Once Upon a Time: Season 5 (2015 - 2016)


Season 5
Once Upon a Time

Critics Consensus

Once Upon A Time successfully recaptures earlier season's magic by focusing on core characters and letting kooky gimmicks be.



Critic Ratings: 12


Audience Score

User Ratings: 494

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Air date: Sep 27, 2015

In the fifth-season opener, Emma seeks help from Merlin as she tries to fight her new dark urges in the Enchanted Forest, and she gets some assistance from Merida, King Arthur and his knights. Meanwhile, Emma's loved ones unite and try to save her.

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Air date: Oct 4, 2015

A royal ball is held in Camelot, but a dark turn of events forces David and Robin to take action. Meanwhile, Regina's fortitude is tested as she tries to safeguard Emma; and back in Storybrooke, Hook attempts to bring Emma back to the light.

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Air date: Oct 11, 2015

Arthur joins David on a quest to obtain a magical relic Regina needs in order to contact Merlin. Meanwhile, Mary Margaret learns about Lancelot's fate; and back in Storybrooke, Hook is wary when Emma asks him to help her remove Excalibur from the stone.

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Air date: Oct 18, 2015

Lancelot sends a warning to Mary Margaret about King Arthur's true intentions. Meanwhile, Hook's love for Emma gives her hope in her battle against darkness; and in a Camelot flashback, Guinevere goes on a quest when she fears Arthur's losing his way.

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Air date: Oct 25, 2015

Emma and Regina devise a plan to free Merlin, but they lack a pivotal ingredient. Meanwhile, Mary Margaret and David seek an important dagger; Henry asks Violet to go on a date; and Merida attempts to carry out a covert mission Emma has assigned her.

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Air date: Nov 1, 2015

Merida goes on a quest to save her brothers and brings Belle with her in a Camelot flashback. Meanwhile, a spell that will open communication with Merlin is found in Storybrooke; and Emma orders Merida to kill Belle, prompting a heroic fight from Gold.

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Air date: Nov 8, 2015

Emma joins Merlin on a quest where he faces an old enemy. Meanwhile, Arthur's castle is stormed by David and his pals, who seek Excalibur; and in a flashback, young Merlin is given magic and immortality, and then he falls in love with a refugee.

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Air date: Nov 15, 2015

Emma receives an ultimatum from Merlin, who's under Arthur's control. Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, Zelena's pregnancy accelerates; and Hook goes to great lengths to obtain answers from the Dark Swan.

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Air date: Nov 15, 2015

Zelena and Arthur travel to DunBroch to obtain an ancient relic, and they cross paths with Merida, who's trying to repay a debt her father owed to the Witch.

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Air date: Nov 29, 2015

Hook becomes a Dark One in a Camelot flashback and he and Emma clash over how to proceed. Back in Storybrooke, Hook's passion for vengeance against Gold is reawakened; and Emma attempts to persuade Hook to fight the darkness within him.

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Once Upon a Time: Season 5 Photos

Tv Season Info

Once Upon a Time returns for its fifth series where Emma's family are desperate to find her as she faces the powers of the Darkness. The characters travel to Camelot to find Merlin and when they are there King Arthur betrays them. They embark on an unexpected journey to the depths of the underworld of Hades where, with the help of Rumplestiltskin, they will find Hook. Can they save Emma and Hook and restore order?

News & Interviews for Once Upon a Time: Season 5

Critic Reviews for Once Upon a Time Season 5

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (1)

Fool me once, shame on you, Storybrooke; fool me twice, what the hell, I'm still here, aren't I?

Sep 28, 2015 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
Top Critic

Once Upon A Time returned for its fifth season with a fantastic episode centered on Emma's journey to becoming the new Dark One better known as "The Dark Swan."

Jan 18, 2019 | Full Review…

Once Upon A Time threw some real life notions into the mix.

Jun 27, 2018 | Full Review…

It's comforting to know Once Upon a Time is there as an entertainment families can rally around, and one that will challenge them thematically as much as it panders by playing in the Disney sandbox. [Blu-ray]

Aug 10, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

The cast is still superlative and the emotional dynamics between the core characters are still compelling. Everything else (like the plot and the wigs and the Charmings' track record as parents) is at least bad enough to be funny.

Sep 29, 2015 | Full Review…

Morrison delivered some of her best work on the show to date, and it's terrific to see the plot focus on a member of the regular cast.

Sep 28, 2015 | Rating: 8.4/10 | Full Review…

Once Upon a Time's season 5 premiere starts the season out right, delivering on an Emma gone bad but still showing her struggle to keep ahead of the darkness.

Sep 28, 2015 | Full Review…

With a smart decision to focus on the lead characters and not the overall "gimmick" plot of the season, Once Upon A Time feels renewed with a dark energy in its shockingly sprightly fifth year.

Sep 28, 2015 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

The fifth season is off to a good start, I just hope they can keep the focus on Emma and not go off onto a bunch of random tangents.

Sep 28, 2015 | Full Review…

The quest to find Emma took several twist and turns.

Sep 28, 2015 | Rating: 4.4/5 | Full Review…

I think this was one of the stronger season premieres that Once has had. The new characters worked well, and the introduction of Camelot was intriguing. I cannot wait to see what happens next!

Sep 28, 2015 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

This season's first episode [is] one of the best season openers of Once Upon a Time's five seasons.

Sep 27, 2015 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Once Upon a Time: Season 5

  • Apr 26, 2020
    Came here specifically to rate this season. It's taken me years to get through this show. After they butchered it in season 4 I put it away and the good ol pandemic of 2020 gave me time to come back and finish up this dreadful mess. Season 1 and 2 were great. Highly enjoyable, season 3 had it's ups and downs. Let's ignore season 4, and get right to season 5 (can't believe I have 2 more to sit through). What a cringy hodgepodge of meandering storytelling this show has become. Glad to see it was canned for good. Watching this season just made me miss the original show. Shame. Half star for attempting a cool storyline by having Emma be 'evil'.
  • Nov 29, 2019
    Sin dudas la mejor temporada de la serie. Ver a Emma actuando de villana fue algo inesperado y muy bueno.
  • Sep 25, 2019
    Once grew dark with season and it was right to do so. Certainly the best season of all.
  • Jul 07, 2019
    the addiction of Merlin feels natural and ready for the story but 2 things make this season stand out DARK EMMA we seen a little bit of a darker Emma in season 4 episode 18 but its better done this season
  • Apr 09, 2019
    CaptainSwan Camelot scenes were absolutely beautiful. The lengths they go to save each other from the darkness was painful to watch but I think the UW true love test payoff was worth it... I loved how they showed that Emma & Killian could sense one another and feel each other's pain even when separated by realms. This loses a whole star because they had the perfect opportunity to truly redeem Regina and have her face her victims and own up to her mistakes and they squandered it. Instead the last half of the season became a Regina pity party & a Mills family reunion.
  • Feb 24, 2019
    A marvelous great season.
  • Feb 07, 2019
    It’s hard to discuss Once Upon a Time’s fifth season without a few groans from fans. While not considered the favorite by many, Once Upon a Time’s Season Five does feature a refreshing twist locationally, visually and story wise. At times, it doesn’t even feel like the same show. The front half of the season benefits highly from its new look, which includes a new style of flashbacks, gorgeous new costumes and a whole new kingdom. The highlight for this “since day one” fan comes from Lana Parrilla’s scene carrying performances in the first eleven episodes. Her clashing force with scene stealer Rebecca Mader is a treat for fans. The two women work very well together and make it hard not to cheer them on. Parrilla’s solo scenes are emotionally well driven and heartfelt. Mader stands out as a first time series regular with her cheeky sense of humor and maniacal behavior. The weak point of the arc comes from Jennifer Morrison’s Emma, who really could have stood out in this new chapter for her character. While not at all awful, result is shell like acting that is hard to swallow at times. The back half of the season starts very strong with a new get familiar settting and benefits from actually making good use of Emilie de Ravin’s Belle, who is often left behind on adventures outside of Storybrooke. The acting stood out and the return of long gone fan favorites carry what — at times — becomes a slower arc and make it an enjoyable watch nonetheless.
  • Dec 26, 2018
    I find it disturbing that this season got 100%. I was not a fan of this season at all, it's when I started losing interest in the show. When the previous season revealed Emma would turn dark, I was excited to see it. However, I found that Jennifer Morrison still played the "villain" to heroic. While I find her to be a good actress, I would've liked to see her be more "dark". Also, the previous season revealed Lily to be Maleficent's daughter & they never pursued that story any further. It seemed to me that they were gonna have Emma & Lily balance each other out, Emma turns dark & Lily turns light, but it never happened. They dropped that story & I wish they hadn't. I did not like them visiting the underworld, it felt like cheap storytelling to me. They opened up a door to bring back old beloved characters & it was too easy for any of them to be able to return. Either bring in new characters or finish telling old characters story through other means. (Peter Pan should've had the entire 3rd season to tell his & the lost boys story, not bring him back by a "underworld" visit.) Visiting the underworld seemed redundant to me, there's other worlds they could've visited that would've made sense. Sure, it was nice to see redemption between characters but that could've been done without them visiting the "underworld". Hook either needed to die or just be hurt, not die & be rescued.There were still some stories I found engaging. Such as, how Hercules & Snow met. Overall, this season was my second to least favorite.
  • Nov 26, 2018
    The first two-and-a-half seasons felt worth it as someone who personally got emotionally invested in the show for Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), Belle (Emilie De Ravin), and Rumbelle. However, the show drove straight into the past the point of no return territory of very bad writing for every remaining main character after the first half of season three over and over again, and drove me mad because they pretty much destroyed all of them in one way or another, so I finally quit watching after season five because I couldn’t handle the disappointment anymore. But even as early on as season one we were seeing bad writing tropes that kept growing worse and worse over time, which were affecting all of these characters in one way or another, such as: • Aesop Amnesia: The more times a character is taught a lesson without learning it, the lower the viewer’s opinion of him/her and you - There’s nothing more that I hate in Drama/Fantasy TV shows than bad writing that wastes the potential of fantastic characters in storylines that keep them running in circles where they learn the same lessons over and over again. Characters should evolve and grow. It’s completely natural and human for people to struggle fighting back bad habits and the temptation to revert back to them…But to completely progress and regress in 180 circles over and over again with no organic slow-burn build because they are inorganically forced there by inexplicable magical macguffins and plot twists that so they can learn the same lessons over and over again in a “shocking” new melodramatic OOC horrible way, and to retcon previous growth as the plot and plot devices demand with little to no organic slow burn build up, or realistic effort? That’s the bad writing trope of Aesop Amnesia. Unfortunately, every remaining main character suffered from this bad writing trope after 3x11, especially Rumple, Belle, Emma, Regina, and Hook, which was why I finally quit after S5. No one on this show was evolving, growing, or learning from their mistakes anymore after 3A, they were just running in circles inorganically, and I was annoyed. Even when they showed potential for opportunities to do something genuinely compelling, progressive, organic, new, interesting, and fun, they always wasted them. It’s like after 3A, A&E and these writers deliberately dangled the carrot of potential for fantastic organic character growth and development, only to cruelly and manipulatively squander each and every opportunity to do so for another SHOCKING character destroying plot “twist” that was always just a badly written retread on a yo-yo of the same story they’d all been getting ever since S2-3A, except it just felt boring and disappointing by the end of S5. • Angst? What Angst?: Make your characters react realistically to setbacks or tragic events. Too little angst makes them appear callous or ditzy-Characters should react realistically to crippling mental illness, abuse, addiction, grief, loss, and trauma. However, A&E and these writers seemed to throw those issues in for shock value in “good guys,” then never show them having realistic reactions to trauma because “having fears and struggling with mental illness is “EVOL or ‘weak,” and they demonize “dark” characters, such as Rumple for enduring those issues by making sure they can’t get emotional support, even when they do reach out for it, so they can frame them as OOC cartoon villains in 180s by using other characters lack of support and cruelty towards him to drive him insane, and lash out at them in response. • Character Derailment: Characters can grow, but don’t suddenly mutate them into something else - Everyone on this show after 3x11 in one way Emma, Hook, and especially Rumple and Belle were probably the most tragically affected by this trope from the end of 3B-S6 on-and-off again. • Character Shilling: Having characters suddenly talk up another character for no real reason doesn’t make a whole lot of sense-The dialogue on this show could be both the best and worst possible thing about it. It could either be really heartwrenchingly beautiful, tearjerking, and tender at best, but at worst it could be so illogically OOC, nonsensical, and/or cringeworthy that it made you want to gag. • Chickification: Be careful when you decide to make an Action Girl less action-oriented; if not done properly, it will annoy your audience-Emma after getting set up with Hook out of nowhere from S4-S7. • Compressed Vice: Don’t have a character develop a bad habit or flaw out of nowhere solely for the sake of setting up An Aesop (doubly so if it contradicts previous facts about the character), and especially don’t show its consequences in a hamfisted, unrealistic manner - Every main character on this show from S4-S6, but especially Rumple, Belle, Emma, and Hook who were the biggest victims of Drama™? plot-driven derailment, and ship wars where Rumbelle was trashed to prop up Hook/CS. • Conflict Ball: Don’t have a character cause conflict just because the plot says so-Every main character on this show at one point or another from S4-S7, but especially Rumple, Belle, Emma, and Hook. • Creator’s Pet: Treating a certain character with tons of love when they really don’t deserve it is never a good idea - Regina, Zelena, and especially Hook. • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Making the story excessively bleak and giving absolutely no hope will only tire out the audience until they lose interest in the story - Unacknowledged cases of meaningless “rebound” relationships in an on-and-off again true love couple when the true love couple should have just been together in an established relationship, or broken up for good after their big fall out in S4, homicide, rape, domestic abuse, cheating, incest, child abuse, kidnapping, child abduction, a magical custody battle between parents over a baby that hasn’t even been born yet because of what a dream zygote said (don’t even get me started on how angry I am over what they did to Rumbelle in the trashfire of 6A), heart snatching, traumatic pregnancies, child abandonment, forced banishment/exile, imprisonment, consent issues left and right, sexual assault, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, gaslighting, emotional manipulation, overtly hypersexualized evil in female villains and Rumple (who was a female-coded male anti-villain, so I guess it only made sense for A&E to fuck him up with that trope too), romanticized toxic masculinity, romanticized or handwaved abuse of emotionally vulnerable or powerless men by female characters, stalking, abuse apology, normalized ableism, sexism, and rape culture, etc. etc. How was this show supposed to be about “hope” and “family?” Really? It was so incredibly fucked up and gross! Bonus: If you’re a Dearie/Rumbelle fan like I was, the writers abruptly, cruelly, and unfairly started treating Rumple and his loved ones like total garbage on this show when Eddy got a boner for Hook out of nowhere at the end of S3, and even before that, it was clear they never cared about Nealfire or Belle after season one as individual characters. So much for being a show about “hope,” and “family,” Adam and Eddy. • Demonization: Some of your potential audience may actually see where this position is coming from, if not actually agree. You’ll turn them off by your exaggerated portrayal. It also makes it seem like the position you hold isn’t nearly as solid as you think, since it can only stand up to strawmen - Rumple on-and-off-again from the end of 3B-6A as the plot demanded to prop up Hook/CS, Hook in 5A, Zelena pretty much always, and even Regina back in S1 when the show was still good. For all of the opportunities that A&E and these writers had to create emotionally complex redeemable villains, they far too often took the mustache twirling villain caricature route whenever they made them “big bads” of an arc. I’m the most disappointed that they did this with Rumple on-and-off-again from 3B-S6 because he actually was originally characterized and developed as the most well-written, organically emotionally complex, relatable, sympathetic, dynamic, redeemable, and likable one of the three consistently for the first two-and-a-half seasons of the show, he was easily my favorite character, the whole reason I got into OUAT, but A&E and these writers probably fucked him up the most tragically with bad writing in later seasons. • Derailing Love Interests: Breaking up a promising relationship just to get the official couple together is not going to sit well with the viewers who care more about the characters than the concept - Swanfire for CS • Designated Hero: Having your hero Kick the Dog and still expecting your audience to see them as a paragon of virtue because you say so doesn’t usually work; rather, it makes your hero unlikable -There’s a reason why herocrites became such a popular term from S4-S6 for Emma, Belle, Snowing, and even Henry. They became annoyingly self-righteous, narrow-minded, needlessly cruel, and hypocritical brats with little to no self-awareness of their own horrific choices, while they still treated the “bad guys” like filth that was so beneath them. When the heroes are just as bad as your villains if not worse, why should I care about “good” and “evil” anymore? • Designated Love Interest: If you say that two characters are in love, don’t make them hate or be apathetic to each other, actually go out of your way to make them love each other. Otherwise, it just feels contrived-Belle with Rumple from S4-6A, and Rumple and Belle with each other throughout much of 6x04-6x09 due to OOC bad writing to prop up Hook/CS, and Emma and Hook always because CS was a mistake. • Designated Villain: Having your villain come across as harmless or even too benign and still expecting your audience to see them as a monster because you say so doesn’t usually work; rather, it makes your villain petty and perhaps far too sympathetic - Rumple in 5B, and honestly through much of 4A and 6A too. Yeah, he could be a jackass. Yeah, his character was painfully derailed, and his worst traits were flanderdized. Yeah, I hated this destruction of my favorite character on this show. Yeah, he did some wildly OOC atrocious things that I cannot excuse, but I really didn’t see how many of the crimes Rumple commited in the present day storyline from the end of 3B-S6 were so much more “evil” than anyone else’s on this show with abusing magic, just because they all easily got away with doing similar things with similar rape culture magical abuse and criminal behavior without punishment whenever it suited them, especially from S4-S6 when Belle, Snowing, Emma, and even Henry, our “heroes,” were now abusing/misusing magic by violating autonomy/consent and committing crimes that hurt other people physically/emotionally/mentally whenever it suited them. So yeah, Rumple got more toxic and dark from S4-S6 due to OOC bad writing, flanderdization, and character derailment. However, if he was a convoluted toxic trash person in the present day storyline from S4-S6, then every remaining main character on this show was a convoluted mess of a toxic trash person in incredibly similar if not far worse reasons in one way or another too by the end of S6 in the present day storyline anyway, including Emma, Belle, Snowing, and even Henry now. • Die for Our Ship: Attacking a rival of your pairing of choice doesn’t necessarily make that character a bad person and makes you look petty - Every other ship/character on this show getting destroyed with derailing writing that made them look worse, killed off, and/or sidelined for CS from the end of 3B-S6 • Distress Ball: Don’t have a character get kidnapped for no good reason - Gideon in 6A. Like, they could have still introduced the Black Fairy without all that OOC character destroying contrived angst Drama™? between Rumple and Belle, and saved their reputations / remaining credibility in canon as individual characters and as a couple, but they “had” to make Hook/Crapstain Swan look better…They could have even still had Gideon kidnapped by the Black Fairy without all this stupid Morfetus/Rumple’s the “worst’ OOC trash, and thrown in the twist that the Black Fairy was watching Rumple and Belle and trying to make the perfect family by stealing the baby from them in a plot twist when they were happy together. They didn’t need to “always” have Rumple (and by extension Belle) do stupid OOC self-sabotaging shit to get the plot twists they wanted. But the fact that they were both causing their own problems in 6A by acting like wildly OOC self destructive reckless idiots, makes the audience feel a lot less sorry for them than we should when their child gets kidnapped by the Black Fairy because they weren’t allowed to have one healthy, calm, and rational in-character discussion without running away and/or doing or saying something stupid by overreacting. Don’t get me started on how angry I am about how much the writers fucked over Rumple, Belle, Rumbelle, and their fans in 6A… • Draco in Leather Pants: Have an acceptable reason for making a truly evil character suddenly be nice. “He or she is hot!” will not do - Hook and Regina. • Dull Surprise: Have your characters emote during events that would make a real person do so - Wasn’t super obvious in S1, but it got worse as time went on. • Failure Hero: While having the hero lose from time to time adds some realism to the hero and drama to the story, if they lose every single fight or mission, not only will it destroy any and all tension, but the reader will feel bad for relating with the hero - Belle from S4-S6. • Faux Action Girl: If you say that a girl is strong, then make her strong. If said Action Girl comes off as too weak, the audience will begin to hate her - Emma Swan from S4-S6 after they made her entire character about being Hook’s codependent, violent, and selfish love interest, rather than the compassionate, family-first oriented, independent, and heroic badass who fought for the rights of the little guy, and who put Henry before anyone else as her son and true love. • Hero Ball: Heroes are expected to make bad decisions every now and then, but when they do this against all common sense it becomes annoying - Every hero on this show from S3-S7, but especially Belle, Snow, and Henry. • Idiot Ball: When the character is suddenly acting like an idiot - Every main character on this show whenever it was convenient for the plot for generally intelligent characters to be total idiots, especially for Rumple, Belle, Emma, and Hook, though. • Informed Wrongness: If a character is actually in the wrong, prove it - Rumple’s main motive in 6A, even though he went about accomplishing them in horrible OOC ways. • Jerk Sue: Having a character be a complete Jerkasswho gets away with it just because the author designates them as such and says you should support them does not make for a strong character, and is more likely going to turn out be a case of Creator’s Pet, and often The Scrappy. Also, it tends to look like a half-assed effort when the author just throws in some secondary throw-away detail in an attempt to make you feel sorry for the character and expect you to not get upset when they behave like a jerk for no other reason than they feel like it at the time - Zelena • Mary Sue: A flawless, invincible character who never loses at anything makes for a boring story. Mary Sue Tropes and Common Mary Sue Traits contain lots of information on different types of Sue - Hook was the male version of this trope, a Gary Stu. He had potential to be complex, but then they set him up with Emma out of nowhere. • Moral Dissonance: Don’t have the hero behave contrary to their usual morality and be completely oblivious to it - There’s a reason why herocrites became such a popular term from S4-S6 for Emma, Belle, Snowing, and even Henry in the fandom. They all became annoyingly self-righteous, vindictive, merciless, narrow-minded, needlessly cruel, and hypocritical brats with little to no self-awareness of their own horrific choices that the writers made them commit, while they still treated the “bad guys” like filth who were so beneath them. When your good guys become just as bad as your villains if not worse, and have little to no self-awareness of their own horrifically toxic behaviors and choices, then why should I care about “good” and “evil or “heroes” and “villains” anymore? • Romanticized Abuse: Make sure that your romance is actually a reasonably healthy relationship. If abuse, either physical or emotional, is presented as sexy or sweet, the characters could become Unintentionally Unsympathetic, and viewers may get the wrong idea of what an acceptable real-life relationship requires - Crapstain Swan on both sides. Belle’s “strength,” “heroism,” and “goodness” in her relationship with Rumple sometimes seemed more like emotional, psychological, verbal abuse and manipulation, and while the actors who play the characters were both fantastic with fantastic chemistry, I don’t excuse the shitty writing for either character. Rumple’s done some incredibly awful things that I cannot excuse to Belle too from S4-S6 due to increasingly OOC bad writing to prop up Hook/CS, in my opinion, but at least the narrative didn’t generally romanticize, or excuse his problematic, manipulative, or toxic choices, behaviors, and/or tactics in his relationship with Belle, and framed them as wrong. However, they had been romanticizing Belle’s toxic relationship behaviors, choices, and tactics in regards to her treatment of Rumple ever since S2 on-and-off-again from that “Promise me, and we can be together” line in “Broken.” • Ron the Death Eater: Have an acceptable reason for making a truly good character suddenly be mean. “I hate him or her!” will not do - Belle and Emma from S4-S6A. • Satellite Love Interest: Define your characters by something other than being the lover or crush for The Protagonist, or the archetypal “perfect” boyfriend/girlfriend - Belle for Rumple, though to be fair, she was far from perfect or innocent in her relationship issues with Rumple from S2, and she was just as capable of being every bit as problematic towards him as he was to her, even if the narrative often tried to pretend like Belle was “blameless,” especially when both of the individual characters and their relationship together got systematically destroyed by OOC bad writing to make Hook/CS look better. • Strangled by the Red String: People going directly from being strangers to being genuinely in love is not very realistic or satisfying to watch. If you’re going to make two characters fall in love with each other, try to take it slow - CS • Strong as They Need to Be: Don’t have characters suddenly gain or lose power without any explanation - Rumple losing the seer power after the first two-and-a-half seasons because REASONS. I guess, it was to deliberately dumb him down, so that he couldn’t always predict the outcome of his increasingly OOC self-sabotaging bad choices with magic macguffins, which makes me angry. • Stupid Sacrifice: Characters shouldn’t give up their lives for nothing (if the character is not a Martyr Without a Cause)-Rumple and Belle in S7. Even in 3A before Rumple and Belle’s characters had been destroyed by OOC bad writing, and the sacrifice felt genuinely beautiful and meaningful, I still don’t really understand why the prophecy said he “had” to die to stop Peter Pan. That shit made absolutely no sense, and even though the sacrifice was beautiful, and did save everyone in 3x11, I still don’t understand why it “needed” to happen. There is just no logical reasoning behind that. Things should need to happen for a logical reason, not just because the writers say so. • Villain Ball: See Hero Ball, only swap “heroes” and “villains”. - Rumple on-and-off again from S4-6A. • Villain Decay: Don’t have your antagonist lose their power and competence without a good reason - Rumple on-and-off-again from S4-6A. A lot of people say he was made the de facto “bad guy” on OUAT because he was the most competent one. However, that’s actually the complete opposite of the truth after all of the trauma he went through, the removal of his seer power, and the fact that we knew he’d always make it back to the light, no matter how bad things got because he and Belle were BATB and true love as a main couple on the show that ABC was obligated to give something of a happy ending to, so having him regress once in S4 was a convincing enough rock bottom for Rumbelle to consistently build them back up from on the show organically. • Wangst: Make your characters react realistically to setbacks or tragic events. Too much angst makes them unrealistic and annoying - S4-6A Rumbelle, 5A CS. Really, everyone on this show after 3x11, and even before that this trope was starting to show signs of potentially becoming a problem in 2x04 when Belle walked away from Rumple and told him she never wanted to see him again because he anxiously hesitated to open up to her about why he felt like he needed magic, even though she never even bothered to ask him why. • What an Idiot!: Characters should not make unrealistically bad decisions to drive the plot-Everyone on this show from 3B-S7, but especially Rumple, Belle, Emma, and Hook. • Wimpification: Stripping the action, common sense, and strength from characters to add Wangst is a good way to piss off the audience - Rumple, Belle, Emma, Hook, Snowing, and even Henry from S4-S7 at one point or another. Was there any main character on this show who still used • Most Writers Are Male: Don’t write women from ignorance, stereotypes, and/or in unsympathetic ways (either in the form of misogyny or over-sexualization) - This one is obvious with the “evil is sexy in bad girls,” while good girls are innocence, chaste, and virtue in romance. Sexuality is not evil in women! I’m so sick of this trope. Also, abuse is always wrong. Emotionally manipulating others to get what you want with ultimatums, and/or threats is always wrong and unethical. Violating consent/autonomy of someone else is always wrong and unethical. Committing crimes is always wrong, no matter the “worthy” endgames. It is not “empowering” or “feminist” for women to abuse emotionally vulnerable, or helpless men by taking advantage of them, or kicking them when they are already down. I don’t care what gender the abuser is. Female or male, abuse is still abuse and it’s always unethical and wrong. Emotional manipulation through the use of ultimatums, threats, lies, and/or false promises to get what you want from them is always wrong and unethical, and I really don’t care what the gender of the person who does it is, or whether their intent is good or bad. It’s always wrong. It should never be “justified” as “strength” in a character just because the character is a woman who is abusing a man, but on OUAT it often was. Men who get emotional easily are not “cowards.” Men who feel afraid easily, or who fear failure are not “cowards.” Men who are introverted, elegant dressers, spinners, stay at home dads, old-fashioned romantics, socially awkward, socially anxious, crippled, etc. are not “cowardly” or “weak.” Men who value family, men who value domesticity, and men who are desperate for love, loyalty, understanding, and affection because they have abandonment issues and think they are unlovable are not “weak” or “cowardly.” Men who don’t face external conflict with others by using brashness, swords, recklessness, or by beating enemies up with their fists, are not “cowardly” or “weak.” Men who don’t just “get over” their fears and trauma are not “weak.” Likewise, women who are emotional, compassionate, loving, feminine, kindhearted, optimistic, forgiving, understanding, and merciful towards those who have hurt them or others, and/or those who disagree with their personal values are not weak. Being a control freak, being blindly self-righteous, being hypocritical, being merciless, being cruel, belittling, insulting, manipulative, pushing them away, refusing to let them get a word in edgewise, giving them false hope or mixed signals, or walking away from male love interests if they so much as slightly disagree with your point of view, or express a genuinely heartfelt desire for your understanding and emotional support by reaching out you when they are afraid, or insecure, instead of just “sucking it up and growing a pair,” and/or bending over backwards to agree with you on everything you believe, do, and say all the time like a dog on a leash, is not “strength” in you as a woman. It’s actually emotional abuse. Being codependent, enabling, and obsessive about a toxically masculine jackass, who doesn’t respect you, your choices, or your feelings enough to keep himself from deliberately and gleefully abusing you physically, emotionally, verbally, and psychologically because he “wants to hurt you” after he built a “romance” with you on a foundation of lies, sexual assault, insults, and rape jokes, and changing your entire personality by giving up your own self-respect, family, personal values, and morality to be more like him as his “perfect match” is not “strength” in a woman. It’s just sad. • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Don’t give a character a new ability out of thin air depending on the situation - This comes more in the form of magical macguffins that the characters fuck around with, and get destroyed to use in later seasons, especially Rumple, Belle, Emma, Henry, Hook, and Snowing for the sake of dumb plot “twists.” However, I never understood how Regina gained light magic when she was born to a family that inherently used dark magic, and never taught how to use light magic. I also never understood how Emma learned how she had the ability to use light magic when none of her blood relatives had the inherent ability to use it. • Out of Character: Moments when the character does something that he wouldn’t normally do without any justification - Sadly, this happened 98% of the time on the show after 3x11 to just about every remaining main character to prop up Hook, especially for Emma, Rumple, and Belle. OOC didn’t just happen in moments on this show after 3A. It was there almost all the time in everyone’s characterizations to the point where the OUAT of S1-3A was like a completely different series with completely different characters, and 3B-S7 was like some OUAT awful soap opera crack!fic AU or tragic parody on screen of the show we used to love from S1-3A every Sunday night at 8:00PM for the next four-and-a-half years on screen that most of us in the fandom hate watched or blogged about. • Positive Discrimination: Don’t make the female or minority characters better than the others simply because they are minorities, and don’t make the male characters incompetent simply because they are males - To be fair, no one was really competent on this fucked up show after 3x11, but their idea of female “empowerment” and the concept that “every man ‘needed’ a ‘good’ woman in their lives to make the ‘right’ choices” got incredibly messed up as time went on because it meant that these women could very rarely ever be portrayed as anything other than the “blameless” victim, the “misguided hero,” or the “Empowered” abuser of their male partner. Rumple often “needed” for Belle to tell him not to do this or that. She could rarely ever trust him to make the right choice on his own without putting conditions or ultimatums on their relationship. Rumple often wasn’t allowed to grow, and unfortunately regress in 6A when the writing got really ridiculously desperate to vilify him, without Belle’s emotionally manipulative influence weighing on him somehow as his conscience or breaking point. Even before the writers started fucking them both up. Every time Rumple called out Belle on her shit, which wasn’t that often, the narrative usually recanted or retconned the fact that he did because “How dare Belle ever be seen as anything less than perfect or ever be held accountable for her own shit.” We could never have a storyline where Rumple learned to grow without her. Even in S7, his entire storyline was about reuniting with Belle in the afterlife. David had almost no personality or life outside of his relationship with Snow after the first two-and-a-half seasons, and just did whatever she said by staying by her side like a lapdog. Hook was framed as a totally OOC one note sociopathic cartoon villain who verbally/emotionally abused “blameless” Emma after he found out Emma brought him back as a Dark One against his will, and Emma “had” to kiss him to get him to do the right thing. Romantic sideplots for male characters are great, too, but they shouldn’t be their entire character arc, or emotionally manipulative plot devices used by the writers to either pull them towards the light as their cheerleader, or to break their sanity by vilifying them no matter what they do good or bad. Male characters should be able to grow and/or regress as characters without female ones being used as plot devices who are either their saving grace or their insanity trigger, especially when the female love interests are there needlessly pushing the male love interests buttons almost every step of the way in most of their conflicts, and still framed as “blameless” for being cruel, selfish, inconsiderate, reckless, or stupid first. • Protagonist-Centered Morality: A character’s moral standing should be based on their actions as a whole, not solely on their actions toward the main character. A sure sign of a Mary Sue or a Designated Hero - Again Emma and the Charming clan from S4-S6. • Aborted Arc: Plot points should go somewhere eventually - 5A for Rumple, Emma, and Regina. I’m angry about all the wasted potential. • Ass Pull: Don’t introduce major changes and/or important elements at critical moments in the plot without some foreshadowing or justification - Way too many to count, but a good one is Rumple taking back the curse in 5x11 because it “was who he was” after showing no signs of power hunger after waking up without the curse in the coma. • Cliffhanger Copout: This is what happens when a Cliffhanger’s resolution comes in the form of tweaking the continuity between back-to-back installments (usually creating Plot Holes), a refusal/failure to follow through with delivering a big Reveal after setting an audience up for one, or outright aborting a story arc. • The Chris Carter Effect: It’s a good idea to actually finish things. Sooner or later, the audience will get bored with you screwing around and not getting to the point - Everything about this show’s entire existence from 3B-S7. What was the point? It should have ended in 3A. It just felt like a waste of my time watching after 3x11 with no pay off for 2.5 seasons, so I finally gave up after S5. This show was just about CS now, and the writers even fucked then up too. • Continuity Snarl: Plotlines can snag if you aren’t careful-Too many to count. • Deus Angst Machina: Too much misfortune makes too little Willing Suspension of Disbelief - So much for being a show about “hope….” • Deus ex Machina: Do not save your characters with an Ass Pull - This slowly became more and more of an issue after season one when magic was introduced to Storybrooke • Diabolus ex Machina: A victory for the bad guys pulled out of thin air might be amusing for shock value, but it doesn’t make for great storytelling - There’s been a lot of these, but I don’t really feel like going into details. • Ending Fatigue: The viewer should probably not be yelling “END ALREADY!”- I’d been feeling this about OUAT ever since 3B, tbh. • Esoteric Happy Ending: If you want to write an uplifting ending, make sure that the audience can agree with you that you wrote one - Rumple and Belle’s “happy ending” together in S7. Was it really, though? I know that 3A technically was more bittersweet and sad of an ending, but the journey along the way actually made sense, and felt well-earned. This ending in S7 for Rumple and Belle just felt cheesy and lazy, especially after how much A&E and these writers trashed them with OOC character destroying angsts bad writing from S4-S6 to prop up Hook/CS. • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Previous installments included something that would resolve the problem of the week. The something is not brought up- This happened a lot on OUAT. • Fridge Logic: Though much more forgivable than a Plot Hole, this can be bad if it doesn’t have enough Fridge Horror or Fridge Brilliance to go along with it. If you have a complicated universe, don’t gloss over the minor details - How they treated Belle’s character on the show. • Gratuitous Rape: Rape is an incredibly grave subject matter. Don’t shoehorn in a rape scene just for shock value, or have so much it loses impact - I think this happened at least four times on OUAT in the outright sense (Regina with Graham, Zelena with Rumple (or at least she seriously molested him in 3B), Zelena with Robin, and Mother Gothel with Hook) , but that’s not covering the hundreds of consent issues with magic at every corner in every main character on this show of rape culture from day one of its inception to the point of essentially becoming a normalized occurrence that was no big deal anymore, unless you were Rumple, and even then there were issues. • Idiot Plot: Unless the characters are supposed to be idiots, the plot should not be forced to move forward solely by people making stupid decisions - Rumple and Belle in 4A and 6A. Hook and Emma in 5A. Regina in 4B. Characters were majorly dumbed down for idiot plots to work with the idiot ball getting passed around. • I Just Knew: Characters need an in-universe reason for knowing (or not knowing) something in advance - The lack of explanation for how or why Rumple, or any of these characters for that matter, just knew how this or that magic macguffin of the plot worked without ever having being shown using it before, or how we’re supposed to just suspend our belief that it will supposedly work for their specific purposes, even if it works for multiple different things on screen in practice for other people. Or how we’re just supposed to believe that these generally intelligent characters would just automatically believe what magical dreams, prophecies, or visions said without any sort of explanation for why, and with little question whenever the plot demands they do it. • Just Eat Gilligan: If there’s an obvious solution to the problem(s) that drives the story, you would think the characters would go for it rather than ignoring it - Every character on this show at one point or another. It seems like so many obvious solutions get overlooked on this show. • Kudzu Plot: It’s fine to have a dozen different story threads at once, but you have to be able to tie them together. If they go off into infinity without ever being tied, who’s going to care about any of them? The pieces of your Jigsaw Puzzle Plot have to fit - Sadly, this was what OUAT devolved into. • Lost in Medias Res: If there’s not enough exposition when starting out In Medias Res, the viewers will feel completely lost and lose interest in the story - The show OUAT became after 3A. • Only the Author Can Save Them Now: Do not put your characters in a situation where only a Deus ex Machina can save them - Happened all the time on OUAT after season one. I think it really went off the deep end when they broke their own rule about not being able to use magic to bring back the dead in 3B, though. • Plot Hole: Don’t think the audience won’t see when you forget to cover something - There’s a reason why OUAT was dubbed by many fans as Once Upon a Plot Hole. They started showing up in S2 when TLK with Belle didn’t work in Storybrooke for Rumple after he brought magic to the town because “magic was different there,” and it just kept getting worse over the next six years. • Relationship Revolving Door: See Yo Yo Plot Point - Rumple and Belle from S2-S6. Look, they were always my favorite main couple on this show, but I finally got tired of the inorganic contrivances separating them to make Rumple “dark” after season five, and decided to quit watching the show. Just let them be happy together and resolve issues, or break them up for good amicably. I hate on-and-off again shit, though • Romantic Plot Tumor: Unless the plot is romance, don’t let it take over - CS • Series Continuity Error: When you set something in stone, you can’t chisel it out without leaving marks - OUAT did this all the time. There are so many continuity errors that it’s impossible to count. • Shocking Swerve: Don’t have a Twist Ending just to have a Twist Ending - The writers of OUAT had been doing this shit ever since the end of season two, and it only kept getting worse as time went on. • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: If the premise is interesting, DO something interesting with it - Rumple’s storyline in 5A, Emma’s storyline in 5A, and Regina’s storyline in 5A. There’s a reason why so many fans hated this arc, and decided they were done with the show afterwards. A&E and these writers promised great things for their their three main leads, but then trashed them all to make it about the Emo Fuckboy and Crapstain Swan. • Trapped by Mountain Lions: If someone’s in a story, they should be part of the plot, too - Belle in many of her storylines with Rumple. • Unfortunate Implications: Be careful with the way you portray certain characters and the situations you put them through; viewers could get the wrong idea - Unfortunately, this applies to every main character on this show at one point or another. • Voodoo Shark: When patching over a Plot Hole creates a different, possibly more troublesome, problem - OUAT writers covered up their plot holes with more plot holes and contrived character assassination all the time. So OUAT had a lot of potential. It had fantastic characters, fantastic actors, and fantastic ideas. It makes for fantastic fanfiction, and it was genuinely enjoyable as a fan of Rumple, Belle, Rumbelle, and Emma from S1–3A for me. But there were always issues with bad writing that wasted them all in ways that kept getting worse and worse every season because A&E and these writers refused to learn from their mistakes… Tldr; OUAT had potential to be something amazing and groundbreaking, but it pretty quickly devolved into a ridiculous supernatural soap opera, including bad writing tropes, OOC plot driven melodrama bs, incest, sexism, meaningless affairs and/or rebound relationships, betrayal, lies, secrets, consent issues, heroes who weren’t really all that heroic anymore as time passed on, abuse apology/criminal apology, except for with Rumple (and even then their were issues), repetitive arcs, lack of growth, everyone being related, creator pets, and character destroying “shocking”’plot twists. I had fun with the first two-and-a-half seasons, then it all went to hell from there (quite literally). If you’ve ever seen the TV show “Charmed” (1998), OUAT was like the modern day Millennial/Gen Z version created by overprivileged male hacks with bigger budgets and better mentors than Constance M. Burge. It started out with potential with genuinely likable characters, even though most of them weren’t as complex or well written as many of the ones on OUAT started out. But Charmed quickly went down the drain when writers started picking favorites, product placement and fanservice became more important than good storytelling, and Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs became producers. The originally heroic goodhearted Charmed Ones (with the exception of Prue) became insufferably bitchy, hypocritical, shrill, self-righteous, lazy, narrow-minded, emotionally/verbally abusive, criminal, and annoying people who may as well have just been villains with good PR. They set up Pheobe with Cole, “ big bad,” a complex character, a lot like Rumple, who started off with a great redemption arc, until everyone else abruptly and unfairly started shitting on him by treating him like filth that was so beneath them, including Phoebe, his true love (and one storyline for redemption, much like Rumple’s became Belle after Bae died), who shut him down, even when he did try to be better, or he did nothing wrong, and even though Belle, Emma, Snowing, and even Henry, OUAT’s once truly heroic characters from S1-S3 devolved into exactly what the formerly once heroic main characters of Charmed of Paige Matthews, Pheobe, and Piper (with the exception of Prue who died before the show went to hell, thankfully) devolved into from S4 ish throughout most of the rest of the series: The absolute worst people on the show, and the biggest hypocrites ever with few redeeming qualities themselves anymore that made me think of them as any more qualified to judge Cole/Rumple for many of their sins, anyway. But they couldn’t call out their “heroes,” or ever have Pheobe/Belle be the main one in the wrong, not frame them like the “blameless” victim of Cole/Rumple, even though, objectively speaking, the victimization was on both sides equally in ways that I couldn’t objectively excuse. Characters stopped growing organically, or all, which were issues that were already showing potential to become major problems later on in the first two-and-a-half to three seasons of the series of Charmed. At the very least, Charmed always was obviously a cheese ball show with dinky special effects, women who were witches that constantly worried over their love lives with men, and deus ex machinnas. OUAT started out fantastic, then gradually went to to hell over the next six seasons.
  • Nov 17, 2018
    I love it but I? was sad when Emma was the dark one

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