Once Upon A Time: Tropes Q to T

Tropes A to D | Tropes E to F | Tropes G to H | Tropes I to L | Tropes M to P | Tropes Q-T | Tropes U to Z

Once Upon a Time provides examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    Q 

  • Quick Nip:
    • Grumpy in the pilot while on guard duty.
    • Rumplestiltskin seems to store a hip flask in his sleeve.
    • Hook is awfully fond of his rum, and even generous enough to offer others a sip; usually women he's flirting with.
  • Quirky Town: Averted. All (at least most) of the townsfolk are amnesiac fairy tale characters, but are somehow not overly eccentric or adorable.

    R 

  • Race Lift: Rapunzel is traditionally depicted as Aryan with her long hair being blonde. Here she is played by mixed race actress Alexandra Metz.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: In Season 3 Emma unites her parents, Regina, and Hook into one unit, citing it didn't matter if they were a good heroine, evil queen, sword-wielding hero, unscrupulous pirate, or The Chosen One. They all have skills and abilities the others lack and will need to survive the horror that is Neverland and rescue Henry.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Technically, Regina is Henry's great-grandparent by marriage and Red was raised by Granny.
  • Real After All: At the end of “Ariel”, Ursula, who has been alluded to for the whole episode as a myth that no longer exists, turns out to be very real, and very pissed off that Regina impersonated her.
  • Redemption Equals Death: August, sort of. He doesn't actually die, but gets reset back to childhood with apparent total memory loss.
    • The Snow Queen, who sacrifices herself to stop the curse they've cast after discovering that her sister regretted trapping her and wanted to make things right again.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Due to the Arc Welding between several different tales, unrelated stories and characters are tied together into the same family.
    • Rumplestiltskin is the son of Peter Pan.
    • Regina is the daughter of the Queen of Hearts, and the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West.
    • The families of Regina and Rumple are also tied to Snow White and Prince Chamring through Emma, Neal, and Henry.
    • In Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, it's implied that one of Cinderella's stepsisters became the Red Queen of Wonderland (who later marries the Knave of Hearts, who is actually Will Scarlet of Robin Hood).
  • Relationship Reset Button: When Snow takes a potion to forget her love for Charming, Charming is forced to have her fall in love with him all over again.
    • Belle loses her fairytale memories and Rumple must find a way to restart their relationship.
  • Reluctant Ruler: King Leopold proposed to Regina because she was the only woman he’d met since his wife’s passing who genuinely cared about Snow. Young Regina never wanted to be Queen and only wanted to marry Daniel. Inverted in that Regina’s mother killing her true love and forcing her to marry the King is what made her become, well, the Evil Queen.
    • "The Tower" reveals Rapunzel to be this. She's been insecure all her life regarding her leadership abilities, and consuming the nightroot compounded her fears further, leaving her unable to leave her tower.
  • Rescue Arc: The first half of the second season featured Charming, Regina, Rumple, and Henry trying to rescue Emma and Snow from the Enchanted Forest. The first half of the third season has the Charming family trying to rescue Henry from Peter Pan.
  • Rescue Romance:
    • Snow White and Prince Charming go through this a number of times in the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke. Early on in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret attempts to ward off David's affections by suggesting that his feelings for her are merely due to this.
    • Henry suggests that the connection between Emma and Graham stems from the fact that the Huntsman spared Snow White's life, allowing Emma to exist.
  • Reset Button: A loophole built into the curse created a trigger Regina could use to wipe Storybrooke off the map, at the cost of also killing any inhabitants who were not born in this world. It gets activated at the end of season 2 by Tamara and Greg, but Emma and Regina are able to stop it in time.
    • A massive one occurs after Pan recasts the Dark Curse
  • Retcon: Every season is a retcon.
    • The Season 3 Finale with Hook/Emma time-travelling and scrambling to fix the mess they've made of Charming and Snow's first meeting.
    • In the pilot, Snow indicated Regina tried to kill her because she was the fairest of them all. This disappears in later episodes.
    • In season 3, Hook said he was only able to make one batch of memory potion to give to Emma. Next episode he says he got the potion from a bird.
    • Robin Hood said Marian got killed when he got her involved in one of his heists. Later we find out she was executed for helping Snow White.
    • Maleficent losing to child to Snow and Chaming so they could ensure Emma would be a hero is one of the most blatant retcons of all.
  • Ret Gone: In the second half of season 3, Zelena plans to change her past and makes Cora keep her, thus threatening the existence of Regina, Snow, Emma and Henry.
  • Retool: Season 1's finale retooled half of the show, changing it from breaking the dark curse to dealing with fairy tale villains while rebuilding Emma's home life.
  • Revenge: The curse that gets the plot going (and very nearly everything that happens in the Enchanted Forest before that) is part of the Evil Queen's plot to get back at Snow White for inadvertently causing the death of her love.
    • Hook's motivation for most of Season 2 is Revenge on Rumplestiltskin for killing his love, Milah.
    • Cora's motivation for killing Queen Eva.
    • Rumple's motivation for killing Zelena.
  • Rousseau Was Right: the phrase "Even isn't born, it's made", come up up almost as often as "Magic always come at a price".
  • Runaway Train: What the horse was that Snow was on as a child that introduced her to Regina. Apparently Cora orchestrated the whole thing.
  • Running Gag:
    • Henry and his codenames. Season 1 had Operation Cobra, Season 2 has Operation Scorpion (or Viper).
      • Continued by Regina for the search for Henry in Neverland. She knows her son well.
      • And again in season 4 with Operation Mongoose.
    • Emma and her guns that continually prove to be useless against fairytale creatures.
    • Mr. Gold can't keep people out of his shop.
      Gold: It appears when I bought that 'closed' sign I was just throwing my money away.
    • Mary Margaret's "We were cursed!" seems to be rapidly becoming the show's version of "We were on a break!"
    • Granny's lasagna just doesn't get any love, it seems.
    • It seems like Rumple and Belle can't have a nice, romantic moment together without being interrupted by something - an ex-fiancee, a former apprentice asking for help, an old enemy shooting Belle, to give a partial list. The series creators even joked that they won't get an uninterrupted moment until Season 7.
    • Red being the wolf, and her "I'm far too nice a person to do it but you do realize a wolf would rip you apart" reaction.
    • There's a running joke on some fan forums that the show's writers absolutely hate Cinderella and revel in murdering characters related to that story. Cinderella herself is Put on a Bus in what was only her second episode, her Fairy Godmother is blown to pieces in flashback after thirty seconds of screentime, and after Billy the mechanic reveals that he used to be Gus the mouse, he's torn in half in that very same episode. The spin-off even has one of her stepsisters, Anastasia, killed. Thankfully, it doesn't stick.
    • Grumpy running through the town with "BIG/TERRIBLE NEWS!"

    S 

  • Samus is a Girl:
    • Prince Charming doesn't realize Snow White is a girl the first time they meet until he removes her face-concealing cloak.
    • Also done with the reveal of Mulan. "You're a girl?!" "A woman."
    • Jack the giant killer has been revealed to be one.
  • Save the Villain:
    • Regina is saved by the heroes twice in the second season premiere: first from an angry mob and then from a soul-sucking monster.
    • Snow saved Rumple from Hook's poison by sacrificing Cora's life to restore him to health.
    • Regina has been saved by Snow many times throughout the series, despite everything.
  • The Scapegoat: Snow became this for Regina after Daniel's death. Because Regina was powerless against Cora (the one who murdered Daniel), she directed all her anger towards a little girl who was tricked by a much older master manipulator.
    • And on a couple occasions, Snow willingly takes this role by allowing herself to be killed or cursed by Regina in the hopes that it will end her anger and allow her to be a decent ruler.
  • Scars Are Forever:
    • A rare good version with Charming's chin scar. It's his little memento of the day he first met Snow.
    • Granny also has some due to her encounter with the Big Bad Wolf.
    • Storybrooke's Jefferson has one around his neck that serves as a memento of his decapitation at the hands of the Queen of Hearts.
    • Regina has one on her upper lip. In real life this is a genuine scar sported by the actress; in-universe its origin has yet to be revealed.
  • Scenery Porn: Most of the scenes set in the pre-curse Enchanted Forest.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Maleficent's spirit is trapped in the caves beneath the library.
    • Holy crap, Rumple. You were keeping Elsa of Arendelle sealed in an urn in the closet?
  • Secret Identity Identity: After the curse is broken the people of Storybrooke now have two sets of memories, that of their fairy tale lives and of Storybrooke. Instead of rejecting his cursed persona David Nolan, Prince Charming tells the other townspeople:
    "David, Storybrooke David was-is weak, confused, and he hurt the woman I love. I wouldn't give up Charming just to be him, but you know what? I wouldn't make the other trade either, because that David not only reminds me of whom I lost, but who I want to be. My weaknesses and my strengths. David and the Prince. I am both. You are both. We are both."
  • Separated-at-Birth Casting:
    • Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White) and Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), two actresses who share a resemblance and are often confused for each other, play mother and daughter respectively.
    • Bailee Madison (child Snow White) shares a strong resemblance to Ginnifer Goodwin.
    • Jared Gilmore (Henry) also bears a strong resemblance to Ginnifer, which is fitting as they play grandson and grandmother respectively.
    • Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red) and Annabeth Gish (Red's mother) share an uncanny resemblance. Similar facial structures, noses, and lips.
    • Rose McGowan is quite convincing as a younger version of Barbara Hershey (Cora).
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In the Pilot, Snow White says that the Evil Queen made her eat a poison apple because Snow was prettier than her, much like the original Snow White story. Later on in the series, we learn that her motive was a great deal more complicated. (Possibly justified in that the true reason might still have been too devastatingly personal to her to discuss with someone else.)
  • Series Fauxnale: "Going Home" in Season 3, up until a quite literal Sequel Hook shows up at the last minute. A strange case of this trope since the makers of the show knew it wasn't going to be the end when making it.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: With each of the antagonists, you can find one or two of them as a repeated mobile for a crime they commit.
    • The two Anti-Villains have most "forgivable" sins:
      • Regina first demonstrated Wrath, sometimes called the most "excusable" sin since it can start for selfless reasons (just like in her case). Then, as a part of her Villain Decay, she showed something that isn't widely recognized as a sin in Western country anymore, Acedia, the former, broader sin including Sloth, but also Cowardice, and, most importantly, Regina's own flaw, and Freudian Excuse, and something the Orthodox Church calls "the Eighth Deadly Sin", the "sin of Despair".
      • Rumplestiltskin is an example of Acedia (with Cowardice triggered by the physical weakness and the oppression he lives with, and Despair after his wife leaves him, he is branded a coward and has no hope to be helped and save his son from conscription, mostly) and of Lust (as in desire for something which turns one away from what is good, in his case, lust for power, which seems to have partly come from a need to prove himself as much as to save his son).
    • Hook and Cora each mirror the others, but in a darker tone.
      • Hook does demonstrate Wrath and Despair like Regina, but he was a selfish hedonist, and already demonstrated Lust for pleasure and freedom, robbed people for his own comfort (Greed), and probably kidnapped others. Unlike Regina, who doesn't really Kick the Dog out of anything else than violent impulses or "necessity" for her plans, he is ready to kill Belle just because she warrant of any use, similarly wasting ressources and valuable things unnecessarily when he causes unnecessary destruction with Cora (Gluttony).
      • Cora shows Lust for power, like Rumplestiltskin but in her case, there is no Freudian Excuse, the "power" is not needed only to save her daughter. She appears to like ruling people and being rich for the fun of it, no matter the consequences, all while making unnecessary damages, thus being a practitioner of Greed and Gluttony too. She also Envies richer people like the king, and feels overwhelming Pride when in front of Daniel, whom she considers "only a subaltern", thinking that she and her daughter deserve her idea of happiness more than others deserve to live.
  • The Sheriff:
    • Storybrooke's first sheriff seemed to be the mayor/queen's right hand man.
    • After Graham's death at the hands of Regina, Regina tries to appoint a feckless and unfit Glass as the new sheriff, but Emma forces an election and Gold's plan results in Emma winning the job.
    • When Emma is unavailable during the first few episodes of the second season, David takes up the position.
  • She's Got Legs:
    • Ruby, big time, whenever she donned her waitress uniform in Season 1 (once Ruby begins to mature later in Season 1, and especially after the curse is broken, the mini-skirt disappears).
    • Tinker Bell, in her fairy outfit, which is much skimpier than those of the other fairies.
  • Shipper on Deck: Henry wants desperately for Mary Margaret and David to find each other because he believes in their true identities. In related family news, Season 3 gives us Mulan as an apparent shipper of Emma/Neal.
    • David very obviously would rather have his little girl end up with Neal, and not Hook. Mary Margaret pushes it even more. Though David does come to accept Emma and Hook together if Kansas is to go by.
    • Tinkerbell is this for Regina and Robin Hood (even though she doesn't know the "Man With The Lion Tattoo" is Robin) and Hook/Emma.
    • As of "New York City Serenade", step-daughter Snow seems to be noticing the potential of Regina and Robin.
    Snow: He's kinda cute, huh?
    • Snow is on the Hook/Emma bandwagon by Season 4 as evidenced if her excitement for the first date.
  • Shipping Torpedo:
    • Prince Charming and Snow White get this a lot:
      • Charming's Jerkass foster father will take any chance in either world to separate the two, for a variety of reasons but mostly stemming from a vindictive streak after Charming refused to make a marriage alliance because he was in love with Snow.
      • Regina wants to prevent Snow from getting a Happily Ever After after a mistake by a young Snow led to the death of her own One True Love.
      • While cursed, pretty much everyone is against Mary Margaret and David pursuing their inexplicable feelings.
    • David has given Neal a Death Glare when finding out that he knocked up his teenage daughter, but mainly leaves him alone when Emma says she's okay. Hook, on the other hand, is treated with outright hostility until he proves himself in "Good Form" by saving David's life.
      • Despite his new-found trust in Hook, he still expresses extreme reluctance towards his relationship with Emma.
    • Cora takes this trope to the extreme by ripping out Daniel's heart so he can't be with Regina.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Show Within a Show: The season 2 DVD bonus feature "Good Morning Storybrooke", a peppy morning talk show with Storybrooke residents as its hosts and guests. There are even kitschy local ads for Granny's Diner (featuring hilarious Bad Bad Acting by Ruby) and Mr. Gold's pawn shop.
  • Signs of Disrepair: The "Toll Bridge" sign in "Snow Falls" has a red "R" scrawled on it between the "T" and "O".
  • Single Tear: Everyone has a go at this.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The Show really falls all over the scale here. Perhaps most telling in regards to this scale is the first episode of season 3, when the "rescue team" is arguing over what to do over a prisoner they've captured. The more cynical want to kill her, while others are more interested in trying to get her to undo her actions. Ultimately, the solution used is a Leap of Faith that helped solve the problem.
    • In general, the show goes 2 different directions with the idea. On one hand, cynicism works when employed, but it creates a lot of problems down the road. On the other hand, idealism can generate more problems as it goes, but can still be rewarded as well. Really, the show can't make up its mind about this, because so many of the different characters either lost, found, or are in the middle of fighting for their happy endings.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Snow, after killing Cora. Regina gloats about it, showing her the black spot in her heart, and promptly giving up all thoughts of revenge to let her live with that. However, as of "A Curious Thing", Snow apparently still qualifies as "pure of heart", so this trope is presumably subverted.
  • Slut Shaming: Granny to Red, especially in early episodes.
    • In "Welcome To Storybrooke":
      Granny: (to Red) When I put "over-easy" on the menu I was talking about the eggs!
    • The town to Mary Margaret after her affair with David is revealed.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Snow and Charming's first conversation.
    • Many of Regina and Mr. Gold's conversations.
  • Something Only They Would Say: In "Good Form" Emma tells Henry via a magic mirror that they are truly in Neverland and not a Pan-sent hallucination by calling their rescue effort "Operation Cobra Rescue".
    • Henry himself gets put in this position in "The New Neverland" when he's stuck in Pan's body and has to prove his true identity.
  • Spaghetti Kiss: A pair of extras in an Establishing Shot of the restaurant where Hook and Emma have their first date.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Emma's simply being in Storybrooke is slowly but surely changing everything in the town.
    • King George considers Snow White as this in his plans to merge his and Midas's kingdoms.
  • Spin-Off: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, which focuses on Alice and friends in Wonderland.
  • Spoiler Opening: Robert Carlyle was still credited as a regular in the opening after the supposed death of his character. It wasn't a big surprise when he came back on the show.
    • Michael Socha, who played a character in the spin off, appears in the opening credits in season 4 before he even actually appears in the show.
  • Stable Time Loop: Dealt with throughout the Season 3 finale when Hook and Emma travel to the past.
  • Standard Cop Backstory: Emma grew up in foster care thinking she was abandoned by her parents. She suffered abuse at some of her foster homes. We don't know how many failed romances she's had, but the one we do know of had a pretty big impact. She also had absolutely no social life prior to her arrival in Storybrooke, due partially to the nature of her job and partially to the fact that she struggles to open up to people.
  • Standard Hero Reward: Played for Drama and nastily Deconstructed.
    • The shepherd boy brought in as a last-minute swap for the deceased prince slays the dragon and saves his widowed mom's farm. Unfortunately, the kingdom is flat broke, meaning he's being forced to marry some Royal Brat in order to secure a fat dowry for the land's empty coffers. Otherwise, the king is going to destroy his mother and is willing to murder him to see it through.
    • Regina saves the princess Snow White, so the king decides to marry her. Subverted in that she doesn't want to marry him, as she is in love with a stable boy and the king is older than her. Her mother decides marrying the king is right for her, so she murders the man her daughter loves to force the issue.
  • Start of Darkness:
    • "Desperate Souls" for Rumplestiltskin, "The Stable Boy" for Regina, "The Miller's Daughter" for Cora, "Good Form" for Hook, "It's Not Easy Being Green" for Zelena.
    • In Regina's case, it seems as if you can identify the line where she chooses the dark path (accompanied by her Leitmotif).
      Regina: I should have let her die on that horse.
    • Setting up the circumstances of Cora's death seems to be this for Snow, much to her own dismay and regret. Extra points, since one of Regina's stated goals was to corrupt the pure-hearted and ever-gentle Snow, and it took Snow killing Regina's own mother to accomplish it.
  • Stealth Pun: The book's title "Once Upon a Time".
    • In the first episode, Emma picks a candle, puts it on a cupcake, and makes a wish. The candle has a star on it. She made a wish on a star, and it came true!
    • "Quiet Minds" introduces Lumiére. Here, he's not the candlestick; instead, he's in the combined flames of all the lit candles. Given that his name is French for "light", it's actually more appropriate!
    • In Season 3 it's Belle who first mentions the land of Oz. Belle who is played by Emilie de Ravin. The actress is from Australia, which is commonly nicknamed 'Oz'.
  • Stealth Sequel: The first arc of Season 4 is this to Frozen, serving as a continuation to the movie rather than an adaptation. This turns out to be unfortunate for the Frozen characters; each eventually receives a painful and tragic Happy Ending Override.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Rumplestiltskin and Belle in "Skin Deep" was lampshaded by Regina.
    Regina:Oh no, I wouldn't ask a woman to kiss the man who held her captive. What kind of message is that?
    • In Belle and Rumplestilskin's case, it's otherwise averted. Belle's love for Rumple has nothing to do with her being his captive; and True Love's Kiss reveals that Rumple is the real captive of his own powers, unwilling to give it up for a chance at happiness.
  • Stopped Clock: The one in Storybrooke's town square tower. It starts again right after Emma follows through on her promise to stay in town for a week to "humor" Henry.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Used in "7:15 A.M."
  • Story Arc: The show follows the exact same structure of Lost, with arcs and mini-arcs per season contributing to the overall Myth Arc.
    • Season One:
      • The main plot follows Regina casting the Dark Curse and sending fairy tale characters to Storybrooke in the real world, where they remain trapped and without the memories of who they really are, and how it's the destiny of Emma Swan to be "the Savior" and break the curse.
      • The mini-arcs are Emma accepting her role as mother to her newfound son Henry and her place in Storybrooke, ultimately becoming sheriff after the old one is killed (episodes 1-9); an amnesiac Snow and Charming having an affair that creates trouble with the wife Charming has in Storybrooke, who then goes missing leaving Snow the prime suspect (episodes 10-18); and Emma being made to believe in her true identity and destiny by both a mysterious writer named August and Rumpelstiltskin, the mastermind behind everything (episodes 19-22).
    • Season Two
      • The main plot follows how all the people of Storybrooke cope with the curse being broken and their memories restored but still being trapped in the real world, which now has magic in it thanks to the machinations of Rumpelstiltskin.
      • The mini-arcs are Emma and Snow being transported to the Enchanted Forest and teaming up with Sleeping Beauty and Mulan to find a way back to Storybrooke, which Charming is now in charge of (episodes 23-31); Emma helping Rumpelstiltskin finally find his long-lost son Baelfire while Cora plots to obtain ultimate power (episodes 32-38); and two anti-magic zealots from the real world infiltrating Storybrooke in order to destroy it (episodes 39-44).
    • The first half of Season Three follows Emma, Snow, Charming, Regina, Rumpelstiltskin, and Captain Hook traveling to Neverland to save Henry from Peter Pan, who enacts dark and twisted schemes on all of them that forces a character study of who they really are inside.
      • The second half features the cast dealing with the aftermath of Pan's curse which returned them to the Enchanted Forest, faced with a new enemy: The Wicked Witch of the West. Meanwhile, a year later, Emma and a still-amnesiac Henry return to Storybrooke, with everyone else having no memory of the previous year, and Wicked still scheming unnoticed among them, with a powerful but reluctant companion: Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Throughout Season 2, it's implied that Mulan loves Prince Philip, but can't declare her love for him because he has found Aurora, his "true love", and so she shows her care the only way she can: by putting her life on the line for him. Things are complicated by the fact that as the trope below says, Aurora is initially cold towards Mulan because she senses her interest in Philip. However, they do eventually become loyal friends to one another. Mulan in particular is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Aurora safe, even if it means giving in to Cora's demands. Then in Season 3, Mulan finally decides to reveal her feelings to the one she loves and goes to... Aurora!
  • Stranger Behind the Mask: There was a bit of speculation as to who Zelena's father might be, with speculation that it might be Rumpelstiltskin or King Leopold. In the end it turns out to be a random con-man without any foreshadowing or connection to any fairy tale.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Aurora. She is sweet to Phillip, her Love Interest, but initially cold and proud towards Mulan when she senses her interest towards him. She eventually warms up to her though. By the end of the season, they're good friends.
  • Super Empowering: Along with her Action Girl powers from both sides of the family, and being somewhere between Living Lie Detector and outright Everything Sensor, Emma appears to have this power when she touches Regina, her powers suddenly work again.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: The show tries to portray the Evil Queen this way when she has to sacrifice that which she loves most for her Curse. She tried her beloved and prized stallion; that didn't work. It turned out to be her father, after whom she named the boy she adopted.

    T 

  • Taken for Granite:
    • Frederick accidentally fell on Midas's hand while defending him and was turned to gold as a result.
    • August is suffering a slower, nastier case of this as his body turns back to wood.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Henry's adoptive mother, Regina, is, on his mother's side, his step-greatgrandmother, whose mother once had a relationship with his paternal grandfather. It's lampshaded by Charming (Henry's maternal grandfather):
    David: It's a good thing we don't have Thanksgiving in our world 'cause that dinner would suck.
    • Goes even further in Season 3. Peter Pan is Rumplestitskin's father, who looks like a teenager because he gave Rumple up for a chance to be young on Neverland forever. And as of "Save Henry", Pan switched bodies with Henry, so Henry, in a way, is now literally his own (great) grandfather.
    • Also there's the fact that Emma's season 3 love triangle is between Neal and Hook, who ran off with Neal's mother, and would therefore have been Neal's stepfather and Henry's step-grandfather if marriage had been involved.
    • Lampshaded by Hook when Elsa discovers the Snow Queen is one of two never-heard-of aunts.
    Hook (to Elsa). Spend a little more time in this town, love, you realize just about everyone's related.
  • Tap on the Head: Charming is ambushed with a crowbar to the face. Once he wakes up, he has a pink mark for one scene and is somewhat annoyed.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Regina (reluctant magic user but became powerful through practice) vs. Zelena (magical protege).
  • Terms of Endangerment: "Dearie."
  • That Man Is Dead: David claiming that whoever chose to marry his wife Kathryn no longer exists.
  • The Corruption: Dark magic is heavily implied to have this effect.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Baelfire and Rumplestiltskin share this belief.
  • There Are No Therapists: Double Subverted. There is one therapist in Storybrooke, Dr. Hopper/Jiminy Cricket. Unfortunately, the ones that really need his help don't take advantage of his services, namely Emma and Regina.
    • Having said that, Regina does attempt to talk to Dr. Hopper in the beginning of Season 2, but then Cora shows up and wrecks Regina's Heel-Face Turn-in-progress.
  • This Is Reality: Said word-for-word by Emma to Henry at one point.
    • Emma, disbelieving in Jefferson's belief in magic, tells him "this is the real world."
  • This Loser Is You: The Dark Curse is explicitly described as sending the fairy tale characters to a horrible place where there is no magic and no one gets a Happy Ending ever. As every episode reminds us, this terrible and unhappy land is "our world."
    • "The Tower" introduces nightroot, a magical root which, when consumed, allows a person to face their deepest fear — in the form of a clone, which they must defeat lest they be haunted by it until they find their courage.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: In "The Evil Queen," Snow White says to a disguised Regina that she pities Regina and is willing to go back and forgive her. But then Snow discovers the entire village her stepmother put to death (men, women, and children) because Snow took shelter there for a night.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Crops up from time to time with the feud between Snow and Regina, and with Rumplestiltskin and Captain Hook. In both times, their Morality Pet warns that killing the other will corrupt their souls, and want them to move beyond it. It happens, but with, well, consequences.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: In season 1- Snow White is the wife, Cinderella is the child and Red is the seductress.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Subverted. Charming threw his sword unerringly, but the queen dematerialized in a puff of smoke! Played straight with Emma vs. Maleficent's dragon form. Somewhat justified in that it's a Shout-Out to how she was defeated in the Disney movie that she got her name from.
  • Title Drop: The name of Henry's fairy tale exposition book is Once Upon a Time.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Season 3 is shaping up to have... Hook, Regina, and Gold teaming up with the Charmings (e.g. the other side of Henry's family). Certainly evil but it really can't be called token any more if there's three of them, can it?
  • Tonight Someone Kisses: "Good Form."
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Usually coincides with A Death in the Limelight.
    • "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter."
    • Also, "The Miller's Daughter."
  • Tomato Surprise: Season 2 begins with the usual Enchanted Forest/Storybrooke split only for it to be revealed at the end that the Enchanted Forest segment is not taking place in the past. It's taking place at exactly the same time as the Storybrooke segment as it's revealed not everything was affected by the curse.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Snow White, particularly in Season 2 when fighting the Ogre. Not something one would expect from a Princess.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: An interesting spin on it, where characters when introduced are very kind and caring, but subsequent episodes show them to have been cruel and petty in the past.
    • When introduced Snow White's mother, Queen Eva, seems like an archetypal version of The High Queen. It's then shown as a teenager she was a Rich Bitch Spoiled Brat, who took an opportunity to humiliate Cora just because she could. This bit her in the ass.
    • Snow White herself was a bratty child once too, with a high sense of superiority. Her mother scolded her for it, and insisted it change.
    • Jefferson, The Mad Hatter, is shown to be friendly man and loving father, who is totally screwed over by Regina. It then turns out that years ago, he quite cheerfully participated in the Break the Cutie and Corrupt the Cutie that Regina was subjected to, which turned her into the Evil Queen. This has the added bonus of her treatment of him come off as rather karmic.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: "Child of the Moon".
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Though the townsfolk (that aren't Regina, Henry, or Gold) aren't in on the secret in Season 1.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The promo for "The Outsider" showed a brief clip of a beaten up Hook holding a gun and firing it at Rumplestiltskin and Belle when they're at the town border.
    • The Australian promo for Queen of Hearts explicitly revealed that the titular Queen was Cora, despite the fact that this was supposed to be a surprise reveal in the episode.
    • The Canadian promo for In the Name of the Brother showed a very brief clip of the kiss between Gold and Cora
    • "New York City Serenade" plays the new villain's identity as a mystery before it's revealed in the final scene. The commercials ever since the previous episode had used the fact that it was the Wicked Witch of the West as a hype point.
  • Trapped in Another World: Inverted - it's the fairy tale folks who are here in our world, stranded, and most of them aren't happy about it.
    • Played straight in the Season 2 premiere, when Emma is transported to the Fairy Tale land and has no way to get back.
    • Many a big deal is made of the fate of anybody in Neverland being this.
  • Trigger Phrase: Regina has to do whatever Mr. Gold asks her to, as long as he says "please." Unusual in that she's perfectly aware of this, but she was hoping that he wasn't. Though it doesn't work anymore in Season 2.
    • "Emma" was one for Mr. Gold. According to Word of God, hearing it brought back his memories as Rumpelstiltskin.
  • True Love's Kiss: A law of the Enchanted Forest. True love's kiss is outright stated to be able to break any curse.
    • At the beginning of the pilot, this is how Charming revives Snow White from her enchanted sleep. At the end of the episode, as the curse is taking effect, Snow finds Charming bleeding to death on the ground and tries the same thing... but it doesn't work (probably because death isn't a curse).
    • Regina attempts this with Daniel after the latter gets his heart ripped out by Regina's mother. Much like the above example, true love's kiss does not work.
    • The kiss between Graham and Emma, whether it was love or not, resulted in Graham regaining his Enchanted Forest memories.
    • Almost shared between Belle and Rumplestiltskin, but subverted by Rumple's unwillingness to give up his power as the Dark One.
    • In a later episode, when the Storybrooke version of Charming has nearly drowned in the river, Mary Margaret starts giving him CPR. Emphasis on starts; she just kisses him, which revives him very quickly.
    • Abigail is unable to revive her beloved Frederick in this fashion, as he was turned to gold after saving King Midas and his helmet conceals his face.
    • Double Subverted in "Heart of Darkness". Snow won't be cured for once because she doesn't want to love or remember Charming. But when he says he's willing to die for her, she kisses him and is cured.
    • Played straight in the Season 1 finale. Emma's kiss on the comatose Henry's forehead not only revives him, but restores the townsfolk's memories.
    • Played straight with Phillip and Aurora.
    • Charming puts himself under the Sleeping Curse so that he can enter the burning room where he can telepathically communicate with Snow. He plans to use a kiss to wake himself back up, but it doesn't work because they are not physically together.
    • In "New York City Serenade", Hook tries this on Emma when she has lost her memories in the mid-season finale. It doesn't work, because the love has to be mutual, and Emma doesn't remember him.
    • Similarly, Rumplestiltskin tries the same thing to restore Belle's memories. Again, it doesn't work.
    • Emma delivers a Kiss of Life to Hook after Zelena drowns him. She doesn't even try CPR, just kisses him and he almost instantly wakes up.
    • In a Call Back to the season 1 finale, Regina does this to Henry the same way Emma did, resulting in the new Dark Curse being broken and restoring everyone's memories of the missing year.
    • Robin Hood tries to do this to free Marian from the Snow Queen's freezing curse. It fails because he's still in love with Regina.