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Emma: Then why doesn't everybody just leave?
Henry: They can't. If they try, bad things happen.
Emma Swan and Henry Mills src

The Storybrooke Town Line is a Storybrooke location on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the first episode of the first season.


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During First Curse

After Regina casts the Dark Curse, she and most of the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest are transported to a Land Without Magic, in the newly created town of Storybrooke. Once Storybrooke takes form, its town line also comes into existence, while two strangers, Kurt and his son Owen, are camping inside the town's boundaries. They enter town seeking refugee until their broken car is fixed, Regina gradually bonds with Owen, even suggesting to Kurt that he and his son can start new lives in Storybrooke. Kurt refuses, leading Regina to concoct a way to keep him and Owen from leaving, but Kurt discovers Regina's darker intentions and attempts to flee town with his son. He nearly drives past the town line, but Sheriff Graham's police car blocks his car. Kurt then allows himself to be arrested by Graham, while urging Owen to escape Storybrooke on foot. Regina stops the boy, reminding him that he once wished to stay in town, but a terrified Owen admits he never wanted it like this. Seeing how scared Owen is, Regina lets him go. A short time later, Owen leads police officers to the town line in search of his father, though Storybrooke's border is invisible to him from the outside. Inside the town line, Regina watches as Owen attempts to convince the police to keep looking, but the officers have already given up. ("Welcome to Storybrooke")

Sometime after this, Regina grows restless and bored with her life in Storybrooke. With some inspiration from Dr. Hopper, she comes to realize meeting Owen gave her happiness, and having a child will give her life more meaning. Regina asks Mr. Gold to procure a child for her to adopt, and after he has found a proper match for her in Boston, she leaves town for the adoption agency. Since she is the caster of the Dark Curse, crossing the town line has no magical consequence for her. Regina returns to town with an infant boy, Henry, who she later discovers is the son of the curse savior, leading her to leave town again for Boston to give the child back to the adoption agency. She changes her mind at the last moment, having grown to love Henry as her own son despite knowing who his birth mother is, and arrives back to Storybrooke from Boston with him. ("Save Henry")

Ten years later, Henry learns the truth about the curse and Regina's part in it, after receiving a magical book from his schoolteacher. Believing only the savior can free the townspeople from the curse, he skips out of town to look for Emma. Guided by Henry, Emma is persuaded into driving him back to Storybrooke. She drops him off at Regina's house, and following a brief conversation with Regina, she hops into her car to make the return drive to Boston. As Emma steadily approaches the town line, she notices Henry "accidentally" left his book in her car. When she refocuses her gaze on the road, Emma is shocked to see a wolf in her car's path, so she quickly slams on the breaks and swerves the car. Her car misses the wolf, but hits the town welcome sign, before she herself passes out at the wheel. ("Pilot")

Pregnant and alone, Ashley signs adoptions papers to Mr. Gold for her unborn child, but after getting life advice from Emma, she tries to escape town to have the baby in Boston. In Ruby's car, Ashley drives to the town line, but intense contractions keep her from continuing on. Later, when Emma and Henry find Ashley in a field near the road, they promptly rush her to the town hospital, where she gives birth. ("The Price of Gold")

Unable to convince Michael to be a father to his children, whom he didn't know about until after their mother's death, Emma has no choice but to send Ava and Nicholas to the child care system in Boston. During the drive out of Storybrooke, Emma's car breaks down. She calls Michael since he is a mechanic, but after he arrives, she attempts one last time to change his mind. Much to Emma's relief, Michael finally agrees to take the children in. By nighttime, Emma bumps into Henry on the street. Their conversation is cut short by the rumble of an approaching motorcyle ridden by a stranger, who has just come to Storybrooke from the town line. ("True North")

Accepting that David and she don't belong together, Kathryn decides to pursue law school in Boston. That night, as Kathryn is driving towards the town line, she gets into a car crash, before being kidnapped by an unknown assailant. Her empty car, with a deployed air bag, is later found on the road by a gym teacher, who notifies the Sheriff Swan about it. ("What Happened to Frederick", "Dreamy", "The Stranger")

Since Mr. Gold refuses to help Emma with her custody case against Regina, she seeks August's assistance instead. On his motorcycle, August takes Emma out of town to a setting all too familiar to her, the woods where she was abandoned as an infant. He tries to make her believe in magic, and that she must save the townspeople from Regina's curse, but Emma doesn't want responsibility for everyone else's happiness. Returning to Storybrooke on her own, Emma packs her things, intending to leave town forever. She then drives her car to Regina's house, and phones Henry, requesting to speak with him. When he arrives, Emma asks if he would like to leave Regina and come live with her. Henry agrees, to which she instructs him to put on his safety belt. After he does, Emma peels her car off the curb, telling him that they are leaving Storybrooke. ("The Stranger")

Only as the car nears Storybrooke's border, Henry realizes Emma intends for the both of them to leave town now. He insists she can't, not when she hasn't saved everyone from the curse yet, but Emma asserts she only cares about saving him. When she shows no inkling of stopping the car, Henry grabs the wheel, forcing the car into a ditch. He begs her to reconsider because her family is there, and she still needs to break the curse and bring back happy endings. Emma relents, deciding to let Henry return to Regina for now, while she consults Archie about the custody case. Archie warns that her case isn't going well, especially since she has no proof Regina is a bad mother. Furthermore, since Emma's arrival, Henry has been acting out, and the court will not rule in Emma's favor because of this. From this talk, Emma realizes the disputes between her and Regina are doing most harm to Henry, and to end it, she must leave town. Henry is unable to change her mind, but after seeing the apple turnover Regina gave Emma, he eats it, to prove to her that the curse is real. ("An Apple Red as Blood")

Attempting to make amends with Mary Margaret, David apologizes for screwing up, and tells her about his plans to leave for Boston, unless she convinces him otherwise. Mary Margaret, however, says nothing in response. After the true love potion is stolen by Mr. Gold, Emma is left with no hope of saving Henry from his coma, until she accidentally uses true love's kiss to revive him and break the curse. As the curse comes undone, David is in the midst of driving out of town, until he receives a surge of his pre-curse memories. Slamming on the breaks, he turns to look in the direction of the town, and eventually, he makes his way back into Storybrooke, reuniting with Mary Margaret. ("A Land Without Magic")



Ever since Storybrooke appears in the Land Without Magic, crossing its town line is not easy. Most of the time, for a reason or another, something prevents people from either leaving or entering town.

During First Curse

When someone attempts to leave Storybrooke, something always prevents the person from actually leaving:

  • Ruby desires to leave for Boston, but her grandmother suffers a heart attack that keeps her in town. ("Pilot")
  • Emma crashes her car against the Storybrooke welcome sign after seeing a wolf on the road. ("Pilot")
  • Ashley attempts to escape out of town to Boston so she can keep her baby, but goes into labor before exiting the border. ("The Price of Gold")
  • Kathryn applied to a law school in Boston and decides to move there alone, but is kidnapped by Mr. Gold before she makes it out. ("What Happened to Frederick")
  • Emma is forced to take orphan siblings Ava and Nicholas to Boston and place them into the foster care system, but her car breaks down on the drive out of Storybrooke. ("True North")

However, certain people can leave town.

People who are native to the Fairy Tale Land (or descendants of Fairy Tale Land natives) are able to enter town, regardless of how they got to this world.

After First Curse

After the curse is broken, crossing the town line becomes possible. However, due to Mr. Gold bringing magic to town, the price is that when someone crosses the border, they lose their memories of their past lives and are left with only their curse memories.

  • Mr. Clark is pushed out by Leroy in an experiment to see what will happen if someone crosses the town line, and he suffers memory loss. ("We Are Both")
  • Belle falls over the border when she is shot by Hook and she loses her memories. ("The Outsider")

For people who were not cursed, though, leaving town is not a problem.

  • Regina states that as neither she, Cora, nor Hook were victims of the curse, they would not lose their memories if they crossed the town line. ("Manhattan")

However, this also means outsiders can now enter town.

As discovered by Mr. Gold, pouring a memory potion on an object of great sentimental value to someone's Enchanted Forest counterpart will turn said object into a talisman that will allow them to cross the town line while keeping their memories intact.

  • Mr. Gold tests this on Smee by dumping memory potion on his hat and pushing him across the border with it.
  • Mr. Gold later uses it on his son's shawl and wears it as he crosses out of town. ("The Outsider")

Mother Superior creates a memory potion that restores the lost memories if drunk from an object of sentimental value, using among other ingredients a strand of Pinocchio's hair due to him being a restored Enchanted Forest counterpart.

During Second Curse

Following Zelena's orders, her flying monkeys guard the town line, carrying away and turning anyone who attempts to leave into a Flying Monkey themselves.

After Second Curse

Elsa creates a giant ice wall around Storybrooke so nobody can leave until she finds her sister, Anna. However, she is later unable to remove it due to Ingrid's magical influence on the wall. ("White Out")

  • Hook tries to break through the ice wall with his hook, but the ice magic is strong and makes the wall unbreakable.
  • The ice wall appears on the sea when escaping by boat starts to be considered an option.[1] ("Fall")

After Ingrid's death, Elsa manages to destroy the ice wall, but Ingrid's lingering magic has placed a protection spell on the town line, preventing those who leave from returning. ("Heroes and Villains")

  • Robin Hood, Roland and Marian (Zelena in disguise) cross the town line with money and a map given to them by Regina in order to save Marian from the freezing curse set on her by Ingrid. ("Heroes and Villains") Despite his leaving Storybrooke, both Regina and Emma are of the impression that it is still possible for Robin to contact Regina from outside Storybrooke. ("Darkness on the Edge of Town")
  • Mr. Gold crosses the town line when Belle commands him to using his dagger. He then heads to New York City. ("Heroes and Villains")
  • Emma and Regina leave town to find Lily and rescue Robin Hood from Zelena. ("Lily")

Using the Sorcerer's scroll, entering Storybrooke becomes possible.

After Third Curse

Due to a curse of unknown nature, when someone tries to leave Storybrooke, the earth beneath them crumbles and they are turned into a tree. ("The Price")

  • Dopey is forced out to test what happens when he crosses town line, and he turns into a tree as a result. ("The Price")
    • The dwarves later find a way to free Dopey from his tree form. ("The Other Shoe")

After Emma lost the darkness inside her and Hook died, the curse disappears from the town line, allowing everyone to cross it whenever they want to. ("Only You", "An Untold Story")

After she arrived in town, the Evil Queen puts a powerful protection spell on the town line. Each time people try to cross it, a magical barrier appears and stops them. ("A Bitter Draught")

  • Robin of Locksley steals ingredients from Regina's vault for Zelena to create a potion that will drain the magic from the protection spell, allowing them to leave town. However, as Regina did not have all of the necessary ingredients to break the protection spell, the potion failed. ("Ill-Boding Patterns")

Regina later manages to break the Evil Queen's protection spell. ("Mother's Little Helper")


On-Screen Notes


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