2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television of the Year

Getting back into Year in Reviews after a break last year, 2018 in television was one filled with wonder with shows new and old. Some ending, some just beginning to intrigue us, some continuing to delight us after a few seasons. One thing all these have in common is that they brought a lot of warmth, heart, intrigue, tears and happiness to our screens. These are my Top 10 Favorites for 2018.

10. Christmas Made for TV Movies of Hallmark and Lifetimechristmas moviesChristmas films on television have been a staple of the season and more and more seem to be made every year. We know they can be predictable, filled with common romantic tropes, and may be a little corny. But in today’s day in age, these can be welcome and lovely things and that is often what these films provide: sweet and heartfelt escapism wrapped in cozy and festive warmth. In this year’s abundance of holiday fare, 5 in particular stood out.

A Veteran’s Christmas re-pairs Eloise Mumford and Sean Faris who co-starred in another favorite Christmas With Holly. This story follows a Marine recently returning home, unsure of her place and missing her dog who was part of her canine unit, who stumbles into a small town and falls in love with a kind judge and the entire town who embraces her. It’s a tender and sweet story and the two actors play beautifully off each other. And any true dog lover will no doubt shed tears at its happy conclusion.

Christmas Pen Pals stars Sarah Drew and Niall Matter who have a sweet chemistry and play former college sweethearts who both sign up for a holiday Pen Pal project in their hometown. It’s a lovely little story with a very romantic tone and fine acting.

Christmas Perfection with Caitlin Thompson and James Henri-Thomas is cute as can be, romantic and truly, truly funny. For the Captain Swan fans out there, I felt like I was watching a CS AU come to life to a degree so I was in heaven. But even without that comparison, it’s an absolutely delightful gem following a woman who is obsessed with having everything perfect including a little Christmas village she puts up every year. When she and her best friend argue over her need for perfection she suddenly wakes up in her village, where it’s Christmas every day, her parents are back together and everyone is Irish! What follows is pure, silly, but perfect Christmas perfection.

Once Upon a Christmas Miracle is based on a true story of a young woman who needs an organ transplant and miraculously find a donor from a stranger whom she then forms a strong connection with. It’s a sweet and moving story, made ever the more lovely because it’s based on two real people. True kindness and sacrifice can come from anywhere and it’s a beautiful reminder than can restore your faith in the humanity of others.

And lastly, Christmas at Pemberley Manor is a light take on the Pride and Prejudice story made enjoyable by its warmth, sweet take on the classic story and likable actors Michael Rady and Jessica Lowndes. In keeping in the Christmas mood I must also recommend the other past Christmas films with Rady, whom is wonderful in all he does, Christmas in Homestead and A Joyous Christmas. While Lowndes is equally lovely in the ever romantic December Bride which pairs her with When Calls the Heart’s ever talented and handsome Daniel Lissing.

9. Happy TogetherhappyIt’s been a while since I’ve found a comedy that is light and sweet and truly makes me laugh out loud. What I want most when watching a sitcom however is to feel happy watching it, and just like its namesake, I most certainly do. A great deal of this show’s charm is due in no small part to the its leads, the hilarious and charming Damon Wayans Jr. (whom I just adore in everything he does) and Amber Stevens West, an equally funny and effervescent scene partner. The two play a happily married couple who are simply adorable in that they feel like a real couple in their natural chemistry and attempts to seem cool for their house guest, an Australian pop star they open their home up to when he wants to feel normalcy in his life. Rounding out the laughs come from Stephanie Weir and Victor Williams who play West’s parents, two doctors with no filter and a lot of time on their hands now that they’re retired. The show is wacky but heartfelt and always leaves me feeling good. I hope more audiences discover this show because it’s a sheer delight.

8. Fuller Housefuller

Getting back into form, the fourth season of the Netflix family comedy was filled with lots of heart, more wacky adventures from the “She-Wolf” pack, DJ and Steve finally trying to make it work as a couple complete with a fun little musical number (DJ and Steve 4ever!) and hilarity and tenderness with Kimmy acting as Stephanie’s surrogate. Other highlights included Danny going back to Wake Up San Francisco with Rebecca, replacing the egotistical male co-host, Jesse embracing being a stay at home father, and Charlie’s Angels’s themed “70s” cruise on the SS Papouli (a sweet nod to the great grandfather from the original series). What makes Fuller House work is that it does not take itself too seriously, but rather unabashedly embraces its corniness. But what made this season enjoyable was that, like it did in Season 1, when it had its more serious moments, there was so sign of parody or goofiness- in particular when Kimmy gives birth with Stephanie right beside her to welcome her baby into the world, and when DJ’s middle boy Max, known for his one liners and over top antics, shares a very grounded and moving moment about deeply missing his father. Fuller House remains a welcome little gem.

7. The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselmaiselFull disclosure, when the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was released at that end of 2018, I binged watched the first and second season in extremely quick succession, so this praise is a bit about both seasons. Forever a fan of Amy Sherman Pallidino’s Gilmore Girls, I am not surprised how much I adore this similarly fast talking, delightful, colorful and sweet, meaningful and poignant, funny and effervescent, female empowering, and yes completely marvelous, series. Each episode is like stepping into a candy colored, bubbly musical time machine to the 1960s which is fun and lively, but not without turmoil or drama. At times it feels heightened in true Pallidino style, at other times completely grounded in very real, relatable truths about life. The best comedians are ones that observe life and can find humor in the everyday, and that is what Miriam, aka Midge does, who stumbles into comedy after her husband leaves her out of the blue and she learns to picks herself up and discovers even more about herself along the way. She has to fight to be accepted and that is something that a modern audience can still relate to. Led by incredible Rachel Brosnahan, the show’s second season continues on what season 1 so well established, but continues to grow and evolve as Midge struggles in finding her place while not losing what is important to her, while her family is dealing with their own issues that relate not only to Midge but their own journeys in life. It’s lovely and fun, moving and marvelous! p.s can we please bring back the name Midge, because it’s too cute.

6. This is UsThis Is Us - Season 2For fans of This is Us, 2018 will always be the year that finally revealed how Jack Pearson died, and it was as heartbreaking and tough to watch as we imagined. The cause was something so trivial as a malfunctioning crock pot, but the reason was something that is embedded into Jack’s character- putting others and what they care about above himself, even sacrificing his own safety. And the fact that it was delayed, giving the Pearson’s (and the audience) a false sense of peace and relief made it all the more devastating. And it’s the moment that Rebecca’s learns and sees her husband is gone that will remain one of the most heart wrenching (and brilliantly performed of the series). But Jack’s death wasn’t the only thing that was profound about This is Us in 2018. On the contrary, each and every interweaving and multi-generational storyline was captivating to watch, from the beginning of Rebecca and Jack’s love story, to his time in Vietnam with his brother, to Kate and Toby’s journey to have a child, and their individual journeys dealing with job woes and depression, to Randall and Beth’s struggles as they foster a child and begin and end careers, to Kevin’s evolving film career and desire to learn more about his father, and to the mysterious twists and time jumps, the lives of the Pearson family remain ones that are ever relatable and moving.

5. The Good PlaceThe Good Place - Season 2The Good Place is one of the cleverest, funniest, sweetest and most profound shows on television, with one of its finest qualities being that in its absurdity lies relatable truths and complexities about choices, free will, and the human condition- with both characters that are and are not human, which is remarkable. It tugs at our heartstrings and makes us laugh so hard we cry. The cast is absolutely stellar and hilarious while managing to infuse authenticity in the more grounded moments with each other- in both season 2 and 3- especially as this group travels back to earth and must learn about themselves and what it means to be, most especially, an empathetic person. Like Michael Shur’s previous shows, this series, infuses heart and realism, in this case despite the concept, and everyone who watches is all the better for it. The Good Place is utter joy.

4. ManifestManifest - PilotIntriguing, melancholy, gripping, and thought provoking, the comparisons to LOST were inevitable, but let it be said that Manifest is its own show and one that mixes and perfectly balances unexplained phenomena, crime procedural and family drama, matched with an impressive cast led but the wonderful Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh as brother and sister Ben and Michaela Stone, who returned home to a world that had changed so much. Of course we all want to know what happened to Flight 828 that caused them to somehow become lost in time to the rest of the world and lose 5 years. Ben and his son return to a family that grieved and grew and learned to move on, Michalea heartbreakingly returned to learn the man she was planning to marry, has now married her best friend. Ben’s son Cal, who had been suffering from cancer, returns home and miraculously begins responding to treatment. But in truth it’s not just the Stone family drama that leaves us so captivated. It’s also the questions of what caused this anomaly and is there some grand conspiracy behind everything? But most especially one of the most profound aspects of Manifest is that it leaves the audience with the question of “what if?” What if you returned to a world much changed and how to do begin to live your life again where it feels like you have been left behind or no longer fit? And if you are beginning to feel a purpose (which we see in the callings each of the passengers experiences) in a way that cannot rationally be explained, do you follow or fight it? The contrasting perspectives of Ben and Michaela, and the ways they all seem connected showcase these questions beautifully and intriguingly so, and make this show not only one of the best new shows, but best overall shows of the year.

3. A Series of Unfortunate EventseventsThe Netflix original series based on the children’s books of the same name is dark and filled with gruesome scenarios that befall the unfortunate Baudelaire orphans, and yet it remains sweet and touching. If you are a fan of the series Pushing Daisies, you will no doubt enjoy this one as well as it is not only similar in tone and visuals, but it also shares director and executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld. The first season was incredible and so too was 2018’s second season. The highlights of the series include a steampunk-esque visual feast for the eyes, its intelligent writing, which actually gives you vocabulary lessons in each episode in a way that is so entertaining you crave it, hilarious absurdity, and an amazing cast of both leads (led by incredible Neil Patrick Harris and the fantastic group of Baudelaire siblings Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Pressley Smith) and guest stars (which in Season 2 includes Nathan Fillion, Tony Hale and Sara Rue.) The story of the Baudelaire children may be an unfortunate one but you will not want to “look away” as the theme song and narrator (the wonderfully sardonic Patrick Warburton) often advises the audience to do. Instead you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well. The three all have their special strengths that they utilize as they continuously must escape the clutches of Count Olaf surrounded by people who will not always listen, while trying to maintain their own courage, faith and humanity. The contrast of the absurd situations, breathtaking visuals and profound meaning of this material is astonishing. And having watched Season 3 already, it’s an indisputable truth that A Series of Unfortunate Events will also be on next year’s list for the best in television.

2. A Discovery of WitcheswotchesWith the exception of the show that is at #1 on this list, it’s been a long time, since a series has so quickly and thoroughly captivated me from the very beginning. Between the amazing cast, beautifully locales and exquisite cinematography, there is so much to be mesmerized by. Although I have watched similar media at times, I would never call myself someone who LOVES witches or vampires or the supernatural the way some do, but perhaps that is because, while A Discovery of Withes is undoubtedly about witches, vampires and demons existing right alongside side us who are completely unaware of their existence, in truth these really feel like a metaphor for what every human can experience, relate to, or sympathize with: fear, prejudice, courage, friendship and above all else love. For this show is about learning to cast aside those fears and prejudices and learn that we all equal, because we all can universally understand the desire and right to be accepted and loved. And this series is most especially a love story- a kind of Romeo and Juliet love story between a witch and a vampire, two species who have always been on opposite, adversarial sides, who are instantly drawn to each other and form a unbreakable bond and love that transcends all, and defies obstacles, and proves that LOVE knows no bounds. The love story between Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont is already a beautiful and profound one that I am certain will continue to enthrall in the coming seasons as there will be one for each of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy. Both strong, passionate characters, who are surrounded by equally enthralling characters, Diana and Matthew love and protect each other with and open heart, a mutual respect and admiration, and a strength to overcome all that might separate them, because blood may be crave worthy, and fear may be easier than bravery, but love is what truly satiates every thirst or desire, fuels our inner courage, and ignites our very souls.

1. TimelesstimelessTimeless is a magical show. And although 2018 brought the series to a close, it will live on in a way that is immeasurable. This series is the perfect blend of adventure, history, humor, drama and mystery with amazing characters and relationships. Timeless brings history to life with both well known figures, but also nuances and individuals who are not, illuminating eras and inspiring people, while managing to enthrall its audience, never going for cheap shocks but rather interesting twists. It’s a labyrinth of wonder and the way it continued in 2018 with its second season was the most magical part of television in 2018. Season 2 may have done some things a bit differently with a bit less focus on the “Time Team” unit together on missions, but the individuals highlighted such as Hedy Lamarr, Alice Paul and Robert Johnson, and evolving relationships still remained the heartbeat of the show, encapsulated in the series finale movie where saving Rufus was paramount, Wyatt and Lucy finally came together in love and Flynn went on his incredible final journey of heroics and redemption- all of which were not only captivating but so moving. The show’s ending montage set to Joseph William Morgan’s cover of the song “Time After Time” resulted in many a tear, as we watched the beautiful journey of all of these characters through time: The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists, inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes.  This moment was a exquisite showcase of what makes this show so profound, special, and above all Timeless.

A Trip to “That’s From Disneyland” Pop-Up Exhibition and Auction

This past week I had the immense pleasure of attending “That’s from Disneyland,” an extraordinary 40,000 square feet pop-up exhibition featuring the largest ever collection of Disneyland memorabilia and collectibles from collector Richard Kraft and his son Nicholas. From now until August 24 you can visit the exhibit in Sherman Oaks, CA for free and marvel at these astounding pieces from attraction posters, paintings and signs, to ride vehicles of such treasured attractions as Dumbo (which once took up residence in the Kraft loving room) the People Mover and Skyway, to the 50 foot Sea Serpent from the previous version of the Submarine Voyage. After the exhibit concludes, on August 25 and 26, every item will be auctioned off in person, and via phone and online to the highest bidders. Even if these items are out of one’s price range, if you have the opportunity to visit this you should, especially for those who love Disneyland, nostalgia and a healthy dose of magic. There are plenty of photo opportunities and lots of fun of fun to be had. Lastly, I want to thank Richard and Nicholas for their generosity in setting up this exhibition. As a lifelong fan of all these Disney and a frequent visitor to the Disneyland Park since I was a young child, this exhibition was a true wonder to behold and I found myself amazed, delighted, and often overwhelmed, nostalgic and moved. Just like Disneyland itself, this truly is for the young and young at heart.

Take a look below at many of the items from this collection (including some comparisons from pictures taken during many past trips). This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what is up for auction. And for more information visit ThatsFromDisneyland.com

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Why I’m Thankful for Emma Swan (and Jennifer Morrison)

The crowning glory of Once Upon a Time will always be Emma Swan. The main character of the series, this unique, beautiful, strong original fairy tale creation is their greatest hero, and along with Killian Jones, their greatest character. But even beyond the series, Emma Swan will forever be one of the most remarkable characters of all time, from her profound and moving journey and development, to the impeccable performance by Jennifer Morrison, the resulting gratitude, joy and inspiration is indeed boundless. And she is not the greatest hero or character simply because she’s a strong woman who can equally wield a sword or a gun or her magic- though that certainly is a large part of it. Rather, it is because Emma Swan is a real, well rounded and relatable woman who shows us there’s more than one way to be strong and courageous- physically, emotionally, and through vulnerability with a willingness to completely open her heart. She represents that ideal balance while still remaining ever realistic. And from the brilliantly profound performance and choices of Morrison, to the storytelling and writing, and even the costumes and iconic imagery of her character, Emma Swan truly is remarkable.

It’s easy to be thankful such a character from a storytelling perspective alone, but all the other elements add to the richness of Emma, providing so much, as I said, relatability, inspiration and joy. Her development is so moving and extraordinary. Emma went from orphan, to bail bonds person, to mother, Sheriff, friend, lover, Savior, hero, wife and mother again. Indeed, Emma went from feeling like an unwanted orphan and a little lost girl, unloved and like she didn’t matter and never would, to a young woman opening her heart only to be betrayed, making her grow hardened and jaded. And yet goodness remained, and hope still resided deep within the cracks of her heart, brought to the surface with her heart healing with the love she found with her parents, her son Henry, her friends, her eventual husband Killian, and her own sense of self worth. She didn’t think she could be a mother or open her heart romantically again and yet she found the courage to do so. The world can be cruel but you need not become such. And what is so beautiful and special about Emma is that duality of bringing back the happy endings for others and in the end finding her own.

With her iconic red leather jacket and bright yellow VW Bug she represents color being brought back into the cold, grey world. Her true love brings her son back to life and awakens Storybrooke from its sleep, and her heroics and indeed very being inspires Killian out of the darkness, reawakening both of their hearts from their long, long sleep. She saves others and saves herself, learns to love fully and love herself, her strength only growing as her vulnerability does. She could equally defeat a villain and help inspire and redeem them. Indeed, so many adjectives and superlatives can be attributed to Emma, who is truly a complex and well rounded character.

emma savior

Strong

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Brave

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Heroic

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Guarded

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Stubborn

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Kind

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Compassionate

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Sweet

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Overwhelmed

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Vulnerable

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Inspiring

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Self-sacrificing

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Awestruck

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Motherly

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Sassy

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Smart

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Funny

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Forgiving

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Powerful

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Beautiful

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Adorable

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Flirtatious

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Loving

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Blissful

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Affectionate

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Gentle

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Comforting

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Tough

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Badass

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Fierce

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Special

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Passionate

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Happy

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Peaceful

How can one not be captivated by the richness and beauty of such a story- a modern fairy tale character and story that will continue to inspire and delight. Emma Swan also inspires what Once Upon a Time exemplifies: Hope. She is light and the living embodiment of Hope, inspiring it in others, and rekindling it in her own heart when she had long lost it. She continues to be a beacon, now passing that onto her and Killian’s daughter of the same namesake bringing the show, her story and character full circle. It is truly beautiful.

If one is thankful for Emma Swan, so much of that lies within the beautifully brilliant performance of Jennifer Morrison. I cannot imagine another actor portraying Emma, especially with the same amount of depth, beauty, care and understanding that Morrison brought to the role year after year. She showcased all of Emma’s facets of the real and well-rounded woman she is always in such a deep and profound and brilliant way- with vitality, with humor, with softness, with subtlety and nuance, and with strength. For Emma is smart and witty, sometimes sarcastic and funny, sometimes hard and jaded, sometimes lost and heartbroken, sometimes soft and tender. She will wear a leather jacket, jeans and boots one moment, a soft pink dress another, and a beautiful ball gown another- a symbolic visual representation of the fullness of her character. No matter the scene Morrison expressed Emma’s strength, warmth and radiance, through her tears, her smiles, her expressive eyes , and her mannerisms. She spoke the words but also showed us Emma’s soul. I must also note how wonderful McKenna Grace and Abby Ross were as young Emma, both portraying fundamental pieces of Emma’s demeanor, psyche and development beautifully. They both clearly studied Morrison’s performance and did a fine job of maintaining consistencies and expressions, and physicality.

This is reason enough to be thankful, but beyond that, in the case of Morrison, not only did she breathe life into Emma, but did so with such care, consistency and understanding that is truly special. Morrison read memoirs of those who grew up in the foster system to understand their lives and experiences more thoroughly, and developed a special way Emma dealt with food, mimicking the way a child like Emma have to fight for her share in crowded group homes . She would cradle the head of those she loved when she hugged them, much like her father. Her smiles and expressions varied depending on the scene partner showcasing the variances in each relationship. In particular, one of the loveliest consistencies is the way she’d have Emma stand with Killian, her arm around him, often her head on his shoulder, and always with her hand resting over his heart in a loving and even protective manner- all done after his character had his heart taken and then restored by her. All of these consistencies bring beauty and depth to an already grand performance infusing subtleties that only the most gifted would even think of, let alone express so warmly, beautifully and with such reality. She always speaks about Emma’s journey with eloquence and complete and utter understanding. Instead of trying duplicate her words I’ll let them speak for themselves.

“Do you know how strong you have to be, to be vulnerable? I think you have to be even stronger to be vulnerable than to be defensive. And so I see it as an evolution of her strength for her to feel that she has it in her to be this vulnerable, to be this open, to risk getting hurt. I think that takes an incredible amount of strength.”

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“She has grown to a place where she’s capable of being strong and in love. And I think that that is what makes that really special for her. Is that after everything she’s been through and after all journeys that she’s been through and all of the obstacles that she’s faced, she’s surrounded by her family and friends and someone who loves her for who she truly is and she loves him for who he truly is. I think it’s nice that she’s being portrayed as being in a relationship where they know the good and the bad of each other. It’s not just we are happy go lucky and everything is great. They’re very aware of each other’s flaws and very aware of the times they’ve failed. And they accept the broken parts of each other. Just as they accept the healthy parts of each other. I think for her she feels like for the first time in her life she’s in a safe place. She is with someone who is truly her side and truly by their side. And I think that’s ultimately the best happy ending I could imagine for her after everything she’s been through. She started her life completely abandoned and sort of abused in certain ways. So to come to a place where she’s healing from all that, and she’s loved and supported by her family and by her now husband, I think it’s great.”

As is often the case, an actor’s fine work in one thing and can result in seeking out others. A few seasons into Once Upon a Time I found her wonderful work on House and How I Met Your Mother as well as re-watching Star Trek and discovering Warrior. A film like Sun Dogs (a review for this will be on here soon) may have never been on my radar but I’m so happy to be following Morrison’s career and obvious multifaceted talent, and look forward to whatever future projects are on the horizon. She also brought to light worthwhile causes which I was proud to be a part of: Dressember which helps to combat human trafficking, and the “Be the Hero” campaign which benefited research to battle Jacobson Syndrome. And beyond this, Morrison is an inspiring, kind soul that myself and countless others are thankful for- for her kindness, humbleness, and generosity of spirit, beyond her immense talent. I was moved by her words when I had the privilege of attending her panel at NerdHQ:

 

“And I think a lot of the time we like to  categorize things and say it’s all one thing or all another. It’s like if you’re strong then ‘you’re hard and you’re tough and you never cry and you don’t need anyone and you don’t need a man’ and  if you’re vulnerable then it’s like ‘you’re soft and sweet and take care of some guy.’ People like to delineate those two categories.  I’m not all one and I’m not all the other.  I can be extremely strong and really tough and I can stand up for myself and I can take care of myself. But there’s also things that hurt me, there’s also things that make me very vulnerable.  And there’s also  people I care about and I’m very open with them and I let them  close enough that they could hurt me.  I think it’s really important to try to bring wholeness to these characters otherwise you’re setting up young girls to have an unrealistic expectation of what it means to be strong.”

And I was extremely touched by her kind words about my writing for The Nerd Machine- to hear the appreciation, and praise and hear one’s writing called lovely and thoughtful means more than I could ever express. Morrison is an inspiring, lovely, truly nice person and I’m thankful for her being the one to bring Emma to life and everything beyond.

Emma Swan inspires me and I can easily say that she (and indeed Morrison) changed my life. It has not been as dark as Emma’s, but I can most definitely relate to feelings of insecurity, loneliness, and self worth having suffered from bullying, anxiety and other things. Emma is a character for anyone who has ever in some way felt like they weren’t enough- that they were an ugly duckling- to remind us that we were never nothing and that we have the power within ourselves to be the swan. To remember that love and hope spring eternal and that we have the ability to change our lives. Emma inspires the best in us all. To love without limits or walls up, to pull yourself up and fight for your happy beginning, middle and end. Emma Swan is the hero, the woman we needed for this generation and for all time. So thank you Emma Swan and Jennifer Morrison for inspiring us all and being a light in the world.

Bonus: Take a pictorial journey through 40 defining moments for Emma Swan

1. Emma makes a wish to not be alone on her birthday and Henry shows up at her doorgif-02agif-02b

2. Emma and Henry make their first real connection at his “castle”emma henry 6.gif

3. Emma shows what she is capable of when she takes a chainsaw to Regina’s treeemma tree.gif

4. Emma gives Ashley wise advice about lifeemma-speech.gif

5. Emma makes a deal with Gold to ensure Ashley can keep her babyemma ashley 1

6. Emma displays a flicker of hope that her heart could open in a moment with Grahamemma graham

7. Emma helps reunite two orphaned twins with their fatheremma compassionate

8. Emma breaks down after Augusts tells her she is Storybrooke’s only hopeemma angry (2)

9. Emma touches the Storybook and finally believes in magicemma believes.gif

10. Emma fights a dragon to help save Henrygif-16a

11. Emma saves Henry with True Love’s Kiss and breaks the curse on Storybrookegif-17

12. Emma shows vulnerability with her mother after seeing everything she sacrificedemma cry 2.gif

13. Emma finds a kindred spirit in Killian and admits she was once in loveemma was once.gif

14. Emma is set up to take the fall for Neal’s crime and is arrestedemma arrested 1

15. The magic inside of Emma shines through as she says “Love is strength”emma magic1

16. Emma gives an impassioned and inspiring speech about the best way to save Henry Emma Speech 1.gif

17. Emma reveals to her mother how she’s always felt like a lost girl who didn’t matteremma lost girl 3

18. Emma kisses Killian for the first timeemma kisses hook.gif

19. Emma saves Killian’s life, sacrificing her magic in the processcs back to me

20. Emma shares a romantic waltz with Killiancs dance 4

21. Emma witnesses the moment her parnets fall in loveemma watches parents.gif

22. Emma tells Killian Storybrooke is her true home, getting her magic and their way home back. She returns calling her parents Mom and Dadgif-32gif-33

23. Emma opens her heart and kisses Killian after hearing of his great sacrifice of the Jolly Roger to bring her homegif-35b

24. Emma reveals she’s pulling away out of fear of losing Killianemma can't lose you

25. Emma makes a brave, personal stride and asks Killian out on a dateemma asks hook 1.gif

26. Emma shares some childhood mementos for the first time with anyonecs share 1

27. Emma accepts herself as she is and gains control of her magicemma magic 6

28. Emma reveals her true love for Killian and regrets in not expressing itemma guarded 1

29. Emma becomes the Dark One to save everyone in Storybrooke from the darknessemma strong

30. Emma fights backs against the darkness declaring she was “never nothing!”gif-64

31. Emma fully turns into the Dark Swan when she tethers Killian to Excaliburemma dark one 1.gif

32. Emma proclaims her family’s motto marching into the Underworld to save Killiangif-49

33. Emma takes the last name “Swan” as a sign of what she wants to bebaby emma

34. Emma takes a big step in stating her love in a normal, peaceful momentemma love you

35. Emma begins therapy revealing she fears her happy ending is an illusionemma happy ending.gif

36. Emma makes her final transformation into the swan, who is strong and not alone- and never has been- in her song “Emma’s Theme”gif-marianneproject53c

37. Emma marries her True Love Killianemma wedding

38. Emma chooses to be the hero Henry tells her she isemma awakes1.gif

39. Emma has her Final Battle as the Savioremma savior 2

40. Emma has her first child with Killian, naming her Hopecs hope

 

Gif sources: shoedonym, doomsdayy, lumadreamland, onceland, odonowest, captainswanouat, captainswansource, ceeyoutea, onceuponadaily, jemmablossom, swanemma, once-upon-a-captain-swan, someone-like-robsten, killiancomeback2me, dashingrapskillian, emmaswaln, kimidakewooooo, dianasofthemyscira , ohmycaptn, youseetherealme, warriorswan, swanshope, handsomeswan, captainpoe, captainswaan, Joyce Scott, tough-lass, once-land

Why I’m Thankful for Killian Jones (and Colin O’Donoghue)

There is so much one can say about such an extraordinary character as Once Upon a Time’s Killian Jones. For myself and countless others this version of the classic character has not only become our favorite depiction of the pirate captain, but arguably also the best, and certainly, along with Emma Swan, the show’s greatest character. Even though Killian may not be what one would automatically think of when imagining Captain Hook, because of the unique take on the character, the depth, the moving story, the inherent characteristics, and especially the exemplary performance of Colin O’Donoghue, Killian Jones is the greatest Captain Hook to ever grace the screen, and that is assuredly a reason to be thankful.

Indeed the intrinsic qualities, character development and overall storyline of Killian Jones is truly exceptional. Worthy of praise and gratitude from an audience perspective for anyone who enjoys a grand story, as well as from a deeper and more meaningful standpoint, Killian and his journey is the type that stays with you forever. Initially, Killian is what one may expect a swash buckling pirate to be- roguishly charming and cocky- someone who could flash you a disarming smile one moment and then kill you the next. He was both established as a villain and foil to Rumplestlitskin as well as a kindred spirit and match for the show’s leading lady Emma Swan. And he could easily be a one note character. But in addition to these established roles he is so much more. Killian is a deep and profound character who goes on an extraordinary journey. He goes from wide eyed boy who wants to be just like his father, to a heartbroken, abandoned orphan, to a ship’s slave for a cruel captain, to hopeful lieutenant in the Royal Navy with honor in his heart and dreams of great heroics. But then to a shattered young man due to the tragic death of his brother, making him the pirate Captain Jones who does as he pleases and serves no one, to the vengeful pirate Captain Hook, hell bent on avenging the woman he loved no matter the cost, even his own life. And so he lived for centuries in darkness, until the day he looked up and saw the Savior, who would inspire him to remember the man of honor he wanted to be- the man he truly is deep within his soul. A man who indeed loves and lives with his entire soul and becomes a true hero, the true love to Emma Swan, a stepfather to her son Henry, husband to his beloved, and finally father to their precious daughter Hope. There’s so many superlatives and characteristics that can be attributed to him and make Killian such a remarkable man.

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Strong

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Brave

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Heroic

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Devoted

killian loyal

Loyal

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Honorable

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Handsome

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Sexy

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Flirtatious

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Self-Deprecating

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Humble

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Comforting

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Determined

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Overwhelmed

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Intelligent

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Wise

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Blissful

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Awestruck

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Vulnerable

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Selfless

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Supportive

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Sweet

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Passionate

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Tender

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Loving

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Happy

In the greatest redemption arc of the series, and indeed one of the best ever, Killian’s journey back towards the light may have been inspired by Emma, but importantly he did so for himself. And so often Killian felt undeserving and unworthy of forgiveness and love despite earning it from others, so had to learn to forgive himself, and work to become worthy in his mind and heart of those treasured intangibles. It is a captivating and moving story about falling from grace and treading a dark path but learning how “all sins can be forgiven when someone loves you” and finding the light again. It is a beautiful story of redemption and rebirth brilliantly told most especially because of the incomparable talent of Colin O’Donoghue. He never hit a false note and it takes a gifted actor to come into an established series and truly make an indelible impression. O’Donoghue did that and tenfold, masterfully creating an extraordinary character who can be anything from dark and sinister, to brooding and heartbroken, to charming and roguish, to funny and lovable, to sweet and tender, with often a single or subtle expression or a specific demeanor. What’s remarkable is that in addition to the distinct costumes and specific writing, what O’Donoghue brought with his performance was astounding, developing a precise way of standing, moving and speaking with the amazing ability to show us Killian’s soul through his ever expressive eyes. He developed specific mannerisms and timbres of his voice depending on the situation, timeline and who he shared a scene with. Different smiles, different looks, even tones of voice. He could make your heart beat or break, make you laugh or cry. Even such subtleties such as a clench of his jaw when he felt tense or upset, a scratch behind the ear when he felt unsure but a desire to be flirtatious with Emma, and the ways he had to move or do things differently because he only had one hand and a hook instead such as tying a scarf with his teeth, which ended up being both practical and heart pounding for Emma and the audience, was nothing short of astounding. It’s a marvel that only the most talented can accomplish. Captain Hook has never before been such a deep and real man, and it’s because of the brilliance of O’Donoghue.

One cannot be thankful for the performance of O’Donoghue as it made the character who he is. But also for myself and so many others, we are thankful not only for what he brought to Killian Jones but also for the kindness, generosity and humility he demonstrates. And it helps bring to light and attention on other films in which he stars- ones we might not have known otherwise such as The Rite, The Dust Storm and Carrie Pilby, all amazing films worthy of praise. And there’s much anticipation for What Still Remains, set for release later this summer. On a personal note, I will be forever grateful for O’Donghue’s attention and praise for the writing I did on Once Upon a Time and his films for The Nerd Machine. As a writer you always hope it can make any kind of impact, or bring joy or appreciation, especially if it’s from those with whom you are writing about. It’s an indescribable feeling, but you are left with a deep feeling of gratitude and happiness.

Killian Jones is one of the finest pirates, captain, men, individuals to ever grace the screen providing such inspiration to never lose hope that life is not only worth living, but that you can find someone who makes it all worth it, as well as simply doing it for yourself. There is always light and hope at the end of a dark path. Your soul can be reawakened and reborn. For everything the character Killian Jones and Colin O’Donoghue has given us and will no doubt continue to do so- thank you so very much! My life and the lives of so many have changed and been made infinitely better by Killian and by O’Donoghue himself. The pirate, the hero, the man will live in our hearts and continue to delight and inspire that duality of spirit- the pirate and the hero in all of us.

Bonus: Take a pictorial journey through 20 defining moments for Killian Jones

1. Lieutenant Jones becomes Captain Joneshook captain

2. Killian Jones becomes Captain Hookhook hook

3. Killian’s heart is stirred as he finds a kindred spirit in Emma Swankillian tall.gif

4. Killian comes back with the magic bean offering his ship and services to save Henryhookcomesback1

5. Killian saves David’s life in Neverlandhook wink

6. Killian reveals what’s in his heart for Emmahook met you

7. Killian tells Emma his sincere intentions to win her heartgif-24

8. A remorseful Killian swears on the name of his love that he still believes in itgif-27

9. Killian reveals he traded the Jolly Roger for Emmagif-34

10. Killian reveals the truth to Emma about his dealings with Gold hook forgive

11. Killian tries to save Emma’s life and in turn has his heart stolen by Goldkillian hero 1

12. Deckhand Killian sacrifices himself to ensure Emma and Henry’s escapehook stab

13. Killian becomes a Dark Onekillian tortured

14. Killian fights back against the darkness and sacrifices his life to save everyonegif-48a

15. Killian helps a young girl escape form a dungeon in the Underworldhook underworld 1.gif

16. Killian accepts his fate and is ready to move on and is sent back to where he belongs: to Storybrooke and Emmakilliancs reunion

17. Killian tells Belle he still is on the road to forgiving himselfkillian proud

18. Killian sings about his quest for revengegif-marianneproject53b

19. Killian marries his True Love Emmakillian wedding

20. Killian and Emma have their first child cs hope

Gif sources: captainswanouat, captainswansource, odonowest, pearlmackie, swanscaptn, just-be-magnificent, high-seas-swan, onceland, daeneryskairipa, emmakillian, kimidakewooooo, handsomeswan, odonorable, ladyswanjones, captainheroism, ahoymilady, emmasawn, officerrogers, adrina-stark, doomsdayy.

Once Upon a Time: 62 Iconic Moments

Once Upon a Time has had no shortage of beautiful, profound, funny, exciting and poignant moments since the series debuted October 23, 2011. With the show coming to a close I thought it was time to celebrate its conclusion with a look back at some of the show’s most iconic moments. What makes an iconic moment? There are a myriad of things but when it comes down to it, these are moments that I think of when I think “what is Once Upon a Time?” They are the moments that embody its finest themes, most breathtaking visuals, the sweet and heart wrenching, the moving and adventurous- the moments that truly defined the series. All of the gifs were made by the lovely and ever talented Ashley at @cptnswan_ouat  on Twitter and captainswanouat on Tumblr and here she was able to capture all of the richness, beauty, wonder and emotion in her creations. She was one of the first fandom people I ever followed and such a beautiful person. She is also an amazing photographer and you can check out her photos here. Without further ado these are 62 Iconic Moments, seen in chronological order. Yes I know that seems to be a random  and arbitrary number and that may seem like a lot and trust me, I had to eliminate some for fear of going completely overboard. But I couldn’t list everything. So, these are the moments to look back on that I truly believe will be remembered as the most iconic of the fairy tale series.

1. The opening shot of Charming riding on his horse and then awakening Snow with a True Love’s Kiss (“Pilot”)
It was true love at first sight as we saw Prince Charming on his mighty steed. The moment that started it all was absolute magic, and one that unsurprisingly was revisited many times throughout the series. The score, the magic of the real snow that began to fall, the soft performances from Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas, this moment set the tone for the series in a beautiful way and gave us the first instance of the steadfast and iconic line “I Will Always Find You.”gif-01agif-01b

2. Emma makes a birthday wish on a Cupcake, and Henry shows up at her door, and they head to Storybrooke (1×1 “Pilot”)
The start of a truly beautiful journey, we saw right away that this strong woman was also very lonely and longed for more, and her wish comes true when the son she gave up for adoption appears just as she blows out the candle. A sweet and vulnerable moment with a hint of magical fate. And when Emma’s drives her bright yellow bug into the gray, sleepy town, it’s a beautiful metaphor for the magic and color, she is literally and figuratively bringing to Storybrooke.gif-02agif-02bgif-03

3. Charming sword fights with baby Emma in his arms (1×1 “Pilot”)
Prince Charming will protect his family with his dying breath, and that was almost the case as he fights off the Evil Queen’s guards with his daughter who was born merely moments before in his arms. It’s equally heroic, impressive and filled with emotion.gif-04.gif

4. The Dark Curse envelops Regina and Snow and Charming (1×1 “Pilot”)
As the Evil Queen stands for what she believes is her victory and Snow cradles her husband, the moment is powerful and intense both emotionally and visually.gif-05

5. Henry watches Storybrooke clock move for the first time (1×1 “Pilot”)
Emma deciding to stay in Storybrooke was the beginning of her journey as the Savior, causing the clock to move for the first time in 28 years, and Henry’s smile realizing that things are about to change for the better was not only sweet, but the first instance of one of the show’s most prolific themes: Hope.gif-06.gif

6. Once Upon a Time is great at characters introductions, especially establishing shots that show a sense of style and confidence. These are the best and most iconic. 

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Emma Swan

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The Evil Queen/Regina Mills

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Captain Hook/Killian Jones

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August Booth

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Zelena Mills

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Elsa

7. Charming catches Snow in a net (1×3 “Snow Falls”)
Isn’t he a real Prince Charming. It may not have been love at first sight for these two, but the snarky rapport between them was a sheer delight. It’s playful and funny and a sign of their amazing chemistry, and shows that the Charming’s line “I Will Always find You” began in a much different context, making it all the more meaningful when its altered to a sign of love and hope. It’s easy to understand why actors Goodwin and Dallas always keep this episode at the top of their list of favorites.gif-08.gif

8. Snow tries on Charming’s Mother’s ring (1×3 “Snow Falls”)
This was the first moment that true love sparked between them and the look on Charming’s faces as she puts on this ring says it all. He fell in love in that moment, and so too did she, but it took a while for them to admit these feelings. Such a lovely, important, and iconic moment.gif-09.gif

9. Emma gives Ashley wise and inspiring advice (1×4 “The Price of Gold”)
One of not only the most profound quotes from Emma, but also the entire series, this speech of Emma’s lays out inspiring truths that we all should endeavor to follow. We get to decide who we are and should never let anyone say otherwise. The choice is ours.gif-10

10. Rumplestiltskin catches Belle when she falls off the curtain in his castle (1×12 “Skin Deep”)
A sweet moment of rare vulnerability for the Dark One. We see both of their hearts begin to stir in this classically romantic moment.gif-11.gif

11. Rumplestilskin’s Dark One curse is nearly broken with True Love’s Kiss (1×12 “Skin Deep”)
We see how powerful true love can be when Belle’s kiss begins to turned Rumple back into a real man. He stops it moments later, but for an instant it was lovely to see.gif-12.gif

12. Ruby discovers she is the wolf (1×15 “Red-Handed”)
Once of the first and still best twists to a fairy tale the show has ever done, this moment is not only iconic because it was completely unexpected and unique, but also because of the emotion and drama behind it. Discovering who you are and feeling terrified of it leads Ruby to a beautiful journey of self discovery and acceptance of her true self, and learning that you can save yourself that the show did often, and most especially well with the Red Riding Hood character.gif-58

13. Jefferson lays out some truths to Emma about the reality of the world and magic. (1×17 “Hat Trick”)
In an truly underrated episode, Jefferson may be a little mad, but here is completely lucid about the reality of people, their expectations and unwillingness to believe. And it’s not only a great turning point and iconic moment for the series, but a fine metaphor about faith and belief in the real world.gif-13

14. Rumple let’s Baelfire go through portal (1×19 “The Return”)
The moment everything went wrong for the Dark One. This heart wrenching moment Rumple let’s his fear and unwillingness to relent power and magic was the catalyst for his entire storyline. Not only iconic but one of the most important plot and emotional moments of the series.gif-14
15. Snow eats the poison apple/Henry eats the poisoned apple turnover (1×21 “An Apple as Red as Blood”)
The paralleled poignant moments not only are reminiscent of the original Snow White film, but are so moving because they were done to help those they love the most. Self sacrifice and protection and hope, both are framed and shot in the same angle with is brilliant in its aesthetics.gif-15agif-15b

16. Charming and Emma fight Maleficent the dragon (1×22 “A Land Without Magic”)
Emma takes after her father in many ways and in true fairy tale form, one of these became having to fight a dragon to save a loved one from a sleeping curse, or so they thought. The cross cutting between the two was so well done, and these moments were not only adventurous but show the lengths these two heroes will go to for their family.gif-16agif-16b
17. Emma saves Henry with True Love’s Kiss and breaks the curse on Storybrooke (1×22 “A Land Without Magic”)
Iconic, beautiful and extremely touching, this is such a profound moment for Emma and the series as a whole as it shows the power of mother’s love for their child, and the power that Emma possesses in her very being. She is the savior and she awoke the town form it’s long sleep with her belief and love. Between Emma and Henry and Snow and Charming beautifully reunited, it’s such a powerful moment in meaning, and evocative in its visuals performances and musical score.gif-17

18. Magic comes to Storybrooke (1×22 “A Land Without Magic”)
One of the first of the show’s powerful montages, the end to the first season concluded with a cloud of purple magic enveloping the citizens of Storybrooke, and it was a wonder to behold. The image of Snow and Charming in particularly clutching each other as purple smoke approaches them is emotional and yes, iconic.gif-18

19. Snow and Charming, memories restored, reunite with Emma (2×1 “Broken”)
I am sure many a tear was shed when Snow and Charming knowingly embrace their daughter for the first time since she was born. The family was reunited and it was sweet and moving, and Henry breaks up the emotion by calling Charming “Grandpa.” It was truly perfect!
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20. Lancelot officiates Snow and Charming’s wedding (2×3 “Lady of the Lake”)
Their wedding in the “Pilot” was beautiful and grand, but this one was about them- quiet and simple and about their love that they share they will remain eternal and true. It is made even lovelier by not only the fact that this is the last thing Charming’s mother sees, and she passes away at peace and overjoyed for her son, but also that the water they drink breaks the curse on Snow, making Emma’s existence possible.gif-20

21. Rumplestiltskin and Captain Hook sword fight (2×4 “The Crocodile”)
What is more fairy tale adventure than a good old classic sword fight? And one between the Dark One and Captain Hook is an amazing one indeed, in the episode that introduced the Captain Hook character and his rivalry with Rumple.gif-21.gif

22. Emma and Hook climb the beanstalk (2×6 “Tallahassee”)
The beginning of their beautiful journey began with a precarious climb up a beanstalk to retrieve a magical compass. Plot wise and visually it’s so fairy tale fun and lovely, but emotionally and metaphorically we see that these two are beginning to climb the walls that are surrounding each other’s hearts as they connect and can sense important truths about one another, their past loves and the ways they guard themselves. It’s a climb toward a future together.gif-22

23. Rumplestiltskin and Neal reunite (2×14 “Manhattan”)
A reunion that was a long time coming and the entire reason Rumple set the curse in motion, when father and son finally reunite it is wrought with tension, heartache and a sense that no matter how each is feeling in this moment, their relationship, strained as it is, is not impossibly repaired. It’s a sad moment indeed, but a memorable one.gif-59

24. The family boards the Jolly Roger and follows Henry through a portal to Neverland (2×22 “And Straight On Til Morning”)
Season finales should pack a punch and leave you wanting more, and the end to Season 2 definitely delivered on that regard. The family all joining together to save Henry is iconic enough but ending the season seeing the Jolly Roger sinking into the whirlpool portal with a whoosh and a dramatic musical score was amazing, making the audience ever so eager to see what happens next.gif-60

25. Emma and Hook’s first kiss in Neverland (3×5 “Good Form”)
A challenge, a moment of feeling good, and a relief of sexual tension, the first kiss between the beloved couple was not only sexy, passionate, and as the script said “lusty and hot,” but also deep and meaningful as we saw a combination of what makes them such a great match- a powerful attraction, playfulness in their flirtations, and an undeniable deep connection and awakening of feelings they never thought they would feel again, and that no one else could bring out in them. There was no going back from this point on. They couldn’t handle it and neither could the audience.gif-23

26. Hook vows to win Emma’s heart (3×7 “Dark Hollow”)
How many hearts were unequivocally stirred by Killian’s vow to win Emma’s heart without any trickery but because she will truly want him? Despite her walls still being up you can see the affect he has on here as his vow is sincere, heartfelt, confident but also an ever so vulnerable moment for the pirate captain, who had fallen in love with this amazing woman and wants her to know that he cares for her, is willing to fight for her, but that ultimately the choice to be with him will be hers. It’s deeply romantic and significant in its meaning.gif-24

27. Rumplestiltskin sacrifices himself and kills Peter Pan (3×11 “Going Home”)
A moment of heroism, Rumple sacrifices himself to save everyone from Peter Pan and it’s a truly powerful moment for his character and the series. He found his strength and his courage when he needed it and it’s both powerful and heart breaking. He believes this is his end so most especially to save Belle and Neal, he kills his own father and with his dagger and they disappear in a burst of magic.gif-25

28. Regina stops Pan’s curse, Storybrooke disappears, and Killian shows up at Emma’s door 1 year later (3×11 “Going Home”)
A dramatic, powerful, heart wrenching moment, the score and the meaning of this scene was truly one of the greatest of the series. Many tears were no doubt shed as Emma and Henry drive away, their memories of their loved ones gone, as Regina does what she needs to do and sends them all back to the Enchanted Forest in a cloud of magic. As this curse envelops all of Storybrooke and we see the town line disappear as a melancholy version of “Emma’s Theme” plays, the show made an important and indelible shift. This was bold and extremely poignant. And when Killian knocks on Emma’s door one year later, the excitement and drama was palpable and the show would never be the same again!gif-26agif-26bgif-marianneproject26c.gif

29. Hook swears on the name of his love, Emma, and his lips are cursed (3×17 “The Jolly Roger”)
” I Swear on Emma Swan”- it is such a poignant moment for Hook’s character as he finally says out loud what he feels in his heart for Emma after a year of trying to push down his feels, and makes mistakes while trying to be like his former dastardly pirate self, but finding himself feeling empty. His heart was broken without Emma and Zelena exploits his love by disguising herself as Ariel, to get him to reveal his feelings and curse his lips. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but made so dramatic and moving by this surprising twist and O’Donoghue’s performance.gif-27

30. Regina and Robin’s first kiss (3×18″Bleeding Through”)
Even without her heart Regina decided to follow her developing and strong feelings for Robin and throws caution to the wind and kisses him. The attraction was there from the beginning and is evident here in this first passionate kiss between the soulmates. But this was more about attraction, and bathed in firelight they share a romantic moment of true connection and fervor. gif-28

31. Snow gives Charming half of her heart to save his life (3×19 “A Curious Thing”)
Before sacrificing his own heart to enact the dark curse, Charming tells Snow “we’ve always shared one heart.” And then moments later they prove it. Snow’s heart the love the she feels proves strong enough to revive her husband in this romantic, deeply moving and beautiful moment for the couple and the entire series. And the fact that Regina is the one to help them after having to hurt them for so long is especially poignant.
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32. Regina defeats Zelena (3×20 “Kansas”)
One of the best moments for Regina’s character- she defeats her sister with light magic proving that your power not only comes from within but you can choose to change if you truly want to. You can learn to and begin to make up for past mistakes. Light magic proved more powerful than dark, in this penultimate moment of Season 3.gif-30

33. Emma and Killian share a waltz at King Midas’s Ball (3×21 “Snow Drifts”)
For the first time in her life Emma felt like a fairy tale princess and part of her parent’s world but also recognized that Killian was someone she could completely give her heart to in this undeniably sweet and romantic fairy tale moment. A glittering ball room, sumptuous costumes, a sweet waltz, the aesthetic beauties were matched by the deeper meaning of seeing Emma get to experience something so special for the first time, share it with someone who makes her feel special and cherished. And the looks in their eyes are lovely as she has found a real partner who knows what he’s doing- not just on the dance floor, but with her heart.gif-31

34. Emma says Storybrooke is her home and call Snow and David Mom and Dad (3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home”)
It’s such a lovely moment to see Emma get her magic back by realizing that Storybrooke is her home. After all the pain she went through, she realizes just how much her parents mean to her and that where she belongs is this sleepy little town. That is lovely in itself but as she embraces her parents and call them Mom and Dad for the first time in a moment of happiness instead of fear, it’s a turning point for her character and her relationship with Snow and Charming.gif-32gif-33

35. Killian says he traded ship for Emma (3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home”)
Once of the most romantic moments to ever grace the screen, the mystery surrounding what happened to the Jolly Roger and how Killian was able to reach Emma in New York City was revealed to be even more meaningful than we could have imagined. Killian gave up his home to bring Emma back to hers, because he loves her and it was the right thing to do, but also just to see her again, never knowing if she would ever return his feelings. And in this moment her astonishment is beautiful and realization that their feelings for each other are deep is evident in the unbridled kiss they share. There was not magical curse to break, but it was a moment of True Love.gif-34.gif

36. Montage of the happy couples (3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home”)
Once Upon a Time does montages really well, and this one of the two most iconic and happiest of the series as it shows all of the couples delight in their love, all in different stages of a relationship: Emma and Hook at the start, being tender, passionate and sweet, Snow and Charming, content and at peace with their new baby, Rumple and Belle, emotional as they wed, and Regina and Robin, joyful and delighting in simply being together. Combined with the gorgeous musical cue, this scene is simply beautiful in every way.gif-35agif-35bgif-35cgif-35d

37. Rumplestiltskin and Belle dance to “Beauty and the Beast” (4×1 “A Tale of two Sisters”)
One of the sweetest, happiest and loveliest moments for the couple, on their honeymoon the two donned costumes very similar to the animated counterparts and danced to a beautiful instrumental of the classic song. It’s one the Disney-est moments of the series. gif-36.gif

38. Elsa helps Emma accept her magic (4×8 “Smash the Mirror)
It’s a poignant theme to accept every part of yourself and when Emma accepts her magic as part of her, she learns to control it, and does so with the help of a true kindred friend. There are many parallels between Emma and Elsa, and many wonderful moments in Emma’s journey, and this one both beautifully and visually in meaning was one of the most powerful.
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39. Montage of the characters preparing for the Snow Queen’s spell (4×9 “Fall)
Another gorgeous montage in true Once Upon a Time fashion. Beautiful montages are often the mix of score, visuals and story that can bring forth lovely results. This montage was very dramatic and aesthetically filmed in such a dynamic way as we see every character ready for the spell that’s about to befall them. It ups the drama in an amazing way.gif-38agif-38bgif-38cgif-38dgif-38egif-38fgif-38ggif-38hgif-38igif-38j

40. Regina and Robin part at the Storybrooke town line (4×11 “Heroes and Villains”)
Heartbreaking to say the least, Regina and Robin had to part so he could be with Marian, both having to sacrifice being together for the good of other. As sad as it was to watch, it is shot in such a beautifully melancholy and romantic way as they hold hands and he steps backwards across the town line, Storybrooke and Regina, disappearing from Robin’s view with a single tear falling from his eye. It is heart wrenching but unforgettable.gif-39

41. Emma and Regina use magic to fight the Chernabog (4×12 “Darkness on the Edge of Town”)
These two women possess such powerful magic individually so it’s a no brainer that when they both use their magic together, it’s even more powerful and it’s a great demonstration of former enemies coming together for the greater good. But it’s the image of them both, in their individual style blasting their magic at the Chernabog in unison that was a great iconic moment in imagery. gif-40bgif-40a

42. Killian tells Emma she’s his happy ending (4×15 “Poor Unfortunate Soul”)
Once Upon a Time is all about happy endings, but for Emma and Killian, both had so much sadness in their lives that finding someone who can be yours is overwhelming. And in this tender, vulnerable moment both are overwhelmed in emotion, Killian admitting what he is so afraid to lose, and Emma that she could possibly mean so much to someone she equally cares for. Between the tender performances, the softness of the scene, and the single tear that Emma sheds, this moment is exquisitely iconic. gif-41.gifgif-41b.gif

43. Robin Hood rides a horse in streets of New York (4×18 “Heart of Gold”)
The kind of scene that could only happen in Once Upon a Time, the combination of classic heroic fairy tale moment with the loud and crowded modernity of New York City was wonderful both in concept and for the character of Robin to show off his heroism in classic fashion.
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44. Henry becomes the new Author (4×22 “Operation Mongoose Part 2”)
When Henry picks up the magic quill and is chosen to be the next author of the illustrious book of fairy tales- an honor only bestowed to those truly worthy, Henry gets to be the hero he always wanted to be. But what was special was that this came from within because of the person he is, and because of that Henry saved everyone and returned things to how they were meant to be. It’s possibly the best moment for his character.
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45. Emma becomes the Dark One 4×22 (“Operation Mongoose Part 2”)
One of Emma’s most heroic and self sacrificial moments, and truly on the most powerful of the series, Emma tether’s herself to the darkness threatening to snuff out the entire town and everyone there, saving everyone’s lives. But not before asking her parents to be the heroes they are and find a way to get the darkness out of her, and telling Killian she loves him for the first time- offering a sense of hope for her loved ones. This intense and dramatic moment as the darkness engulfs her showcases the strength of this Savior, and the look she gives Killian before she disappears showcases the strength of this woman. And as she disappears and all that remains is the Dark One’s dagger with her name engraved upon it, we were left with the most powerful season finale cliffhanger of the series.
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46. Emma and Killian kiss in the Middlemist Field (5×4 “The Broken Kingdom”)
The most idyllic, fairy tale beautiful scene of the series, True Love proved more powerful than the darkness plaguing Emma. By trusting Killian with her burden, the images of Rumple disappear, leaving just the two of them, feeling peaceful and happy in a field of gorgeous Middlemist flowers, a symbol for the way love and hope springs eternal. As they passionately kiss and the camera pans up to see the couple surrounded by thousands of flowers, we witness an exquisite image of love in its purest form. gif-45.gif

47. Emma frees Merlin (5×5 “Dreamcatcher)
One of the most intense, powerful and iconic displays of magic, Emma controls both light and dark in an amazingly captivating ways as she frees the illustrious wizard from his prison. The visual effects, the score, the performance of Morrison which includes looks of satisfaction and power, made this scene incredible. gif-46

48. Emma fights back against the Darkness and says “I am not nothing!” (5×7 “Nimue”)
Emma Swan went through an incredible personal journey over the course of the series and once of the moments important moments for her, and indeed the entire show was this moment when Emma fought back against the darkness and Nimue’s taunting that she needs the power or she would simply go back to being “nothing.” As a person who struggled with feeling like enough, Emma punched back and declared that not only is she not nothing- but was never nothing. For anyone who has ever struggled with dark thoughts and low feelings of self worth, this was a profound and inspiring moment of a woman who had finally learned her value and that she is worthy simply by being herself.gif-64.gif

49. Emma turns Killian into a Dark One in the Middlemist field (5×9 “Birth)
One of the most unexpected and heart wrenching twists of the series, this scene was also beautiful in its intimacy of emotion. While Killian clinging to life, the couple share a moment in the place where their love had proved stronger than darkness, Emma fraught with fear of losing him, Killian wiling t die if it means she has a future. Its romantic, it’s heartbreaking, it’s captivating, gorgeous and powerful visually, musically and in terms of storytelling and authentic performances. It’s truly iconic. gif-47.gif

50. Killian’s makes the ultimate sacrifice (5×11 “Swan Song)
All it took was seeing Emma in pain for Killian to overcome that darkness that was consuming him and be the man he always wanted, and could be- a hero. Killian asks Emma to do the heartbreaking and unthinkable- kill him with Excalibur to save everyone and, as they believed, destroy the darkness forever. He sacrifices his life in this gut wrenching moment and the last thing he sees is the image of his beloved Emma restored to her glorious Savior clad in her iconic red leather jacket. This image, the contrast of light and dark, the raw emotion and the sight of Emma sobbing over her true love, are things the audience will not long forget.gif-48agif-48bgif-48c

51. Emma proclaims the Charming family motto “I Will Always Find You” as she and her family march towards the Underworld to save Killian (5×11 “Swan Song”)
This quote has become synonymous with Once Upon a Time, the Charming Family, and the strength that True Love can give us. It was beautiful and remarkable enough for Emma to decide to march into literal Hell to save the man she loves. It’s even more special to hear Emma proclaim the words that are iconic in itself. It further solidified that the love they share is eternal, as Morrison says, become brave enough to love completely with no walls up, and that Emma has truly embraced her family’s sense of steadfast belief and hope. gif-49

52. Emma and Killian say goodbye in the Underworld (5×20 “Firebird”)
If their scene in the Middlemist field from “Birth” was their fairy tale heartbreaking moment, then this moment was their all too real heartbreaking moment- and even more dramatically so. Despite being in the Underworld, this felt like a real goodbye. Raw, emotional, tender, the farewell promises were selfless and a beautiful depiction of True Love, while the goodbye kisses, including one on Emma’ hands, which they held onto until the last possible moment made this moment intimate and authentic- making it a truly iconic moment for the couple and one of the most profound of the series. gif-61bgif-61c

53. Robin Hood sacrifices his life for Regina (5×21 “Last Rites”)
The one death that myself, and many fans could never get over, Robin Hood was a true hero and this moment, as heartbreaking as it was only further proved the kind of man he was. He was brave, passionate and selfless and here he sacrifices his life for the woman he loved. He did not even hesitate to jump in front of Regina to save her. It’s the kind of moment that breaks our hearts and reminds how quickly everything can change. His life was lost that day, but Robin will live in our hearts always.
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50. Killian’s life is restored and he is reunited with Emma (5×21 “Last Rites”)
Symbolically and emotionally exquisite, Killian returns to Emma and as they embrace and kiss, completely overcome with emotion to be back in each other’s arms, the soft rain falls down upon them, a symbol of life renewed. Unencumbered joy, beautiful colors and music, and true love abound, is there anything more glorious than love overcoming even the greatest of obstacles. gif-50

49. Emma tells Killian she loves him for the first time in a peaceful situation with a wedding dress seen in the background (5×23 “An Untold Story”)
It was a tremendous moment of growth for Emma to tell Killian she loves him in a moment of peace and normalcy and what made this moment so lovely and iconic was this display of growth, affection as we’ve never seen as he lifts her into his arms to kiss her, so happy to hear these words because he knows what this means to her, and especially as it was one of the sweetest forms of foreshadowing of the series as a wedding dress was perfectly centered in a shop window behind them, signifying that marriage was soon to be the next step in their story. gif-51bgif-51

56. Killian reads Emma the storybook and kisses her hand (6×7 “Heartless)
Swoon worthy in its romanticism, beautiful in its simplicity, Killian reads to Emma her story to help calm her shaking hand, and build up her confidence. It’s sweet and lovely but iconic as it brings in the storybook, who Emma is (the product of True Love), and the beauty and interweaving nature of two love stories. Ending with a tender kiss of the hand, Emma is left with a sense of hope, belief in herself, and the feeling of being truly cherished.gif-marianneproject52

57. The town breaks Snow and Charming’s sleeping curse (6×17 “Awake”)
Symbolic, and touching, the curse on Sow and Charming was finally broken when the town each drank a bit of their curse, falling into a quiet slumber, but diluted enough because so many were sharing it. The family that exists both by blood and with the one they created in the little town of Storybrooke is indelibly bonded and seeing everyone give back to the people who gave up so much was very moving. Moreover, the circular nature of life is visually seen in a beautiful way when Show and David awaken from their curse with everyone asleep encircled around them. That image of their loved ones surrounding them is symbolic of what this show represents: love, faith, sacrifice, family, and a willingness to do anything for those we care about, and in a way that is circular- boundless and has no end. gif-63a

58. The Musical Episode: Snow and Charming’s Song “Powerful Magic”, The Evil Queen’s “Love Doesn’t Stand Chance”, Killian’s Song “Revenge is Gonna Be Mine”, Zelana’s “Wicked Always Wins”, Emma’s Song “Emma’s Theme”, (6×20 “The Song in Your Heart”)
The entirely of the musical episode of one of the most iconic of the series, but these songs (along with the wedding song which will be discussed as well), have a true specialness about them. Snow and Charming’s song was perfectly sweet and delightful and optimistic- it’s so Disney and so them. Ginnifer and Josh are so perfect together! Zelena’s was such a fun “Defying Gravity” kind of moment and maybe the best kind of iconic moment for her character, while the Evil Queen’s really felt sassy and so her. Killian’s pirate jaunt about revenge is also so indelibly him; a bit saucy but tinged with heartache underneath. And Colin performed it amazingly! And like Snow and Charming’s you can’t help but sing along and smile. And Emma’s song is such a beautiful culmination of her journey from ugly duckling to a swan savior, filled with power and beauty and gorgeously performed.gif-marianneproject53agif-marianneproject53bgif-marianneproject53egif-marianneproject53fgif-marianneproject53c

59. Emma and Killian’s Wedding (6×20 “The Song in Your Heart”)
The entire musical episode was a delightful but if was the final song and final scene that was the most beautiful and iconic as if was not only the culmination of a beautiful love story with Emma and Killian’s wedding, complete with profound marriage vows, exquisite performances, and stunning visuals. But also, their song “A Happy Beginning,” is not only a sweet duet about their love and how they are everything to each other, but also a celebration of the couple and indeed everyone and all the beautiful things the show embodies. It’s a musical masterpiece about true love, family, hope and the ability to overcome anything, leave your scars behind and pass the dark clouds to find the stars. Hope and love springs eternal. gif-marianneproject54gif-marianneproject53d

60. Emma’s Final Battle with Gideon (6×22 “The Final Battle Part 2”)
It was always Emma’s destiny to be the Savior and it was long journey of self discovery and overcoming her past to reach the point in the Final b=Battle where she fully understands and accepts what this means. She was incredibly brave and fierce in this moment, and her speech about who she is and that while light will not destroy but simply create more light, her face of resilience and resignation, courage was a wonder to behold. The image of the light bursting from this amazing woman was long forgotten and her journey and what the show represents was gorgeously encapsulated in this poignant moment. She is light. She is hope. gif-marianneproject55agif-marianneproject55b

61. Happy Endings Montage (6×22 “The Final Battle Part 2”)
In one of the most glorious montages of the series, this was all about what the show embodies: love and family as it highlights all of the characters and their happy beginnings. Their moments of peace and happiness after a such an arduous journey, they found the light and the places they belong. It’s emotional affecting, sweet, and truly profound made special by the emotive and gorgeous musical score, culminating in a final scene of the entire extended family at Granny’s. This was not an ending; It was simply another beginning to their happily ever afters, with the image becoming yet another image in the storybook. Though for many reasons, this could have concluded the series, regardless, it’s beauty and perfection will indelibly live on forever.gif-marianneproject56agif-marianneproject56bgif-marianneproject56egif-marianneproject56dgif-marianneproject56fgif-marianneproject56cgif-marianneproject56g

62. Killian’s touches Emma’s pregnant stomach before they leave through portal (7×2 “A Pirate’s Life”)
Another happy beginning for the iconic couple- it was bittersweet to say goodbye to her son, but she is doing what a good mother does and letting him find his happiness, while she and her husband are preparing for the birth their own child. The happily married couple are expecting a baby and with joint hands over her pregnant stomach and tears in Emma’s eyes, the couple return home to continue to live their happily ever after with hope that family will all be together again. gif-marianneproject57

And that concludes this list of the most iconic moments from Once Upon a Time– the ones that I believe will be the most remembered, revered, and looked back upon as the imprint of the series. I suspect that one scene in particular will be added to this list when the finale airs, perhaps a few more, but until then, let s celebrate these moments and remember what made us love this show about true love, storytelling, family and hope.