In the world where fairy tales and the modern-day are about to collide, nothing will be the same again. A 10-year-old boy, Henry, found his mother Emma Swan, who abandoned him when he was a baby, and believes that she comes from an alternate world. According to his book, the epic battle for the future of both worlds is beginning and they need her help.
Emma Swan is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, and Henry Mills' birth mother. Emma is separated from her parents, growing up in foster care. On her 28th birthday, a ten-year-old Henry comes to her apartment in Boston, explaining her origins explaining how Emma was born on the day that the The Evil Queen Regina casts her curse. Geppetto forms a magical wardrobe for Snow and Charming, after Rumplestiltskin informs them that their daughter is the key to breaking the curse in 28 years. Emma is born shortly after and placed in the wardrobe, successfully travelling to the new land. She does not believe him, returning him home to his adoptive mother Regina Mills (The Evil Queen) in Storybrooke. Regina is worried that Emma may want to be in Henry's life and her repeated warnings to leave town and keep away from Henry, making Emma decide to stay.
Year's earlier, she becomes a criminal, stealing a car with Neal Cassidy. Together, they plan to start a life together. Neal, however, is persuaded by August Booth (Pinocchio) to turn Emma into the police to protect her destiny as the savior of Storybrooke. Emma is jailed, later giving birth to Henry. She places him up for adoption to give him his best chance.
In Storybrooke, Emma is often at odds with Regina, who doesn't want Emma to be in Henry's life. Emma tries to get Henry to let go of his theories about the curse, but later accepts the fact that Henry will not give it up. Emma eventually moves in with Mary Margaret (Snow White), neither aware that they're related. Sheriff Graham Humbert (The Huntsman) later appoints Emma as his deputy and the two form an attraction, until Regina crushes his heart, causing him to die in Emma's arms. Emma is later elected sheriff, but is forced to arrest Mary Margaret for the alleged murder of Kathryn Nolan. Emma believes that Mary Margaret is innocent, and is proven correct when Kathryn is found alive.
Emma later becomes suspicious of a new man in town, August Booth, who reveals his true identity as Pinocchio and Emma's destiny of breaking the curse. He claims to have been the boy who found her and in turn admits he came over with her. She insists that she cannot handle the responsibility of being a "saviour", and decides to leave Storybrooke with Henry until he forces her to return. However, she eventually decides to leave Storybrooke for good, telling Regina that she does not want Henry to suffer form their feud. Regina however gives Emma an apple turnover (infused with a sleeping curse). Henry eats it instead to prove that magic exists, causing him to fall unconscious. Emma finally believes that the curse is real, but Henry is pronounced dead. He is then awoken by Emma with true love's kiss, thus breaking the curse and allowing all residents to remember their true identities.
After the curse is broken, Emma reunites with her parents. In a plan to send a wraith released into Storybrooke into a portal, Emma and Mary Margaret are dragged with it. In the Enchanted Forest, they meet Princess Aurora and Mulan who take them to a small village that was untouched by the curse, and are thrown into a makeshift prison, where they meet Regina's mother Cora. They are eventually freed and find Captain Hook (posing as a blacksmith in alliance with Cora). However, he is forced to reveal his interest and climb a beanstalk with Emma to obtain a magic compass. Emma retrieves the compass but abandons Hook atop the beanstalk as she does not fully trust him. She returns to the others who later find Cora and Hook at Lake Nostos, readying a portal back to Storybrooke. A fight ensues with Emma and Snow regaining the upper hand, and travelling back home through the portal.
Back in Storybrooke, Emma is persuaded by Mr. Gold to travel with him to Manhattan to find his son Baelfire. Emma soon discovers that Baelfire is her ex-boyfriend Neal. They return to Storybrooke where Emma is forced to deal with a stranger entering Storybrooke, as well as Neal's fiancée Tamara who he invites to Storybrooke. Emma believes something is wrong with both of them and is proven to be right when it is revealed that the stranger, Greg Mendell and Tamara are working together to destroy the town and magic. Neal is wounded during a fight with Tamara when a portal is opened, and he falls through - before learning that he and Emma still love one another. Greg and Tamara then activate a trigger to destroy Storybrooke, but it is stopped by Emma and Regina. Greg and Tamara kidnap Henry, using a magic bean to transport to Neverland. Emma, her parents, Regina, Hook and Mr. Gold join forces to follow them with Hook's ship.
Upon arriving at Neverland, Emma becomes the main leader of the group, reluctantly acknowledging her true identity as a "lost girl", rescuing Neal and Henry, and returning to Storybrooke with the remaining inhabitants of Neverland, unaware that Peter Pan has inhabited Henry's body. After Henry is saved by Gold, Pan enacts the original curse once more, forcing Emma and Henry to leave Storybrooke after Regina reverses her curse, erasing the events following its enactment. Emma's past is altered by Regina and she lives with Henry in New York City instead of giving him up for adoption.
One year after the curse's reversal, Hook restores Emma's memories with a potion and the two return to Storybrooke with Henry to save her family by breaking the new curse from Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West. She later finds Neal trapped within Mr. Gold's body, thus causing him to lose his mind. Neal asks for Emma to free his father by killing himself to defeat Zelena; she reluctantly agrees. Regina later helps Emma to strengthen her magical powers, though they are later removed when Zelena curses Hook. After Emma and Hook are dragged into Zelena's time portal, she accepts Storybrooke as her home, regaining her magic to re-open the portal to the present, and beginning a relationship with Hook. However, unaware to her, she also brings a previously deceased Maid Marian to the future, shattering her growing friendship with Regina.
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