"Pilot" is the first episode of Season One of ABC's Once upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz and directed by Mark Mylod. It is the first episode of the series overall, and premiered on October 23, 2011.
And they lived happily ever after...or so everyone was led to believe. Emma Swan knows how to take care of herself. She's a 28-year-old bail bondsperson who's been on her own ever since she was abandoned as a baby. But when Henry -- the son she gave up years ago -- finds her, everything changes. Henry is now 10 years old and in desperate need of Emma's help. He believes that Emma actually comes from an alternate world and is Snow White and Prince Charming's missing daughter. According to his book of fairytales, they sent her away to protect her from the Evil Queen's curse, which trapped the characters of fairytale world forever, frozen in time, and brought them into our modern world.
Not believing a word of Henry's story, Emma brings him back to Storybrooke, but finds herself drawn to this unusual boy and his strange New England town. Concerned for him, she decides to stay for a while, but soon comes to suspect that Storybrooke is more than it seems. It's a place where magic has been forgotten, but is still powerfully close...where fairytale characters are alive, even though they don't remember who they once were, and where the Evil Queen, known as Regina, is now Henry's foster mother. The epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning, and for good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell.
In the Enchanted Forest, Prince Charming races his horse along a road and into a forest. As it begins to snow, he meets with with the Seven Dwarves. They tell him that he is too late as he looks to the sleeping woman that they have placed in a glass casket. He tells them to open it, but is reminded she is gone. When the Prince asks for the chance to say goodbye to his love, they open the casket and he kisses her. A wave of energy sweeps outward and the woman awakens. The Prince promises that he will always find her and kisses her.
Snow White and the Prince marry in front of their kingdoms as everyone applauds. The Evil Queen comes in and casts aside the guards who try to stop her. Snow White grabs Prince Charming's sword, telling her that she is no longer Queen. Prince Charming reminds her that she has already lost and that he will not let her ruin their happy wedding. The Queen informs them both she has a gift for them and she makes a vow of her own. Soon everything that everyone in their wold loves will be ripped away from them, and her victory will arise from their suffering. She promises to destroy their happiness if it is the last thing she does. Before she makes her final exit Prince Charming throws his sword at her but she dissolves into a cloud black and purple smoke and disappears.
A man named Ryan sits down at a table of a blond woman with a nice dress and they begin to talk. They are both on a blind date, happy to find the other person is who they say they are. Emma tells Ryan it is her birthday and she has no family to spend it with, so decided to go out with him that night. She then tells Ryan that she knows he embezzled money from his employer and abandoned his wife and children. He realizes that she is a bail bondsman and makes a mad dash for it, but discovers that she has booted his car. When Emma suggests that Ryan should give what money he has to his family, he asks her what she knows about family. Emma knocks him out and says "nothing." She then goes home and lights a cupcake for her birthday. The doorbell rings and Emma finds Henry at her doorstep. She has no idea who he is, but Henry knows her by name. He introduces himself and says that he is her son.
Henry enters the apartment and explains that he is the baby she gave up for adoption ten years ago. Emma asks him to give her a minute and retreats to the bathroom. When she calms down and comes out, Henry asks her to come home with him. When she threatens to call the police, Henry says that he will claim that she kidnapped him. Emma says that she can tell when people are lying and starts to make the call, but Henry says that he needs her to come with him to Storybrooke, Maine. Emma reluctantly agrees.
In the Enchanted Forest, a pregnant Snow White contemplates the Queen's threat. Prince Charming tells her that they were only words. Snow White reminds him that she poisoned her, all because she thought Snow White was prettier then her. Prince Charming asks what he can do to reassure her, Snow White asks to talk to the prisoner who can see the future. The Prince hesitates, but Snow White insists that he can assure that their child will be safe. The Prince reluctantly agrees.
As they drive to Maine, Henry asks to stop for food but Emma refuses, saying they are not on a road trip. He starts reading from his storybook of fairy tales and insists that they are all true. When Emma says they are not, Henry dares her to tell if he is telling the truth. Emma does but points out that just because someone believes something does not make it real. Henry says that is what makes things real, and that he has problems that she's going to fix for him.
The jailer takes Snow White and Prince Charming to see Rumplestiltskin, warning her not to reveal her name. When they arrive at the cell, Rumplestiltskin knows immediately who they are, and the cloaks are pointless. He says that he can reassure them but it will cost them something in return.
Prince Charming refuses, but Snow White insists and asks what he wants. Rumplestiltskin asks for the name of their child and Snow White agrees, and he tells them that they will all soon be imprisoned when time stops, imprisoned somewhere horrible where everything they love will be ripped from them.
When Snow White asks what can stop it, Rumplestiltskin says that her child is their only hope and they should get her to safety. On the child's 28th birthday, she will find them and the final battle will begin. Snow White and Prince Charming walk away and Rumplestiltskin demands the name of the child, saying that it is a girl. Prince Charming insists that it is a boy, but Rumplestiltskin says that Snow White knows the truth. She turns and tells Rumplestiltskin that the child's name is Emma.
Emma and Henry arrive at Storybrooke. He refuses to give her an address and Emma pulls over. She notices that the town clock is frozen and Henry explains that the Evil Queen sent everyone there and trapped them, frozen in time. When Emma asks why they don't leave, Henry warns that bad things happen when they try. A man, Archie Hopper, comes over, and Henry greets him.
He tells Emma that Henry is the mayor's son and gives Emma the address. When Henry claims he was on a field trip, Archie tells him not to lie because it means giving in to the dark side. As Archie leaves, Henry explains that Archie is actually Jiminy Cricket, but he does not know it and that none of the townspeople remember who they really are. They have all been frozen in time, and nothing ever changes.
Prince Charming meets with the council and insists that they need to fight. Jiminy Cricket warns that fighting means giving into one's dark side. Snow White says that there is nothing they can do because the future is ordained, but Prince Charming says that if Rumplestiltskin says the truth, then their child will be their savior.
The Blue Fairy arrives with a squad of soldiers bearing a mystic tree and says that the wood can be used to ward off any curse. She asks Geppetto if he can make the enchantment they need. He agrees, but the Blue Fairy warns that the tree can only protect one.
Henry asks Emma not to take him back to the mayor, explaining that his adopted mother is evil and only pretends to love him. The mayor, Regina Mills (the Evil Queen), runs out and embraces him, but he insists that he has found his real mother and runs inside. Sheriff Graham is with her and goes inside to check on Henry, Regina invites Emma in for a glass of apple cider. She explains that she didn't know who Henry's parents were and that the records of the parents were sealed.
Emma assures Regina that she has nothing to worry about, and that the father does not even know that Henry exists. The mayor explains that she is strict with Henry but she wants him to excel in life. When Emma comments on Henry's claims about fairy tales, Regina says that she has no idea what she is talking about. She invites Emma to leave and the bail bondsman goes out to her car.
As she turns back, she sees Henry in his bedroom window, watching her. As Emma drives out of town, she realizes that Henry left his book on the car seat. She looks up and sees a wolf on the road ahead of her. She swerves to avoid it and hits the town marker, knocking Emma unconscious. The book opens to the pages of Geppetto at work.
Geppetto and his son Pinocchio are hard at work carving the enchanted tree into a magic wardrobe. In her chambers, Snow White insists that she cannot leave Prince Charming, but he insists that she has to be safe from the curse. As they embrace, Snow White realizes that the baby is coming. On the battlements, the dwarves stand guard and see a vast evil cloud approaching. Grumpy sounds the alarm as the curse approaches.
Emma wakes up and finds herself in a cell. Leroy is locked up in the cell next to her, and the handyman, Marco, tells him not to give Emma grief. Marco comments that he does not have any children. Sheriff Graham releases Leroy and suggests that Emma was drunk on the mayor's cider.
Regina arrives and is surprised to see Emma in the jail cell, and tells Graham that Henry has run away again. Emma offers to help and they take her to Henry's bedroom. She checks the computer and confirms that he made a credit card payment to a birth-mother tracking site using a credit card belonging to Mary Margaret Blanchard, his teacher. Mary Margaret is just dismissing her class when Regina and Emma arrive.
The teacher insists that she knew nothing about Henry's actions and claims that he stole her credit card. Angry, Regina realizes that Mary Margaret gave Henry the fairy tale book, and the teacher defends herself, saying that he is a special child. The mayor storms off and Emma talks to Mary Margaret, who says that Henry needed the book so that he could have hope of a happy ending. Emma realizes that the teacher knows where Henry is, and Mary Margaret suggests that she check Henry's castle.
As Snow White is in labor, Prince Charming assures her that the wardrobe is almost finished. Geppetto enters and says that it is finished, but Doc the dwarf warns that they cannot move Snow White because it is too close to the baby's delivery.
In the forest, the Evil Queen and her retinue of black knights ride toward the castle.
Snow White gives birth to her daughter and remembers that the wardrobe will only work for one person. The Prince realizes that their plan has failed and hears the invading force attacking the castle. Snow White tells him to take the baby to the wardrobe and hopes that Emma will come back for them. She says goodbye to her daughter, and the Prince takes her and a sword with him. He fights his way past two of the black knights but is wounded in the process. Finally he gets to the wardrobe and places Emma inside. As he seals the door, more knights arrive and kill him. They open the wardrobe doors but discover that the baby is gone. Badly wounded, the Prince sees that his daughter escaped to safety.
Emma tracks Henry to a playground castle structure and returns his book to him. He admits that he hoped that when he brought Emma there, things would change and the final battle would begin. Henry figures that she is pushing him away because she feels guilty, and that he knows Emma gave him away to give him his best chance.
Emma insists that she is a real person and no savior, but admits that she wanted him to have his best chance. Henry asks her to stay for one week to prove that he is not crazy, saying that his life sucks with Regina. Emma tells him that his life is nothing compared to hers, and her parents abandoned her on a freeway and her foster family sent her back when she was 3. Henry insists that she went through the wardrobe and appeared on the freeway, and her real parents tried to save her from the curse, but Emma does not believe him.
Snow White finds Prince Charming and pleads with him to come back to her. She kisses him but he does not move. The Evil Queen enters and says that in a few minutes, Snow White will remember nothing and that it is her personal happy ending.
The Queen's knights tell her that the baby is gone and Snow White smiles, saying that the Evil Queen will lose and good will always win. The Evil Queen laughs as the roof shatters as a vast vortex sucks everything up, and says that they are going to somewhere absolutely horrible, where the only happy ending will be hers.
In Storybrooke, Emma brings Henry back to Regina and he runs inside. The mayor thanks her and notes that Henry seems to like Emma. Emma admits that when she blew out the candle on her birthday cupcake, she made a wish that she would not be alone on her birthday.
Regina says that Emma should not try to come back into Henry's life, because she has raised the boy and he is her son now. She says that Emma has no legal right to Henry because she insisted on a closed adoption, and tells her to leave town or she will destroy her.
As Regina turns to go, Emma asks if she loves Henry. Regina says that she does and closes the door, and then goes to see Henry in his room. She takes his fairy tale book with her and goes to a mirror, studying it intently.
Henry looks out his window toward the town clock.
Emma goes to a bed and breakfast run by Granny. She is complaining to her granddaughter, but is surprised when Emma wants to take a room. Granny eagerly agrees to give her a room. As Emma gives her name for the register, Mr. Gold comes in and comments on her lovely name. He takes a money vial from Granny and wishes Emma a lovely stay, and then leaves. Granny and her granddaughter explain that Mr. Gold owns the entire town, and then Granny gives Emma her key.
As Henry watches the clock, the hands move for the first time, meaning that Emma Swan's arrival has started to weaken the curse.
These are scenes that are included on Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season.)
"Meet Rumplestiltskin" (Scene 1)Edit
A guard enters the mines with a tray of food. In the distance laughter can be heard. The guard walks forward and is stopped by another guard who pulls a small twig out of the food; warning him what "he" could do with it. The laughter continues making the guard curious the other one tells him he has been doing it for two days. The guard places the food in the cell and before he leaves, Rumplestiltskin grabs him and tells him, "It has begun."
"Cradle" (Scene 9)Edit
Grumpy and Dopey are arguing in Emma's nursery. Prince Charming enters and asks them to leave so he can be with Snow White. As he approaches her, a blue bird flies from her hand. Asking her what is wrong, she replies "Nothing."
"Regina's Sheriff" (Scene 22)Edit
Emma leaves Regina's office and is surprised to see Sheriff Graham outside leaning on her car. Graham thinks she should stay at Granny's for the night due to Regina's drinks being strong. Emma disagrees and believes she is fine to drive and would pass a breathalyzer test. He agrees to let her go and she drives off.
Evil Queen: My gift to you...is this happy, happy day. For tomorrow, my real work begins. You've made your vows. Now I make mine. Soon, everything you love, everything all of you love, will be taken from you forever. And out of your suffering will arise my victory. I shall destroy your happiness if it is the last thing I do.
Snow White: What do you know?
Rumplestiltskin: The Queen has created a powerful curse, and it's coming. Soon you'll all be in a prison, just like me, only worse. For your prison, all of our prisons, will be time. For time will stop and we will be trapped someplace horrible where everything we hold dear, everything we love, will be ripped from us while we suffer for all eternity, while the Queen celebrates victorious at last...No more happy endings.
Grumpy: A tree? Our fate rests on a tree? Let's get back to the fighting thing.
Mary Margaret Blanchard: As we build our birdhouses, remember what you're making is a home, not a cage. The bird is free and will do what it will. This is for them, not us. They're loyal creatures. If you love them and they love you, they will always find you.
Emma Swan: How's a book supposed to help?
Mary Margaret: What do you think stories are for? These stories - the classics. There's a reason we all know them. There a way for us to deal with our world. A world that doesn't always make sense.
Mary Margaret: Look, I gave the book to him because I want Henry to have the most important thing anyone can have: hope. Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.
Blue Fairy: The enchantment is indeed powerful, but—all power has its limits. And this tree can protect only one.
Snow White: We have to believe she'll come back for us. We have to give her her best chance.
Prince Charming: (to Emma) Find us.
The Evil Queen: Oh, don't worry, dear. In a few moments you won't remember you knew him. Let alone loved him.
Snow White: Why did you do this?
The Evil Queen: Because this is my happy ending.
Snow White: She got away. You're going to lose. I know that now. Good will always win.
Snow White: Where are we going?
The Evil Queen: Somewhere horrible. Absolutely horrible. A place where the only happy ending will be mine.
- This is the only episode to not include a titlecard. Instead, it features four slides that set the premise for the series.
- Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were inspired by "The Song Remains the Same" by Led Zeppelin to create the Pilot's opening scene.
- One of the people in Henry Mills's e-mail inbox is Damon, a reference to Damon Lindelof; one of the people involved in the conception of Once Upon a Time.
- When Emma's car crashes into the "Welcome to Storybrooke" sign, pictures from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are seen in the book as the pages begin to turn on their own.
- In the original script, Emma was named Anna.
- When Henry persuades Emma to bring him back to Storybrooke, a baby blanket can be seen lying on a chair in the background. This is likely the blanket Granny was knitting as the allies organized a plan to take down the Queen.
- The key that Granny gives Emma has a picture of a swan on it; a reference to Emma's last name.
- Mary Margaret receives not an apple from her student at school, but a pear.