Fairytale Retellings & Prompts: Once Upon A Time

This month we’re doing a series called the A-Z blogging challenge where we dive into Fairytale Retellings and provide prompts for writers. Writers are the people making the books, television shows, and movies of tomorrow. For more information on the challenge check out my earlier post here.

Once Upon a Time is a urban dark fantasy drama created by Lost and Tron: Legacy writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. I probably shouldn’t have led with that since, had I known that I might not have given the show a chance.

The television show premiered October 23, 2011 on ABC. Despite the interesting premise, I jumped out at season 2 because I couldn’t conceive of how the story could remain interesting with the original premise coming to an end. So they lost me for a minute. So why did I jump back in when they came back with a fourth season?

Like the rest of the world, I’d seen Frozen and low and behold the writers figured out a way to incorporate their story with the Snow Queen and it all got exciting for me again.

The beginnings of the series started a lot earlier back hwne the two writers had just finished working on on Felicity in 2002. Kitsis and Horowitz became inspired to write fairy tales out of a love of “mystery and excitement of exploring lots of different worlds.”

The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, where the residents are characters from various fairy tales that were transported to the “real world” town and robbed of their real memories by the Evil Queen. She used a powerful curse obtained from Rumplestiltskin. Now, the town’s only hope lies with a bail bondswoman, Emma Swan, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.

Since Emma Swan was transported from the fairy tale world before she could be cursed, she is the only person who can break it. With the help of her son Henry (whom she gave up for adoption after his birth) she’ll restore the characters’ lost memories. His book of fairy tales holds the key to ending the curse. Henry is also the adopted son of Regina the Evil Queen turned mayor of Storybrooke, providing a source of conflict between the two women.

This isn’t your Disney version of the stories. In these retellings, there are bits of darkness and mature themes. At times it is so touching and moving you forget that the characters aren’t real.

Think I’m kidding?

If you can watch the Snow Queen’s curse affect Snow and Charming and not shed a tear then your heart may be missing and I would suggest you look for it in the ‘vault.’ I may be biased but I think it’s because of the stellar performances by the cast of actors on the show.

Not just the principle cast members but the guest stars were the cream of the crop. Many of them, according to ShaggyDA56, had Marvel roles:

  • Josh Dallas (David) is Fandral in Thor
  • Rebecca Mader (Zelena) is one of Aldrich Killian’s super soldiers in Iron Man 3
  • Sebastian Stan (Jefferson) is Bucky Barnes / The Winter Solider
  • Faran Tahir (Captain Nemo in S6) is Raza in Iron Man 1
  • Alan Dale (King George / Albert Spencer) is Councilman Rockwell in Captain America 2
  • Arnold Pinnock (Hyde’s assistant Poole in the S5 finale) is an unnamed solider in The Incredible Hulk
  • Yvette Nicole Brown (Ursula in S3) is an unnamed SHIELD agent in Avengers: Endgame
  • Mckenna Grace (young Emma Swan) is young Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel
  • Wyatt Oleff (young Rumplestiltskin in S3) is young Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2
  • Deniz Akdeniz (Aladdin in S6) is Virgil in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s6 ep1: Orientation Part One

The same dutiful watcher gave us a list of stories and plots that were left unfinished or untold. Care to take a stab at a few? Here’s the link. Then scroll down to the comments for the complete list.

Want to visit Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest? Principal photography for the series took place in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Steveston Village in the adjacent city of Richmond doubles as Storybrooke for the series.

However, if you were hoping to see the interior of Mr. Gold’s pawnshop and the clock tower they were built sets and cannot be found in Steveston.

Today’s challenge is a simple one, maybe, if you’ve seen Once Upon A Time the TV series. Who was your favorite character from the show and what story do you wish had been told?

Put your comments below and feel free to share this post with someone you think would love to discuss the show.

For more blogs participating in A to Z 2020 click the link here.


T.S. Valmond is the science fiction and young adult fantasy author of The Bolaji Kingdoms Series and The Verity Chronicles. As an award-winning poet, world traveler, and sign language interpreter she uses her experiences to fuel her stories. She’s a regular contributor to the website and founder of the Riders & Flyers group.


  1. This one sounds great! A urban dark fantasy drama, that’s a lot of promises!
    O is for Oya

    1. Yeah, I don’t love urban dark usually but I did like OUAT. That’s about as dark as I’m willing to go.

  2. I started watching it because they said it was “Grimm tales in modern times” – and then I realized that they were using the Disney version of everything. I think I jumped ship at “hello, my name is Rumpelstiltskin” because… well, that kinda defeats the purpose of the whole character.

    The Multicolored Diary

    1. I noticed that too. They took a lot of liberties, but Rumplestiltskin’s thing with names seems to be retained. It applies more to others than it does to him. Though having a sword that can control or kill you with your name on it might be their way of addressing it. *shrug*

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