At the end of Once Upon a Time Season 2, the Charmings, Regina, and Rumple — what the show’s co-creator Eddy Kitsis calls “the core dysfunctional family” — sailed off to Neverland with Captain Hook to save Henry from Greg and Tamara. Meanwhile, back in the barren Enchanted Forest, Mulan, Aurora, and Prince Phillip stumbled upon Neal, who despite suffering a gunshot wound to the chest, was very much alive.

With the Charmings et al on a mission to save Henry, Neal stuck in the Enchanted Forest, and Belle in charge of Storybrooke, Season 3 is already raising the stakes. In a Once Upon a Time panel at the 2013 ATX Television Festival in Austin, co-creators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz dished on what Oncers can expect in Season 3. Plus, they gave Wetpaint Entertainment and other OUAT fans the inside scoop on how the hit ABC series came to be.


Season 3 picks up right where we left off.

Adam revealed the third season "won't skip ahead 10 years.” Oncers, you can expect Season 3 to start right where we left off, with the Jolly Roger sailing to Neverland to save Henry. However, Eddy said the “core dysfunctional family” won’t be separated forever.

Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke...

Don’t worry Oncers, the folks left in Storybrooke, including Belle, will not be forgotten. In fact, Adam said the show will delve deeper into each of the characters back in Storybrooke and will examine how they’ll react to situations. Sounds interesting! The characters in Storybrooke have always been so dependent on the Charmings, so it will be interesting to see how the Storybrooke residents reacts to not having their fearless leaders to look up to. Perhaps this means someone new will step up to become the town’s protector?

Season 3 will have two distinct acts.

Eddy and Adam also revealed how Season 3 is going to be thematically different from the two previous seasons in that there will be two separate, 11-episode acts — one in the fall and one in the spring. Therefore, they’re approaching Season 3 like two seasons, both containing a beginning, middle, end, and journey for these characters.

However, in order to make this happen, that means OUAT will most likely go off the air for 11 weeks after the fall season. Eddy and Adam gave a bit more intel about the hiatus. It looks like the first part of Season 3 will air September through December, and then it will come back in the spring for act two — 11 straight episodes. We have to admit we were wary of this in the beginning, but the thought of airing both parts of the season uninterrupted by breaks has us excited for what’s to come!

Will Rumple still be out for Henry?

When the seer told Rumple that he needed to destroy Henry, we were immeditately worried for Henry’s safety! However, Eddy said, “He went [to Neverland] with a very focused attitude of saving Henry.”

“At first he just wants to do the easy thing and the dark thing, and then once again he realizes he did the wrong thing and lost his son,” Adam added. When he was told Neal died in the Season 2 finale, he realized “it was time to do the right thing.” According to Eddy and Adam, he knows he has to go and honor his son by getting his grandson back.

However, that also meant he had to leave his True Love Belle behind. “It’s going to be another challenge to [Rumbelle’s] relationship now that they’re separated,” said Eddy. “He left her behind to protect her.”

Snow White, the hero of Season 3?

Eddy and Adam dished that Snow’s journey in Season 3 is taking the hard path. With Henry gone, in this mission, she has to be the “bandit Snow — it’s time for her to rise to the hero that she was.” We don’t know about you, Oncers, but the thought of Snow returning to her bandit ways is one of the more exciting aspects of Season 3. We love Snow, but ever we have to admit, she was getting a little too whiny in Season 2. But now that we know she’s returning to her badassery, we can’t wait to see her be the heroine she once was.

Regina’s happy ending?

According to Eddy, the Evil Queen is trying to find her “own happy ending,” but she hasn’t found it yet. Unfortunately, we all know what happened to Daniel, and poor Sheriff Graham got his heart crushed — literally! — by The Evil Queen herself. “In a lot of ways, all of the characters are looking for love,” he said. So where’s Regina’s True Love?

“Regina is definitely a character who has found love and lost it,” Adam said, before Eddy added, “I would love to see Regina dating. See someone give her a mixtape — she’s earned it. She might have to rip his heart out to get it.” 

Emma dives deeper into magic!

“Emma realized she had magic and kind of was in denial of it, then at the end, she’s not really in control of it, nor has she had time in Season 2 to contemplate that,” Eddy dished. However, “Season 3 is definitely going to have her ask the questions: what are my abilities? What does it really mean to be the savior?” The co-creators also revealed that Season 3 will dive deeper into Emma’s past.

With Emma learning about her magical abilities, will Regina step in and help train her former foe? “Her parents may have an opinion about being trained by her, but circumstances may call for it!” Adam said.

He added that we’ve seen instances where Regina and Emma work together (um, like saving Storybrooke from imploding in the finale?) and seen their “connection” at times. So this could lead to more interaction between OUAT’s favorite frenemies. 

Did you know... ?

— “In first draft of pilot, Charming died!” said Adam. Both Adam and Eddy expressed interest in  exploring Charming’s backstory.

— Are all magic beans gone now? “YES,” both Adam and Eddy said.

— The showrunners got a note from ABC calling for “more guyliner” for Captain Hook. “Like he’s going to a Depeche Mode concert.”

— Adam said originally Regina had three children.

— Did Adam and Eddy write the characters with certain actors in in mind? “Bobby Carlyle was someone that when we imagined Rumplestiltskin, he was the one,” said Adam. Eddy added that it was the same with Ginnifer Goodwin. Josh Dallas, however,  came in and “blew us away.” He was so good that they expanded the character, since Charming was meant to have a small role in pilot.

So what are you most looking forward to, Oncers? Sound off in the comments!

Reporting by Alyse Whitney.