the thing she loves most.
3 3 "Snow Falls" Dean White Liz Tigelaar November 6, 2011 11.45
Emma convinces Mary Margaret to read Henry's book to a comatose John Doe only to get a bigger reaction than she expected. Meanwhile the events surrounding the fateful first encounter between Snow White and Prince Charming are revealed, along with an enterprising quest and a bond that promises to forever change their lives.
4 4 "The Price of Gold" David Solomon David H. Goodman November 13, 2011 11.36
Emma tries to help a young woman after learning that her unborn child is caught in the center of a dangerous transaction.Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which a servant girl makes an impulsive deal, only to find herself struggling to break it after unearthing a sinister ulterior motive.
5 5 "That Still Small Voice" Paul Edwards Jane Espenson November 27, 2011 10.69
Emma settles into her new role as Deputy Sheriff only to suddenly find herself thrust to the front lines, and Henry places his life in danger after his beliefs are suddenly shattered. Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which a young man is presented with a choice that could help him become the person he wants to be, but at a price that promises to haunt him forever.
6 6 "The Shepherd" Victor Nelli Andrew Chambliss & Ian Goldberg December 4, 2011 9.66
David struggles with his personal demons as he attempts to balance his strained marriage to Kathryn and his blossoming relationship with Mary Margaret. Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which a meek shepherd receives a shattering revelation that forces him to choose between living a life of royalty or forging his own destiny.
7 7 "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" David M. Barrett Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz December 11, 2011 8.92
Graham calls his well-being into question as the lines separating fantasy from reality suddenly start to blur.Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which the Evil Queen recruits a heartless assassin to execute Snow White, only to spark a chain of events that threaten to come with consequences for everyone involved.
8 8 "Desperate Souls" Michael Waxman Jane Espenson January 8, 2012 10.35
Emma makes the decision to run for a coveted Storybrooke public office in the wake of a devastating tragedy, and Regina is forced to engage in dirty politics after Gold makes a bold move. Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which a cowardly spinner embarks on a quest to help his son avert the horrors of a meaningless war.
9 9 "True North" Dean White David H. Goodman & Liz Tigelaar January 15, 2012 9.83
Emma reaches into her scarred past as she helps two homeless children search for their biological father. Meanwhile a series of events lead to two children being coerced into stealing a prized artifact from a witch who is more than she appears to be.
10 10 "7:15 A.M." Ralph Hemecker Story by : Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
Teleplay by : Daniel T. Thomsen
January 22, 2012 9.33
Mary Margaret continues to grapple with her unsanctioned feelings for David, and Emma continues to grow suspicious as the Stranger makes his presence known. Meanwhile the events surrounding Prince Charming's wedding are revealed, along with Snow White's struggle to ease her breaking heart, and an offer that sets her on a path from which there is no coming back.
11 11 "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" Bryan Spicer Ian Goldberg & Andrew Chambliss January 29, 2012 10.91
Emma finds herself forced to work alongside Daily Mirror editor Sidney Glass when he approaches her with an enticing offer to expose Regina's corruption; David and Mary Margaret attempt to figure out a way to unleash their unrequited love during a not-so-secret rendezvous; and Henry makes it his mission to find the book of fairytales when it disappears in the wake of a frightening incident. A series of events – that occurred before Snow White and Prince Charming first met – are revealed in which a Genie is freed from the confines of a magic oil lamp and introduced into the court of King Leopold, only to provoke an undeniable passion and a sinister conspiracy that threatens to destroy his only chance of finding true love.
12 12 "Skin Deep" Milan Cheylov Jane Espenson February 12, 2012 8.65
Emma suspects that Gold plans on seeking vigilante justice when a prized artifact is stolen from his home, and Mary Margaret plans a girls' night out that promises to come with a special surprise for everyone. The events surrounding a fateful deal made between Rumpelstiltskin and a courageous princess are revealed, along with a personal bond that slowly blossoms into something more, and a bold move that threatens to destroy the undeniable passion they feel towards one another.
13 13 "What Happened to Frederick" Dean White David H. Goodman February 19, 2012 9.84
David faces a difficult decision about his future when Mary Margaret insists he has to tell Kathryn the truth about their secret relationship; Regina sets a plan in motion to keep David and Mary Margaret apart; and Emma becomes more intrigued with the Stranger. The events surrounding Prince Charming's search for Snow White are revealed along with a mission to help his ex-fiancée recover something precious that was lost to her.
14 14 "Dreamy" David Solomon Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz March 4, 2012 10.67
Mary Margaret attempts to get back into the town's good graces by organizing the Miner's Day Festival, only to find her plans threatened when resident drunk Leroy makes a promise he may not be able to keep; Emma questions whom she can trust as she looks into Kathryn's disappearance; and an earth-shattering revelation becomes a game changer for everyone in Storybrooke. Grumpy's backstory is revealed along with a forbidden romance that forces him to choose between loyalty or love.
15 15 "Red-Handed" Ron Underwood Jane Espenson March 11, 2012 9.29
Emma finds herself struggling to help resident party girl Ruby discover what it is in life that she is good at, and David calls his own well-being into question when he exhibits strange behavior that forces him to question whether or not he is guilty of the murder of his wife. Red Riding Hood's backstory is revealed along with her yearning to run away with the man she loves, and a series of dangerous events involving her determined grandmother, a mysterious outlaw, and a ferocious wolf on a relentless killing spree.
16 16 "Heart of Darkness" Dean White Andrew Chambliss & Ian Goldberg March 18, 2012 8.69
Emma is forced to arrest Mary Margaret for Kathryn's suspected murder when a terrifying breakthrough causes the mystery to turn into something infinitely more sinister; David questions everything and everyone he thought he could trust; and Gold convinces Mary Margaret to accept his legal services. Meanwhile, the events surrounding Prince Charming's search for Snow White continue to be revealed, along with his struggle to prevent his unhinged true love from assassinating the Evil Queen.
17 17 "Hat Trick" Ralph Hemecker Vladimir Cvetko & David H. Goodman March 25, 2012 8.82
Emma struggles to stay alive when she and Mary Margaret are abducted by a cartographer whose affinity for hats has him teetering on the edge of madness. Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which a man of magic is coerced into stealing a prized artifact from the villainous Queen of Hearts.
18 18 "The Stable Boy" Dean White Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz April 1, 2012 8.36
Emma continues to search for evidence that will prove Mary Margaret's innocence; Regina initiates the final stage of her vendetta; and a revelation leaves the residents of Storybrooke reeling. Meanwhile the events surrounding the fateful first encounter between Snow White and the Evil Queen are revealed along with a devastating betrayal that will forever define their relationship.
19 19 "The Return" Paul Edwards Jane Espenson April 22, 2012 9.08
Mr. Gold sets out to learn more about August after unearthing a connection to his past; Emma confronts Regina about her involvement in Kathryn's disappearance; and David tries to reconcile with Mary Margaret. Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which Rumplestiltskin agrees to help his son find a way to safely give up his powers.
20 20 "The Stranger" Gwyneth Horder-Payton Ian Goldberg & Andrew Chambliss April 29, 2012 9.20
August makes it his mission to help Emma break the Curse. Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which the woodcarver Geppetto agrees to a plan that will save Snow White and Prince Charming's unborn daughter but with a proviso that could also save his son.
21 21 "An Apple Red as Blood" Milan Cheylov Jane Espenson & David H. Goodman May 6, 2012 8.95
Henry takes drastic measures to prevent Emma from leaving Storybrooke, and Regina devises a last-minute scheme in order to preserve the Dark Curse. Meanwhile a series of events are revealed in which Snow White spearheads a quest to save her true love and defeat the Evil Queen in one fell swoop.
22 22 "A Land Without Magic" Dean White Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz May 13, 2012 9.66
Emma forges an alliance with Regina in order to save Henry's life; Mary Margaret and David face a difficult decision about their future; and Gold makes a bold move that sets his carefully organized plan in motion while the events surrounding Prince Charming's quest to reunite with a fallen Snow White are revealed.


Critical response

Rotten Tomatoes gave the season an approval rating of 80% based on 35 reviews, with an average rating of 6.06/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Charming and fantastical, Once Upon a Time is tonally uneven but derives strength from an outstanding cast and handsome visuals."

Metacritic gave it a score of 66 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Washington Post's Hank Stuever called the series "a smartly-crafted reward for fans of light fantasy, with the right mix of cleverness, action and romance." Verne Gay of Newsday said the series "glows with a near-theatrical shine, challenging viewers to think about TV drama as something other than boilerplate." Several feminist outlets were pleased with the show for its feminist twist on fairy tales. Avital Norman Nathman of Bitch stated that she liked the show for "infusing a feminist sensibility" into the stories. Feministing's Genie Leslie commented that Emma was a "badass", that she liked how Emma was "very adamant that women be able to make their own decisions about their lives and their children", and how Emma was a "well-rounded" character who was "feminine, but not 'girly'". Natalie Wilson from Ms. praised the show for a strong, "kick-butt" female lead, for including multiple strong women who take turns doing the saving with the men, for subverting the fetishization of true love, and for dealing with the idea of what makes a mother in a more nuanced fashion. Wilson went on to state about the lead: "Her pursuit of a 'happy ending' is not about finding a man or going to a ball all gussied up, but about detective work, about building a relationship with her son Henry, and about seeking the 'truth' as to why time stands still in the corrupt Storybrooke world.


No Title Air date Ratings/share
DVR Viewers
Total Viewers
1 "Pilot" October 23, 2011 4.0 12.93 1.2 2.54 5.2 15.48
2 "The Thing You Love Most" October 30, 2011 3.9 11.74 1.1 2.36 5.0 14.10
3 "Snow Falls" November 6, 2011 3.8 11.45 1.0 2.62 4.8 14.07
4 "The Price of Gold" November 13, 2011 3.8 11.36 1.1 2.54 4.9 13.90
5 "That Still Small Voice" November 27, 2011 3.4 10.69 1.1 2.56 4.5 13.24
6 "The Shepherd" December 4, 2011 3.2 9.66 1.0 2.43 4.2 12.08
7 "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" December 11, 2011 2.9 8.91 1.2 2.72 4.1 11.64
8 "Desperate Souls" January 8, 2012 3.7 10.35 1.3 2.86 5.0 13.21
9 "True North" January 15, 2012 3.3 9.83 1.4 2.99 4.7 12.82
10 "7:15 A.M." January 22, 2012 3.2 9.33 1.3 2.99 4.5 12.32
11 "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" January 29, 2012 3.5 10.91 1.2 2.56 4.7 13.47
12 "Skin Deep" February 12, 2012 3.0 8.65 1.3 2.99 4.3 11.64
13 "What Happened to Frederick" February 19, 2012 3.1 9.84 1.1 2.61 4.2 12:45
14 "Dreamy" March 4, 2012 3.4 10.67 1.2 2.55 4.6 13.21
15 "Red-Handed" March 11, 2012 2.9 9.29 1.1 2.63 4.0 11.92
16 "Heart of Darkness" March 18, 2012 2.9 8.69 1.1 2.27 4.0 10.96
17 "Hat Trick" March 25, 2012 2.9 8.82 1.1 2.38 4.0 11.2
18 "The Stable Boy" April 1, 2012 2.8 8.36 1.0 2.31 3.8 10.67
19 "The Return" April 22, 2012 3.0 9.08 1.0 2.51 4.0 11.59
20 "The Stranger" April 29, 2012 3.0 9.20 0.9 2.10 3.9 11.29
21 "An Apple Red As Blood" May 6, 2012 3.0 8.94 1.1 2.47 4.1 11.42
22 "A Land Without Magic" May 13, 2012 3.3 9.66 1.0 2.20 4.3 11.86
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