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This show is a very big hit -- the kind that runs ten years or more, if everyone involved wants it to. I hope it does!
—Jane Espenson src

Jane Espenson is a writer and consulting producer for ABC's Once Upon a Time and a co-creator for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.


Early life

Espenson grew up in Ames, Iowa. As a teenager, Espenson found out that M*A*S*H accepted spec scripts without promise of payment or future work. Though she was not an established writer at the time, she planned to write her first episode. She recalls, "It was a disaster. I never sent it. I didn't know the correct format. I didn't know the address of where to send it, and then I thought, they can't really hire me until I finish junior high anyway."


While Espenson was studying computer science and linguistics as a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, she submitted several spec scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation as part of a script submission program open to amateur writers; Espenson has referred to the program as the "last open door of show business."

In 1992 she won a spot in the Disney Writing Fellowship, which led to work on a number of sitcoms, including ABC's comedy Dinosaurs and Touchstone Television's short-lived Monty. She wrote the episode "The Principal's Interest" for Monty in 1994. She wrote the fourth season Dinosaurs episodes "Driving Miss Ethyl" and "Variations on a Theme Park".

In 1995 she wrote the episode "The Age of Reason" for the short-lived situation comedy Me and the Boys.

In the 1995 to 1996 television season she realized her dream of writing for Star Trek. She wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fourth-season episode "Accession". She also wrote a late first-season episode of the thriller series Nowhere Man entitled "Zero Minus Ten".

She had her first staff role on a television show in the 1996 to 1997 season. She was a story editor and writer for the first season of the situation comedy Something so Right. She wrote the episodes "Something About Jack's Ex", "Something About Thanksgiving", "Something About a Silver Anniversary", and "Something About Secrets & Rules". The show was renewed for a second season but Espenson left the crew at the close of the first season.

In the 1997 to 1998 television season she joined the staff of Ellen as a writer and story editor for the fifth season. She wrote the episodes "Like a Virgin" and "Womyn Fest".

Espenson decided to switch from comedic to dramatic writing and applied for a position at Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She joined Joss Whedon's Mutant Enemy Productions in Fall 1998 as an executive story editor and writer for the third season of Buffy. Espenson made her writing debut with the third-season episode "Band Candy". She co-wrote the episode "Gingerbread" with Thania St. John. She wrote the late season episode "Earshot". The episode featured a student with a loaded rifle and was held back from airing because of the Columbine High School shootings until Fall 1999.

She was promoted to Co-Producer for the fourth season of Buffy in Fall 1999. She wrote for five more episodes: "The Harsh Light of Day"; "Pangs"; "Doomed" with David Fury and Marti Noxon; "A New Man"; and "Superstar". She also wrote the episode "Rm w/a Vu" for the first season Buffy spin-off series Angel during the 1999 to 2000 season.

She was promoted again to Producer for the fifth season in Fall 2000. She wrote for a further five episodes: "The Replacement"; "Triangle"; "Checkpoint" with Douglas Petrie; "I Was Made to Love You"; and "Intervention". "Triangle" and "Intervention" are considered successful humorous episodes of the show. She wrote a second Angel episode during the 200 to 2001 season "Guise Will Be Guise".

She took up the role of supervising producer for the sixth season and wrote for a further four episodes: "After Life"; "Flooded" with Petrie; "Life Serial" with Fury; and "Doublemeat Palace".

She was promoted once more to co-executive producer for the seventh and final season in Fall 2002. She wrote the episodes "Same Time, Same Place", "First Date", and "Storyteller". She co-wrote the episode "Conversations with Dead People" with Drew Goddard and the episode "Sleeper" with David Fury. Her last episode as a writer was the series penultimate episode, "End of Days", which she co-wrote with Petrie. In 2003 Espenson and Goddard won the Hugo Award for Best Short Dramatic Presentation for "Conversations with Dead People". She wrote or co-wrote twenty-three episodes over the course of the series run.

In the 2002 to 2003 season she also wrote an episode for Buffy creator Joss Whedon's new show Firefly. She scripted the episode "Shindig" for the short-lived space Western.

In the 2003 to 2004 season she was a Co-Executive Producer for the fourth season of Gilmore Girls. She wrote the episodes "Chicken or Beef?" and "The Reigning Lorelai". She did not return for the series fifth season. She also wrote an episode for the new teen drama The O.C. entitled "The Gamble".

In the 2004 to 2005 season she became a Co-Executive Producer for the second season of action series Tru Calling. The show starred Eliza Dushku, who Espenson had written for in a recurring role on Buffy. She wrote the episode "In the Dark". The show was canceled after its second season. In summer 2005 she was a Co-Executive Producer and writer for the Fox crime drama The Inside. The show was created by Tim Minear, who had worked with Espenson on Angel and Firefly. She wrote the episodes "Skin and Bone", "Gem", "Aidan", and "Everything Nice". The show was canceled after completing its first season.

In the 2005 to 2006 season she was a Co-Executive Producer and writer for new situation comedy Jake in Progress. She wrote the episode "The Two Jakes". The show aired as a midseason replacement and was pulled from schedules before Espenson's episode aired.

In the 2006 to 2007 season she joined the crew of SyFy's successful science fiction drama Battlestar Galactica as a writer for the third season. She scripted the episodes "The Passage" and "Dirty Hands" (with Anne Cofell Saunders). She also served as a Consulting Producer and writer for the midseason replacement Andy Barker, P.I.". She co-wrote the episode "Fairway, My Lovely" with Alex Herschlag for the short-lived Detective Comedy. She also wrote a two part episode for the animated series The Batman entitled "The Joining". In summer 2007 she wrote an episode for the second season of the SyFy science fiction drama Eureka entitled "Family Reunion".

She joined the production staff of Battlestar Galacitica as a Co-Executive Producer for the feature-length special Battlestar Galactica: Razor in 2007. She also served as a Co-Executive Producer for the related web series Battlestar Galactica: Razor Flashbacks. She remain a Co-Executive Producer for the fourth and final season in 2008. She wrote the episodes "Escape Velocity" and "The Hub" for the first part of the season. She was an Executive Producer and writer for the web series Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy in the break between the first and second parts of the final season. She returned as a Co-Executive Producer and writer for the second half of the fourth season in 2009. She wrote a fifth episode "Deadlock".

She served as a Consulting Producer and writer for Joss Whedon's new science fiction drama Dollhouse during the rest of the 2008 to 2009 season. The show again starred Eliza Dushku. It aired as a midseason replacement and Espenson co-wrote the episode "Haunted" with Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon (Joss' brother). She also wrote the episode "Briar Rose". The show was renewed for a second season but Espenson did not return.

In the 2009 to 2010 television development season she co-wrote the pilot Warehouse 13 with D. Brent Mote. She was also a Co-Executive Producer for the feature-length special Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, which aired in early 2010 after being produced in summer 2009. Warehouse 13 was ordered to series by the SyFy network but Espenson did not return to work on the rest of the first season. The show was a success for the network and was renewed for a second season.

Instead she rejoined SyFy as a Co-Executive Producer for their Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica. She joined the show after a full season had been ordered and made her debut with the second episode "The Rebirth". The show's co-creator Ronald D. Moore initially ran the writer's room. Espenson wrote the teleplay for the episode "Gravedancing" from a story that she co-wrote with Michael Angeli. She was made the show runner and promoted to Executive Producer when Moore left the project. She assumed this role from the eighth episode "Ghosts in the Machine" onwards. She stood down as Show Runner in November 2009, handing over responsibility to Kevin Murphy. The show premiered in early 2010 to a mixed response. It was dropped from the SyFy schedule after the ninth episode "End of the Line" aired in March 2010. The remaining eight produced episodes were show in fall 2010, after the show's cancellation had been announced. Espenson co-wrote the series finale "Apotheosis" with Murphy.

In 2010 she wrote freelance for the new HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones. She wrote the sixth episode of the first season entitled "A Golden Crown". The episode aired in Spring 2011.

In Summer 2010 she was a Co-Executive Producer and writer for the British-American co-production Torchwood: Miracle Day. The miniseries was co-funded by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the American Starz Network as a follow-up to the two seasons of Torchwood already produced by the BBC. Espenson wrote the episodes "Dead of Night", "The Categories of Life", and "Immortal Sins". She co-wrote the teleplay for the episode "End of the Road" with Ryan Scott from a story by Scott. She co-wrote the series finale "The Blood Line" with the show runner Russell T. Davies. To tie in with the launch of Miracle Day in summer 2011, Espenson and Scott collaborated on the Starz produced 2011 Torchwood webseries entitled Torchwood: Web of Lies, which starred Eliza Dushku. Following the broadcast of each episode of "Miracle Day" on Starz, Espenson wrote a blog on AfterElton mixing her reaction to the episode with behind the scenes information on the devising process.

In 2011, she developed a remake of the Supernatural Detective series Randall and Hopkirik (Deceased) with her Buffy colleague Drew Greenberg for the SyFy network. She told io9 that "The version we're proposing is quite different in tone and content from the original." She added "We took the basic premise of a Ghost Detective and his still-living partner and invented our own take on it." The pilot was not picked up. She then created the original web series Husbands, with Brad Bell. The series centered on a newly married gay couple and premiered in Fall 2011.




Consulting Producer

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