A Spin-Off of ABC'sOnce Upon a Time, which aired for one season in 2013-2014 as a self-contained storyline. This series focuses on Alice, a young woman from Victorian Britain who apparently traveled to Wonderland and back, but nobody believed the fantastic stories she told. Just before an attempted procedure (implied to be a lobotomy) that would have her forget it all, the White Rabbit rescues her and says that they can help her reunite with a genie she rescued and fell in love with.Rather than being distantly related to Once Upon a Time, it has a Shared Universe. Given that Wonderland stars a protagonist from Victorian England (Alice), whereas Storybrooke has a protagonist from modern-day NewYork, it was up in the air how connected the two series would be. Word of God tells us that they avoid a Timey-Wimey Ball in that Alice's Victorian Britain is a separate story world, like that of Frankenstein in the parent show. Several significant characters cross-over, but only in backstory (Robin Hood for Will and Cora for the Queen of Hearts). Apart from cameos and flashbackcross overs, Wonderland is its own self-contained Hero of Another Story.Despite a few characters being left with open fates at the end of the series (Jafar and the Jabberwocky, if you're curious), the show is wrapped up in its single season. However, Michael Socha is confirmed to be reprising his role as the Knave of Hearts in the fourth season of Once Upon a Time, so of course you're free to speculate about the others.
Adaptational Attractiveness: Done very obviously with Jafar. The Red Queen as well, to a degree, since in the original she was a red-faced chess piece and now she's a thin blonde human woman.
Adaptational Badass: Alice, who is often portrayed as a hapless young girl passively reacting to Wonderland's nonsense, shows no hesitation in attacking 5 guards at the asylum and effortlessly kicking their asses, and is now quite adept at handling herself in Wonderland.
The Caterpillar, once just a hookah-smoking caterpillar, is now Wonderland's Jabba the Hutt.
Adaptational Villainy: Since most of the fairytale characters are based on Disney's interpretation more than their original source material, this happens a lot, most obvious with Jafar. Though the Cheshire Cat is notably more aggressive towards Alice here than both the original and the Disney movie.
The treatment of the Red Queen differs considerably from all source material, most notably that she becomes Alice's ally.
In the first episode of the series Emma, the protagonist of Once Upon a Time, nearly runs over the Knave of Hearts on his way to Granny's diner. In order to get in, he pickpockets the key from Cinderella, who is being escorted home by Grumpy.
In addition to the obvious Wonderland characters, the series includes faces from Agrabah, and Grendel features in the episode "Forget Me Not".
Jafar briefly paralyzes the queen except for her eyes so he can threaten her.
The Caterpillar collects the severed yet alive heads of those who couldn't pay their debts. Once he removes the cover on one of his victims, he does scream!
The Sarlacc who digests his victim for over a millennium.
Jafar turned his mentor Amara into his serpent staff. We see her blinking at the end of “The Serpent”.
The victims of the Dark Forest end up turning into trees if they stay too long.
Anguished Declaration of Love: The Red Queen reveals that she still loves the Knave and that her motive for helping Jafar change the laws of magic was so that she could change her past decision to give him up for her crown.
Anti-Villain: In "Home" (though this is hinted earlier), the Red Queen approaches Type II territory when her true motives are revealed. She is depicted consistently as the lesser of the two evils in the series, and by midseason exits villain territory completely and becomes a hero.
Bad-Guy Bar: The Caterpillar's bar is frequented by some very unsavory types. Apparently the Knave owes most of them money.
Bait-and-Switch Boss: Episode 6 sees Alice walk into a brightly lit grove while trying to walk through the Black Forest. There she meets the creepily smiling Carpenter, who more literate fans will recognize as an unsavory type from "The Walrus and the Carpenter"... only for Alice to start forgetting everything and getting all... "mimsy" because of the borogrove, which is the real trouble of the episode.
Be Careful What You Wish For: A running theme in the show, like its parent show. Magic always comes with a price; the bigger the magic, the bigger the price.
The reason Alice hasn't used any of the wishes Cyrus granted her. Sure, she could wish him back... but he might arrive hanging from a tree with a noose around his neck. Even wishing him free of the bottle could have bad consequences (as we've seen on the parent show).
Will stole the Looking Glass so he and Anastasia could leave the Enchanted Forest and start a new life in a new land. Anastasia reinvented herself as the Red Queen and broke Will's heart.
Will's wish to "end Alice's suffering" (which could have just as easily killed her except that genie wishes are restricted from doing that) turned Cyrus from a genie into a human. But apparently, that bottle absolutely had to have a genie in it when the wishes were used up, so it promoted Will. Which would have been fine, if the bottle wasn't floating down a river at the time. It falls off a waterfall right as the episode ends.
Lizard's wish for the one they love to feel something for them, which results in the Knave being forced to watch her die in front of him to make him feel remorse and helplessness, since as the genie granting the wish (against his will) he is the one responsible for her death.
Bedlam House: Alice is kept in one after insisting on Wonderland's existence.
Book Ends: The series begins and ends in the place where Alice first returned to the real world after her first visit to Wonderland. In the final scene, she's having a tea party there with her daughter, to whom she's reading a story-book accounting of her past: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Break the Cutie: Surprisingly, The Red Queen, who is initially promoted as the big bad for the series, not only quickly becomes the lesser evil (as in pretty much by the end of the first episode), but by the second half of the first season transforms into The Woobie and ultimately performs a full Heel-Face Turn. Just in time for "Dirty Little Secrets" to ramp things up from Break the Cutie to "Utterly Destroy the Cutie".
The Cameo: In episode 1, Emma's car, Grumpy and Cinderella have cameos in Storybrooke.
Later, Robin Hood, also appearing in the then-current OUAT Baelfire arc, has a crossover.
One of the fairies from OUAT makes a crossover appearance, too.
"Heart of the Matter" features Regina's mother, Cora, though her role is somewhat more substantial than a cameo.
Cats Are Mean: The Cheshire Cat befriended Alice during her last visit to Wonderland but has since decided that she would make a better meal than a friend.
Cerebus Syndrome: In the Fall of 2013, this show was Lighter and Softer than Once Upon a Time, with only Jafar and everything connected to his backstory standing out as particularly dark. When the show returned in the Spring of 2014, however, things got intense.
Conspicuous CGI: Frequent and glaring. Wonderland is a bit more difficult to depict using real-life scenery than the Enchanted Forest in the parent series. And they're on a network TV budget. So this may be justified.
Might also be highly justified to depict the extreme surreality of Wonderland.
Continuity Nod: In "Down The Rabbit Hole", the White Rabbit comments that no one has seen The Mad Hatter in a long time and The Knave of Hearts mentions that "he's made a nice little life for himself" in Storybrooke.
The Storybrooke scenes in Down the Rabbit Hole occur at the same time as the original show's season 2 premiere Broken: the Knave is out on the streets during the storm caused by the Wraith's arrival.
In "Bad Blood" Alice and the Knave count off everything they have in their possession from earlier episodes, including the key to Granny's.
In "Heart of the Matter", Cora is featured and makes reference to her disappointing daughter (Regina).
In "To Catch a Thief", Alice sneaks into Cora's vault in search for Will's heart where King Henry was imprisonned in the main show.
Dark and Troubled Past: The Knave makes constant references to having done things in Wonderland that earned him a price on his head, but refuses to elaborate.
Darker and Edgier: This show's version of Alice falls closer to the warrior Alice of the Tim Burton movie than the innocent girl of the original stories and most earlier treatments.
Also, Jafar. If you thought he was evil in the original animated movie...
Wonderland was always a little twisted and loopy, but it was originally intended for the delight of a six-year old girl. Now it's more akin to the nightmare at the end of the Disney animated version than the whimsical first half. It owes much more to American McGee's Alice than that, though. Violent and weird, and you can't trust anyone.
Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Either Alice or The Knave will say "bloody hell" at least Once an Episode. "Sod off" has made an appearance as well. The British actors, knowing they're working on a family-friendly North American show, must find this amusing.
Distressed Dude: Cyrus, until a wish to end Alice's suffering finally frees him from being a genie. Will becomes both the new genie of the bottle and the Distressed Dude in his place.
In "Heart of Stone", the Red Queen confesses to Alice that both of them are in trouble with Jafar and that's why she expects her help.
** The Jabberwocky performs something along these lines near the end, not actually turning good so much as working with the heroes to ensure her own freedom, mainly because she realizes Jafar is not a trustworthy partner. It doesn't work out very well for her.
Evil Versus Evil: In "Home" The Red Queen and Jafar's alliance falls apart and Jafar is now actively trying to kill her.
Later averted when it's revealed that the Red Queen isn't actually evil, just very misguided.
Eye Scream: Poor Lizard... Granted, she was already dead, but still.
Fate Worse than Death: What the caterpillar himself describes the fate of those who didn't pay their debts.
Fighter, Mage, Thief: It appears initially that the show is setting up a Power Trio in Alice, the Knave, and the White Rabbit. However, the Rabbit doesn't show up that much (probably because it costs a lot to animate a talking rabbit voiced by John Lithgow). Further, it subverts the expected roles in that the Fighter is the girl, and The Mole is the Mage, not the Knave.
As the series goes on, however, the Red Queen becomes less about this and tries to atone for her actions, not always successfully.
Happily Ever After: The series ends with Alice and Cyrus married in England with a daughter. Will and Anastasia become the White King and the White Queen of Wonderland. Naturally, the episode is titled "And They Lived..."
Heel-Face Turn: The Red Queen at the end of "Home", and solidified in "Nothing to Fear", both in her genuinely sad reaction to Lizard's death and her deciding to fight Jafar, though she suffers a brief reversion in the next episode due to a major Break the Cutie moment, and again in the finale due to be put under a spell. Ultimately, though, her turn is permanent.
Although depicted as being evil earlier in the series, when Amara is resurrected, no mention is made of this and she spends her remaining time fighting to save not only her sons, but Wonderland. Although this is strongly implied to be a case of I Did What I Had to Do, since everything Amara did as a sorceress was meant to let her change the laws of magic (and the past) so she could break the curse on her genie sons, and she clearly regrets what she did to Jafar. And even before her changing sides, there could be a bit of Even Evil Has Standards operating.
Held Gaze: Happens frequently between Alice and Cyrus in the flashbacks.
Interspecies Romance: Between Alice the human and Cyrus the genie. Subverted by the fact that Cyrus was once human. And once they are finally reunited in "Home", Cyrus is now human again, subverting the trope.
Ironic Echo: The Asylum doctor initially explains that there's a treatment for Alice's "delusions". After Will breaks her out with the Rabbit in tow, they run into the same doctor on the way out. On seeing the Rabbit, the doctor can only stare in shock. Alice doesn't waste time setting him straight:
Alice: Seeing things, Doctor? I hear there's a procedure for that.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The Red Queen in "Heart of the Matter" wishes that Will will be able to have feelings again even if it's not for her.
Jackass Genie: Not by the genie's choice, though. When Lizard carelessly uses the word "wish," her third wish, that the Knave would feel something for her, comes true despite the Knave's efforts to stop it – she dies, as the Knave can only watch helplessly.
The final fate of Jafar, who gets tricked by Alice into stealing from the Well of Wonders.
Knights and Knaves: Alice solves a variant with only one guard, a knight who she quickly realizes has done nothing but lie to her. It can only answer yes or no questions, so she asks if one of the doors leads to the well, then picks the other one when it says yes.
Peta Sergeant is also enjoying a scenery-laced meal as the evil and sexy Jabberwocky.
Leap of Faith: Subverted. Alice first thinks that believing in her love with Cyrus will makes her cross the great divide. Alice's true trial is to prove herself to be pure-hearted enough by sparing the life of the one who put Cyrus in Prison.
First, we have Anastasia, whose entire motivation throughout the series has been to correct the mistake she made in abandoning the one she loves. She's done some horrible things. Though evidently nothing bad enough that she isn't fully forgiven by series end and reconciled with Alice and Cyrus.
Second, we have Jafar, who craves his father's affection more than anything, and will stop at nothing to get it.
Finally, we have Amara, who, after losing her children, became a sorceress with no qualms about killing an innocent man to use his liver as a spell reagent, and turning another man to stone for shiggles.
Magic Carpet: Jafar’s preferred means of transportation. Also the means by which Cyrus survived his fall into the Boiling Sea.
Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Alice comes across as the very proactive, no-nonsense, sword-swinging Action Girl, whilst Cyrus is a lot more gentle and sweet. The drive of the narrative also revolves around Cyrus being a Distressed Dude and Alice being on a Quest to rescue him, and the flashback reveals that she was the one to first make a romantic move on him. It's not a total gender-flip though, as Alice still dresses quite femininely, and the aforementioned flashback also demonstrates that it was Cyrus who first teaches Alice how to sword-fight.
Moral Dissonance: Amara, even prior to meeting Jafar, gained a reputation as a powerful and deadly sorceress, so feared by the public that her mere presence in the bazaar was enough to make everyone there hide for fear they'd be seen by her. After meeting Jafar, she poisoned a man for his liver after he had rescued her goat, turned another man to stone, and is directly responsible for taking Jafar's justified hatred and twisting him into the monster he is now.
Alice and Cyrus are implied to have traveled to multiple worlds, including Neverland.
Will and Anastasia originally come from the pre-Curse Enchanted Forest (and it's implied that Will must have returned there at some point as he was affected by the Storybrooke curse). Cyrus and Jafar come from Agrabah, which is part of the same world as the Enchanted Forest.
Will is initially seen living in Storybrooke, where the White Rabbit comes to fetch him. Later, Alice and Cyrus also visit Storybrooke briefly.
The wishes are extremely powerful magic but they are also represented physically by rubies whose edges are good for cutting through ropes.
The Forget-Me-Knot is a magical object that lets the user view the past but it is also made of very strong rope that can be used to make a snare.
My Greatest Failure: Alice's father blames himself for not believing Alice and helping her when she needed him.
Anastasia blames herself for ruining her relationship with Will, and is willing to change the rules of magic in order to fix things.
Narnia Time: The show implies that Wonderland's time is faster than Alice's homeworld (see below Year Outside, Hour Inside), the scale doesn't seem to be consistant. In the final, Alice return to her home but doesn't appear like she missed several years.
Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Pretty much sums up the Red Queen, who was initially set up as the villain, until the story reveals Jafar to be the actual villain, while the Red Queen's backstory reveals her to be more misunderstood than anything. Ultimately, in "Nothing to Fear," after giving signs in this direction over numerous episodes, she performs an official Heel-Face Turn and can no longer be considered evil after that.
The Not-Love Interest: Alice and the Knave are sharing the most screen-time and much of the dramatic weight of the show is to be found in their interactions. Yet it's completely unromantic, with both of them in love (or implied to be in love) with other people. It is later revealed that the Knave is incapable of love anyway due to being (temporarily) "heartless".
Similarly, it is briefly suggested that Jafar and Red Queen might have a thing going, but at least one has eyes for another. And then, after Jafar changes the rules of magic, he makes her fall in love with him.
Obliviously Evil: Hints of this with regards to the Red Queen, especially as it becomes clear she isn't actually the villain.
Assuming the Knave was indeed in Storybrooke during the decades the Curse was in effect, he is also technically much older than he appears.
Out-of-Character Alert: A variation: Alice sees through Jafar's shapeshifting spell not because he does something her father would never do, but because he fails to do something that her father normally would. Her father, a devoutly religious man, says grace before every meal, without exception, even when it's something as small as a piece of fruit that he picked from his garden. Jafar's failure to do so alerts Alice that something is off.
Our Genies Are Different: It's revealed that those who cross Nyx, guardian of the Well of Wonders are punished for their desire to change fate by being turned into genies. It's unknown whether this also happened to the Genie from the original series who became Regina's Magic Mirror (a.k.a. Sidney Glass).
Politically Correct History: Justified since, according to the producers, Alice's Victorian London is a separate "land of story" that exists in our time rather than the actual historical Victorian London. This allows Jafar, played by an Indian actor, to pose as "Dr. Sheffield" without anyone batting an eyelash.
Red Herring: When the Jabberwocky temporarily sides with Alice against Jafar, she brings up how she wasn't born a monster and that evil is made, not born. This point is never brought up again in the plot, although it is otherwise a reference to a line from the parent series.
Redemption Equals Death: Amara atones for the dark things she's done in her life by dying to return the stolen water to the Well of Wonders. Justified, in that it was trying to undo the curse of the Well that led to her Start of Darkness in the first place.
The final episodes also tease that the trope also applies to Anastasia but it turns out her death is of the non-permanent variety.
Rule of Three: In order to change the laws of magic, Jafar needs the three different genies. He already has two, and he's very intent on making Cyrus the third.
There are three laws of magic — three prohibitions, to be more specific. Magic cannot: bring back the dead, make somebody fall in love, change the past. Only two of the three are demonstrated in the finale, though. This may be because it's been revealed changing the past is part of the Wicked Witch of the West's Evil Plan on OUAT, albeit in a different manner and by a completely different method.
Sadistic Choice: Jafar turns Will into stone in the fourth episode in a gambit to get Alice to use one of her wishes. She'd already used one to save Will in the same episode. Alice is clearly torn between saving Will and knowing what would happen to Cyrus if she uses all three.
The second choice presented to Alice is even worse: her own father is held hostage, on the edge of a cliff. Alice resists Jafar's demands, forcing his hand and letting Alice's father fall. Alice immediately uses her second wish to send her father back home.
Secret Test of Character: Alice gets one in "Heart Of Stone": The Red Queen is put before her, temporarily Brought Down to Normal. Alice is told that she can get Cyrus's location simply by killing the Red Queen right then and there. She refuses to do so on moral grounds and so passes the test, granting her the magical dust that ultimately reveals Cyrus's location to her.
Serpent of Immortality: Amara is all about this. Unfortunately, it's what gives Jafar the idea to turn her into a snake staff, so that her magical essence is always with him.
Sequel Hook: Like his animated counterpart, Jafar was turned into a genie, not completely dead.
Shoot the Messenger: The Red Queen threatens Tweedledum after he revealed the treason of his brother.
Smug Snake: The Red Queen. Jafar even lampshades it. But in a case of dramatic irony, Jafar falls into this territory by underestimating the Red Queen in the following episode. He seems to have wised up, though, and begins treating her more like an equal afterward.
Someone Has to Do It: There must always be a genie in each bottle. Will finds this out the hard way. As does Jafar.
Spoiler Title: The finale "And they lived...", if you know the rest.
That Woman Is Dead: An interesting example - Will treats the Red Queen and Anastasia as two separate people. The actress also adjusts her performance accordingly.
Title Drop: The Red Queen drops the "Once Upon A Time" in "Dirty Little Secrets".
Tragic Monster: The Grendel. His wife died and he stole the Forget-Me-Knot from the Red Queen so he could see her through it; she punished him by turning him into a gruesome cannibal.
Turtle Island: The Mock Turtle takes this form, though it's considerably smaller than most examples.
Victorian Britain: As usual, Alice is from this time period. However, according to the producers, this version is located in a separate universe and is a “land of story” removed from time (similar to Dr. Frankenstein's world from the parent show), thus handling the issue of Alice in Wonderland being a fictional story in its parent show. Demonstrated by the fact that the Rabbit and Knave travel from modern day Storybrooke to Alice's London ( and Alice, Cyrus and the Rabbit briefly return there) without actual Time Travel.
It should be noted that most characters in the parent show are simultaneously known as fictional characters (Frankenstein, Peter Pan, etc). At least to Emma Swan.
This also allows the writers to get away with what would otherwise be Politically Correct History. For example, Jafar (played by an Indian actor) is able to convincingly pretend to be a doctor named "Sheffield."
Villain with Good Publicity: The Red Queen. The peasants of Wonderland trust her enough to honestly petition her with their problems and the crowd cheers when she showed up in the balcony during the Knave’s aborted execution. This changes later, however, with Anastasia losing all the goodwill of her subjects and the loyalty of her soldiers.
"The Serpent": Alice uses her first wish, making Will unable to die without her dying as well. Jafar responds by turning him to Stone. And Alice learns the true identity of the Red Queen.
"Home" is a big one, with moments occurring from beginning to end. Jafar and the Red Queen end their alliance - she takes Cyrus's bottle for herself, and Jafar blows up her castle. She captures Cyrus and realizes that everyone who's against Jafar is in danger as long as they're in Wonderland, so the two try to get Alice and Will to come with them with the White Rabbit to protect themselves. Anastasia declares that she still loves Will, and wants to change the rules of magic so that she can undo what she's done and they can be together again. Alice and Will don't believe her, meaning Jafar's curse to kill them all arrives in time. Will is hit and both he and Alice start dying due to her previous wish, but uses Loophole Abuse in order to get the last wish for himself and save her. It results in Cyrus becoming human, and Will taking his place as the genie. Yeesh.
"Heart of the Matter" turns the series on its ear. We learn that Anastasia was trained in magic by Regina's mother, Cora; that Cora removed the Knave's heart; Alice and Cyrus experience modern-day Storybrooke for the first time; Anastasia and Will are finally reconciled; and then Anastasia is apparently stabbed to death by Jafar, in front of Will, who only moments ago had his heart returned to him just to have it broken all over again.
World of Pun: The mallow marsh, the clothes horse, the fairy crossing, the Forget-Me-Knot... but blame Lewis Carroll, not the TV writers.
Xanatos Gambit: In “Forget Me Not”, the Caterpillar sends the Knave to get the Forget-Me-Knot which is in Grendel’s possession. If the Knave fails, then he’s dead. If the Knave succeeds and brings it back, then the Caterpillar owns the Forget-Me-Knot. If the Knave keeps the Forget-Me-Knot for himself, the Caterpillar will just use that as an excuse for revenge against the Knave. All the outcomes are favorable for the Caterpillar.
In the final episode, the heroes pull one on Jafar: If Cyrus and Amara had succeeded in returning the water to the Well of Wonders, it would have stripped him of his new-found power. However, in preventing them from doing so, he stole the water himself and thus got turned into a genie by Nyx.
Xenafication: Because young girls can easily beat the asylum brute squad.
Year Outside, Hour Inside: It's implied at the beginning that Wonderland's time is faster than Alice's homeworld since she had been out of sight for a long time. This was more or less confirmed by "Who's Alice?", where Alice returns to London after Cyrus's apparent death only to find she's been gone long enough to have a stepmother and a half-sister.
Also evident with Will and Anastasia who lived in the pre curse Enchanted Forest alongside the characters from the main show 28 years ago. The main show characters did not age due to the curse or Cora's time bubble, but Will and Anastasia are the same ages in the present despite being in Wonderland the whole time.
Your Cheating Heart: It's mentioned that the Red King regularly had "companions" brought to him.
He does this to Amara and turns her into his staff
He eventually does this to Anastasia after all. He uses her to make her wishes and give him the genie, then uses her as bait to get Will to tell him where his heart is. Once both tasks are complete, he decides he has no use for her and stabs her.
He does it again to the Jabberwocky immediately after achieving his goal.
You Said You Would Let Them Go: Jafar promises to Will that he will spare Anastasia if he tells where his heart is. As Anastasia herself predicted, he still kills her anyway.