• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Oct 23, 2011
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3
Once Upon a Time Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 295 Ratings

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  • Summary: Henry locates his birth mother, whom he believes can save Storybrooke, which is a town of fairy tale characters that do not remember their lives in the fairy tale parallel world.
  • Genre(s): Drama, Fantasy
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Sep 21, 2011
    Once Upon a Time is a smartly-crafted reward for fans of light fantasy, with the right mix of cleverness, action and romance.
  2. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Oct 20, 2011
    Fans of the fantastical can do far worse than Once Upon A Time, which manages to both stir the pulse and please the senses with its beautifully imagined medieval times.
  3. Reviewed by: Lynnette Porter
    Oct 24, 2011
    In its premiere episode, Once Upon a Time offers a mix of hope and cynicism, coupled with familiar television and film allusions (not unlike the Shreks).
  4. Reviewed by: Lori Rackl
    Oct 20, 2011
    I don't see this fairy-tale fantasy having broad enough appeal to conjure up the kind of viewer numbers it will need to stick around.
  5. 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.
  6. Reviewed by: Maureen Ryan
    Oct 21, 2011
    There are times when the enterprise lacks a certain heft and when the fantasy realm seems a little generic. Also, some characters, especially Lana Parrilla's Evil Queen (who is also the mayor of Storybrooke), are one-dimensional in kind of maddening ways, though Robert Carlyle makes up for that with his charismatic turn as both Rumplestiltskin and a Storybrooke resident named Mr. Gold.
  7. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    Oct 21, 2011
    To draw out the story by looping it through subplots and minidramas runs the risk of turning it into a fairy-tale soap opera--when what we really want to know is whether the tragic Snow White or the lonely Emma can in the end live happily ever after.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 65
  2. Negative: 14 out of 65
  1. Jul 11, 2012
    loved this series i can't wait and am hoping for a season 2 i love how Rumpelstiltskin is the beast in beauty and the beast and how everything is tied together through him and the queen/mayor Expand
  2. Nov 28, 2011
    Very cleaver! Like the details, like the storyline, actors, charactors, etc. what a fun show. I have told several people about it and they are watching now. Cant wait to see more. Expand
  3. Oct 25, 2011
    I loved the concept of the show its different from what's on television at the moment and it makes you want to watch it and the cast does a fantastic job! I can not wait to continue watching the show and see how the storyline develops. Expand
  4. Mar 14, 2013
    “Once Upon a Time” is about fairy tale characters that get trapped in the real world because of a curse by the evil witch Regina. None of the other characters besides Regina, has any recollection of their life before the curse. However, there is a savior who can save them all, but she doesn’t believe. Emma Swan is this savior, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, but because of her troubled childhood she doesn’t have time to believe in fairy tales or curses that is until her son Henry comes back into her life. Emma and Regina go head to head as the mysteries of Storybrooke unfold in front of us.

    This is one heck of a show. It has strong writing and tackles themes of true love, motherhood, friendship, and believing. The show adds a new twist to the fairy tale lore as we get to see classic characters interact with one another. Stories jump back and forth from the present, which take place in our realm, to the past, which takes place in the fairy tale world, in a single episode. Each story event in the fairy tale world tells the story of what is happening at this moment or a back story of a particular character(s). It is interestingly done and keeps us involved as we try to piece each event together to the point of when the curse takes place. The part is finding all the references to the Disney version of these stories and characters. Disney/ABC put a lot of money into the show as the special effects and visuals are top notch for television. The costumes and make-up are extravagant as well. The musical score is at the heart of the story as each character or group of characters have their own themes.

    Actors range from good to decent. Emma and Henry are the weakest parts of the show for me. Henry comes off as annoying and a bit of a brat, but the writers and produces grow aware as his appearance becomes less and more tamed as the show progresses. The standout by far and worth watching are Regina and Rumpelstiltskin. Regina is vicious, but there is heart to her. Rumpelstiltskin is flamboyant, but very understated in the real world. One thing particularly great about this show is how no one character is just one note. There are layers to each character, even the most evil of them.

    Overall, “Once Upon a Time” is a really great show with some strong writing and high production values. Each character is highlighted well in their particular episode and we’re left guessing what happens next. As the season comes to an end, we learn more and more about certain characters that change our perspective on them. And the finale answers a lot of questions, but leaves us with a bunch of new ones. I give it 4.5/5, great writing, impressive production values, and a cast of colorful, but relateable characters.
  5. Feb 2, 2012
    The one thing that works in this show is the theme of it, the absolute fresh and new concept that really makes it a good time watch. It reminds me of Lost where every episode had a different character story on the island connected with their past and here ... the storybrooke people and their past where they are story book characters. Story is really good however it needs to improve a bit in writing department and it gets bit dull and hollow at times so not a perfect show but really worth watching. It offers romance, excitement, thrill, drama and everything. Your favorite story characters with twists. Expand
  6. Nov 4, 2011
    The show feels slightly August Rush, with extra cheese and fairy tales. The concept is interesting but not up to the standard set by Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods which moulded the familiar stories together rather brilliantly whilst continuing their journeys thereafter. Jennifer Morrison is rather uncharismatic as the Debt-collecting protagonist, She needs someone with the balls of Tilda Swinton to pass off that type of character, however, she doesn't stay her profession for very long as August Rush, sorry, Henry, the male protagonist of our story, locates her to begin the series properly. As I say the concept is interesting but it feels a little corny, the whole thing stinks of cheese but whether that is yummy, cheesy pizza cheese or rotten garbage bin cheese is still being decided. The mark of a great show in my eyes is one that makes me say "HURRY UP NEXT WEEK!" and unfortunately I didn't have this reaction. As it is, it seems the other fairytale inspired TV show, Grimm, has a more "case of the week" approach, I am unsure so don't quote me on that, and if that's the case then I hope that Once Upon A Time steers clear of that generic path. Lana Parilla is a favourite of mine from Swingtown and I am really rooting for her to survive the entire season/series. I loved the LOST references but they seem out of place given the extreme 180 in direction, had this show been more sci-fi, they would not be out of place, but they're still worth a smile or too. Apartment/House #108 for example. Hoping for the show's growth but given the current state of TV, I don't know how likely that is. 5 Grouse points for casting Robert Carlisle as Rumplestiltskin. But I'm a bloke, I need more from my shows than cheesy sentimentality. Rooting for the Evil Queen and Maleficent all the way! Expand
  7. 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. Expand

See all 65 User Reviews

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