What Went Wrong With “Once Upon a Time” Season Seven?

Matthew Loffhagen
ABC
(Photo: ABC)

By this point, there’s no denying it: “Once Upon a Time” season seven simply isn’t living up to audience expectations.

Despite an attempt to rebrand the show, and to kick of a soft reboot with a fresh new setting and a revamped cast, it seems like a lot of the magic has gone from what was at one point one of ABC’s strongest longrunning shows.

The ratings for “Once Upon a Time” have dropped significantly, as audiences have, by and large, lost interest with the show.

It seems that this has taken ABC somewhat by surprise, but to anyone who’s actually been following “Once Upon a Time”, this isn’t even remotely confusing.

Once Upon a Time Seven
Source: ABC

ABC appears to have believed that the enduring element of the show that made it popular to begin with was its mix of fairytales with modern-day settings. People must, ABC figured, be tuning in to see twisted versions of popular Public Domain and Disney characters.

Turns out, nope: the thing that made “Once Upon a Time” an initial hit wasn’t the spectacle; it was the character work and the storytelling.

As such, if you wrap up the story for the majority of your main cast, and send them packing so that you can replace them with cheaper alternatives, the show is naturally going to suffer.

The end of season six felt like an absolutely perfect place to end the saga anyway, and it seems that, faced with what feels like an entirely different show going forward, a lot of viewers felt that the end of season six was satisfying enough to just call it quits on the whole series.

Once Upon a Time Roni New
Source: ABC

It doesn’t help that season seven hasn’t really gone in a particularly new direction. ABC’s plan for the show going forward was essentially to recycle the plot from the first six seasons of “Once Upon a Time”, but in a city environment instead of a suburb.

Perhaps if the formula had been mixed up a bit, the show could have won audiences back with some engaging new ideas – maybe if traditional heroes were portrayed as villains, we might have some reason to tune in.

As it is, though, season seven has ended up feeling somewhat flat, with a lack of compelling new ideas to draw audiences in.

Unless something drastic happen going forward, it seems unlikely that “Once Upon a Time” will get a happy ending.

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