Once Upon a Time 1x01
October 23, 2011
Running time
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Viewers (mil)
Centric characters
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Other backstory characters
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Directed by
Cast Featured
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Also Starring
Special Guest Star
Archive footage

"Pilot" is the 1st episode of Once Upon a Time.


28-year-old bail bonds collector Emma Swan is shocked when Henry, the son she gave up for adoption ten years ago, turns up in desperate need of her help. Henry believes that Emma is Snow White and Prince Charming's missing daughter, who was sent away from the Enchanted Forest to be protected from the Evil Queen's curse. Emma refuses to believe a word of Henry's story but soon finds that his hometown of Storybrooke, Maine may be more than it seems. Because it's in Storybrooke that all of the classic fairytale characters are frozen in time with no memories of their former selves – including the Evil Queen, who is Storybrooke's mayor and Henry's adoptive mother, Regina.


The series begins with a message...

Once Upon A Time... There was an enchanted forest filled with all the classic characters we know. Or think we know. One day they found themselves trapped in a place where all their happy endings were stolen. Our World. This is how it happened...

Act I

101 01
The fair Snow White, resting inside her glass coffin.

Prince Charming is seen riding his horse. He enters the woods and approaches the seven dwarfs, who are located in a clearing, around the glass casket they built for Snow White, who is comatose after ingesting a poisoned apple, and presumably believed to be dead. Doc tells the Prince that he's too late, and when he sees his beloved princess confined in the coffin, he is horrified. He looks at her, with a melancholic gaze, and orders the dwarfs to open the casket. Grumpy tells him "I'm sorry, she's gone", but a teary-eyed Prince begs him to at least allow him to say goodbye. The depressed dwarfs remove the glass top of the coffin, and the prince leans down for a kiss. When he kisses her, waves of magic are spread through the air, and the area, that was dark and slowly being covered with snow, is filled with light and life. Snow White opens her eyes and gasps. As she regains consciousness, she turns the prince, recognizes him and says "You... you found me." He asks her if she ever doubted he would. She jokes that the glass coffin gave her pause. He comforts her, saying she'll never have to worry as he'll always find her. She asks him "Do you promise?"

101 02
The wedding.

He says "I do." Only now, they're getting married, and he has just asserted that he accepts to wed her. The bishop then asks if Snow White is willing to take this husband and love him for all eternity. Their altar has the look of a small gazebo in the middle of a large room in the palace. Surrounded by hundreds of guests, Snow White says "I do", and the priest pronounces them husband and wife. Everyone celebrates by clapping their hands, even a grumpy Grumpy, although with some reluctance. When the prince and princess move towards one another for the expected kiss, they are startled by the sound of the doors being opened. Everyone stares at the entrance to the room: there stands the Evil Queen, Snow White's stepmother. With a smirk, she says "Sorry I'm late", and rapidly walks across the room, as though she's sliding. Two guards move towards her, but all it takes is for her to open her arms wide and they are sent flying in opposite directions.

101 03
An uninvited guest.

People scream. Doc tells people "It's the Queen, run!", but Snow White takes the Prince's sword from his garment and points it at her, telling everyone that she's no longer a queen, she's nothing more than an evil witch. The prince tells his wife there's no need to stoop to her level. He takes the sword back from Snow's hand, and tells the Queen that she's wasting her time, she's already lost. "And I will not let you ruin this wedding", he adds. She says "Oh, I haven't come here to ruin anything. On the contrary, dear. I've come to give you a gift." Snow White tells her they want nothing from her, to which the witch replies, as everyone attending tries not to look at her, "But you shall have it. My gift to you is this happy, happy day. But tomorrow, my real work begins. You've made your vows, now I make mine! Soon, everything you love, everything all of you love, will be taken from you... forever. And out of your suffering, will rise my victory. I shall destroy your happiness, if it is the last thing I do." She then turns her back to them and walks away. The Prince calls out to her, and when she turns back to him he hurls the sword at her. The object flies toward her in a straight manner, but she dissipates in smoke just as it's about to hit her. Everyone in the audience gasps with surprise, and the Prince embraces his wife. They both look concerned. All of a sudden, the image of the two of them together becomes an animated illustration in a book.

In the real world, young Henry Mills is holding that book in his lap, as he rides in a bus headed for Boston. The woman sitting across from him asks the kid if that's a good book, to which he replies that it's more than just a book. The woman says "Oh." and giggles, and Henry is seen, shortly afterwards, getting out of the bus. He looks a bit lost, but not for long, as he heads for a cab and asks the driver if he takes credit cards. The cabbie asks him "Where to, chief?"

101 04
Emma meets with Ryan for their blind date.

An elevator opens, leading to a fancy restaurant, and Emma Swan, dressed in a pink evening gown, enters the facility, holding a purse. She looks around, and a handsome man gets up whilst smiling at her. He greets her, asking "Emma?", to which she replies "Ryan?", and they both smile at each other. She tells him he looks relieved, and he explains, while pushing the chair for her, that, because they met over the Internet, that the pictures could be... Emma interrupts, completing his sentence: "...fake? Outdated? Stolen from a Victoria's Secret catalogue?"; he tells Emma to tell him something about her, and she reveals to him that today is her birthday. He's surprised that she's spending it with her; he asks her about her friends, to which she replies that she's a bit of a loner. He then asks her if she doesn't like her a family, and she lets on that there is no family to like. He tells her that everyone has a family, to which she replies that not everyone knows who they are. She then asks him if he's ready to run yet, and he says "Not a chance. You, Emma, are by far, the sexiest friendless orphan that I have ever met."; she laughs, and tells him it's his turn to talk, but then she stops him, saying "Let me are handsome, charming" - he says "Go on" - "the kind of guy who, and stop me if I get this wrong, embezzled from your employer, got arrested, and skipped town before they were able to throw your ass in jail." Ryan is confused. He asks her "What?", and all she says is that the worst part of all is his wife, whose love he repaid by going on a date with Emma. He asks her who she is, to which she replies "The chick who put up the rest of the money". He tells her "You're a bail bondsman."; she corrects him, stating she's a "bail bonds-person". Shortly afterwards, he flips the table over, throwing everything onto her, and dashes off. Emma is annoyed at the wine stain left in her pretty pink dress. She says "Really?"

101 05
Emma catches herself a criminal.

Ryan is then seen rushing off into the street, and trying to avoid the oncoming traffic as he makes his way to his car, while Emma gets out of the restaurant, calmly walking towards him, with a grin. He gets inside his car, starts the engine, but can't get it to move. Confused, he opens the door to find that the car's tire has been blocked with a wheel clamp. As she approaches him, he tells her she doesn't have to do this, because he's got money to pay her, but she replies that he doesn't, and if he did he should give it to his wife to carry his family. He provokes her by asking what the hell she knows about family, and her response consists of grabbing him and banging his head against the steering wheel. He is knocked unconscious, and Emma says "Nothing", and sighs.

101 06
Emma meets someone she never thought she'd see again...

A while later, Emma is seen getting into her apartment, carrying with her a paper bag, and she quickly takes off her high heeled shoes. She then reveals that she's purchased a single cupcake, and she lights a candle, in the form of a blue star, on it, positions herself in front of the cake, says "Another banner year...", and then closes her eyes, as though she's silently making a wish, and blows the candle. Then, the doorbell rings, and she opens her eyes. She opens the door to find no one in front of her... until she looks down and notices little Henry, with his story book. She asks if she can help him, and he asks if she's Emma Swan. She says "Yeah, who are you?", to which he replies, "My name's Henry. I'm your son." Emma is confused.

Act II

101 07
Henry begs Emma to take him home.

Henry walks inside the apartment, passing under Emma's arm, and she tries to call him out, telling him she doesn't have a son. She asks where his parents are, and he asks her if he gave up a baby for adoption ten years before. This gives Emma pause. Henry tells her that was him. After some hesitance, Emma... tells him to give her a minute, walks into the bathroom, shuts the door, and tries to fight back her emotions, as Henry asks her, from outside the bathroom, if she's got any juice. He then tells her to never mind, as he found some. Emma then comes out of the bathroom to find him drinking juice out of the bottle, and he tells her they should probably get going, as he wants her to come home with him. Emma tells him she's gonna call the police, and grabs the phone, and Henry reveals that if she does, he'll tell them she kidnapped him. Emma says, "And they'll believe you because I'm your birth mother." He says "Yep", and she tells him he's not gonna do that, as though she's calling his bluff, and he tells her, "Try me". Emma tells him he's pretty good, but adds that, even though she doesn't have many talents, she does have one skill: she can tell when anyone is lying, and he is. She starts dialing, and he begs her not to, and insists that he come home with her. She asks him where "home" is, and he says it's Storybrooke, Maine. Emma agrees to, albeit reluctantly.

101 08
The royal couple is concerned.

In the fairytale world, a large castle is seen on a huge rock located in a river, and Snow White, showing a baby bump, is seen at one of the entrances, with a blue bird resting on her finger. She lets it fly freely, and Prince Charming comes up to her, asking her what's wrong, as she looks blue. She tells him "Nothing", but he can tell she's thinking about what the Queen said. He takes her hands and insists that he can't keep having this conversation, as she has to let it go, after all, they're having a baby. Inside the room where they're standing is a baby crib. Snow comes inside and tells him she hasn't had a restful night since they had their wedding, and he comes after her, saying that's what the Queen wants, to get inside her head, but they're only words. "She can't hurt us", he adds. Snow reminds him that the Queen poisoned an apple because she thought Snow was prettier than her, so clearly she is capable of a lot of evildoings. He asks what he can do to ease her mind, and Snow begs him to let her talk... to "him". He is confused, and when he realizes what she means, he tells her it's too dangerous. Snow White reminds him that whoever she wants to talk to can see the future, and the Prince reminds her that there's a reason why said man/creature is locked up. She asks him if he can promise her that their child will be safe, because the locked up being can. Though reluctantly, the Prince says "Alright. For our child."

101 09
Emma is told that she's a storybook character.

In the real world, Emma is seen driving Henry back home. They're not talking much. After a while, Henry tells he's angry, and asks her if she wants to stop somewhere. Emma reminds him that this is not a road trip, so they're not stopping for snacks. He asks "Why not?", and Emma tells him to quit complaining, as she could had put him on a bus. In fact, she could still do that. He tells her he has a name, it's Henry. He's got his book open on his lap, and Emma notices it and asks what it is. Henry says he's not sure she's ready, and Emma says, "Ready for some fairy tales?". Henry tells her they're not fairy tales, they're true: every story in that book actually happened. Emma says "Of course it did", clearly just playing along, though not emphatically, and he tells her to use her superpower, see if he's lying. She looks at him for a while, and then back to the front, telling him that just because he believes something doesn't make it true. He says "That's exactly what makes it true", and adds that she should know more than anyone. She asks why that is... and he tells her "Because you're in this book". Emma tells him he's got problems, and he says "Yep, and you're gonna fix 'em". Emma is confused. In the book, the image of a lighted torch is seen.

101 10
Snow and Charming visit an unpleasant someone...

The image morphs into the real fairytale world, and the torch is lighting the corridors to the cells. A guard guides Prince Charming and Snow White, carrying a lighted torch himself, and tells them to stay in the dark and to never let the prisoner know their names, because if he does, he'll have power over them. As they approach the cell, he calls out for Rumplestiltskin, twice, and tells him he's got a question for him. A creepy voice is heard saying "No, you don't", as a vulture moves inside the cell. "They do", he adds, referring to the royal couple. He lets out a creepy laugh after he refers to the couple by name, and tells them they insult him, by standing in the dark and not approaching him. He urges them to do so, and to take off their robes, and they oblige. Rumplestiltskin laughs as they near him, saying that's much better. The Prince starts to announce what their reason for being there, and Rumplestiltskin interrupts them, saying he knows why they're present: they want to know about the Queen's threat. Snow White demands that he tell them what he knows, and he mocks her by saying, "Tense, aren't we?". He then tells her not to fear, as he can ease her mind... but it's gonna cost her something in return. The Prince tells him "No", and tries to warn Snow that this is a waste of time, but she comes toward Rumplestiltskin and asks what he wants. He wants the name of their unborn child, and the Prince tells him absolutely not, but Snow says "Deal. What do you know?".

101 11
Rumple shares his knowledge with the royal couple, for a price.

Rumplestiltskin smiles and says, "The Queen has created a powerful curse, and it's coming. Soon, you'll be in a prison, just like me, only worst. For your prison, all of our prisons, will be time. The time will stop, and we will be trapped some place horrible, where everything we hold dear, everything we love will be ripped from us while we suffer for all eternity, while the Queen celebrates, victorious at last!... No more happy endings." A desolate Snow asks him what they can do, and is told that they can't do anything. She asks "Who can?", and he tells her "That little thing, growing inside your belly", as he reaches for her stomach. The Prince reaches for his knife and hits Rumplestiltskin's hand with it, warning him that next time he'll cut it off. Rumplestiltskin tells them the infant is their only hope. He then turns to Snow and tells her to get the child to safety, and on its 28th birthday the child will return. The child will find her, and the final battle will begin. He then laughs like a mad man. Snow White is shaken by all that she's been told, and Prince Charming tells her they're leaving, as they've heard enough, and thus the two of them and the guard walk away, but Rumplestiltskin reminds them, furiously so, that they made a deal: he wants her name, the baby's name, he needs it. The Prince tells him it's a boy, and Rumplestiltskin addresses Snow personally, telling her she knows he's right. He then asks again what her name is, and Snow White turns to him and says "Emma. Her name is Emma." She then walks away, and Rumplestiltskin, with a large smile, repeats the name to himself...

In our world, Emma enters Storybrooke, Maine, passing a welcoming plaque.


101 12
Emma meets Archie Hopper.

Inside the town of Storybrooke, Emma is driving around, and asks for an address, but the only answer she gets is "44 Not-Telling-You Street". She stops her car in the middle of an intersection after this, clearly irritated, and so does Henry. "Look, it's been a long night, and it's almost...", starts Emma, immediately interrupted by the sight of the town's clock tower. The clock is stopped at 8:15. Henry explains to her that that clock hasn't moved his whole life, as time is frozen there. He explains that the Evil Queen did that with her curse, she sent everyone from the Enchanted Forest to Storybrooke, and now they're trapped. Emma is reluctant to believe him, despite his claims that the story is true, and she asks why people don't just leave. He says that they can't; if they try, bad things happen. A voice calls out for Henry, and Dr. Archie Hopper, his therapist, shows up, carrying his umbrella and walking his dog, Pongo. Archie asks what he's doing there, and if he's alright, and Henry says he's fine, and then pets the dog. Archie asks who Emma is, and she explains she's just someone trying to give Henry a ride home. Henry says "She's my mom, Archie", and Archie is surprised. "Oh... I see", he says. Emma asks him if he knows where Henry lives, and Archie points the way, claiming that he lives on Mifflin Street, and that the Mayor's house is the biggest one in the block. Emma is surprised to learn that Henry is the Mayor's kid, and he lowers his head and says "Um, maybe..." Archie asks the boy where he was that day, since he missed his session, and Henry says he went on a field trip and forgot to tell him. Archie sees through his response, crouches down and reminds him of what he said about lying: giving in to one's dark side never accomplishes anything. Emma interrupts their talk, telling the therapist that she really should be getting him home, and Archie tells them to have a good night, and tells Henry to behave, before parting ways with them, whistling as he goes. Henry tells Emma that he's not crazy just because he has a shrink, and she tells him Archie doesn't seem cursed to her. She tells him maybe Archie is just trying to help him, and Henry says that he is the one who needs help, because he doesn't know that he's a fairytale character - none of them do, they don't remember who they are. Henry walks to his side of the car and Emma, smiling, says, "Convenient. Alright, I'll play. Who's he supposed to be?". Henry tells her Archie is Jiminy Cricket. Emma makes a joke about Henry's nose growing, and Henry tells her he is not Pinocchio.

101 13
The royal council meets.

In the fairytale world, Prince Charming has gathered his royal council, and he tells them "I say we fight!". The council consists of Geppetto, who's brought his son Pinocchio, Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, Jiminy Cricket, Snow White (who's further along in her pregnancy), several unnamed knights, Grumpy, Doc and Sleepy. "Fighting is a bad idea. Giving in to one's dark side never accomplishes anything.", says Jiminy Cricket, to his amplifier, and through a magnifying glass. The Prince asks when has a clear conscience won any wars, and adds that they need to take out the Queen before she can inflict her curse. Doc asks if they can even trust Rumplestiltskin, and the Prince answers that he sent his men to the forest, and the animals are abuzz with the Queen's plan, which is gonna go through unless they do something. Snow White tells him there's no point, as the future is written, but the Prince tells her that he refuses to believe that, because good can't just lose. Snow tells him maybe it can, as though she's just given up hope. The Prince tells her that can't happen as long as they have each other, and adds that if she believes Rumplestiltskin about the curse, then she must believe him as well about their daughter being the savior. Immediately afterwards, some knights bring into the room a large tree chunk, and the Blue Fairy flies in and tells the Prince that that tree is the only hope of saving their child. A skeptic Grumpy can't believe that their fates rest on a tree, and requests that they go back to 'that fighting thing'. The Blue Fairy explains that tree is enchanted: if fashioned into a vessel, it can ward off any curse. Snow is intrigued. The Fairy asks Geppetto if he can build such a thing, and he taps his son's head and tells her they'll make it work. The Blue Fairy then turns to the royal couple and tells them this'll work, and that they all must have faith. A cheerful Snow takes the Prince's hand in hers, but not before long the Blue Fairy tells them there's a catch: the enchantment is indeed powerful, but all power has its limits, and the tree can protect only one. This said, the couple is disheartened.

101 14
The Mayor is relieved to see her son again.

Emma and Henry enter the Mayor's property, and the young boy asks his birth mother not to take him back there. She tells him she has to, as she's sure his parents are worried sick about him. He says he doesn't have 'parents', just a mom and she's evil. Emma stops and tells him that's a bit extreme, to which he replies that she is, as she doesn't love him, she only pretends to. Emma enters sympathetic mode and tells him she's sure that's not true. The front door to the house enters and Regina Mills, the town's mayor, appears, relieved to see Henry, and she runs to her son and hugs him. She asks him if he's okay, and then where he's been, to which he bluntly replies that he found his 'real mom'. He rushes back inside the house, and leaves Regina dazed with surprise. Emma doesn't know what to say, and Regina asks her if she's Henry's birth mother, to which she merely says "Hi". Sheriff Graham, who was with Regina, tells them he'll check on the 'lad', to make sure he's alright. After a while, Regina, with a forced smile, asks Emma "How would you like a glass of the best apple cider you've ever tasted?". Emma asks if she's got anything stronger.

101 15
Regina discusses her son with Emma.

Inside the house, Regina is seen holding two glasses, which she then proceeds to fill up, and Emma asks her how Henry came to find his birth mother, to which Regina responds that she has no idea. When she adopted Henry, he was only three weeks old, and the records were sealed. She was told the birth mother didn't want to have any contact. Emma confirms this. Regina asks about the father. Emma merely states there was one. Regina asks if she needs to worry about him, to which Emma replies that she doesn't, since the father doesn't even know. She then asks if she needs to worried about Emma herself, and hands her a glass. Emma says, "Absolutely not." The Sheriff lets himself down the stairs, telling Regina to relax, as Henry's fine, aside from being tired. Regina thanks him, and the Sheriff leaves the house. Regina makes her way to the conservatory, apologizing to Emma, who's right behind her, for Henry having dragged her out of her life. She doesn't understand what got into him. Emma tells her the kid is having a hard time; it happens. Emma sits down, and Regina tells her that ever since she became Mayor, balancing 'things' has been tricky. "You have a job, I assume.", she says, to which Emma nods affirmatively and states that she keeps busy. Regina tells her to imagine having another one on top of it: being a single mom. "So I push for order", she says, "Am I strict? I suppose. But I do it for his own good. I want Henry to excel in life. I don't think that makes me evil, do you?". Emma tells her she's sure Henry's just saying that because of the 'fairytale' thing, and Regina doesn't understand what she means. Emma tells her about his book, about how he believes everyone is a fairytale character, like his shrink, who's Jiminy Cricket. Regina calmly tells her she has no idea what she's being told, and Emma, after a few seconds, tells her it's none of her own business: he's Regina's kid, and she should be heading back. Regina says "Of course", and opens the door for Emma. Shortly afterwards, Emma is seen getting out of the property, searching for her keys, but she then stops herself to look back, having received a weird vibe, and she finds Henry looking at her through his bedroom window. He gets out of sight and turns off the light.

101 16
Emma crashes her car.

Later, Emma is driving back home, in the rain. She sighs, trying to shake off the tension, and she notices that Henry's left his fairytale book in the passenger seat. Emma shakes her head, referring to Henry as a 'sneaky bastard', and she is then caught off-guard by a wolf, paused in the middle of the road. She swerves to avoid hitting him, and loses control of the car in the wet road, causing it to slam against the welcoming plaque, which breaks. The wolf howls, and Emma is seen unconscious on the inside of her car (the passenger door is open), with her head leaning against the steering wheel, and the book at the feet of the passenger seat. Several pages are turned by the wind, and images of the flying monkeys (from The Wizard of Oz) and of the Caterpillar (from Alice in Wonderland) are shown. The last image shown is that of Geppetto building an armoire out of the enchanted tree. The image turns into the real-life fairytale world events.

101 17
The baby is coming...

Geppetto and Pinocchio are working on the wardrobe inside one of the castle's many towers, and on another one we find Snow White in the balcony. She enters the adjacent bedroom to find the Prince, and tells him she doesn't want to go through with their plan. Charming tells her it has to be her, and Snow White says she's not leaving him. He gets a hold of her and tells her it's the only way; she'll get in the closet and she'll be safe from the curse. Snow gets teary-eyed and reminds him that Rumple said it'd be on Emma's 28th birthday. "What's 28 years when you have eternal love?", the Prince says. Charming says he's got faith that she'll save him as much as he saved her. Snow kisses him, passionately, but then breaks off the kiss when she realizes she's giving birth.

On top of the castle, Grumpy keeping a watchful eye... and drinking his booze. His attention is then caught by something, and he kicks Sleepy awake. Ahead of them, a dragon comes flying by, roaring, as darkened clouds emanating from the Evil Queen's spell approach the castle, through the mountains. "The curse... it's here!", Grumpy yells, as he makes the bell ring.

Act IV

101 18
Regina is surprised to find Emma in jail.

Emma's eye is opened wide. It's the following morning, and she's in a jail cell. Leroy (the real-world counterpart of Grumpy) is in the adjacent cell, sitting down on the floor, whistling. Emma notices him, and he says "What are you looking at, sister?". Marco (Geppetto's counterpart), who is there to fix a cupboard, tells him to have manners, as they have a guest. Marco knows she's Henry's mother, and comments on how lovely it is that she's back in his life. Emma, still recovering, tells him she was just dropping him off, and Leroy says he doesn't blame her, as kids are all brats. "Who needs 'em?". Marco says he'd give anything for one. He explains that he and his wife tried for many years, but it wasn't meant to be. "Well, cry me a river.", says an unsympathetic Leroy. This said, Sheriff Graham shows up, and tells Leroy that he needs to behave if he's letting him out. Graham suggests that he put on a smile and stay out of trouble... so Leroy plasters a fake smile on his face and walks away. Emma says "Seriously?", which catches Graham's attention. He tells her that Regina's drinks are stronger than people think. Emma tells him she wasn't drunk - there was a wolf standing in the middle of the road. Graham is skeptical. Then, a female voice is heard, calling out for him. It's Regina, who starts saying that Henry's run away again... she is interrupted by the sight of Emma behind bars. She asks what Emma's doing there, and then approaches her and asks her directly if she knows where Henry is. Emma says she hasn't seen him since she dropped him at her house, and then jokes that she has a pretty good alibi. Regina says Henry wasn't in his room this morning. Emma asks if she's tried his friends, and Regina tells him, rather angrily, apparently, that Henry doesn't really have any. "He's kind of a loner." Emma tells her every kid has friends, and then asks if she's checked his computer, because if he's close to someone he'd be e-mailing them. Regina asks, rather dismissively, how she would know this, and Emma explains to her that finding people is what she does. She then suggests that they let her out and she'll help them find him.

101 19
Emma finds out what Henry has been up to.

Apparently that's what they do, because soon enough Emma is snooping around in Henry's computer, in his bedroom, and noticing he cleared his inbox. Emma then takes out a hard-disk recovery unit she often uses, and Graham clarifies that he's a bit more old-fashioned. Emma says that he's on salary, whereas she gets paid by delivery. She finds a receipt for a website,, which is expensive. She asks Regina if he has a credit card, to which she simply replies "He's 10". Emma says he used one, and then pulls a transaction record. She reads the name, "Mary Margaret Blanchard", and asks who that is. Regina, none too happy, says that's Henry's teacher.

101 20
Miss Blanchard and her feathered friend.

We are shown a classroom at the local elementary school, where the kids are building treehouses. The teacher, Miss Blanchard, walks around the class, reminding the kids that what they are making is a home, not a cage. She is shown to be holding a blue bird in her hands as she walks across the room. She then turns around, saying that the birds are free and will do what they will... and we can now see she is the cursed version of Snow White. The treehouses are for them, not the kids. She then says they are loyal creatures, and she lets him out of her grasp through the opened window, and the bird flies off to rest on a blue treehouse already outside. The kids are amazed. Mary Margaret then tells them that if they love the birds and they love them back, the birds will always find them. The school bell rings, and the kids start getting up to leave. Mary Margaret says they'll pick this up after recess, and urges them not to run. A young girl then hands her a pear, for which she thanks her. Regina is then seen entering the classroom, and Mary Margaret, who doesn't seem too happy to see her, asks what she is doing there. Regina asks where her son is, and Mary Margaret says she assumed Henry was home sick with her. Regina asks if she thinks she'd be there if Henry was with her. She then asks if Mary Margaret gave him her credit card so he could find 'her' (alluding to the woman behind her, Emma). The teacher asks Emma who she is, and Emma stutters when she starts explaining who she is, so Regina intervenes, claiming she's the woman who gave Henry up for adoption. Mary Margaret takes out her purse, and Emma can see she doesn't know anything about this. The teacher opens her wallet and notices that her credit card is gone, to which she says "Clever boy". Mary Margaret then says she should've never given him that book, and Regina lashes out, asking what this book that she keeps hearing about is. Mary Margaret calmly explains to her it's just some old stories she gave him. She starts saying that, as Regina might know, Henry is a special boy, smart, creative... but lonely. She says Henry needed such stories, but Regina corrects her, stating that what he needs is a dose of reality. She then claims this was a waste of time, and then storms out, knocking over a pile of books in the process, and as she passes Emma she tells her, ironically, to have a nice trip back to Boston.

101 21
Emma and Mary Margaret have a talk.

Emma and Mary Margaret both kneel down to pick up the books, and the former apologizes to the latter for bothering her, but Mary Margaret says she fears this is partially her fault. Emma asks how the book is supposed to help, and the teacher asks her what she thinks stories are for. She starts saying that there's a reason why we all know these classic stories, as they are a way for people to deal with their world. She goes on to say that Henry hasn't had the easiest life. Emma takes the opportunity to say that Regina's 'kind of a hard-ass', but Mary Margaret explains that it's not just that, he's just like any other adopted child, they must all at some point contemplate why anyone would give them away... this said, Mary Margaret realizes what she has just done, and she sincerely apologizes to Emma, claiming not to having wanted to judge her. An uncomfortable Emma quietly tells her it's okay, and Mary Margaret tells her that she gave the book to Henry because she wanted him to have the most important thing anyone can have: hope. "Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing." Emma realizes that the teacher knows where Henry is, and Mary Margaret suggests that she check his castle.

101 22
Snow White giving birth.

In the fairytale land, Snow White is giving birth to her daughter as Prince Charming and Doc assist her. Meanwhile, the Evil Queen's dark knights are making their way to the castle. Snow says she can't have the baby at that point, and the Prince tells her it's gonna be okay, as the wardrobe is almost finished. He begs her to hold on, and we see the Queen's chariot making its way to their land. Snow keeps screaming in agonizing pain as Geppetto walks into the bedroom and tells them 'it's ready'. Charming is relieved. He tries to pick her up, but Doc tells him it's too late, and they can't move her. The baby's cry is heard over the image of the Queen's chariot moving fast, with her inside, smiling. The horses make their way to the castle as an enormous cloud of dark smoke follows them - the curse, that's rapidly engulfing all of the land.

101 23
Baby Emma, with her parents.

The baby is seen, after being born, wrapped in a blanket that reads 'Emma'... The royal couple is delighted at the sight of their newborn child. However, Snow quickly realizes something... the wardrobe only takes one person. This said, they overhear that the knights have finally made it to the palace. Charming thinks their plan has failed, but at least they're together. They are brokenhearted, but Snow decides that he has to take the baby to the wardrobe. A surprised Charming asks her if she's out of her mind, and Snow, crying, tells him it's the only way. Charming tells her she doesn't know what she's saying, and Snow tells him they have to believe that she'll come back for them. "We have to give her her best chance." A saddened Prince kisses his baby, and the mother tells her goodbye... She then hands the child over to her husband, they kiss, and he parts from her, taking the baby with him, along with a sword... They exchange one more look before he leaves, and she is left sobbing in her bed.

101 24
The Prince is left for dead...

Two dark knights are shown murdering some of the Prince's knights, and they then spot the Prince in the same hall, armed with his sword, the baby in his arm. The three men engage in battle, with the Prince ably avoiding their swords, and keeping them from harming the child. However, one of them manages to cut him on the left shoulder. The Prince is able to overpower and defeat them, and he then breaks open the door to the room where the wardrobe is. He opens it, plants the baby inside, kisses her on the forehead one last time, and tells her "Find us." He then locks the doors shut, and turns around to find the dark knights entering the room, ready to fight. A wounded Prince does his best to defend himself, but is quickly stabbed in the gut. Weakened, he drops to the floor. One of the knights then pries the wardrobe's doors open, only to find it empty on the inside. The Prince is relieved that it worked and closes his eyes.

Act V

101 25
Emma and Henry chat at the latter's "castle".

We are shown an overview of the littoral area, where Henry is seen in his "castle", a playground modeled after a castle, located on a beach. Emma shows up behind him, bringing his storybook, and sits down beside him. She hands him the back, stating he left it in her car. Henry takes it in his lap, and Emma comments on how the tower's clock still hasn't moved. Henry says that he was hoping that when he brought her back, things would change there. He thought the final battle would begin... to which Emma replies that she's not fighting any battles. "Yes, you are.", he tells, adding, "You're here because it's your destiny. You're gonna bring back the happy endings." She asks him to cut it with the 'book crap'. Henry tells her she doesn't have to be hostile, because he can tell she likes him. He understands she's just pushing him away because he makes her feel guilty. He then says it's okay, and that he knows why she gave him away. "You wanted to give me my best chance." Emma, moved, asks him how he knows that. Henry says it's the same reason Snow White gave her away. Emma tells him she is not in any book, she's a real person, and she's no savior. "You were right about one thing, though: I wanted you to have your best chance. But it's not with me." She then decides they should go, and he begs her not to take him back to his house, asking that she just stay with him for one week. Emma insists that she has to take him back to his mom, and Henry tells her she doesn't know what it's like with her - his life sucks. Emma tells him what sucks is being abandoned on the side of the freeway, as her parents didn't even bother to drop her at a hospital. She explains that she ended up on the foster system but she didn't even have a family until she was three, but then they had their own kid and sent her back. Emma tells him his mom is trying her best, and that at least she wants him. He then says her parents didn't leave her on the side of the freeway, that's just where she came through, after she was put in the wardrobe. Her parents were trying to save her from the curse. Emma doesn't believe him, which saddens the child. They head off and he grabs her by the hand.

101 26
The curse hits its final stage...

In the fairytale land, a weakened and recuperating Snow White makes her way to the room where the wardrobe is, only to find her husband lying unconscious on the floor, his shirt bloody. She is desolated by the sight, and rushes to his side, trying to revive him. She then begs him to 'come back' to her, and kisses him... to no avail. She kisses him again, and is confused to find no results. The Evil Queen enters the room and tells her not to worry, because in a few moments Snow won't remember she knew the Prince. "Let alone loved him...", she adds. Snow asks why she did this, to which she replies, "Because this is my happy ending." Snow is devastated. The dark knights enter the room, and she asks them about the child. They say she's gone, after being put in the wardrobe. An angered Queen asks Snow where the child is, and Snow tells her, smiling, that she got away... "You're going to lose.", she tells the Queen. "I know that now... Good will always win." The Queen says "We'll see about that." She then lets out an evil laugh as the curse, the storm, starts breaking away into the ceiling of the room, devouring everything around them. Snow asks where they are going, and the Queen simply says "Somewhere horrible..." The glass windows are broken and the walls demolished, as the storm swallows everything. "Absolutely horrible. A place where the only happy ending... will be mine." The storm covers them completely.

101 27
Regina gives Emma her two cents.

In the real world, the door to Regina's house, numbered 108, is opened, and Regina appears to be slightly discontent to find Henry with Emma. He rushes past his foster mother without saying a word, and she heads outside and thanks Emma. Regina comments that Henry appears to have taken quite a shine into her, and Emma smiles and tells her that the day before was her birthday, and when she blew out the candle in a cupcake she bought herself, she wished she didn't have to be alone on her birthday. And then Henry showed up. Regina promptly tells her she hopes there's no misunderstanding: she shouldn't mistake all that's happened as an invitation back into Henry's life. Regina comments that Emma made a decision ten years before, and while she's been out there doing what it is she does, Regina has been the one changing every diaper, soothing every fever, and endured every tantrum. "You may have given birth to him, but he is my son." Emma starts explaining herself, but Regina stops her, saying she doesn't get to speak. She gave up the right to do anything when she tossed him away. Regina asks her if she knows what a closed adoption is, and reminds her then that it's what she asked for. She has no legal right to Henry, and will be held to that. She then forcefully suggests that she get in her car and leave their town, because if she doesn't, Regina will destroy her. Emma is motionless. Regina then says "Goodbye, miss Swan.", and heads back into her house. Emma stops her by asking her if she loves Henry, to which a rather offended Regina says "Excuse me?". Emma repeats the question and Regina says "Of course I love him." Regina enters the house and closes the door behind her.
Henry is then seen in his bedroom, lying down on his bed, as his foster mother shows up behind him, holding the story book Mary Margaret gave him. She heads down the stairs, quickly, and positions herself in front of a wall mirror, looking worried. She then looks down at the book in her hands, back up at the mirror, and holds the book tightly in her embrace.

101 28
A familiar face...

At the local hospital, Mary Margaret is seen volunteering, decorating the bedside tables of the patients with small flower vases. She puts one down on a table and an elderly person reaches their hand to her, which she takes. In a separate room, the label reading "John Doe" can be seen on a patient's wrist. Mary Margaret enters the room and leaves a flower arrangement on the table. The patient is the real-world counterpart of Prince Charming, who is in a coma. Mary Margaret doesn't seem to even recognize him, and quickly leaves the room.

That night, Henry is seen looking out the window, at the tower's clock, which is still not moving.

101 29
Emma meets some of the locals.

Emma is then seen making her way to a local resting place, Granny's Bed & Breakfast. When she enters, she overhears Granny herself arguing with her granddaughter, Ruby, about how she was out some night and is now going out again. Ruby tells her grandmother that she should had moved to Boston, and Granny ironically apologizes over her heart attack interfering with her plans to sleep her way through the Eastern seaboard. Ruby is the counterpart of Red Riding Hood, and Granny is Red's grandmother. Emma calls out for their attention, and says she'd like a room. Both women are surprised, and Granny asks Emma what view she'd like. Granny then asks what her name is, and she tells her it's Emma Swan. A male voice behind her then repeats the name "Emma"... she turns around to find the man - the counterpart of Rumplestiltskin. He tells her Emma is a lovely name. She thanks him. Granny then hands him a wad of cash, telling him 'it's all here'. He takes it, thanking her, and then says "Enjoy your stay... Emma." He then leaves. Emma asks who that was, and Ruby says, behind her, that it was Mr. Gold, who 'owns this place'. Emma asks if she means the inn, and Granny tells her he owns the town. Emma is surprised, and Granny then asks how long she'll be staying with them. Emma says "A week. Just a week." Granny then hands her a key, and says "Welcome to Storybrooke."

101 30
Henry's is pleased to see his plan is working.

At the same time that Emma Swan, the supposed savior of Storybrooke, accepts the key from Granny, therefore ensuring her stay in the town, Henry continues to stare out of his bedroom window at the frozen clock tower in the near-distance. His arms are folded on his window sill, his chin resting in between with a bored and disappointed expression drawn across his face; it looks as though his vast supply of hope might just be wearing thin. However, in a miracle moment, the shot takes us halfway across town and we see, for the first time in 28 years, the hands of the clock... move. Time finally shifts from 8:15 to 8:16 and, as it does, Henry's hopelessness is replaced by happiness as an illuminating smile makes itself known. He is now filled with joy. Hope has returned, and it looks like this is all the proof he needs that his birth mother is the key to everyone's salvation.

Deleted Scenes

"Meet Rumplestiltskin"

101 DS 01

The opening message appears, reading only the last sentence, "This is how it happened..." A guard is then seen entering the dungeon area of the royal couple's palace, carrying both a lighted torch and a tray of food, which includes several worms. A fellow jailer stops him and notices something in the food bowl. He reaches for it and grabs it - a small twig. He asks his fellow guard if he knows what the convict could do with it, and whether he wants the arrested man to get out. "Your carelessness could get us killed.", the jailer says. He then hurls the twig away, gets out of the man's path and tells him to drop the food and be gone. The guard makes his way to the prison cell, as the arrested being, Rumplestiltskin, laughs out loud. The guard asks his co-worker what Rumple is laughing about, to which the other man replies that he has no idea, claiming that he's been doing that for two days now. The guard kneels down to place the food tray inside the cell and then suddenly Rumple's hand grabs his. The guard starts shivering with horror as the dark creature before him says "It has begun..." The man manages to get away from him and the camera pans away from the cell quickly.


101 DS 02
The cradle's mobile.

A mobile featuring dangling glass unicorns is seen being placed over the cradle of the unborn child of Snow White and Prince Charming. Grumpy is heard saying "The right.", and the mobile moves, presumably to his left. He repeats "The right. My right!", as it appears his partner, Dopey, isn't moving the mobile in the right direction. "Don't push me, Dopey.", he says. Charming enters the nursery room and asks the two dwarves to give him and his wife a moment. Snow is seen on the exit to the balcony, pregnant, and with a blue bird on her finger. The bird flies off into the sky, and Charming asks her what's wrong, to which she replies "Nothing." The continuation of the scene is featured in the aired episode, and is thus recapped (see act II).

"Regina's Sheriff"

101 DS 03
Emma is properly introduced to the Sheriff.

Emma gets out of the mansion of the Mayor, and she then looks back to see Henry at his window. She is then startled when she hears someone saying "Sweet boy, wouldn't you say?". She notices the sheriff who was seen comforting Regina leaning against her parked car. He introduces himself as Graham, and she tells him her name. She then goes on to say that she has a long drive ahead of her, and suggests that he find another place to lean. He tells her that he thinks she should stay the night, to which she replies that that's kind of forward. He claims to know Regina's drinks - and their effects - and he'd hate to take out the breathalyzer. He then recommends Granny's Bed & Breakfast to her, which is down the road. Emma approaches him, with an attitude, and says that she hates to disappoint him, but she only had one drink, and right now she would blow a .06, which is well beneath the limit. Graham smiles and says "Drive safely.", as he gets out of her way. He opens the door for her and she lets herself into her car. He then closes the door and Emma drives away.


  • This episode introduces the original cast of main characters for the series: Emma, Mary Margaret/Snow White, Regina Mills/Evil Queen, John Doe/Prince Charming, Henry Mills, Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket, Sheriff Graham, and Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. However, Graham's fairytale counterpart would not be introduced till episode 1.07.
  • One of the people in Henry's e-mail inbox is Damon, a reference to Damon Lindelof, one of the people involved in the conception of Once Upon a Time.
  • This episode was filmed in British Columbia.
  • In this episode, Snow White states that the Queen once poisoned her because she thought Snow was prettier than her. However, it is later revealed to the audience that Regina hates Snow for sharing a secret with Cora, the Queen's manipulative mother. It is unknown to this point whether this line of Snow's constitutes a continuity error, or if it will be addressed later on.
  • When Emma makes a wish on her birthday cupcake, the candle on the cupcake is in the shape of a star. This is an allude to the famous phrase "When you wish upon a star".
  • When one sees Pinocchio for the first time, he is seen sanding a wooden whale.
  • On the cover of the fairytale book, the letters O, U and T are highlighted. The book is the way out of the real world.
  • When Archie is introduced, he can be heard whistling "Give a Little Whistle" when he walks away from Emma and Henry.
  • In the original script, Emma was named Anna.
  • When Henry is introduced, Emma's baby blanket can be seen resting on the chair in the background. The blanket also looks like the blanket Granny was knitting in the War Room. The blanket makes many more appearances in the future episodes.
  • When Snow White holds Prince Charming's body, you can see a Minnie Mouse stuffed animal in a chair next to a tiger stuffed animal. This same stuffed animal is later seen in Mr. Gold's pawnshop.
  • Emma's unicorn mobile can be found in Mr. Gold's pawnshop.
  • When Emma wakes up in jail, Leroy is heard whistling "Whistle While You Work".
  • When Emma and Henry arrive to Storybrooke, a garden decoration can be seen next to a fence of some property: it resembles Tinker Bell.
  • There were several references to Lost, another series scripted by episode writers Kitsis and Horowitz. The street address of Regina's home is 108, the town clock is stuck at 8:15 (the same number as the doomed airline flight in the aforementioned series; also, 8 and 15 are two of the numbers), there is a Geronimo Jackson bumper sticker on Emma's car, the smoke monster engulfing the Enchanted Forest, and Emma's eye-opening after she wakes up. Kitsis noted of the references, "[Lost co-creator] Damon [Lindelof] has been a godfather to us. His name is not on the show, but he is in the DNA of it." Horowitz also stated their intention to continue making Lost references in the future.


On February 1, 2011, ABC ordered six new pilots for their 2011–2012 television schedule, which included Once Upon a Time.[1] The premiere episode was co-written by series co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and was directed by Mark Mylod. Mylod, a veteran of the Showtime drama Shameless, signed on to direct in mid-February 2011. [2] The network picked up Once Upon a Time and six other drama series on May 13, 2011. [3]

The idea is to take these characters that we all know collectively and try to find things about them that we haven’t explored before. Sometimes it’s a story point, sometimes it’s a thematic connection, sometimes it's a dilemma they face in both worlds that is similar. We are not generally retelling the exact same story as the fairy tale world.
Adam Horowitz

Eight years prior to the Once Upon a Time pilot (the two had just completed their work on Felicity, in 2002), Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz became inspired to write fairytales out of a love of "mystery and excitement of exploring lots of different worlds." [4] They presented the premise to networks, but were refused because of its fantastical nature. [5] The two learned from their time on Lost to look at the story in a different way,[6] that "character has to trump mythology"; they expanded, "as people, you've got to see what the void in their heart or in their lives is to care about them... For us, this was as much about the character journeys and seeing what was ripped from them in coming to Storybrooke – going at it that way as opposed to making it the 'break-the-curse show.'" Despite the comparisons and similarities to Lost, the writers intend them to be very different shows. To them, Lost concerned itself with redemption, while Once Upon a Time is about "hope".[7] Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof aided in the development of the series as a consultant, but had no official credit for the pilot.

To differentiate the storytelling from what the audience already knew, the writing staff decided to begin the pilot with the end of the typical Snow White fairytale. Themes concerning family and motherhood were emphasized, in contrast to the focus on fatherhood in Lost. Kitsis and Horowitz sought to write strong female characters, rather than the classic damsel in distress. Horowitz stated their desire to approach each character the same way, asking themselves, "How do we make these icons real, make them relatable?"
The pilot is meant to be the "template of the series".[8] Kitsis confirmed that every week will contain flashbacks between both worlds, as they "love the idea of going back and forth and informing what the character is missing in their life." The writers' desire to present a "mash up" of many small characters can be seen in a scene of the pilot, in which there is a war council featuring Geppetto, Red Riding Hood, and Grumpy, among many others. Horowitz elaborated, "One of the fun things for us coming up with these stories is thinking of ways these different characters can interact in ways they never have before."

Horowitz stated that everyone they initially wanted cast in the series accepted their offered role after being sent a script. Ginnifer Goodwin was cast as Snow White, who appreciated that she would be playing a strong character that was fleshed out for the audience. The actress had just completed her work on the series Big Love, and was looking for a new project; she turned to television after film scripts failed to interest her. Having said previously in interviews that she would love to play Snow White, Goodwin called her acceptance of the Snow White role "a no-brainer."[9] Both Kitsis and Horowitz are self-described big fans of Big Love, and wrote the part of Snow White with Goodwin in mind.[10]

Josh Dallas, who plays Prince Charming, was pleased that the writers took "some dramatic license" with his character, believing the prince had become more real. He explained, "Prince Charming just happens to be a name. He's still a man with the same emotions as any other man. He's a Prince, but he's a Prince of the people. He gets his hands dirty. He's got a kingdom to run. He has a family to protect. He has an epic, epic love for Snow White. He's like everybody else. He's human."

Jennifer Morrison was hired for the part of Emma Swan. The actress explained her character as someone who "help[s] this kid who seems like he's a little bit emotionally dysfunctional," but noted that Emma does not yet believe there is a fairytale universe. Ten-year-old Jared S. Gilmore, known for his work on Mad Men, took the role of her son, Henry.

The role of the Evil Queen/Regina went to Lana Parrilla. She explained the character, "There's always two stories being told when playing Regina. There's the threat of her knowing she's an evil queen and then there's just the pure simple fact that the biological mother has stepped into her world and the threat of losing her son is just enormous. That's a fear that I think any adopted mother would have. I think that's going to really help the audience relate to Regina in some level."

The role of Rumplestiltskin was given to Robert Carlyle; it was written with Carlyle in mind, though the writers initially thought he would never accept the part. Horowitz recalled Carlyle's prison sequence, which was the actor's first day on the set as "mind-blowing... You could see Ginny actually jump, the first time he did that character. It was fantastic!"

The writers offered the part of the Blue Fairy to recording artist Lady Gaga, but never heard back from her management staff.[11]

Executive producer Steve Pearlman referred to Once Upon a Time as "an effects-heavy show," but in ways that are not meant to be obvious to viewers.[12] Zoic Studios provided the visual effects seen in the pilot, building virtual sets for the fairy tale sequences and using F/X for action scenes. Production and visual effects staff collaborated under a difficult schedule and limited budget. The studio has used the technology Zoic's Environmental Unification System (Z.E.U.S.) for real time camera tracking, allowing for creative flexibility among the cast and crew, who work on a green screen stage. Andrew Orloff, Zoic's Executive Creative Director, commented "Once Upon a Time is an amazing creative opportunity for Zoic. The highly detailed environments and imaginative characters of the series' fairy tale world have challenged us to expand and fine-tune both our Z.E.U.S. and animation pipelines for television."[13]

Zoic Studios digitally reproduced the war room and ballroom castle interiors based on concept designs created by Art Director Mark Worthington. For the wedding scene, Zoic staff extended columns, added stained glass windows, and completed the wedding party with additions of digital guests. The effect of the Evil Queen disappearing from Charming's flying sword cost ABC a reported $12,000. Kitsis has commented that because the network has been very supportive, they are not worried about losing the "fantastical feel" of the series' flashback sequences. He explained, We can’t show this pilot and then have a cheap show after it, so it’s our goal to maintain this level of production values throughout." Zoic visual effects will continue to be used for future episodes.

On October 14, 2011 - nine days before the national broadcast date – Kitsis and Horowitz presented an early screening of the pilot episode at a New York Comic Con panel and answered questions from fans. Later, viewers were able to stream the entire pilot episode from the Internet Movie Database in advance of its broadcast.[14]

The pilot episode aired in October rather than September, which was a month after new fall season shows normally premiered. Pearlman was pleased with the later broadcast date, believing that "it creates a second wave of anticipation for an audience, too. I work in the business and I couldn't even tell you the names of a third of the new shows this season because we were bombarded with all the messaging."


Before it made its debut, ABC allowed viewers in the United States to see the pilot on the Internet Movie Database's website several days before it aired. In Canada, CTV broadcast the series an hour ahead of ABC's debut, airing it at 7pm in most regions.


The episode received mostly positive reviews and was watched by 12.93 million viewers, scoring a 4.0 rating/11% share in the 18-49 demographic, ranking first in its timeslot. It was ABC's most watched pilot in five years.[15]

Premiering out of its timeslot at 8:00 pm timeslot after America's Funniest Home Videos, the pilot was viewed by an estimated 12.93 million viewers and received a 4.0 rating/11% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. As a result, It was the seasons highest rated drama debut among adults 18-49 and ABC's biggest debut in five years. It competed against The World Series Pre-Game on FOX, Football Night In America on NBC and The Amazing Race on CBS. It also competed against some of Sunday Night Football. Including DVR ratings, the episode totaled 15.48 million viewers and a 5.2 18-49 rating.

In Canada, CTV debuted the series an hour ahead of ABC's debut, airing it at 7PM in all regions except in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, where it debuted at 10 PM.The pilot was watched by 1.764 million viewers, placing 14th for the week.


  • "Pilot" received mostly positive reviews from television critics. In a review from Zap2it, Rick Porter gave the pilot praise for bringing together the central theme, saying "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." It also cited Jennifer Morrison and Jared Gilmore's performances when they appear in scenes together: "As such it falls to Morrison to move the story along in this world, and fortunately for the audience she's able to pull it off. She gives a confident, grounded performance that helps keep the show from feeling too fantastical, and her rapport with Gilmore is a big plus too." He also notes the writers and producers have put together a great premise and expects they'll have more as the series progresses: "Given the cast and the people involved behind the scenes... we're more optimistic than not that Once Upon a Time will find its way. But if it doesn't, at least it will go down swinging."[16]
  • The New York Times writer Mike Hale compared Once Upon a Time with the similarly premised series Grimm, believing that the former has a "richer premise and more interesting characters". Hale in particular praised Goodwin and Morrison's performances, but concluded, "Watching the pilot again, though, it became harder to ignore the soap opera underpinnings and the twee sentimentality."[17] IGN's Amy Ratcliffe gave the episode an 8.0/10 rating, praising the casting, acting, and writing. While acknowledging there were "a few cheesy" moments, she expressed hope that the series would remain focused on its story rather than on too many special effects.[18]


Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.

External links


  1. "Lost Writers' Once Upon a Time Among ABC Pilot Orders", by Eric Goldman, February 1, 2011,
  2. "Three More Broadcast Pilots Find Directors", by Nellie Andreeva, February 14, 2011,
  3. "3RD UPDATE: ABC Picks Up 7 New Dramas, 5 Comedies, ‘Smothered’ Still Alive", by Nellie Andreeva, May 13, 2011,
  4. "Co-Creator/Executive Producer Adam Horowitz ONCE UPON A TIME Interview", by Christina Radish, October 23, 2011,
  5. "Lost’s Kitsis, Horowitz Start At The Beginning With Once Upon A Time", by Josie Campbell, August 25, 2011,
  6. "Lost’s Kitsis, Horowitz Start At The Beginning With Once Upon A Time", by Josie Campbell, August 25, 2011,
  7. "On the TV show Once Upon a Time, all of your favorite fairy tale characters are trapped in Maine", by Kaila Hale-Stern, October 16, 2011,
  8. "Co-Creator/Executive Producer Adam Horowitz ONCE UPON A TIME Interview", by Christina Radish, October 23, 2011,
  9. Interview: ""Once Upon a Time" Co-Stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas & Lana Parrilla", by Jim Halterman, October 21, 2011,
  10. "Lost’s Kitsis, Horowitz Start At The Beginning With Once Upon A Time", by Josie Campbell, August 25, 2011,
  11. "Once Upon a Time Pilot Screening and Panel"], by Karl Keily, October 15, 2011,
  12. "The High Price of TV's Virtual Reality", by Lynette Rice, November 4, 2011,
  13. "Zoic Tells the VFX Story of Once Upon A Time", by Rick DeMott, November 3, 2011,
  14. "Once Upon A Time pilot now streaming happily ever after at IMDB", by Erik Adams, October 20, 2011,
  15. "Sunday Final Ratings: 'Once Upon A Time' Adjusted Up + Final Ratings For World Series Game 4 & Saints/Colts", by Bill Gorman, October 25, 2011,
  16. "'Once Upon a Time' review: Fractured fairy tale has potential, but no happy ending yet", by Rick Porter, October 23, 2011,
  17. "The Enchanted Forest, in Sunshine and Shadow", by Mike Hale, October 21, 2011,
  18. "Once Upon a Time: "Pilot" Review", by Amy Ratcliffe, October 21, 2011,