"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 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 world 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 with a blond woman 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 than 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 wound him severely. 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's arrival has started to weaken the curse.
These scenes are included on Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season.
"Meet Rumplestiltskin" (Scene 1)
This was the original opening scene of the episode.
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)
An extended version of the scene where Snow White and Prince Charming talk about Rumplestiltskin. 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, the scene proceeds as it does in the actual episode, with a blue bird flying from her hand, and him asking her what is wrong, but she replies, "Nothing."
"Regina's Sheriff" (Scene 22)
Emma leaves Regina's house 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.
- This is the only episode to not include a title card. Instead, it features four slides that set the premise for the series.
- This episode has the highest ratings of the entire series.
- MUSICAL INSPIRATION: Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were inspired by "The Song Remains the Same" by Led Zeppelin to create this episode's opening scene.
- Some shots of the opening scene were filmed from a helicopter, even though Mark Mylod, the director, was afraid of flying.
- As the kiss scene was being filmed, real snow began to fall. That scene was filmed on April 7.
- The opening scene features the ending of the fairytale, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves", to show that there is more that goes on beyond the happy ending.
- The wedding scene was filmed during the spring of 2011, with 200-plus fairytale costumed extras. More costumed extras were added with visual effects.
- Emma's introduction scene was written to subvert expectations and make her look like a woman who is looking for love, and then twist the story into what is to come, as Emma has a lot more going on.
- The birds that Snow White and her Storybrooke counterpart set free were green birds that were CGIed blue in post production. These birds are actually lovebirds.
- OBSERVATIONS: Snow White claims the Evil Queen poisoned an apple because she was "prettier than her". However, in "An Apple Red as Blood", this is revealed to be untrue, and that the actual reason why the queen fed her the poisoned apple was because she blamed Snow White for the death of her fiance.
- While filming the scene where Emma and Henry are driving though Boston, the crew were on a tight schedule, and some of the shots were taken from moments where Jennifer Morrison and Jared S. Gilmore were being themselves and thinking they weren't actually filming.
- It was Robert Carlyle's idea that Rumplestiltskin should drop down from the ceiling in his cell.
- Mifflin Street, the address of Regina's house, is a shout-out to a street in Madison, Wisconsin, near the University of Wisconsin, which Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz both attended.
- Caitlin Ffrench, a fiber artist from East Vancouver who made Emma's baby blanket, taught Beverley Elliott how to knit for Granny's filming scene at the war council table.
- REUSED FOOTAGE: Footage from the filming of the opening shot of the scene where Emma brings Henry home at night was reused for an establishing shot of Regina's house in the Season Six episode "Page 23" and the Season Seven episode "Is This Henry Mills?". The identical position of the curtains in the windows and the lighting behind them, the shadows on the walls and the open window on the second floor, are a dead giveaway.
- One of the people in Henry's e-mail inbox is Damon. a reference to Damon Lindelof. Although his name is not on the show, he was one of the people involved in the conception of Once Upon a Time.
- The first scene that was filmed for the show, was Mary Margaret teaching at school.
- Prince Charming was originally supposed to die in this episode, but the writers decided that it would be really difficult to continue with the show without him since they wanted Snow White to get her happy ending after all.
- Originally, real exploding glass was going to be used for the scene where the curse transports the Evil Queen and Snow White to Storybrooke, but the crew experienced a slight hitch during the shooting of this scene and forgot to film it.
- Mr. Gold regains his Enchanted Forest memories upon hearing Emma's name when he first meets her at the inn.
- ABANDONED IDEAS: The hospital scene with John Doe was originally the idea for the ending of episode two, but the show creators wanted to give the audience a sense of hope that Snow White and Prince Charming would be reunited.
- REUSED FOOTAGE: The close-up of the town clock seen when time starts moving in Storybrooke in this episode and "The Thing You Love Most" is reused in "A Land Without Magic", the Season Four episode "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and the Season Six finale "The Final Battle Part 2". In "A Land Without Magic" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town", the lighting has been changed to daylight and a cloud of magic has been digitally added to the former.
- OBSERVATIONS: "The Stranger" and the Season Two episode "Selfless, Brave and True" establish that time starts moving in Storybrooke on October 23, 2011, the same day that the show premiered. As seen in "Selfless, Brave and True"; this is proven when August's wooden state is triggered in Phuket at 8:15 A.M. on October 24 – the very same moment that Emma accepts the room key at 8:15 P.M. (the time zone in Phuket is 12 hours ahead of Maine's timezone).
- The Enchanted Forest flashbacks occur in various places of the overall timeline. (For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- The events of Prince Charming and Snow White sharing a true love's kiss occur after "A Land Without Magic" and before "Lost Girl".
- Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding occurs after the last scene of "The Cricket Game" and before "The New Neverland".
- The events of Snow White and Prince Charming paying a visit to Rumplestiltskin's dungeon occurs after the last scene of "The Price of Gold" where Rumplestiltskin is captured and immediately before "The Song in Your Heart".
- The crisis meeting occurs after the scene in "The Stranger" where Blue Fairy asks Geppetto to carve a magic wardrobe.
- The events of the Dark Curse whisking all of the Enchanted Forest occur after the scene in "The Thing You Love Most" where Regina enacts the Curse.
- The Evil Queen's glory against Snow White occurs after "Save Henry" where she talks to Rumplestiltskin in his dungeon.
- The Land Without Magic events of this episode occur after "Firebird", and before "The Thing You Love Most".
- The opening scenes of Prince Charming riding and awakening Snow White are reused in "A Land Without Magic" and "Lost Girl".
- The meaning of Prince Charming and Snow White's words, "I will always find you", is revealed in "Snow Falls".
- Snow White's claim that the Evil Queen is "not a queen anymore" refers to scenes in "The Cricket Game". The same episode explains the events that led the Queen into deciding to cast the Dark Curse.
- The move where Prince Charming throwing his sword over his head at the Evil Queen was used by Emma, his daughter, when she fought Maleficent in "A Land Without Magic" and by Regina against the Count of Monte Cristo in "A Bitter Draught".
- How Emma became a bounty hunter, and the origin of her red leather jacket, is revealed in "Firebird".
- Emma compliments Ryan, says not to stop her if she's wrong, and then tells him his criminal actions, prompting him to run away, but Emma follows him by walking calmly through the traffic and boots his car before he can get away; just like Cleo Fox did with Emma in "Firebird".
- The events surrounding Henry's birth are explored in "Tallahassee" and "The Heart of the Truest Believer".
- The Blue Fairy claims the carved wardrobe can only protect one person from the Dark Curse, but this is proven otherwise in "The Stranger".
- Emma's "superpower" of knowing when people are lying is referenced again in a number of episodes, including "True North" and "The Evil Queen".
- Snow White discovers she is pregnant in "Best Laid Plans".
- Snow White's claim that the Evil Queen poisoned an apple is explored in "An Apple Red as Blood".
- The origin of the unicorn mobile in Emma's nursery is revealed in "Best Laid Plans".
- The events surrounding Rumplestiltskin's acquisition of his ability to see the future are explained in "Manhattan", and the events that led to him being imprisoned are revealed in "The Price of Gold".
- Rumplestiltskin foresees that after Emma finds her parents, the final battle will begin. The final battle is fought in "The Final Battle Part 1" and "The Final Battle Part 2".
- Rumplestiltskin's obsession with knowing the name of Snow White's unborn child, and why he needed it, is revealed in "Queen of Hearts".
- Rumplestiltskin's habit of treating names as important is referred to again in "That Still Small Voice", "Queen of Hearts", "Manhattan", "The Apprentice" and "Changelings".
- Rumplestiltskin first met Snow White during the events of "7:15 A.M.", and Prince Charming during the events of "The Shepherd".
- The reason Prince Charming thinks his child will be a boy is revealed in "Lady of the Lake".
- Snow White first met the dwarves during the events of "7:15 A.M.", the Blue Fairy during the events of "The Queen Is Dead", and Red Riding Hood and Granny during the events of "Red-Handed".
- Snow White and Prince Charming first met Jiminy Cricket in "Heart of Darkness".
- Regina talks about how she adopted Henry when he was three weeks old. The events surrounding the adoption are shown in "Save Henry".
- The events surrounding Regina "becoming" mayor, as she puts it, are explored in "Welcome to Storybrooke".
- The identity of Henry's father, and why he does not know about Henry, is revealed in "Tallahassee".
- Henry's father is brought up again in "True North".
- Emma is startled by another wolf on the road in "Lily".
- The sign that Emma crashes into, has been repaired by the time of "Dark Waters".
- When Emma crashes her car at the town border, Henry's storybook turns pages in the breeze. One page includes the Caterpillar from "Alice in Wonderland". Wonderland is explored in "Hat Trick" and "Queen of Hearts".
- The events surrounding Geppetto and Pinocchio's construction of the magic wardrobe are further explored in "The Stranger".
- The scene of Mary Margaret leading her students in building birdhouses is used again in "Welcome to Storybrooke".
- Unbeknownst to Mary Margaret, this isn't the first time she sees Emma after she was forced to give her up. The first time it happened was in "Awake", but she does not remember it due to drinking a memory potion.
- How Henry received the storybook from Mary Margaret is detailed in "Going Home ".
- The scenes of Snow White giving birth, Prince Charming putting Emma in the wardrobe, and the Evil Queen enacting the curse are used again in "The Stranger" and "A Land Without Magic".
- The circumstances surrounding how Emma was found as an infant are revealed in "The Stranger".
- What happened after the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest were brought to the Land Without Magic, is explored in "Welcome to Storybrooke".
- The Storybrooke explanation for the John Doe's presence in the hospital is given in "The Stranger".
- John Doe awakens from his coma in "Snow Falls"
- Mr. Gold regains his Enchanted Forest memories upon hearing Emma's name when he first meets her at the inn. Unbeknownst to him, however, the same thing happened to him in "Awake", but he does not remember it because he drank a memory potion afterward.
- Mr. Gold's powerful status in town is part of a deal he made with Regina in the Enchanted Forest in "The Thing You Love Most".
- At the exact moment Emma decides to stay in Storybrooke for a week, this has ramifications for another person who is halfway across the world. These events are alluded to in "The Stranger", and further explored in "Selfless, Brave and True".
- The priest at Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding is dressed in robes similar to the robes worn by Christian deacons.
- This episode contains a number of other references to Religious works. See the list of Religious references for more.
- The time on the Storybrooke clock tower is frozen at 8:15, a reference to Oceanic Flight 815 from Lost.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode is a rendition of the "Snow White" fairytale, focusing on the prince awakening Snow White from a curse, and the queen attending Snow White's wedding.
- Also included are the seven dwarves from the same fairytale.
- This episode features the ugly duckling from the titular fairytale, Red Riding Hood and her grandmother from the "Little Red Riding Hood" fairytale, Pongo from The Hundred and One Dalmatians story, Geppetto, Pinocchio, the talking Cricket and the Fairy with turquoise hair from The Adventures of Pinocchio, and also Rumpelstiltskin from the "Rumpelstiltskin" fairytale.
- 🍎 APPLES: Regina offers Emma a glass of apple cider, a reference to the poisoned apple from the "Snow White" fairytale. In addition, a bowl of red apples is sitting on the table in her study.
- 🍎 APPLES: Snow White (erroneously) claims the Evil Queen poisoned an apple because she was prettier than her, a reference to the "Snow White" fairytale.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: This is the first episode to feature Emma's unicorn mobile, which is hanging over her baby crib. The unicorn is a legendary creature from worldwide mythology.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: A small doll plushie of Red Riding Hood sits on the shelf of Emma's nursery.
- Rumplestiltskin demands to know the name of Snow White and Prince Charming's unborn daughter. This is a reference to the "Rumplestiltskin" fairytale, where the titular character consents to give up his claim on the miller's daughter's unborn child if she can guess his name within three days.
- Geppetto is tasked with building the magic wardrobe, a reference to The Adventures of Pinocchio, where the character is a woodcarver. Similarly, Geppetto's cursed persona, Marco, is a carpenter, another reference to the novel.
- STORYBOOK CONTENT: When Emma's car crashes into the "Welcome to Storybrooke" sign, pages from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland stories in the storybook turn in the breeze.
- STORYBOOK CONTENT: Excerpts from the fairytale of "The Golden Bird" can be seen in Henry's storybook, next to the illustration of Snow White and Prince Charming, and on the pages opposite the excerpts from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. A short excerpt from the story also appears underneath an illustration as the pages of the book turn in the breeze.
- The same excerpt appears in dozens of episodes; read the trivia section in the article for Henry's storybook for more information and a transcript.
- When the Dark Curse approaches the Royal Castle, a dragon flies past the guard tower. The dragon is a mythological creature famous from European, Asian and Middle Eastern folklore.
- Regina stands before a mirror in her home and looks into it, a reference to the magic mirror from the "Snow White" fairytale.
- Granny runs a bed and breakfast, a reference to the fairytale of "Little Red Riding Hood", where the titular character's ailing grandmother is lying in bed and the titular character brings her food.
- Ruby drapes a red shawl around her head in a way reminiscent of a hood; a reference to the fairytale of "Little Red Riding Hood".
- ♫ MUSIC: When Emma enters the restaurant for her date with Ryan, "Chega De Ficar Remix" by Aaron Bingle plays in the background. The same tune can be heard when Emma enters the restaurant for her date with Walsh in the Season Three episode "New York City Serenade".
- During her date with Ryan, Emma says that images found on online dating sites could be "Stolen from the Victoria's Secret catalogue"; a reference to the popular lingerie retailer.
- ♫ MUSIC: During the chase scene between Emma and Ryan, "Howlin' For You" by The Black Keys plays in the background.
- A miniature reproduction of the famous sculpture Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss by the Italian neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova is sitting next to the armchair in Regina's study. Notice how Cupid's wings are missing from Regina's copy.
- BOOKS AS SET DRESSING: Some of the books included on the top left shelf of Regina's study are Spy by Ted Bell, A Game of Secrets by Thomas Wiseman, Rule by Proxy by Bruce Ducker, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and a book about Mother Theresa.
- PAUSE AND READ: The subject of one of the e-mails in Henry's inbox is "Zod", a reference to General Zod from the Superman comics.
- The glass coffin was carved out of a log that Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz found in the forest.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: On the door to Emma's apartment, it says "Cast a Spell", but it wasn't made for the show, it was already there when they came to the set. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were going to paint the door, but decided to keep it after reading that line.
- STORYBOOK CONTENT: The picture of Dorothy and the flying monkeys in Henry's storybook is "The Monkeys caught Dorothy in their arms and flew away with her", one of W. W. Denslow's illustrations from the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (link to page).
- STORYBOOK CONTENT: "The waiting maid sprang down first and Maid Maleen followed" from Little Brother & Little Sister and Other Tales By The Brothers Grimm (1917) (link to page) can be seen on the page opposite the illustration of the magic wardrobe. It depicts a scene from the Brothers Grimm fairytale "Maid Maleen".
- HIDDEN DETAILS: Henry's desktop wallpaper is a green forest, a reference to the place where his family is from.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: In this episode, Mary Margaret receives not an apple from her student at school, but a pear. This was Ginnifer Goodwin's idea, as Snow White does not like apples (something that is confirmed by Mary Margaret in the Season Six episode "Street Rats").
- Ginnifer Goodwin, who portrays Snow White, owns a replica of the key used to lock baby Emma in the wardrobe.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: The inn room key Granny hands Emma has an ornament with an engraving of a swan.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: There is a Rubik's Cube on the table in Emma's apartment. Another one can be seen in Henry's room in "The Price of Gold". The writers put it there to connect mother and son in some way.
- REUSED PROPS: A navy officer doll near Emma's crib is later shown to be at the marketplace that Jefferson and Grace visit in "Hat Trick", and in Pinocchio's home in "The Stranger".
- REUSED PROPS: A hot air balloon toy is sitting on a shelf in Emma's nursery, which is meant to allude to other stories. The same toy is at the market that Jefferson and his daughter visit in "Hat Trick" and is also hanging over one of the beds in the Darling family nursery room in the Season Two episode "Second Star to the Right".
- ARTWORKS: In Regina's dining room, there is a framed picture called "The Van Mons Léon le Clerc pear." by the nineteenth century American horticulturist Charles Mason Hovey. The picture is from Hovey's guide book The Fruits of America Volume 1 (1852) (link to page), consisting of a series of illustrated prints originally published between 1847 and 1852.
- ARTWORKS: The picture hanging on the left side of the doorway in Regina's hallway is an illustration of a hawk moth by the English eighteenth century entomologist Moses Harris, from his book The Aurelian (link to page), first published in 1766. The original version of the book (and illustration) was published in black and white; Regina's picture is a colorized version.
- IT KEEPS MOVING: The same picture is hanging on the wall outside the room where Regina find's Cora's ghost (on the second floor) in the Season Three episode "Bleeding Through", and in a room outside Regina's hallway, on the first floor, in the Season Six episodes "The Savior" and "Murder Most Foul".
- ARTWORKS: The picture hanging on the right side of the doorway in Regina's hallway is Apocynum seu Fritillaria crassa monstrosa by the eighteenth century German botanist Johann Wilhelm Weinmann. The picture is from the first volume of Weinmann's florilegium Phytanthoza iconographia (link to page), published in eight volumes between 1737 and 1745. Fritillaria crassa is an old name for the plant Orbea variegata, a type of carrion flower.
- ARTWORKS: The picture over the fireplace in Regina's study is "Strige, detta Falco Civettino d'America. = Strix; sive Falco Noctuaformis ex America." (1766), an illustration of a northern hawk-owl from the first volume of Storia Naturale Degli Uccelli (Natural History of the Birds) (link to page), a work by the eighteenth century Italian physician and ornithologist Saverio Manetti. It was published in five volumes between 1767 and 1776 and was illustrated by Violante Vanni and Lorenzo Lorenzi.
- There's a picture of Ginnifer Goodwin's sister Melissa Goodwin Shepherd (a stop-motion animator on shows like Robot Chicken) in the school. It can be spotted behind Mary Margaret as she apologizes to Emma.
- REUSED PROPS: A miniature castle sitting on a shelf in Emma's nursery room in this episode and the Season Three episode "The Tower" is later sitting on top of a commode in Mr. Gold's pawnshop after the Dark Curse is broken, as first seen in the Season Two episode "We Are Both". The same prop is used for the miniature castle that the Sultan is playing with in the Season Six episode "Street Rats".
- REUSED PROPS: The mirror hanging on the wall in Regina's home can also be seen in Belle and Mr. Gold's bedroom in the Season Five episode "Swan Song".
- BRAND INFO: Henry's coat is a J.Crew Boys City Peacoat (currently unavailable). The costume department altered the coat for the show.
- USE IT AGAIN: Henry continues to wear this coat for many other episodes of the show.
- The green scarf worn by Archie in this episode and "The Thing You Love Most" belongs to Raphael Sbarge's daughter, who was nine years old at the time. He wore it "to say hi to her".
- BRAND INFO: Emma's boots are dark brown Women's Melissa Tall Lace Boots from FRYE.
- BRAND INFO: Graham's jacket, which he wears in every episode where he appears, is known as a B34/Sheriff leather jacket and was custom made by Vancouver's Ocean Drive Leather. It is available for purchase on the company's website, at a hefty sum:
- BRAND INFO: Mary Margaret is wearing a Gray Cashmere Cardigan and a Morgan Lace Tank top from Club Monaco (no longer available).
- USE IT AGAIN: The necklace the Evil Queen is wearing is also worn by her in the episodes "The Thing You Love Most", "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" and "Hat Trick". The necklace has also been worn by her serum counterpart in the Season Six episode "A Bitter Draught" and by her Storybrooke counterpart in the Season Six episode "Wish You Were Here".
- USE IT AGAIN: The ensemble Prince Charming is wearing when he wakes up Snow White from the sleeping curse is the same attire worn by his Storybrooke counterpart in the Season Seven episode "Leaving Storybrooke". Prince Charming wears the ensemble again in "A Land Without Magic".
- The opening scene, featuring Josh Dallas as Prince Charming on horseback, was filmed at Alouette Lake in British Columbia's Golden Ears Provincial Park.
- Waterfront Station in Vancouver (where production for Once Upon a Time was based) doubles as the bus station where Henry gets off the bus in Boston.
- The interior scene at the Boston restaurant was filmed at the Shore Club restaurant in Vancouver in March 2011, seven months before the Pilot aired. The "S" logo can be seen inside the elevator that Emma exits. The restaurant was closed down the following year.
- The scene where Emma drives through Boston, was filmed on Seymour Street, Vancouver, in late March 2011, whereas the scene where she arrives in Storybrooke, was filmed in March and early April 2011. The outdoor scenes in Storybrooke were filmed over 17–18 days.
- The classroom Mary Margaret is teaching in also doubles as a classroom in the 1984 fantasy film The NeverEnding Story.
- During Emma's date with Ryan, her left wrist has a flower tattoo (briefly glimpsed in this episode, but more visible in other episodes). When she opens the door for Henry, the tattoo is gone.
- When Emma and Henry arrive in Storybrooke, Steveston Village, which doubles as the town of Storybrooke on the show, has not been redressed for some of the shots. The following real-life Steveston business names appear on-screen: Pacific Net & Twine, Romania Country Bread Serenity, Nikaido and Splash. In addition, the prop sign on the building that doubles as Mr. Gold's pawnshop for exterior scenes has not been put up. However, in a different shot, the sign on Serenity is gone (but not replaced) and Nikaido has been transformed into Standard Clocks. In "The Thing You Love Most", the local businesses have been redressed and transformed. Pacific Net & Twine has become Atlantic Twine & Net, Romania Country Bread has become Storybrooke Country Bread, Serenity has become Modern Fashions and Splash has become Neighbors.
- After meeting Archie, Emma opens the car door to get back in and drive Henry home. On the door screen, a camera man's reflection is noticeable. A reflection of a curtain on the car window is also visible.
- Originally, Mr. Gold wasn't going to appear in the first episode, but the show creators included him in the episode after they fell in love with the character's counterpart, Rumplestiltskin.
- Emma's first name was Anna. The name was changed to Emma after the legal department told the show creators that the name did not "clear" – according to Adam Horowitz, it probably meant that someone named Anna Swan lived in the Boston area.
- Emma's arrival in Storybrooke took place after the Enchanted Forest council meeting. The scenes were later switched, with the arrival being shown first.
- When the war council is debating how to stop the Evil Queen's curse, the Woodcutter and his two children, Hansel and Gretel, were supposed to walk in with the enchanted tree along with the Blue Fairy.
- Sheriff Graham is an avid fan of eating pixie sticks. He also states he grew up in Maine, but picked up his accent from his parents.
- Emma is convinced by Sheriff Graham to not drive out of town after drinking Regina's apple cider and heads straight to the inn and checks into a room. Instead of realizing she still has Henry's storybook while driving out of town as it occurred in the actual episode, she sees the book in her gym bag after setting it down in her guest room and begins to flip through it.
- The Caterpillar makes a short cameo as Henry's computer screen saver.
- The Dark Curse is not black smoke, but a green mist.
- The Storybrooke Elementary School is a Catholic school. Mary Margaret is both a nun and a school teacher.
- Ryan's surname is Marlow. He was also originally based in New York with his wife and three children but then fled to Boston after his embezzlement charges.
- The castle is referred to as the "Royal Castle".
- Emma recalls the last days before the childbirth and being "holed up in a dusty jail cell" with "not a soul to help her".
- Emma recalls after she gave birth to Henry, she was only allowed to hold him for a moment ("a warm, soft, crying thing who'd looked up at her with cloudy eyes") before the nurse pulled him away from her.
|Finnish||"Kaiken alku"||"The Beginning"|
|French||"Il Était une Fois…"||"Once Upon a Time…"|
|German||"Das verlorene Happy End"||"The Lost Happy Ending"|
|Hungarian||"Új város"||"New Town"|
|Italian||"Mai più un lieto fine"||"No More Happy Endings"|
|Polish||"Dawno, dawno temu..."||"Once Upon a Time..."|