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Analysis / Once Upon a Time

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The Charming Family Tree

This is an attempt to unravel the web of extremely complex and convoluted character relationships in this, especially with regards to Henry's family. There be much Fridge stuff here.

Henry is the son of Emma and Baelfire. His maternal grandparents are thus Snow White and Prince Charming, and his paternal grandparents are Milah and Rumple. Henry's step-grandmother is Belle, and he also has an uncle who's technically younger than him, when Snow and Charming had a second child whom they named Neal after Henry's father's real world name.


Regina is the adoptive mother of Henry. She is also the stepmother of Snow, making her also Henry's step-great grandmother on Emma's side, and Emma's step-grandmother by extension. This would also mean that Cora, Regina's mother, is their step-great great grandmother and step-great grandmother respectively.

His great grandfather is Peter Pan and his great grandmother is the infamous "black fairy". Meanwhile Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West, is both his step-aunt and step-great aunt as well.

No wonder the characters on the show spent all of five seconds trying to work this out. It'd drive anyone mad.

Once Upon A Time and the quest for Redemption
While Once Upon A Time touches on many, many different themes, ideas, sources and so forth, at its core, the show is a show about redemption. In fact, the original premise of the show even had this as Henry's promise to Emma: "You're going to bring back the happy endings."

This question of redemption can take many forms from its supporting, main and minor casts alike.

  • Rapunzel needed to redeem herself for not being ready to inherit her kingdom, and only by overcoming her fears could she do so.
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  • Cinderella needed her story retold and redeemed after losing her husband to Rumplestitskin.
  • Red Riding Hood had to redeem herself several times for the actions taken as The Big Bad Wolf. And so forth.
  • The Mad Hatter needed to find a way to make up for abandoning his daughter when the curse hit.
  • Pinocchio needed to redeem himself for giving up on Emma when they were young, and abandoning her in The Land Without Magic.
  • Dr. Frankenstein still struggles with his failures regarding his brother.
  • The Magic Mirror struggles with evil he committed while infatuated with The Evil Queen.
  • Jimminy Cricket needed to make up for his mistake of accidentally turning Gepetto's parents into puppets, that ended up becoming his quest to ensure everyone he meets makes the right decisions.

However, the biggest point of redemption is all around its main cast and particularly its villains.

  • Rumplestiltskin is a man defined by his need to redeem himself. His main motivation through most of the flashbacks and season 1 is to eventually through a complex Gambit Roulette to find his son and make up for letting him go when they were going to stick together in another world. In a way, when he finally achieved this goal, his new quest was to then make up for all the horrible things he did along the way.
  • Snow White and Prince Charming needed to make up for their mistakes, and their having to send their daughter away in order to protect her.
    • This sometimes extends to the sins of their families as well, as Charming feels responsible for the evil his twin brother James committed against the Giants, and tries to make it up to Anton the last Giant.
  • Emma felt compelled to redeem herself for giving up Henry for adoption, but her quest for redemption is also a quest to finally find the home she never felt she had.
  • Regina Mills, the Evil Queen, needs to let go of her vengeance and learn to forgive. A good girl who slowly descended into evil, her fall lead to the premise, and her greed and emptiness plagued her for years on end. However, when Henry came into her life, she was slowly given a new lease on life, seeking love from the one person whom she didn't have emotional baggage with. The climb has been a long slow and painful one, with several moments where she would backslide. However, her story is still not over. Since she still doesn't regret all the evil she did, her final character arc is to redeem herself for the evils she committed as the queen.


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