"Once Upon A Time" aired back in October of 2011 and was a success right from the pilot episode. From the fleshed out characters to the obsessive storylines, the show is one to remember. It has created a strong fan base and it shows, as "Once Upon A Time" is still one of the most watched dramas on ABC. The show is currently halfway through its seventh season, which is incredible. But, even with all of the praise from fans and critics, not every season was as magical as the writers hoped. Each season had its ups and downs, but there are some that were just better than others. (SPOILERS!)
1. Season 1
Hands down, the best season in the show. Of course, it is because you could tell the writers wanted this show to be different and stick out from other shows...and it did! The storylines were all thought out, the characters and their decisions made sense, the actors were so believable, and the cinematography was beautiful. It is obvious watching this season that the writers were trying and seemed to be having fun with the show. This season shows that the writers, creators, etc. had been sitting down for a quite some time and made sure that the storyline made sense. This season is fun, inventive, and new!
2. Season 3
This is when the show starts to take a shift with the storyline and characters, but it works with this season. Season 3A had Peter Pan and the Lost Boys as the villains, which was a way to show a new side to a beloved Disney character. The first arc of this season showed a new side of the main characters as well. The characters are in Neverland, fighting to save Henry and facing each other and themselves as well. It shows the character development process in the storyline.
Season 3B brought the Wicked Witch, which was a shock to many since they had Peter Pan and expected a Disney villain in the second arc... it was not a loss. The second arc showed new character development that made sense with the first arc of the season. It showed a new side of the show too. The show was not afraid to take a darker turn and to take risks with the show. This is a season not to forget.
3. Season 2
This season does not usually get the recognition it deserves. Yes, it is not the best season, but its main job seems to be continuing the storyline from Season 1. It does the job right (at times) tying the loose ends to some of the storylines in Season 1. The season also brings in new characters, which add more depth to the universe of the series. In a way, this season seems to be the Part 2 of Season 1, as it seems like a literal continuation of the first season. This is also the season that people like to hold onto because it is the season right before the show began to slowly fall apart. This season is a reminder that after Season 3, it’s not going to be the same show.
4. Season 4
This season would be defined as ‘Eh.’ It was not a horrible season, but it was not as great as its predecessors. This is where the show starts to become more of a marketing tool for Disney since ABC is owned by Disney. The first arc of Season 4 is focused on Elsa and Anna from "Frozen." This arc is not terrible. It shows some great sides of Elsa and Anna that would have never been explored in their movie. Plus, Elizabeth Mitchell’s portrayal of Ingrid, the Ice Queen, was the only great thing about Season 4A. Her storyline had the emotion and depth that the show pictured in the first season. It almost felt like a bittersweet flashback to the first season, but it did not stay too long.
Season 4B was a mess. It was frowned upon because of how Rumple would not make up his mind in this arc. His character changed dramatically from the first season, and not in a good way. It was as if the writers forgot how the character really acted. In this arc, the writing started to seem lazy. From the storylines that existed for one episode and were forgotten about the next week to the too many characters. Yes, it is great to have new characters because it gives the show new life, but some fans believed that since "Frozen" was in the first part of the season that the writers wanted to bring in more Disney characters for views. Well, it worked for a bit.
5. Season 6
Or the so-called “Final Season.” Many fans and actors believed that this would be the final season of the show as they made it clear in the season that Emma needed to fight the ‘greatest evil’ in a final showdown to get the happy endings. Everyone assumed it would be the part where we got a “Happily Ever After” in the last episode, but viewers did not get that. Instead, they got a season that tried to wrap itself up too quickly. This season was a way to quickly tie loose ends from previous seasons, which they did, but not in the best way.
To most fans, the show seemed to focus too much on Emma and Hook’s relationship and not enough on the action and the story. Yes, Emma and Hook’s true love is part of the storyline, but fans felt that it was a bit too much. Some even thought it was a way to please the fangirls. Not only that, but it also seemed that some of the actors were done with the show already. They seemed to only be giving 50% by the end of the season. The final season was just a misstep in the series.
6. Season 5
Season 5... the season the fans want to forget. By far, the worst season in the show’s history. It just was not good. The first arc of the season had Emma turn into the Dark One, which many loved the idea of. Seeing the dark side of the Savior seemed to be a great way to show that no one can truly be good. However, that is not what the viewers got. Instead, they got a lazy written missed opportunity. This arc could have been a great addition to the season as it has the main hero as the main villain. The way that the writers wrote Emma as the Dark One was not satisfying. As stated before, it seemed lazy, as if they were rushing or struggling to come up ideas. And the entire season was focused around Emma and Hook... again.
The only reason Season 5B existed is because Hook was in the Underworld and Emma went to go get him. Hardcore fans even caught that when someone is dead on the show, they stay dead. So, it seemed unfair to the other dead characters on the show. This season is a great example of how the show took a shift where it lost what was special about the first season and wrote what fans call "Fairy Tale Trash."
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In the end, "Once Upon A Time" did not get the happy ending, as fans had hoped for. With its seventh season currently airing, dedicated fans are still tuning it to the show to watch the ‘reboot’ season. It is still ranking in views, but it is only a waiting game. Hopefully, the show learned its mistakes in the first six seasons so that the seventh season might be worth a watch.
Maybe the show will get its well-deserved “Happily Ever After.”