From early in its run, Once Upon a Time has drawn comparisons to that other famous ABC series on which both Kitsis and Horowitz also worked. Not only do the island-mystery drama and fairy-tale series draw thematic parallels, but they also share a fair number of actors — Lana Parrilla, Emilie de Ravin, Elizabeth Mitchell, Rebecca Mader, Alan Dale, and Jorge Garcia among them.
Ahead of Lost’s third season finale, ABC announced that the series would conclude with three truncated seasons, allowing executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse to set an end date for their critically acclaimed show. With that in mind, are the powers that be at Once Upon a Time aiming to set their own end date?
“It’s a different thing than Lost,” Horowitz tells EW. “There are some similarities in our storytelling — that’s where we came from — but Lost was a much more closed-ended show that needed that kind of ending.”
Not that an end for OUAT is pressing. While Once Upon a Time’s ratings have been on the decline, its Live +7 numbers tend to give the show a bump in the coveted 18–49 demo, so there’s still a fair-sized audience tuning in to find out what happens to their favorite characters.
With an endless supply of characters at their disposal […], all of which stands to reason the show could go on for years to come.
Though, the producers do have some semblance of an ending in their back pocket. “We certainly have endpoints in mind for many of our characters and where we want the story to go and finish up, but we have different ways of getting there,” Horowitz says. “We’re not, at this point, setting a specific end date for the show. But what we are doing is taking the luxury of knowing we have another season to be able to continue our long-term planning.”
Therefore, the OUAT bosses are not looking at season 6 as the end. “No,” Kitsis says. “We could change our minds in a few months, but right now we’re just trying to get out of [season] 5. We have plans for season 6. Listen, there’s a time and a place where, at a certain point, characters either need to find their happiness or not, and we are aware of that. We’re just not ready to answer that question yet.”