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Once Upon a Time Season 6 Will Drop Half-Season Storyline Arcs

ABC’s Once Upon a Time is moving away from the split-season storytelling template it has followed since Season 3.

Season 6 of the fairytale-inspired drama will spin “a 22-episode story as opposed to breaking it up into two [11-episode] halves,” co-creator Adam Horowitz shared on Saturday at an ATX Television Festival panel for their upcoming Freeform series, Dead of Summer, EW.com reports.

Meaning, as co-creator Eddy Kitsis put it, “It’s not going to be ‘Hyde comes to town, we fight with him for 10 episodes, and then in the winter finale he dies and we move on.’ We are… going back to that Season 1 mentality of small-town stories and smaller arcs.”

Once Upon a Time Season 3 opened with a trip to Neverland, while its back half focused on the Wicked Witch of Oz aka Zelena. Season 4 started off with a Frozen riff, then turned to the Queens of Darkness (aka Maleficent, Cruella and Ursula). Season 5 told the tale of Dark Swan, before traveling to the Underworld to battle Hades.

In Once‘s Season 5 finale, the Charmings, Hook and Zelena accidentally traveled to the realm of Untold Stories, where they bumped up against Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll — both of whom eventually found their way back to Storybrooke, with the former set to take Rumplestiltskin’s place as the resident pot-stirrer. Aspiring hero Regina meanwhile extracted and vanquished her evil side, which unbeknownst to her actually survived and is now existing separately from her.

Want more scoop on Once, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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62 Comments
  1. David4 says:

    So now if the storyline sucks it sucks for all 22 episodes instead of just 11. (Looks at you Peter Pan storyline.)

    • Jon Willis says:

      For me personally I find that the first half of the season is just so-so. Neverland was horrible. Frozen started out fine but by the end it was just blah. Even the Camalot story was pretty ify. By far the best that Once Upon A Time has been is Season 1 and the back half of season 3 with Zelena.

    • LindseyF says:

      I think what they might go back to is more of what happened in season 2 and not season 1. In season 2, there were smaller arcs/plotlines within the season that started and ended. It began with Emma & Snow falling through a portal back to the Enchanted Forest. They spent a couple of episodes there and then came back. (Plotline ended.) Then, Cora came to Storybrooke and became the main villain for a couple of episodes. She died. (Plotline ended) Then, we got Greg Mendel the regular dude who drove into Storybrooke and turned out to have a mission to destroy magic. (This one eventually led into the Peter Pan arc). So there were still multiple storylines, but not a clear divide like season 3-5 where the writers were on an 11-episode constraint to wrap everything up. Season 2 was definitely not the most cohesive season but if they come up with better mini plots, then I think it’ll be just fine and we won’t be stuck with a sucky storyline for all 22 episodes, if that makes sense.

    • Marcie says:

      Read the article. Smaller arcs.

    • Ashley says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking.

  2. Jon Willis says:

    The only problem with doing a 22 episode story arc is that you get alot of filler episodes that don’t really add anything and it just drags on for too long. That was the biggest problem for the first two seasons of Once.

  3. yeah i think camalot arc sucks. its should be dark swan but she’s not even dark lol

  4. Too bad I quit watching because the arcs were so bad I couldn’t stand them. I really enjoyed when they did small arcs and stand-alone episodes. Not worth coming back to it now, though.

  5. That’s too bad.This Likley means more filler episodes,more erractic scheduling with radam breaks,the arc bring drug out too long.I personally much prefer the split season two seperate arcs.

  6. sammy says:

    Omfw!!! You trolls complained about the two arcs and wanted season 1 like story telling, now that they have done it, its like oh god no. Just please stop and go away. Thank you very much.

  7. Celina says:

    Horrible idea… it is going to be tiredsome

  8. Ann says:

    Hopefully it’s more like season one this way. Season one was amazing.

  9. Phil says:

    Great! They’ve identified one of their biggest storytelling problems!
    Now, what about the rest?
    Flashbacks have ceased to be useful. They are narrative momentum killers. I mean, I was really wondering about the origin of Emma’s leather jacket, but some of the best episodes the show has done – like Emma/Hook time traveling, or this season’s finale – didn’t use them. At this point, they would be so much more effective if used only sparingly.
    Do they have plans to pick up with long-missing characters? Lily, Maleficent, August, the Knave?
    Also, side note, why did they do nothing with Emma Caulfield? She’s a brilliant actor. They brought her back for five episodes for a few lines, then she and Cruella team up and for some reason she’s not even framed in half of those shots and then they do … nothing. What a waste.

  10. Jackie says:

    Could be a good move, as the two-arc format ended up with both stories being rushed and shallow. Plus the “A” arc was always so much better than the “B” arc. But I certainly hope it’s not two Reginas for all 22 eps! Hope they wrap THAT up in only a few eps, ugh.

  11. buttercupscarlett95 says:

    22 episodes of two Reginas and her constant whining & snarking? Yuck, I’ll pass. Let me know when they’re going to focus on Emma again. I’d like some focus on Hook, Rumple, & Charming, too.

  12. Mary says:

    22 episodes about two Regina, Hyde + season 1 style. I love it.

  13. bluji says:

    Promising. Seasons 4 and 5 in particular were plagued so bad by the half-season arcs that this could mean a renaissance for the show.

  14. Loli says:

    If so they better let Jane Espenson write the whole thing.

  15. Amanda says:

    I’m ok with this but what I really want to know is how they are going to air it. I still prefer them airing it in two blocks with limited breaks. I really hope they don’t go back to having all those mini breaks between episodes. It still drives me crazy that others shows, especially The CW shows, still do this. They also have to avoid all the award shows that air in the winter. I had no problem with the half season arcs, but I’m so used to watching cable and Netflix shows that their whole season are that short. Plus, it gave the writers the ability to use all the other Disney and fictional characters they wanted and add more to the show. This does also make me wonder too if this season could be the show’s last since it is going back to the first season format. I figured they would in it’s final season, but hopefully it’s not. They have a lot they need to wrap up.

    • David4 says:

      Mini breaks are coming back. Expect a new episodes and two repeats, two new episodes and 3 returns, then a new episode and 5 reruns. The new ABC president seems to be making nothing but horrible chooses.

      • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

        Actually nothing has been officially announced, only an inclination. .

        • Gail says:

          Yes but they haven’t announced anything to replace Galavant and Agent Carter for January. I suppose they could bring back the game shows they are currently running but I won’t be watching them.

  16. BM says:

    Can’t say I’m surprised. I think Camelot could already have used a whole season but this one definitely felt like it. Also feels like it could be the final season since they seem to be battling good vs evil in all forms.

  17. Tee says:

    I’m a fan, no matter what.

  18. Simone says:

    Great news!
    I’d become bored with the split arc stuff, awhile back.
    And was hoping for, a season one back to basics townsfolk storyline, instead of adding all these other characters for 11 episode arcs.
    It felt like our original group had just become people who stand around and then try to help the newbies. I’d like to see the show focus back on them, and move their characters forward :)

  19. Elnm says:

    I haven’t been able to stand all of tv’s change to 2.5 month ‘seasons.’ I’ve lost interest in most programs I used to watch on a regular basis. Even Person of Interest brought in ‘Root’ and the Other Machine. POI writers should have kept on script. So should OUAT, and NCIS. I think I’ll try reading again. There, the plot and twists and turns are wonderful, with no ‘arcs.’ Who came up with the idea and the word, arc? Crazy. I hope OUAT is better with having a longer season (arc?) like the Good Old Days.

  20. grys03 says:

    I like long story arcs – but not the way they’re written for OUAT (or Flash, Arrow etc for that matter).
    .
    The longer arcs (11 or 22 eps) should slowly build a story, infer the darkness coming, introduce a threat but not take over completely. Let there still be a ‘monster of the week’ or 3 weeks etc. I think Flash sort of gets that part right.
    .
    As many have said: if the longer stories don’t work you’re pretty much stuck with an entire season of sucky stories. The longer stories also become repetitive, back & forth with no real resolution, making for very frustrating viewing.
    .
    This is especially true if you binge watch entire seasons & becomes very apparent.

  21. Apollo says:

    “…with the former set to take Rumplestiltskin’s place as the resident pot-stirrer. ” If they are replacing Robert Carlyle (Rumple), & may very well be done w/ the show. He’s easily the best actor on the show. Cutting him loose or letting him walk would be a huge loss…. and a mistake on an epic scale.

  22. Renee Lee says:

    great that they can focus on the overall storylines and plots and not rush but….. too little too late – was half way out the door in season 4 and season 5 made no sense with lose ends everywhere and killing off Robin Hood – leaving his son an orphan. Bye Once~

  23. fdgfhfhjfhgdfdf says:

    How about they drop the whole show alltogether into a cancellation bin? This show stinks so badly since it’s inception!

  24. wjsc says:

    This show lost me in Horrible, Boring, Neverland. I’ve only peeked in occasionally since then, and haven’t liked what I’ve seen. They need to scale back — a show with limitless characters (apparently, taken from EVERY bit of fiction ever written!?!?) is bound to become an over-bloated mess. Imo, that’s what’s happened here.
    Seasons 1 and 2 are still great fun, for the occasional binge. :-)

  25. Cricket says:

    I loved SE1, it will be nice to see them go back to that. But my only hope is they make Rumple really Rumple again. He is by far my favorite character and they made him too soft. I know they have to grow and evolve, but let’s bring him back to his roots. I mean they already made a softy out of Regina.

  26. Kevin says:

    This is a good idea, go back to what worked so well.. Full season story, where everything didn’t feel rushed to finish in a few episodes.

    People complain about Peter Pan storyline, but the real problem with it.. it was rushed to complete. There is so much they could have done with Neverland, but instead it was needing to be in and out in 8 episodes..

    Frozen, again there was so much they could have done, but everything had to be done in a couple of episodes. Wizard of Oz… so much.. they should have had more Dorthy with them, and introduce the scarecrow and tin man, etc etc.. but nope wrapped up in a few episodes..

    Even underworld, one episode he wants them gone, next he wants them trapped, next he’s in love with Zelena, next he wants to work with them, lol.. just no time to enjoy the story, because we had to rush it along

  27. nellibly says:

    This is good news. The long arcs can get tedious. More stories will be more engaging.

  28. They should have just stuck with the season 1 formula. It was the best. I think it’s too late now, too much damage has been done. Millions of viewers have departed. They can only wish to retain the fervently loyal viewers at this point.

  29. Eddie G says:

    Not surprised. With all the new potentials from the Realm of Untold Stories, it might do well to go back to smaller arcs within the season long Evil Queen saga.

  30. Lily says:

    Great…. now, we will get a Season 2 scatterbrain-fest repeat.

  31. I’m actually really happy it’s not gonna be doing the split arcs. I feel that the reason I didn’t like these past seasons as much is because a lot of the time I felt like they missed so many good opportunities and would rush character development (I’m looking at you, Henry). That being said, who knows. This season could have the pacing of a snail and still be lacking. Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see.