Even the most casual of Oncers knows that Once Upon a Time is a special kind of fantasy show. The live-action Disney-connected series follows a woman named Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) who sets off on an adventure with her son Henry (Jared Gilmore) to the town of Storybrooke, Maine, a community full of banished fairytale and Disney characters who've been cursed to forget who they are and where they truly come from — Fairy Tale Land. The only way to break the spell and free the fantastical beings is to defeat the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) for good.
The show ran for seven seasons on ABC between 2011 and 2018. It was created by Lostveterans Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who stocked the show with allusions to that classic supernatural drama. Besides members of the crew, the main thing Lost and Once Upon a Time have in common is that they are both impenetrable to people who have not seen every episode. Once Upon a Time is a show that if you just turn on any random episode without knowing anything about what the show is, you will be baffled by its complicated plotting and earnest tone. It's the only show where a twist like "Peter Pan is Rumplestiltskin's father" could happen. And now that it's available to stream on Disney+, new Oncers are being created every day.
If you can't get enough of their magical journey, you might find yourself looking for more shows that sweep you away to enchanted realms or keep you hooked with swoon-worthy romances. Below is a list of shows like Once Upon a Time that are worthy of any Oncer's time.
You may have forgotten that OUAT once had a spinoff. It aired alongside Season 3 in 2013, and was set in the world of Alice in Wonderland. Sophie Lowe stars as Alice, who is traveling through Wonderland trying to save her one true love, Cyrus (Peter Gadiot), while trying to evade the Red Queen (Emma Rigby) and Jafar (Naveen Andrews) from Aladdin. Only on Once Upon a Time! The series is also notable for featuring the TV debut of Millie Bobby Brown, who went on to become Stranger Things' Eleven. She plays young Alice here. -Liam Mathews
If you were hoping for a more extensive trip to Oz on Once Upon a Time, you might want to check out NBC's Emerald City. This short-lived series tells the story of a modern-day Dorothy (Adria Arjona) who travels to a much darker, more mystical version of Oz than the candy-coated original you're used to. Once you start watching, you'll realize there are so many parallels between Once Upon a Time and Emerald City that it might actually make your head spin. A not-so-wicked witch who worms her way into your heart? Check! A baby smuggled out of an enchanted realm who is destined to be its Savior? Check! A birthday wish that sets off an epic adventure? Check! Heck, there's even a hot guy with memory loss who swings a sword around every episode. Ultimately though, this one might break your heart since it was canceled after one season and ended things on a bit of a cliffhanger.
Is this another Wizard of Oz show? Yes, it is. Is it still worth any Oncer checking out? Also yes! Tin Man is a reimagining of the story we all probably know like the backs of our hands. It stars Zooey Deschanel as DG, this show's answer to Dorothy, a waitress who is dropped by a cyclone into a mysterious land called the Outer Zone, where she befriends Glitch (Alan Cumming), the Tin Man (Neal McDonough), and Raw (Raoul Trujillo), all while being hunted by a terrifying witch named Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson). It's a big mystical adventure that's edgy in a mid-to-late 2000s kind of way, and even better: it's a miniseries that's only three episodes long, so it won't take you long to finish. -Allison Picurro
Though at first glance The Vampire Diaries seems very different than Once Upon a Time, most fans who love one show usually end up falling in love with the other. Set in a small town beset by magic and monsters, The Vampire Diaries follows a close-knit group of teenagers -- plus a couple of centuries-old vampires -- trying to protect their town from various evil forces. While the over-arching magical storylines take precedence most of the time on Once Upon a Time, the love stories drive the narrative on The Vampire Diaries. So, if you were a diehard Captain Swan shipper or had a serious thing for Rumbelle, you're going to fall headfirst in love with the ships on TVD. Just be warned, most relationships on this series are entangled in at least one love triangle, so while you were sure Snow White and Prince Charming were going to end up together on Once Upon a Time, you'll be far less certain about the fate of your Vampire Diaries OTP.
For those of you who just wanted more, more, more witches, we present Netflix's Italian series, Luna Nera. Set in the 17th century, this series follows a teenage girl who stands accused of being a witch, which as you probably guessed, sends her fleeing from villagers who want to see her burned at the stake. The thing is though, witchcraft is totally real and Ade eventually seeks shelter with a group of witches who guard the portal between the living and the dead. This series has a much more young adult vibe than Once Upon a Time, but it also takes a grittier look at magic and witchcraft and the persecution of women in conjunction with them. This series does have an English dub but as always, it's better when you watch with subtitles!
If you'd rather stick to the fairytale genre, you should definitely check out Tell Me a Story. This anthology series follows a very similar format to Once Upon a Time in that it tells the classic tales we all know and love through a modern-day lens. Season 1 is a twisted take on The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood, and these storylines all circle around one another against the gritty backdrop of New York City. This series is definitely a whole lot darker than Once Upon a Time, but it also happens to star Dania Ramirez and Michael Raymond James, so you'll see some familiar faces.
Calling all Evil Regals! Fans of the Evil Queen, a.k.a. Regina Mills, need to stop everything they're doing and watch Lost Girl right now. This series follows a bisexual succubus named Bo (Anna Silk) as she navigates the magical factions and deadly politics that govern her city. Like Regina, Bo is a good person at heart, but she does have a dark side, and she'll go to any lengths to keep the people she loves safe. Once Upon a Time fans who adore fierce female leads, steamy romances (and LGBTQ inclusion for you Swan Queen shippers), and a wardrobe that's to die for, will fall head over heels for this series.
Have you ever thought, "Man, I love Once Upon a Time, but if only Emma had taken some time to solve a murder every week!" Well then, Grimm is the show for you. Set in a world where all the mythological beasts from fairytales lurk in the dark, homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) finds out he's descended from a long line of Grimms, guardians who protect the human world and keep the beasties at bay. While Tell Me a Story is a fairytale take that's grounded in reality, Grimm definitely takes a more fantasy-first approach to things, with various (and sometimes obscure) magical creatures making an appearance every week. However, this series does lean pretty hard into its procedural elements, especially in earlier seasons, so you should prepare for a Law & Order: Special Monsters Unit kind of vibe.
The writers of Once Upon a Time had to do a lot of world-building to make Red Riding Hood, Snow White, the Mad Hatter, and the Wicked Witch of the West all exist in the same world (kind of) and have all their storylines intersect, which is why we're recommending Avatar: The Last Airbender for fans of complex, fantastical realms. Set in a fictional world where "benders" control the four elements, this animated series has some of the best world-building and attention to detail we've ever seen. This intricate mythology is woven perfectly into the serialized storyline, which puts the weight of the world on its savior's shoulders as he sets off on an adventure to master his powers and restore balance to the world. Though this show skews a little younger in its target demo, viewers of all ages can enjoy it!
Why Women Kill is more of a soapy drama than a fantastical epic, but its second season stars Regina Mills herself, Lana Parrilla, which means it's worthy of any Once Upon a Time fan's time. The dramedy's first season wove together the stories of three women from three different eras, played by Lucy Liu, Once vet Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, all of whom were stuck in marriages plagued with infidelity. And eventually, as the title suggests, murder became involved, but I won't spoil that for you. Season 2 is focused entirely around Parrilla's character, the glamorous Rita Castillo who, when we meet her, is waiting around for her elderly husband to die. Parrilla gets to do the thing she's great at -- be mean, but in a funny way -- and delivers Rita's cutting remarks with the same energy she delivered all of the Evil Queen's. The plot is also a fizzy joy ride, and although it's admittedly more grounded in reality than anything else on this list, it was created by Desperate Housewives' Marc Cherry, which should tell you all you need to know about the tone of this show.