For six seasons, Once Upon A Time brought classic literary characters to life in a whole new way. Centering on the family of Snow White and Prince Charming, the series eventually branched out from fairy tales to include new takes on The Wizard Of Oz, Frankenstein, the legend of King Arthur, and even Disney’s Frozen. The seventh season of the series changed the game with even more new takes on characters already explored by the show, as well as Disney animated characters who hadn’t been featured before.
While Once Upon A Time had a lot of great stories, there are some episodes fans just couldn’t get behind. As a result, the Internet Movie Database has these ten episodes rated by users as the worst of the series.
10 In The Name Of The Brother S2.E12 (7.7)
The earliest episode of Once Upon A Time, this Season 2 offering has fans getting a hefty backstory for an unexpected character, as well as an introduction to a whole new person in Storybrooke.
By providing the backstory for Dr. Whale. AKA Dr. Frankenstein, the audience discovered that the characters living in Storybrooke didn’t just come from the Enchanted Forest. It was a detail fans had wondered about in Season 1, but the backstory didn’t give fans the excitement they were hoping for.
The new guy in Storybrooke, named after scientist Gregor Mendel, didn’t offer much in the way of a tease in this episode either.
9 Street Rats S6.E05 (7.7)
It’s clear that Season 6 and 7 might have seen Once Upon a Time overstaying its TV welcome. Most of the remainder of this list includes episodes from those two seasons. This particular episode is right in the middle of the arc focused on Aladdin and Jasmine.
Aladdin is a beloved Disney property, so it would have made sense if fans loved the series bringing the characters into the fold. Unfortunately, tying the story of Aladdin into the “savior mythology” didn’t seem to work for the audience as well as the writers wanted it to, as viewers started to lose interest in Jasmine’s search for Aladdin and the tragic stories of saviors.
8 Knightfall S7.E13 (7.7)
One of the biggest complaints about Season 7 was that there were so many new characters to keep track of. This episode tried to remedy that by placing Hook at the center of all the stories. But it still landed among the worst episodes.
In “Knightfall,” the audience got to see what led to Hook’s depression in the Wish Realm. Namely, he lost his daughter to a witch after battling Captain Ahab to free her. In the modern world, his investigation into the deaths of witches simply became more confusing.
One bright spot in the episode? Regina revealed to Lucy that she was awake and knew they were under another curse, and agreed to help her get through to Henry.
7 Greenbacks S7.E05 (7.6)
“Greenbacks” was the perfect example of the final Once Upon a Time season trying to do too many different stories at one time. In addition to the curse itself that Lucy wanted to break, there were a lot of other characters and realms to focus on.
This episode tried to draw Sabine, Henry, Roni, and Jacinda’s stories together, but it still felt disjointed. The audience did get stellar performances out of Mekia Cox in her flashbacks to Tiana’s real life, as well as a surprising twist with Adelaide Kane’s character Ivy revealing herself to be awake and manipulating the events around her. Kane and Cox saved the episode from being truly forgettable.
6 Dark Waters S6.E06 (7.6)
Though this episode occurred during the Aladdin arc of the series, “Dark Waters” was pretty light on the Aladdin and Jasmine aspects of the story. Instead, it focused on Hook and a few other nautical characters.
Unless audience members were fans of the works of Jules Verne, a lot of the references in this episode were likely lost on them. “Dark Waters” featured characters and places from Verne’s works, even citing his Mysterious Island as really being The Land Of Untold Stories. While it provided a new take on some of the stories involved, it also muddied the waters of the arc.
5 Ill-Boding Patterns S6.E13 (7.6)
Though this episode did have something for the romance fans — Hook and Emma got engaged — it was largely bogged down by backstory and new “twists” for familiar characters.
“Ill-Boding Patterns” brought the story of Beowolf into the Once Upon a Time universe. Rumplestiltskin, it turned out, knew Beowolf from the Ogre Wars in the Enchanted Forest. In a bit of convoluted storytelling, Rumpelstiltskin actually attempted to be the good guy when his son Baelfire was tempted by dark magic during the wars, erasing his memory of the events. Mr. Gold attempted to use the same idea with his son Gideon in Storybrooke, but he didn’t get the same results, proving, yet again, that the more he tried to meddle as either personality, the more harm he did.
4 A Taste Of The Heights S7.E12 (7.5)
Though fans had been excited for the introduction of Princess Tiana in Once Upon a Time’s seventh season, her backstory must not have been exactly what they hoped. for A few of the worst episodes feature her developing story, including this one.
Here, the audience saw one of Tiana’s adventures — tracking a giant alligator — play out in the other Enchanted Forest. For the modern day Hyperion Heights, Sabine met another person with a flair for New Orleans-inspired food. Drew, of course, was the modern version of Prince Naveen.
This episode also served to complicate the story of the curse further, as Lucy decided her parents couldn’t kiss to break the spell. She was afraid, thanks to her book, that Henry would die as a result.
3 The Garden Of Forking Paths S7.E03 (7.3)
Like a lot of the episodes of Once Upon a Time, this one featured a seemingly heroic character having to choose between the good of the people and their own self interest. In this case, it was Cinderella in the other Enchanted Forest and her real world persona Jacinda in Hyperion Heights.
The theme tied the episode together nicely, but this was the start of revealing that not as many characters were actually affected by the curse as the audience thought. In this case, Victoria was revealed to still be Lady Tremaine, starting a long line of characters aware of their true pasts, but hiding the truth from everyone else. It’s here where each twist becomes less and less impressive.
2 Hyperion Heights S7.E01 (7.1)
When Season 7 began, it was a fresh start for Once Upon a Time. The series got a soft reboot with only three actors from the first six seasons retaining their series regular status. Instead, an adult Henry Mills visited a whole new story realm, bringing new versions of previously known characters to life, and giving the audience a whole new curse and set of stories.
Unfortunately, the soft reboot might have come too late. “Hyperion Heights” is almost ranked as the least loved episode by fans and critics. Though there were a lot of solid performers in the final season, it was clear that the audience missed the original cast and didn’t need the same ideas (a child looking for a parent that didn’t know them, a cursed town of characters with their memories wiped, etc.) playing out all over again.
1 Ruby Slippers S5.E18 (6.9)
“Ruby Slippers” gave more depth to the story of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard Of Oz, as well as brought Meghan Ory back for a final appearance as Ruby. Interestingly, this story was praised by critics and fans for featuring Dorothy and Ruby falling in love over the course of their adventure with Mulan. It doesn’t entirely make sense that it lands as the worst episode of the series.
There was, however, a call from conservative family organizations to boycott the series because it featured love between two classic female characters from children’s stories. It’s likely that the campaigning led to some false ratings on IMDb and it’s the one true outlier on the list.
NEXT: 5 Once Upon A Time Fan Theories That Could Be True (& 5 We Hope Aren’t)