A Live-Action TV fantasy series aired on ABC.The Fairy Tales we know - or think we know - are real. The Evil Queen from the "Snow White" story takes her revenge on Snow and her Prince Charming by cursing the kingdom on the day of their child's birth. The only way to break the curse is to transport Snow's newborn child to our world, where she will return 28 years later to save the residents of the Enchanted Forest.After said 28 years, we meet Emma Swan, a reformed thief-turned-Bail Bondswoman (she prefers Bondsperson) who just so happens to be a Living Lie Detector. We also meet a little boy named Henry, who introduces himself as her son. He persuades her to leave Boston and take him home to Storybrooke, Maine, on the way telling her that his book of fairy tale stories is full of things that really happened. Emma, unconvinced, returns him to his adoptive mother, the Mayor.The narrative gets switched back and forth between the past that takes place in the Enchanted Forest and the present that takes place in Storybrooke, and the truth is soon revealed: the Evil Queen won, and (most of) the citizens of the Enchanted Forest now suffer Laser-Guided Amnesia in Storybrooke. Emma - who is revealed to be the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming - is the only hope they have of restoring their happy endings and breaking the curse on Storybrooke. Much of the first season focuses on Henry trying to convince his mom that the curse is real, while Regina tries her best to prevent Emma from finding the truth. At the same time, we learn more about the citizens of Storybrooke and their Enchanted Forest counterparts.Little does Emma know the real trouble begins once the curse is finally broken.The show is also developing an Expanded Universe starting with Reawakened, a tie-in novel based on the first season. Marvel Comics is also creating a series of graphic novels based on the show. A Spin-Off series was greenlighted for the 2013-2014 season, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, which gives Alice in Wonderland the treatment that the original gives Snow White and myriad other fairy tales.Has a recap page now.
This series contains examples of:
open/close all folders
108: The address of Henry and his mother. Appropriate, as she's one of the Big Bads.
Regina is at first strongly implied to be emotionally abusive in her lack of concern and involvement with Henry beyond trying to one-up Emma. Another example of her abuse is her trying to gaslight him (the show implies that she thinks that this is what is best for him, but her fear of losing him also played a part), going as far as to threaten his therapist. She even unknowingly resorts to blatant acts of violence in front of him because she doesn't check whether he is away in order to regain custody of him.
In Season 2, however, Regina appears to be going all-out to avert the trope and make amends with Henry - though it remains to be seen whether her motive is truly becoming a better person or just regaining his affection.
Jiminy's family in the Enchanted Forest were this to him, always manipulating his desire to stop thieving to keep him at it.
Cora, Regina's mother. She killed Regina's true love to force her into marrying the King, because she wants her idea of the best possible life for her daughter, meaning status and power. She is extremely possessive of Regina, planning to go to Storybrooke after the curse is broken because then Regina will have lost everything and will need her. And she believes all this qualifies as motherly love.
Justified in that Cora wasn't truly capable of healthy, proper love as long as her heart was kept outside of her body.
Rumplestiltskin himself might be an example. He kills people in front of his child. He has massive overreactions to any injury done to Bae, best shown when he turns a man into a slug and stomps on him after hitting Bae with a cart. Bae also seems to have become afraid of his father.
Accomplice by Inaction: Regina's motivation for wanting revenge against Snow White is that she didn't keep a secret from her mother, who discovered her engagement with the family's stable boy and killed him.
Fridge Logic makes it a probable motivation for all her grudges : Leopold helped her mother's plans by accepting her mother's answer to the marriage proposal instead of hers, her father never succeeded in fighting off Cora (despite trying when she physically abused their daughter), and most of the people of the Enchanted Forest witnessed, if not her constant abuse even outside the house (and inside, for the domesticity), at the very least her marriage at sixteen/seventeen and involvement with the only "helpful" person she met, Rumplestiltskin, but never did anything to help or seemed to care untill they attacked The CutiePerfect Princess of their land, and suddenly collectively felt Big Brother Instinct.
Arranged Marriages are common in that world. Leopold was a beloved king, and a lonely, desperate man. Cora made sure there were few or no witnesses to her abuse. And when Regina took the throne, she decided to slaughter entire villages because one resident might have sheltered Snow for a night. Snow takes the blame because Regina didn't have the guts to place the blame where it belonged.
Emma takes up her father's sword in order to battle Dragon!Maleficent, and later uses both swordfighting and general brawling skills in the Enchanted Forest.
Snow White's goes from 'hints' to outright awesome scenes of badassery as her story progresses, especially when she leads a small army in a full-on invasion of King George's castle in her efforts to save Charming. Never mind the time she put an arrow through the eye of an ogre about to kill Emma, or when she used an aerosol can and cigarette lighter as a makeshift flame-thrower to fight off the wraith.
Mulan certainly qualifies, since she's been told to have fought in many battles with Prince Phillip.
Red/Ruby, usually in conjunction with her ability to turn into a wolf, but not always. For example, her take-down of Quinn in the beginning of "Child of the Moon", which happens when she isn't a wolf, and "In the Name of the Brother" when Ruby unexpectedly displays superhuman speed when she runs to stop someone from committing suicide.
Granny, on a couple of occasions, generally involving a crossbow.
Belle, when she tracked and fought the beast that was Cursed!Phillip.
Forest dweller and survivor Snow White certainly qualifies.
Also, Prince Charming. In the original story, he was, well, a charming prince. Here, he is a great swordsman and archer.
Little Red Riding Hood is a werewolf who learns to use her powers to her own advantage.
Rumplestiltskin is more of a badass in the series than usually depicted.
Especially since he started out a total coward (and he admits he still is - he hides behind magic...in fact he became the Dark One in order to get rid of his cowardice) and failed to even fight for his wife when she was kidnapped by Killian Jones (Hook). In his own words:
Rumplestiltskin: I am a coward. I have been my entire life. I tried to make up for it by collecting power and the power became so important that I couldn't let go... not even... when that meant losing the most important person in my life. Rumplestiltskin:... I'm still a coward. Magic has become a crutch that I can't walk without.
Speaking of Rumplestiltskin, the Miller's Daughter generally doesn't even have a name, let alone the opportunity to do anything more exceptional than conveniently overhear Rumplestiltskin's. Cora, meanwhile, is pure terror both in her not-small amount of magical power, but in her ability to manipulate others. She's also impressive in comparison to other representations of the Queen of Hearts.
Speaking of Hook, he's a far cry from the silly, fearful Disney version that most people know, not to mention more badass than he was in the original book - mostly due to it being him hunting "the Crocodile", as opposed to the other way around.
Adaptational Villainy: Jack the Giant Killer reimagined as a selfish treasure hunter who took advantage of a naive and good-hearted giant.
Peter Pan, who has apparently been sending his shadow into other realms, abducting young boys and bringing them to Neverland and never allowing them to leave, all just to locate one particular boy. He also appears to be employing Greg and Tamara, who under his orders, attempt to destroy Storybrooke, and then kidnaps Henry.
Adipose Rex: To show the difference between Prince James and Charming, Josh Dallas wears a slight fat suit to show that Prince James is in a little worse shape than Charming/David is.
Suspecting your spouse not only of cheating, but of loving the other person.
Being accused of a murder you didn't commit, and having powerful people willing to do anything to see you go down.
The biological mother of your adopted child seeking you out and winning his affections from you. Mitigated in the show proper by the adoptive mother Regina being borderline abusive and the biological mother Emma trying to distance herself (although Henry pushes the issue).
War resulting in the kingdom lowering the minimum age of soldiers. Followed up with the army coming in and taking your child, regardless of gender or parental opinion, the moment they meet age requirements.
Being trapped somewhere and unable to return home to your child, who doesn't even remember that she is your child.
Through a moment of weakness, becoming separated from your child for a long time, possibly forever.
Sending your child away somewhere unknown, in an effort to protect them from a dangerous threat, knowing it's likely you won't see them again potentially ever.
Your child in a coma, not knowing what you can do to save him, and walking in to find out he's been declared dead.
Losing not just someone one you love, but the one that gave you the strength to be a better person. And when you get them back, they're completely different.
Your child being tempted to somewhere their kidnapper never allows them to leave.
Aerith and Bob: The Enchanted Forest has names like Snow White, Maleficent and Rumplestiltskin alongside Henry, Abigail and Daniel.
After the End: In Season 2, Emma and Snow are sent back to the Enchanted Forest and find that it still exists and there are still people there.
Alas, Poor Villain: Many people would have been quite happy for Cora to die before "The Miller's Daughter". The way it actually happens, dying in a distraught Regina's arms after deciding that her daughter would have been worth losing all that power... was ten kinds of depressing.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted with Belle and Rumplestiltskin. Belle has always brought out the best in Gold and is horrified by his evil side, but the alter-ego Regina gave her, Lacey, enjoys watching him beat up her other suitor with his cane and appears to be this trope personified.
All Myths Are True: At least all fairy tales are. Though it's a very loose definition of fairy tale. Classical Mythology seems to be fair game too. Historical legends, with the addition of Mulan. And with the unveiling of Dr. Frankenstein, it would seem even classical sci-fi and horror aren't off-limits either.
Word Of God says all "storybook" characters are considered fair game. There were plans to include Sherlock Holmes from the very beginning (likely dropped due to the character already receiving extensive contemporary exposure in film and TV), and an early draft of the pilot script reveals that Dracula has been considered, and Dr. Frankenstein, and to a lesser degree his monster, have been been featured in the show since the third episode, though not revealed as such until well into Season 2.
Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio were originally characters of an 1883 novel by Carlo Collodi, not a folktale, and were included in the pilot.
Arthurian legends and characters such as Lancelot have also been included.
The inclusion of Pongo, one of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, is one of the most recently created characters: the original novel was only published in 1956. Presumably, this is covered under Disney's deal for the rights to it.
Ambition Is Evil: Almost the entire long-term strategy of Rumplestiltskin/Gold boils down to first keeping his son safe and then finding him. With all the bad things he's doing based on such a motivation it's no wonder he's a complex character. His most deplorable actions are often aimed at people who insulted or injured him when he was weak.
And even Rumplestiltskin has some marginal standards. There is absolutely no one that Cora wouldn't sleep with, cut deals with, manipulate, abuse, or kill to get what she wants. To provide some context, a young Cora ends up using Rumple as a pawn. When a functionally standalone story with no outside context can make Rumple look like a victim, that's saying something.
The scenes in Storybrooke are in order, but the flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest are not in any particular order—they serve to fill in the background of whichever Storybrooke resident is in the limelight that episode.
Jiminy was given a potion from Rumplestiltskin that turned Geppetto's parents into dolls, seemingly forever.
Gaston is turned into a rose by Rumplestiltskin and is then clipped by Belle.
This is how sleeping curses work in this universe: the victim appears to be dead, but they are trapped in an endless sleep filled with "nightmares formed from their own regrets." This becomes a major plot point in Season 2.
Animal Motifs: In the pilot, we see a swan on Henry's night light and on the room key Emma receives from Granny. Particularly poignant given Snow White's affinity with birds and her Storybrooke-version's speech about the loyalty of birds.
By the mid-Season 2 break, and especially by "The Cricket Game", Regina very well may have graduated to Type IV. She at least appears to be genuinely trying to become a better person, and in this episode it is mostly the fact that basically nobody trusts her that puts her at all into opposition with Emma and the others.
Type III: The Well-Intentioned Extremist. Not only would many people in this narrative line up and pay to watch Hook skin his "crocodile", they would probably help - even without knowing his motivations. They'd disapprove of who Hook's teamed up with and what he has done to get to that point in the narrative, though.
The Prince was on his way to honor one for political reasons when he met Snow White. Naturally, he doesn't go through with it. It's also discovered in the episode "Whatever Happened to Frederick" that this was an unwanted arranged marriage for the prince's would-be bride Abigail as well.
Belle's engagement to Gaston was this.
Regina's mother set things up between Regina and Snow White's father.
Arrow Cam: Used in the third episode when Prince Charming fires a bow.
Artistic License - Law: When Emma and Sidney confront Regina for secretly misappropriating city funds, she reveals she had been preparing to build a playground. This is portrayed as a victory for Regina and Emma does not look into it further. However, misusing city funds for any secret purpose should have been considered suspicious.
Artistic License - Physics: August's death is pretty jarring considering he was wooden at the time and the fatal attack was delivered via suped-up taser. Wood isn't a conductor for electricity, which one would think would be considered given the build-up of this particular weapon throughout the episode. Dips into Artistic License - Biology when one considers that his core is one solid block of wood just like his limbs, so even a shock powerful enough to penetrate his wooden exterior couldn't have stopped his heart because there wouldn't be one beating to start with.
Word Of God states that it was no ordinary weapon, which might justify it.
Art Shift: The style of the illustrations in Henry's book from late Season 1 is very different from their style in early Season 1. Possibly because of August's tampering with the pages when the book was lost mid-season.
Axe Crazy: Nature Hero Snow tries to lure a bluebird close so she can smash it, shortly after taking a potion that removes her memories of Prince Charming. She then tries to kill the queen, taking a soldier's armor in the process. Plus all the things she's done to the dwarves.
Back Alley Doctor: Harmlessly so in Doc. Lampshaded in "Dreamy". Done again with Regina and Archie.
Dreamy: Maybe I should have Doc look at me. Bossy: You're gonna trust a doctor who got his medical degree from a pickaxe?
Back for the Finale: In the first season, the Huntsman and Maleficent appear in the Enchanted Forest and Belle appears in Storybrooke.
Backup Twin/There Is Another: The Prince Charming we currently know turns out to be this for his twin brother who had been adopted by the king.
The original Prince James was a badass. His twin brother Charming went from shepherd to dragonslayer in days. Snow was an Action Girl as seen in the third episode. Emma shows off her badassitude in her first five minutes. Her son Henry, at the age of ten, goes on a quest to find his mom and bring her back to break the curse. Henry's father and his father, Rumplestiltskin, are no slouches themselves.
Regina and her mother, who are related to the Charmings as Regina was Snow's stepmother.
Season 2 introduces no one new but with the reveal that Rumple's son, Baelfire, is Henry's father, this suddenly means that a good chunk of the main cast is all related to one another.
Little Red Riding Hood comes from a long line of werewolves. Her granny, while no longer able to transform, is still a crack shot with a crossbow.
Bad Dreams: A side effect of the sleeping curse. Once the curse is broken, the afflicted is plagued by horrible nightmares for months. It's bad enough that Aurora gives up sleeping until Snow promises to help her through it.
Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold seems to be running one on everyone. He seems to be behind the actions of both the good and bad characters.
When Emma was running against Sidney for the position of town sheriff, Gold pulls one in order to get Emma to win. Doubly so: He set Town Hall on fire with her and Regina inside, making her look like a hero for rescuing Mayor Mills. But he also made sure to leave evidence that would lead Emma back to him, knowing she'd feel guilty and expose him to the entire town. They're more impressed with Emma's standing up to Gold than scared of Regina, so she gets the post.
Everything Gold does is part of one big gambit. No, really. His plan is to have Regina enact The Curse, but with secret loophole that will guarantee it is eventually broken no matter what (Emma), so he can go out into the world to find his son. Making this happen takes hundreds of years and various sub-gambits.
As mentioned in the previous gambit, his plan for Regina is to mould her into the type of person who can enact The Curse, then push her to the brink until she does. This involves conspiring with Jefferson and Frankenstein to make her think returning her True Love from the dead was impossible so she remains unhappy and vengeful, and thwarting all her previous attempts to destroy Snow White and Prince Charming's happiness till The Curse is the only option left.
His True Love potion: Prepared over extensive time in the Enchanted Forest and hidden in Dragon!Maleficent. Comes into play in Season 1 Finale when he calls on Emma to retrieve it, and uses it to bring magic to Storybrooke.
The Evil Queen also pulls off several gambits.
Manipulating the Genie
As Regina, arranging to steal Mr. Gold's most prized possession, Belle's chipped cup. Her confidence that he will do anything to get it back leads to discovering Mr. Gold remembers he's Rumplestiltskin.
It seems to run in the family. Cora ran one on Regina in "The Stable Boy": she spooked Snow's horse with magic, knowing Regina would help the girl, which leads to the King showing up at their doorstep and proposing to Regina so she can be Snow's replacement mother.
Cora does it again in "The Cricket Game" by posing as her daughter and staging Archie's death so that whatever new found trust that Regina has built with the Charmings will be destroyed and Regina will give up on redemption and seek her mother out for help for revenge. It works, and she even gloats about to Hook.
Heck, even Captain Hook gets one in "The Outsider". He attacks Belle knowing that Mr. Gold will come to her rescue. This leaves Gold's shop open so that he can have Smee sneak in and take Baelfire's shawl, the talisman that Gold needs to leave the town.
Snow herself uses one in "The Miller's Daughter". She secretly curses Cora's heart which needs to be re-inserted into Cora to kill her. When she's caught by Regina, she appeals to Regina's desire for her mother's love and gives it to Regina, counting on the (very likely) possibility that Regina would put the heart back into Cora.
Battle Couple: Charming is a badass with a broadsword. Snow White used to rob carriages and led a raid on a castle.
Became Their Own Antithesis: Rumplestiltskin, who began his life as a kind, meek and fearful man, and turned into the ruthless and hyperconfident puppetmaster we all know. And later, we see kind Regina got started on her own evil path trying to protect herself from her magical mother Cora, who bears a striking resemblance to an older Regina. (By midway through Season 2, Cora is way worse, although this is mostly due to Character Development on Regina's part rather than due to any change in Cora).
Snow White may be heading this way after casting a death spell on Cora's heart and tricking Regina into putting it back, killing Cora.
Emma confesses that when she lit the candle on the lonely birthday cupcake she bought herself, she wished not to be alone on her birthday. Henry showed up at her door. Subverted in that while she did not initially want to be found by Henry, she quickly grows attached to him.
All of Rumplestilskin's deals are implied to be this:
Ella took Rumplestiltskin's deal because he killed her Fairy Godmother, expecting he would want his share of the riches from her new life as princess. But what he really wanted was her first born.
To ease her broken heart over hearing that Prince Charming's Arranged Marriage to Abigail will happen in two day's time, Snow White gets a cure from Rumplestiltskin that will make her forget that she ever loved him. She nearly uses it, but Grumpy and the rest of the dwarves persuade her not to use it yet. But just when Prince Charming leaves his wedding to find her, Snow has already taken the potion.
Snow White's father tries to circumvent the inevitable backfiring of wishes granted by the Genie by setting the latter free, then using his second wish to give his third wish to the Genie, who says he will never use it. Because of this, the Genie meets the Queen, falls in love with her and is convinced to kill the king in order to "save" her. Turns out she never loved him in the first place. Then the Genie uses his last wish to remain at the Evil Queen's side forever. For this, he is trapped inside the mirror.
In general, the genie mentions that he has granted 1001 wishes and 1001 times seen it end badly.
Even the Blue Fairy is not immune: her "help" separates two families: Snow and Charming from Emma, Rumplestilskin and Bae.
The Bechdel Test: Passes with flying colors. Five of the twelve characters who have ever been billed as cast regulars are women (and arguably the three most important characters, Snow, Emma and Regina), and while they do talk about men on occasion, they just as often talk about other things. Interesting, a sort of inverse version applies to the men (and passing as well) - various male characters occasionally discuss relationships and their own and this isn't seen/presented as un-masculine or otherwise un-manly.
Bedmate Reveal: Regina and the Sheriff, although this is shown after she leaves his apartment. Then revealed in-universe to Emma when she catches him sneaking out of Regina's house.
Being Evil Sucks: According to Word Of God, this trope is the inspiration for the show. The Evil Queen's reason for choosing to get revenge on Snow White by casting a curse on the entire Enchanted Forest is to create a world where she can "win for once."
Being Good Sucks: This crops up during The Queen Is Dead, due to the high costs that doing Good were for Mary Margaret.
Big Bad Ensemble: Mayor Regina (the Evil Queen) and Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) in Season 1.
In Season 2, we get Cora and Hook in a Big Bad Duumvirate, with Hook later cast aside and left to his own devices in favor of Regina becoming Cora's Dragon. When Cora is dealt with, Greg and Tamara emerge as a new Big Bad Duumvirate, with Hook allying himself with them too. And all the while, Rumplestiltskin continues to be up to no good....
The Big Bad Wolf: Snow and Red track it down in Episode 15. The two come to the conclusion that Red's boyfriend Peter is the wolf. This is later proven false as it is revealed that Red is the wolf.
Bigger Bad: Rumplestiltskin in Season 1. He may be part of an ensemble with Regina, but it's clear that he's behind much, much more in the plot than she is.
Cora is this for Regina's character in Season 1, while straight-up replacing her as the Big Bad in Season 2.
Peter Pan to Greg and Tamara in Season 2, as Gold spells out in the last scene of the season finale.
Bigger on the Inside: The town of Storybrooke, as hinted by Regina in an early episode. It should be, if it holds the denizens of a whole other world. Hinted at in "Hat Trick" since Jefferson's telescopes can see suspiciously far such as into Emma's office despite being at the edge of the woods.
Big Screwed-Up Family: Turned up to an ante in "Manhattan". While we could deduce from the first episode that Regina was Henry's adoptive mother and his step-great grandmother, there's the added fact that Baelfire is his father, which adds him and Rumplestiltskin to the happy family tree with the Charmings and Regina. With the revelation earlier in Season 2 that Rumpelstilskin bumped uglies with Cora...
Although Raphael Sbarge as Archie/Jiminy is credited among the regular cast in Season 1, he actually appears in less than half of the first Season's 22 episodes (10 in all, sometimes briefly and in one episode only as a Voice Actor). He's demoted in Season 2.
In Season 2, there have so far been several episodes in which lead cast members are credited, yet either do not appear or, if they do turn up, only do so for a few moments.
Jefferson can remember the other world. But not only is he more than slightly mad, his real daughter is with some other father and doesn't even know him.
Perhaps she deserves it, but this definitely seems to apply to Regina since towards the end of Season 1 and noticeably during the early weeks of Season 2. Young (pre-evil) Regina also had a dollop of this.
Blood isn't absent from the show but given the hack and slash way Prince Charming fights (Especially against those without armor) there should be a lot more blood and maiming present in his fights than there is.
In Episode 21 of Season 1, Grumpy pulls a perfectly clean pickaxe out of a guards back during Snow's raid on the castle to rescue Charming.
Averted with the death of Prince James, the wolf slaughters, the discovery of Gus' body, Daniel's blood-stained hands after his rampage, the death of the Siren, possibly along others.
Blood Magic: The Dark Curse needing a heart of a loved one to work.
The candle Cora gives to Snow White that siphons away one life to save another.
The second season begins and ends with people being kidnapped into other worlds.
It also ends in a compressed version of the way the series began, abit with some changes and additions. Bae (and Henry ) gets sucked into another world. An evil figure becomes determined to find them again. A couple is split but one is determined to re-find the other. Etc.
Boredom Montage: Done in "Welcome to Storybrooke", where, in a flashback to 1983 when the curse began, Regina walks the same way every day, always passing Ruby wearing a skimpy red outfit and being chastised by her grandma, Dr. Hopper walking his dog and wishing her a good morning, and Mary Margaret accidentally running into her. Eventually, it gets to the point where she says "Save it" to Hopper, and actually tells Mary Margaret she herself should be sorry for not watching where she was going.
Ruby/Red, who starts out as the show's/town's eye candy and apparent "town bimbo" until her dark backstory is revealed and we learn she's a werewolf, at which point the show's depiction of the character turns in a new direction. Season 2 provided further BTC potential in "Child of the Moon", though she ultimately prevails, both in the present and the past.
Belle who, after being initially scorned by Rumple, is next seen drowning her sorrows in a pub and institutionalized in Storybrooke. In Season 2, the trope is taken a bit literally when she is shot by Hook and loses her fairy tale memories at the same time.
Mary Margaret, in the middle of Season 1, when she is shunned by the entire town and subsequently arrested for murder.
And again late in Season 2, when she lets Rumplestiltskin talk her into murdering Cora.
Break the Haughty: Regina suffers this, again and again. But it finally seems to be sinking in, when she realizes her actions have doomed Henry. For once, she doesn't attempt to pass blame and teams up with Emma in an effort to make it right. Her tearful plea for Henry to realize she loves him before fleeing is heartwrenching. Season 2 has continued this theme, to the point of Regina actually undergoing therapy—and eventually having her kill her own mother by restoring her cursed heart.
Cora was always bitter, haughty, and had a nasty streak a mile wide. But a childish prank by some royals humiliates her, and this becomes her entire reason to exist - to make everyone else (especially anyone of royal blood) get down on their knees before her.
Brick Joke: In "Red-Handed", Henry suggests several jobs to Ruby, all involving carrying a basket, as a way of hinting her past life as Red Riding Hood. Flash-forward to the next season, after she remembers her identity as Red, and what does she use to carry food to the miners in "The Crocodile?" A basket.
Bridal Carry: Rumplestiltskin unwittingly saves Belle in this fashion when she falls off of a ladder.
Bright Castle: The site of Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding in the first episode, and occasionally seen in flashbacks since then.
In the third episode of Season 2, they show the interior of the castle after the curse to find everything wrecked. Snow has a slight imagine spot of the ruined room still being intact to show what she had envisioned their life to have been like if the curse had not happened.
Broken Bird: Rumplestilstkin/Mr. Gold and The Evil Queen/Regina Mills (and Cora) would not be constantly taking things from and wielding power over others had they not both been betrayed, abused, and traumatized in the past, as the flashbacks reveal.
Brought Down to Normal: What the Dark Curse did to anyone who had magic or wasn't human or both. The Evil Queen lost her ability to make magic, Rumplestiltskin went back to being human (his old limp and all), the fairies are all powerless nuns and the Magic Mirror is no longer stuck in a mirror. Also, Red Riding Hood is no longer a werewolf, nor is Granny. Conversely, the Mad Hatter remembers the Enchanted Forest because that would make him more miserable.
Slowly graduating up from normal is Pinocchio, as he has been slowly turning back into a puppet since Emma decided to stay in Storybrooke. The curse works differently on him, though.
In some cases, being brought down to normal means being changed into human form. Billy was previously a mouse, and Archie was Jiminy Cricket.
Also, the giant Anton is "normal-sized" in Storybrooke. In this case, however, it's as much a Stealth Pun and Visual Pun on the part of the curse as it's not being small that Anton hates (he actually doesn't particularly mind as seen in his backstory)... it's that it's a reminder of his nickname 'Tiny' which his brothers gave him and whom were slain by James because of his actions while small in the human world.
Anton is normal-sized because Cora made him that way to force him to grow magic beans for her. He's not affected by the Storybrooke curse.
Call Back: In "The Queen Is Dead", Mary Margaret's deadpan declaration that she's going to kill Cora mirrors her earlier statement in "Heart of Evil" that she would kill the Evil Queen.
Call Forward: In "Red-Handed", during a flash back to the Enchanted Forest we see Snow White trying to come up with different aliases for herself while she’s an outlaw. She spits out Frosty, Margaret and Mary, in that order.
Calling the Old Man Out: Henry to Regina after disposing of the wraith with Jefferson's hat traps Emma and Snow in the Enchanted Forest. He says she has to figure out how to bring them back or she really is the Evil Queen, and he'll never see her again. He leaves with Charming.
Cannot Spit It Out: A number of times characters try to make confessions to others but are unable to finish.
David's unsuccessful attempt to confess to Kathryn that he and Mary Margaret were having an affair.
Emma tries to take back her lie to Henry about how his father died, but can't bring herself to do it.
Canon Welding: All of the fairy tales are melded together into a single universe that share aspects of each others' stories:
The poison apple given to Snow White was made using the same curse Maleficent used on Sleeping Beauty.
Regina's mother, who is the Queen of Hearts, shares the part in the Rumpelstiltskin story too—though it doesn't end the same way.
King Midas doesn't turn his daughter into gold. Instead, he tries to marry her off to Prince Charming. He does however accidentally turn his future son-in-law into gold.
Instead of giving up her freedom to save her father, Belle does it to save her town from the Ogre Wars. And Rumplestiltskin takes the place of the Beast.
Rumplestilstskin also turns out to be the "crocodile" that took Captain Hook's hand.
Wonderland is accessible from the Enchanted Forest by way of a magic hat. Cora is revealed to be the Queen of Hearts.
Lancelot, of Arthurian legend, makes his debut in Season 2, bringing with him mentions of a lake he grew up next to, and a goblet that would give the drinker eternal life.
The end of season 2 also reveals that Neverland is connected to the other worlds, although Captain Hook's appearance had already implied it.
There are also hints that Oz is connected to these worlds - the Mad Hatter implies that he has been, and Word Of God points out that there is a picture of flying monkeys visible in Henry's book in the pilot.
Capital Letters Are Magic: The subtitles for hulu.com has many of the words like Truth (and oddly, some seemingly arbitrary words like Office, which later turn out to be meaningful) capitalized—and Mr. Gold's surname uncapitalized. Though, maybe it's just hulu.
Cassandra Truth: No one believes the precocious little kid who insists that everyone is a fairy tale character, except the people who already know it's real.
Chekhov's Gunman: Frederick is mentioned in passing in "The Shepherd". He is later revealed to be Abigail's true love seven episodes later. Similarly, his Storybrooke counterpart bumps into Kathryn several scenes before the audience discovers who he is.
Neal was first introduced in the first episode of Season 2. We don't find out who he is until Episode 6. He is Henry's father who left Emma at the request of August. Let's not forget he's also Rumplestiltskin's son Baelfire and the whole reason Rumple orchestrated the Dark Curse.
A very borderline case, but one nonetheless. The character of Sidney Glass (aka the Magic Mirror) is established as a major supporting character throughout Season 1, established as being a confidante of Regina in both worlds (and also in love with her). However, in real life actor Giancarlo Esposito became committed to a series on another network, Revolution, for the 2012-13 season. As a result, Sidney is last seen incarcerated in Regina's private asylum, prior to the curse being broken, and is conspicuous by his absence in post-curse Storybrooke. The flashbacks have also, thus far, avoided featuring the Mirror, too. It might be argued that this is closer to Put on a Bus, but time will tell if the character ever returns.
Kathryn Nolan is absent in Season 2 as her actress is now in the Copper series.
In addition to being himself, Hook's charm, attitude, Wild Card status, rum, and being handcuffed and left behind by the heroine is pretty obviously intended to recall another fictional pirate.
Cora is both the Miller's Daughter and the Queen of Hearts.
Compound Title: The last two episodes of the second season, "Second Star to the Right" and "And Straight On 'Til Morning" respectively. Fittingly, they deal with Neverland.
Conflict Ball: When Emma is about to climb the beanstalk, she tells Mulan to cut the beanstalk down if she's not back in ten hours. No clear reason is given for this arbitrary time limit; it serves only to set up a fight between Mulan and Snow about whether to follow through on Emma's instructions. Emma was already on her way down and within easy shouting distance when the fight occurs.
Conspicuous CGI: The two-headed Agrabahn Viper in Episode 11. The Giant's castle in "Tallahassee" deserves special recognition.
Of all the kids Regina could've adopted, she picks the son of the woman with the power to break the Dark Curse she cast, not to mention the grandson of her worst enemy. Both of them. Emma even lampshades the coincidence that is her meeting Henry's father, who is one of the two other people from her world not to have ended up amnesiac in Storybrooke.
The car accident victim that's doing an epic Agent Mulder impersonation and documenting the broken masquerade? He was almost kidnapped by Regina and did lose his dad to the town curse.
Come on, what are the chances that Emma, Snow, and the wraith would be transported to the exact location of Aurora and Phillip RIGHT AFTER they reunited with each other?
All that said, Rumple doesn't believe in coincidence. Whether or not he's right is debatable, considering he's personally manipulated the last few centuries of FTW history. And of course post-Curse breaking, his foresight into the future ends so he's as clueless as everyone else.
Prince Charming/Prince James/Shepherd aka John Doe/David Nolan.
Henry went in one after eating Regina's apple turnovers.
Coordinated Clothes: Regina and Rumplestiltskin both wore black and blue for an episode after they started a sort of Heel Face Turn and tried to redeem themselves for their loved ones. They are still as antagonistic as ever, and end up disagreeing on the best way to carry this plan.
Costume Porn: Mostly in the Enchanted Forest but some of Ruby and Belle's outfits in Storybrooke.
Couch Gag: A different fairytale creature, character or item appears in each episode's title card.
Subverted in "The Return", where the item is August riding through the woods on his motorbike. To be fair, he still is the central figure of that episode. Plus, we found he's Pinocchio a few episodes later so it counts after the fact.
As for the Season 1 finale... the ominous cloud that features is a reference to both how the finale shows how the end of the Enchanted Forest joins in with the start of Storybrooke... and how Rumple just brought magic to Storybrooke or so it would seem.
Crap Saccharine World: Storybrooke. When Emma first enters, it seems like a nice normal town and everyone appears content. But nobody can actually leave and people are forced to stay suspended in time and must play the roles that were assigned them, never truly moving forward in their lives. What keeps this from being an outright Crapsack World is that the entire town is oblivious.
In Season 2, post-Curse, the town has slowly been transitioning between Crap Saccharine and full Crapsack as residents grow tired of being trapped, and also (as of mid-way through Season 2) begin exhibiting paranoia about the outside world discovering their true nature.
Create Your Own Villain: Rumplestiltskin had a hand in the creation of every single villain we've seen. And also apparently all the heroes as well! So far the only people we've seen who he hasn't manipulated into their current positions are those who are from our world.
It turns out that the Muggle tourist was a little boy camping with his dad when Storybrooke appeared over their campsite. Regina got it in her head that she wanted the little boy for herself. The boy got away, his dad did not. Thirty years later, he's back, and really pissed off about the whole thing, enough to destroy not just Regina, but the whole town and Henry.
Regina may be real piece of work, but you can definitely see why she's become this way, and there is some real potential to feel sympathy there. Then she usually ruins it.
Snow feels sorry for her after finding out the truth about her lover, as they used to be friends... but then Regina makes her eat a poisoned apple.
Rumplestiltskin also counts, after the viewer learns that originally he was only trying to protect his son.
And even Cora briefly comes in for this, in "The Miller's Daughter", when it is revealed she only is how she is because she removed her own heart—and with it back inside she truly could love Regina.
Cursed with Awesome: Ruby muses on this with the awesome being the loss of the Fairy Tale memories. Many people, including her, had things they wish they could forget, like her eating her boyfriend and Whale's failure. Add to that, the Curse not only made them forget such things but now has given them a chance to live new lives with fresh starts.
Cycle of Revenge: So, Cora is slighted by Snow's future mom and kills her. Then after Cora kills her daughter's lover and forced her into a marriage with the widowed king, Regina decides to take revenge on Snow White for telling Cora (because she's unable to stand up to Mommy). The revenge leads to the curse. The curse leads to Cora returning and once again playing Regina like a cheap flute. Together, they kill Snow White's childhood nanny, try to kill Rumplestiltskin, and Snow realizes Cora was behind her mother's death. Part out of desperation, part out of revenge, Snow kills Cora. Now, Regina's blood feud leads her to almost kill Snow White again. Henry intervenes, but when Snow shows up to surrender her life to end the feud, Regina rips out her heart, then spares her life by putting it back, declaring Snow's Start of Darkness is all the leverage she will need to finalize the revenge.
Danger Takes A Back Seat: Played with. Emma tells Henry to go home so she can track down Ashley before it's too late. Henry obediently goes. But he pops up a few minutes later in the back seat of Emma's Volkswagen and sensibly points out she'd waste too much time taking him home and let Ashley's head start get longer.
Dark and Troubled Past: Invoked by name during the sheriff election. Regina dug up Emma's past, including juvie records that were supposed to be sealed and smeared them across the front page.
Defictionalization: The exterior shots of Storybrooke's main street are filmed on a real road in British Columbia. The signs on certain shops are covered with a Storybrooke equivalent during filming and removed afterwards. However, some shop owners let the production company keep the signs up permanently partially due to this trope and partially to make less work for the film crew (to erect and tear down the signs every week). The producers also leased two units just for the storefronts. These are kept the same year round, since they were never real shops in the first place.
Delayed Seasons: As usual with series filmed in British Columbia, the filming and actual airing of the episode are months apart. It would bother no one until somebody namedrops a particular event, like Valentine's Day in what looks a lot like mid-autumn.
Splash of Color: As a visitor to that world, it doesn't apply to Rumplestiltskin (or to his gold); he seems to have decided to wear a bright red cloak just for the occasion.
Storybrooke itself. According to the other wiki, "...all flowers and other objects with bright colors are temporarily concealed or removed [from the town used to film the exterior shots] to preserve Storybrooke's somberly enchanted nature."
Department of Child Disservices: Emma has very bitter feelings about her time in the foster care system, even telling Mary Margaret that all foster parents are just after "a meal ticket" and don't care about the kids. It's also implied to be a horrible fate for Nicholas and Ava (Hansel and Gretel), even worse than leaving them to fend for themselves.
August (Pinocchio) and Emma were also subject to an Orphanage of Fear. When given a choice to run away, August chooses his freedom and abandons Emma to her fate in the hell hole of "the system."
Destructive Romance: Discussed in Episode 13 between Mary Margaret and David after David told Kathryn that he was leaving her, but didn't tell her that he was involved with Mary in order to spare her feelings. Instead, Regina spills this to Kathryn, leading her to confront Mary in public and revealing the affair to the whole town.
Determinator: And how. A whole family of them. From Henry all the way up the line to Charming's mother, this family simply will not quit, ever. If they think it needs to be done they WILL get it done, often regardless of personal cost. And as we find out, this also applies to his father's side all the way up.
The usually very closed off Emma shows she very much can feel when she finally opens up to Graham.
At one point Rumplestiltskin is talking about the power of True Love (of which he happens to be holding a bottle). Prince Charming, rather dismissively, asks what he could possibly know about true love. Rumple is not amused: "Well, not so much as you, perhaps, but not so little as you might think."
Prince Charming to Emma, due to the plan to save her from the curse.
Prince Thomas might count with him being kidnapped by forces unknown while Ella is still pregnant. Averted with his Storybrooke counterpart when he decided to do the right thing in the end and come back to Ashley despite his father's wishes.
Henry's biological dad, whom he was told was a fireman who died during a rescue. In reality he's Neal Cassidy, a thief who was forced to leave Emma behind before even knowing that she was pregnant with his kid. It also turns out that he's Baelfire, Rumple's son, and was forced to stay away by August so that Emma can fulfill her destiny of breaking the curse on Storybrooke. After that was done and Neal found out that he had a son, he did move into Storybrooke so that he can be with Henry. Shortly after, he was shot and was transported through a portal, thus disappeared for a second time.
Hansel and Gretel's father. The same goes for their Storybrooke counterparts, Nicholas and Ava. However, they end up reunited with him in Storybrooke.
Grace's father never returns from his trip because he is trapped in Wonderland and becomes the Mad Hatter.
Disney Owns ABC: The reason many of the fairy tale characters share the names of classic Disney characters. (The series is in fact made by ABC Studios.) And the fact they are allowed to use characters created or as reimagined by Disney. For example, it was the Disney movie that named Snow White's 7 Dwarfs, while Belle and Mulan are based on the Disney film versions of the characters.
In Season 1, at various times Henry (and, strangely, Regina) are seen buying comic books at the corner store. Of course, they're all Marvel Comics - another Disney property.
The Season 2 episode "In the Name of the Brother" has a very funny meta example of this trope; a character's cell phone plays the Star Wars theme as its ringtone over and over again (that franchise was recently purchased by Disney).
The original TRON has also been referenced by way of Henry owning a handheld version of Space Paranoids.
Rumplestiltskin ripping Milah's heart out may or may not be an example of this, depending on how selfish you think she was for leaving her family to pursue her own desires. But disproportionate or not, it was certainly a DUMB thing to do, since if had just let her live and take the magic bean, he'd have reunited with Baelfire without screwing the world over with a curse.
The actions of a spoiled princess cause Cora to become the Bigger Bad of the series... even manipulating Rumple in the processes at a time when he was a little more sane and a lot more vulnerable than we've normally seen him.
Regina's attempts to stop using magic are akin to a recovering addict.
Watch the scene where Rumplestiltskin teaches Cora to use her emotions to turn the straw into gold then think about it
When Regina is looking for her lost book of spells, Mr. Gold says: "Do you really need the smell of the written word to get the magic flowing again, dearie? Maybe if you relaxed, it would just happen."
Don't Split Us Up: Ava (Gretel) begs this of Emma for her and her brother. They don't and are reunited with their father.
Donut Mess with a Cop: Invoked in "The Shepherd", when Sheriff Graham offers Emma (who has just become his deputy) a box of donuts to persuade her to work a late shift. As he presents them, he quips that some cliches are true.
Double Standard: After David and Mary Margaret's affair is revealed, the town mainly shuns Mary Margaret while David only gets anger from Kathryn and Mary Margaret. Partly justified since David has much less interaction with the rest of the town while Mary Margaret had been known as a saint up until that point.
Double Standard: Rape—Female on Male: Subtly inching toward being played straight in-universe; it remains to be seen if anyone will express anger over or even acknowledge what Regina did to Graham (up until the curse breaking in the finale, the in-universe glossing over of the situation has been justified by the fact that a 10-year old is the only person (semi)-aware of it.)
Dying as Yourself: Several examples during "And Straight On 'Til Morning". The town is on the verge of destruction, and Mother Superior manages to devise a cure for Belle and Sneezy's amnesia, so that they can at least die as thereselves with their loved ones. A different version is shown when Regina resolves to slow the trigger and buy the townsfolk enough time to escape, knowing that she'll die, but at least she'll be saving everyone.
Regina: Everybody sees me as the Evil Queen. Including me. Let me die as Regina.
Dying Declaration of Love: When Mr. Gold is poisoned by Hook's poisoned hook, he calls the amnesiac Belle and, without going into the the history of the Enchanted forest, tells her that she may not remember who she is but he knows her to be a wonderful, beautiful, wise, and heroic woman. To him she will always be that. And at the time, he honestly thought he was going to die, either by poison or Cora stabbing him with his dagger.
Dystopia Justifies the Means: Regina's apparent goal is for everyone else to suffer. She used the Dark Curse to take everyone to a world where "No one gets their happy ending."
Cora may be worse. She stated in her origin that she essentially wanted everyone to bow to her to the point it destroyed them.
Early Installment Weirdness: "The Price of Gold". In retrospect Rumplestiltskin wanting Cinderella's baby doesn't make a lot of sense. Later episodes put strong emphasis on the fact he was a father who knew the pain of having your child ripped away from you and practically everything he did was part of a very long, complex gambit to get his son back.
Unless you consider that he never intended to take Cinderella's baby, and just needed Emma to think he did so she'd owe him a favor for letting Ashley keep her. Or he wanted to be captured and used her deal as a means of getting caught and be in that prison cell, apparently unable to harm anyone.
At the end of Season 1, Emma and Regina, in order to save Henry.
In Season 2, and lampshaded, Regina tells Gold he will help her because of the one person they both don't want in their new world: Cora.
Enthralling Siren: One appears in "What Happened to Frederick" and attempts to seduce Prince Charming under the guise of Snow White.
Ermine Cape Effect: Justified in that it's a Fairy Tale world, but it's still odd that Snow's father, a king, is just wandering down the beach in fancy silks, fur, and a crown when he stops to pick up some rubbish (a magic lamp, but still).
Establishing Series Moment: Although the series had some major publicity behind it spoiling the premise, the tone of the flashbacks is established the moment the evil queen storms in, and it's Snow White who pulls a sword on her. A set up to the "unconventional retelling" tone the flashbacks will have.
The witch, Maleficent, considers the Dark Curse to be too evil and traded the Evil Queen for it specifically so no one could use it.
Hook, despicable as some of his actions may be, does adhere to some sort of personal code. Despite taking Aurora's heart, he's uncomfortable with the idea of her being permanently without it. So after he accomplishes what he wants with the item, he ensures that it gets returned to Aurora as it's "good form."
In "The Queen is Dead", Regina is visibly horrified when Cora reveals that she was responsible for the death of Snow White's mother.
Mr. Gold wants Emma elected Sheriff. So, he sets fire to Regina's office while Emma's there to rescue her, thus making her a hero. When she exposes his plot to prove a point to Henry about good over evil, it plays into his hands again and ensures her election. The citizens fear Regina, but they're terrified of Mr. Gold.
Regina, on the other hand, has to change the game. Her plan was successful only after she used Mr. Glass as a poisonous influence to push Emma to play by Regina's rules. Anytime Emma makes the right choice, she has an advantage against Regina.
Evil-Detecting Dog: Pongo starts barking at Regina when she waltzes into Dr. Hopper's office. That's because it's Cora in disguise as her own daughter. In a subversion, he doesn't even bark at Mr. Gold when brought to his shop or even the real Regina. Perhaps because at that point, Gold and Regina aren't truly evil any more.
Evil Versus Evil: Happens alot between Regina/Evil Queen and Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin.
Regina is under the impression that the Queen of Hearts is out to get her.
Regina and Cora (her mother) are very antagonistic.
She turns out to be right about the Queen of Hearts, since Cora is the Queen of Hearts.
Rumplestiltskin and Captain Hook are mortal enemies.
Greg and Tamara vs Regina. This trope is even said word-for-word in a promotional trailer.
Exact Eavesdropping: Mayor Regina arranges a conversation with Emma to make peace, then leads the latter to talk about how crazy Henry is, knowing that Henry will be showing up to overhear the conversation.
Mary Margaret just so happens to find Johanna near the spot where Cora and Regina are searching for Rumplestiltskin's dagger and discussing their plans to use said dagger to control him.
Regina wanted Gold to make something tragic to happen to Kathryn. Unfortunately for Regina, Gold thinks abduction is tragic. Plus, he's not really on her side anyway...
Mr. Gold is fond of this one; he uses it again when assuring Belle that he won't kill Regina. The wraith he's summoned will...or will devour her soul, a Fate Worse Than Death.
And then once again when casting the protection spell on Charming and Snow. Regina won't be able to harm them in "this" land, but she can certainly take them to another one.
This was used against Rumplestiltskin by Cora. He had fallen for her and agreed to amend their deal to have him take their first born child instead of Cora's first born in general. Later, she didn't run off with him and stayed with Henry, to have his children. They would not be Rumple's to take as it wasn't Rumple who fathered them.
Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: The Evil Queen, in the Enchanted Forest; more understated on Regina. And nonexistent on Regina prior to her turning to evil.
Fake Memories: The Dark Curse not only gave everyone in Storybrooke Identity Amnesia, but a "real world" background that never truly happened though they think it did. Averted with Regina and Mr. Gold, since the former enacted the curse and the latter created it. Also averted with August, since he escaped the curse by going through the wardrobe with Emma. Unfortunately played straight with Jefferson, who also does not suffer from amnesia; he remembers both a life in Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest, and it drives him nearly mad.
Dr. Hopper: I would never betray the doctor-patient confidentiality. Regina: Doctor? Doctor... Need I remind you you got your Ph.D. from a curse?
Fantastic Racism: Deconstructed. From the Fairy Tale characters' point of view, everyone stays in their role's pigeonhole, good people/creatures are always good, the bad are always bad, the two sides are always in conflict and good always wins. In filling in many of the backstories, particularly the Villains', the series is showing the implications this world view would have.
Regina tearing down Henry's wooden fortress is regarded as a breath-takingly evil act by just about everyone. While it was certainly unnecessary and mean-spirited, the reaction seems... excessive. This is ignoring the fact that she has done by far worse before this, the wooden fortress was structurally unsound due to damage by a storm, and she does build a new play structure for the children (though admittedly, that was part of a plan to screw over Emma). Henry is just about the only kid who isn't happy with the new play structure.
Rumple killing the unicorn. Again, while certainly bad, the reaction seems excessive. Viewers got more bent out of shape over the unicorn than over Gaston, or the poor mute maid. Have unicorns even been confirmed to be sentient in this universe? In fairness, what happened to the maid and Gaston were played for laughs, albeit in a black comedy sort of way. The unicorn, on the other hand, was played for drama.
Regina does this to Archie in "The Cricket Game". Then she kills him - except she's Cora, magically disguised in order to frame her daughter, and the corpse left behind isn't Archie, because the real thing is being held prisoner in Hook's brig.
Ruby does this in "In the Name of the Brother", just before Dr. Whale attempts to jump off the bridge.
Flat "What.": David's mother on hearing that Prince "James" will be forced to marry Midas's daughter.
Flynning: Strangely averted. Despite the lack of blood in the sword fights, there's not a whole lot of clanking of swords just for the hell of it. The Prince fights in a hack and slash manner you'd expect from someone trained in broadsword.
Force Field: Storybrooke has one. "Bad things happen" to anyone who tries to leave the town (except Henry and Emma). Henry believes it's just Emma and handwaves how he can leave the town saying that since he's only 10 he would have no other choice but to eventually return.
When magic does return, Sneezy is picked as the first one to cross the line to find out what happens. He loses all memory of being Sneezy and reverts to his Storybrooke persona.
Foregone Conclusion: In "Tallahassee", we see Jack's skeleton in the Giants' home. When Jack finally shows up in a flashback in "Tiny", it's easy to guess where she's headed.
The real Prince James: "Next time make sure I'm dead." Oops.
A quick one but in "Snow Falls" Graham says that the woods are "his world." Emma appears confused by this, but the audience sees why in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter".
In Episode 4, Mr. Gold mentions to Emma that no one wants to see Ashley's baby born in jail. Episode 9 reveals that this is what happened to Henry.
The unicorn mobile from Episodes 1 and 6, the dolls that turn out to be Geppetto's parents from Episode 5, and the windmill from Episode 6 can first be seen in Mr. Gold's shop in Episode 4 before they're all properly used in the plot.
Only within the one episode, but Prince Charming waking Snow White from her cursed sleep is related twice during the finale, once in flashback and once by Mary Margaret reading to the unconscious Henry ... then Emma breaks both the same curse on him and the one on Storybrooke with True (Maternal) Love's Kiss.
Neal/Baelfire knows Hook, and how to sail his ship and should be a couple hundred years old. It turns out that yes, he was in Neverland and had been a part of Hook's crew for a period of time.
Freudian Excuse: Rumplestiltskin's taking babies makes sense when you learn about Baelfire.
The Evil Queen has one too. In a big way.
Funny Background Event: A variation. While Snow and Lancelot are at the table discussing the events of the curse and other important matters, Emma is sampling the food and deciding that she likes the drinks offered.
Game Changer: Storybrooke is a town in Maine where all the denizens of a fairy-tale world were sent by the powerful curse of Snow White's enemy, the Evil Queen Regina and live in an amnesiac state unaware of their true identities. Here, they do not age. The narrative revolves around Snow's daughter, Emma, the very reluctant designated curse breaker. She succeeds in breaking the curse in the first-season finale.
Generational Saga: Snow White loses her daughter, her husband, and her whole world as the evil queen sends them "someplace horrible", the real world. Emma, Snow White's long-lost daughter, is street smart and resents her biological parents for her abandonment. It takes her own long-lost son Henry to bring her back to the family that she never knew and the idea of the enchanted world they came from. And as more of the past is revealed, we find that this saga went all the way to the great-grandparents generation.
Cinderella. It appears that she doesn't know the outcome of Rumplestiltskin's story. But she becomes Genre Savvy when the princes reveal the trap for Rumplestiltskin, as she just knows it's going to backfire.
Regina/The Evil Queen. She clearly doesn't understand what kind of story she's in. She's the Manipulative Bastard equivalent of Unskilled, but Strong; she mostly just plows through her obstacles with a combination of magic and hate.
Emma and her gun. To the point of it almost becoming a Running Gag.
Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Mary Margaret and David, who in Storybrooke is married to Kathryn. However, they were originally married in the Enchanted Forest as Snow White and Prince Charming.
Regina and the Genie are arguably a subversion of "Good" Adultery. Regina seems to start her affair with the Genie due to her unhappiness over her arranged marriage with King Leopold, which her mother pressured her into. But it turns out she was manipulating the Genie into killing the King.
Charming has a very visible and significant scar on the right side of his chin.
Jefferson has a very noticeable one on his neck he covers with scarves.
Great Big Book of Everything: Henry's book of fairy tales apparently contains the entire history of the Enchanted Forest, even though it clearly isn't big enough (especially with all the full-page illustrations).
In Season 2, it is revealed that Dr. Victor Frankenstein's story is not in the book, implying that there are many other characters in Storybrooke from tales that are unknown to Henry.
Groundhog Day Loop: In "Welcome to Storybrook" it's shown that the town was like this. Due to no time passing, every day was the same. Regina (the only one aware of it) is initially happy to have won, but the tedium of it quickly begins to grate on her.
Guile Hero: Henry shows some inclination toward following his adopted mother's manipulative tendencies.
Half Truth: When Granny tells Red that her red cloak keeps the Big Bad Wolf away/protects Red from the Big Bad Wolf, it is this. It does keep the wolf away... because it's enchanted to prevent Red from turning into the Big Bad Wolf.
Subverted with Regina and Henry. While a cursory glance would show her as a stern, but loving mom who provides material and medical care for a trouble-making, mentally disturbed little boy, the facade is flaking off like cheap paint and keeps getting worse.
Snow and Charming in the backstory, before the whole curse thing.
Ella and Prince Thomas, until Thomas disappears (seemingly abducted by unknown forces) anyway. Their Storybrooke counterparts end up getting engaged in Episode 12.
This isn't only true in the backstory now. When the curse is broken in the Season 1 finale, everyone remembers their true identities and all the couples are able to reunite.
Happiness in Slavery: The Dwarves seem to be this as they churn out fairy dust. Aside from someone like Dreamy/Grumpy.
Hate Sink: 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.
Healing Spring: While not the explicit purpose, Lake Nostros can act this way and does towards Frederick.
Called back in Season 2. However, the lake dried after the death of the siren, and there was only one sip left, which Charming's mother gave to Snow to restore her child-bearing capabilities.
Heart Is An Awesome Power: True Love is mentioned many times as being the most powerful magic in the Fairytale World. It is also the way the Dark Curse gets lifted, helping all the characters recover their memories.
Heart Trauma: The Evil Queen, as Henry puts it, has a thing about cutting out hearts. She does it fatally to her own father then non-fatally to The Huntsman/Graham. Later, as Regina, she uses the heart to murder him.
It seems like she has a Freudian Excuse for this particular fixation, since her mother used it on her boyfriend while she was still decent.
Emma: To hell with this! (Drops the sword and pulls out her sidearm)
Which is ineffective. She eventually uses the sword to kill Maleficent.
She tries the gun multiple times in the Enchanted Forest in Season 2 to no effect. The first time attracted ogres to their location with the loud noise, and the second did nothing to said ogres. The third time, Cora magically knocked the gun from her hands.
Strangely, Regina resisted the urge of becoming evil after her mother abused her for years trying to turn her into a Gold Digger and an Evil Matriarch, when she thought Snow White had willingly handed her mother information about her lover for apparently selfish purposes, accidentally causing his death, and then after Rumplestiltskin got her hooked to dark magic. However, unlike Snow White and Emma, once she hits an apparent Despair Event Horizon, she collapses and stops trying, while Snow White and Emma alwayskeeptrying.
The Heroine's Birthday: This is almost the first thing we learn about Emma on her Internet date. And her birthday wish turns out to be a catalyst to the events that bring her to Storybrooke.
Snow's is shown in Season 2. Considering her mother died on her birthday, she's never been in the mood to celebrate it.
Hidden Agenda Villain: Rumplestilskin's overarching goal is to get his son back and he manipulates everyone and everything to work towards that goal, specifically to find a magic bean that can open a portal between worlds. Only a precious few characters discover this.
Abigail, Prince Charming's fiancee in the Enchanted Forest, is introduced as a vapid, spoiled brat, but she has her own secret army and is more than willing to help Charming find Snow White since she doesn't want to marry him either.
The Evil Queen and Rumplestiltskin both have some serious issues underneath their hammy villainy.
In "Into the Deep" Cora kidnaps Aurora and threatens to kill her unless Emma, Snow and Mulan give her the magic compass.
In "The Queen is Dead" Cora and Regina do the same thing with Snow White's old maid for the Dark One's dagger.
Hot Witch: So far, every witch in the series except Miss Ginger has been attractive. Physically, anyway.
Hourglass Plot: Revealed to be the backstory of Regina and Jefferson. Apparently, he is an innocent friend of Regina whom she lets grow mad in Wonderland and keeps a bit farther from Grace, his daughter, than he would choose to be. She looks remorseful about the trapping in Wonderland, but does it to save her father. Cue to his Fandom screaming and insulting her. Flashback years earlier. Regina is an innocent girl whom Jefferson hurts for personal gain, before his daughter is even born, making her desperate and causing her to agree to listen to Rumplestiltskin. Also, despite knowing that he could save her beloved, he and Doctor Frankenstein choose to let her believe that there is no way. His tragic backstory has just been turned into something resembling Laser-Guided Karma.
Humans Are The Real Monsters: Anton's backstory. He wanted to explore, and make friends. Instead Prince James and Jack take advantage of his generosity to rob him and reduce him to human size.
Prince Charming, compared to Snow White. He is the one who invents their I Will Find You motto and thinks that Emma will come back.
Daniel, compared to Regina. He believed that they should just talk to her mother, and that they would overcome their hardships and marry easily in the end.
Identity Amnesia: Everyone with the exception of Emma, Henry, Regina, Gold, Jefferson, Neal/Baelfire, and August. Graham was cured from this after kissing Emma...just before he died.
At the end of Season 1 the curse is broken and the Identity Amnesia is removed, only to be replaced by a new version: anyone who attempts to leave Storybrooke, or is forced across the town line loses all memory of who they were before the curse. Most notably, this occurs to Belle in Season 2, leaving her with no memories at all since unlike most Storybrooke residents she didn't have a Storybrooke counterpart during the curse.
The trope is somewhat turned on its ear by several Storybrooke residents, most notably Red/Ruby, stating they wish they still had identity amnesia as they didn't care to regain memories of things they did before the curse.
Idiosyncratic Wipes: Some scenes in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest focus on one specific element, closes in the focus, and when the shot pulls back, the location has changed from one to the other.
Idiot Ball: Meted much more often in the second season.
The otherwise cunning Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin is given an idiot ball any time there's trouble concerning Belle.
When Regina of all people tells him about Belle's death, he seems to immediately forget all magical or non-magical means of checking this himself. Regina keeps Belle locked up for 28 years.
When Belle stumbled over the town line and lost her memory (thereby making Gold a stranger to her) his reactions include turning extremely violent in plain sight of her, kissing her when she's unconscious in hospital, trying to pressure her into remembering while babbling on about charms, magic and castles and generally reverting to his cold-hearted jerk persona - hell of a way to endear himself to her.
In the second episode of the second season, "We Are Both":
Emma and Snow neglect to mention anything about Storybrooke, the curse, and/or their identities to the Enchanted Forest's survivors. That would've made the trip home so much easier, and Cora might not have been alerted to their presence.
And then they try to make a bolt for it while tied up and surrounded by alert, armed villagers.
In the third episode of the second season, "Lady of the Lake":
Emma shoots her gun in order to break up an argument. Shortly after learning that ogres hunt via sound.
Emma telling Cora about Henry.
Snow drinks "water" given to her by King George, a man who clearly has it out for her.
In the sixth episode of the second season, "Tallahassee":
Emma double-crosses and abandons Hook out of fear of being betrayed again by a lover, despite him not lying about his absence of loyalty to Cora, and her being MUCH more trusting of and intimate with Graham. Hook doesn't take this well, later ripping out Aurora's heart for Cora and providing her with a means to get to Storybrooke.
The eighth episode of the second season, "Into the Deep":
Aurora gets captured by Cora, whom we've already seen impersonate Lancelot, and yet when she turns up again they don't suspect any trap. Granted it's not the same kind of trick as before, but...
Snow White's allies after she takes Rumple's potion and the resulting memory loss turns her to the dark side. Subverted in that they fail, and only falling in love again brings her back instead of recalling old memories.
Prince Charming coaxes Ruby in her wolf form out of her fear.
Implicit Prison: Storybrooke, which prevents its residents from leaving, except for Henry in the pilot apparently, and once the curse is broken anyone attempting to leave loses their original memories.
After a fashion, how Snow deduces that Lancelot is Cora in disguise. Emma only told one person Henry's name.
Again in "The Evil Queen": This is how Snow figures out that the peasant woman she's been helping is actually a disguised Regina. When Snow is saying how there was never any good in Regina, Regina brings up the time she saved Snow when her horse went out of control. Snow told the peasant that story, but she never mentioned that the Evil Queen was the one who'd saved her.
Inn Between The Worlds: There is a room connecting the Enchanted Forest with Wonderland, the Land of Oz, Neverland, and Earth, along with other various worlds or universes.
Ironic Echo: Many of the Storybrooke characters echo lines from their fantasy counterparts.
Rumplestilskin (in his Mr. Gold form) refers to his favourite phrase "Magic always has a price" when lamenting that magic has become his crutch, since he has become dependent on using it to compensate for being such a coward.
Giving a baby their best chance.
"You have no idea what I'm capable of."
"I will always find you", said by Prince Charming to Snow White, in the Pilot and "Snow Falls" (two very different contexts); also Mary Margaret in the pilot: "If you love them and they love you, they will always find you."
Prince Charming to Baby Emma: "Find us"—later, grown up Emma: "Finding people is what I do."
In Episode 4, Mr. Gold calls Emma "charming"—aka her father'snickname. He called David the same thing in Episode 6.
"Didn't see that coming, did you?" both said by Charming to two very different animals.
Everything that happens to Rumplestiltskin in Episode 8, including The Dark One telling him "Magic always comes at a price."
Two phrases in Episode 16, both uttered twice. "I'm just invested in your future." Said by Rumple/Gold to Mary Margaret/Snow both times, and "Evil isn't born, it's made." (By two different villains.)
A visual version of this for a spoken line. You know how Regina messed with the Queen of Hearts earlier? Well, look at where Emma is aiming in Regina's dream. "Off with her head."
One episode named for a real-world city, "Tallahassee". deals with Emma's relationship with Henry's biological father. So does the next episode named for a real-world city, "Manhattan".
Belle/Lacey telling Gold that he "wasn't the man she thought he was." The first instance is in the Enchanted Forest, when Rumple spared Robin Hood's life. The second time was in Storybrooke, when Lacey finds Gold in the middle of beating the former Sheriff of Nottingham half to death with his cane.
Ironic Nickname: The giant is called Tiny, though it's only a nickname as he is the smallest of the giants. His real name is Anton.
Irony: Victor Frankenstein, of all people, leading an angry mob in the Season 2 premiere.
Jerkass Genie: Partial subversion in that it's the magic, not the genie, as the Arc Words "Magic comes at a price." The genie is even perfectly willing to warn against it. He's still personally a jerkass, in either world.
With Regina, every now and then she shows a side of her that's more sympathetic, such as when her son falls down the well or when she's saved from the fire. And then she ruins it either the same episode, or an episode later by doing something completely harsh. For example, it seems like she finally warmed up to Emma being there, when she confessed that Mr. Gold set her up, and after saving her from the fire. But it turns out that she just wants her there in order to go after people she doesn't like, telling her to "do her job" (and arrest innocent people).
Mr. Gold has some positive qualities and genuinely loves Belle and his son (yet is shown to break promises and/or behave cruelly toward them because of his obsession with power), and in addition to his gambits with positive outcomes, likes to make deals to screw people over and has killed for poorly justified reasons.
Rumplestiltskin's first evil act was to slaughter the soldiers who humiliated him in front of his son and were going to conscript said son into the army.
In "Skin Deep", Mr. Gold behaves as a rather unsympathetic Loan Shark toward Moe French and later on savagely beats him for stealing something of value to him. This is somewhat understandable because in the Enchanted Forest, French is Belle's father and supposedly put her in an insane asylum where she was mistreated until she committed suicide in despair. This turns out to have been Blatant Lies, but Rumplestiltskin has no way of knowing that.
More often than not, most of the drama in the show consists of Regina, Rumplestiltskin, Hook and Cora antagonising each other.
Rumplestiltskin's cowardice costs him his wife, his son, Belle, and more.
The Genie's murder of the man who freed him leads to his reimprisonment.
Perhaps to be expected in a series that also features Pinocchio, lies tend to rebound back on those who tell them.
David's dishonesty with Kathryn and Mary Margaret almost costs him Mary Margaret for good.
The events of "Tallahassee" and the first scene in "Broken" suggest Emma may have set herself up for some of this later on by telling Henry that his father died a hero. (And the events of "Manhattan" prove this to be correct.)
This, along with Reconstruction, may explain the show's success. After years of sexed up comedy shows, reality TV, Darker and Edgier dramas with Black and Gray Morality conflicts, and grislier police/medical/lawyer procedural shows, a straight up battle between good and evil with an intriguing mystery at the core feels so refreshing to audiences in comparison.
The second season goes Darker and Edgier, and...well, the above reasoning also explains why it's had a noticable drop in the ratings compared to the first season.
The story of Hansel and Gretel is softened by making it an accident that the children were separated from their father rather than him abandoning them.
Limited Wardrobe: Somewhat in the Enchanted Forest, at least for some of the more iconic characters. For instance, Belle shows up in a bar in "Dreamy" wearing the same finery she had when in her father's and the Beast's castles.
The outfit Queen Eva is buried in is the same one she wears planning a ball and then on her deathbed.
Living Emotional Crutch:Daniel, young Regina's lover to Regina. After, he dies, she is ready to be married off and looks like she is dead inside. If Regina didn't discover that Snow was partly responsible for Daniel's death, Regina possibly would have stayed dead inside.
Local Hangout: Granny's diner (which seems also to serve drinks like a pub).
Longest Pregnancy Ever: Ella's 28-year and 9-month pregnancy. Justified in the fact that time having stopped in Storybrooke is a major plot point. Ella was pregnant when the curse hit, so logically, she would have been stuck like that until Emma arrived. (And when Emma does arrive, she's finally able to give birth.)
Long Lost Relative: Henry and Emma. Emma and her parents, Prince Charming and Snow White. Charming and his twin.
Dozens of times between Charming/David and Snow/Mary Margaret. Those two in both worlds run into emotional/Fmoraal roadblock after roadblock on the way to getting together. They're pretty battered and bruised at this point.
Emma suffers from this when she discovers Graham has been sleeping with Regina.
Rumplestiltskin, of all people, ends up with this after he learns what happened to Belle after he made her leave his castle (under the incorrect impression that she was working for the Evil Queen).
And then there's what Milah did to him...and what he did to Milah afterward.
And then there's what Cora did to him after he helps her
Having to forsake his love for the fairy Nova turned Dreamy the Dwarf into the Grumpy Dwarf we know today.
Sidney/the Magic Mirror became evil because of his love for the Evil Queen.
Regina’s trying to frame Mary Margaret by implicating this.
Regina herself turned evil after the death of her true love, something for which she blames Snow.
Rumplestiltskin, for a slightly broader definition of "love" that includes parental love.
Love Martyr: Belle to Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold. After an initial rejection from him and her in a cell in an asylum for bloody 28 years!, the start of the second season sees them in a relationship of sorts. They both avowedly love each other, but Gold is still fully capable of being a manipulative jerk, and sweet mother of Shakespeare, does Belle pay the price for it, be it through Gold himself or one of his many enemies recognizing Belle as the week spot in his armor.
Love Potion: The only potion Rumplestiltskin has been unable to make. Until he combines a strand of hair from Snow White and Prince Charming.
Love Redeems: Played with in the case of Rumplestiltskin. It's implied love could have saved him, but he rejected it. Because giving up his powers would have required him to give up on ever seeing Baelfire again; see Love Makes You Evil above. Since the girl in question hasn't given up yet, this may or may not turn into a full-blown Love Redeems.
Regina's attempts to redeem herself in Season 2 are motivated by the desire to prove herself to Henry and win him back.
A sort of lopsided one appears in Episode 7 between Emma, Graham and Regina. It ends with Graham's death by Regina's hand.
Then there's Snow White and Prince Charming loving each other despite the latter's Arranged Marriage to Abigail, as well as their Storybrooke counterparts: Mary Margaret, David and his wife Kathryn. The former love triangle is resolved with Charming leaving his wedding for Snow, and the latter love triangle is resolved once Kathryn pulls an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and everyone gets their memories back.
Prince Phillip and Aurora are each other's true love. Mulan, Phillip's longtime comrade and friend, might be in love with him too. His untimely death at the hands of the wraith leaves this matter unresolved.
Low Culture, High Tech: Subtly invoked beginning in the second season after the curse is lifted. While we've become used to the Enchanted Forest residents using modern-day tech in their Storybrooke personas, it occasionally is brought into relief, such as a Season 2 episode in which Belle - who did not have a Storybrooke counterpart, and thus after the curse was broken was the same medieval Belle of the Enchanted Forest - is shown not only using a cell phone, but at one point arms herself with a very modern-looking handgun.
Madness Mantra: From the Mad Hatter naturally. His last flashback scene involves him saying "Get it to work!" over and over again as he's making hats. The camera pans out as it reveals the thousands of hats he's made in the hopeless effort to try to get back home to his daughter, thus revealing how he got his name and how he ended up being a permanent character in Wonderland.
In the finale of the first season Rumplestiltskin enchants Prince Charming's ring so that it will lead him directly to Snow White.
In another episode Captain Hook leads Emma up the beanstalk to steal a compass from the giant that will let them find a way between worlds back to Storybrooke.
The Magic Goes Away: One of the key points of the Dark Curse is that it transported to entire Enchanted Forest into a world without magic (ours). This has the side-effect of reversing any magical transformations that residents underwent in their world. Archie is no longer a cricket, and Mr. Gold no longer sports the green and scaly skin of the Dark One. August (Pinocchio) was able to avoid this by transporting in the wardrobe with Emma, but when she decides to stay in Storybrooke 28 years later, he begins to revert to his wooden form.
Magic is Evil: So far every human who has taken up magic long-term has become both corrupted and addicted to their power. The fairies have wielded magic without obvious corruption, but they only use magic in the service of others and always employ an artifact like a wand or fairy dust. Emma has so far also avoided corruption from her native magical abilities, but these abilities were only recently awakened and sparingly used (she usually forgets she even has them). In addition, she was taught to wield her abilities by channeling her desire to protect people in sharp contrast to the technique of channeling rage and a desire for vengeance used by Rumpelstiltskin, Cora, and Regina. Only time will tell whether this more fairy-like approach will help her avoid the fate of other human magic-users.
Magic Versus Science: Rumplestiltskin and Dr. Frankenstein argue about which is more powerful Rumplestiltskin forces Frankenstein to say magic is greater, but while magic works faster and is more flexible, Frankenstein brought back the dead—something which is impossible for magic.
Granted that the series isn't allowed to be too graphic, but Hook reacts to Rumplestiltskin cutting his freaking hand off with far less screaming and flailing around than he by all rights should have done.
Whale walks around with his arm ripped off with nothing worse than a few winces.
Given their ability to use magic, shape-shift, etc., a debate could be had as to whether all the residents of the Enchanted Forest are, strictly speaking, "human", so their pain thresholds could be different.
Male Gaze: Dr. Whale gets busted checking out Ruby during his date with Mary Margaret.
Mama Bear: Five words: "BACK. AWAY. FROM MY. DAUGHTER!"
Snow is a total Mama Bear. When Mulan went to chop down the beanstalk (having promised Emma she'd do this) Snow attacked her for it.
Regina could be an evil example. She burst into city hall and owned everyone in order to get Henry back.
Emma. At the end of Season 1, when Henry was in a coma after eating the apple turnover, Emma had enough and outright attacked Regina, since she was the one who made the turnover in the first place. In Season 2, Emma burned the portal leading back home so Cora couldn't get to Henry.
Ashley/Cinderella could be one, too. She broke into Mr. Gold's office and then knocked him out while trying to get documents which will ensure she keeps her baby.
Widow Lucas is a Grandma Bear. When King George framed Ruby for murder and then tried to shoot her, Granny shoots the gun out of his hand and threatens to put the next one between his eyes.
Mr. Gold, that mean old bastard, breaks down terribly when he's apologizing to the man he thinks is his grown son: "I'm so sorry, Bae." His eyes well up with tears when he first sees Belle, who he had thought was dead, in the finale and when he finally holds her, he's weeping.
Rumplestiltskin keeps his composure at first when the evil queen tells him Belle has killed herself after returning to her father, but when the queen leaves him alone he realizes the scale of his loss and starts to openly sob.
Charming/David. All the time, but especially when he thinks he's losing Snow/Mary Margaret
"It’s like when you were young and had Star Wars figures and you mixed them with G.I. Joe. Cobra and Darth Vader might not have known each other, but they do in my backyard. We’ve taken the principle of being 12-year-old boys and we’ve brought it to primetime."
"I don't want to be you." Said by Henry to Regina, where its then revealed she said the same thing to her mother. It's implied this caused her to realize she had become her mother, which motivates her into letting Henry go.
"Not like this." Said to Regina both times. The first time was 28 years before the beginning of the series, by Owen after Regina tried to forcibly keep him and his father in Storybrooke. The second time was by Henry, when he found out Regina intended to curse him to make him love her.
Meet Cute: Snow White and the Prince meet when she robs him, he knocks her off a horse and right when he realizes that the thief is a woman, she brains him with a rock giving him a scar he has to this day. She also nicknamed him Prince Charming and it stuck.
Emma met Henry's father by stealing his stolen car with him sleeping in the back. She was so fuddled, she ran a stop sign and got pulled over (remember, in a twice-stolen car), and got out of the ticket when he pretended she was his girlfriend and he was teaching her to drive stick.
Morality Pet: Belle to Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, with the classic effects anytime someone hurts Belle. Belle has stopped Gold from violence more than once and seems to have triggered some self knowledge in him. Sadly, Gold's reaction to Belle stumbling over the town line, with the resulting memory loss stopping her from viewing Gold as a Good All Along friend/love interest make this tip towards Morality Chain. Which one it is remains to be seen.
Ms. Fanservice: Several attractive females, but Ruby is the most prominent.
The Land of Oz (The door to it can be seen inside the Hatter's Magic Hat and there's an illustration of a Winged Monkey in Henry's book. Later, we learn the Hatter has visited the realm and attempted to obtain the ruby slippers.)
Ultimate Universe: The Land Without Magic (aka Storybrooke) could be considered this. Some of the individuals native to the other realms who were contemporaries of each other, nonetheless have existed as stories in ours for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Muggles Do It Better: As Regina unfortunately learns in "The Evil Queen", when Owen and Tamara render her completely powerless with a combination of technology and Sufficiently Analyzed Magic. Hook even mentions they managed to take down Maleficent, who is revealed to have survived being slain by Emma, but reduced to a mere shade and unable to die.
The Genie kills Snow White's father to free the Queen from her loveless marriage.
David and then Mary Margaret come under suspicion of this.
My Own Private "I Do": In "Lady of the Lake" We find out that before the big ceremony seen in the pilot, Snow and Charming had their own private wedding officiated by Lancelot (a knight of the Round Table), so that Charming's mother can see her son be married before she dies from a poisoned arrow.
Mythology Gag: A lot of references to the Disney versions of the fairy tales, including the name of Maleficent (the Thirteenth Fairy was unnamed in the story and named Carabosse in the ballet; it was the Disney movie that named her Maleficent) and the use of the city of Agrabah.
There's also the dwarves' names, and Peter (Red's boyfriend) is named after "Peter And The Wolf". Also you could stretch it to include Belle, who is usually just called Beauty (though belle is French for beauty) though the name originate from the Disney cartoon.
The chipped cup is a reference to Chip from the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast.
Not a name thing, but in Mr. Gold's shop there's a Mickey Mouse phone in one of the glass glasses as well as a Mickey Mouse plush toy in Emma's nursery.
When Charming wants to go to the Netherworld, Gold uses what he calls a classic means of inducing the Sleeping Curse: The needle on the spinning wheel.
This one is a little closer to a Shout Out, but if you look carefully in the background of Rumplestiltskin's castle, you can see the Scythe from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Jane Espenson, who wrote for Buffy, also writes for this show).
At the end of the episode "Tiny", the dwarfs are whistling a very familiar tune...
An especially meta one for the end of Season 2: given that Once began as an attempt at a Fables TV show, Peter Pan seemed like an inevitable Adversary for our heroes to face, even though he ended up not being the Adversary in the comic due to copyright issues.
Snow White told the Evil Queen's mother about her secret affair with the stable boy. The mother ended up killing the stable boy, beginning Regina's Start of Darkness, which indirectly contributed to every evil thing the Queen did. And there are a lot.
Snow playing on Regina's Mommy Issues and tricking her into killing her own mother, thus apparently ending any hope of a Heel Face Turn for Regina forever.
The irony is, if she'd just played it straight and given Regina Cora's heart without cursing it, it would have worked—Cora would have been able to love her daughter again, and both Cora and Regina might have turned face at once, albeit at the cost of Rumplestiltskin's life, since Cora would realize that having Regina is "enough" for her, and she wouldn't want to kill Rumple anymore because she'd feel love for him again. Now, Snow's given Regina a just reason to hate her for killing her mother, to go along with the unjust one of causing her mother to kill her boyfriend.
Not only that it's debatable that Rumple would have had to die since Cora was the one who originally poisoned Hook's hook and she's been shown to be as powerful as Rumple (abate dabbling a lot more in very dark magic as opposed to just morally ambiguous stuff). And again, since she'd love Rumple again, she'd be more than willing to save him.
In the pilot, if Regina had simply expressed gratitude toward Emma for bringing Henry back (twice), Emma probably would have gone back to Boston and assured herself that at least Henry was living with a stern but fair and loving mother.
More generally, it seems to be a recurring pattern for Regina to say something to put Emma down, only for this to make her dig in her heels instead.
It's also a recurring pattern that she'll say "stay away from..." whoever someone's destined romantic match is and they'll tend to want to get together for spite. It happened a bit with present-day Snow and she said it again to Emma with regard to Graham in "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter".
Regina brings about her own downfall in the last two episodes of the season. The apple turnover she baked for Emma is eaten by Henry instead, nearly killing him. This leads to Emma finally believing in the curse and eventually to everybody recovering their past memories. Again with Regina Charming was going to be executed, and then she saved his life for an even MORE complicated plan!
Regina forcibly puts Cora's heart back in her body, not realizing that Snow had cursed it. This gets Cora killed.
Nightmare Sequence: Oddly enough, of all the people to have nightmares, it's the one who deserves it most (Regina). Her nightmare shows her with serious guilt, or at least fear of losing her child and having a lynch mob come after her. If not for her despicable nature, this would almost be a Pet the Dog moment. Almost.
No Man of Woman Born: At their first meeting during the Ogre Wars, the Seer tells Rumple that Rumple's actions on the battlefield would leave his child fatherless. Rumple interprets it as meaning that he would be killed in battle, so tries to change his apparent fate by injuring himself and getting sent home. Fast forward to years later, when Rumple has become the Dark One and Bae tried to get the both of them to The World Without Magic. Rumple's cowardice shows itself again, and Bae is left fatherless when Rumple refuses to give up the dagger.
Prince Charming, zigzagged with his Fairy Tale identity but eventually subverted with his Storybrooke one. For a while we only know the Prince as Charming, but in Episode 3, he reveals to Snow White that his name is James. Turns out that's not his true name either! His twin's name was Prince James and Charming is merely taking on the alias because of an Emergency Impersonation situation he got roped into. For over a year, his real identity was simply called Shepherd. In Storybrooke, Charming's counterpart was a John Doe in a coma and after he woke up he had no idea who he was. His "wife" Kathryn then shows up to reveal that his identity is David Nolan, officially - at least in Storybrooke. Later, after the curse breaks, he finally reveals his birth name in the following exchange:
Grumpy/Leroy: So let me get this straight. You got a twin brother? David: Yeah. Grumpy: Whose name is James? David: Right. Grumpy: But your name is James. David: No, actually, it's not. Grumpy: It's Charming then? Snow White: No, that's the nickname I gave him. Grumpy: Wait. Hold on, what the hell is your name? David: David! Grumpy: Your curse name? David: My real name. Grumpy: You're David, James, and Charming? What? David is like a middle name? David: No, it's my name name. Grumpy:You know, whatever. I'll call you whatever I damn well please.
The Stranger introducing himself by refusing to tell Emma his name. He eventually gives his name as August Booth although he does remember his Fairy Tale identity, Pinocchio.
Mr. Gold being able to manipulate Emma in Episode 8 because he can see a "desperate soul."
Snow and Grumpy bond over their "lost" loves.
An Offer You Can't Refuse: With his kingdom on the line, this was King George's method of forcing David to play the part of James for the rest of his days. He threatened to destroy David's mother and anything else David held dear if he did not comply.
Oh Crap: Regina, upon realizing that the Curse has been broken. The Blue Fairy calmly informs her that she'd better find somewhere to hide.
The expression on Emma's face when she sees the dragon.
Regina, again, when Henry reveals the obstacle preventing Snow and Emma from returning to Storybrooke: Cora, Regina's mother, is alive and pissed. It's also enough to make Gold quiver when Regina informs him.
And another one for Regina when Gold reveals that he does remember his identity as Rumplestiltskin.
Regina has a minor one, when she notices Emma's arrival has caused the clock-tower to start working for the first time in 28 years.
Older Than They Look: Anyone not named Emma and Henry by nature of the curse or their fairy tale nature. For instance, Mary Margaret/Snow White looks about as old as Emma... who is her daughter. Meanwhile, Regina also looks as old as Emma and, being the Evil Queen, she's older than Snow White.
In fact, though all three actresses were born in the same order as their characters, Lana Parrilla (Regine/Queen) is less than 2 years older than Jennifer Morrison (Emma).
Also, Neal/Baelfire mentions that, thanks to all his adventures, he's a couple of centuries old.
Once Upon a Time: Not only is it the title, it's the first thing we see in the show!
Dwarves are one of these—all male, they hatch from eggs fully formed. With clothing.
Fairies are also apparently all female. In Storybrooke, they are nuns.
Giants appear to be all male. No female giants are seen or mentioned. Arlo, the father figure of the group, refers to himself as Anton's brother rather than father.
One-Hour Work Week: For being the sole cop in town, Emma isn't seen doing a lot of police work after the first season. She was right; there really isn't a lot of sheriffing going on in Storybrooke.
One Steve Limit: More like a Two Steve Limit. In the original Peter Pan, Captain Hook's name is James. But since we already have a Prince James and a twin brother who uses his name, Hook's name is now Killian.
What's in August Booth's box—twice. The first time it shows up in the series, it's used mainly to aggravate Emma, and quickly revealed to be Booth's typewriter. But the second time, Booth uses its contents to convince Neal Cassidy to believe in magic so he'll stop interfering with Emma's destiny and it is treated like Marsellus Wallace's briefcase from Pulp Fiction—the audience sees characters' reactions but does not see inside.
We do eventually get to see what was inside. It was Booth's typewriter. Again. With, "I know you're Baelfire" typed on the sheet of paper in it. Remarkably prosaic, given that he could simply have said it aloud except that would have let the audience in on the secret prematurely.
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played straight or even exaggerated, since dwarves are born fully grown and conscious after hatching from eggs and are single-mindedly devoted to mining.
Our Zombies Are Different: "Into The Deep". One consequence of holding the heart of a dead person is the wielder can revive them into a moving corpse.
Out-of-Character Alert: After convincing Mr. Gold that he's Baelfire, August uncovers the dagger and tries to use it to control him as The Dark One. Mr. Gold instantly knows he's been fooled, since Baelfire intentionally came to our world because it contained no magic, and therefore would know the dagger would be powerless.
Pongo tries but being a dog, it works as well as one might expect. At least the birds have Mary Margaret to talk to.
Out of Focus: They aren't main characters, but a significant number of important characters from Season 1, such as Abigail/Kathryn and August, haven't even been mentioned amongst the Charming family/Regina/Gold chaos of Season 2.
As with Gepetto and Pinnochio, in the same incident.
The Evil Queen forcibly separates Hansel and Gretel from their father though they are later reunited in Storybrooke.
Jefferson is also separated from his daughter, thanks to the Evil Queen. In Storybrooke he remembers her, but she is with a new family and doesn't remember him.
Milah, Rumple's ex-wife and Baelfire's mom, took off and joined a pirate crew.
Pay Evil unto Evil: In "The Miller's Daughter" to protect her family and get revenge for her mother, Snow White finally decides to go after Cora and Regina. How she goes about it isn't pretty, either. She finds and curses Cora's heart, then tricks Regina into putting it back, making Regina the instrument of her own mother's death. For an extra kicker, replacing the heart restores Cora's ability to properly love Regina, just for the last few moments of her life.
Debatable since it was her only way to save her whole family. She was also surprised by Regina and had to find an excuse really quickly to save her family, and we see that she changed her mind despite the risks when she had the time to think. Perhaps a case of Mama Bear.
Perception Filter: No one from Storybrooke wonders why nobody (except Henry) has aged in the past 28 years or why no one can remember the first time they met. Except Regina, Jefferson, and Henry. The formers because Regina wanted it so. Henry lacks it because he was born outside the town. This fact was what helped him realize something wasn't right in his town.
Mr. Gold has a few, such as when he insists on giving Emma a pair of radios to use with Henry, since "We have so little time with our children."
Also a retroactive one in the Enchanted Forest: Rumplestilskin is a little subdued when talking to David and his mother about him taking James' place, and doesn't really do any of his usual antics. When we see his backstory, we find out that this is because the situation is very similar to the one he went through with his own son, so he can empathize.
In "Skin Deep", he has several with Belle in their "lighter" moments, including keeping the chipped tea cup she broke.
In Season 2, Mr. Gold actually does pet a dog: Archie's Dalmation, Pongo. When asked if he likes dogs, he murmurs something about having been acquainted with a sheepdog or two long ago.
Regina's love for her son is one of her few redeeming qualities. Henry being in danger has lead to her teaming up with Emma to save him twice and most of her Pet the Dog moments (which include saving the lives of her sworn enemies) are for Henry's sake.
Picture Perfect Presentation: Either the illustrations in Henry's book become active scenes, or active scenes freeze into the illustrations in Henry's book.
The Power of Love: A law of magic in the Enchanted Forest is that "true love's kiss can break any curse." This is such a prominent aspect that Charming and Abigail both deem it a viable solution to Frederick's situation (and it could have worked if his lips weren't blocked by his helmet).
In the season ender Emma's farewell kiss to Henry not only revives him, but triggers a World-Healing Wave.
In "Welcome to Storybrooke", Mr. Gold notes that while Cora was dangerous because she lacked a heart, the fact Regina still has hers and is mad with grief over her mother's murder makes Regina even more dangerous than Cora ever was.
Precision F-Strike: While not exactly 'F', Rumplestiltskin ordering Belle into silence could count. Previously he'd been a man that kept his cool or covered everything with a smile and a giggle.
Mr. Gold: Shut up! Belle: But this means it's true love— Mr. Gold: Shut the HELL up!
Prince Charming: The main Prince, James, is sarcastically (at first) nicknamedPrince Charming by his future wife, Snow White, when he captures her in a net. She says that he's so charming if that's the only way he can get someone. She did steal from him.
Charming and Snow White are never referred to as King or Queen over their land.
King George (the former ruler) is still alive, and Queen Regina still has control over Snow's ancestral land.
Primal Scene: Emma and Henry walk in on Snow and Charming in bed. Henry is too innocent to know what's going on but the horrified look on Emma's face prompts this line from Charming to Snow after they leave:
"It's impressive that we can still give her some childhood traumatic memories at this late stage."
Mr. Gold, the evil landlord, is really Rumpelstiltskin, who spun straw into gold for the miller's daughter.
The Mayor, Reginanote Latin (and other Romance languages) for "queen" Millsnote her mother Cora was the daughter of a miller, Henry's mother, is really the Evil Queen. This one wasn't whipped up by the Curse, she was named Regina before the curse hit. In "The Miller's Daughter", her mother explained why she chose the name—she always planned for her daughter to be queen one day.
"Mills" is also similar to Greek word for "apple", a fruit very closely associated with Evil Queen Regina.
Regina's mother Cora has a thing for hearts (and is the Queen of Hearts). The word corazon is Spanish for "heart."
Ms. Blanchardnote "blanche" is French for "white", Henry's teacher, is really Snow White.
Mary Margret also ends up being the alias Snow gave Red before she trusted the later.
Taking another biblical reference, Mary Margaret is used as a pseudonym by nuns for its close proximity to Mary Magdalene. For those of you who don't know Biblical history, Magdalene was a prostitute who became one of Jesus' greatest believers after he rose from the grave, forsaking her former ways and following him. Mary Margaret is one of the purest characters on the show, being an elementary school teacher and having crises of conscience from a one-night stand, but after her affair with David comes to light, she is given the names "tramp" and "harlot" by Regina and Leroy, respectively, effectively making it the complete inverse of the Biblical character. She got better.
Doc, from Snow White's story, is acting as her obstetrician.
Prince James's counterpart is named David Nolan, meaning "beloved champion". David is also the name of a famous shepherd in The Bible who becomes king by slaying the giant Goliath and James means "he who supplants", foretelling his background as a Backup Twin.
Also, this means that the savior comes from the royal house of David the shepherd.
The Mad Hatter being named "Jefferson" is probably a Shout Out to Jefferson Airplane and their notorious Alice in Wonderland based single 'White Rabbit'. Regina caught his attention in the Finale by sticking a White Rabbit card onto Grace's bike.
His daughter is named 'Grace' in the Enchanted Forest, the name of Jefferson Airplane's lead singer.
The last names "Swan" (she's a princess), "Humbert" (a great warrior), and "Nolan" (a noble man) are meant to be meaningful as well.
Purple Is Powerful: Magic is purple. All magical effects (save those caused by fairy dust) are accompanied by a purple mist.
Put on a Bus: Sidney, who is locked away in Regina's private asylum where is apparently remains even after the curse is broken because actor Giancarlo Esposito became committed to co-starring in another series, Revolution.
Redemption Equals Death: August, sort of. (He doesn't die, but gets reset back to childhood with apparent total memory loss.)
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.
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
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.
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 telling the then-not-evil Regina's most-decidedly-evil (and manipulative) mother about Regina's affair with the stable boy—which resulted in Regina losing her true love, being forced into a loveless marriage and being precipitated into her Start of Darkness. And Snow is still blissfully unaware that she did anything wrong.
Henry and his codenames. Season 1 had Operation Cobra, Season 2 has Operation Scorpion (or Viper).
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!"
Regina'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.
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.
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."
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.)
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.
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 opression 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 rom 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).
The two new arguably straighter Villains, Hook and Cora each mirror the others, but in a darker tone.
Hook does demonstrate Wrath and Despair like Regina, but he was already (at least) a selfish hedonist before his Start of Darkness, and already demontrated Lust for pleasure and freedom, despite the fact that he destroyed families, 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 "neccesity" 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 practizer 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.
Oh so very many, ranging from throwaway gags referring to Tron, to background items such as a Mickey Mouse collectable in Mr. Gold's store, to a rack full of vintage Marvel Comics (remembering Disney now owns Marvel). Shout outs to the Disney film versions of famous fairy tales abound and in many cases become major plot points.
We can add in Star Wars as Disney owns them now too. "In the Name of the Brother" has Greg's ringtone as the movie theme song, which is allowed to play long enough to become an obvious joke.
A possible unintentional shout out occurs in the episode "The Doctor" in which Dr. Whale is revealed to be Dr. Frankenstein. Aside from the fact Whale's Storybrooke name references James Whale, the director of the first two Universal Frankenstein movies, the fantasy land version of the character briefly introduces himself as "The Doctor" and acts in a way that suggests a possible reference to the lead character of Doctor Who.
The LOST references. Regina lives in house number 108, Apollo chocolate bars are seen countless times, the town clock in Storybrooke was stopped at 8.15h, the Mc Cutcheon whiskey, Ajira Airways, and the number of actors who've been in both shows!
Henry's father, a nomadic petty crook, is named Neal Cassidy.
Also related to him: He's a thief named Neal who plans to give up his life of crime for something more stable and comfortable. Where have we heard that before? To reinforce the Shout Out, "Cassidy" even sounds a little like "Caffrey."
On the second season's tenth episode, Capt. Hook (who is an expy for Jack Sparrow) is seen standing atop his mast as his ship approaches bay, and then coming down with a rope. The way the scene is shot and the camera angles make it almost a dead ringer for Jack's famous entrance in Curse Of The Black Pearl (where he stands atop his mast as his ship approaches bay, then comes down with a rope).
The episode "Skin Deep" seems to throw up one of these every other minute. About a dozen all in all? The names Belle and Gaston, Belle's father is named Moe French in Storybrooke (Beauty and the Beast was at first a sort of educational French tale), at least two of Belle's dresses are shoplifted right out of the Disney movie and so is her hair do, Belle's father calling Rumplestiltskin a "Beast", Belle being stuffed into a dungeon, "just an old woman selling roses", Belle being in that castle due to a deal to save her father (and others), True Love's Kiss (TM) changing Rumplestiltskin back into his non-cursed form, ...
And from the same episode, another Disney Shout Out comes in the scene between Regina and Rumplestiltskin. Notice that strange blue hat behind Regina as she relates her story? The one with the yellow stars? Yep, that's the same hat from the Fantasia short, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Apparently Mickey really does exist in the Enchanted Forest, or at least the Sorcerer/Yen Sid/what have you.
The dwarfs are whistling the tune "Heigh Ho" from the original Snow White cartoon at the end of "Tiny".
The Tron and Lost shoutouts stem from the fact the show's creators also wrote TRON: Legacy and Lost.
A small one, but in "The Miller's Daughter", when Cora invades Gold's shop, Neal/Baelfire takes up a sword to stand alongside Prince Charming and Emma to defend Rumplestiltskin. The manner in which he holds his sword positively screams Kingdom Hearts (he holds the blade the same way Riku holds his Keyblade, as well as the same way Vanitas and Master Xehanort do), and given that Disney is a co-producer of the game, this is unsurprising.
Signs of Disrepair: The "Toll Bridge" sign in "Snow Falls" has a red "R" scrawled on it between the "T" and "O".
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: A spin-off series titled Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is coming in fall of 2013. As the title suggests, this will take place in Wonderland and involve Alice and her friends. Given the timing, one expects the pilot to go along with the new season of OUaT.
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. In Regina's case, it seems as if you can identify the line where she chooses the dark path (accompanied by her Leitmotif).
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Token Evil Teammate: Season 3 is shaping up to have... Hook, Regina, and Gold teaming up with the Charmings (eg 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?
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 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 BitchSpoiled 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The kiss between Graham and Emma, whether it was true 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.
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.
Twitter: The hashtag #onceuponatime was right beside the corner icon for station identification.
As it was on the Channel Five broadcasts in the UK (although there it's #onceon5).
Uncanny Village: Storybrooke. In many ways, in fact it resembles The Village from The Prisoner - an idyllic seaside community with a dark secret that residents cannot leave without dire consequences.
The Unfair Sex: Inverted. When David and Mary Margaret's affair is discovered, SHE gets the cold shoulder from the town, but his part in it is ignored. Granted, the townsfolk knew he was amnesiac, implying she took advantage of him.
Vanishing Village: Implied by the fact a rather sizable town located on the seashore appears to attract no visitors (at least since the curse was broken). May be subject to averting as the series progresses.
Vengeance Feels Empty: It happens to Regina, because after what she went through, she wants a revenge which continues whatever happens.
Victory Is Boring: It is revealed that after the first few days of living in Storybrooke, Regina found the repeated behavior boring. She finally won and all are in their place but 1) no one knows it and 2) they respect her because the curse makes them respect her, not because they actually want to.
Villain Beating Artifact: The series has a twist on this trope. The only way to bring down the Big Bad is to steal his dagger, but then you become the villain yourself.
Watching Troy Burn: Regina tearing down the wooden play structure, Emma's and Henry's secret base for Operation Cobra.
"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". Regina remembers everything and has access to at least some of her magic, which she uses to kill Graham.
"Skin Deep". Mr. Gold remembers everything too and now Regina knows it.
"The Stable Boy". The source of Regina's grudge against Snow White: After Regina saved Snow's life, Snow naively disclosed Regina's relationship with the eponymous stable boy, resulting in said stable boy's murder and Regina's forced marriage to Snow's father. What's more, Kathryn is alive!
"A Land Without Magic". the townsfolk have their memories restored, Jefferson releases Belle and leads her back to Mr. Gold, and Mr. Gold sends magic into Storybrooke.
"Broken". The episode's flashbacks are not flashbacks at all - part of the Enchanted Forest survived The Curse, and Emma and Snow are currently trapped there.
"We Are Both". Anyone who tries to leave Storybrooke will lose all memories of their Fairy Tale life, possibly forever, Regina has her magic back, and Cora is alive.
"Queen of Hearts". Cora and Hook have appeared in the real world, ready to exact their revenge.
"The Outsider". Rumple creates a potion that allows him to cross over the boundary. At the end of the episode, he crosses the line, much to his and Belle's pleasure (though she can't come with him). Belle is then shot in the back by Hook, stumbles forward over the line, and loses her memories of Rumple/the Enchanted Forest/being Belle. Hook is then run over by a man with Pennsylvania license plates, meaning the outside world has come to Storybrooke.
"Manhattan". Neal is really Rumple's long-lost son Baelfire, making Rumple Henry's grandfather. It's prophesied that Henry will bring about Rumplestiltskin's downfall.
"The Miller's Daughter". Snow goes over to the dark side in order to defeat Cora; Cora's relationship with Rumple is revealed and it revealed that they were lovers and Cora almost gave up power for love before she took out her heart.
"Selfless, Brave and True". Tamara is only with Neal in order to research magic, and she is the Her that Owen/Greg has been in contact with. Also, she fatally wounds August, who is reverted back to his original form of Pinocchio.
"Second Star to the Right". Bae was sent to Wendy Darling's house after leaving the fairy tale world, and ends up being dragged by Peter Pan's shadow to Neverland where he lands on HOOK's ship. Meanwhile, Tamara makes her move, and uses one of the magic beans to send Bae away again!
And Straight on 'Til Morning. Emma has magic power at least equal to Regina's. Henry is kidnapped by Greg and Tamara and taken to Neverland, and is followed by the Charmings, Gold, Hook, and Regina. The Lost Boys work for an evil Peter Pan, who wants Henry for some reason - and has wanted him for hundreds of years. And Bae has been taken to the Enchanted forest, barely alive, and found by Mulan, Aurora, and Philip.
World Half Full: The Enchanted Forest. It has enchantment and beauty galore, but what little we've seen of it hasn't been good. King George was flat broke and blackmails David to keep up the act of being Prince James. The "real" Prince slaughtered a prisoner without an eye-blink as part of a blood sport. Dragon attacks plague the countryside. The Ogre Wars have been going on for 50 years or more. Rumplestiltskin cuts deals with impunity, even when he's locked up. And the Evil Queen's bluff to Rumplestiltskin that Belle was put in an insane asylum where she was 'purged' with flails, whips, and fire to the point of suicide is considered a realistic enough occurrence for him to believe it. What makes the Enchanted Forest preferable to Storybrooke is mainly that the bad guys had finally been defeated in the Enchanted Forest, but in Storybrooke they are in charge again - and that the lives that people lived in the Enchanted Forest were real and possible to change, whereas in Storybrooke they are caught in a static, fabricated existence where they can never reach any happy ending.
World-Healing Wave: Emma triggers one by her good-bye kiss to Henry, shattering the curse holding the town.
Would Hit a Girl: The knight who viciously backhands Snow when she tries to make her way to a captured Charming in Heart of Darkness. Also Hook, who socks Belle to knock her out as soon as he realizes she's no use to him.
Xanatos Gambit: While most of Gold's plots are of the Batman variety, his plan to break the curse is pure Xanatos. Best case scenario, Emma sticks around and breaks the curse but he also put in a failsafe: If she dies then the curse is broken. Sooner or later, it will break.
AND, he had a True Love potion failsafe.
Xanatos Speed Chess: The entire show thus far has been one giant game of this played by Rumplestiltskin with the ultimate goal of following his son into our world while still retaining his powers. And it would appear to be working out beautifully.
"Let's just say...I'm invested in your future."
Until he hits the snag that he can't leave town without losing his memories.
You ALL Share My Story: Many of the Fairy Tales overlap, or tie into one another. Snow White's arc ties into Little Red Riding Hood's. Hansel and Gretel are used by the Wicked Queen to get the infamous apple. King Midas's daughter was set up with Prince Charming for an Arranged Marriage, etc.
You Can't Fight Fate: Played With. According to the "seer" there are things that "will be" and things that "can be." The former will happen no matter what, while the latter may or may not happen. Telling the difference is difficult, and the sheer number of possibilities is overwhelming even for someone as powerful as Rumplestiltskin.
You Go Girl: Often happens. Belle is finally independent despite having a sexist father (she hints her fiancé was the same) and escapes an arranged marriage; Mulan refuses to be called "a girl" and prefers saying that she is a woman and a warrior to the surprised princess Aurora; Milah wanted more than a life as a stay-at-home mom and wife to the town coward.
In Episode 5, Emma hints that she had been involved with a married man.
David's and Mary Margaret's affair from Episode 10 onward. It's complicated because in the Enchanted Forest, they are married, but in Storybrooke, they've forgotten and David ends up "married" to someone else.
The Queen and the Genie (while the former is married to Snow White's father). The Genie solves this by Murdering the Hypotenuse. It turns out the Queen was never in love with him.
Henry says this at least once to Regina. He takes it back later, though.
When the Queen makes reference to the Huntsman's parents who abandoned him in the woods, the Huntsman replies, "Those were not my parents. They merely gave birth to me."
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Played very straight, except it's the prince. Snow White and her allies storm King George's castle to rescue Charming, only to find out that Regina has already whisked him away to her own castle, leaving behind a full-length mirror in his cell to project his image and allow him and Snow to share a moment of mutual anguish.