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YMMV: Once Upon a Time

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  • Abandon Shipping:
    • Early on, Golden Swan (Emma/Gold) was quiet 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.
  • 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.
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy:
    • Milah is a real piece of work but her death in her lover's arms was rather sad.
    • 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. And this time it's not reversed.
  • 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 althougt 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?
    • 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.
    • 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?
    • 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 her 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 three, 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.
    • There are a couple of hints in the season 2 premiere that imply Aurora could have gone under the Sleeping Curse willingly, like Snow did. When Mulan asks her how she came to be in her castle, Aurora says that she knows something about sacrifice. Also a spinning wheel can be seen beside her bed - and a few episodes later is established to be the 'traditional' method of inflicting the curse (pricking one's finger on the spindle). As Aurora's backstory has yet to be revealed, time will tell.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Anvilicious: True North can get pretty preachy on the problems of the foster system.
  • Arc Fatigue: Some fans feel this way about 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.
    • Also, the second half of season 2, particularly after Cora's death, becomes very wearying to watch, especially given how anticlimactically Greg and Tamara were dealt with at the beginning of the third season.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 the magic-less Cruella De Vil. Along with the new actress and her being much more evil, it actually kind of comes off like they forgot they'd already used her.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Regina. Her lovers and haters are perhaps the most extreme in the fanbase. She's seen as either the best character or the worst, well developed or static, badass or pathetic, funny or annoying, redeemable or irredeemable, etc., etc. Things have only gotten more intense on the haters' side as the show has gone on.
    • Neal and especially his relationship with Emma. While much of the hate is shipping related, some dislike him because of his actions in the backstory (such as agreeing to August's plan to let Emma go to jail), which, some feel, weren't properly acknowledged enough in late Season Two. It was, however, acknowledged some in early Season Three. Emma admits that the memories are too painful to the point that her darkest secret is her guilt over feeling that it might be better if Neal hadn't been found alive. To Neal's credit, his reaction to learning this was admirable. When she apologized for the secret, he immediately told her that after the way he treated her, she had no reason to feel guilty.
    • Belle was an Ensemble Darkhorse during season one... yet became much more controversial in season two, particularly due to an Amnesiac Lover storyline that didn't really go anywhere, and a lot of fans turned their backs on her and the Rumbelle ship, although it's still quite popular.
      • The Rumbelle shippers also have some mixed feelings about the end of Season 3 Huzzah! They get married. Bad news: In the episode prior, Rumple was dishonest to Belle about giving up evil, gave her a fake copy of his control dagger, and used the real one to murder a de-powered, imprisoned, and defenseless Zelena. He made Belle his unknowing alibi and accomplice in murder.
    • Some viewers like Zelena, seeing her as the new 'Evil Queen.' Some can't stand her, seeing her attempts to erase Regina from existence and cast the Dark Curse herself as simply behaving like a bratty child having a tantrum (which other viewers find makes her like Regina.) Not to mention the Replacement Scrappy / Tough Act to Follow factor since she comes right on the heels of the widely-loved Peter Pan.
    • Hook:
      • From the get-go, some fans liked him and thought he was a great, sexy, morally ambiguous addition. Others thought he was a blatant Jack Sparrow expy and was forced upon the fans as an attempt to artificially create an Ensemble Darkhorse. The promotion to main character before even appearing did nothing to assuage those issues.
      • Some fans liked Hook's season three storyline. Some wanted him to stay a villain. Others thought it was too rushed. Others thought it dragged. Some wanted a different romance or no romance. Opinions of him are generally all over the place now.
      • It's worse in Season 4, because while he gets his happy ending with Emma, Rumpel and Regina get their's switched away from them at the last minute.
    • Rumpelstiltskin's storyline in first half of season 4 is becoming this. Some are finding his return to villainy to be fun to watch, since he was generally a great villain. Others are disappointed at all his character development from last season seemingly being stripped. Especially since Hook and Regina have finally made the full switch from villain to hero.
    • Anna is also becoming this, after it's revealed that it was she who inspired Charming to become a hero and especially after she outwits Rumplestiltskin in a flashback.
    • The announcement that Cruella De Vil was going to show up in the second half of Season 4. Some think she'll be a great addition, others don't because 101 Dalmatians isn't a fantasy story and she is way out of place in a high fantasy show.
      • Although this might be startling to some to know the original book played with the idea of her being a demon. And if you think that's strange, then be prepared to be even more shocked when you learn the book's sequel had a dog from outer space at the core of it's plot. Disneyfication clearly dropped all of these ideas.
  • 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 (10 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.
  • Broken Base:
    • Season 2 turned the already passionate fandom into a snake pit full of hissing vipers. Regina fans, Regina haters (often The Charmings fans or Rumple fans), Rumbelle shippers, people who feel Rumbelle is squicky or boring, Neal/Emma shippers, people who feel Neal is The Scrappy, Emma/Hook shippers, Hook haters (which only got worse in Season 3), people who feel the writers are succumbing to Draco in Leather Pants syndrome, people who still like everything...
    • Mary Margaret's one night stand with Doctor Whale. Consensual sex between two unattached adults which is being blown out of proportion by the rest of the fan base or the unnecessary sullying of a beloved classic character who is supposed to be the epitome of innocence and goodness? Furthermore, why does she alone get the flack for sleeping once with Dr. Whale, when judging by Kathryn's pregnancy scare, David was also actively engaging in a sexual relationship with someone else? Doesn't this make it an even worse offence, since he's Prince Charming after all? Likewise, in-universe, why did David get none of the hate when the affair between known?
    • The Regina fans versus the Rumplestiltskin fans. This is lampshaded in the audio commentary of Skin Deep, in which Jane Espenson says that having two villains makes things richer, but also makes viewers try to shoehorn one of them in the function of "actual villain" and the other in "other hero". This has lessened greatly in Season 3, however, now that the two characters are no longer out to get each other.
    • Also the inclusion of Victor Frankenstein, who while not the sole example of a literary character on the show (as characters from Carlo Collodi's "Pinocchio", Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" were already used) does stand out among characters used in Disney films and traditional folklore. It's helped a bit by his coming from a third universe, presumably one full of horror movie characters.
    • The inclusion of both Arthurian legend (via Lancelot and the Lady in the Lake) and Mulan.
    • Regina's arc in the second season has split the fanbase down the middle between those who find her a Jerkass Woobie to be pitied and deserving of redemption, and those who find her a whiny sociopath who is well past forgiveness.
    • The revelation that Henry's father, Neal Cassidy, is Baelfire, Rumple's son. Some fans really did not want this twist. Actually, everything having to do with the character of Neal in general breaks the base.
    • Snow murdering Cora, particularly the way she did it. There's the camp that thinks she had no choice and that Cora (and Regina) really had it coming since they would murder them without a second thought. After choosing to take the box with her instead of cleanly finishing the job, Snow would probably never have escaped that tomb alive if she tried to crush or control Cora's heart because Regina would have killed her, and there was no way she could reach Cora herself without Cora noticing. And keeping Rumpelstiltskin alive is arguably the best strategy against Regina. Then there's the camp that thinks saving Rumplestiltskin who has a much bigger nuisance potential and barely hesitated in putting their lives in jeopardy before was a piss poor excuse, that using Regina to murder her own mother was beyond cruel, and that if she wanted to do the right thing, all she had to do was crush the heart herself...or, if she could let go of her vengeful feelings, just put it back in Cora without cursing the candle, which might have prompted a Heel-Face Turn from Cora.
    • A minor one with Mulan: while most of the fandom is on board with Mulan being attracted to women (specifically, in love with Aurora), there is some debate on whether this means she's bisexual or a lesbian, due to the ambiguous nature of her feelings for Philip. Each of these require different interpretations of her arc in Season 2: was she in love with Philip and protecting Aurora based on her vow to him, which developed into having feelings for Aurora or was Philip more like a brother to her and Aurora simply jumped to conclusions, given that Mulan never confirmed loving Philip, and was really in love with Aurora all along while Aurora didn't know love when she saw it?
    • For those so tired of every new character being revealed to be related to Snow/Regina/Rumplestiltskin, the revelation that Peter Pan is Rumplestiltskin's father didn't sit well.
      • Nor did the revelation that The Wicked Witch Of The West aka Zelena is Regina's sister/half sister.
    • The Neverland arc of Season 3: is it brilliant, boring, or a roller coaster of both?
      • By that same token, the second arc of Season 3 featuring the Wicked Witch of the West is either an improvement over the Neverland arc, a drastic step down from the Neverland arc, or of the same quality (high or low) as the Neverland arc.
    • After including the characters mentioned above, the show goes one step further by featuring a real historical figure, ie Blackbeard, as a resident of the Enchanted Forest, though it could be argued that he's the legendary version from exaggerated tales told about the real person rather than the man himself.
      • This one is a major study on how much some people really know historically. While Blackbeard has myths associated with him, characters that have triggered historical debate on whether they existed or not or at least being inspired by someone real (Robin Hood, The Pied Piper, Mulan, King Arthur, etc) aren't as complained about. But in the other token. Blackbeard was turned into a literature character in "On Stranger Tides" a book Disney has rights to and adapted into the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Plus in Peter Pan, Captain Hook is said to have been Blackbeard's cabin boy essentially. So by that token Blackbeard is very much deserving to be included if other literature and possibly historical people.
    • Bringing in Elsa from Disney's Frozen before the movie is even a year old. Some think it's awesome, others find it a despicable cash grab / marketing ploy due to the movie and character's popularity and a sign of the show jumping the shark. Ironically, Word of God says that this isn't the case at all and in many ways the opposite: THEY had the idea to incorporate Elsa into the show and had to get Disney's permission for it, rather than Disney forcing a marketing-based mandate on them.
    • Bringing in time travel. "Snow Falls" is a fan favorite. Some fans were unhappy with the alterations to it.
    • Olaf being Adapted Out of the show's take on Frozen naturally got some of the film's fans upset, especially since they managed to find room for Sven, Grand Pabbie, and even Marshmallow.
      • Some fans were also greatly disappointed that the show didn't have Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell reprise their roles in live action, now that the show was finally dealing with a property where that might have been possible.
    • Many Frozen fans are unhappy at the drastic changes to Frozen's story/back-story. For one, Elsa's mother goes from being a woman who was trying her best to help her daughter with strange and volatile powers to being directly responsible for Elsa's mental issues.
    • Rumpel's arc in season 4, as throws away his chance at happy ending for power. Belle banishes from Storybrooke when he finds out. So he teams up with Cruella De Vil, Ursula, and Maleficent to bring chaos to Storybrooke.
  • 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: YMMV, of course. But 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.
  • 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. The kicker? 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome:
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: The entire series can be avoided if Rumplestilskin just chose another way to travel to our world. As listed in New Powers as the Plot Demands in the series's trope page
  • 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.
    • It's now also happening with Robin Hood and Hook amongst the Swan Queen fandom.
    • 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.
    • And now it's happening among certain parts of the Outlaw Queen fandom with Marian's return. Some people even started shipping her with a noose!
  • 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.
      • Season 4 takes it to particularly weird depths as the show suddenly starts acting like the evil Regina was an entirely separate character, whose crimes the current one shouldn't have to be held responsible for. When her love interest doesn't give a rat's ass that she killed his wife, and she says with a straight face that she'll never forgive Emma for going back in time and stopping that, you know this trope is in effect.
    • 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 those 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 very bratty and takes it out on people who really had nothing to do with how her life turned out.
    • Also subverted with the Snow Queen. She has a tragic back story, but in the present she has zero redeeming qualities and is intent on destroying Storybrooke just because she can try and there will be no one left for Elsa and Emma to love except her.
  • 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 a 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.
    • Sven the reindeer, thanks to being played by an amazing animal actor who perfectly captures the character's silent Deadpan Snarker nature.
    • 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 helps.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • The Evil Queen. Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold could also be considered this (depending on your tastes), but the Queen/Regina is the most clear-cut example. 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 a Season 3.
    • The Ice Queen (all right, the Snow Queen) as portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell in Season 4. Cold has never looked so hot.
    • This poll asked fans who the hottest male cast member is. The two most popular answers were Mr. Gold and Hook.
      • 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).
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • Cora was curb-stomping everyone with impunity until Snow stopped her and saved Rumplestiltskin using the most reprehensible option. Good was completely ineffective, and only got innocent people killed. The evil option worked, even if Snow's paying a heavy price for it.
    • Some people think that Neal's death in Season 3 pushes that very same message. Others thought it about Hook suffering as a result of apologizing and trying to make up for hurting Ariel, in comparison to Regina getting to be happy despite and once even because she doesn't regret her evil behavior.
    • As does Regina losing Robin Hood and being literally the only character to end Season 3 unhappy...a season, bear in mind, that spent a lot of time having her work hard to redeem herself, to the point of being the one to defeat Zelena and save everyone.
      • Though her relationship with Robin happened with no obstacles whatsoever when she actually went for it during this storyline—unlike the romances of every other main character—and the reason she ended the season was unhappy was a direct consequence of her evil behavior in the past.
    • Might be Fridge Brilliance: good has to be selfless and doesn't necessarily earn its own reward. It must still be pursued, and that's a nice way to prepare younger viewers for side-effects.
      • The Aesop seems to be "Sometimes you have to take uncomfortable actions to resolve a problem, and 'I did what I had to do' doesn't always excuse you from the consequences."
  • Fan Favorite: Among the main cast, Rumplestilskin s the most popular.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Come Season 2 there has been a lot of support for the Emma/Hook pairing, much more than for the Canon Emma/Neal.
      • Though Emma/Hook is canon as of season three and was arguably always intended to be canon.
    • 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.
    • Red 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.
  • 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.

     H - O 
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Oh, come on. How many people really think Rumplestiltskin is 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's been forced to adopt the name James.)
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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!
  • Ho Yay:
    • Hook and Charming, come Season 3. Could be Foe Yay but seeing as they're not exactly on opposite sides right now...
    • 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.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: All ship names. Here's a few examples.
    • Emma/Regina = "Swan Queen"
    • Ruby/Belle = "Red Beauty"
    • Hook/Emma = "Captain Swan".
    • Emma/Neal = "Swan Thief" or "Swan Fire"
    • Mulan/Aurora = "Sleeping Warrior"
    • 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'll have to die if his theory is correct.
    • 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 take over 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 take over the world, while keeping Belle from finding out.
  • 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 familly. 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.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Rumpelstiltskin Though he get rids of the woobie part in Season 4.
    • Regina
    • Captain Hook.
    • Jefferson the Mad Hatter and Dr. Whale/Victor Frankenstein.
    • Young Cora in "The Miller's Daughter" before she rips out her own heart.
    • August Booth aka Pinocchio can also qualify.
    • Greg Mendell aka Owen Flynn is another example.
    • 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."
    • 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.
    • Ingrid the Snow Queen, 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, 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. Plus Baelfire after "Manhattan".
    • 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, Prince Charming,Tinkerbell, Neal/Baelfire, Peter Pan, Wendy...even Ariel, at least several episodes before she actually appeared.
  • Les Yay: Let's face it, the series is rife with it (probably due to the unusually high number of female main characters). No wonder there's a big LGBT following.
    • 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.
    • 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. See Foe Yay.
      • This may reach its apex in the Season 4 winter finale, where Emma finally puts Hook's heart back in...and then bails on their makeout session after a few seconds so she can hang out with Regina.
    • 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.
  • 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 backs 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.
  • 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 Dangerously Genre Savvy 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 acheiving 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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."
  • Memetic Sex God:
    • The cleavage shown in Regina's Evil Queen outfits has reached memetic status among some fans. Her low voice and the nature of some of her lines don't hurt either.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Oddly enough, the show seems to operate under the premise that there is no Moral Event Horizon and that, while redemption is no cakewalk, no one is "irredeemably evil". Both Regina and Rumplestiltskin have tried to redeem themselves with varying degrees of success. However, fans still insist on making their own judgements:
    • Cora: If you didn't already consider Cora to have crossed the Moral Event Horizon with her constant emotional and physical abuse of her own daughter, then killing Daniel in cold blood and forcing her to marry the King probably would do the trick.
    • Greg and Tamara:
      • Individually, Tamara's is either killing August in "Selfless, Brave and True" or shooting Neal in "Second Star to the Right", and Greg's is his Cold-Blooded Torture of Regina in the same episode. Together, they probably cross it for many by deciding to wipe out Storybrooke and everyone in it.
    • Peter Pan is on the other side of it the first time we hear about him, how he kidnaps little boys from their families and takes them in Neverland, never permitting them to leave. It's said that almost every night is filled with the cries of children who miss their families and want to go home. This in addition to running a very long plan being The Man Behind the Man on "the Home Office", enslaving the Darlings, and sacrificing his son for a return chance at youth and unlimited power.
    • Others:
      • The original Prince James and Jacqueline's callous genocide of the giants in "Tiny". Overlaps with King George, as he ordered it.
      • Jiminy's parent's finding out about the curse he was desperately going to hit them with, then taking it and intentionally using it on Gepetto's parents to permanently turn them into puppets even though they had no reason to do so, all just to Kick the Dog.
    • Regina. It's very, very hard to pick just one, and it's very, very hard to agree on one, but most fans definitely think she crossed it while watching Season 1. After watching Season 2 (particularly after 2x02 and 2x05), they can hardly reach any consensus at all.
      • Her treatment of Henry: trying to push him into thinking that the curse wasn't real and thus making him believe that he was crazy (though his therapist and her both being very cautious not to use that terminology, she did trick Emma into using it in order to drive her away from her son, but the deleted scenes reveal that she was kind of surprised by how attached to her he already was), all in order to protect herself/the curse. Then trying to kill members of Henry's family—on multiple occasions—sometimes not even checking whether he was here and therefore doing it right in front of him. Then trying to put him under a love curse because she remains absolutely sure that having her loving him is the best thing that can happen to him and refuses to confront her flaws. Also, some fans consider Regina telling Henry about her plan to destroy Storybrooke, kill everyone living there, and kidnap Henry back to FTL, then erasing his memory of the conversation, one as well.
      • Then, it's made clear that though she clearly has no qualms about emotionally/mentally scarring the son she claims to love for life, unlike other villainous abusive parents on the show, she always genuinely believes in the excuses she finds to keep him around and cannot understand Henry's reactions. Trying to become the mother she always wanted to have turned her into a Knight Templar Parent, and when she realizes this after countless traumas caused by her missing the significance of his relationship with his biological mother, it takes her a very traumatic scene reminding her of her own mother to make her decide to turn herself around... a heartfelt resolution that gets thrown by the window the second her abandonment issues are resolved and her loneliness reawakened by her mother's semi-redemption and death.
      • The Queen killing her own father, explicitly the one thing she loved more than anything else. Though it is less of one for her and more of one for other characters if you were willing to accept the Sympathetic Murder Backstory on the death of her father ( he watched her be physically and emotionally abused by her mother for years). Also, she feels enormous remorse about it.
      • Alternatively, her repeated rape and later the murder of Graham certainly qualifies. Graham was an amnesiac whose memory she had rewritten so that he would stay with her, and he had apparently felt something was wrong since a long time. This is confirmed in Welcome to Storybrooke, where everyone's personalities were essentially chosen by Regina and many fans thought Graham clearly had no choice whatsoever. Regina could even use his heart to direct him, like a puppet. It stays to be confirmed whether Regina really knew what she was doing or not, as the writers and actress's statements make it look as if Adam and Edie and she by extension thought of it as of a real relationship, but it definitely wasn't.
      • Even if Leopold was a neglectful bore of a husband who saw her mother's acceptance of his proposal as a valid answer when she was still a teenager, even if he knew that he would never make her happy, and expected her to stay faithful to him and miserable for all the deades of the duration of the marriage, even if he may have planned to kill her potential lover, was it really necessary to pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit on the yet innocent Genie smitten with her, get him to kill Leopold for her, and then let the Genie plunge into eternal servitude as her magic mirror ? Mostly when watching the consequence in 1x07 and Snow's reaction. You could have just bribed a guard!
      • And if you were wiling to accept even that possibility and still forgive her, then the revelation that she's kept Belle (who, unlike Snow White or the Huntsman, never crossed her or did her any harm at all) shut away in a mental ward for twenty eight years, presumably either to keep her quiet or as some sort of bargaining chip against Mr. Gold might just do it. Although then again, Regina just shows a Cycle of Vengeance mindset (taking leverage material to deal with what she knows, is almost evil incarnate but with very human qualities such as a fondness for Belle, and nearly omnipotent), while Rumple already demonstrated his capacity to screw her life over more than needed at that point in the chronology. Some fans tend to too easily dismiss it as a sort of Karmic Retribution for Rumple and No Sympathy towards Belle.. Regardless of how much Regina deserves pity rather than scorn, the point remains that she deliberately hurt an innocent victim (Belle), in cool blood, which contributes into making her Not So Different with Rumple, no matter how much this displeases fans trying to scapegoat him for the event.
      • All the murders and the later kidnapping can be argued to acceptable losses to further her plans. But sending defenseless CHILD after CHILD into a cannibal witch's house to retrieve the poisoned apple crosses it. She's shown she could have taken care of the Blind Witch herself (via mirrors and fireballs), even though that would have costed her her revenge, making her look worse when she sends Hansel and Gretel in. Without remorse or hesitation she sent over a DOZEN kids to certain doom just to get a MacGuffin just to screw over ONE PERSON. ONE PERSON.
      • She was involved in Kathryn's disappearance and attempted to commit a murder. She then uses her supposed friend's death to screw over someone who's already miserable, and for kicks she also makes Sidney, who's hopelessly in love with her, confess to the crime.
      • What she did to Jefferson; deliberately screwing him over so that she could get her father back (who she'll kill later anyway, rendering the whole Wonderland trip meaningless) and then hypocritically shooting his words 'You don't leave family' back at him, before leaving him behind to be separated from his daughter forever - as well as from his head, if only for a while. BITCH. Though she gets a Sympathetic Murder Backstory-ish storyline AGAIN, since, before his daughter was even born, Jefferson was The Hedonist and helped drive her insane in exchange from some material help from Rumplestiltskin.
      • Regina trying to get Kurt and Owen to stay in Storybrooke and, when that didn't work, chasing them down like criminals, having Kurt arrested and thus depriving Owen of his father. Who cares if she cried in remorse? That was dreadful. To be fair, she was genuinely remorseful over what she did when she sees Owen crying for his father and she learned her lesson in the present time, as evidenced by destroying the love curse rather than forcing Henry to be her perfect, loving son, but still, her selfish actions back then have now put everyone in Storybrooke in jeopardy in the present day, as Owen is back and out to prove that magic exists to the whole world. (Oh, and she killed Kurt as well.)
      • Twisting Belle's memories and personality into a hard-partying Dark Chick. Did Belle do anything to Regina? Nope. It's all because Regina doesn't have the guts or power to face Rumplestiltskin directly, so she'll attack him through the innocent girl serving as his Morality Chain who did nothing more than support him and accidentally help framing her, in a dark mirrored version of what he did to Prince Henry.
      • In "The Evil Queen", she has a village destroyed and all it's inhabitants slaughtered back in the Enchanted Forest. And even though she looks as if she just realizes what she asked when she finds them before the apple incident, in the present, she's planning on doing the same to Storybrooke and all the people in it, and mind-wipes Henry of this plan so that he won't try to stop her. This also ends up directly enabling Tamara and Greg's Moral Event Horizon of doing the same thing, making Regina doubly guilty.
    • Rumplestiltskin Like for Regina, there is no fan consensus on whether or not he is redeemable.
      • Creating the damn curse to start with may qualify. While wanting to find his son is a sympathetic Freudian Excuse, ruining the lives of all around him to do so is just heinous, and even more when you realize there were other ways in 2x04 and he used the curse because it allowed him to keep his powers.
      • What makes all this even worse is that, when his son returns, he is happy spending his time with Belle. He doesn't visit him, try to repair the damage he caused or learn more about his grandson. To be fair, he has been shown spending a lot of time watching his son. Given how things played out in "Manhattan", maybe Gold doesn't know how to talk to his son.
      • Later, encouraging Regina to kill her own father.He starts by grasping her throat as if he was going to strangle her, then giggles through his whole rant, probably rejoicing because poor Henry ended up with the woman he loved in the past.
      • In The Price Of Gold, killing an innocent, benevolent woman whose job is to make desperate people happy without hidden side-consequences. This means he may have put thousands of Happy Endings into jeopardy, when he could have just locked her somewhere. Then, manipulating Ashley and trying to insult the memory of a beloved character whom, on a meta-level he cheated of her usual importance.
      • What Rumplestiltskin did to Regina, as shown in "We Are Both" and onward. While Cora started Regina down the road to darkness, Rumple made damn sure she continued down it, but he always insisted that the choice was hers, and that it was her fault, not his. Made worse by the fact that this may still be Revenge by Proxy on Cora.
      • Torturing Robin Hood. He hurts him and heals him, just because he feels some perverse satisfaction in punishing others for challenging a power they can't handle. Made better by letting Robin Hood go after Rumple found out Robin Hood wanted the magic wand to save his pregnant wife. Belle evens calls him out on it.
      • Later on, trying to harm Henry, his son's son, without concern for Neal's happiness, or any demonstration of remorse, just out of self-preservation. Made better by his rescue attempt afterwards.
      • To start with a disagreeable pattern, ripping out Milah's heart, whatever your opinion on whether she had a right to seek her own happiness or should have stayed with a family who loved her. Though that one can also come across as a crime of passion and he really only begins to lose control when he calls her out for abandoning Bae.
      • Trapping the defenseless apprentice into the hat. Also, using Hook, who wanted to be removed of his hand that compels him to regress to his old ways, to do this and blackmails him with it if he ever reveals the truth to Belle about switching the real dagger with the fake dagger and tells Hook that the hand wasn't cursed at all and that he did them by himself, calling it his true nature, and while Hook did bring it on himself for blackmailing Rumple in the first place, at least Hook is genuinely trying to change.
      • Using Emma's trust to [[spoiler:get her to be sucked inside the hat so that he can receive her powers was really pricky. Even when she's the mother of one of the two people he cares about, he still doesn't relent.]
      • Trying to kill Hook, when the above with Emma fails.
    • King George:
      • He dove over this line in "Child Of The Moon" by killing a man in cold blood, framing his murder on the innocent (and already guilt-ridden) Ruby, almost killing her, and then destroying the Mad Hatter's hat (which, in Storybrooke, is the only known way to get Emma and Snow back), all in the name of a grudge on Charming, not even any of the people that he screwed over during the episode!
      • Imprisoning Charming and attempting to have him executed just because he didn't go along with his Arranged Marriage, and then cursing Snow to a childless life. Evil Is Petty, indeed. Oh, and he killed his mother.
    • Hook
      • Attempting to kill Belle, simply because she was of no use to him. Also then later shooting Belle and letting her fall over the Storybrooke line so she'd (temporarily, thankfully) lose her memories. Though by then it's become apparent Hook is more interested in making Rumple miserable and some kind of inverted Suicide by Cop, at least since he can't kill him.
      • Some Sleeping Hook shippers were put off by Hook stealing Aurora's heart while she was unconscious. Some viewers started shipping the two because of that scene. Some consider this a subversion, as Hook also ends up saving her heart when it's about to be lost forever.
      • Selling out Bae, the son of the woman he loved, to the Lost Boys. The tragic thing about this one is that they were genuinely bonding. Hook started out using him for information to kill Rumple, but they bonded over being abandoned and almost became a family. It all went to hell when Bae found out that Milah left his family for Hook and refused to be on the ship any longer. Rather than let him go, Hook sells Bae for his own safety and that of his crew. Though, he does genuinely regret this and influenced his decision to not flee a doomed Storybrooke in the second season finale.
    • Zelena (Wicked Witch of the West)
      • Turning the Wizard of Oz into her first Flying Monkey, though it was borderline [1]. Sending him to "divert" Emma (though said monkey is originally human, neither of them seems to have had full knowledge of their actions, paralleling Graham.)
      • Caging an obviously insane and tortured Rumple, and forcing Rumple to attack Belle using the dagger, after giving her a Hope Spot.
      • The above is topped later when she forces him to threaten Robin Hood's son, a CHILD.
      • Setting up Baelfire to be killed, and then torturing Rumple and Emma with it.
      • Planning to unmake all of reality and the timeline so Cora will keep her, proving to be just as ruthless as her mother in her devotion to attaining her goals.
      • And, to top the list, kidnapping a newborn baby to use in her time-travel spell, which may or may not have killed it.
    • The Snow Queen
      • Nothing puts you over the edge faster than corrupting your nieces, turning one against the other and even getting the one you liked better trapped for at least 29 years.
      • There may be one thing: turning your niece, her fiance, and an entire freaking country into ice, in retaliation for treating you as a monster...despite having just cursed said niece into turning against her own sister. To be fair, freezing Arendelle may have been accidental since she seemed to have just been targeting Anna and Kristoff and the look of shock afterward implies that she didn't intend it to go as far as it did.
      • And then there's her freezing the heart of an innocent woman in order to frame your niece for it. I mean, geesh!
      • Cursing the entire town (and innocent people who have nothing to do with her) with the Shattered Spell curse.
  • Narm:
    • Prince Charming on Abigail and Frederick: "Have you tried true love's kiss?" Sure, that's a well-known cure for curses in the Enchanted Forest, but it sounds like he's recommending chicken soup for a cold or something.
    • The Blind Witch, who is very much like the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth, should be absolutely terrifying. Except that she's played by Anya and talks as if she's always orgasming.
    • The Boob... er... Blue Fairy along with a bunch of other fairies making a bombing run with all the vigor and seriousness of an army. In their usual slippers and puffy glittery dresses. The 'bombs' are fairy dust that put the targets to sleep. Made possibly more Narm-y since it's shown alongside people fighting with swords and other weapons hacking each other to death.
    • The ending of "An Apple Red As Blood". All things considered, a magical apple turnover just lacks a certain amount of dramatic gravitas.
    • August after being turned to wood, thanks to the dodgy CGI.
    • When Mulan begins to chop down the beanstalk, Mary Margaret's "Nooooooooooooo!"
      • Ginnifer Goodwin has a lot of moments like this, where emotional yelling ends up just sounding absurdly hammy.
    • Tamara's magic taser (able to electrocute wood!) has quickly become a joke among fans. The showrunners themselves have now said they wish they hadn't done it.
    • Greg and Tamara in private, talking about "the package", asking if it's been "delivered", and if it's "secure". You're completely alone, people! Just say you have freaking Hook tied up and gagged in the back of a truck. All that "package" talk becomes extra narmy. The writers could have at least tried to have one of these two lampshade how ridiculous it is to talk in code at all times.
    • Tamara and Greg strike again with their Bracelet of Science that can block Regina's magic. Really, show? Really?
      • Fans kind of jumped the gun on this. The revelation that Tamara and Greg's "communicator" was really a walky-talky toy that only worked because Peter Pan wanted it to makes it clear that it's the same story with the taser and the bracelet. Greg and Tamara were naïve enough to believe it was Weird Science that can defeat magic, when it actually was, in fact, magic itself.
    • Tamara's cheesy dialogue. "Magic does not belong in this world. It's unholy. We're here to cleanse this land of it!"
    • Greg in general has moments of this by just the way he looks and talks. Mention must go to him stammering "She was the-the-da queen! The-the evil queen!" in response to Tamara asking which fairy tale character Regina was, making comebacks like "No, you don't know who YOU are dealing with!", him wildly digging for his father's remains while saying "no no no no no no!", and the expression he makes right before the shadow comes down and kills him.
      • "THAT'S SCARY, AIN'T IT?!?!?!"
    • Baelfire's shock and panic upon seeing Neverland. Where, exactly, did he think Peter Pan's shadow was going to take him?
    • The moment poor Tinkerbell is stripped of her wings, turning her from a cheerful, kind person who tries to help everyone to a bitter cynic, is somewhat ruined by her shiny green underwear being exposed as she faceplants into the ground.
    • Killian Jones' hammy Rousing Speech to his crew when he first becomes a pirate (complete with throwing off his coat) was the source of much amusement for many viewers.
    • The last two acts of "Going Home" are quite dramatic and moving. Shame the effect is kind of ruined with the rampant, unapologetic use of Talking Is a Free Action as it seems our heroes have all the time in the world to talk through all their remaining issues even as the curse bears down on them.
    • Red being awkwardly photoshopped into the scene of the main cast arriving back in the Enchanted Forest, especially since they could have just said she was with one of the other groups showing up.
    • It can now be pretty hard to take the end of "Going Home" seriously, with such a huge deal being made about how everything is changing and can never be the same again, when most of it is reset in the span of just one more episode, and anything that still isn't ends up being so by the end of the season.
    • After so many neat twists on fairy tale and Disney canon, it's a bit silly to see Grand Pabbie from Frozen taken straight from the film. As in, it literally looks like the CGI model from the film was put directly into the live action footage.
      • Really, any non-major Frozen character that the writers included. The painstaking detail they put into recreating Oaken the shopkeeper and the Duke of Weselton resulted in a very cartoonish look that is bizarrely different from the show's usual tone. Helga's death was one of the most dramatic moments of the season, but when you remember that it was instigated by the funny-looking Duke with the Dodgy Toupee... well, it gets a little bit harder to take it seriously.
    • Hook attempting to dig Emma out of the ice with his hook.
    • While for some it may be seen as Narm Charm, the constant ice jokes in season 4 have reached Mr.Freeze levels of ridiculousness.
    • Rumplestiltskin has managed to get hold of the Sorceror's Hat; when he threatens the Snow Queen in Family Business, the menacing effect is ruined by the fact that he's holding the rather childish and cartoon like hat.
    • The scene of the Snow Queen first discovering her powers, with three not-so-great child actresses saddled with Ed Wood levels of tin-eared dialogue.
    • The scene at the end of "The Fall" where the spell of shattered sight hits story brook was over the top dramatic. probably because of how long the scene played out for.
    • With the reveal that there are multiple copies of the "Once Upon a Time" book, Regina's search for the author bears quite a distracting resemblance to the Myth Arc of Gravity Falls.
  • 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 alot 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Pan and Rumple. Particularly during their death scene.
    • Emma and Walsh.
    • Zelena/The Wicked Witch and Rumple.
    • Cora and Leopold is almost universally loathed.
  • 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.

     R - W 
  • 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 Scrappy 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.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Snow, Henry, Charming and Emma (less often than the others for obvious reasons) tend to get this.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.)
    • 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.
    • Gerda gets classed as a horrible person with the revelation that she trapped Ingrid in the urn. Some fans have run away with this, painting Helga as the good sister and Gerda as the evil sister - forgetting that Gerda loved Ingrid just as much as Helga and that Ingrid had already shown herself as someone not to be trusted when she made a deal with Rumpelstiltskin. While the show presents it as Gerda making a huge mistake, in her defence seeing one sister apparently murdered by the other didn't exactly put her in a rational frame of thinking.
      • Though this one is written a bit more ambiguously than the others: Ingrid was perfectly rational and simply ignorant of magic when she traded symbolic hair ribbons against the urn and the gloves, which should have been much more effective in preventing her from killing people, had Rumple not been a trickster. Not only was her acceptance of the urn preparation for Heroic Self Sacrifice, she'd already stated that, for her sisters' and everyone else's good, she was ready to leave the only home she ever had and her royal life. Yet, when she finds her sister crying, craddling Helga's deady body and telling her very clearly that the accident they always feared just happened, Gerda launches into a speciesist rant that will be the last thing Ingrid hears before she traps her in an urn for years, something she does without ever considering her parents' feelings about losing two daughters. Afterwards, she tries to make it better. Through Mind Rape. Years later, she is also responsible for all of Elsa's self-issues and the tragedy that almost costed Anna her life, all because she was afraid of her own daughter and taught her to be ashamed of who she was.
      • Her letter, expressing her regret of her actions, however, should elevate the haters.
    • The Sorcerer who's bloody hat kickstarted Rumpel's regression into villainy.
    • Even the beloved Belle, 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, due to how badly she treated Rumplestiltskin and not seeming to care that she abandoned her family to run off with Hook. While she is certainly flawed, some point out that Milah had been depressed and miserable for years and Rumplestiltskin wouldn't listen to what she said she needed. Granted, there wasn't anywhere for them to go. Not taking Rumple's massive abandonment fears into consideration, they didn't have the money to leave every thing behind and start again. It would be especially hard with a four-year-old child and a disabled husband who was reviled by the whole village. Still, she at least left her child to a loving parent. Rumplestiltskin doesn't get much hate over abandoning his son, or over trying to get him back by manipulating and wrecking other people's lives so he can keep the powers that said son hated. The second season finale makes her look either better or worse...she evidently DID regret abandoning Baelfire and had hoped to one day go back to take him aboard the ship with her and Hook... however, that plan would mean taking him away from Rumple forever, once again showing a disturbing lack of sympathy for her husband, who loves their child too.
    • 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. 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.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • There is a widespread dislike for Season 2, especially it's 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.
    • Thankfully, Season 4 is back to near its top popularity, with the addition of Frozen into the mythos providing a much-needed fresh storytelling route.
      • That said it's beginning to have its detractors because Rumpel gets a bad case of Flanderisation and goes back to being villain. While Regina is unable to be with Robin because events keep happening that must keep them apart.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Similarly, Baelfire/Wendy is no longer a possibility, as Baelfire grew up and Wendy did not.
    • Panry sunk like a rock after "Think Lovely Thoughts".
    • Swanfire as Neal dies for good in 'Quiet Minds'. Curiously, in the very same episode there seemed to be hints that they actually were a True Love couple.
  • 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).
  • 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: Sometimes, the special effects are pretty good for a series that works with a regular TV budget. Sometimes, they fall under this trope.
  • 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 portal at this point, but still, some found it quite jarring. Others, not so much. Some fans found it one of the most touchingly heartbreaking moments on the show.
    • 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."
  • 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.
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Prince Charming has some choice words about his unpopular curse persona in "We Are Both".
    • 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 shadows 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.
  • 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 Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Many feel that the writer's 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.
    • 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 screentime 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 sucess 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 Outof Focus and despite being a part in other people's backstories she has yet to be given one of her own.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Toy Ship: Henry with either Gretel or Paige/Grace. Also, Baelfire and Wendy.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: The Lacey sublot near the end of the second season had nothing to do with the main plot and has never been mentionned since.
    • Like LOST, some flashbacks are guilty of this, being forgetable filler subplot. A big offender is "The New Neverland" whith an uninterresting 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).
  • Uncanny Valley: Probably Invoked with August's wooden face, glass eyes, and obvious CGI facial expressions.
  • The Untwist:
    • 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, 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Villain Decay:
    • Hook. He was basically a Badass 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. Then, come Season 3, and some viewers have felt as he gets more heroic, he isn't as interesting as before.
    • 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. Similarly, some feel that in Season 3 the more heroic she gets, the more boring she gets.
    • 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. Though he comes back from it, whether unfortunate or not, the next season.
    • 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.
  • Villain Sue:
    • Tamara. Upon meeting a powerful sorcerer implied to be an actual dragon she intends to kill him. She strikes ruthlessly, and flawlessly. Her weapon of choice? A. Freaking. Tazer. A nonlethal device that the police use to incapacitate somebody they don't want to kill. She uses a tazer on him, and he dies, despite the implication that the sorcerer is a dragon (and dragons shrug off bullets). Then she uses the same trick when she wants to shut August up. Keep in mind that August is, at the time, MADE OF WOOD!!! Earlier in the same episode, he didn't react to an arrow or a scalpel being jammed into his leg. And she uses the tazer, again. And like last time, it proves fatal. A tazer. Though clearly a magical tazer provided by Peter Pan.
    • Zelena/The Wicked Witch as well. She's Regina's older sister, has an equally tragic past, and is more talented at magic than she is. She's also more evil and (arguably) smarter, judging by the results of her plotting thus far, and other characters are made significantly dumber than usual in order to advance her plans (that nobody could figure out that the new lady in town with a giant emerald broach, black coat and hat was the Wicked Witch is a subject of much fan mockery.
    • "Kansas" subverted it at the very end when Zelena was defeated pretty easily once Regina used light magic. She lost the dagger and her control over Rumpelstiltskin just as easily. Ultimately Rumpel kills her, while she is both powerless and begging for her life. The episode revealed Zelena's magic was more easily controlled through the broach she wore, which makes her defeating Regina easily a bit more understandable.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 ultimately is 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 extremely long and fine-in-detail contract without even looking through it come 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?: You know! Fairy tales!
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.

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