YMMV / Once Upon a Time

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  • Abandon Shipping:
    • Early on, Golden Swan (Emma/Gold) was quite popular. It lost some of its popularity after Belle was introduced but was mostly deserted after it was revealed that Gold is Henry's grandfather.
    • Any lingering hopes for August/Pinocchio x Emma fans after August's reappearance in "Selfless, Brave and True" were dashed when puppet August is turned back into a real boy... a real 7-year old boy.
    • Any Peter Pan/Wendy shippers who were still left after it was revealed Pan enslaved poor Wendy and kept her locked in a cage for untold years, also keeping John and Michael as servants while threatening them that he'd kill their imprisoned sister, promptly threw up their hands and gave up when it was revealed that Pan is Rumpelstiltskin's father, de-aged.
    • Speaking of Pan, a surprising number of people shipped him with Henry, despite Henry being 11 and Pan being biologically under 18 and chronologically hundreds of years old, but even of those who weren't deterred by age, most abandoned ship when it was revealed Pan was his great-grandfather.
    • Most Jefferson/Emma shippers have more or less jumped ship at this point, given that: 1) Jefferson's storyline has been resolved and he is unlikely to appear on the show again and 2) as of season 3, Emma has had not one but two canonical and active love interests.
    • To some, the events of Season Five caused people to abandon the Captain Swan ship particularly Outlaw Queen shippers due to the Fandom Rivalry as noted below.
  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • "I want to see your hook inside his body". Given that fans had already picked up on the Ho Yay between Hook and Charming, this was the worst thing Pan could have possibly said.
    • Baelfire's name is often shortened to Bae, which in our world is a term you would call your boyfriend or girlfriend.
    • Regina's "tell your timbers to stop shivering, pirate" can sound like she's making an Unusual Euphemism for something else.
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy:
    • Milah is a real piece of work but her death in her lover's arms was rather sad. She got another moment of this when she was tossed into the River of Lost Souls after an episode that made her actually likable.
    • Several fans had this reaction to the deaths of Greg and Tamara in Season 3, Episode 1. Greg's life already made him The Woobie, and his unceremonious death gave him even more sympathy points. With Tamara, she had just realized that she'd been duped and was acting genuinely remorseful about the things she had done, so she may have gotten a second chance if she'd been allowed to live. She also goes out of her way to protect Henry from the Lost Boys before she dies.
    • Some had this reaction when the Blue Fairy died... prior to her coming back to life in the very next episode. Others who had the opposite reaction, of course, felt like they got trolled big time. And it happens again when Rumpelstiltskin forces Hook to trap her and the other fairies inside the Sorcerer's hat. It's also reversed, but three episodes later rather than just one. Also, she seems rather traumatized by her experience trapped in the hat, which has actually won her pity points among some fans.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Cora died in her daughter's arms right after regaining her heart and realising that after everything she had done, all she really needed was Regina's love.
    • Hyde turns out to be a Tragic Villain who lost the woman he genuinely loved and was in the end, the true good side of Dr. Jekyll. It gives off the impression that he did not deserve to die.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Everyone, really...
    • Regina and her relationship with Henry: is he right that she's just pretending to love him for show, or does she honestly care about him as much as she's able to with the void the curse caused in her heart? From the last episodes of the first season, Emma's Living Lie Detector hasn't worked actively in all cases, and the finale reveals she genuinely loves Henry, albeit not in a particularly healthy way. Alternatively, Regina genuinely loves Henry, but not as much because he's Henry, as for how he has the capacity to make her feel loved, wanted and appreciated. Her actions in "Welcome To Storybrooke" and the flashbacks of "Save Henry" speak to this theory, but present-day actions, especially in "Going Home", seem to confirm that, even if that was once true, she has ended up loving Henry for Henry rather than for herself.
    • Regina herself. Self-centered murderer who blames Snow and everyone around her for her troubles? Or originally kind girl driven to Evil by Snow not only getting her happy ending, but constantly proclaiming the power and love conquering all and good always winning, while she indirectly ruined Regina's chance at said happy ending?
    • Rumplestiltskin alleges Cinderella's Fairy Godmother is actually evil as she wasn't going to mention the Equivalent Exchange part of magic in the Enchanted Forest.
    • The Blue Fairy, related to the above.
      • Is Rumplestiltskin just pissy about not being the only one granting wishes and that she gave his son the magic bean that separated them, or is the Blue Fairy not telling people everything? She is profiting off the slave labor of the dwarves... on the other hand, Jiminy was perfectly fine with trading his humanity to aid Geppetto in order to get away from a life of crime. Yes, magic comes with a price, but the fairies might actually be more willing to ask for a sacrifice that the recipient can live with.
      • Her treatment of Nova and Dreamy is also suspect. Dreamy doesn't enjoy mining and all the other Dwarves think he's insane for wanting to leave, while Nova is incompetent at her job and the Blue Fairy herself admitted she's not going to be a Fairy Godmother anytime soon. Why exactly would it be so bad to cut them lose and let them be together? Or does she believe that the tenets of True Love only applies to humans? Also telling Rumple about the Curse, and then not doing anything about it.
      • Her treatment of Tinkerbell was even worse. Tink found someone who was surrounded by darkness and may have been redeemable at that point (Regina wasn't slaughtering villages or murdering husbands or trying to kill Snow yet although she already seemed to have killed Rumple's previous student, that was just bad editing since the episode is supposed to take place before that and she was just bitter and practicing dark magic under Rumple), who could have desperately used a fairy's help to dig her out. But what does Big Blue do? "Nope! Don't even bother to try!" and strip Tink of her wings and magic, then exiling her without any means of defending herself. Seriously, what the hell Blue Fairy?! She does, however, show regret for this at least, and acknowledges herself that it was a pretty awful move and she was wrong to do it.
      • There's also the fact that she's responsible for everything bad that's happened since Baelfire went through the portal. She may not have known that the giants were still growing magic beans, but if she had told Rumpelstiltskin about the magic tree right off the bat, everything could have been avoided.
    • Kathryn: Really someone who wants David back, or is more interested in the trappings of marriage than the man himself? She wants her husband and their kids someday but it's clear the person with her is more interested in fulfilling his obligations than 'her', but is she so guilt-ridden about their earlier tragedy she ignores it?
    • David and M.M.'s affair: True love, the most powerful magic (directly stated by Rumplestiltskin) logically overcoming the Dark Curse? A deconstruction of how harmful all-consuming passion and fairy tale fancies are in Real Life? Or two weak-willed adults refusing to act emotionally mature or responsible?
    • Snow White: The Paragon and the most morally righteous character in the Enchanted Forest but willing to do dark things when needed, or is she just a deluded hypocrite given the fact she's done some pretty morally reprehensible things herself and contributed to a few villains going down the dark path, even if not to Regina's level. Season 4 plays with this; after her and Charming were tricked into banishing Maleficent's unborn child to the World Without Magic, they made a conscious decision to strive to be The Paragon as a means to atone for such.
    • Prince Charming: All of the points listed above about Snow can be applied to him as well. However, in many cases he is even worse than Snow and is incredibly judgemental. For example, he blames Regina for Snow and Emma ending up in the Enchanted Forest even though he saw the wraith pull them into the portal; Henry at least had the excuse of not seeing the event. His inability to trust her also likely contributed to the events later that season. In Season 4 he does not seem to show the kind of remorse that Snow does for what happened to Maleficent's daughter and he has to be talked into confessing by her. Season 5 has an even worse example, he outright states that he would have been happy to let Hook die to stop the Darkness. Snow gives him a well earned What the Hell, Hero? for that.
    • In the Enchanted Forest, there's the ring Ruth, Charming's mother, gave to him when he left home. It guarantees that he'll find true love. You can watch him fall for Snow when he's not fast enough to stop her from putting it on, and she only considers him romantically after doing so. So if she hadn't put it on, would they have still fallen in love, or is their true love the result of permanent brainwashing by his mom's ring?
    • Rumplestiltskin's wife, Milah: Self-empowered woman who escaped a confining marriage to a weakling coward to embrace true love and a life of adventure and exploration? Or self-centered bitch who abandoned a loving family to pursue her own selfish whims and ultimately got her comeuppance? The truth may be a mix of both: Milah herself acknowledged the latter and was remorseful about it when Rumple confronts her after becoming the Dark One, but this also means that "her comeuppance" wasn't entirely called for.
      • There is also the implication to some that she suffered from depression.
    • Snow's father, King Leopold: Awesome King, loving father and all around Nice Guy who wants nothing more than the happiness of all who set foot in his kingdom? Or Bitch in Sheep's Clothing douchebag who didn't see a problem with proposing to a teenager, took her mother agreeing as a "yes", and after all that was a lousy husband. Furthermore, if he's aware he's not a good husband, why does he get so jealous when he discovers his wife has affection for another? And did she "accidentally" leave the diary in plain sight, knowing he'd read it... or does he normally read it? Or is he really jealous at all, and is just upset that Regina wouldn't trust him with the truth? Or perhaps he's so blinded by his grief over losing his wife that he just doesn't realize how possibly immoral his actions are, given the fact that he's a king in a fairy tale world.
      • Another thing to consider: did Leopold really expect the genie to find the man Regina loved? Or was this a Secret Test of Character and he knew that the genie was that man? It certainly wouldn't be a stretch for him to put together the facts, since Regina only wrote about a man she loved who gave her a mirror after the genie came to the castle, and his demeanor toward the genie in the scene does seem to hint at him knowing more than he lets on. If the genie had just confessed, chances are Leopold would have let him have Regina, since Snow had outgrown the need for a stepmother at this point.
      • "Bleeding Through" makes the above even more likely, as he did the exact same test with Cora. Eva told him of her deception, and he gave her a chance to be honest with him, saying he'd still accept her as his fiancé if she was. Cora wasn't honest, of course, and thus failed his test and was thrown out. Of course, this same episode also throws his later marriage to Regina further into question, especially with the fact that it's his old fiancé's daughter. Though the fact Regina risked her life to save Snow certainly helped. He might have seen the apple falling far from Cora or seen himself as rescuing Regina from her wicked Witch with a Capital B excuse for a mother the only way he knew how.
    • Also Snow's mother, Queen Eva: A kind, benevolent woman who grew out of her phase of being a Rich Bitch who looked down on peasants and wanted to teach her daughter to not be like that at an earlier age, or a full on Bitch in Sheep's Clothing just trying to cover her tracks and look perfect in front of her child, husband, and subjects? The former is more credible, but there are some who actually believe the latter to be true.
    • August/Pinocchio. Manipulative Jerkass who is only breaking the curse because he's turning into wood or a man who was given a massive responsibility as a kid that he wasn't ready for and is now trying to fix his mistakes? The latter gets some weight to it when Gepetto, his own father, says as much and that August is shown to be willing to die if it means making up for his mistakes in the process (even as he fully turns to wood in the Season 1 finale, he still begs Emma to break the curse and free the residents of Storybrooke from it, with no knowledge as to whether or not that will revive him)
    • Granny: Is she a Memetic Badass who brought her grand-daughter up with good intentions, or an incredibly foolish, destructively self-hating woman who came close to ruining Red's life by not telling her she was a werewolf or teaching her how to retain sentience in wolf form?
    • Neal/Baelfire: Is he a sleazeball who never really cared about Emma and discarded her once she stopped being useful, a Heroic character who did love her but let his fears overcome him, or a man who just keeps making bad decisions despite his good intentions? Like father, like son?.
    • Peter Pan/Malcolm, Rumplestiltskin's father,. A psychopathic Complete Monster who truly never loved his son as he said, or a victim of The Dark Side Will Make You Forget who once truly loved his son, but has long since seen that love drowned out by years of indulging in his own selfish whims? Malcolm's behavior seems to suggest a mix of both: he never loved his son, but felt guilty about this since he knew his son loved him and so he tried to treat him well up until he became Pan and completely lost any sense of guilt or regret.
    • Cora, did removing her heart make her totally evil, or was she always a sociopath regardless? Keep in mind other characters who've had their hearts removed like Graham and the Knave of Hearts from the spin-off, are still fundamentally good people without their hearts, though less heroic than before, more like weak but sympathetic. Her last words to Regina, true remorse or part of a Thanatos Gambit to keep Regina as her tool beyond the grave? Word of God firmly supports the former, and the case now seems to be that she had been evil even with her heart but had she kept it in her body while raising Regina, love would have redeemed her.
    • Zelena: Concerning the reason of her jealousy. Yes, it had to do with Cora's treatment of her, but what about Rumplestiltskin? What did she feel about him? Just Hot for Teacher or seeking a father figure? Her spiteful insults centered much more around Baelfire than on Belle, which would indicate the latter. However, the events of "Bleeding Through" would indicate the former. She coerces Rumple into going on a date with her, going so far as to invade his personal space. Rumple tries to takes advantage of the situation by kissing her passionately in hopes of getting the dagger back. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.
    • Glinda. Is she a benevolent witch who did everything she could in order to keep Zelena in the good side or is she a Manipulative Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who knew all along that Zelena will turn evil and have to be replaced in the sisterhood?
    • Hook: genuinely redeemed or just interested in a relationship with Emma? Come Season 3, the fandom has been divided on this. Some fans think that Hook confessing and apologizing to Ariel even when it has no benefit to himself or a relationship with Emma redeems him, while others disagree due to the fallout of this event, arguing that he's not being honest with Emma.
    • A minor one related to Aurora in the season 2 premiere: her reaction to Mulan being a woman could be her being a little sexist, shocked that a woman is a warrior. Or she could be quickly panicking about what her fiancée was doing travelling with another female. Given that she seems to immediately pick up on apparent feelings between Mulan and Philip, the latter is quite possible.
    • The Sorcerer aka Merlin: mysterious Big Good, or a power hungry selfish conjurer who cares nothing for the chaos of his realm. This has gotten worse in the fifth season, where his vague prophecies are what drove King Arthur to madness.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • The Blind Witch is billed as a vicious cannibal and powerful witch, but she's barely onscreen for ten minutes before the children/Evil Queen cook her. They even skip over the whole "Gretel is a slave and the witch fattens up Hansel."
    • The Dragon in "Selfless, Brave and True". He looks ready to go One-Winged Angel on Tamara, but she takes him out mid-transformation. Stupid all-powerful Taser.
    • Subverted with Peter Pan in "Save Henry". He goes down surprisingly easily twice, and both times it turns out that he isn't finished after all. Further subverted two episodes later, when he's defeated for good: as it happens when he's showcasing just how powerful he truly is and his death is only brought about by the ultimate sacrifice from Rumpelstiltskin. Later played straight with him in the Underworld, as he underestimates just how much more clever and ruthless his son has become, with his manipulations failing miserably.
    • Played painfully straight with the Shadow in "Going Home". After all its menace throughout the season, Tinkerbell has a ridiculously easy time taking it out for good.
    • Zelena. After episode after episode being something of a Villain Sue, she is very suddenly curb-stomped by Regina's newly unlocked light magic, rendered powerless and later killed in an act of vengeance while she's already locked up. Zelena later turns up alive and disguised as Marian, and is proving as much of a Magnificent Bitch as ever.
    • Blackbeard becomes the first villain Henry beats (by knocking him out) in the Series 4 finale. Given the threat he has posed previously...
    • Mr. Hyde, despite being set up as the main villain of season 6, is taken out by an electrical weapon Jekyll in the season six premiere; defeating him is not even the main plot of the episode. Then later he is released from his cell by the Evil Queen and successfully out gambits Gold gaining possession of the Dark One's knife and doesn't fall victim to the electrical weapon again, only to die as a result of Jekyll's death, though it does take the whole episode to defeat him this time.
  • Anvilicious:
    • True North can get pretty preachy on the problems of the foster system.
    • Likewise numerous people reacting with shock at Mulan being a woman in season 2 seems a little too heavy handed with the Girl Power theme. Especially considering season 1 saw plenty of women active in the war against Regina - implying that Snow and Red were fighting on the front lines personally. The Enchanted Forest just doesn't seem sexist enough for a group of people to be shocked at a female warrior. This pops up again in Season 5 with Mulan and Merida's episode, where the other members of the clans inexplicably don't think a woman can be a warrior. Note that this is at least ten years after the events of Brave - where Merida had already established herself as an Action Girl.
  • Annoying Laugh: Gold/Rumplestiltskin's little "tee-hee-hee" thing can get wearing after awhile.
  • Arc Fatigue: A common complaint for most of the later seasons, especially once the show decided to adopt the "two arc per season" approach.
    • Fans first started to complain around the second half of season 2, particularly after Cora's death. The show becomes very wearying to watch, especially given how anticlimactically Greg and Tamara were dealt with at the beginning of the third season.
    • It got worse with the Neverland arc at the beginning of season 3. While most like Peter Pan as a villain, some people tired of it quickly since it was essentially the same scenery (not to mention the eternal nighttime) every single episode. And, because the arc is more of a Character Study than plot-based, the action moves at a very slow pace through 9 whole episodes when it really could have taken half that long with less character-based detours. In any case, the cast finally returns to Storybrooke in the 10th episode of the season, so it's not as bad an example as it could have been - but that didn't stop it from becoming the go-to punchline for a large portion of the fandom.
    • The Frozen-based arc in Season 4 has also gotten these complaints, particularly once Executive Meddling added an additional episode onto it and greatly slowing the story's pace as a result. It was still considered enjoyable overall, but debatably outstayed its welcome some - as a corollary of this, the strong and improved ratings of the season premiere had dipped to one of their lowest points ever for the mid-season finale (starting, incidentally, with the earlier two-parter).
    • The Queens of Darkness arc which immediately followed got these complaints too. An entire episode dedicated to what Robin has been up to in New York slowed it down considerably and bringing Zelena back just made it worse. Then there's the fates of the Queens - Ursula is redeemed four episodes in, before the arc has even got going, Cruella gets killed off and Maleficent is anti-climactically reunited with her daughter.
    • The Dark Swan/Camelot arc looked to finally break the trend of overly long arcs - in fact, it drew the opposite criticism of being far too rushed. It's really too bad that the Underworld arc which immediately succeeded it got so much padding that it was compared unfavorably to the infamous Neverland arc.
  • Ascended Fanon: Since Season 2, a lot of fans speculated that if Rumpelstiltskin had stood up for himself and dueled Hook for Milah back in the day, Hook would have given Milah back and not run off with her. It wasn't until the mid-Season 5 episode "Broken Heart" that the writers finally turned fan speculation into canon by having Dark Hook admit that if Gold had actually fought him back in the day, he would have given him his wife back.
  • Ass Pull:
    • Many viewers thought it odd how accepting Marian was of Robin's relationship with Regina. That's because it's actually Zelena. She pulled a Kill and Replace on Marian to hitch a ride with Hook and Emma back to Storybrooke. This is Foreshadowed by her impersonating Ariel in "The Jolly Roger," with the six-leaf clover pendant finally providing the mechanism for how she accomplished this. However, it does make something of a mess of the show’s continuity even before the storyline started (one wonders why Robin never felt the need to explain he’d already encountered Zelena last season). And to top it off, Marian's actress had no idea she was actually supposed to be playing Zelena the whole season until she read the reveal in the script.
    • An even worse one in the Season 5 winter finale. Rumpelstiltskin somehow found a potion that would suck all the darkness from Excalibur into himself after it supposedly being destroyed. He does this purely to become the Dark One again. This was not foreshadowed at all and came across as a Shocking Swerve.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Toward the end of season 2, the crew got a lot of grief over Greg and Tamara's "anti-magic" gear, especially Tamara's taser incapacitating a wooden August. The season 3 premiere patches this up by revealing that unbeknownst to them, it all worked due to Peter Pan's magic.
    • The graphic novel "Shadow of the Queen" does this in regard to the issue of Regina raping the Huntsman/Graham, although she still did it at least one time in canon prior to the graphic novel's events.
    • Ursula got a lot of flak in season 4 for being noticeably different to her original appearance. It was eventually revealed that she was only named after the goddess who appeared earlier in the show.
    • The reveal that Marian has been Dead All Along and replaced by Zelena can be seen as this towards complaints of Regina and Robin sleeping together in 4A, while Marian was in a coma.
    • For that matter, the fact that Zelena isn't dead, thus nullifying her seemingly-easy defeat and death and explaining why the Snow Queen's curse on Marian came back.
    • Many viewers were furious how Gold went from being a Noble Demon to essentially being a caricature of himself in Season 4. Turns out his heart is being consumed by centuries of evil deeds to the point it would kill him, and also snuffing out what redeeming traits he had. It's up for debate how successful this went over.
    • After many fans criticized the Unfortunate Implications of Regina’s happy ending revolving entirely around Robin Hood, the last couple episodes of Season 4 show her realizing that having the right man is far from the only thing her happy ending should be.
    • Operation Mongoose seems like it was largely intended as a way for the writers to re-develop the Emma/Hook and Regina/Robin relationships, which were varying degrees of poorly developed the first time, in order to get more people behind them, probably based on the growing number of complaints that neither of them (especially Regina/Robin) make much sense. Regina and Robin were even developed in a much more condensed version of exactly how Snow and Charming were developed in season 1.
    • In general, the fifth season appears to be addressing several of the complaints fans have made about the series, particularly the previous season.
      • A number of complaints about Robin's Angst? What Angst? attitude towards Zelena killing and impersonating his wife and essentially raping him were addressed in Season 5 - where Robin angrily chews out Zelena for what she did, as well as expressing some conflict about whether he should be happy or not that he has another child on the way.
      • Leroy's speech to Mary Margaret in the premiere about being sick of sitting on the sidelines was essentially the character acting as a mouth piece about fans' complaints about how Storybrooke characters have been pushed to the background to show off guest characters, except for the Charming clan and friends. To cap it off Belle, Granny, Leroy and his dwarfs accompany the Charmings to help save Emma from the Darkness. But ultimately subverted as Granny and the dwarfs barely appear in the arc at all.
      • Snow and Charming fans had felt that they have been losing more screen time, been stuck holding the Idiot Ball too much to move the plot, and feared their relationship with Emma was becoming overshadowed by Emma's relationships with Regina and Hook. The fifth season started with the couple asserting they would save their daughter no matter what. When the episode does not focus on them, it still shows them worrying over how they can save Emma. When many fans groaned that David seemingly fell for Arthur's con, the next episode showed him and Snow come up with a plan to reveal Arthur's true nature because they realized they needed to do what was best for Emma, which went a long way in counteracting the actions they took in 4B, which many of their fans found out of character and selfish.
      • While each new season introduces a new story and set of characters from fairy tales/literature/movies, there has been a growing number of fans who feel the new elements took over the plot and stole focus away from the core cast. However, when the King Arthur and Brave stories became big parts of the fifth season, the focus has so far stayed on the core cast, with King Arthur and Brave characters being used to further the core cast's development.
      • Belle, who had been getting more and more Out of Focus and becoming more of a Satellite Love Interest to Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold as the series progressed, has been helping the rest of the cast save Emma, her budding friendship with Hook has given her another relationship outside of Gold for the first since probably Ruby, and she has so far been in most of the episodes in the fifth season, and actually had a speaking role in said episodes. And when her romance with Gold came back into the picture, she managed to hold her own with him as a character rather than just serve his purposes, making their relationship stronger than it has been in a long time, which is another saving throw for Rumbelle shippers.
      • "The Bear King" is mostly devoted to clearing up two infamous cases of What Happened to the Mouse? that the show had been suffering for a couple years, showing why Ruby disappeared and why Mulan wasn't with the Merry Men when they showed up again.
      • Likewise, the Season 5B premiere takes the opportunity to close a plot hole that had been dangling for almost the entire run of the show, revealing why Regina needed to rescue her father from Wonderland and got Jefferson trapped there.
      • "Labor of Love" takes on the long-standing fan complaint of the show inexplicably acting like "Mary Margaret" is Snow White's real name rather than just her identity under the Dark Curse, portraying her as feeling like that name belongs to a hero which she hasn't been in a while, and now takes up again.
      • "The Brothers Jones" wraps up another series-long plot hole: Henry didn't know the full story of the Evil Queen from the Once Upon a Time book because Regina had torn it out.
      • "Ruby Slippers" explains Toto's absence from the previous Oz flashbacks: in this version, Dorothy only got him after returning from her first trip there.
      • The Underworld arc on a whole returned Gold to his Anti-Villain roots, albeit darker than before (with justified reason, as he now had the darkness of all past Dark Ones inside him). The chief complaint against the character in the fourth season was that he lost moral complexity and became a more one-dimensional villain, while the Dark Swan arc got complaints of Gold becoming too heroic a bit too fast and easy for some. The Underworld arc found a compromise by having Gold commit villainous actions, but giving him the motivation of saving his and Belle's unborn child. This is much closer to his original characterization in the first two seasons where he had moral ambiguity that allowed him to act good or evil depending on the situation. He has also become very self-aware about himself, his power addiction, his relationship with Belle, and his refusal to change, which makes his villainy less frustrating since he's at least honest about it.
      • People complained that Rumple and Belle's relationship revolved around Belle going back to Rumple after showing he can change only to immediately prove he has done nothing of the sort. After finding out that Rumple had become the Dark One again she becomes much more forceful about her attempts to change him and will not even consider taking him back until he proves he can change permanently and not go back to his old ways.
      • After the 5A finale had every bit of closure for the Camelot story cut from it, the crew brought it back for the last few episodes of 5B. This is especially true for King Arthur, who got a much-desired Heel–Face Turn and indication that he's going to develop into more of his legendary self.
      • And the season finale features the biggest one of all. Ever since Season 2, fans had been complaining about Regina being a Karma Houdini with the show acting like her Heel–Face Turn meant she should no longer need to face any consequences for her evil acts. So in this episode, she uses a refined version of Dr. Jekyll's potion to separate her good and evil sides, meaning the Regina we're left with has a clean slate, with the Evil Queen also still being around to face that punishment.
      • The finale also addresses the other aspect of Regina's character people don't like; the fact Regina shows no real regret for her past actions. Most of her character arc in the finale revolves around the fact that she does regret been the Evil Queen and wants to be rid of her baggage, and that her lack of regret before this was more a case of her repressing it because it was too painful otherwise, but Robin's death brought it all out once she realized the full extent of her bad karma (which she believes is the reason for all her misfortune after her Heel–Face Turn.
    • Fans were hugely upset over how Robin Hood became Deader Than Dead while in the same episode, Hook was revived through a literal Deus ex Machina. In an interview afterwords, the Word of God stated that they choose to believe that Hades was lying about what the Olympian Crystal does to your soul and that Robin Hood is in the better place now hinting he wasn't truly Deader Than Dead. The premiere of Series 6 has Henry and Regina decide to believe the same thing.
    • Season 6 continues what Season 5 started with regards to Rumpbelle. When Rumple tries to wake her from the Sleeping Curse in "The Saviour", the events turn out to be a Secret Test of Character set up by Morpheus, who is actually their unborn child, to ensure Belle would not go back to Rumple. Belle decides to end her relationship with Rumple permanently.
    • "I'll Be Your Mirror" addresses a long-standing fan complaint regarding the Anti-Climax Boss / They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character nature of The Dragon. He is not only revealed to have survived, but he finally transforms into his dragon form. It's every bit as awesome as fans knew it would be, by-and-large averting Special Effect Failure.
  • Badass Decay:
    • There was an abundance of fan complaints about Snow White undergoing this. Snow White started out as an intelligent, snarky, determined bandit/warrior princess, but many have complained that she has turned into the standard Incorruptible Pure Pureness Princess Classic. She has been heavily criticized for being on the sidelines of combat, giving up on some things, and it is often said that she Took a Level in Dumbass to the point where she can't figure out that a strange woman wearing a large emerald broach, black cloak and black hat who is inserting herself into her life is the Wicked Witch of the West that everyone's on the lookout for. However, it might be a Justified Trope as she was coerced into joining the sidelines because of safety issues during her pregnancy, and a few weeks after the birth of her baby, she was already showing bits of badassery.
    • In Ursula's first appearance, she was a literal goddess who was able to terrify Regina at her most powerful. Upon taking a larger role in Season 4, she inexplicably needs to team up with Maleficent and Cruella De Vil. Ultimately justified as this Ursula was only named after the goddess.
    • Rumplestiltskin whenever Zelena is around. In Season 3, Zelena negates his Dying Moment of Awesome by bringing him back to life and making him his slave. He kills her when he gets the dagger back though... except he doesn't; it turns out in Season 4 that she was faking it all along, and then blackmails him into being her slave again.
    • After becoming half of an Official Couple with Emma during the Season 3 finale, Hook is arguably undergoing shades of this. During Season 4 his primary purpose is going on coffee runs for Emma, babysitting Henry in a pinch, serving as a foil to both Emma and Charming, serving as Rumple's puppet, and getting his Alternate Universe self killed at the hands of Charming, of all people. Having someone to love can make a character much more compassionate, gentle, and nurturing - but there comes a point where those traits go too far and the things which made you appealing to fans in the first place go by the wayside. Fixed in Season 5, first with him as the Dark One, and then later doing a lot of impressive heroic acts in the Underworld, and in the season finale actually getting to stab someone (Mr. Hyde) with his hook for the first time in ages, saving Jekyll's life in the process.
  • Billing Displacement:
    • 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 (9 in all, sometimes briefly and in one episode only as a Voice Actor). He's demoted in Season 2.
    • In Season 2, there are 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. This is most notable with Meghan Ory, who plays Red/Ruby, whose character was promoted to main cast for the second series, but after completing a major backstory arc mid-season is reduced to cameo appearances in occasional episodes thereafter and ultimately disappears from the series, without fanfare, several episodes prior to the season finale. Despite this, Ory remains credited among the main cast to the end of the season; in real life, the writers wrote Red/Ruby out of the series in part, according to interviews with Ory, due to them deciding to focus on other characters and in part due to Ory being cast in another series.
    • Season 3 has Michael Raymond-James (Neal). After the first half, his appearances became significantly more scarce, culminating in his character's death, and yet he remained part of the main cast all the way to the end of the season.
    • Michael Socha in Season 4. Though he appears in just barely enough episodes to qualify putting his name in the credits, his screentime is drastically limited to the point that Emilie de Ravin looks downright punctual by comparison. Will has no storyline of his own, almost no role in anybody else's storyline whatsoever, no centric episodes, and even the barest minimum role in the long-awaited flashback episode for Robin Hood, the character most directly tied to his backstory.
    • Sean Maguire in Season 5, particularly 5B where Robin Hood barely showed up or had any lines. And just like Neal, he died. He is also the only person credited as a main cast member to not get a centric episode or character arc in either half of the season.
    • Emile De Raven spends most of Season 5b not appearing or under a Sleeping Curse. There is a reason though; she was pregnant.
  • Broken Base: There are so many things dividing the fandom, it now has its own page here.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal:
    • Let us just say that by the time it is finally revealed that Baelfire is Henry's father, there were not really many people that would have been surprised. It is compensated because of how the episode relied less on the plot twist and more on the emotional level.
    • ABC's/Eddie and Adam's marketing of the show run into this a lot. The promos for "The Queen of Hearts" tried to build mystery around the identity of the title character, but this was seven episodes after we saw Regina shove Cora through the looking glass and into Wonderland. Same with the promotion of "The Miller's Daughter" where a tweet said that the episode would feature a couple that the audience would never think of in a million years. As it turned out the couple in question was Cora and Rumplestiltskin whom we'd already seen kiss on screen some time earlier.
    • As of season 4, the reveal that the Snow Queen was Emma's adopted mother has been circulated around the net ever since their first scene together.
    • Maleficient's long lost child being Emma's childhood friend Lily was guessed a long time before the reveal. Not helping with one of the leaked titles.
    • Arthur was so obviously the mysterious knight who killed Merida's father that the show resorts to pulling some sleight of hand with him still looking for the magic helmet that knight took from Fergus' body (because he wasn't actually wearing that helmet at the time).
    • The amount of time spent building up to the reveal that Nimue was the first Dark One was jarring when a number of fans had figured it out so long ago that a lot them had forgotten it wasn't already canon. Of course, anyone who remembered their Mort d'Arthur could see it coming the minute her name appeared. You can't get much more canon than Malory.
    • The death of Robin Hood was meant to be shocking and unexpected, but on-set photos taken by fans made it incredibly obvious as to what his fate would be. It got to the point that Eddie and Adam had to do damage control and debunk rumors about Sean Maguire departing the show - even though the rumors turned out to be true.
  • Cargo Ship: Hook/The Floor is liked by some, due to his tendency to get beat up in the latter half of Season 2 (though in his defense, it was either facing someone with magic or just not mindful of his surroundings than sheer incompetence).
  • Complexity Addiction: Rumpelstiltskin seems to have this, as over time many other ways to travel to our world had appeared, some down right easier and much more foolproof than casting a curse which require years of planning and several Batman Gambit, to complete. Season 2 adds in a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy probably in an attempt to counteract this - ie. Rumpelstiltskin's visions saw him getting to the Land Without Magic via the Dark Curse, so he pursued that option despite others being available.
  • Complete Monster: Peter Pan is the amoral, self-centered, sociopathic boy of the original tale taken Up to Eleven and stripped of any redeeming qualities. Pan is a demon who sends his shadow to take children away from their homes and families to Neverland and once there, they are made his servants who are never permitted to leave. All who try to leave he has the shadow kill by taking out their souls. He has an extreme Lack of Empathy for anyone who isn't himself, only thinks about his own interests above all else, and delights in torturing and destroying others, mentally and physically, because it amuses him. Since he was dying along with Neverland's magic, his ultimate plan that was decades in the making was to absorb the heart of the child who is the truest believer in magic, so that he can become all-powerful and immortal, while the child dies in his place. That said child is Henry Mills, his own great-grandson. Pan is in truth Malcolm, a cravenly, negligent Psychopathic Manchild who abandoned his son Rumpelstiltskin for the power of eternal youth. Unlike most villains on the show, Pan does not value family, as he emotionally abused and resented his son from day one since he hates the responsibilities of adulthood. To Pan, a baby is a "pink, naked, squirming little larva who eats away at his hopes and dreams." He even places more value and so-called love on his Psycho Supporter Felix, whom he kills without hesitation when it's needed to complete a curse, than he does for his own child and ultimately tries to kill his family just because he knows how much they mean to Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: To a degree. Don't even think about going into season 2 without watching the last 2 episodes of season 1, and the Story Arc of Kathryn's kidnapping means you need to at least see episode 13 to make sense of what's going on in the real world in season 1. The Loads and Loads of Characters present don't help at ALL, though since they're based on the Disney/fairy tales we all know, at the least, we can understand who's doing what. Still, since they love to pull twists on the tales, this starts building up after a while.
    • Season 4A leans far more heavily on the canon of its source material than usual, meaning you'll have quite a hard time if you haven't seen Frozen.
    • Season 4B brings up plot points not seen or had relevance since Season 2 (August and the Storybook).
    • During Season 5, the writers revealed that they had a giant wall reserved for cataloguing the tangled backstories of the various characters, and even then things had gotten so complicated that it often doesn't help. Case in point, the Season 5B premiere features the backstory to an event all the way back in Season 1 that many fans had long since forgotten about.
  • Counterpart Comparison:
    • A lot of fans had noted that the blonde Emma is The Hero, Deadpan Snarker and out of line with the old ways, where Killian is the British monster who had caused chaos for so long before falling for Emma and sincerely wants to reform. Or are some of the same writers echoing Buffy and Spike?
    • This series has a lot of similarities to The Sisters Grimm.
      • A small town in New England is revealed to be the home of fairytale characters, which was created after a magical being cast a magic spell that created a barrier around the town so the inhabitants could never leave.
      • The heroine is a blonde girl. After her parents were put under a magic spell by the Big Bad, the heroine believed her parents to have abandoned her and went through several bad foster homes, giving her a rather cynical outlook on life. When she is brought to the magic town, she refuses to believe to believe in magic or that anything strange is going on, despite several different characters repeatedly insisting it is real. She continues to stay in denial about it all until she is forcibly confronted with it when her family is put in danger. Initially, she is not at all happy with the strangeness that her life now entails and tries to pull a Refusal of the Call. It takes a while, but she eventually comes to accept it, and rises up to fulfill her destiny.
      • The deuteragonist is a young child with brunette hair, who is the only one who believes in the magic going on around them, and who acts as a Morality Pet to the hero.
      • The heroines main love interest is a Anti-Villain, who throughout the course of the series becomes good. Both of them even pull a surprise kiss on the heroine. Also, both of the heroines must perform True Love's Kiss to save their love interest.
      • A close ally of the heroine is Snow White, who works an elementary school teacher.
      • Beauty and the Beast's relationship in the ninth book is very similar to Belle and Rumplestiltskin's in later seasons.
      • At one point, a infant boy related to the heroine is kidnapped, and the heroine has to rescue him.
      • New York City is the heroine's second home.
      • The heroine's parents were put under a magic spell by an evil being, causing the heroine to think they have abandoned her, and went through many bad homes in the foster system as a result. Later, the heroine and deuteragonist must work to save the heroines parents from a magic spell.
      • The heroine refuses to believe in magic, despite all the evidence to the contrary, until a member of her family is put in danger by magic, and she must save them.
  • Crack Ship:
    • Subverted by the context of the show, but try telling someone who's never watched an episode that Rumplestiltskin and Belle are a couple and you will get weird looks.
    • Snow White and Victor Frankenstein definitely count.
    • "In the Name of the Brother" shows that Red Riding Hood and Victor Frankenstein are also a possibility.
    • Before Rumpelstiltskin was with Belle, he was going to run off with the Queen of Hearts/the Miller's Daughter, and his son has had a child with the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.
    • Prince Charming has been engaged to the daughter of Midas.
    • Tinkerbell is trying to get the Evil Queen and Robin Hood together because they're soul mates.
    • Based on their interactions in the mid-season 3 finale and the fact that they met in Neverland way back when, Tinkerbell and Captain Hook may have had something going on.
    • And Emma with a flying monkey/the Wizard of Oz and then Captain Hook beats them all.
    • Probably one-sided, but Mulan and Aurora. There is a Disney Princess out there who's in love with another Disney princess.
    • As of Season 4b: Belle and Will Scarlet, who have never even been on-screen at the same time up until their out-of-the-blue kiss.
  • Creator's Pet: The major "villain" characters on the show have all had this accusation thrown at them.
    • The producers have openly stated that Regina is by far their favorite character, and their first question about literally any plot idea from the writing staff is "How can we make it about Regina?" This really started to be a problem around Season 3 when the show started treating Regina as a hero, which made her seem like an Easily Forgiven Karma Houdini to many fans. And it got even worse in Season 4 where she wanted to force the Author to write her a new happy ending. And with the 100th episode in Season 5 it's taken Up to Eleven: you would expect the 100th episode to star the main character (Emma), but nope, it's Regina. The finale does go some way into addressing fan concerns though.
    • Hook has been accused of this because, due to his position as Emma's official love interest, he has gained a more prominent role in the stories than Henry, Snow, or Charming. In Season 5, every main character, including several who have no motivation to do so, choose to risk traveling into the Underworld to bring him back to life, contradicting the previously established rule that the dead cannot be resurrected. Not helping matters is that the resolution to that plot ended with a literal Deus ex Machina that revives him which occurs in an episode that kills Robin permanently and in a way that prevents revival. This occurred after it looked like Hook would stay dead. Love him or hate him, there's little doubt that Hook has received much more preferential treatment from the writers than just about any of the other men in Emma's life, be they former lovers (Neal) or potential love interests (Graham and August).
    • Finally, there's Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold, who some fans feel has long worn out his welcome by the fifth season and should be considered irredeemable at this point, but who not only continues to stay on the show and in important roles, but more often than not seems to get off scot-free for all of his evil deeds, if not flat-out rewarded with even MORE power.
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Dark Emma in Season 5.
    • Season 6 brings us Mr. Hyde, who is terrifying and badass. He doesn't last long.
  • Critical Dissonance: It's one of ABC's most successful shows right now despite, for example, The AV Club regarding it as mediocre at best.
  • Critical Research Failure: Hades makes a big deal about Zeus being his older brother. Anyone who is familiar with Greek mythology, however, will immediately point out that the opposite is true: Hades was the eldest son of Cronus and Rhea, while Zeus was the youngest.
    • Zeus is also often seen as the eldest because the other Olympians had to re-emerge from Cronus's stomach.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Both Supernatural and Once Upon a Time's most recent season finales have ended in the reveal that some evil force known as "The darkness" existed long before the start of their respective narratives and has been re-released back into the world after being bonded to an individual via a magical blade.
  • Designated Villain: Medusa, a recurring theme for her character. In "The New Neverland" Snow and Charming's decision to kill her has nothing to do with her, but merely a way to fight Regina. Alternatively, it made for an interesting honeymoon. We never see her do anything to innocent people, she's only ever fighting people who are actively trying to kill her.
  • Die for Our Ship: While most of the Sleeping Warrior fandom is mostly neutral (if a bit disgruntled) towards Phillip, there are others that actively wish he would die or go back into a coma to make way for their ship.
    • The Swan Queen fandom can be horribly nasty to Hook and Robin.
    • Some people in the Ship-to-Ship Combat between SwanFire and Captain Swan wish this upon respectively Hook or Neal. Though when one of them DID die - Neal - most of the fighting stopped... except for some fans who did believe than it was because of this trope.
    • It's also happened among certain parts of the Outlaw Queen fandom with Marian's return.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Rumplestiltskin is getting this. It was inevitable, really. He also actually wears leather pants.
    • Regina gets this as well. Mainly because despite all the awful, unforgivable things the Queen has done, Lana Parrilla can make a face like a kicked puppy dog, and lately had scenes revealing she always felt she had some reason to do so. Even she wears leather pants. It's notable that the WMG on this site's first two Regina entries are about one of her first big on-screen Kick the Dog moments (raping Graham) and rationalizing how she's not to blame (either theorizing that she didn't actually do it, or that she did it without realizing what he was doing).
    • Killian Jones (AKA Captain Hook) is something of a hot Jerkass with a dead girlfriend. His main motivation is revenge against a villain and he occasionally goes out of his way to minimize collateral damage (Like when he saved Aurora's heart). Other times, not so much, like shooting Belle (thus ensuring she'd lose her memory), taking out Aurora's heart while she was unconscious and helping to trap Emma and her friends in Rumplestilskin's cell. And he wears leather pants. Yeah...
    • Believe it or not, even Cora got this treatment eventually. Especially after "The Miller's Daughter", complete with Ron the Death Eater towards Queen Eva and Snow.
    • The trend has mostly been subverted with Peter Pan, who has received a large amount of adoring fangirls who love him because he's such an unapologetically evil little shit and they embrace this rather than try to excuse all of his sins. However, there are still a minority of fans who do attempt to justify or woobify him, despite all evidence to the contrary.
    • Subverted with Zelena the Wicked Witch of the West, as well. Although her past is tragic, she acts in a very bratty way and takes it out on people who really had nothing to do with how her life turned out.
    • Also subverted, in a different way, with the Snow Queen. She is very beloved, but the majority of her fans (and the character herself in the end) make peace with the fact that her woobie backstory didn't justify her evil deeds and that her Redemption Equals Death was necessary for everyone, including her.
  • Dull Surprise: Emma. Henry, to some extent, too. Must run in the family.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Ruby and Archie seem to be getting this treatment.
    • Dr. Whale, who was popular as a character even before it was learned that he was Victor Frankenstein.
    • Jefferson/Mad Hatter was definitely something of a hit, and many hope to see him return in the spin-off. (When that show was in the planning stages Edward Katsis was quick to reassure people that they had no intention of recasting the part and The Mad Hatter would only show up if and when Sebastian Stan was available, as so many people liked his performance.)
    • Belle especially. She only appeared in 3 episodes in the first season, but was popular enough to be upgraded to regular in the second.
    • Season 2 brings us Mulan and Aurora.
    • Season 3 gives us Tinker Bell, for both having a heart of gold and being a Fairy Sexy. Being the Woobie also helps. Also we have Ariel, and the REAL Ursula, who many fans hope is heard from again.
    • With just a single scene at the tail end of season three, Elsa the Snow Queen from Disney's Frozen already has fans salivating. Several have even said they were on the verge of quitting the show until they saw she had been added to it. When season four began, it fully lived up to the hype thanks to Georgiana Hale's look and performance.
    • Sven the reindeer, thanks to being played by an amazing animal actor who perfectly captures the character's silent Deadpan Snarker nature. Kristoff is very well-liked to for his own humorous nature, especially when playing off of Sven.
    • The Snow Queen, who many are calling the show's most successful of its numerous attempts at making a tragic villain. Elizabeth Mitchell's powerhouse performance — possibly the most nuanced a recurring villain has ever given on the show — helps tremendously.
    • Also, while she's kind of a Base-Breaking Character among mainstream audiences, critics of all people seemed to absolutely adore Anna, with Elizabeth Lail's portrayal being hailed for capturing the essence of the character so perfectly. Many considered her one of the best things the Frozen-based Story Arc of Season 4 had to offer besides the Snow Queen, and seemed even more invested in her than they were in Elsa (a turnabout from opinions regarding the movie).
    • Cruella was originally dismissed by most fans, after being announced alongside Maleficent and Ursula. Then her first appearance has her out-snark Rumplestiltskin...
    • Maleficent graduated from One-Scene Wonder to this after she came back in Season 4. Fans love her for being snarky, an utter badass, and terrifying. The fact that she occasionally turns into a dragon doesn't hurt either.
    • Fans absolutely fell in love with Lily after her one appearance in "Breaking Glass", immediately suspecting that she had to be an Enchanted Forest character - just so they could have her on the show. However reactions to her new actressnote  has been mixed.
    • Merlin seems to be this in Season 5, for the actor portraying him possessing both genuine presence and smoking good looks.
  • Estrogen Brigade: Lana Parrilla, aka Regina Mills, has an absolutely thriving fanbase known as the Evil Regals, in a rare occasion of an actress (as opposed to actor) getting one of these.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • The Evil Queen. It's also notable that in the Fairy Land flashbacks, the more overtly evil she's being, in general, the more plunging her neckline. Before her husband's death, she is shown dressing demurely; by the time the curse is made, she appears to have a wardrobe consisting entirely of corsets. It doesn't go away as Madame Mayor; never has business chic looked so good.
    • The Blind Witch, with her impressive cleavage and the orgasmic sounds she makes when after food.
    • Killian Jones. It's very easy to forget what a Jerkass he is because he's so damn pretty. Captain Hook? More like Captain Hunk!
    • Cora could be considered to bridge this and Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have. Consider that she was portrayed by Rose McGowan in flashbacks.
    • Robbie Kay as Peter Pan and Rebecca Mader as Zelena in Season 3.
    • The Ice Queen (all right, the Snow Queen) as portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell in Season 4. Cold has never looked so hot.
    • Dark Swan. Emma wasn't exactly ugly before, but the Dark One version of her dresses entirely in tight black leather and speaks in a low, deep, even voice that borders on Audio Erotica.
    • This poll asked fans who the hottest male cast member is. The two most popular answers were Mr. Gold and Hook.
    • Mr. Hyde is played by Sam Witwer, who is listed as Mr. Fanservice on his own page.
      • And the final winner was Mr. Gold, who beat Hook with 37.58% of the vote (25,885 votes) to Hook's 33.21% (22,874 votes).
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Regina, who has a good bit of the fun on the show.
    • Gold-as-Rumple can be very charismatic at times, not hurt by his Deal with the Devil-based personality.
    • Mr. Hyde is a scary Badass in a Nice Suit, whose mannerisms and voice only help his aspects.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Season Five created one between Outlaw Queen shippers and Captain Swan shippers due to how Robin ended up dying while Hook was revived from the dead through a literal Deus ex Machina. Let's just leave it like that.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Although finding other options to stop evildoers is possible, sometimes a darker choice must be made. Unfortunately I Did What I Had to Do does not excuse one from the consequences - Snow's guilt over murdering Cora is the prime example. Even if you do an evil thing for good intentions, you still have to live with it.
  • Fan Fic Fuel: By Season 4, it's established that there are multiple worlds all following different story-telling settings and ideas (IE, Fairy tales in the Enchanted Forest, Peter Pan in Neverland, a black-and-white horror film universe, an ambiguously set 1920s London-based world, and so on and so-forth), with even the 'World Without Magic' evidently just another one of these 'story setting worlds'; essentially, anything Disney owns the copyright for could end up as another world that could crossover. Crossover fics have in-universe justification. Hell, given the network that produces the show currently produces two other shows based in it, as well as the constant references to the comics, Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover fics are almost encouraged.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Come Season 2 there has been a lot of support for the Emma/Hook pairing. It eventually did become canon and remains beloved to this day.
    • Mulan and Aurora, especially with their Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic. More than a few viewers would love to see their Les Yay get a full upgrade, and Fan Fiction.net has more Romance genre fics featuring the two of them than fics shipping Aurora/Phillip and in every single couple poll they have absolutely clobbered Aurora/Phillip. (The fact that Phillip has gotten no real focus and is still essentially a bit character doesn't help.)
      • Good news: It's been upgraded. Bad news: It seems Mulan's on the wrong end of Aurora having Incompatible Orientation, with her reveal that she is pregnant with Phillip's child.
    • After exactly one scene, there's already a following for "Frankenwolf"—Ruby/Red Riding Hood and Dr. Frankenstein. Then again, Dr. Whale's very first scene had him ogling Ruby, so...
    • Regina/Emma, though not officially a canon pairing, is still one of the most popular pairings for the show along with Rumplestiltskin and Belle.
    • Beauty or Ruby/Belle is the most popular Belle ship not with Rumplestiltskin, and one of the most popular Ruby ships. Some of the people who ship it do direct comparisons to the canon Belle/Rumplestiltskin and their take on the Beauty and the Beast story.
  • Fanon:
    • Mr. Gold's first name (if he has one) is never revealed, but it's not uncommon for "Robert Gold" to be used in fanworks, likely after his actor. Another common fanwork name is "Adam", after the (unofficial, unspoken, probably non-canon) name of the Prince in Disney's version of Beauty and the Beast, from which the show takes a lot of cues.
    • In a highly divided fandom, one thing almost everyone agrees on is that the Blue Fairy is evil or at least has some hidden agenda. These fans theorize that Blue could see the future much like Rumple when she gave Bae the bean, meaning she deliberately set in motion the events that led to the casting of the Dark Curse. She also broke up Dreamy and Nova, turned August back into a child, preventing him from telling the town about Greg and Tamara, and kept Tinker Bell from helping Regina during her unhappy marriage.]
  • Fans Prefer the New Her: Regina looks very good in her bandit outfit in the Season 4 finale. Despite it being a symbol that she's been living rough in the woods and will be left pining for unrequited love.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: The Wicked Queen's outfits are flamboyant at best. Some look fine. Others just look plain silly.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Jefferson is clearly pretty into Emma, but it's one-sided aside from one brief scene where she turns out to be lulling him into a false sense of security before giving him a Tap on the Head.
    • Regina and Gold, particularly in "We Are Both".
    • Regina and Jefferson (sort of).
    • Rumplestiltskin and Captain Hook. Not many people call the guy screwing their wife "dearie".
    • Emma and Hook in Season two, complete with innuendo filled fight scenes and near constant flirting. She makes out with him by Season three.
    • Squickily enough, Peter Pan's interactions with Emma seem to have shades of this, in a weird sort of villainous Precocious Crush. Which becomes even more squicky when we learn that Pan is Rumple's de-aged father.
    • Peter Pan was practically on top of Captain Hook in "Good Form", even saying "I think this is the best time to restart our relationship."
    • Emma and Regina do get awfully close when yelling at each other, and have a few brief moments of comradery that are particularly eyebrow raising. And with lines like "How to get the saviour to taste my forbidden fruit?" you can see where the shippers are coming from.
    • Squickily enough, considering the rape implications, Zelena and Gold. She keeps him locked up and gets way too close to him.
    • David and King Arthur, particularly in "Siege Perilous".
    • On a related note, Hook and Arthur, considering that as soon as she sees them together at the Underworld diner, the Blind Witch offers them a "table for two", and when they come back again later she says she knew she'd see them again because they "had a bromance thing going."
  • Genius Bonus:
    • In season 4, the books Regina pours over to find a counterspell for Maid Marian's illness contain both the Tree of Life and John Dee's seven-pointed star, two potent symbols that heavily featured in Renaissance magic.
    • Hades is depicted here as an opulent, sharp-dressed businessman with a taste for the finer things. The Roman equivalent of Hades, Pluto, is also the god of wealth: his domain is the Underworld, and that includes the things like gems and precious metals that can be found underground. He literally has all the money.

     H - O 
  • Ham and Cheese: Robert Carlyle can be argued as being the best thing about the show, for taking full advantage of the show's cheesy script.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In "The Price of Gold", Mr. Gold mentions to Emma that no one wants to see Ashley's baby born in jail. "True North" reveals that Emma gave birth to Henry in jail.
    • In "Storybrooke", David/Prince Charming left his wife for Mary Margaret/Snow White. In the real world, David's actor Josh Dallas divorced his wife around the same time he started dating Mary Margaret's actress Ginnifer Goodwin. (Though to be fair, his now ex-wife had already been seen in public with a new paramour by that time, so it's more of a case of freak timing.)
    • "I just didn't want you to lose your mother... like I lost mine." It was an angsty line in an angsty episode to begin with. As of "The Miller's Daughter", it's just painful.
    • After the revelation that Pan is Rumpelstiltskin's father, every time Pan taunted Rumple becomes even worse.
      • Likewise, Rumple's regret at abandoning Bae becomes even worse given how much it mirrors the way Malcolm abandoned him, magic bean and all.
      Neal: Every night, the last thing I see before sleep, is an image of you and me on that pit and your hand over mine. Then you open your grip. The last thing I see as I fall away is the look on your face, choosing all this... crap over me.
    • After "Quiet Minds", Emma's fake story on how Henry's father died as a hero in "True North".
    • In "Quite a Common Fairy", one of Tinker Bell's comments to Regina regarding the latter's reluctance to pursue Robin Hood is "You didn't just ruin your life. You ruined his." The season 3 finale then reveals she had already ruined his life by having Maid Marian executed. Karma comes back around on her as Emma saves Marian during her trip to the past.
    • In "Bleeding Through" we discover not only that Cora additionally hates Eva because she was the one who revealed her out-of-wedlock pregnancy (Zelena) to Leopold, thus preventing their marriage, but that the man who got her pregnant was a poor gardener pretending to be a prince just so he could get laid, who then blackmailed her for riches when he found out about her impending wedding. While this doesn't excuse her actions, it is suddenly completely understandable why Cora would later abhor the idea of Regina falling in love with a poor, simple stable boy in Daniel...
    • Pan mercilessly mocks Rumpelstiltskin over the fact that he's afraid of being abandoned and that he deserved to be abandoned by his own father. Once we discover the identity of Rumpel's father four episodes later, this becomes such an enormous Kick the Dog moment that it erases all doubt that Pan is a complete bastard. In fact everything Pan and Rumple say to each other has so much more meaning (and is so much more painful) once you know the truth of their relationship.
    • Neal telling his dad that he can't be trusted because no matter how hard he tries to be good he'll end up slipping back into his old ways turns out to be completely validate in Season Four.
    • Rumple being so sure his son was dead and lost to him forever becomes this as well, after what Zelena tricks Neal into doing and what Rumple is forced to do, both afterward and in Storybrooke.
    • In "The Thing You Love Most", Regina taunts her friend Maleficient: "Love Is a Weakness, Maleficent. I thought you knew that". It turns out that Maleficent was pregnant at time and keeping her daughter safe was one of the reasons she didn't want to give the Dark Curse.
    • In "The Price", Robin Hood nearly dies and also is almost take away by the Fury. In "Last Rites" he actually does die, and it's for the same reason: to save Regina's life.
    • "The Brothers Jones" has Regina mention that the hardest thing to do is forgive yourself. The finale reveals she has not forgiven herself for her actions as the Evil Queen.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks: Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker, while not completely giving Once Upon a Time a terrible score, didn't exactly give it praise with its pilot episode. So when even people who watched it with low expectations wound up loving the show, everyone reading his opinion piece ripped him a new one. A possible subversion, given that some of Ken's attackers already loathe him for numerous reasons, and used this as yet another reason to call him a grumpy dinosaur (despite his surprisingly wide tastes in TV).
  • He's Just Hiding:
    • Some fans think the Hong Kong Dragon went down way too easy, especially after he was being built up as a dangerous magical force to be reckoned with. As such, some like to believe he was either Playing Possum, or somehow fled his body to possess another one. Season 5 goes on to reveal that the Dragon did in fact survive and has since relocated to New York City. The only explanation he gives for him not being dead is that he's "resilient".
    • Oh, come on. How many people really thought that Rumplestiltskin was really dead for good after the events of Season 3's winter finale?
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Jennifer Morrison, who plays Emma, was also James T. Kirk's mother in Star Trek and named him after her father. Prince Charming is Emma's father and his name is James. So yes, James T. Kirk was in fact named after his grandfather. (Although "Tiny" reveals that his real name is David, but he was forced to adopt the name James.)
      • Another layer is added when Into the Woods came out, because that film's Prince Charming is played by Chris Pine... who played Kirk in Star Trek. In other words, Prince Charming's grandson is also Prince Charming.
    • Even more hilarious? Josh Dallas (Charming) was previously Fandral the Dashing in Thor, and Chris Hemsworth in Thor was George Kirk in Star Trek. In other words, at one point, Fandral's daughter married Thor.
    • Wasn't Emma's actress dating Bucky/The Mad Hatter?
    • When she first becomes a deputy, Emma refuses to wear a tie. Here's the outfit Jennifer Morrison wore to PaleyFest 2012.
    • Emma tells Henry in season 1 that his father, Emma's ex Neal Cassidy aka Baelfire was a firefighter. Come fall 2012, Jennifer's ex-fiancè Jesse Spencer plays the leading man in the firefighter drama Chicago Fire. Also hilarious that she says he was a firefighter when his real name has Fire in it.
      • It gets even better: one of the firefighters in Chicago Fire is a young man named Peter Mills, whose father was also a firefighter and died in the line of duty. The father's name is revealed to be Henry.
    • Dr. Whale led an angry mob to Regina's house in the second season premiere. This becomes funny once it's revealed that he's really Dr. Frankenstein.
    • Particularly when one considers that as Frankenstein, his whole motivation was to defeat death, when David Anders' previous well-known role was an immortal.
    • Robert Carlyle once starred in a movie entitled Once Upon a Time in the Midlands.
    • Wouldn't be the first time Raphael Sbarge has been the self appointed voice of conscience for Dark Lords (or Dark Ladies) and Shepards.
    • In Beauty and the Beast, Belle sings "Here's where she meets Prince Charming but she won't discover that it's him 'til chapter three." In the show, Snow first meets Charming but doesn't discover who he is until later. And that was in episode 3.
    • Robbie Kay, who plays Peter Pan, previously starred in the film version of Ways to Live Forever. And the book his teacher gives him for inspiration is Peter Pan.
    • Jamie Dornan, who played Graham, Storybrooke sheriff and the Evil Queen's sex slave/rape victim in the first 7 episodes of season 1 has been cast as Christian Grey, a freak who sexually abuses a willing stupid girl.
    • Also, he was the Huntsman and his next TV role is also a hunter; the only thing different is his choice of prey. He's a rapist serial killer.
    • A lot of characters affectionately refer to Baelfire as "Bae". Fast forward to 2014 when 'bae' is now an internet slang term, a shorthand of the word 'babe'.
    • The fact many have compared Walsh's line to Emma when he reveals his true nature to Hans doing the same thing to Anna becomes this, considering Elsa's appearance at the end of the season.
    • In the original pilot sold to ABC, Emma name was "Anna." Guess who just joined the cast.
    • Aurora here is played by Irish actress Sarah Bolger, and speaks with an American accent. In the 2014 film Maleficent, Aurora is played by American actress Elle Fanning, who speaks with a Scottish accent.
    • Jennifer Morrison did a guest arc on How I Met Your Mother as one of Ted's love interests who happens to be partnered with a man who dubs himself a Captain. Emma's Second Love is a Captain.
    • Josh Dallas' #RabbitStew hashtag in relation to Snow becomes even funnier when you consider that Ginnifer Goodwin voiced a rabbit in another Disney work.
    • Anna (played by Elizabeth Lail) and Ingrid (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) are niece and aunt in season 4A and Ingrid has no qualms about killing her if need be. In Kitsis & Horowitz's new show for Freeform, Dead Of Summer, Anna more than returns the favor.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient:
    • First raised with the death of Sheriff Graham in the 7th episode, and then in the first season finale where the curse is broken.
    • Raised significantly in the Season 2 premiere. How do you still have a show after the first season's ending? The answer: Trapping Emma and Snow White in the Enchanted Forest.
    • The Season 2 finale has this as well, with Henry being taken to Neverland and Hook, Emma, Regina, Rumplestiltskin, Snow, and Charming boarding Hook's ship to save him. And Peter Pan is the new Big Bad. Don't think anybody could have seen that coming.
    • And who could have seen this one coming? Peter Pan is Rumple's de-aged father! And Henry rips out his own heart!
    • The Season 3 Winter Finale ends with Rumplestiltskin pulling a murder/suicide on Peter Pan, everyone but Emma and Henry returning to The Enchanted Forest and Emma and Henry losing their memories.
    • Where is Neal? He's been absorbed by his father Rumplestiltskin. And then he DIES.
    • The very end of the Season 3 finale features none other than Elsa from Frozen arriving in Storybrooke!
    • In Season 4's The Apprentice Rumpel and Hook trap Mickey Mouse in his own sorceror's hat!
    • At the very end of Operation Mongoose, the Apprentice uses the hat to suck the darkness out of Rumple's heart, but it pin points Regina as its new target. Emma, reasoning that the Darkness has to be tethered to a person just as the Apprentice has told them, sacrifices herself to save the town from being consumed by the Darkness and becomes the Dark One herself!
    • Heading into the mid-season finale of Season 5: not only is Hook a second Dark One, but he enacted the Dark Curse to get back to Storybrooke so he could kill Gold. How did he get around the price of having to crush the heart of the thing he loved most (since contrary to his protests he does still love Emma on some level, and also she's obviously still alive)? Using Loophole Abuse, he takes and crushes Merlin's heart, since Nimue still loves him and she is technically alive inside him. As if that isn't enough, he uses the blood he got from Gold (the blood of a man who has been to Hell and back, something that's both literally and figuratively true of him) to open a portal to the Underworld and bring all the Dark Ones back in the flesh. Ultimately, he redeems himself - by absorbing the darkness from every Dark One that has ever existed before having Emma stab him with Excalibur, KILLING HIM. As if that wasn't crazy enough, it turns out that Rumple funneled the darkness Hook absorbed into himself, effectively rendering his sacrifice completely pointless.
    • For Season 5b finale, the Evil Queen returns as an Enemy Without; and Hyde is the new villain. Also every storybook character from the stories that aren't in the main storybook are revealed to exist in the Land of Untold Stories and will now be coming to Storybrooke, either for revenge or to get their own stories and happy endings.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Hook and Charming, come Season 3.
    • Less subtlely in The New Neverland:
      David: You think I'm interested in Hook? Emma, I'm a married man.
    • Hook and Baelfire/Neal.
      Hook: I can change, Bae. For you.
    • Peter Pan and Felix, "You need to be punished."
      • Felix is the one Pan loves most. Make of that what you will.
    • Aurora/Mulan. Sure, their meaningful glances can be chalked up to awareness of each other's feelings towards Phillip. Mulan's introduction to Aurora directly mirroring Snow's introduction to Charming, however... The end of "Queen of Hearts" with Mulan bringing Aurora's heart back to her and Aurora saying, "Have you ever done this before?" as Mulan leans over her to put it back, is overflowing with subtext.
      • As of Quite a Common Fairy, it's canon from Mulan's side, when she rushes to tell Aurora that she loves her, only to have her announcement cut short by news that she's not thrilled to hear.
    • Snow and Red during the flashback sequences when they were fighting Regina's rule together. For a while, Snow/Red/Charming was also one of the show's most popular poly ships.
    • Emma and Red. "Emma was my lemur", anyone?
    • After a scene of relatively strong Ship Tease in "Child of the Moon," we now have Red and Belle.
    • Cora and Eva. Sure, Cora murders her but that kiss on the fingers caused a few eyebrows to be raised.
    • At one point, Regina bribes the Severe Nurse with a rose.
    • Season 3 has Tinkerbell and Regina. Tinkerbell defends Regina against the Blue Fairy and seems awfully invested in Regina finding true love and getting her happy ending, and Regina doesn't want her to darken her heart by killing her (which she doesn't) and seems genuinely sad that Tinkerbell lost her wings. Not to mention the support they had going for them before the episode even aired.
    • Ariel and Belle as of "Dark Hollow", fueled especially by a scene of them tied up back-to-back together.
    • Regina and Emma have numerous eyebrow raising moments, including the infamous "How to get the Savior to taste my forbidden fruit" line.
    • From 4x05, the story between young Emma and Lily sounds a lot like a case of first love breakup. Teen girl ran away, met someone who understood her, lived together under the same roof, promised to be forever together. And then when finding out the truth, heart-broken Emma turned and walked away, never to see her again. Doesn't help that Emma now sees her relationship with Regina, another famous Ho Yay, as similar to her situation with Lily and is determined not to make the same mistake (refusing to forgive her) again. A nod to SwanQueen fans perhaps?
    • The Snow Queen's desire to have Elsa and Emma as surrogate sisters can easily come off as Stalker with a Crush behavior instead. It also helps that Emma and Elsa have plenty on their own when Elsa helps Emma to finally accept her magic as a true part of her.
    • Ursula and Cruella act quite a bit like a former couple being forced to work together, particularly Cruella saying to Regina "We're back together." Also helped by Cruella's tendency to call people "Darling."
    • And with the resurrection of Maleficent, she and Regina have quite a lot of yay flowing, especially in the flashbacks.
    • The canon bisexual Mulan is now helping Ruby find her family, resulting in the rather creative ship name Mulan Rouge. Upon seeing Ruby she is just about panting.
  • Hypocritical Fandom: Some fans have a tendency to demonise one of the redeemed villains while, at the same time, playing up the sympathetic qualities of the others. That's all that will be said.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: All ship names. Here's a few examples.
    • Emma/Regina = "Swan Queen"
    • Ruby/Belle = "Red Beauty"
    • Killian/Emma = "Captain Swan".
    • Emma/Neal = "Swan Thief" or "Swan Fire"
    • Mulan/Aurora = "Sleeping Warrior"
    • As of "The Bear King", Ruby/Mulan is being shipped as "Mulan Rouge".
    • Portmanteau Couple Name: There are also a few ship names that don't fit this pattern, such as Snow/Charming which is "Snowing" and Rumplestiltskin/Belle, which is "Rumbelle".
  • Idiot Plot:
    • Regina's attempt to find the author of the Once Upon a Time book in season 4. She wants the author to write a happy ending for her, despite that never having been how the book works; it simply accurately records everyone's stories from the Enchanted Forest. Also, Henry thinks Rumpelstiltskin knows something about it since he's a former villain who has found a happy ending, ignoring that A. none of that had anything to do with the book, and B. his son is dead, with Henry apparently not realizing at all that means he could still die if his theory is correct.
      • Though it might be a Justified Trope as Regina has been irrationally obsessed with the book since season 1, wondering what kind of powerful magic could record the events of the Enchanted Forest and how it got to Storybrooke, but also blaming it for the breakdown of her relationship with Henry. After another disappointment, she just irrationally blames the first thing she finds as she is wont to do. She just happens to be right in fearing the mysterious all-knowing book no one understands much about. It's not Tolstoï, but it makes sense.
    • Gold's plot in season 4 became this later on. While we're led to believe that Gold wants to use the hat to free himself from the dagger while keeping his power, we later learn that Gold plans to dominate the world after he frees himself. However, the reason he was working in secret was so Belle wouldn't find out what he was doing and leave him. He somehow thinks he can dominate the world, while keeping Belle from finding out. Wouldn't running the world be something she eventually would notice?
    • Likewise, the events of Unforgiven could've been avoided if Snow and Charming had just come clean to Emma and Regina about their history with the Queens of Darkness. As would a lot of events later in the series.
  • Incest Yay Shipping: Continuing from its original fanbase, Elsanna quickly established itself as one of the more popular ships on the show.
  • Informed Wrongness:
    • Queen Eva (or Princess at the time) telling Leopold about Cora is presented as Moral Event Horizon for the character - Regina even states something about "such darkness in her heart". Yet all Eva was doing was telling the future king about a woman that had gotten pregnant off a gardener (and would presumably pass the baby off as Leopold's) - and exposing a Gold Digger who for all she knew was trying to manipulate the future king. Add that to the fact that Eva had already been betrothed to Leopold and her actions seem pretty heroic. Also, it's said to be bad because Eva "told a secret", just like Snow did with Regina... except that Eva was eavesdropping, she and Cora had no agreement whatsoever that Eva would keep that information a secret. Eva was under no obligation to keep quiet about what she had heard, making it even more bizarre that this is treated as a crime.
    • Mary Margaret repeatedly has to apologize to Regina for having killed the latter mother's Cora despite the fact that she did it to protect her family. When Emma suggests later that she did the right thing, she just responds that she did "because it was easy" and we are supposed to agree. Yet again there wasn't any other options available at time since Cora was seconds about to kill Rumplestilskin.
    • Snow and Charming are getting flak for trying to save the Enchanted Forest and their daughter by kidnapping an egg from an Always Chaotic Evil species - with full intent to bring it back! - just so they could prevent their daughter from turning into the worst villain their kingdom has seen. They are tricked by two ancient nigh-invulnerable beings and the egg is sent to another world. In a show in which two different main characters are forgiven for Gas Lighting their children when they discover their propensity for evil, which has or will have caused countless deaths, don't we have more important things to worry about?
      • Having said that Emma turning evil was a possibility, not a fact; the Apprentice even said this.
    • The plot to turn Emma's heart dark basically plays by the same rules as The Caster Chronicles: people have a good/evil switch in their head, and once it's flipped they're completely helpless to make any decisions against that inclination. Hence, killing someone physically incapable of hurting anyone, despite being completely ignorant of that and genuinely believing Henry's life was in danger, automatically turns Emma evil. The next episode does handle this better by showing it to be the first step towards something truly evil (like killing Lily in cold blood).
  • Internet Backdraft: While a good many enjoyed it due to Robert Carlyle's skill at playing evil, Gold's regression into villainy in Season 4 did not go over well with the character's fanbase, especially since it caused his relationship with Belle to crumble.
    • By Season 5, it's become apparent that writers have no interest in having Gold make a permanent Heel–Face Turn - which makes all of his attempts of redemption and reconciliations with Belle tedious because it's just a cycle that keeps repeating with neither character either learning or growing from their experiences.
  • It Was His Sled: The curse being broken and magic being brought to Storybrooke in Season One is very well-known as later seasons have a major usage in magic and the commercials don't seem have a problem showing characters using magic in Storybrooke. While it came across as a surprise to some fans thinking that the curse won't be broken in season one, those who started watching the show on later seasons will reach a Foregone Conclusion for season one if they decided to go back and watch that season.
    • Neal being Baelfire is also very well-known. It doesn't help that that his Fan Nickname is Nealfire and most people are more likely to call the ship name for Emma/Neal Swanfire than Swan Thief.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Felix Imagine how betrayed he must have felt when Peter Pan, whom he give his deepest loyalty to, killed him. He didn't even ask if Felix wanted to die for him, which by his reaction, Felix clearly didn't.
    • Zelena/The Wicked Witch, though her flashback episode comes after a likely Moral Event Horizon, and boils down to: "She had a choice. The choice really sucked."
  • Ingrid the Snow Queen is quite possibly the Woobie-est villain of all in the show.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Some people picked up interest on the series because of Elsa, who showed up at the Season 3 stinger.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Emma is commonly paired with her step-grandmother and archenemy Regina, who also happens to be her biological son's adoptive mom. Also fairly popular are Emma/Graham, Emma/August, Emma/Jefferson, Emma/Neal Baelfire and Emma/Gold. You'll also see your vocal minorities of Emma/Ruby and Emma/Archie shippers and those who would ship Emma/Mary Margaret if Mary Margaret wasn't actually Emma's mom. Or who ship it regardless. AND a more recent main ship is her with Captain Hook, which became canon in the season 3 finale.
    • Ruby/Red is also shipped with quite a few characters—Emma (as mentioned above), Archie (due to both characters' popularity with fans and lack of canon love interests), Gold (especially before the introduction of his canon love interest Belle), Snow White and Belle, and Graham by fans who like Graham's character too much to take the convenient Killed Off for Real exit or to further their preferred Emma ship. Jefferson and Regina, too, even though they (and Gold and Archie, come to think of it) have never actually interacted with Ruby. August and Ruby had one conversation of Ship Tease and gained a small-but-loyal fanbase, Charming/David, since she became his de-facto second-in-command in post-curse Storybrooke. And then there are those who liked Red's original love interest Peter from her tragic backstory. Unsurprisingly, "In the Name of the Brother" created many Ruby/Whale ("Frankenwolf") shippers.
    • Regina has been shipped with Gold, Emma, David, Snow, Jefferson, Ruby, Archie, Daniel, Hook, Tinkerbell, Robin Hood...
    • Captain Hook has been paired with Ruby, Emma, Regina, Aurora, Mulan, Jefferson, Cora, David, Tinkerbell, Neal/Baelfire, Peter Pan, Wendy... even Ariel, at least several episodes before she actually appeared.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • Snow going through with Cora's murder. Well, eventually she does try to stop it, but too late.
    • The season 2 finale which has Regina about to perform a Heroic Sacrifice and Storybrooke being in danger of being destroyed.
    • Early in season 3 Charming is slowly dying from poison over several episodes. Mitigated as the method of saving him still has serious consequences. That are dealt with pretty easily and with no long-lasting effects.
    • Later in Season 3 Henry gives up his own heart and appears lifeless. Right, as it that hasn't happened before...
    • Subverted in the Season 3 Winter Finale: Rumplestiltskin died to kill Pan, Storybrooke disappeared forever, everyone's back in Fairy Tale Land except Emma and Henry, who now have memories of growing up together in New York and don't remember their lives in Storybrooke, and the show is basically restarting with something completely different. Though whether it'll stay that way is anybody's guess.
    • Averted, Emma gets her memory back courtesy of a potion from Hook (but not Henry, not enough potion), because a new curse has been cast by the Wicked Witch of the West, who turns out to be Regina's half-sister as part of a complex revenge plot against her. She also somehow brought Rumple back to life, although he now appears to be insane. But then Neal dies.
    • Killing off Regina and Hook in the Season 4 finale. Yeah... that wasn't going to stick in a million years. And the episode does seem to agree, it is in an alternate universe after all.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Rumpelstiltskin. Season 1 was the story of his biggest Batman Gambit. Best evidenced by how he gets Regina to call him a bastard twice in the season.
    • Regina as the mayor, particularly from episode 11 onward. It is glorious how she is always one step ahead of the heroes.
    • Cora, the Chessmaster.
    • Captain Hook ascends to the position in "Into the Deep" and maintains it in "Queen of Hearts", with his crowning achievement being in "The Evil Queen", until his Heel–Face Turn shortly afterward rather descends him from this.
    • Would you believe, of all people, that Peter Pan is a pretty big one as well? He is a master of psychological manipulation and long-term planning, and he comes incredibly close to achieving victory twice, with only Emma and Regina's power as mothers and then Rumple's Heroic Sacrifice being able to stop him.
    • Zelena, aka the Wicked Witch of the West, starts out as one in Storybrooke as she plays the town into providing her with what she needs while posing as a kindly midwife, but she gradually devolves into a Smug Snake who is ultimately taken out rather anticlimactically. Until it's revealed she faked her death, then killed and replaced Marian just so that she could take Robin away from Regina, thus ruining her happy ending. And then she manages to blackmail Rumpelstiltskin into making a deal that makes him into her pawn to find the Author, definitely getting her back on the list. She declines to Smug Snake territory again in Season 5, but to her credit she still manages to look more competent next to even bigger Smug Snake, King Arthur.
    • The Snow Queen in Season 4 has become a major one, with some fans calling her the best villain the show has had since Rumplestiltskin and Regina in Season 1. She almost effortlessly accomplishes everything she sets out to do, and the fact that she and Rumple seem to view each other as equals (even as he is on the verge of achieving greater power than ever before) speaks volumes.
    • Hades in Season 5. All you really need to know about him to justify his status as this trope is that he actually out-Rumples Rumple, deceiving and enslaving him through methods that Rumple himself is accustomed to using.
  • Memetic Badass:
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "You are a bowl of soup" became a thing on tumblr for the fandom after the cast started calling each other... soup... on twitter. It Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
    • "We were cursed!" has become this show's equivalent of "WE WERE ON A BREAK!". It's almost always applied to David Nolan about his actions in Season 1, despite the fact that Snow was the one who actually said it.
    • Regina referring to Snow White and Prince Charming as "the two idiots" has become rather popular as well.
    • Everyone is Cora.
    • Once Upon A Time confessions are also becoming quite popular.
    • Josh Dallas' hashtag "#RabbitStew" in response to a promo for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland that made it look like the White Rabbit was climbing into Snow's vagina. This one's especially funny since it happened only a few days before Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin announced their engagement.
    • "Fucking Blue Fairy" is quite a popular phrase on Tumblr. As well as variations of phrases calling her "shady."
    • Everyone is related to Henry. Everyone. Even you.
    • "ASK IF WE HAVE AVOCADO"
    • After "New York City Serenade," the fact that Emma's new love interest turns out to be a flying monkey has made its way around the internet.
    • Peter Pan calling women "fertile."
  • Misaimed Fandom: "A lust for power above all else will ultimately destroy you" is a message the show has worked very hard to cultivate. It's written all over the character arcs of Rumple, Regina and Cora, all power-obsessed characters who were at their happiest when they gave up their power and focused on what was truly important (their children, to give the most obvious example). Cora's last lines were even the heart-breaking realization that being able to love Regina would've been all that she needed to be fulfilled, and everything she did was for nothing. The problem is, some fans still root for them to get the power they seek/were seeking, because they're all so much more entertaining when they're evil. It can sometimes fall into Do Not Do This Cool Thing territory when we get a string of episode depicting Regina or Cora being fabulous evil bitches, Hook being a dashing pirate, or flashbacks of Rumple cranking up the Large Ham and gleefully manipulating everyone.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Now has its own page.
  • Narm: Now has its own page.
  • Narm Charm:
    • In "The Crocodile" after a rather tense conversation between Belle and Rumple, the latter turns to walk away only for Belle to ask if he's ever tried a hamburger. Sound silly? Yes but here's the context: he's just broken it off with her because he believes he's too dark to be loved. And Belle's talk of hamburgers is her way of asking him out on a date, letting him know she's forgiven him. Now it's Adorkably sweet.
    • The second casting of the Dark Curse in "A Curious Thing" manages to be incredibly moving despite the fact that (1) Charming is, at this point, clearly shown to be alive in the present day, so there's absolutely no tension about whether or not Snow is actually going to kill him and (2) the solution to the problem of Snow crushing Charming's heart is to have Regina tear out Snow's heart, break it in half, and shove one half in Charming's chest, somehow reviving him and returning all of his memories and personality because "he's been in [Snow's] heart all alone". The show somehow managing to make that into an emotionally resonant scene is truly remarkable.
    • In "Mother" Maleficent's line about teaching Lily how to be a "scary dragon bitch" is silly but still very moving, since it's mother and daughter bonding for the first time ever.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Neal Cassidy will never be an acceptable Love Interest for Emma to some fans for letting her go to prison in the backstory of "Tallahassee" because Pinnochio said so.
    • The respect for August dropped dramatically for a lot of viewers when it was revealed on Twitter by the creators that he was the one who sent Emma to jail and stole the money Neal had left for her, deciding to use it to go to Phuket. And then he starred in "Selfless, Brave and True", one of the series' least well-received episodes.
    • Meta-example: The showrunners have said that the most grief fans have given them has been over Tamara's taser.
    • Emma had sex with a monkey. A few fans immediately dedicated themselves to making sure no one ever forgot this.
    • On a real life level, Ginnifer Goodwin's reputation among fans is now firmly entrenched as "the actress who keeps screwing the writers over by getting knocked up," based on just two pregnancies over the show's run.
  • No Yay:
    • The general reaction of the fandom to Cora kissing Rumplestiltskin. At least until their backstory is shown and we see a Cora not played by Barbara Hershey (this time by Rose McGowan) who has more chemistry with Robert Carlyle, which makes it much more understandable (and, for some, more interesting than canon Rumple/Belle).
    • Regina and Greg. Please stop touching his face, Regina. That goes for you too, Greg.
    • Regina and Graham.
    • Mary Margaret and Dr. Whale. Really, did we need to know that Snow White cheated on her prince with Dr. Frankenstein?
    • Pan and Rumple. Nobody likes Parental Incest, after all.
    • Emma and Walsh. Nobody likes a flying monkey sent to "occupy" Emma, either.
    • Zelena/The Wicked Witch and Rumple.
    • Cora and Leopold is almost universally loathed.
    • The people who don't ship Emma/Regina view it as this, as Regina: is Emma's step-grandmother, murdered one of her Love Interests, and turned said Love Interest into a Sex Slave.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Maleficent appears for exactly one scene with the Evil Queen and has yet to even appear in Storybrooke, but there is already a massive fan outcry to see more of her. She appears in Storybrooke in the first season finale... in her dragon form. She's also set to appear in season 4.
    • The Caterpillar and the Queen of Hearts. Pretty much everyone in Wonderland, actually, which led to the creation of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
      • Subverted when the Queen of Hearts shows up again and is revealed to have been Cora all along.
    • The Blind Seer has two scenes in one episode, as a child and then an adult. Her design is completely unforgettable and if you trace events backwards, it turns out that her impact in Rumplestiltskin's life is the cause of nearly everything that happens in the show.
    • Ursula at the end of "Ariel".
    • To a lesser degree, Zelena's adoptive mother. Many pointed out that it would have been easier to make her as much of a jerk as her husband to make Zelena's backstory more tragic, but have her be such a wonderfully kind, sane and normal person who subverts the show's track of abusive foster parents makes the whole story sound real. Giving her a good Establishing Character Moment and then having her die between scenes works much better.
  • One True Pairing: In this fandom, there are two pairings you will ship: Snow/Charming and Rumplestilskin/Belle. Everything else is up in the air.
    • Though come Season 4, Rumplestiltskin/Belle has lost its luster for many.
  • One True Threesome: Aurora/Phillip/Mulan. Aurora/Phillip is canon, Mulan fancying Aurora is also canon, you could make a very good case for Aurora fancying Mulan, and Mulan's relationship with Phillip is ambiguous. So, for those who didn't think much of the canonical departure of Mulan, this is an acceptable workaround. It helps that there's a Scottish variant of Sleeping Beauty ("Silver Tree and Gold Tree") that takes this exact path.

     R - W 
  • Replacement Scrappy: Agnes Bruckner appearing as Lily's older self. Part of the problem is that fans absolutely fell in love with Nicole Munoz's Lily and her vulnerability. This is in contrast to Bruckner's cold and broken take on her, that makes them feel like two completely different characters. Time will tell if Bruckner redeems herself.
    • Largely averted with the re-casting of Jafar, who was played by Naveen Andrews in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, with Oded Fehr in Season 6. Even the many fans who prefer Naveen Andrews admit that Oded Fehr does a great job in the role as well and was probably the best possible choice for a replacement.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Princess Abigail in the Enchanted Forest. In her initial appearances she's presented as a Disposable Fiancée and Flat Character. Then a later episode reveals that she doesn't want the marriage to David either and her own true love Frederick was turned to gold saving her father's life. After David helps her, she helps him try to find Snow White.
    • Belle started to slip into Base-Breaking Character territory after a couple seasons due to her having little to do except fawn over Rumpelstiltskin. This ended quite dramatically in the Season 4 winter finale where she discovers Rumpel's become a villain again, and takes up his dagger to banish him from Storybrooke forever.
    • Cruella De Vil managed it in record time. After her first appearance just before Season 4's winter hiatus, many fans complained that she was completely out of place in the Enchanted Forest and didn't deserve to be included in the Queens of Darkness. This largely cleared up once we actually get to see her in action, with Victoria Smurfit's Large Ham performance and her being turned into The Beastmaster being quite popular.
    • Henry. If you did a google search the day after the season 4 finale, 8 of the 10 first reviews mentioned this audience reaction after the episode. Reasons cited were his getting long overdue Day in the Limelight, being assertive, having learnt from his badass family members and building a new interesting dynamic with them in no time, Jared S. Gilmore's improved acting skills (particularly during his scenes with Regina) and the possibilities opened by his new role as the Author.
    • Operation Mongoose seems to have rescued Season 4 itself. Many fans loved the finale and affirmed that it redeemed the season for them.
    • Zelena was a heavily disliked Big Bad who received many accusations of being a Villain Sue and way too over the top in her acting even on this show. Come Season 5 in which she was promoted to a regular character, she's become much more subdued in her craziness and less of a villain and more of a Troll whose needling of other characters is found to be Actually Pretty Funny by many viewers. It also helps that the second half of season five have her come across more of a three-dimensional character.
    • Milah in Season 5, when we find out she's spent centuries in the Underworld unable to move on because of her guilt over abandoning her son, and in the meantime has been making her penance by looking after the souls of dead children. And then her chance for redemption is snatched away almost as soon as it came when she's thrown into the River of Lost Souls.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor:
    • Emma's relationship with Hook is this for pretty much all fans who don't ship Captain Swan because of how it elevated the importance of an extremely polarizing character above that of several other well-established and much more popular characters and because the show sometimes seems to go out of its way to make Hook look good when he doesn't deserve it. The unpopularity of this relationship was cranked Up to Eleven when it turned out to be pretty much the entire plot of season 5, over the course of which the show lost over a quarter of its viewership.
    • Regina's relationship with Robin started off relatively well-received, if poorly developed, but it quickly devolved after Marion turned out to be alive, and then Robin cheated on her with Regina while she was frozen and dying. The writers tried to fix it by having Marion turn out to actually be a glamour-ed Zelena, but this really only made things worse because the faux love triangle and resulting pregnancy turned out to be one of the least popular plot lines in the show's history up to that point.
    • Though it started out extremely popular, most fans now feel this way about Rumbelle. The characters seem to be stuck in a cycle of Rumple doing something awful and hiding it from Belle, Belle finding out and leaving him, and then Rumple convincing her to come back somehow. At this point, even fans who used to be hardcore Rumbelle shippers are hoping Belle will just find happiness elsewhere.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Snow, Henry, Charming and Emma (less often than the others for obvious reasons) tend to get this.
      • This perception increased for Charming and Snow after it was revealed that they kidnapped Maleficent's child, and sent it away to another dimension.
    • Additionally, Snow and Charming get this from Regina fans. Some Swan Queen fics will show Emma turning against her parents for Regina.
    • The Blue Fairy gets the blame for Bae leaving without his father by Rumpel's fans. There are admittedly a lot of questionable things she's done, but this one really is much more Rumpel's fault.
      • Also after things like tearing apart Dreamy and Nova, and taking Tinker Bell's wings away (both of which were Kick the Dog moments but NOT done out of malice, not to mention Bossy the dwarf also had a hand in the former one but it goes overlooked), some fans start to take the "Blue Fairy as the Big Bad evil mastermind!" WMG a little bit too seriously.
    • Some give flak to August for being a smarmy, lying, dishonest, manipulative wastrel - even though that's the entire point of his Character Development.
    • Fics about Regina's time with King Leopold tend to turn him into a generically evil rapist and abuser. In the series, Leopold is, at worst, a bad husband who is desensitized to Regina's unhappiness through Deliberate Values Dissonance and cares more about running his kingdom and raising his daughter (two domains he is very good and talented at) than her happiness. He is, for example, aware of Regina's unhappiness but certain that it is normal and she should accept it since this is the way things are in their world. He is also insensitive to her privacy and unconcerned to her comfort and freedom. Though he knew her mother was pressuring her into the marriage, that is not unusual based on the values of their world and he probably didn't demand sexual relations as the only thing he wanted was a mother figure for his daughter. As for the privacy issue, well, he is the King (supreme authority and all that) in a kingdom where this is considered normal, so he is desensitized to that too.
    • Also, his wife Queen Eva gets this treatment from Cora fans who hated her treatment of Cora in "The Miller's Daughter", even though the episode that preceded it showed that she had eventually grown out of being a Rich Bitch with no care for peasants. Cora killed her anyway out of Disproportionate Retribution.
    • Milah, while far from a nice person, is often considered a flat-out evil bitch who deserved to be murdered in cold blood by her ex-husband even though he later became even more morally bankrupt than her and would ironically abandon his son in a worse way than she did. That being said, allowing Rumple to think that she would be gang-raped and killed by pirates for ten years was incredibly cruel.
    • To contrast with the fans who put them in leather pants, there are some fans who hate Regina and Rumplestiltskin for the things they've done and their inability to change that they act as if they have no redeeming qualities, shades of gray, or valid reasons for their villainy, despite evidence to the contrary.
      • This is particularly noticeable in Manhattan and We Are Both reactions. These episodes show them doing nothing evil in the flashbacks, only entering the path that will lead them to it due to external circumstances.
      • Regina post Heel–Face Turn in particular gets painted a little excessively as a Karma Houdini by some. Most point to her moment stating that she didn't regret the evil she did in her past, which was in Season 3 while she was still in the middle of her turn. While she does often take the moral high ground, criticisms of her behaviour in the search for the Author forget that the entire point of the arc is her learning the very Aesop they were complaining aboutnote . Likewise she fully acknowledges her past mistakes in Season 5 and is the one actively trying to prevent Emma from succumbing to the same fate. The show and other characters also have no problem calling her out when she does something wrong.
    • Hook as well in Season 3, with people claiming he's only doing good now in order to get into Emma's pants, even when several episodes, particularly "Good Form" and "The Jolly Roger", show that this isn't the case and people who insisted he was playing the entire cast all along while working with the Wicked Witch (which was flat-out debunked.)
      • He gets it even worse in Season 5, with some fans unable to forgive him for what he did as the Dark One, while ignoring that Emma forced that condition on him against his will while he was begging her not to since he knew this exact thing would happen, that he sacrificed his life to fix his mistakes, even after enduring extensive torture in the Underworld refused to betray Emma and her family a second time when Hades demanded it of him, was hating himself for what he did more than anyone else and even felt that he wasn't worth saving, and that he ended up doing several great heroic deeds that helped defeat Hades while being fully ready to move on to the afterlife and not be resurrected, wanting no reward other than knowing Emma and her family were safe.
    • Neal. Good lord, Neal. The amount of people who treat his abandoning of Emma to prison as a Moral Event Horizon and call him "Douchefire". Though as of "Second Star to the Right", his Heroic Sacrifice for Henry and Emma's sakes has changed many a former haters' minds.
    • Gaston and Moe French in many, many Rumplestiltskin/Belle fics. Actually, anyone that Rumpelstiltskin has ever had a problem with is subject to this. Even Ashley Boyd, although she is more likely to be portrayed as a Dumb Blonde than outright malicious.
      • In Gaston's case, being a well known Disney Villain does not help matters at all.
      • This is retroactively justified when "Her Handsome Hero" reveals Gaston really was villainous after all, albeit not as blatantly, disgustingly, or irredeemably as he was in the Disney film, as he did feel remorse and tried to redeem himself... only to get killed for his troubles, making him regress... much like Rumple.
    • Gerda for what she did to Ingrid, although she and her husband were admittedly already this trope for their questionable parenting skills displayed in the movie.
    • Even the beloved Belle by hardcore Rumpel fans, after banishing Rumpel from Storybrooke.
  • Rooting for the Empire: A few of the more... devoted Regina fans tend to do this. And Rumplestiltskin fans. And Captain Hook fans. Probably even some Cora fans out there...
    • It thankfully seems to have been avoided in regards to King George and Peter Pan (save for Henry haters in the case of the latter.)
  • The Scrappy:
    • David Nolan (the Storybrooke citizen, NOT Prince Charming) was this in Season 1. Hilariously, even Prince Charming insults David Nolan in Season 2.
    • Henry, though the level of flak he gets tends to vary from person to person and from season to season.
    • Milah during her two appearances in Season 2. These feelings have lessened over time and she has more defenders now, though the majority of people don't seem to really care about her either way due to lack of development.
    • Greg and Tamara were such widely despised villains in Season 2 that they were killed off in literally the first episode of Season 3.
    • The Blue Fairy, first for breaking up Nova and Dreamy, then for separating Bae and Rumple, and then for lying to Snow and Charming about the magic tree (though the former was entirely Rumple's fault with Geppetto sharing some of the blame for the latter). But "Quite A Common Fairy" really broke the camel's back. She refuses to help Regina (before she became evil and thus could have been saved) just because she had the misfortune to be Cora's child and Rumple's pupil in magic. Her treatment of Tinker Bell for arguing against her, and turning her into a human made it more official.
    • Robin Hood racked up quite a few haters in Season 4, after he was thrown into a complex romantic situation anyone would have trouble with, and still managed to handle it in about the worst way possible. Particularly galling is how he doesn't seem to care at all that his current girlfriend Regina had executed Marian in their original timeline.
      • As season 4 progressed, it got even worse. Robin had an affair with Regina while his wife, or the woman he thought was his wife was in a coma and dying. Then, later in the season, he finds out that it was Zelena all along and the real Marian is actually dead, and he tries to get back with Regina the very same day. This is made even worse by the fact that he won't stop going on about how honorable he thinks he is.
      • However, the dislike fans have towards him may have died down a bit in Season Five as it should be noted that fans were hugely upset over his death that was handled through a Cessation of Existence while Captain Hook was revived through a literal Deus ex Machina.
    • Will Scarlet in Season 4 also had many detractors who felt like he had no business being on the show since he'd already had a full character arc in the spinoff series, and what we saw of him on this show seemed like a retread of his arc there, with his character having seemingly regressed. The Crack Ship of him with Belle, and him subsequently getting even less screen time and less to do on the show, didn't help matters. Hilariously, his final big speaking part has him actually calling himself "scrappy" and Gold responds by referring to him as "Scrappy" as well.
    • Princess Merida in Season 5 got hate for taking away too much screen time and focus from other more important characters yet contributing little to the overall narrative of the season's arc, coming off as overly abrasive and arrogant to the point of seeming mean-spirited towards others, and in general feeling out of place on the show, being a Disney/Pixar creation rather than a character from age old legends and fairy tales.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • There is a widespread dislike for Season 2, especially its second half following Emma and Snow's return from the Enchanted Forest. Season 1 is beloved, if largely due to novelty, and opinion on Season 3 is split down the middle, but Season 2 is usually criticized for all the new character additions and multiple storylines being piled on at the expense of the characters and stories the show already had.
    • Season 4 is divisive. Like Season 2, it had a strong start, with the Frozen story arc breathing new life into the show and giving it popularity it hadn't had in a while. But to some, this has sadly been undone by many questionable story decisions, a padded two-parter killing the Frozen arc's momentum, and a second story arc with an unpopular premise and so much stuff packed into it that it was met with derision before it had even begun airing, so much so that ratings have actually been declining ever since. Bringing back Zelena just made it worse outside of her fanbase, especially since the episode revealing that plot twist took away momentum from the whole Author arc, not to mention that it was barely foreshadowed beforehand.
    • And Season 5 has been noted to be little better. Several fans were not happy with Zelena being upgraded to regular. Merida was largely criticised for overshadowing the main arc and taking screen time away from the core characters. What's more is that the show quickly became overloaded with another Kudzu Plot - with the revelation that Hook is now a Dark One causing the season to do a complete 180 and abandon the arc it had been building with Camelot. Likewise the midseason finale ending with an Ass Pull Shocking Swerve was met with outrage by many fans. However it has been seen by many as an improvement (particularly in its second half) for fixing some of the problems people have with past seasons such as re-railing characters like Charming and Snow, putting more emphasis on the main cast and ensuring that the new characters do not overshadow them. Zelena also got Rescued from the Scrappy Heap for some people (see above).
  • She Really Can Act:
    • A few felt that Jamie Chung was miscast as Mulan, given she was best known for Asian Airhead roles and Mulan is a Proud Warrior Race Girl in this. Come "Quite A Common Fairy" and Mulan's confession that she loves Aurora is cut short when the latter announces her pregnancy with Philip. In the character's subsequent appearances she also displays a bit more spunk and charisma.
    • Rebecca Mader was held up as one of the weaker actors on the show, especially in Season 5 when her attempts to give Zelena human emotion resulted in Narm. The Hades storyline however allowed Rebecca to show a different side of Zelena and, come the "Sisters" episode, she was getting rave reviews for her performance.
    • Not that Lana Parrilla's acting talents were ever in doubt - but they were raised to new levels in Season 6 when the Evil Queen started appearing as a separate entity to Regina. She effortlessly plays both characters and they feel like different people, with the Queen coming across as a much more Machiavellan villain than the Large Ham she had been Flanderized into previously.
  • Ship Mates:
    • Fans of Sleeping Warrior (Mulan/Aurora) have started putting Neal and Phillip together after the Season 2 finale. See examples here and here.
    • Fans of Captain Swan (Emma/Hook) were pleased to hear rumors that Regina would be paired up with Robin Hood in Season 3 as Hooked Queen (Regina/Hook) is Captain Swan's main competitor for Captain Hook.
    • Fans of Swanfire/Swan Thief (Emma/Neal) tend to be fans of Hooked Queen.
    • As of the Season 3 premiere, some Captain Swan fans have started supporting Mulan/Neal (Mufire), which would free up Emma to be with Hook.
    • Some very particular circumstances at the end of season 3 resulted in one becoming popular before half of the couple was even properly introduced: Regina and Elsa, or Frozen Queen.
    • There are those who ship Captain Swan who pair Neal up with Tinkerbell.
      • Or vice versa for those who are Swanfire shippers.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • Graham/Emma was sunk with Graham's death.
    • "Selfless, Brave, and True" torpedoed Emma/August when the latter is rejuvenated into a little boy. This will never be able without Squick. Fans briefly regained hope when August regained his old body in Season 4, only for Emma to confirm their relationship is Like Brother and Sister.
    • Similarly, Baelfire/Wendy is no longer a possibility, as Baelfire grew up and Wendy did not.
    • Peter Pan/Henry sunk like a rock after "Think Lovely Thoughts".
    • Swanfire as Neal is Killed Off for Real in 'Quiet Minds'. Diehard fans of the ship hoped for some kind of reunion when Emma traveled to the Underworld, only for the writers to reveal that Neal Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, leaving no doubt as to the chances of it actually happening.
    • Rumbelle seems to have been sunk in the Season 4 winter finale, as Belle laments how she'll never be first in his heart, says she can't see any good in him anymore, and then banishes him from Storybrooke. However, it's on its way to righting itself again in Season 5.
    • Swan Queen has been sunk by the show's creators, who stated at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 that it was never going to happen. In-Universe, it's sunk by Emma and Regina both hooking up with someone else without expressing any romantic inclination in each other, and even encouraging the other to go for their respective Love Interest.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night:
    • Elsa and Liam. Although having interacted with the same characters and sharing a sibling(like) bond with two characters who happen to be paired together (Emma & Hook), they have never had a face-to-face encounter.
    • Archie and Red. Despite only having one scene where Archie orders something from Red at Granny's, they have gained some attention from shippers.
    • Grace and Henry, despite their only interaction being her saying "hi" to him while they're in school.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • The latter half of Season 2 brings us Emma/Hook vs Emma/Neal, with a less vocal, but still noticeable fandom which abhors both.
    • Season 3 brings us an all-out Ship-to-Ship-to-Ship Combat with Emma/Hook vs. Emma/Neal vs. Emma/Regina, featuring such gems as some groups of shippers urging each other to boycott an episode featuring a heavily publicized kiss of a rival pairing or even bullying actors on Tumblr if an actor replies that his character likes the other rival (even if the original comment had no shipping context).
    • The war between Emma/Neal and Emma/Hook has mostly stopped as of Season 4 since Emma/Hook won and Neal is dead... in time for another war, this time with Emma/Hook and Robin/Regina against Emma/Regina.
  • Shocking Swerve: Heart of Gold has the unforeshadowed reveal that Marian was actually Zelena all along. While there were a few subtle clues, there was not nearly enough build up.
  • Sophomore Slump: Many people feel that the second season just isn't as good as the first, due to Loads and Loads of Characters being introduced and focused on at the expense of old favorites, and many story threads going on at once, leading to a rise in The Chris Carter Effect.
  • Special Effect Failure: Happens a lot - while some elements of the series (such as the clock tower) look excellent, one-off spells, characters, and the like aren't nearly as fortunate. A few particularly bad examples:
    • The incredibly fake looking CGI deer in "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter".
    • The worst offender has to be Granny's getting picked up by the tornado in the Season 5 premiere. It's terrible CGI and looks unbelievably fake. Ironically enough the scenes from inside Granny's are effectively done and they could have been satisfactory without the CGI shot of the diner getting picked up.
    • The Fury carrying Robin away likewise looks incredibly fake.
    • The CGI for the Heroes & Villains universe ultimately looks worse than usual. It might be deliberate, to show how fake the world is - but then again it still clashes badly with the obvious on-location scenes in forests and caves.
    • The CGI for the outdoor scenes in Arendelle is quite patchy, especially at the dock. However for inside Anna and Elsa's castle, it's much better.
    • Two words: Hades' hair. It looks like it was rendered by someone who's using AfterEffects for the first time. Notably, after "Her Handsome Hero", it stops happening, which means that even the production team finally realized that it wasn't working out.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Memory tampering, world-hopping, heart-stealing, convoluted plotting, copious amounts of Ho Yay and Ship-to-Ship Combat, and a kitchen sink of everyone from the Disney catalog along for the ride. Let's face it: This is the closest we'll ever get to an American, live-action version of Kingdom Hearts.
  • Spoiled by the Format: In "Kansas", the heroes defeat Zelena, Regina officially becomes a hero, depowers her and everybody is happy. Too bad, there are two episodes left. Something bad has to happen, and thanks to Rumpelstiltskin's complete lack of restraint, it will. Though as it turns out, anything bad that eventually happened had nothing to do with Zelena, other than her magic brooch opening a time portal.
  • Squick:
    • Peter Pan telling Rumplestiltskin to go home to Belle because she "looks fertile" was not well-received. Made even worse by the reveal that Peter Pan is Rumple's father.
    • Regina putting her heart back in after burying it in the forest. She doesn't even try to brush it off first!
    • Emma was apparently having sex with a monkey for eight months.
    • The revelation that Leopold nearly married Cora isn't itself gross. Until you remember that he then later married Cora's daughter. Worse, Word of God is that he did in fact know who Cora was when he married Regina. Even if there's no proof the relationship turned sexual, that's just disgusting (heck, even Leopold seems to think so: he seems quite visibly uncomfortable during the whole proposal scene.)
  • Strangled by the Red String:
    • Some think that the show is relying too much on Because Destiny Says So to convince the audience that Mary Margaret/Snow White and David/Charming are meant to be together instead of building a genuinely meaningful connection between the two. Or they think this in regards to Mary Margaret & David but not Snow White & Charming.
    • Some fans believe that Neal and Emma are a bit too hasty to declare their undying love for each other... just minutes after Neal finds out that the woman he was going to marry is actually a villain. He was going to get sucked down to a portal at this point, but still, some found it quite jarring.
    • According to "Quite A Common Fairy", Robin Hood is Regina's "second chance at love." A man she has never even met or had any kind of interaction with. But no, the pixie dust Tinkerbell gave her said it was him, so it must be right. Regina is portrayed as in the wrong for not wanting to meet a stranger in a pub to fall in love with even though she was trapped in a marriage to the king at the time, who could have easily found out and is shown in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" to have jealousy issues. Fans who ship Regina with other characters understandably were displeased, some more so than others. The latter half of Season 3 had them form a relationship with no real development whatsoever except that Robin never made Regina uncomfortable and seems to have no characterization except "Perfect Love for Regina." Robin's overall lack of concern about his wife in season 4 has made things even worse.
    • Belle and Will Scarlet in Season 4B. Taken Up to Eleven in that they never even interacted on-screen before that point.
    • "Ruby Slippers" produced a lot of these feelings in the fandom. The dual announcements that season 5 would have both a gay romance and the return of Mulan had many assuming she would find love and finally be happy, and after "The Bear King" ended with Mulan and Ruby travelling together, it seemed clear the two of them would fall in love. But then "Ruby Slippers" had the two of them meet Dorothy, and Ruby and Dorothy fell immediately into true love after knowing each other for roughly five minutes. Even people who were really excited to finally see a gay love story thought that was awfully sudden.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • Regina is a horrible person, and that's not even getting in to the things she did as the Evil Queen. And while it's left ambiguous exactly how she feels towards Henry, it's clearly not normal and healthy love as we'd understand it. But what she says regarding how a woman who adopts a child and raises the child is the "real mother" makes a lot of sense, even if she herself is a terrible example of that. Emma even agreed with that from the beginning, doing her best to distance herself from Henry and only becoming involved when it becomes obvious that Regina is a terrible person. Even after Regina frames Mary Margaret for murdering a woman she had kidnapped, Emma accepts that Henry is Regina's son.
    • When Snow slaps Geppetto after he reveals that he lied about the wardrobe only being able to transport one person, it's implied to be the result of her darkening heart due to killing Cora. But it's hard to blame her for getting angry at him for betraying her trust and depriving her of a chance to care for her daughter.
    • The stance that Henry takes in the Season 5 finale about magic being the source of everyone's problems is completely true. From "All magic comes with a price" to most of the villains having some form of magic or a magical ally, magic has been the cause of most of the problems the heroes face.
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Prince Charming has some choice words about his unpopular curse persona in "We Are Both".
    • Gold later notes that using a locator potion is "so simple even David Noland could do it."
    • In the season 3 premiere Tamara in quick succession finds out her whole job was a lie, gets shot by an arrow, is left to crawl in agony for a while, and finally Gold pulls out her heart and crushes it. The writers clearly got the message about how much the fans hated her. Oh, and all of her "anti-magic technology'? Powered by magic and given to her by Peter freaking Pan to further his own goals. Even more than Tamara, the fans loathed the freaking tazer.
    • In "The New Neverland", Peter Pan's shadow rips the Blue Fairy's shadow and kills her. This is hilariously subverted with the shadow's death reviving her in the very next episode.
    • She later gets sucked into a magic hat in "Fall", and this time it takes several episodes before this situation is undone.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes:
    • For a show that's Lighter and Softer, it actually manages to generally avert this. But there are a few times where it can fall into this trope. Especially when it comes to the forces of good and "true love".
    • Although this is somewhat lampshaded by Rumplestiltskin, who mockingly refers to it as "Twu wuv!"
    • Season 4's "The Snow Queen" features young sisters making a vow to love each other forever and ever and tying ribbons around their wrists to remember it. Later there's a daycare of all the little baby fairy tale princes and princesses. And you thought the Snow Queen's ice cream gave you diabetes...
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Making King Arthur a villain, especially since he's one of the most heroic characters in all of legend. Thankfully, he makes a postmortem Heel–Face Turn and is now going to succeed with the Underworld where he failed with Camelot.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Practically an epidemic; every half-season or so they introduce a whole set of new characters, very few of whom will last beyond that arc. And if they do last, they often push an established character Out of Focus. These include:
    • Mulan and Aurora, who had their biggest presence in the first half of Season 2, at the expense of established figures like Archie and Ruby. Mulan has been in limbo since early season 3. Aurora has shown up a few more times, but even in season 4B, when Maleficent becomes a major villain, Aurora only appears in a single flashback scene, and Maleficent's conflict is with Snow and Charming.
    • Tinkerbell hasn't been seen since the Neverland Arc. In fairness her actress is now quite busy as the lead star of IZombie, though that didn't stop her co-star in the show David Anders from making a brief return as Dr. Whale.
    • Many feel that the writers just didn't care about August's character, despite his rich backstory. Particularly noticeable when they chose to revert him to human after being turned to wood, as a 7-year old boy with no memory of his adult life. This has a chance of being addressed in Season 4B thanks to Gold re-aging him into August again, thus letting him reconnect with Emma and Henry, although so far he's only been important to the Queens/Author plot.
    • Ashley/Cinderella could have been used more, especially considering the villain of the spin-off is implied to be one of her sisters (and she was also implied to be somehow connected to King George). Weirdly enough, many fans noted that she is somewhat of a foil to Cora, since both were abused maidens who made deals with Rumplestilksin to marry princes (Cora even snuck into a ball...). There's a joke in the fandom that the writers of Once hate Cinderella (they've killed several of its characters and put Ashley and her prince on a bus after two episodes) while the writers of the spin-off absolutely love it.
    • Ruby disappears from the last few season 2 episodes. The producers admitted that more was planned for her, but the ever-increasing character load left them with no place to put it. The actress was then released from her contract so she wouldn't be stuck unable to get other work until they found more room for her, though she has finally reappeared for a few episodes in the second half of season 3.
    • Lacey, Belle's villainous cursed persona, is probably the most egregious example, debuting in the 19th episode of the second season (which was even entitled "Lacey"), then went MIA in the next episode, followed by only a few scenes in the two-part finale in which she was promptly erased from existence once Belle recovered her memories.
    • Belle herself probably qualifies too, as she's gotten more and more Out of Focus as the show has gone on.
    • With his screen time drastically reduced in the second half of the third season and the outcome of his backstory episode (3x15, 'Quiet Minds'), many fans consider this was done to Neal as well.
    • Rapunzel, considering the success of Tangled. Instead she was just reduced to a role that could easily be played by a generic princess.
    • The Blue Fairy/Mother Superior probably qualifies. Leaving the fandom's dislike of her aside, she was set up as the Big Good in the Enchanted Forest in season 1 and had ties to some of the main characters. As the series has progressed she has gotten more and more Out of Focus and, despite being a part in other people's backstories, she has yet to be given one of her own.
    • Will Scarlett, the Knave of Hearts, is added to the main cast in Season 4, being far and away the best choice for a transplant from the cancelled spinoff. He then proceeds to appear in little more than half the season's episodes, usually for a single scene, and have almost no role whatsoever in the story. The only thing he does that could remotely be called a plot is romance Belle for a few episodes, which even then mostly supplemented Rumple's storyline anyway. What's worse, the writers play coy for the whole season about how exactly he got to Storybrooke, which seems to have totally undone his happy ending with Anastasia from the spinoff (she's alluded to exactly twice, neither time by name), unless his stint here takes place before that ending or even that whole series, which is possible given the vagueness of the timelines. And now that his character has been reduced to guest role in the fifth season, fans (especially those of Wonderland) are rapidly losing hope that his character will be properly served rather than just forgotten.
    • The Dwarves insist on coming along to Camelot in Season 5A, declaring they're tired of being on the sidelines during these adventures. And then the writers promptly seemed to completely forget they wrote them in, with them not showing up at all throughout the whole story.
    • The Dark Swan. While she does some morally questionable things, she never does anything out right evil. Unlike Dark One! Killian who has no problems using his Dark Magic for evil.
    • Despite Season 5B having Hades as its Big Bad, Hercules and Meg are inexplicably reduced to single episode guest stars, moving on to Mount Olympus after helping to defeat Cerberus.
    • Season 5B took place primarily in the Underworld which would've been a great time to bring back Graham, one of the show's first major characters to be Killed Off for Real.
    • Jekyll and Hyde. Hyde especially was set up to be the Big Bad of season six, but was quickly arrested by the heroes and pushed aside in favor of the Evil Queen. When she freed him, he had only a few moments of besting everyone, especially Rumple, before both he and Jekyll were killed off due to their link.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • There's a sense that despite being an Ascended Extra, the writers weren't entirely sure what to do with Belle in the second half of season 2. Her amnesia plot kinda plodded along without much change, and her time as Lacey lasted only 3 episodes before being undone. Both of these could have been used more creatively, but the ongoing feud between the Charmings and Regina and the introduction of Tamara sort of derailed much chance to use Belle effectively in the second half.
    • While most fans were behind Mulan and Aurora as a pairing, even those who shipped one of them with Philip or just didn't care for the ship in general believe that Sleeping Warrior was treated extremely unfairly, when Mulan acknowledged her feelings for Aurora, only to find out that Aurora was pregnant before she could tell her, and then disappeared, never to be seen or mentioned again. This breeds particular hostility among fans because Mulan was the only character in the dozens that have been introduced on a show where the theme is true love who wasn't heterosexual.
    • Some fans feel that the potential of Hook and Baelfire's relationship was thrown away in favour of the Love Triangle.
    • The entire arc of Charming being poisoned in Neverland. It consisted of a few episodes of him hiding it, then Hook offering him a cure that would save him if he stayed on the island. A few episodes later, and Rumplestiltskin says he can give Charming a permanent cure. They didn't do anything with it.
    • Mary Margaret becoming the mayor of Storybrooke in the first half of season 4 never really went anywhere. The first few episodes of the season built up Mary Margaret's storyline as mayor and how she would balance that along with being a new mother to baby Neal, but it quickly faded into the background of all the other stories running in the Frozen arc. By the start of the second half of the season Regina is mayor again with Mary Margaret returning to teaching.
    • Rumple's regression to villainy was triggered when he spotted the Sorcerer's Hat, the only thing that could cleave the Dark One from the Dagger and keep his powers intact. It could've easily been portrayed as a case of Rumple slowly falling off the wagon (magic is akin to a drug addiction) instead of the horrible case of Flanderization it became.
    • The whole "Queens of Darkness Arc": many were hoping that since Ursula, Maleficent, and Cruella were taking center stage that Ariel, Aurora, and Archie (because of Pongo) would return to center stage. Instead most of the drama focused on the Charmings per usual. And in the end the Queens of Darkness weren't even the biggest threat, it turned out to be Greater Scope Villain The Darkness.
    • The Season 4 finale is set in an altered version of the Enchanted Forest where the heroes' and villains' roles are reversed, which could have easily provided the material for an entire season on its own rather than the two hours we get. It's hard not to resent getting to see so few of the altered characters, especially the absence of Maleficent after her huge role in the arc until this point.
    • The plotline of Trope Namer Jekyll & Hyde. Hyde is built up to be a season six Big Bad, the heroes start relying on Jekyll as their new residential Smart Guy, Mr. Hyde and the Evil Queen are briefly Ship Teased as a potential Unholy Matrimony, and it turns out JEKYLL is the bad half and Hyde this time around could be the better half. They both die in the fourth episode of season six.
    • Henry and Violet's potential relationship could have been used to give Henry a character arc. However it is quickly abandoned after everyone learns that Emma broke the friendship they had in Camelot. and is never revisited after that. This is rectified when it returns in the Season 5B finale and is set up to continue into season 6.
  • Toy Ship: Henry with either Gretel or Paige/Grace. Also, Baelfire and Wendy.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: The Lacey subplot near the end of the second season had nothing to do with the main plot and has never been mentioned since.
    • Like Lost, some flashbacks are guilty of this, being forgetable filler subplot. A big offender is "The New Neverland" with an uninteresting plot that has no relations with the present day action about Snow and Charming hunting Medusa during their honeymoon in order to stop Regina (which is doomed to fail because Regina is obviously not a stone in present days), aside from a loose connection about a lesson Emma must learn, which doesn't really go anywhere anyway.
    • Several flashbacks subvert this by having a thematic link between them and the present storyline (Lost Girl) or by becoming relevant latter (Broken).
  • Uncanny Valley: Probably Invoked with August's wooden face, glass eyes, and obvious CGI facial expressions.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Sir Percival. Many fans have compared his attempt for revenge against Regina to be similar to that of Inigo Montoya; both had their families killed by their nemesis when they were young and now they seek to kill the nemesis. The fact that he is unceremoniously killed by Charming after his failed attempt to kill Regina also came off as tragic to many fans.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Regina as of season 4. Suddenly everything bad she ever did is the book's fault, not hers. She blames Emma for seemingly saving one of Regina's previous victims because it inconveniences Regina to have the woman alive because she's Robin's wife. Her berating Emma and plotting to kill Marian are played as if we are supposed to sympathize with Regina. Both Snow and Henry are happy Marian is dying because it gets the woman out of Regina's way. She steals Belle's heart and wipes Belle's memories of it ever happening. The few times someone calls her out, like Gepetto, it's not allowed to stick. And Henry, while reading the book that details all of Regina's evil acts, such as killing whole towns, declares she's not a villain.
    • Season 5 has not improved. Regina admits she enjoys that the dagger gives her power over Emma, doesn't have to really pay the price for magic when she forces Emma to use magic to save Robin's life, declares herself the savior over Emma in a manner that left a bad taste in many fans' mouths, and has added yet another village massacre to her list.
    • As of the Season 5 finale it has finally improved, with Regina actually showing remorse for having been the Evil Queen due to Robin's death making her fully aware of how much bad karma she's accumulated due to her crimes, and having a desire to get rid of her which is fulfilled via Enemy Without, meaning that we now have both an actual sympathetic Regina and an intentionally unsympathetic Regina - the Evil Queen - on the show.
  • The Untwist:
    • Robin Hood being Regina's soul mate: they said she was going to have a sort of love interest, someone the audience already know but she doesn't. There was exactly one character to fit the description.
    • Peter Pan switching bodies with Henry might have had a chance of being surprising, if only the previews hadn't all said "If you think you know how it will end, you're wrong."
    • You have to feel bad for the creators of "New York City Serenade." They tried so hard to build up to the appearance of the Wicked Witch of the West at the very end as a huge, shocking twist, and then apparently everyone forgot to tell the marketing department it was supposed to be a twist, with Rebecca Mader's green face splashed everywhere they could get for months.
    • A possibly intentional case when the Wicked Witch is revealed to be Regina's sister. So many had guessed this already, so the show doesn't waste time with The Reveal and gives it in the Witch's first full appearance.
    • Similarly, not too many people were surprised that Rumplestiltskin would come back to life. That's probably why the writers brought him back so early, and the true mystery is shifted to how it happened.
    • The death ending up being Neal wasn't a surprise at all, even to casual viewers, but what the death lacked in surprise, it more than made up for it in heartbreak.
    • A number of fans guessed that Henry would become the next Author.
    • Emma tying Hook to Excalibur to save his life was a very popular theory in some parts of the fandom after the promo image of his name on it emerged, but apparently, it was supposed to be the big twist of the season or something.
  • Values Dissonance: Seeing the mix of medieval (albeit a sanitized version) mindsets in a modern setting can at times be jarring. Like how Storybrooke forms angry mobs with alarming alacrity, or when someone says, "This is Robin's tent," as if they weren't really saying, "This is where my homeless friend squats."
  • Villain Decay:
    • Hook. He was basically a sinister Dragon with an Agenda who would go around and do whatever it takes to get his revenge, even when it hurts people, and twice he's close to succeeding. But from "The Outsider" and onward, he ends up constantly getting outwitted and knocked down to the floor and unconscious, to the point where people stopped taking him very seriously both in-show and out of it.
    • Also, there are many fans who feel the constant Break the Haughty moments for Regina in Season 2, usually resulting in her crying, have ruined all the menace she had in Season 1.
    • A justified example would be Rumpelstiltskin / Mr. Gold in Season 3, first on Neverland when all his mental trauma catches up to him and overwhelms him, and later as a slave of the Wicked Witch because she holds his dagger. In both cases, he overcomes it in the end. He has another justified case of it in the latter half of Season 4, because his personality is slowly dying from his darkened heart, leaving him either too weak to attempt much villainy or unwilling to in fear of accelerating his condition.
    • Zelena has become notorious for this. After spending the first half of her arc as a legitimately creepy, clever, formidable threat, things went downhill the moment her backstory was revealed, and she became a petulant whiny brat with ineffective tactics who only managed to stay ahead of the heroes due to her super-powerful magic pendant which, once taken away from her, led to a very easy defeat.
    • Poor King Arthur. He starts out as a threat due to his intelligence and manipulative nature, but rapidly descends into a total loony who fails in every endeavor, is treated with disdain by both the heroes and fellow villains, and relying totally on magical people and items to even be considered remotely intimidating. And then when he finally appears again near the end of 5B, he is immediately killed by Hades. However this is to set up for him finally finding some redemption and becoming a hero again in the Underworld.
  • Wangst:
    • Ashley and Mary Margaret complaining how love isn't what they thought it would be in "Skin Deep". Both are complaining how hard it is. Mary Margaret is dating an adulterer and Ashley's baby's daddy works all the time. Ashley's boyfriend is a 19-year old supporting a cleaning lady and newborn daughter!
    • Regina in Season 2 for crying about how people don't love her and/or how she's believed to be evil, because of all the innocent people she's killed, raped, imprisoned, manipulated, betrayed, or otherwise screwed over in her never-ending quest to ruin Snow White's life because she's still blaming Snow for a murder that Cora committed.
      • Regina at the end of Season 3 complaining about how Emma and Snow don't think of consequences, when Snow was a child and Emma was saving a person Regina killed.
      • Regina again in Season 4's "Breaking Glass", flat-out complaining that Emma ruined her life.
      • Regina yet again in Season 5's "The Price", complaining to Robin that people no longer seeing her as the Evil Queen still isn't good enough for her because she doesn't believe they'll ever see her as anything "more", such as a Savior. There is absolutely no foundation for this belief, especially when she's helped saved the day many times in the past already.
    • Emma at the beginning of season 3. She gets better within ten minutes of screentime, though.
    • Zelena in "It's Not Easy Being Green". "I want a real family that will love me! Oh, I have a sister who is still good at this time and would probably love me... but she got everything I never had and Rumpelstiltskin might like her better than me! SHE MUST DIE!"
    • Snow and the pointless moralizing over her indirectly killing Cora. Cora got what she had coming, and more to the point, she presented a real danger and had to be stopped. Oh, but a good person would have let Cora kill everyone. Rumple at one point even lampshades this fact to Charming.
  • What an Idiot:
    • The Genie in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree". After meeting Regina for two minutes he decides he's going to not only kill for her but kill the man who freed him from eternal slavery. Then when he finds out she set him up he refuses to flee and instead boneheadedly uses a wish (wishes he knows hardly ever turn out well) to be by her side forever. This for a woman who purposely led him on, used him and then set him up for murder. What an Idiot indeed.
    • Emma in the same episode. Despite her much vaunted Living Lie Detector "superpower", she's taken in with consummate ease by a con that anyone with an ounce of Genre Savvy should have seen straight through.
    • Cinderella also counts as this. While it is justified in how she was desperate to escape from her rather crappy life, she decides to sign a contract without even reading it with someone who is Obviously Evil.
    • Snow in "An Apple Red As Blood".Snow agrees to eat a poisoned apple because the Evil Queen says that if she eats it, then she won't kill Charming. Snow doesn't have any reason to believe that the Queen will keep her promise, but she eats the apple anyway. Naturally, the Evil Queen tries to execute him shortly afterwards.
    • Jefferson, also in "An Apple Red As Blood". Jefferson agrees to help Regina, even though she screwed him over last time he worked with her. He makes a deal with her that if he helps her retrieve what she needs, then she will wipe his memory of the Fairy Tale world, make Grace remember that Jefferson is her father, and set them up for a good life. Regina agrees to this, but insists that he help her get what she wants first, which he does. After Regina has the apple, she refuses to hold up her end of the bargain. She has no reason to do anything for Jefferson after he gets her what she wants, since he has no leverage. Also, if she wiped Jefferson's memories, he'd have no way to know if she had upheld her end of the bargain or not, or even that there was any sort of bargain to begin with.
    • Rumplestiltskin taking the Seer's powers, then accusing her of tricking him. She referred to it as a burden before he agreed to it, it wasn't like she wasn't up front about how much it would suck.
    • In "The Evil Queen", Regina is explicitly told by Rumplestiltskin that the magic put on her will make her unrecognizable to anyone and that she'll be unable to use her magic. So naturally, she promptly forgets this and acts like a complete moron once she's out and about among the peasants and her guards, insisting she's the Queen and attempting to use magic.
    • Regina opting, out of sheer spite, to give Rumplestiltskin's sweet, utterly non-violent Morality Chain false memories of being a Dark Chick who gets turned on watching him bludgeon the shit out of people ends up almost costing her dearly when "Lacey" ends up being the one to push Rumple into attempting to murder Regina's beloved Henry. It's only through sheer luck that this murder is ultimately prevented.
    • Gepetto sending a young Pinnochio into a new realm with the additional task of taking care of a newborn. Didn't really think that one through, did you?
    • Greg and Tamara blindly following "the home office" without even bothering to know who they work for. Is it any surprise it backfired on them?
    • Hook/Killian's brother Liam intentionally infected himself with Dreamshade in order to prove to a cautious Killian that there's no possible way it could be poisonous. Unsurprisingly, this wound up leading to his death.
    • Charming forces Emma to take Hook along when she goes to confront Zelena, despite not having an answer to her perfectly reasonable question about how much help Hook is going to be since he isn't a magic user. Sure enough, his sole contribution is to serve as an easy hostage.
      • Even worse than that: he knows that Hook is enchanted by Zelena so that if he and Emma lock lips for any reason, Emma's magic will be taken away. And sure enough, guess what happens?
    • Belle always believing that Rumplestiltskin's changed and defending him to people who don't trust him, despite how he keeps doing awful things and shows no sign of stopping unless Belle or Neal are present and usually demanding that he stop.
    • Anna to some. She's kinda had a thing for being tricked by someone she's just met (signing Rumple's extremely long and fine-in-detail contract without even looking through it comes to mind).
    • In that same episode was Hook. After just showing great intelligence and successfully blackmailing Rumple for a needed cause, he somehow thought it would be a good idea to go back and ask for something else from the Dark One, who's already pissed off at being blackmailed before. Naturally, that bit of arrogance did not go well for him.
    • Snow and Charming both accepting Emma wanting to give up her magic, saying it's her own decision and they trust her. Which rather ignores that she made this particular decision out of pure panic in the middle of a chaotic bout of Power Incontinence, rather than taking the time to think it over. Regina of all people calls them on it.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Based on fairy tales, specifically the Disney-centric ones, which are generally thought of as kid-friendly, but characters are killed and tortured left, right and center, and the villains tend towards being not particularly nice people. Not to mention family friendly topics like adultery, teen pregnancy, parental abuse, alcoholism, and symbolic drug addictions.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?:
    • "Hat Trick" is a bit strange already, but about the time a giant blue smoke-blowing caterpillar appears, well...
    • The entire series is actually a brilliant idea, but it can get this kind of feel when you try to describe it. "Rumpelstiltskin and the Evil Queen fight for power against Snow White, Prince Charming, and their daughter."
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Agnes Bruckner as the adult Lily has some raised eyebrows. The thing is that Nicole Munoz is very clearly Hispanic (half Spanish on her mother's side) with light brown skin and black eyes. Agnes Bruckner is clearly white, naturally blonde, and with light brown eyes. The casting got some minor accusations of whitewashing, as well as for the fact that the two actresses simply do not look alike.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?:
    • The Evil Queen's hair and outfits straddle the fine line between awesome and utterly ridiculous. Opinions on the matter vary a great deal.
    • Before the Costume Porn came in, the first episode or two had rather cliche outfits, such as Charming's puffy-chested shirt and Granny's dress and cap.
    • The fairies, who wear ballerina-esque dresses with ribbons hanging from the skirts. Lampshaded hilariously by Cora in disguise.
      Cora: I hate that outfit.
    • In a town where everyone has been trapped since the early eighties and no one can get in or out, it's a bit jarring that the characters all have modern technology and current designer clothing. This is even more glaring in flashbacks of Emma that take place outside Storybrooke in the nineties but everyone is wearing 2015's latest trends.
    • Mary Margaret's clothes get steadily frumpier and less flattering as the show goes on. Come Season 5 it comes across as them intentionally wanting to dress Ginnifer Goodwin down for no apparent reason. Likewise by Season 5 she had dyed her hair platinum blonde, so they gave her a similarly unflattering wig.
    • Ursula's dress in the Enchanted Forest is rather... out there.
  • The Woobie:
    • Emma Swan and her entire life story, including much of the "present" timeline in the show. Henry too, whenever he isn't being The Scrappy.
    • And the sad but very sweet Miss Mary Margaret Blanchard.
    • Dr. Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket, who is constantly abused by... everyone. Mostly Regina at first, but everyone else is a little too quick to snap at their conscience.
    • Shepherd-David being forced to never see his mother again and having to call the man who threatened her "father" for the rest of his life all in the name of duty. And later, said father seems to have ended up resenting David anyway and declares to Snow White that he isn't his son. Only the king's pragmatic nature and desire to preserve his kingdom keep him in check.
    • Graham/The Huntsman. Because he spared Snow White, the Queen ripped out his heart, condemning him to never feel anything again, then made him into her Sex Slave. He spends his whole last episode on the verge of psychic collapse, torn between his feelings for Emma and Regina as memories of the other world intrude on his mind. And then, when he finally, finally pulls himself together and shares a sweet moment with Emma, Regina crushes his heart and kills him.
    • Belle.
    • Abigail/Kathryn. Kathryn is easily sympathetic, but Abigail becomes this as well once her backstory is revealed.
    • Really, most of the cast whether due to the Dark Curse or otherwise, have gone through some pretty terrible things.
    • Red. See... Granny was bitten by the original Big Bad Wolf who, as it turns out, was a werewolf. And Granny's husband. In turn, this meant Granny's daughter would become the 2nd Big Bad. And in turn, Red herself is the 3rd Big Bad. Who happens to eat her love. It takes a lot of convincing before she stops seeing herself as a monster.
    • Aurora. Under a sleeping curse for thirty years that makes you relive your worst memories. Her true love sacrifices himself to save her and gets his soul sucked out. She's plagued by horrible nightmares and won't sleep. Then Cora kidnaps her. Then Hook rips out her heart and gives it to Cora. She and Phillip are temporarily turned into flying monkey slaves of the Wicked Witch for telling Snow and Charming about the plans for their baby. While Aurora herself is pregnant.
    • Baelfire aka Neal. He's watched his father who abandoned him die in front of him to make up for it. He was also forcibly separated from his son and the woman he loves. Then he gives his life for his father's, and dies with him holding his hand and in Emma's arms, and with Henry having no real memory of him
    • Anton. He was bullied by his family and never fit in. When he finally gets friends, who are human, they betray him and kill his family, causing him to be The Last of His Kind.
    • Mulan. Who is implied to have fallen in love with Prince Phillip while helping him reunite with his True Love Aurora (whether this was the case is still heavily debated), only for him to lose his soul right after they wake her up and his final request was for her to protect her romantic rival in his place. Then she falls in love with Aurora while they are trying to find a way to bring back Prince Philip's soul. And after they do that and Mulan finally decides to confess her feelings Aurora happily tells her that she is now pregnant with Prince Phillip's child.
    • Madeline, Cruella's mother. She loses her husband (and his successors) to Cruella's sociopathic impulses, tries to make her good, to no avail, and ages alone, dealing with her daughter's petty crimes on her own because she doesn't want to denounce her and feels responsible for everything. Her only comfort and support comes from her dogs, who protect her and remind her of her succesful career. Then, Cruella acquires power over animals, gets the dogs to kill her mother, gets rid of them too and makes herself a nice fur coat with the leftovers...
      Madeline: Get away from Cruella. She takes the things you love and she destroys them.
    • Tinker Bell, for how the Blue Fairy treated her after trying so hard to prove herself a good fairy and help someone.
    • Ariel, who is tricked into betraying Snow White, the friend who helped her finally meet Eric. When she goes back and saves Snow from Regina, she has her voice stolen before she can talk to Eric again. She remains without her voice for 28+ years, unaffected by the Dark Curse, which only means she's aware of the entire time. Somewhat lessened by the fact that this did not, in fact, Break the Cutie, and when Regina restores her voice, Ariel quickly lets it go when she's told where Eric is, and carries on in her usual Plucky Girl style. Blackbeard kidnapped Eric and Hook refused to help her find him in order to keep his ship. Though she did eventually find him and they even escaped the second casting of the Dark Curse.
    • Wendy being a prisoner of Pan for centuries, trapped in a box with the threat of John and Michael hanging over her head if she doesn't do his bidding, and knowing her parents are long gone by now. The poor girl seemed traumatized. John and Michael qualify as well, having to be Pan's slaves for about a century or else he would kill their older sister.
    • Sir Percival. When he was a child, Regina burned down his village, killed his loved ones and smiled as she did. Years later, he sees her with a group of people who don't argue when she claims to be the savior. While he could have told Arthur, it's not surprising, not to mention understandable that he tries to kill Regina for her crimes. And while David only kills him after he nearly kills Robin, it's not hard to feel bad for the poor boy. Especially when his king, whom he has served faithfully, forgives Regina, although that may be justified by Arthur's own deceitfulness and sketchy moral code.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/OnceUponATime