ABC's Once Upon A Time will soon return to TV for its sixth season. Whether this will be its final season remains to be seen, but there's no denying that within its devoted fanbase are viewers who think the show has lost its way.
For going on six years, Once Upon A Time has brought to life some of the most beloved and iconic storybook characters in new and mesmerizing ways. Beloved stories have been expanded upon and reshaped to fit a new narrative within this tantalizing universe of magic and mayhem. The sheer scope of characters and fairy tales included in the series, and the idea of it potentially ending soon, only stir panic among those of us wondering how they will wrap up so many loose storylines.
One possible answer: a spinoff series.
But who to spinoff with and what stories to tell? There are plenty of other places the show could go but may not have the time to. The show may have bit off more than it can chew and a spinoff is the best way to give closure to more of the many characters fans have come to love. Here are a few of those characters and how a spinoff series could be a success.
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The Tales Of Tinkerbell
Fans of the show fell head over heels in love with the spritely fairy played by iZombie's Rose McIver. In most iterations of Peter Pan, including the Disney version, Tinkerbell isn't given any actual dialogue. She is reduced to rapid movements and hissy temper tantrums. Rose McIver brought depth, spirit, and resilience to the character, making her a one of a kind adaptation. Fans have been begging the show's creators to bring the character back for years now, but with McIver leading her own series, it became near impossible to do. But, with viewership on the decline for iZombie, could McIver be persuaded to step into her little green shoes once more for a new series all her own?
Co-Starring Disney Royalty
Once Upon A Time saw one of their sharpest spikes in viewership when Ariel first swam onto the series right out of our nostalgia-loving hearts. Not only did she introduce herself in the best way possible, as the hero she really is, but she kept every bit of fire, unshakeable optimism, and the unique expressions favorited by fans of the undersea misfit. Ariel hasn't been on the series, presumably because she actually managed to achieve her happily ever after with Prince Eric. But if she were brought back she could follow up on her hinted at relationship with Queen elsa of Arendelle and explore her ability to travel between realms without a portal.
Mulan, played by Gotham's newest addition Jamie Chung, is another prime example of how truly dedicated the creators of the series are to bringing new life and depth to a beloved character while still honoring her original qualities. On the show, Mulan has an extensive portfolio of famous friends including Merida from Brave, Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz, and of course her heartbreaking connection to Princess Aurora and Prince Philip. Mulan is also a uniquely empowered warrior, holding her own among other TV fighters such as Buffy and Xena. Mostly, a spinoff might give Mulan the chance she deserves to find her own happily ever after.
With Tinkerbell, Ariel, and Mulan a Once Upon a Time spinoff has plenty of direction to go in. Utilizing older, more established side characters is a great route to take for a spinoff. They'd do well to avoid the gimmickry of using newer characters, like Anna and Elsa, who felt like a manipulation capitalizing on their newness in the Disney universe. So we have some solid character options, but there are a few things a spinoff can learn from the pitfalls of the original series.
Once Upon A Time has already attempted a spinoff once before and it didn't go well. Once Upon A Time: In Wonderland was teased as a midseason placeholder to the original series, but ended up airing alongside the original series. Competing with its own origin series and full of campy dialogue, cheap visuals, and a tacky too-playful tone, the show was a failure before it really began. Avoiding all that, if the creators and the network ever decide to explore the possibility of another spinoff, here are things they'd need to do to keep a companion and or successor series from going the way of the dodo.
1. Avoid Disney-Style Camp
What made Once Upon A Time interesting at first was that it was an adult drama with Disney fairy tale characters. Somewhere along the way it moved away from this originality and into a sort of crowd-pleasing Disney monotony. Gone is the emotion and high stakes, diluted by G-rated family fare. With an intended audience way past adolescence, it's time they wrote a show for grownups. Our nostalgia isn't going anywhere, anyway.
2. Embrace Consequences
Lately, it seems any character fans get too fond of becomes immune to the final curtain call: death. The first time the show did it, with the death of Rumplestiltskin, his resurrection was fitting and passable because it felt planned in the overall story. The next time, the death and convoluted resurrection of Zelena/Wicked Witch, was a treat for those who'd become attached to her but felt not entirely thought out. And then we have Captain Hook. Although fans wanted to see him be with Emma (who has been through hell with men in her life) his return from beyond the grave was utterly eye roll-inducing. Death stops meaning anything when so many allowances are made. A new series needs to treat death with respect, or try not to use it quite so much at all. There are worse things than death, after all.
3. Don't Get Sidetracked
The core of the original series is its dysfunctional and confusing Charming family tree and the friends and enemies who surround them. The last few seasons has seen storylines diverge too far away from this family in pursuit of new Disney characters. A new series should stick to its core. Supporting characters are always fun, but they should never detract from a show's main cast and their continued stories.
While I've already predicted Once Upon A Time has only one or two seasons left, I sincerely hope they return to their roots and make their final season(s) memorable. A spinoff, however, may be the only chance to revive the love feelings many of us had at the outset of Once Upon A Time. With these characters and a few ground rules, a spinoff may just work to renew the magic...so to speak.
Do you think Once Upon A Time should be given another shot with the spinoff treatment? Who would you like to see lead a new series? Sound off in the comments section below.