Once Upon a Time... Man (1978– )
"Il était une fois... l'homme" (original title)

TV Series  |   |  Animation, Adventure, Drama
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 1,919 users  
Reviews: 10 user

A comprehensive animated survey of the evolution of humanity and the history of predominately Western Civilization.


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1981   1979   1978  


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Series cast summary:
Annie Balestra ...
 Pierette (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Albert Barillé ...
 Narrator (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Yves Barsacq ...
 Le Gros (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Claude Bertrand ...
 Le Teigneux (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Roger Carel ...
 Maestro / ... (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Patrick Préjean ...
 Le Nabot (26 episodes, 1978-1981)


In this series, the history of humanity and Western Civilization is surveyed. To illustrate this in an entertaining way, a cast of specific characters are recast in each episode as they live their lives in each major historical period of focus. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Official Sites:



Release Date:

April 1978 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Byl jednou jeden... clovek  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(26 episodes) | (30 episodes)


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Did You Know?


The information presented on the prehistoric era in the series' first episode has been based on thoroughly outdated, early 20th century theories, and has been overturned by scientific advancements just after the series had aired. Among other inaccuracies, it depicts herbivorous dinosaurs as swamp dwellers, proposes the completely unsubstantiated idea that carnivorous dinosaurs were afraid of water, and claims that crocodiles descended from dinosaurs. One of the more forward-thinking theories presented is the now-accepted fact that birds came from dinosaurs, even though the animation shows Archaeopteryx (long regarded as the "first bird") descending from generic thecodonts instead of dinosaurs (the term "thecodont" is, by the way, not in use anymore). See more »


Followed by Il était une fois... notre terre (2009) See more »


Tausend Jahre sind ein Tag
Music by Udo Jürgens
Lyrics by Siegfried Rabe
Performed by Udo Jürgens
(main theme: German version)
See more »

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User Reviews

an optimistic and encouraging cartoon
3 October 2006 | by (Spain) – See all my reviews

An unforgettable animated series from our childhood. The very cheerful introducing song and pictures, with a fish disturbingly evolving into a lizard and on into a chimp and finally becoming a man, made us stare at it in amazement. I find the series greatly encouraged the intellectual excitement and imagination of the children in Europe of the late 70s and early 80s for the extraordinary events and stories told in the cartoons.

The plot of the stories with five-six recurring and distinctive characters quarreling with each other made the cartoons attractive to the eyes of the little ones. The weird storyteller with a long white beard and the clock that could speak rendered the pictures all the more enticing.

To sum up, it struck a chord in our generation, with its colourful, cheerful and optimistic images and tunes.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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