Once Upon a Time. A now 7 season long epic tale of love, loyalty, betrayal, adventure, and good versus evil all interlaced with all of the famous…and infamous fairy tales and Disney movies that have become a huge part of pop culture. Once Upon a Time embraces them all and interweaves their stories with many themes, the most powerful of which is true love.
1. Love never dies.
Literally. In Once Upon a Time, most everyone can come back from the dead. There is always a loophole or some convenient piece of magic to bring back your loved ones, and, just as frequently, your unloved ones. Anyone that you thought was dead, might be dead, for now, but, according to one of the themes that this whole TV series is built upon, love is all powerful and provides its own kind of magic. You know, like Harry Potter not being killed by Voldemort because of his mother’s sacrifice, but different. Generally, without someone having to die in order to use the magic of true love.
Sometimes you have more than one love within this lifetime. Just like Emma Swan, one of our main heroines, who gets the soul sum of three loves in the course of this TV series. And of course, they are all super hot. How could any woman choose between a do-gooder sheriff with the soul of a wolf, a man that is willing to jack cars with you and thinks magic is totally evil, and a pirate who has sailed the open seas in many different worlds and has crossed several of them, traded his ship (the Jolly Roger), and literally been through hell to get back to you? That’s some true ass commitment.
3. The loss of love(s) can spawn a lifetime worth of vengeance.
When the not-so-evil queen loses the love of her life because of a dumb mistake one of our lead heroines made when she was a child, she (the Evil Queen) makes it her life’s mission to destroy the heroine’s happy endings. Of course, she can’t do it quickly, because that would just be too merciful and not nearly evil enough. After several different attempts to ruin Snow White’s life, the Evil Queen eventually is reunited with a reanimated-Frankenstein version of her first love. Unfortunately, He has been in the Underworld far too long and no longer belongs
with the living. A short while after this little incident, the Evil Queen finally learns that she has to let him go and give up her life of vengeance in the search of a different kind of love, the love of friendship. Eventually, she stops being the obnoxious pain in the ass who still tries to punish an adult for her childhood mistake and becomes quite loveable.
4. We can fall in love with things other than people.
One of those things is power. With so much magic frolicking about this TV series, there was bound to be a character obsessed with power. We get at least 5 of them. If you want to talk about terrible parents, you can zone in on Rumpelstiltskin who probably has the most worthless parents I have ever seen in the history of TV entertainment. From a mother who abandoned him to become the Black Fairy to a father who also abandoned him to become the powerful and forever young Peter Pan, Rumpelstiltskin got the short end of both parenting sticks. Since poison apples are so important in this series, I clearly must say that the rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the rotten trees. Rumpelstiltskin is so fucked up that he does this exact same bullshit to his own son. To be honest, I was cussing Rumpelstiltskin out in my head when he let Bae go to the New World without him, effectively abandoning and orphaning him in one go. I’d like to give him some redeeming points for never stopping the search for his son afterwards, but Rumpelstiltskin never does learn to choose love over power. He also gets more and more frustrating as the series wears on. We get some back story on why his mother really abandoned him that makes you feel a little less hostile towards her. Though…the hoe could’ve come back. She let her own obsession with power keep her away from her son.
5. If you really love someone, you will go all the way to hell to get him, her, or them.
Even if you have to swim through the River of Lost Souls, which, by the way, will do worse than kill you. But one of our heroines, Emma Swan, deciding that she refuses to live without the forever charming Captain Killian Jones, aka Hook, takes her merry band of heroes on a trip to the Underworld in order to rip him from the clutches of the evil god Hades and bring him (Hook) back to the mortal world. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. I know I wouldn’t be going to hell to save ANYone. But, in her defense, he was the third man she had feelings for who quit breathing, so, I guess she was determined to keep this one.
6. You can love yourself as a whole and still hate parts of yourself.
The best example of this, our Evil Queen, Regina. During her reign as queen, there is always the little implication that she devalued every part of her that made her “weak”, like kindness, sensitivity, or having mercy, values which she went out of her way to crush out of herself (after her mother failed to do the job). But, several years later when Regina finally stops acting like a royal cunt and begins being a human with a heart again, she hates the “evil queen” within her, so much so that she literally rips her good side from her evil side and ends up with two Reginas. They are dubbed “Regina” and the “Evil Queen” so we can tell the difference. This little situation mimics Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the point is to destroy the bad parts of her. That turns out to not be as easy as everyone thought it would be.
Regina isn’t the only one who hated parts of herself. Snow, to provide an example from someone classified as a hero from the beginning of the series, is involved in a murder, that darkens her heart and causes her to fall into a deep sadness. She becomes disgusted with herself because of that darkness she has created which disagrees so intensely with her character that she struggles to cope with what she’s done. Even after she regains the belief in her goodness, she cannot accept that it was she who did such an evil thing. As it turns out, Snow has done bad things in the past that she and her husband have been working very hard to keep hidden. Though, there were circumstances that were out of their control, it took them a long time to confess what they did and make amends (however the hell you do that after kidnapping someone’s child!) for what they’ve done.
7. You can love more than one person at a time.
Look at our leading lady, Emma Swan, who, has the hots for a certain wolf, who, unfortunately for her (and us, hell, he was adorable), ceases to exist. Then, there is the father of her son, a man who she never stopped loving even though she believed for a long time that he’d betrayed her (and sent her to prison). And let’s not ever forget the savvy Captain Gillian Hook, her current beau and very
possibly the hottest of them all. But who doesn’t love a swash-buckling, sword-swinging, rum-swigging man who lives in black leather? Horny thoughts aside, these men all did whatever it took to keep Emma safe, and she did the same for them for as long as she could. Though, I do wish this topic was addressed more in this series, it does give you something to think about. Do we get more than one soul mate? Find out next time on Dragon Ball Zeeeeee.
8. Love can be manipulative as hell…
If we’re going to call frequent manipulation by that name. Many of our more sinister characters from Once Upon a Time do. But, I guess if you’re bad, you don’t play by society’s rules, even if that society is filled with people from several fantasy realms. So being manipulated by a lover is probably the least of your concerns, especially for someone like Belle, who can’t seem to stop loving the baby-snatching, serial murderer Rumpelstiltskin. Belle and Rumpel’s relationship is also highly irritating. From the moment they meet, I want to slap the hell out of Belle. It always seems as if she’s been purposely stupid. That’s extra ironic given her character as the bookworm who can always find answers with intensive research. This toxic form of pseudo-love (let me be clear, I do not think of manipulation as any kind of love), is weaponized throughout Once Upon a Time and very often by Rumpelstiltskin who uses love to win everything from rare magical objects, to 2nd-born children. Given Rumpel’s abandonment issues, it’s really no wonder that he’s so obsessed with children even though, as I said previously, the asshole abandoned his own son.
There are probably 75 more points that can be made for the theme of love in this series…but I’m not going to be the one to make them. cackles I am considering adding some Once Upon a Time fan fiction to my long ass list of writing projects. Let me know what you think about that below.