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Once Upon a Time - Best Fantasy TV Series

Updated on October 10, 2015

The Main Plot

This TV series running on ABC is a must-watch for all fantasy and magic lovers. The show started in 2011 and is currently running Season 4. The beauty of Once Upon a Time is that it combines several fairy tales into one great fantasy saga. Hats-off to the story writers for coming up with this wonderful concept! The way the story connects the fate of various fairy tale characters is very interesting.

The main story revolves around Snow White and Prince Charming, and their constant struggle against the Evil Queen.

Regina - the Evil Queen
Regina - the Evil Queen
Snow White and Prince Charming
Snow White and Prince Charming
Emma Swan - the Savior
Emma Swan - the Savior | Source

An innocent mistake by young Snow White causes the queen to lose the love of her life. The queen vows to exact revenge on Snow White and the rest of the kingdom. In her rage, she casts a horrific spell that transports all inhabitants of the kingdom to a modern day town in Maine, United States called Storybrooke.

Fully stripped of their past memories, none of the characters remember their true identities and remain eternally trapped in this small town. None can leave Storybrooke and no outsider can enter it, until the Savior can free them of this curse.

Soon after, Emma Swan, the savior arrives in Storybrooke. Emma is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who had been left inside a magical cupboard many years back to escape the curse of the Evil Queen. The magical cupboard had teleported her into modern day New York where she was raised by the foster system. Now she is a street-smart city woman in her late twenties, full of cynicism and resentment towards the way life has treated her.

But there is a much bigger problem at hand. Emma does not know that she is the Savior and she refuses to believe in fairy tales or magic. She comes to Storybrooke only at the behest of her 10 year old son Henry, whom she had given up after birth. By a twist of fate and a little ploy by the Dark One/Rumpelstiltskin, Henry ends up getting adopted by Regina. Later, Henry tracks down his birth mom Emma. He lands up at Emma's doorstep with his giant fairy-tale storybook, which he believes to be telling the real stories of fairy-tale characters trapped in Storybrooke.

Can the Savior save Storybrooke from the curse?

Inside Storybrooke, only 2 people remember their past lives.

  • One is Regina Mills, the Evil Queen herself, who has taken up her new identity as the mayor of the town.

  • The other one is Rumpelstiltskin, a powerful sorcerer also known as the Dark One. In this realm, he is known as Mr. Gold, a pawnbroker and collector of antiques. He is the only character in this story who seem to have some kind of history with every other fairy tale character, including Regina.

The Sub-plots

Apart from the main plot, there are many interesting sub-plots that run in parallel throughout various seasons.

Captain Hook
Captain Hook | Source


The most intriguing story is that of Rumpelstiltskin - how he used to be the village coward before he became the land's most powerful sorcerer, the Dark One, what he had to give up in order to gain the magical powers, how he met Belle, the love of his life, and how he influenced the lives of several other fairy-tale characters.

Captain Hook

Killian Hook is a ruthless pirate whose history with Rumpelstiltskin goes back a long way. Rumpelstiltskin's wife Mila had eloped with the dreaded pirate Killian Hook while Rumpel watched helplessly after getting beaten up by Hook and his men. Mocked by the villagers for failing to save his wife's honor, Rumpelstilskin came to be known as the village coward. Not able to forget or forgive the episode, Rumpel hungered for revenge on Hook after he became the Dark One.


Red Riding Hood

We see Red Riding Hood in Seasons 1 and 2. Red was an adventurous young girl, eager to uncover the identity of the fearful werewolf that terrorized her village. Her granny wove her a red hood that she was supposed to wear at all times, as it would protect her from werewolves. However, Red did not know the real reason why she should never part with her hood, not until she discovered a terrible secret.


Peter Pan and Neverland

Season 3 introduces us to Peter Pan, a young boy who lives on a mystical island known as Neverland. It is a home to all lost boys.

Whatever one wishes on Neverland comes true, all they require is faith. People living there never age, but agelessness comes with a huge price. Once a person drinks the waters of the island, he can never leave the place. Peter Pan comes to Storybrooke with an evil plan in motion, one that can free him from the terrible curse of Neverland.

Wicked Witch of the West

Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West makes her appearance in Season 3. She had been abandoned by her mother Cora and brought up by a poor peasant family. Her story narrates how she had magical abilities from birth, how she turned from a good witch to an evil one, and why she felt intense jealousy and hatred towards her half-sister Regina.

Regina vs Zelena - Evil vs Wicked


Elsa - the Snow Queen

We encounter Elsa, the queen of Arendelle, who is also known as the Snow Queen as she can freeze anything at will. She was trapped inside a magical urn for 30 years and has no memory of who trapped her or why. She arrives at Storybrooke due to an accidentally opened time-space portal. Elsa desperately looks for her lost younger sister Anna, but there is another evil sorceress in town who has other designs for her.

We also meet several other characters: Pinocchio - the perpetual liar, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Aurora - the Sleeping Beauty, Ariel - the Mermaid, Tinkerbelle - the green fairy, and Robin Hood - the leader of a band of thieves called Merry Men.

The series keeps jumping back and forth between the enchanted realm and modern-day realm, flawlessly capturing the butterfly effects of life. It narrates the secrets and past life of every character, showcasing how even the most trivial decisions of a person can play a huge role in shaping that person's future.

Emma and Hook's Alternate Timeline

Once Upon A Time Season 3 ended with several deadly twists. The Wicked Witch of the West, Zelena, who had come to wreak revenge on Regina had been defeated. But her incomplete curse triggered a time-space portal to open up. Emma Swan and Captain Hook got sucked into the portal, ending up in the Enchanted Forest around 30 years ago.

Time-travel into the Enchanted Forest



  • Struggling to find a way back to present day Storybrooke, Emma unwittingly alters an event in the past. This event was vital in making her parents Snow White and Prince Charming meet for the first time. Due to the alteration, the ripple effect in the timeline threatens the very existence of Emma.

  • Emma and Captain Hook devise a plan to make Snow and Charming meet under different circumstances, with the help of Rumpelstiltskin. Their plan succeeds and they manage to travel back to the present. But they don't return alone!

  • On their way back to the present, Emma saves a prisoner called Marian who was about to be executed by the Evil Queen. Fearful that by making Marian stay alive, she may cause a ripple effect in the time-line, Emma decides to bring Marian back with her to Storybrooke. This proves to be a grave mistake.

  • Regina's happiness with her professed soul-mate Robin Hood is short-lived. Marian, the prisoner rescued by Emma turns out to be Robin Hood's long dead wife, who lives due to Emma's interference. Regina is devastated and furious, as she holds Emma solely responsible for separating her from Robin Hood.

  • The final scene of Season 3 ends with the emergence of Elsa, the Ice Queen from Frozen. On their way back from the past, Hook had mistakenly picked up an urn from Rumpelstiltskin's vault. This urn is now open and has unleashed the Ice Queen into Storybrooke.

The best of Once Upon A Time

While Seasons 1 and 2 were really good, I found Season 3 to be the best of all. Major portions of the season is featured in the dark and mysterious Neverland, the island filled with secrets. Season 3 also witnesses the two most feared sorceresses in fairy-tales pit against one another. Snow White and Prince Charming's chemistry is worth watching.

Season 4 looks promising as it gradually unravels the outcome of all the events that took place in Season 3. We are introduced to Ingrid, Elsa's aunt who had been the crown queen of Arendelle and had similar magical powers as Elsa. She was trapped in the magical urn by her own sister, as a result of a misunderstanding. After many years, she was freed from her captivity but her heart could not forgive injustice done to her. She decided to become the monster that she was always accused of being.

Watch the trailer - Once Upon A Time Season 1

© 2014 Ritu Temptor


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      Adel 2 years ago

      Those fairytales weren't oignlraily meant for kids they were for adults. I love collecting old versions of Hans and Grimm, but I don't have any really old or amazing copies (yet). My friend has a very old (possibly original) Little Mermaid, so jealous.You should read some of Donna Jo Napoli's fairytale versions, those stick to the gruesome and dark tales of not so pretty happily ever afters. For example Bound is a Chinese Cinderella story, the sister has toes chopped off so she can have small feel and than a raccoon starts gnawing on her feet. Go check out some of her work, they are awesome!

    • temptor94 profile image

      Ritu Temptor 2 years ago from India

      Thanks, I will surely check these out :) While the usual fairy tales and happy endings are all very nice to read, its the darker tales that are so much more interesting.

    • DaphneDL profile image

      Daphne D. Lewis 2 years ago from Saint Albans, West Virginia

      I love how Once Upon A Time switches between the fairy tale world and the characters existence in the present time. There's never a dull moment. While most fairy tales do have a happy ending, most of them did contain dark elements in some parts of the story.

    • temptor94 profile image

      Ritu Temptor 2 years ago from India

      @DaphneDL Very true, jumping between the 2 realms and the way everything is connected is what makes it an amazing show. Thanks for reading :)

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      Peter 2 years ago

      I am not going to lie, I have never read the Grimm's tales, nor The Wizard of Oz or Through the Looking Glass and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland In fact, I don't recall ever senieg some of the books film adaptations! But I must say that I love when books break apart in half from you opening and closing them so much! I mean, it is kinda sad, but it just shows how much the book truly means to you (last summer my sister and I had to tape up my copy of Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce because it completely broke apart If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it!)

    • temptor94 profile image

      Ritu Temptor 2 years ago from India

      @Peter I haven't read Trickster's Choice or Grimm's tales, only seen the TV adaptations. Books do allow an infinite imagination and sometimes, it is difficult to capture an entire book within a 2 hour movie or a half an hour TV show. That is why I loved this series so much as they have managed to make the stories much more interesting than the actual fairy tales, with some modifications of course, to make it engaging enough for TV view.

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