• Network: ABC
  • Series Premiere Date: Oct 23, 2011
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 348 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 35 out of 348

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  1. Oct 26, 2011
    There are some decent ideas here, but you have to wade through some mediocre acting and truly awful writing. Even some of the CGI is surprisingly bad. What was with the fairy godmother character floating around in one scene? She was lit incorrectly to fit in with the main scene. Just not well done.

    I was truly curious about some of the big questions in this story, but the overall vehicle
    is so clumsily done that I just can't give this show any more time. Expand
  2. Nov 14, 2011
    This show just doesn't appeal to me. Maybe it's because I'm a guy or something, but I just can't watch it. The kid seems annoying to me and the concept of this whole town trying to get back to fantasyland doesn't seem interesting to me. People compare this show to Grimm, but Grimm is much more entertaining and more appealing to men, I think.
  3. Oct 28, 2011
    Only for kids and women. This is for people that love Hallmark channel's type of stuff. I'm surprised OUat isn't shown at 2pm for daytime tv. OUaT is less than lightweight and even though it's concept is based on imagination there is none in the writing what so ever. Lastly when I say it's written for women... I mean no disrespect. It's clearly written for the children and the female audience and makes no qualms of alienating men. So rather than writing something that everybody could watch you have a show that's kicked out half it's viewers by choice. All in all the acting is average to bad and the whole show rather ridiculous Expand
  4. Jul 13, 2012
    After watching a fair few episodes I've decided to not bother watching this again. The writers have realised they need to create 22 episodes so instead of actually telling stories they just give you enough with the inevitable cliffhangers that force you to come back to see what happens. The word Soap opera is appropriate.
    The main antagonist, the Queen(Regina) is just a shallow one sided
    disney style evil character that we are expected to accept without any real insight into the hows and whys of her obvious anger at everything.
    Robert Carlysles **** character is about the only saving grace in the whole show and the only character with any real depth. The rest you can pretty much take or leave. Its a shame as the story had potential but the writers just don't have the talent to make 22 episodes of interesting content. Maybe if they had made it 10 or 12 episodes they could actually have made it work.
    The telling of the Enchanted forest stories is not bad, with some interesting twists on the stories we know, but anything to do with Storybrooke is just static.
  5. Jan 23, 2013
    It's not absolutely terrible, but I'd hesitate to call it good.

    The thing I thought was the absolute funniest was how the wicked stepmother gave them worst fate she could imagine, and that was living in a quaint upper-middle class town in Maine. There are a lot of times where the progression of the story just doesn't make sense, and requires a very generous suspension of disbelief.
    Other times, the protagonist makes unethical decisions and the show paints it as a "noble" thing to do.

    I could see how people would enjoy this show if they're enamored with the idea of larger-than-life romance, but it falls short in worthwhile content.
  6. Jun 16, 2012
    I wanted to give this show a fair shot but after five episodes I wonder if I must be watching a different show than everyone else. The characters are well thought and the casting is okay, but the show is so very dull. Not a lot happens at all, I was expecting more of a drama than a soap. Interesting concept, but too boring for me. The comparisons with Grimm need to stop too, they are worlds apart.
  7. Feb 19, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Okay... where to begin. First of all let's kill a certain cliche that claims all women like this show. I didn't, and that's because I found it pretty boring and poorly written. It's an interesting idea that all the fairytale characters are put in the real world, but it has been done before, so I expected something original. All I got were plot twists that were unreal and characters I didn't find interesting at all. For example the protagonist, Emma, she's supposed to be some kind of detective or people finder or whatever and one day her kid Henry (that she left for adoption after he was born) pops up at her door and says she has to help him. So she finds herself in a small town called Storybrooke (ugh what a lame name) and it's run by a mayor who is really the Evil Queen from Snow White and her curse brought every fairytale creature in there so they could suffer and she could have a happy ending. I don't get it. Where is the suffering or the happy ending. Just a lame town with lame people. And suddenly Emma and Regina(the Queen) start to fight over Henry. Their dialogue is just ridiculous, like in Days of Our Lives or something. Also the huntsman who was supposed to kill Snow but didn't and then the Queen got mad and took his heart so she could make him her bed slave and then he kisses Emma and starts to remember and then the Queen kills him by crushing his heart while him and Emma make out??? I mean what? Why? And why is Red Riding Hood a slutty waitress? The plot is just awkward, there's so many things missing and so many things that need not to be there. It reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean movies or the Hobbit. Too much but at the same time too little. In the series even the costumes remind me of how sentimental it is. What I wanted was the world of forgotten fairy tales. Myths all over the world. What about stories we don't hear often? And there could have been a world more like in Snow White and the Huntsman (even though it wasn't a great movie it was visually awesome, more darker and stranger). Finally, there was only one character in the series that I liked and that was Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold (I'm from Finland so here it's "Tittelintuure"). Mostly I think because he was played by Robert Carlyle who is one of my favorite actors. I'm truly disappointed and hope that the Grimm will be better, starting to watch it now. Expand
  8. Dec 29, 2011
    I would have preferred that this show keep the angle that this is all in the boys head avoiding his dreary life. The evil queen is such a baffling cartoon without any depth. Or maybe she is just a bad actress?! I wished the writers would have allowed her to express real attempt at wanting to be the best mother to her adopted son. Instead the show is now asking the audience to suspend all belief that the town somehow wants to get back to fairytale land, or someplace else?! Expand
  9. May 20, 2012
    Robert Carlyle is wonderful... the best acting performance on the show. What turns me off is the use of a trite acting vocabulary by Jennifer Morrison. She has moments when it seems she wants to show depth, and then, "yuck," another little unconvincing move or facial expression that feels hollow and unconvincing. The same kind of cheap "Disney school of bad acting" that permeates other shows like Terra Nova, and just about all of Disney's TV shows. Come production staff. I know you can see it because you shorten many of the shots on Morrison's face at times. Give her some coaching if you want to invite the audience to really get into the story. Collapse
  10. Oct 26, 2011
    I think this show is more for kids. It's ok but not one I would worry about watching again unless there was absolutely nothing else on. The concept is different from anything else on TV right now and at least it isn't a reality show...is it? LOL
  11. Oct 28, 2013
    I'm shocked this is rated so highly. The dialogue is dreadful. The acting sucks, but since the script is so bad, we probably shouldn't place too much blame on them.

    For a show with such an ambitiously conceived setting, everything looks cheap. No exaggeration: the costumes look like they were harvested from a thrift store bin. Also, the special effects are embarrassingly bad. [C'mon
    guys! If you're going to make a fantasy series, and you refuse to pay for good writers, then the least you can do is splurge on good special effects and costume design.]

    It's a shame, because the idea of this show is so appealing. Unfortunately, the idea alone is not enough for me. This series fails in every category of execution.
  12. Dec 26, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I believe this show has/had a lot of potntial. Unfortunatley though, due to the terrible acting and poor special effects, this show rates below average for me.

    First of all, the casting is somewhat atrocious. Robert Carlysle and Jennifer Morrison's characters are the only ones I can stomach. Snow White, Prince Charming, Henry-everyone else is completely intolerable. Regina is probably the worst villain I've ever seen and don't even get me started on Peter Pan. And all the gushy, mushy 'romantic' 'true love' moments are just purely revolting.
    With bad writing, terrible casting, and even worse acting, this show gets a bad score from me.
  13. May 17, 2014
    Too be honest, although this show seems to bring in good reviews, it is a mainstream fanfiction displayed on television. Not to dis fanfiction but there's a reason it's not simply fiction, it typically amateuristic and gives training wheels to those not too serious or just starting out, it should not be put on television. It's fairly unoriginal and crams nostalgic characters into modern ordeals to attract fairytale fanatics. In the latest episode, a new character has been put in from a very recent film, I'd imagine it would butcher the original film and creating a backstory for this character as the show does would be an insult to the original writers considering this movie came out so recently. Overall, it's entertaining to some but should not be considered a "serious" show. Expand
  14. Oct 12, 2014
    Generic is probably the word that best describes this series. It was extremely painful for me to sit through all 22 episodes. I'm having a hard time believing some of the critics called this show "clever" or "smart" because it is anything but smart. I wanted to like this show as I'm a huge fan of The Wolf Among Us, a video game with a similar premise. However, the show proved to have just far too many problems:
    - The story often lacks logic, and the characters make unintelligent decisions all the time.
    - The show is too inconsistent. There are few episodes that have some fresh stories, and the majority of others that are totally unoriginal and thus unbelievably boring.
    - The characters are comically one-dimensional, and the acting often feels extremely soapy.
    - Production values are horrifically low. Everything looks ridiculously cheap, and the CGI is just horrible.
    - The Storybrooke events are too slow-paced. The finale was a good payoff, but why couldn't they just speed things up before?
  15. Sep 28, 2014
    Worst show I have ever seen. Disney is ruining every movie they ever made with this stupid show with a bad storyline. I can't even watch one episode. The animation is poor and the show is so bad it's comcial.
  16. Nov 23, 2014
    Once upon a time, ABC was in talks with an amazing creator named Bill Willingham, whose comic series "Fables" is a long line of brilliance, mature exploration of character and fairy tale tropes blended into a modern setting. It is hands down one of the best series I have ever read, and it's still going (at least into 2015 when the story comes to a close).

    At some point, those talks
    fell through. Then, half a year later, ABC announces Once Upon a Time, based on the same basic conceit as the Willingham comic from Vertigo (DC). I'm sad it's not Fables, but I'm excited at the idea.

    Then, I watch it. I tried. I really did. It's so watered down, trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator, with annoying leads (though I liked Jiminy Cricket and I liked Rumpelstiltskin for what they were worth). It had a less-intriguing premise. It was far too soft and Disney-fied. They basically took this amazing mature story and tried to make it have mass appeal to the family audience. Already not what I wanted, but hey, I like a good family show on occasion, so I stuck it out.

    And the writing sucked. The plotting, the dialogue, the generic tropes done with a straight face, bland as could be. The kid is obnoxious. Snow's 'daughter' is obnoxious. Snow is less interesting than a bottle of Ambien (and it's sad, too, I loved the actress in Big Love).

    Jiminy and Rumpel are the only reason this review didn't get a '0'.

    If you want something that's actually good in this vein, go read Fables. Or watch Grimm.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Oct 28, 2011
    The series, fueling itself with folklore, proceeds as if no characterization is required.
  2. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Oct 24, 2011
    The show is a bold idea, and there's hope for the modern-world portions, but it doesn't quite know what it is (or maybe it does, but the audience won't).
  3. Reviewed by: Rick Porter
    Oct 24, 2011
    No other new show this fall is attempting to tell a bigger story, and we're hoping the rough patches smooth out and it fulfills the potential that's there in its very strong cast and premise.