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Once Upon A TimeOnce Upon a Time is an American fairy tale drama television series that premiered on Sunday October 23, 2011 on ABC. New episodes air Sunday nights at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT.

On the wedding day of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) arrives and delivers an ominous threat about a powerful curse she intends to release upon them. Some time later, a pregnant Snow White is worried about the curse and visits Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) who issues a prophecy that the Queen's curse will take them all someplace terrible where there will be no happy endings, except for her. He also reveals that Snow White's unborn daughter, Emma, will return when she is 28 years old to rescue them, thus beginning the final battle with the Queen. On advice from the Blue Fairy, Geppetto (Tony Amendola) and Pinocchio fashion a wardrobe from a magical tree which will allow one person to escape the Queen's curse. On the day Snow White gives birth to her daughter, the Queen's curse strikes. Prince Charming places their daughter in the magic wardrobe, but is mortally wounded battling the Queen's henchmen. The Queen stands triumphantly over Snow White and Prince Charming as the curse takes them to "someplace horrible".

In present day Boston, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) lives a lonely existence working as a bail bondsperson and bounty hunter. After blowing out a candle on a cupcake for her 28th birthday, Emma is approached by a ten year old boy, Henry, who identifies himself as her son, whom she had given up for adoption as a teenager. Not wanting a relationship with him, Emma agrees to drive him back to his home in not-so-quaint Storybrooke, Maine. Along the way, Henry shows her a large book of fairy tales he has, insisting that all of the stories in it are real.

When they arrive in Storybrooke, Henry informs her that everyone in town is in reality a fairy tale character, exiled by the curse and with no memory of their real identities. This includes his therapist, who is really Jiminy Cricket, and his teacher Mary Margaret Blanchard, who is really Snow White. He claims that time is frozen in Storybrooke (shown to be 8:15 on the Towns Clock) and the people are unable to leave, but that the curse will be broken by Emma. A skeptical Emma returns Henry to his adopted mother, the town Mayor, who is really the Evil Queen. When Henry soon runs away again, Emma finds him and decides to stay in Storybrooke temporarily. This decision causes the hands of the town clock, previously frozen, to begin moving again.

The show's allusions to Lost are expected to constitute a theme throughout the series; there are five such references in the pilot: the smoke monster engulfing the Enchanted Forest, Emma's eye-opening after she wakes up, Regina's address number of her home (108), a Geranimo Jackson bumper sticker and the town clock being stuck at 8:15 (the same number as the doomed airline flight in the aforementioned series).

The clock frozen at 8:15 may also be a reference to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. The clock frozen at that precise time is used to symbolize and remember the attack, for example in the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims.

The show also has a similar premise to Bill Willingham's comic series Fables, to which ABC bought the rights in 2008, but never made it past the planning stages. Horowitz and Kitsis have "read a couple issues," of Fables but state that while the two concepts are "in the same playground," they believe they are "telling a different story." The storyline also seems drawn from ABC's own 1987 sitcom The Charmings and the Disney film Enchanted, and is also reminiscent of The 10th Kingdom, a 2000 Hallmark Entertainment mini-series produced for NBC. Even the pilot featured a scene when Emma hears Leroy (who is actually Grumpy) whistling Whistle While You Work (the song used in the 1937 film), indicating its acknowledged ties to Disney.

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