Once Upon A Time is a show that captures the magic of fairytales both new and old. Characters spring to life from the pages of these old stories to become a part of a world that puts a fresh spin on the events we've come to know and love. Prince Charming, Snow White, and the Evil Queen are just a few characters to admire.
It also introduced us to new characters we could root for in Emma Swan and her son Henry. Their stories are central to the show, proving that their connection to these old stories is anything but familiar and ordinary. That's what makes it so exciting to watch from week to week.
As creative and innovative as the show can be when crafting fun storylines around these characters and the magical adventures they experience, sometimes the showrunners go too far. Whether it's plot points that don't line up or mishandled characters, Once Upon A Time doesn't always hit the mark when it comes to logic or continuity. That's bound to happen when dealing with elements of fantasy, but sometimes, the gaps are just too big to ignore or requires more of an explanation.
Here are 16 Things About Once Upon A Time That Make No Sense.
16 Pretty much everyone is related
Once Upon a Time has a lot of different storylines going on, but one of the more confusing parts is the family tree. In one way or another, nearly everyone on the show seems to be related.
To start, we know that Emma is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, and Henry is her biological son. Connecting the dots in the family lineage, Regina/The Evil Queen is Henry's adoptive mother, but she's also his great-grandmother because Regina is Snow White's stepmother. Does that make Henry and Snow step-siblings? This is already confusing.
Not only that, but because Henry's dad is Neal/Baelfire, Rumplestiltskin is Henry's grandfather. This ties Belle into the family as well due to her marriage to Rumple.
Even for a show about fairytales, that seems a little too good to be true.
15 Rumplestiltskin represents multiple characters
The show is known for its clever twists on well known fairytales, but who knew Rumplestiltskin would play such a key role in nearly every tale?
Rumple is, of course, known for his abilities to spin straw into gold — which gives him his alternate name, Mr. Gold, in Storybrooke. We do see him spin gold from time to time, but his role is much more complicated than that. He also serves as the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, the Dark One, the Crocodile from Peter Pan, and even the fairy godmother from Cinderella.
His role as the Beast is probably his most prominent one because he eventually marries Belle, but his role in Cinderella's story is closest to the traditional story of Rumplestiltskin. He forces Cinderella to sign over her firstborn child.
While Rumple is a main character, his role in the story gets pretty convoluted.
14 The Dark One
The Dark One is a host body that possesses dark, magical abilities. The first person to become the Dark One was Nimue, a woman whom Merlin fell in love with long ago.
When Nimue turns evil after killing an enemy, she becomes consumed by dark magic and turns into the Dark One. To contain her power, Merlin turns a broken piece of Excalibur into a dagger that the Dark One is bound to.
Whoever kills the Dark One takes that person's place, but this power can be acquired in other ways.
After the Darkness leaves Rumple, it selects a new host in Regina. Emma intervenes by grabbing the dagger, becoming the new host instead.
The first half of season five follows Emma's turn as "The Dark Swan," which involves the complicated backstory of the Dark One, including its connection to Arthurian legend. That's a lot to handle.
13 Will Scarlet from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Fans of the show may remember its fun, but brief spinoff, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. From that show, Will Scarlet was the most entertaining character. Though the showrunners brought Will onto the main show, they wasted his potential by failing to flesh out his storyline.
Without explanation, Will appears in Storybrooke in season four. He forms an antagonistic relationship with Hook, and becomes romantically linked to Belle for a bit. The biggest connection the show hints at between Storybrooke and Will's adventures in Wonderland is when Will rips a page out of the storybook with his true love Anastasia's picture on it.
It's not entirely clear where in the timeline these events take place, because during the series finale of Wonderland, Will lives happily ever after with Anastasia. Yet, this episode airs before Will appears the main show. The fact that Will gets plopped into the storyline without making these connections clear will leave viewers wondering why Will joined the show at all.
12 Recasting Jafar
Although Aladdin is a Disney classic, Once Upon a Time didn't explore this storyline until season six. Before that, Aladdin's enemy Jafar made his debut in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
In this show, he was portrayed by Naveen Andrews, who played the character with cool malice and proving he was a formidable foe for Alice and company to face. When he appeared on the main show, the character was played by Oded Fehr.
The recast was likely because Andrews is involved with the show Sense8 on Netflix, but because Jafar never mentions any of the events from Wonderland, it feels like the spinoff show is barely canon. Will Scarlet's departure after Once Upon a Time season four further adds to these messy details.
11 The Frozen Storyline
Much like the Oscar-winning song suggests, the showrunners would have "let it go" when it comes to this storyline. Less than one year after Frozen took the world by (snowy) storm, Once Upon a Time struck while the iron was hot by including Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and other popular Frozen characters in the first half of season four.
While it might be fun to see these characters in live-action, the charm quickly wears off.
Bringing these characters to the small screen is surreal and makes no sense. Like with any Disney animated movie, the characters are based on old fairytales, but by referencing specifics events from Frozen, it raises tons of questions.
Does the movie Frozen exist in this world? Did the Storybrooke characters see it? Do Anna and Elsa know about it? That's a lot of meta-territory that the show opens up but doesn't address.
10 Emma quickly forgets about Neal to be with Hook
Neal is Emma's former lover, Henry's father, and Rumple's son Baelfire. That's already a lot of connections to the main cast members, but Emma seems to brush that all aside very quickly after his death.
During season three, Emma finds herself in somewhat of a love triangle between Neal and Captain Hook/Killian Jones. Hook is the clear fan-favorite, but narratively it would make more sense for Emma to reunite with her first love and Henry's father. However, Emma's decision gets made for her when Neal sacrifices himself to save Rumplestiltskin.
Emma is visibly upset at the time, but at the end of the season, she and Hook share a passionate kiss. They start dating in season four, leaving Neal, an important character for many reasons, long forgotten.
9 Season Seven
Season six of Once Upon a Time wrapped up everyone's storylines nicely, giving them their fairytale "happy endings." With the announcement that many of the main actors, including Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan, wouldn't be returning, the showrunners still went forward with another season.
The seventh season serves as a soft reboot for the series and follows Henry Mills as an adult. The season opens the exact same way as the first season, with Henry's daughter Lucy finding him the same way that Henry found Emma. This is meant to evoke nostalgia, but it just feels unoriginal.
The only returning cast members are Lana Parrilla, Colin O'Donoghue, and Robert Carlyle. Rather than explore different characters who weren't featured in the previous seasons, the show instead introduces a different version of Cinderella.
It was announced that season seven would be the show's last, and it's not hard to see why.
8 Robin didn't realize there was something off about Marian
When Emma and Hook bring Marian back to present day Storybrooke, it brings a slew of problems for Regina and Robin Hood's budding relationship. We later learn that Marian was really Zelena in disguise.
Zelena planned to destroy Regina's happiness and went to great lengths to do so, but it seems odd that Robin didn't notice that something was wrong with his "wife." While it's true that Robin hadn't seen Marian in a long time — and people do change — it feels unlikely that Zelena would a good enough actress to impersonate Marian on a daily basis, especially when she doesn't know Marian that well.
Robin, being the clever thief with the heart of gold that he is, surely would have realized at some point that this person wasn't the same as the woman he used to love. Yet, Zelena easily fools him and everyone else.
7 The show breaks its own rules
Magic is a big part of the show. While Rumple often reminds viewers that "Magic always comes with a price," it also comes with laws that define its limits. Magic cannot bring back the dead, force someone to fall in love, or change the past.
Over the course of the show, nearly all of these rules get broken.
The first rule is most clearly broken in the season five episode "Last Rites" when Zeus resurrects Hook from the Underworld so he can reunite with Emma.
While no one explicitly falls in love due to magic, they do change the past. This happens when Emma and Hook travel back in time to the moment Snow White and Prince Charming first met. Their gaffes don't necessarily affect the overall timeline, but they do change how events occurred in the past.
If these are indeed "laws," they aren't enforced very convincingly.
6 Inconsistent naming with characters
When Regina first cast the curse that trapped the characters from the Enchanted Forest in Storybrooke, they lost their memories and assumed new identities. Snow White became Mary Margaret, Prince Charming became David, Rumplestiltskin became Mr. Gold, and so on for every character.
These alter-egos made sense at the time because these characters were more or less different people in Storybrooke. When the curse broke, everyone got their memories back and remembered who they really were. Yet, people still call Snow White Mary Margaret and Prince Charming David, and many other characters go by their newer names.
While they've probably gotten used to these names after so many years, it's strange that at least these two main characters — who are married — would feel more comfortable calling each other by their original names.
5 Mary Margaret's darkened heart
Sometimes it can be a good thing to give the hero qualities that aren't so heroic. The showrunners explored this with Emma's Dark Swan in season five, but they also did it much earlier with Mary Margaret in season two. The difference with that is they never followed through on this tease.
In season two, Mary Margaret uses a magical candle to curse Cora's heart, which leads to Cora's death. Distraught by what she did, Mary Margaret tells a furious Regina to kill her. Regina pulls out Mary Margaret's heart, revealing a dark patch on it — the result of Mary Margaret's actions.
Hearts play a big role in Once Upon a Time, and the idea that Mary Margaret's is turning black is an interesting plot point. Apart from telling David about it, though, nothing major becomes of it. It just doesn't make sense to include it.
4 Dropping the Mulan and Aurora relationship
The Disney princesses are staples in pop culture. Once Upon a Time is the closest we've ever gotten to a Disney princess crossover. One of the more interesting relationships on the show is between Mulan and Princess Aurora/Sleeping Beauty.
Mulan worked with Aurora's true love, Prince Phillip, and forms a connection with Aurora after a wraith steals Prince Phillip's soul. The two have natural chemistry, and the show implies that Mulan has developed feelings for Aurora during their time together. However, once Aurora reunites with Phillip, this dynamic gets dropped completely.
We never see these two iconic characters together again.
Not only that, but Mulan gets brushed aside as a character. She pops up every once in awhile, but only as a side character. Mulan is a great character, so it's strange that she never got the screen time she deserves.
3 Henry's Author powers
The storybook Henry receives from Mary Margaret in the first season plays an important role in the show. The idea that there's an Author behind the stories opens up a world of possibilities.
When the characters become aware of the Author's existence, many of them want the Author to rewrite their stories to change the events of their past using a magic pen. This is a huge ability to possess because it can alter reality.
When Henry learns he is the next Author, he breaks the pen because he believes this power is too great. This begs the question of whether the Author's powers are tied to the pen, or the person themselves. Henry's decision to break the pen suggests the former. Either way, the show never clearly defines what the Author's powers are.
2 Everyone always gets a happy ending
Once Upon a Time is ultimately a show about fairytales, and fairytales are ultimately about happy endings. Sometimes though, this gets in the way of the story's stakes and building up tension.
Emma, Snow White and Prince Charming are the main heroes of the story, so it makes sense that they would get their happily ever after. However, even the villains seem to get happy endings. Hook, of course, found his with Emma. Rumplestiltskin, arguably the show's most irredeemable character, grew old with Belle and their son, Gideon. Even Regina, the Evil Queen, found happiness in her own way.
Nearly every season ends this way, with the storylines magically resolved and a new threat quickly introduced.
Seeing these arcs play out enough times makes the show predictable, which doesn't make sense if the show is supposed to evolve and stay fresh.
1 The musical episode
Disney was practically built on the marriage between music and story, so including a musical episode isn't surprising. The way it gets presented doesn't make much sense given the context of the show's surrounding storylines, though.
In this season six episode, "The Song in Your Heart," we get a flashback in the Enchanted Forest. Snow White wishes that her daughter will be safe from Regina's upcoming curse. As a result, everyone in the kingdom breaks into song, believing that the power of music will defeat Regina. They place this "Power of Song" in Emma's heart, which she eventually uses to fight off Fiona, the Black Fairy.
If the song in Emma's heart gives her strength, that should have come in handy in earlier battles because it was there since her birth. As fun as it is to watch musical numbers, it's cheesy and doesn't make sense in this story.
What else bugs you about Once Upon a Time? Sound off in the comments.