7 Shows Like Once Upon a Time to Watch While You Wait for It to Hit Disney+

The day has nearly arrived! Once Upon a Time is finally coming to Disney+, where it belongs, and you’ll be able to binge-watch this epic fairytale drama as many times as you want starting Friday, Sept. 18.

Once Upon a Time originally aired on ABC from 2011 to 2018 and follows a young woman named Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), whose life is thrown for a loop when the son she gave up for adoption, Henry (Jared Gilmore), shows up at her door one day with a fantastical tale about her destiny. It turns out Henry lives in a town called Storybrooke, which is full of banished fairytale and Disney characters who’ve been cursed to forget who they are and where they truly come from. Together, Emma and her young son set off on an adventure to defeat the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), break the spell, and reunite their family.

If you can’t get enough of Emma’s magical journey, you might find yourself looking for more shows that sweep you away to enchanted realms or keep you hooked with swoon-worthy romances, which is where TV Guide comes in. Below is a list of shows like Once Upon a Time that any good Oncer should absolutely check out.

How to Watch Once Upon a Time

Looking for more recommendations of what to watch next? We have a ton of them! And if you’re looking for more hand-picked recommendations based on shows you love, we have those too.

Emerald City

Watch it on: NBC.com

Emerald City

If you were hoping for a more extensive trip to Oz on Once Upon a Time, you might want to check out NBC’s Emerald City. This short-lived series tells the story of a modern-day Dorothy who travels to a much darker, more mystical version of Oz than the candy-coated original you’re used to. Once you start watching, you’ll realize there are so many parallels between Once Upon a Time and Emerald City that it might actually make your head spin. A not so wicked witch who worms her way into your heart? Check! A baby smuggled out of an enchanted realm who is destined to be its Savior? Check! A birthday wish that sets off an epic adventure? Check! Heck, there’s even a hot guy with memory loss who swings a sword around every episode! Ultimately though, this one might break your heart since it was canceled after one season and ended things on a bit of a cliffhanger.

The Vampire Diaries

Watch it on: Netflix

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Though at first glance The Vampire Diaries seems very different than Once Upon a Time, most fans who love one show usually end up falling in love with the other. Set in a small town beset by magic and monsters, The Vampire Diaries follows a close-knit group of teenagers — plus a couple of centuries-old vampires — trying to protect their town from various evil forces. While the over-arching magical storylines take precedence most of the time on Once Upon a Time, the love stories drive the narrative on The Vampire Diaries. So, if you were a diehard Captain Swan shipper or had a serious thing for Rumbelle, you’re going to fall headfirst in love with the ships on TVD. Just be warned, most relationships on this series are entangled in at least one love triangle, so while you were sure Snow White and Prince Charming were going to end up together on Once Upon a Time, you’ll be far less certain about the fate of your Vampire Diaries OTP. 

Luna Nera

Watch it on: Netflix

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For those of you who just wanted more, more, more witches, we proudly present Netflix’s Italian series, Luna Nera. Set in the 17th century, this series follows a teenage girl who stands accused of being a witch, which as you probably guessed, sends her fleeing from villagers who want to see her burned at the stake. The thing is though, witchcraft is totally real and Ade eventually seeks shelter with a group of witches who guard the portal between the living and the dead. This series has a much more young adult vibe than Once Upon a Time, but it also takes a grittier look at magic, witchcraft, and the persecution of women in conjunction with it. This series does have an English dub but as always, it’s better when you watch with subtitles! 

Tell Me a Story

Watch it on: CBS All Access, Hulu with Live TV

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If you’d rather stick to the fairytale genre, you should definitely check out Tell Me a Story. This CBS All Access original follows a very similar format to Once Upon a Time in that it tells the classic tales we all know and love through a modern-day lens. Season 1 is a twisted take on The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood, and these storylines all circle around one another against the gritty backdrop of New York City. This series is definitely a whole lot darker than Once Upon a Time, but it also happens to star Dania Ramirez and Michael Raymond James, so you’ll see some familiar faces.

Lost Girl

Watch it on: Amazon Prime Video

Lost Girl

Calling all Evil Regals! Fans of the Evil Queen, a.k.a. Regina Mills, need to stop everything they’re doing and watch Lost Girl right now. This series follows a bisexual succubus named Bo (Anna Silk) as she navigates the magical factions and deadly politics that govern her city. Like Regina, Bo is a good person at heart, but she does have a dark side, and she’ll go to any lengths to keep the people she loves safe. Once Upon a Time fans who adore fierce female leads, steamy romances (and LGBTQ inclusion for you Swan Queen shippers), and a wardrobe that’s to die for, will fall head over heels for this series. 


Watch it on: Amazon Prime Video

Have you ever thought, “Man, I love Once Upon a Time, but if only Emma had taken some time to solve a murder every week!” Well then, Grimm is the show for you. Set in a world where all the mythological beasts from fairytales lurk in the dark, one homicide detective finds out he’s descended from a long line of Grimms, guardians who protect the human world and keep the beasties at bay. While Tell Me a Story is a fairytale take that’s grounded in reality, Grimm definitely takes a more fantasy-first approach to things, with various (and sometimes obscure) magical creatures making an appearance every week. However, this series does lean pretty hard into its procedural elements, especially in earlier seasons, so you should prepare for a Law & Order: Special Monsters Unit kind of vibe.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Watch it on: Netflix

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The writers of Once Upon a Time had to do a lot of world-building to make Red Riding Hood, Snow White, the Mad Hatter, and the Wicked Witch of the West all exist in the same world (kind of) and have all their storylines intersect, which is why we’re recommending Avatar: The Last Airbender for fans of complex, fantastical realms. Set in a fictional world where “benders” control the four elements, this animated series has some of the best world-building and attention to details we’ve ever seen. This intricate mythology is woven perfectly into the serialized storyline, which puts the weight of the world on its savior’s shoulders as he sets off on an adventure to master his powers and restore balance to the world. Though this show skews a little younger in its target demo, viewers of all ages can enjoy it!

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