The Best Episodes of Once Upon a Time (2011)

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2018

Emma Swan, a 28-year-old bail bonds collector, has always been a fiercely independent person since being habandoned as a baby. Her son Henry, who she gave up for adoption years ago, finds and tries to convince Emma that she is Snow White's missing daughter. Henry shows Emma that in the fairytale, Prince Charming and Snow White sent her away to protect her. Emma doesn't believe him and takes Henry back to Storybrooke...

There's No Place Like Home

#1 - There's No Place Like Home

Season 3 - Episode 22

In the conclusion of two-part episode that serves as the season three finale, Emma and Hook must find a way to return to Storybrooke, but in their quest to return, they have to find a way not to interfere or tamper with the events that lead up to the first curse, or else they risk altering the entire timeline, and could end up warping the future existence of everyone involved, including Emma, Hook, as well as Emma's family back in present-day Storybrooke.

star 8.55
972 votes
Directors: Ralph Hemecker
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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A Land Without Magic

#2 - A Land Without Magic

Season 1 - Episode 22

Emma and Regina team together in order to find a way to save Henry's life. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Prince Charming attempts to escape from the Evil Queen's clutches in order to reunite with Snow White who, unbeknownst to him, has already taken a bite of the Queen's poison apple.

star 8.50
1,358 votes
Directors: Dean White
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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Operation Mongoose (2)

#3 - Operation Mongoose (2)

Season 4 - Episode 23

The Author proves to be a formidable wild card and forges an alliance with Gold. Emma, her parents, Hook and Regina scramble to stop them, but when Gold and the Author turn the tables on heroes and villains alike, the prospect of any happy outcome appears worlds away. Henry discovers he has big shoes to fill as he steps up to save his family before the story's final page is turned. It's a race to the finish, and everything culminates with a shocking twist that will leave the residents of Storybrooke reeling.

star 8.37
892 votes
Directors: Ralph Hemecker
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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Going Home

#4 - Going Home

Season 3 - Episode 11

The race is on to stop Pan from enacting another curse on the residents of Storybrooke, which could kill every living soul in town.

star 8.36
1,489 votes
Directors: Ralph Hemecker
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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And Straight on 'Til Morning

#5 - And Straight on 'Til Morning

Season 2 - Episode 22

Storybrooke's inhabitants brace themselves as Greg and Tamara activate the trigger within the curse; Mr. Gold mourns; Hook rescues Bae, who is being pursued by the Lost Boys.

star 8.31
1,350 votes
Directors: Dean White
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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Snow Drifts

#6 - Snow Drifts

Season 3 - Episode 21

While Mary Margaret and David celebrate the naming of their son at a coronation in Granny's Diner, Emma and Hook are pulled into Zelena's time portal and find themselves in the Enchanted Forest of the past. But in their quest to discover a way back, they must be careful not to change anything or risk altering the lives of their friends and family - as well as their very own existence.

star 8.29
1,337 votes
Directors: Ron Underwood
Writers: David H. Goodman, Robert Hull
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Leaving Storybrooke

#7 - Leaving Storybrooke

Season 7 - Episode 22

Wish Rumple’s evil plan is revealed and Regina realizes the only hope to stop him is by turning Wish Henry from his path for vengeance. Meanwhile, Tilly and Margot try to get help in Storybrooke. With his hope of ever being reunited with Belle fading, Weaver struggles to find a way to defeat his evil alter ego; and when Rogers’ life is threatened, he is faced with the ultimate sacrifice. Series Finale.

star 8.28
542 votes
Directors: Ralph Hemecker
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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Red-Handed

#8 - Red-Handed

Season 1 - Episode 15

After Ruby quits Granny's diner and with her self-esteem at an all-time low, Emma hires her as an assistant in order to help Ruby discover what it is in life that she's good at; and Emma continues questioning David about the disappearance - and possible murder - of Kathryn. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Red Riding Hood yearns to run away with her true love. But she, along with her fellow townspeople, are virtual prisoners when a bloodthirsty wolf continues on its relentless killing spree.

star 8.27
1,292 votes
Directors: Ron Underwood
Writers: Jane Espenson
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An Apple Red As Blood

#9 - An Apple Red As Blood

Season 1 - Episode 21

Henry pleads with Emma to stay in Storybrooke and continue her quest as the savior of the fairytale dwellers, and Regina concocts a plan that could rid her of Emma forever. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land that was, Snow White enlists the aid of her fellow fairytale cohorts to attack the Evil Queen and save Prince Charming's life.

star 8.27
1,270 votes
Directors: Milan Cheylov
Writers: Jane Espenson, David H. Goodman
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Skin Deep

#10 - Skin Deep

Season 1 - Episode 12

After Mr. Gold's house is robbed, Emma keeps a close eye on him when it looks like he wants to track down the criminal and dole out some vigilante justice as payback, and Valentine's Day finds Mary Margaret, Ruby and Ashley having a girls' night out. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Belle agrees to a fateful deal to give up her freedom in order to save her town from the horrors of the Ogre war.

star 8.26
1,347 votes
Directors: Milan Cheylov
Writers: Jane Espenson
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Hat Trick

#11 - Hat Trick

Season 1 - Episode 17

While searching for a missing Mary Margaret, Emma is kidnapped by a man whose affinity for hats has him teetering on the edge of madness. Meanwhile, viewers will be transported outside of the fairytale land that was for the first time when the Evil Queen persuades a skillful man of magic to come work for her one last time and travel to Wonderland in order to help steal something from the Queen of Hearts.

star 8.25
1,289 votes
Directors: Ralph Hemecker
Writers: Vladimir Cvetko, David H. Goodman
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The Stranger

#12 - The Stranger

Season 1 - Episode 20

August tells Emma how to beat Regina and how she can get custody of Henry, while Regina hatches a plot to seduce David now that Mary Margaret is back at work. In the fairy-tale world, a plan to save Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter unfolds and is agreed to by Geppetto, who has his own child’s safety in mind.

star 8.24
1,248 votes
Writers: Ian Goldberg, Andrew Chambliss
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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

#13 - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Season 1 - Episode 7

One of the town's residents begins to remember their fairytale past, and Storybrooke mourns the loss of one of their own. Meanwhile, in the fairytale world that was, the Evil Queen attempts to find a heartless assassin to murder Snow White.

star 8.23
1,458 votes
Directors: Dave Barrett
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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The Stable Boy

#14 - The Stable Boy

Season 1 - Episode 18

Emma continues her exhaustive search for evidence that will prove Mary Margaret's innocence in the murder of David's wife, Kathryn. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was and before evil blackened her soul, Regina must choose between betraying her mother, Cora, and marrying for true love, or betrothing royalty and living a regal - but loveless - life; and the event that caused the Evil Queen to loathe Snow White is revealed.

star 8.21
1,248 votes
Directors: Dean White
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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The Final Battle (2)

#15 - The Final Battle (2)

Season 6 - Episode 22

Henry awakens to a cursed Storybrooke and discovers Emma has been in the mental hospital, and the Black Fairy is the new mayor. Henry attempts to help Emma regain her memory while Gold tries to find out what has really happened to Belle. Meanwhile, Snow, Charming, Regina, Zelena and Hook are trapped in a crumbling Fairy Tale Land and desperately try to figure out a way to be reunited with Emma and Henry.

star 8.20
829 votes
Directors: Ralph Hemecker
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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The Miller's Daughter

#16 - The Miller's Daughter

Season 2 - Episode 16

Cora and Regina try to overpower Mr. Gold; dark magic tempts Mary Margaret; Rumplestiltskin offers his services to Cora.

star 8.17
1,265 votes
Directors: Ralph Hemecker
Writers: Jane Espenson
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Queen of Hearts

#17 - Queen of Hearts

Season 2 - Episode 9

Hook and Cora face off with Emma and Mary Margaret in a race for the compass; Mr. Gold and Regina plan to kill anyone who enters the portal.

star 8.16
1,264 votes
Directors: Ralph Hemecker
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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The Final Battle (1)

#18 - The Final Battle (1)

Season 6 - Episode 21

Henry awakens to a cursed Storybrooke and discovers Emma has been in the mental hospital, and the Black Fairy is the new mayor. Henry attempts to help Emma regain her memory while Gold tries to find out what has really happened to Belle. Meanwhile, Snow, Charming, Regina, Zelena and Hook are trapped in a crumbling Fairy Tale Land and desperately try to figure out a way to be reunited with Emma and Henry.

star 8.14
1,542 votes
Directors: Steve Pearlman
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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New York City Serenade

#19 - New York City Serenade

Season 3 - Episode 12

After Rumplestiltskin sacrificed his life to stop Pan from enacting another curse, Regina obliterated her original curse, which erased Storybrooke from existence and whisked its residents back to Fairy Tale Land – leaving Emma and Henry back in our world with no memories of Storybrooke. But all is not well back in the Enchanted Forest when Hook comes calling on Emma in New York City in an attempt to jog her memory so that she can once again help her fairy tale family and friends out of a desperate situation.

star 8.14
1,417 votes
Directors: Billy Gierhart
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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The Return

#20 - The Return

Season 1 - Episode 19

Mr. Gold attempts to uncover the true identity of August, Emma confronts Regina about her involvement in Kathryn's disappearance, and David tries to apologize and reconcile with Mary Margaret. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Rumplestiltskin agrees to comply and do whatever it takes if his son can find a way for him to safely give up his powers and turn back into the loving man he used to be.

star 8.13
1,248 votes
Directors: Paul Edwards
Writers: Jane Espenson
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Heart of Darkness

#21 - Heart of Darkness

Season 1 - Episode 16

Mary Margaret hires Mr. Gold as her attorney when Emma is forced to arrest her for the suspected murder of David’s wife, Kathryn. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land that was, Prince Charming sets out to stop a determined and unhinged Snow White, whose memory is still clouded by Rumplestiltskin’s potion, from assassinating the Evil Queen.

star 8.13
1,225 votes
Directors: Dean White
Writers: Andrew Chambliss, Ian Goldberg
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Kansas

#22 - Kansas

Season 3 - Episode 20

With Mary Margaret in labor and due to give birth at any moment, the residents of Storybrooke go on high alert in an attempt to ensure that Zelena doesn't try to steal her newborn baby for use in her ultimate game plan to turn back time and change her destiny -- while obliterating Regina's existence. Meanwhile, in the land of Oz of the past, Glinda tries to convince Zelena to fight her evil tendencies and join her and her sister witches as a protector of Oz. But the appearance of a young girl from Kansas could turn out to be her undoing.

star 8.13
1,345 votes
Writers: Andrew Chambliss, Kalinda Vazquez
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Think Lovely Thoughts

#23 - Think Lovely Thoughts

Season 3 - Episode 8

Pan tries to convince Henry that he can save magic and Neverland; a young Rumplestiltskin receives a magical item that could give him a fresh start with his father.

star 8.13
1,399 votes
Directors: David Solomon
Writers: David H. Goodman, Robert Hull
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Witch Hunt

#24 - Witch Hunt

Season 3 - Episode 13

Emma arrives in Storybrooke with Henry and reunites with her friends and family, only to discover that no one remembers how they were transported back – or the past year they had spent back in Fairy Tale Land. But Emma is sure that someone in town is responsible for this new curse and teams up with Regina in an attempt to uncover their identity. Meanwhile, in the Fairy Tale Land that was during the past year, Regina, with the aid of Robin Hood, attempts to break into her castle.

star 8.12
1,409 votes
Directors: Guy Ferland
Writers: Jane Espenson
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Manhattan

#25 - Manhattan

Season 2 - Episode 14

Emma, Henry and Mr. Gold search for Gold's son in New York; Hook, Cora and Regina look for one of Rumplestiltskin's most precious possessions.

star 8.11
1,265 votes
Directors: Dean White
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
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