I’ve wanted to write this letter for a few days now, but I’ve not known where to begin. Perhaps the best place lies inherently in my reason for writing: On February 6, 2018, ABC announced that Once Upon a Time will not be returning this fall.
— Adam Horowitz (@AdamHorowitzLA) February 6, 2018
Initially, devastation consumed me when I saw the news. Once grew with me over its seven season run, after all. It began my freshman year of high school, and I’m now in my third year of college. Not having Once during my senior year next year has been a haunting thought since the news broke, but I’m constantly reminded of the gifts instilled in me by the show.
Once Upon a Time, since its inception in 2011, has given me unwavering hope. This may sound cliché because of the show’s focus on hope, but thanks to the creators, writers, actors, and everyone involved, the message poured off of the screen and truly nested in my heart in a time I needed it most. Week after week, I was shown that there is always a way to overcome obstacles, always a way to find your way back to family and lovers, always a reason to never give up.
Along with hope, Once sparked passion in me. I already wanted to be a creative writer before the show aired, but the amount of creativity in the show inspired me more than I can put into words. The catalogue of characters, realms of storytelling, archives, and timelines, to name a few, that comprise Once were jaw-dropping to me, since I was merely fourteen years old when it first premiered in 2011. The sheer complexity of it all was something for me to look up to, and it now shows in the stories and poems I write today.
Outside of personal instillations, the show has connected me with countless individuals, who, without this commonality, would have never crossed my path. These interactions range in depth – from a surprise chat with a barista at a local Starbucks to a large gathering of fans at the official Once Upon a Time conventions – but they all serve the same resolution: We are never alone, and there are always others who understand the love we have for the world of Once and its characters.
The connections transcend to those with cast members, as well. One of the many blessings I’ve received in regard to the show is the opportunity to attend the official Chicago convention the last two years. While there, I had the opportunity to meet cast members, get photographs with them, and get to know the individuals that bring the show to our screens every week. I never had a celebrity role model as a child, but now as an adult, I would easily say I look up to a majority, if not all, of the Once cast. They are all so kind and spread consistent love not only to their fans, but into the world in general. Now, I watch a vast amount of films and television shows specifically because I know a Once cast member is in it (iZombie, for example, has both Rose McIver and David Anders from Once).
All of the aforementioned things I have gained from Once only scratches the surface of what the show has actually given me. The final episodes coming up will be ones I will cherish eternally. While many people hark that the show should have ended after season 6, I welcomed season 7 with open arms and have zero regrets. The extension and exploration of Henry’s story as an adult has worked to the show’s advantage in my opinion, and I am loving that this season is allowing for proper closure for characters like Regina, Zelena, and Rumplestiltskin, while also introducing delightful characters like Alice and Drizella, who I have absolutely adored watching.
Once Upon a Time will live on in me for as long as I live, both physically, because I got “Once upon a time…” tattooed on my arm, and mentally, because in utmost sincerity it changed my life. As the days since the news broke pass by, my devastation is settling and my hope slowly returning. In Once terms, this is merely a happy beginning rather than an ending. While that seemed impossible for me to accept initially, I’m coming around.
My love for the show will carry on not only in my heart, but in the form of my undergraduate thesis which I have dedicated to the show. I will be researching and examining Once Upon a Time and its relation to the theoretical archive.
I stated at the beginning that I didn’t know how to begin this letter, or rather a profession of love as it’s become, but in all transparency I didn’t know how to end it either. The following iconic quote from Snow White fits this occasion best:
Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a powerful thing, but living with that kind of belief… That’s the most powerful thing of all.
With every ounce of love I have,
A forever changed person.