Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the series finale of Once Upon a Time. Read at your own risk.
Once Upon a Time’s fairy tale came to an end on Friday with a full-circle moment that brought all the realms together in peace — but not everyone survived until the end.
In the last hour, Wish Rumple (Robert Carlyle) enacted his final plans, writing grim endings for our beloved heroes that would separate them for all eternity. But the storybooks would not be set in stone until the Author (Jared Gilmore) darkened his heart by killing the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla).
Fortunately, she was able to get through to young Henry with love, effectively closing the portals that would trap the heroes in isolation. However, as Alice (Rose Reynolds) nearly went through her portal, Wish Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) grabbed hold of her, poisoned heart be damned.
In order to thwart Wish Rumple and save Hook at the same time, Rumple ripped out his own heart, turning his Wish Realm alter ego to dust. After placing the heart in Hook’s chest, and saving his life, Rumple perished and was reunited with Belle (Emilie de Ravin) in the afterlife.
Regina then set out to unite all the realms together in Storybrooke so no one would ever be separated again — she achieves this by casting another Dark Curse, but this time using love. In the end, Regina is crowned the Good Queen, long may she reign over this newly combined realm. It’s not a happy ending, Regina says, but a second chance. One she gets to enjoy with her entire family and friends, including Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and original Hook, who show up just in time for her to be crowned.
And with that, the heroes lived happily ever after…
EW turned to executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis to get the inside scoop on their series finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is the second series finale that you’ve been involved in that included purgatory after Lost!
EDWARD KITSIS: If we’re talking about the scene of what happens to Rumple, that’s not purgatory. That’s heaven. That is 100 percent he’s made it home to her, and they’re absolutely not in any purgatory. We saw what that would be, which was the Hades season, and this very much looks like they have moved on into a happier, happier place. And so I would definitely say, especially after the wedding, he has made it to heaven, he has redeemed his heart, and he has made it to Belle, and he has made it home.
Why did Rumple in particular need to die?
KITSIS: I feel for Rumple, why he did have to die, [was] for a few reasons. His whole thing has been that he’s been frightened, he was the coward. He took this power to get rid of that fear, but what Belle taught him was that life was about moments — that’s what that whole “Up” episode was. So for us, it felt like watching him selflessly and truly give his heart to somebody who was, at one time, his enemy and going to Belle truly redeemed the character and showed that he became the hero. Also, for us, we wanted to show what a happy ending was to really illustrate the point that Regina was making, which is it’s not about the ending, it’s about the journey and our journey continues.
Was Regina being crowned the Good Queen what you always envisioned for Regina’s happy ending?
KITSIS: Yeah, we felt like her happy ending did not want to be somebody else or a wedding, her happy ending, as we saw last year, she finally grew to love herself. We wanted her happy to be what she always wanted, which was to go from the Evil Queen to the Good Queen.
ADAM HOROWITZ: I think we wanted her happy to ending to also be the promise of continued happiness, this idea of all these stories continue, and that for Regina, who has been through so many tortured things in her life, that there was promise of happiness ahead and that she could finally get to that place that she never thought was possible for herself.
READ MORE OUAT CONTENT: On set of the series finale || OUAT bosses tease series finale || Check out series finale photos || OUAT’s final villain revealed || OUAT’s timeline explained || Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas interview || Lana Parrilla interview || The Hot Seat || Colin O’Donoghue interview || OUAT pokes fun of itself || OUAT‘s 25 craziest fairy-tale twists || Andrew J. West and Dania Ramirez interview || Rose Reynolds and Tiera Skovbye interview || Rebecca Mader interview || Jennifer Morrison interview || OUAT bosses pen thank you letter to fans
Was it important to you guys to give a sense of closure to Robin and Regina in the finale?
HOROWITZ: It was very important to us that when we saw Robin at the close of the series, it was Robin and not a Wish Realm Version or whatever. We felt like the audience, and us as fans of the show itself, we needed to see them have this one moment between them.
KITSIS: We also felt that what Robin Hood did for Regina was he really helped her find the hero and the goodness inside of her. And in a low moment, he arrived to give her hope and inspiration when she needed it. So we really loved that as well.
Is there a part of you that wishes you could’ve explored more of Robin and Alice’s story? Do you wish you had done Wonderland with this Alice?
KITSIS: Well, I don’t want to say that, because I think Sophie Lowe did a really nice job. What I will say is we loved those two and I see people on Twitter saying, “Spin-off!” and I’d watch that. I think those two are fantastic. So I do wish we could explore more. If you see the way we did it this year, it was very much in the Snow-Charming [romance], the very slow burn of really watching the love story come together. So I think there was much more happiness and story to be told with them, but that’s what the ending is about — we did our version, but these stories continue. A fairy tale was always something that was passed from village to village, so now Robin and Alice belong to the Oncers and the fandom, and they’ll live on in fanfic and in everyone’s mind. We’re done telling our side of the story. Now the characters belong to Oncers and they should go out and play with them.
You had already depicted your originally planned ending in the season 6 finale, so was there anything in this finale that was born out of any early ideas?
KITSIS: Well, the one question you personally had been asking us since season 4 is who is Lily’s father, so we knew we had to get that in.
Did you feel obligated to the fans because that question has come up so much?
KITSIS: We did feel obligated. As we said, we wanted this one to feel like the band was selling the songs one more time, but what we loved is we took it up to the moment where the fans, at this point, had given up on ever getting the answer so that when we got it, it became a true surprise that was not spoiled on the internet.
Were there any alternate lines that you would’ve slipped in there?
KITSIS: No, it was always this, and then we couldn’t get the rights to Zorro, so we said, “Well, at least we can say it.”
Is there anything that ended up on the cutting room floor?
HOROWITZ: No, I think we able to really include everything we had hoped. I don’t think there was anything significant. Was there, Eddy?
KITSIS: I think there may have been a scene here or there, but nothing huge that took away from what we wanted to do.
There seemed to be photos of Regina in front of the statue of Wish Snow and Charming, but we never saw that scene.
KITSIS: Maybe we’ll put it on the DVD, but that was a scene that was cut for time. It was Regina getting robbed from Wish Realm Grumpy and Wish Realm Blue Fairy, who had fallen on tough times. But when we did the episode for the first hour — with network you only have 42 minutes and 30 seconds — it was a really hard scene to cut, but we had to do it because it was the only one that could come out without disrupting the whole flow.
You had a plan for a potential season 8. Is there anything you can say as to what that would’ve been?
KITSIS: No, that would have been figured out this week. I think we would have probably returned to Storybrooke and done something there… Usually we have a few notions and then in between seasons we plot it out.
HOROWITZ: And it’s also the kind of thing that organically grows out of the season. We knew in December or January that we were ending the show, so that is usually the place where we start to lay the groundwork for the following season. So no, there isn’t a concrete plan for what season 8 would have been.
Were there any alternate plans at least for this episode, or was it always going to end with the coronation?
KITSIS: Always the coronation. We learned early enough in the season we were ending, so it was all driven towards that. We knew it was going to end and then we just wrote towards it.
What was your point of pride for the for the series finale and is there anything you would’ve changed?
KITSIS: Point of pride for us is the fact that we got to season 7 and episode 155. I wouldn’t change a thing. Everyone we [asked] to come back said yes, and so I love that two hours. I really loved this finale. I don’t think I would change a thing. Adam?
HOROWITZ: I wouldn’t either. I mean, it is kind of how I feel about the series — that all the ups and downs of it, there’s nothing I would change about it because it got us to where we are. When the series finale ended, I felt very proud of what we’ve done and very emotional. I really couldn’t have asked for more.
What’s your point of pride, Adam?
HOROWITZ: A point of pride for me is the fans and that they stuck with us for so many years. I mean, it’s always truly knocked me out whenever I meet them and come into contact with this incredible fandom that this show spawned. That is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Read Lana Parrilla’s reaction to Regina’s happy ending.