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This article focuses on the story.
For the episode, see "The Apprentice (Episode)".
For the Camelot characters, see Sorcerer and the Apprentice.

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice", also known as "Der Zauberlehrling", is a poem featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1797. The poem is a ballad in fourteen stanzas.

Traditional Plot

The poem begins as an old sorcerer departs his workshop, leaving his apprentice with chores to perform. Tired of fetching water by pail, the apprentice enchants a broom to do the work for him – using magic in which he is not yet fully trained. The floor is soon awash with water, and the apprentice realizes that he cannot stop the broom because he does not know how.

The apprentice splits the broom in two with an axe, but each of the pieces becomes a whole new broom and takes up a pail and continues fetching water, now at twice the speed. When all seems lost, the old sorcerer returns, quickly breaks the spell and saves the day. The poem finishes with the old sorcerer's statement that powerful spirits should only be called by the master himself.

Show Adaptation

  • Contrary to the poem, the Apprentice does not have to do chores. Instead of that, his mission is to protect a magical item created by his master.

Characters Featured

Original Character Adapted as First Featured in
The Apprentice The Apprentice "The Apprentice"
The old sorcerer Merlin "Lily"

Items Featured

Original Item Adapted as First Featured in
Enchanted broom Magic broom "The Apprentice"


  • This story was featured in the 1940 Disney film Fantasia, and was the only one to make a return in Fantasia 2000. Mickey uses the hat of the Sorcerer to animate the brooms.
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