Trivia: Once Upon a Time

  • Ability Over Appearance:
    • Creators said as much about Merrin Dungey's casting as Ursula from The Little Mermaid, as she does not resemble the character much. But they were inspired to cast her because of her performance in Alias.
    • Likewise Joanna Garcia is a full eighteen years older than Disney's Ariel, being 33 when she first played her. But it's hard to imagine an actress who can capture Ariel's optimism, clumsiness and quirky attitude better than she can.
    • To a lesser extent, Sarah Bolger looks nothing like Disney's Princess Aurora but her performance was very well received.
  • The Abridged Series: Natch. You can find it here.
  • Acting In The Dark: Christie Laing, who plays Marian, didn't know that Marian was actually Zelena in disguise in season 4 until "Heart of Gold".
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Ascended Fanon: Due to how little the final film bore to the source material, many fans of Frozen had theorized that Andersen's Snow Queen existed in the Frozen-verse as a separate entity than Elsa, another fan theory being that Elsa's powers were tied back to the former. Once appears to be going with an idea similar to this, with Elizabeth Mitchell portraying the Snow Queen as a separate character from Georgina Haig's Elsa. Both theories were ultimately used, with the Snow Queen turning out to be Elsa's aunt.
  • The Danza: Young princess Eva is played by Eva Allan (also credited as Eva Bourne).
  • Billing Displacement: Raphael Sbarge (Archie) during season 1 and Michael Socha (Will Scarlet) during season 4 are in the credit opening as main characters despite being actually secondary.
  • Dawson Casting: Elsa is 23 years old and is portrayed by 29 year old Georgina Haig. This is just slightly less egregious than Frozen, where a 21 year old Elsa is voiced by 42 year old Idina Menzel.
    • Whilst played straight in Frozen (where a then-18 years old Anna is voiced by a 33 year old Kristen Bell), OUAT makes it a minor trope, since Anna is 20 years old and is played by a 22 year old Elizabeth Lail.
    • Kristoff is 23, and portrayed by a 29 year old Scott Michael Foster.
  • 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.
  • Dueling Shows: Was initially this with Grimm, an NBC show that debuted around the same time that also focuses on fairytale characters existing in the real world. It soon became clear both shows were going in different directions. Grimm focuses on more obscure characters and creatures from the many, many lesser known Grimm fairytales, as opposed to the more famous and iconic ones in Once.
  • Dyeing for Your Art:
    • For Belle's three season 1 appearances, blonde Emilie de Ravin just wore a wig. When she was upgraded to regular in season 2, she dyed her hair brown.
    • A marginal example, as Jennifer Morrison is a natural blonde. But she had been dyeing her hair brown for House. She went back blonde to play Emma.
  • Fan Community Nickname:
    • Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold's fans are called Dearies. So named by Robert Carlyle himself.
    • The Queen's fans are called Evil Regals, Snow White's are the Fairest, the Seven Dwarves' are Team 7, Prince Charming's are Charmers, Ruby's are Little Reds, and Belle's are Beauties. Emma's fans were originally called "Team Emma" though "Ugly Ducklings" is becoming more popular.
    • Captain Hook's fans are named "Hookers".
  • Fan Nickname: King Charmless, for Prince Charming's "father".
    • The Charmings, for Snow, David, Emma and Henry.
    • And for Neal, Nealfire as a combination of Neal and Baelfire.
    • The Television Without Pity forums have nicknamed the adult Darling brothers: The Hipster Darlings
  • Fake Nationality: Mulan is (kinda-sorta) Chinese, but Jamie Chung is Korean.
    • The Genie is from Arabian folklore but played by the half-black, half-Italian Giancarlo Esposito.
    • Princess Aurora is played by Irish actress Sarah Bolger doing an American accent.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Archie/Jiminy Cricket is Kaidan Alenko, Carth Onasi, Deadman, Scorch and quite a few other video game/cartoon characters.
  • I Knew It:
    • Mr. Gold perfectly remembers being Rumplestiltskin. Most fans probably guessed it from a mile away, though The Reveal was no less satisfying.
    • Surprise (or not)! Cora is the Queen of Hearts after all.
    • Several people guessed as early as the first season that Henry's father (Neal) is Baelfire.
    • Fan boards had joked since Frozen hit theatres about how it would translate to that universe. Guess who just showed up...
    • Many had theorized that Elsa wasn't the actual Big Bad of Season 4 and that the Snow Queen was the real villain. They were right.
    • A smaller case. When Merrin Dungey's Ursula appeared in Season 4 (and was referred to as "the sea witch"), a few assumed that she wasn't the sea goddess that Eric's kingdom worshipped. "Poor Unfortunate Soul" confirmed that she was just named after the goddess - though it's not confirmed whether that was her at the end of "Ariel" or the true goddess.
    • Lily being the daughter of Maleficent was so obviously guessed by everyone it would have been a bigger twist if it hadn't turned out that way.
    • Henry's middle name being Daniel was a popular theory.
    • A smaller one brought on by The Reveal that Zelena was really Marian in disguise. Two episodes later revealed she was pregnant with Robin's baby, which had been tossed around by fans.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor:
    • The Evil Queen is (or was) — well, evil. Lana Parrilla, on the other hand, is an incredibly nice, warm, lovely human being who adores her fans and fellow cast members, is a second mom to Jared Gilmore (Henry), and has embraced her "Evil Regals" with open arms.
    • Rumplestiltskin is... not nice. Robert Carlyle, on the other hand, is by universal acclaim the nicest person on the set. Given the temperaments of most of the rest of the cast, that's saying something.
    • Hook was not a very nice person initially. Colin O'Donoghue, on the other hand, is incredibly polite, kind, and is completely Adorkable.
  • Older Than They Think: Little Red Riding Hood hunting a werewolf that terrorises her village every month at the full moon? That's the plot of a film called Red Riding Hood with Amanda Seyfried as the heroine. In both movies the love interest is a suspect and both movies call him Peter to boot (possibly as a Shout-Out to Peter and the Wolf). In both stories Red's father was a wolf. Except in the film he's the main antagonist while in the show he's passed it on to Red herself.
    • Ditto for True Love's Kiss working as a symbol of family love. It was originally scripted for Snow White & the Huntsman - where the Huntsman was conceived as a much older man. The kiss that wakes Snow White up was meant to symbolise a father's kiss. Ultimately things were changed, Chris Hemsworth was cast and the Huntsman became a love interest instead.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • It seems to be intentional. In Season 1, the Queen of Hearts is played by Jennifer Koenig. In Season 2, she's played by Barbara Hershey when she's revealed to be Cora. It should be noted that even when she was played by Jennifer Koenig, Barbara Hershey supplied the voice, which was hard to make out due to her speaking only in whispers.
    • In season 3, Sean Maguire replaces Tom Ellis in the role of Robin Hood.
    • In season 4, Merrin Dungey replaces Yvette Nicole Brown in the role of Ursula. Subverted when the episode Poor Unfortunate Soul reveals that they're separate characters: Dungey's character was named for Brown's.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Jamie Chung is normally known for playing Asian Airhead roles. Mulan is The Stoic in this version, making it a very different role for her.
    • Graham was retroactively this for Jamie Dornan - who tends to be a Villain Protagonist or at least a morally questionable character. Graham is probably the most heroic role he's ever played.
    • Robert Carlyle's characters tend to be the Butt Monkey of the story - rather than the Magnificent Bastard Rumpelstiltskin is.
  • Playing with Character Type:
    • Rose McIver usually plays women with tragic backstories, or who have gone through Break the Cutie in some way. Tinkerbell is similar but recovers from her damage and reverts to The Cutie pretty quickly.
  • Playing Gertrude: Annabeth Gish, who plays Red's mother is only eleven years older than Meghan Ory.
    • Sally Pressman who plays Helga is two years younger than Pascale Hutton - her younger sister Gerda.
    • Frances O'Connor, who plays Belle's mother, is only fifteen years older than Emilie de Ravin.
    • And last, but far from least, Lana Parrilla is only one year older than Ginnifer Goodwin.
  • Prop Recycling: Captain Hook's ship is also the Interceptor and the Enterprise.
    • The compass Hook and Emma steal from the giants' castle is the same one that Gretel gets from her father in "True North."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Related to the trope below; just as Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are expecting a baby in real life as 2013, so are Snow White and Prince Charming in the third season.
    • Hook's role in the second half of Season 2 had to be cut down due to Colin O'Donoghue breaking his leg.
    • Mulan was quickly written out of the series, due to Jamie Chung being cast in another series.
  • Romance on the Set: Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas. Yes, that's right, Snow White and Prince Charming fell in love.
    • Jennifer Morrison and Sebastian Stan, which is more creepy than the above example when their characters' interactions are considered. They broke up in 2013.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), Emilie De Ravin (Belle), and Michael Raymond-James (Neal/ Baelfire) all ship Swan Thief (Emma/Neal).
    • Jennifer Morrison (Emma) and Colin O'Donoghue (Hook) both ship Captain Swan (Emma/Hook). Josh Dallas (Prince Charming) seems to be on board as well.
  • Throw It In: During the Ruby/Granny fight in "Red Handed" August can be seen all, "These ladies crack me up." His actor was clearly trying not to laugh, but it was so funny the scene was added.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Emma claims to have been 18 when she had Henry, but he was already 10 when she turned 28, meaning she had to have been 17 when she gave birth to him.
    • In Manhattan (which at the most is 6 months after the pilot) Henry is 11, making Emma 16 when she was pregnant.
  • Vindicated by Reruns: A common occurrence through DVR ratings. Example: the first half of Season 3's Neverland arc (episodes 1-6) was a ratings success on all fronts, but the second half not so much. A rerun of its final episode, however, brought its ratings score up to standard.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Apparently they wanted Lady Gaga as the Blue Fairy.
    • The Sheriff was meant to be Sherlock Holmes, and his curse in Storybrooke was that there was no mystery to solve. The plan fell through due to an issue with acquiring the rights. Not to mention the fact that there are already two Sherlocks on TV right now.
      • Speaking of the Sheriff, they wanted him to return in Season 3, which fell through because Jaime Dornan was filming Fifty Shades of Grey. If they'd gotten to do it, he'd have appeared in what was described as a Peggy Sue Got Married moment in the season finale - Emma would have seen him while trapped in the past, but been unable to reach out because doing so would have wrecked the timeline.
    • Ariel and Aladdin were planned for the second season, but their appearances got "pushed back" for unknown reasons. (Ariel showed up in Season 3, but Aladdin has yet to appear).
    • Early drafts of the pilot episode had Charming killed off. This was changed after Josh Dallas auditioned and "blew them away" with his performance, prompting the creators to expand his role.
    • Early drafts also had Regina with three children instead of just Henry, but the identities of the other two are not yet known.
    • The final draft of the pilot as it was sold, before the show was picked up and more changes were made, has many differences, most notably Emma being named Anna.
    • Hook was supposed to have a larger role in the second half of season two, but it had to undergo a major rewrite due to Colin O'Donoghue breaking his leg. The writers had to cut almost all of Hook's scenes.
    • Regina and Henry's relationship from season 2 onward is only a result of Lana Parrilla (Regina) pushing the writers for it.
      • The same is true for Regina and Robin's relationship, somewhat...she only pushed for a romance for Regina, the choice of Robin Hood for the love interest is the writers' doing.
    • Belle was originally intended for only one episode, but she was brought back by popular demand.
      • Similarly, Anton the Giant was originally going to only be in his nameless debut, "Tallahassee", but the staff liked him enough to bring him back and expand upon him in "Tiny" and "Lacey".
      • Another similar case is Blackbeard, whose death in his debut, "The Jolly Roger", was later retconned because the writers really enjoyed what Charles Mesure brought to the role and thus wanted to use the character in more stories.
    • Captain Hook was originally supposed to appear in season 1, but the writers were unable to acquire the rights to Neverland in time.
    • Dracula was considered as a character for season 1, but they went with Dr. Frankenstein instead.
    • Ruby had more plots planned but the ever-increasing character load in season 2 left them no way to feature her.