Dark Curse
General Information

Enchanted Forest

Current Location




Physical Description
  • Black/gray cloud with green lightning (primary)
  • Light purple cloud with lightning (reversion)

See "Ingredients"




  • Transportation to the Enchanted Forest
  • Closing the passages between worlds
Usage Information
Created by


Possessed by
Used by
Used on
  • Enchanted Forest (twice)
  • Storybrooke (stopped)
First appearance


Latest appearance

"Darkness on the Edge of Town"

Latest mention

"Poor Unfortunate Soul"


IconMoveProtect IconOUAT IconBook IconCurse IconEF IconLWM IconStorybrooke IconS1 IconS2 IconS3 IconS4
Your prison.. all of our prisons, will be time. Time will stop, and we will be trapped. Some place horrible... where everything we hold dear, everything we love, will be ripped from us while we suffer for all eternity. While the Queen celebrates, victorious at last! No more happy endings.
      —Rumplestiltskin to Snow White and Prince Charming

The Dark Curse is a curse featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the first episode of the first season.

The Dark Curse is the main plot focal point for the series. It is originally cast by the Evil Queen out of vengeance against Snow White, and the curse is responsible for the bringing the Enchanted Forest inhabitants to the Land Without Magic, where everyone is trapped in the town of Storybrooke, Maine. Stripped of their past life memories, they are given false memories by the curse's effects. Snow White later recasts the curse to return everyone to Storybrooke in order to find Emma and stop the Wicked Witch of the West.


Before First Curse

The Dark One, Rumplestiltskin, acquires great and dark magic from having killed the previous person possessing the Dark One's dagger. His son, Baelfire, does not want his father to become so power hungry, and with the help of the Blue Fairy, he receives a magic bean to travel to a land without magic. Rumplestiltskin is afraid of losing his powers, and refuses to go with his son. He lets go of Bae's hand and watches him fall through the portal whilst screaming to his father that he's a coward for breaking their deal. Rumplestiltskin learns from the Blue Fairy that there is a curse that can take him to the same land, but she believes that it is beyond his capabilities. He vows to find the curse no matter how long or much it will take him. ("The Return")

Some time later, he summons Ursula and Cruella De Vil to the Forbidden Fortress, where he convinces them and Maleficent to help him retrieve a curse that will grant them their happy endings. Selecting them due to three deadly traps in Bald Mountain, the hiding place of the curse, Rumplestiltskin takes them to the location. There, each woman uses her magical ability to defeat an obstacle. Cruella uses her power of persuasion to pacify venomous blood scarabs, Maleficent absorbs a barrier of fire into her staff, and finally, Ursula grabs the curse orb with her tentacles. This triggers a small quake as the Chernabog, a demon guarding the curse, awakens to attack the intruders. Before the beast reaches the room, Rumplestiltskin admits using them for his own gain. Before taking his leave out of the exit, he advises that the Chernabog will devour the heart of the person with the most potential for evil, and it's only a matter of which of the three it picks first. Left to the creature's mercy, the trio outsmart the Chernabog and later escape into a crack in the ceiling. ("Darkness on the Edge of Town")

From combining the hairs of Snow White and Prince Charming, Rumplestiltskin makes a true love potion, and he adds a drop of it onto the curse scroll. By doing this, he ensures that after the curse is cast, only a someone born from true love can break the curse. Since one of the main ingredients for enacting the curse is the heart of the thing someone loves most, Rumplestiltskin realizes he cannot cast it and will need another person to do it. In a grand scheme, he instigates a series of events to ensure Regina, who he wishes to cast the curse, will be ready to do so in the near future. At some point, Rumplestiltskin trades the curse for something from Regina, and she exchanges the curse to Maleficent for the sleeping curse to use on her stepdaughter, Snow White, but it is eventually broken with true love's kiss by Prince Charming. After being banished from the kingdom, the former Evil Queen lives in isolation until being reminded of the curse by Rumplestiltskin. On his suggestion that she can still harm Snow White and Prince Charming in another land, Regina decides to cast the curse. Before getting the curse from Maleficent, she crashes Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding to announce her intentions of ruining their happy endings. After going to the Forbidden Fortress, Regina finds Maleficent unwilling to part with the curse, so she forcibly takes it. Although her fellow witch heeds that casting the curse will put a void within which can never be filled, Regina doesn't care. ("The Thing You Love Most", "The Cricket Game", "Pilot")

Over the course of time in which the Evil Queen is preparing the curse, Snow White becomes more and more curious about ominous threat, especially with a baby on the way. She and Prince Charming visit Rumplestiltskin in his cell; knowing he has a gift for prophetic visions. In exchange for her child's name, Rumplestiltskin explains that the Evil Queen's curse will tear everyone from the Enchanted Forest and exile them to a land where all of the Enchanted Forest's residents will be imprisoned and frozen in time, all of their happiness taken by the Evil Queen. He goes on to explain that Snow White's unborn child, Emma, is their only hope. On the child's twenty-eighth birthday, she will return and become the savior that can break the curse. To protect their unborn daughter from the curse, the Blue Fairy offers Prince Charming and Snow White an enchanted tree which can be made into a magic wardrobe capable of protecting anyone inside from any curse. However, all magic must have its limits, she tells them, as it can only transport one. In reality, it can protect two, but she lies to them because of an agreement she previously made with Geppetto to allow his son Pinocchio to be the other person journeying through the wardrobe. After Rumplestiltskin receives the name of Snow White's child, he furiously scribbles it on a piece of parchment in squid ink to help him remember the name when the time comes. "Pilot", "The Stranger", "Queen of Hearts")

Snow attempts to make some sense of the curse by questioning the Blue Fairy further on how the savior will know to save them in twenty-eight years time. Vaguely, the Blue Fairy is going by instinct, and knows with certainty that someday, in some form, the savior will learn of their story and break the curse. ("Going Home")

The Evil Queen gathered some followers to enact the spell ranging from the first Blind Witch, an Ogre, an evil Gnome, and some other unidentified villains. After a failed attempt at casting the curse by sacrificing the heart of her childhood steed, the evil Gnome laughed at her and she petrified him. The Evil Queen then pays a visit to Rumplestiltskin, and he agrees to tell her what went wrong — for a price. In the new land she plans on taking everyone to, he wants to live a comfortable life with wealth and position, and she will have to heed his every desire, just as long as he says, "Please". The Evil Queen agrees to this because she does not think he will remember, and learns she must sacrifice something far more precious — the heart of the thing she loves the most. She returns home and rips out the heart of the thing she loves most — her father. When the Evil Queen finally enacts the curse using her father's heart, it envelopes the Enchanted Forest in a spreading cloud of darkness. She pays a last minute visit to Rumplestiltskin. While she relishes in the fact in a matter of time, everyone will be forget who they are and be cursed, Rumplestiltskin warns her to be prepared to suffer a consequence for casting the curse. He states that she will gain an empty void in her heart and someday will come to him with a need to fill it. She takes his foretelling lightly, and leaves for Snow and Charming's castle. ("The Thing You Love Most", "Save Henry")

At the castle tower, two of the seven dwarves, Grumpy and Sleepy signal the bell as the curse approaches. Originally, a pregnant Snow White is decided as the one person to go through the wardrobe, but Emma is born early. The Blue Fairy backs out her deal with Geppetto and asks him to let Snow White and her infant daughter to reach safety through the wardrobe. He refuses to listen and has Pinocchio go into the wardrobe while also making him promise to look out for Emma as she grows up. Meanwhile, Prince Charming fights his way past the Evil Queen's knights infiltrating the castle in order to place her into the wardrobe. He suffers grievous injures after doing so, and before passing out, sees Emma is gone from the wardrobe after the knights break it open. As the curse spreads through the entire Enchanted Forest, Regina's mother Cora secretly protects herself and Hook from being affected by casting a shield over a small corner of the land. The Evil Queen arrives to the castle to have one last confrontation with Snow White before the room is violently ripped apart and they are all engulfed by the curse. Per Cora's protection, she, Hook and other people inhabiting a nearby island are left behind in the Enchanted Forest and frozen in time for twenty-eight years. Both Emma and Pinocchio land safety in another world and end up getting placed in the same foster care home as orphans. However, Pinocchio abandons her to grow up alone. ("Pilot", "The Stranger", "Broken", "Queen of Hearts")

During First Curse

The curse whisks the affected Enchanted Forest inhabitants to a land without magic. Two camp-goers, Kurt and Owen Flynn, happen to accidentally witness the Dark Curse, but mistake it for a fearsome storm and hide inside their tent for safety. The former Evil Queen awakes in a new life as Regina Mills, the mayor of he newly created town of Storybrooke, Maine, and quickly adapts to having everything she could ever want. While her memories stay intact, everyone else's recollections are completely stripped away and replaced with false ones. As another effect of the curse, time stands still and people cannot age or grow older. Since Kurt's car is damaged from the storm, he and Owen decide to hitchhike. Unexpectedly, they come across Storybrooke, which Kurt is in disbelief of since they passed through the area prior and there was nothing there. Regina is dismayed that Kurt and Owen are staying in Storybrooke temporarily until the car is fixed and wants them gone. However, as the days pass, Regina grows more disillusioned and bored with the sameness of the town. She also recognizes that gaining power means nothing when everyone is obeying her out of force, due to the curse, rather than free will. Owen turns out to be a blessing in disguise for her when she invites both him and Kurt over for dinner. She grows fond of Owen, but can't accept Kurt's decision to not stay in town. Regina tries everything to force them to stay, even making Sheriff Graham arrest Kurt on false charges, but ultimately, she allows a fearful Owen to leave Storybrooke. After he crosses the town line, he is no-longer able to enter the town due to it being magically shielded from the outside world by the curse. ("Welcome to Storybrooke")

Eighteen years later, Emma is a grown woman and now lives in Portland. While hijacking a car, she meets another fellow thief, Neal, and the two fall madly in love as they make a living as petty robbers. She steals back watches that he is wanted for taking and forms a plan to sell them so they can use the money for travel. Instead, Neal is warned by a stranger, August, who is actually the grown-up Pinocchio, to leave Emma so she can fulfill her destiny of breaking the curse. Emma is arrested for larceny and sent to a prison in Arizona. Several months later, she tests positive for pregnancy and gives up the child at birth, who then is put up for adoption in Boston. On the other side of the spectrum, Regina discovers Rumplestiltskin's forewarning about the void in her heart has come true. She attempts to gain more meaning in her life by adopting an infant boy, unknowingly the same child Emma gave up, who she names Henry. While digging up on the boy's birth parents, she is stunned to discover Henry's birth mother was found in the woods eighteen years ago as a baby. She puts two and two together, realizing that the woman is the savior of the curse, and angrily accosts Mr. Gold about it, though he remembers nothing from his prior life. This leads Regina to give Henry back to the adoption agency, but her heart has already been won by the infant, and she decides to raise him as her own. Rather than spend the years worrying about Henry's birth mother, she concocts a potion to help herself forget ever knowing the true identity of the woman. ("Tallahassee", "Save Henry")

In another ten years, Henry grows up to be an unhappy child. He believes Regina does not love him and is further saddened with knowledge that his birth mother gave him up. One morning, schoolteacher Mary Margaret finds a mysterious fairytale storybook sitting in her bedroom closet. Unbeknownst to her and the other residents of Storybrooke, twenty-eight years have passed, as what the Blue Fairy once told Snow White is finally happening. Mary Margaret takes the book with her to school and cheers Henry up by giving him it. She heeds that fairytales have happy endings and by reading them, Henry can learn to have hope for a better life for himself as well. As Henry looks up from flipping through the book, he, to his own amazement, sees a momentarily illusion of Snow White in place of Mary Margaret. ("Going Home")

From reading the book, Henry grows obsessed and fixated on the idea every story in it is real, and that all the people in Storybrooke are under a curse inflicted by the Evil Queen, who is also his mother Regina. After stealing Mary Margaret's credit card, he tracks down his birth mother, Emma, in Boston and hitches a ride there. Emma is flabbergasted by the sudden appearance of the son she never had and drives him back home. She doesn't take his frequent jabbing about fairytales being real, a curse and an Evil Queen seriously. Once she drops him off at Regina's house, Emma becomes curious about how her biological son has been all these years. At his castle playground, Emma bonds with Henry, especially since he appears to understand her reason for giving him up at birth, which was to allow him a better chance in life. However, she doesn't get his fascination in dubbing her the savior of a curse and imagining her as the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. After Regina attempts to intimidate her into leaving, Emma decides to stay in town out of concern for Henry. At the inn, Mr. Gold encounters Emma, and upon hearing her name, he regains memories of his former life. That night, Henry watches from his bedroom window as the curse begins to weaken when the clock tower begins moving forward in time from eight-fifteen to eight-sixteen. Halfway around the world in Phucket, August awakens to a shooting pain in his leg as he is reverting to wood. ("Pilot", "Selfless, Brave and True")

Regina begins to suspect Mr. Gold holds memories from his previous life when he exercises the "please" enchantment on her. She attempts to confront him about it, but this only leads him to use the enchantment a second time. As Emma remains in town, various effects of the curse begin breaking, particularly in the residents' lives, as their happy endings are restored. She is still skeptical over Henry's continuous stream of fairytale claims. August decides he must face his past and go through with the original task he never completed, which was to guide Emma into breaking the curse. Before setting off to Storybrooke, he informs Neal in New York City of his plans. August fails in helping Emma to see the light while his progression back to wood rapidly speeds up. The curse grows more feeble to the point Regina's apple tree begins withering and she consults Mr. Gold for answers. They are both aware of a certain loophole, namely that if Emma dies, the curse itself will be lifted. This is not something Regina wants, but she desires Emma to get out of the way so Henry can be hers only. She procures a poisoned apple from the Enchanted Forest and bakes it into an apple turnover just as Emma finally decides it would be best to leave Henry so Regina can be his mother. Henry stops Emma by eating the apple turnover and falls into a coma. By chance, she touches his storybook and receives a flood of memories from her short time in the Enchanted Forest. Despite Emma's attempt to get a true love potion to revive Henry, Mr. Gold steals it. When Henry dies, Emma says a final goodbye with a kiss on his forehead. This causes a trigger of true love's kiss that brings Henry back, but also breaks the curse. ("The Thing You Love Most", "Skin Deep", "True North", "The Stranger", "An Apple Red As Blood", "A Land Without Magic", "Selfless, Brave and True")

After First Curse

After the Dark Curse is broken, everyone regains their previously lost memories about their old lives. Mr. Gold drops the true love potion into the wishing well to bring magic to Storybrooke. Concurrently, the lifting of the Dark Curse allows the people in the Enchanted Forest to be unfrozen as well. Princess Aurora, who has been asleep since the casting of the curse, is awakened with true love's kiss by Prince Phillip. She has no idea of anything that transpired, but plans to go with Phillip and Mulan to a Safe Haven where the remaining inhabitants left behind by the curse are now living. Back in Storybrooke, an attempt to send a Wraith away to another world causes Emma to be sucked into the portal while Mary Margaret jumps after her. The Wraith lands in the Enchanted Forest and brands Phillip for death by absorbing his soul. Emma and Mary Margaret are blamed for this and taken along to the Safe Haven as prisoners where they meet Cora. The two gain the help of Lancelot and begin searching for a way home. On the flip side, Mr. Gold realizes too late the hefty price that comes with bringing magic to Storybrooke, which makes it impossible for anyone to leave town without losing their Enchanted Forest memories. This renders him unable to search for his son outside of town. ("A Land Without Magic", "Broken", "We Are Both")

Following Emma and Mary Margaret's return to Storybrooke, Cora and her accomplice Hook also find a means to the small town. The residents are thrown into a frenzy when a stranger crashes his car into Storybrooke as the town is no longer invisible to outsiders. The dangers of crossing the town line prove deadly for Belle, who becomes amnesiac and remembers nothing of her Enchanted Forest life. Belle later regains her memories through a potion made by Mother Superior. ("Queen of Hearts", "The Outsider", "And Straight On 'Til Morning")

Another journey arises when Henry is kidnapped to Neverland and his family follow suit to rescue him from Peter Pan. As they fly home on the Jolly Roger, Pan secretly switches bodies with Henry. Once in Storybrooke, he wreaks havoc by stealing the Dark Curse scroll. With intentions of recasting it, he dumps all the ingredients into the wishing well and lastly sacrifices the heart of his most loyal underling, Felix, as the curse takes the form of a green smoke. Since Regina is the original caster of the curse, she must be the one to destroy the scroll and therefore nullify Pan's curse. However, there will be a great magical price for this action alone. Mr. Gold uses a Black Fairy wand to return Henry and Pan to their bodies. Then, Henry himself hands over the Dark Curse scroll to Regina. She passes out after touching it and awakens with knowledge of the price for halting the curse. Pan accosts the residents by freezing them in place and stealing the scroll back. Mr. Gold finishes Pan off by stabbing him, as well as himself, with the Dark One's Dagger so both of them perish. After they vanish, Regina picks up the scroll. She admits the weight of undoing Pan's curse involves wiping Storybrooke out of existence by removing the original Dark Curse and every former Enchanted Forest inhabitant will return to their old world. To keep Henry from being alone, Emma leaves town with him. Regina can craft new memories for them and prevents Pan's curse as she and every other person is sent back to the Enchanted Forest. ("And Straight On 'Til Morning", "Save Henry" - "Going Home")

Before Second Curse

After Regina undoes the first curse, everyone in Storybrooke is sent back to the Enchanted Forest. The undoing of the curse breaks the connection between the worlds, divided them, and places a wall between them. Therefore, portals are no longer accessible and travelling between worlds using either magic beans or the hat is not possible. ("A Curious Thing")

Eight months after returning to the Enchanted Forest, Snow White and Prince Charming discover from Aurora and Phillip that the Wicked Witch of the West wants their new baby. After visiting Glinda, the banished Good Witch of the South, they discover that Emma is the key to stopping the Wicked Witch from getting their new baby by using light magic born of true love to steal her pendant, rendering her powerless. Snow White concludes that the only way that they will stop her is by re-casting the Dark Curse and taking them back to Storybrooke so that they can contact Emma. So they go back to Regina, who tells them that her re-enacting the Curse once again is out of the question, as it would require her to sacrifice the heart of the one she loves the most, Henry, who happens to be with Emma in the Land Without Magic. Apparently, alternative means of travelling across realms are no options either, leaving the curse as the sole means of crossing the realms. Charming sacrifices himself so that Regina can rip his heart out, which Snow White uses to cast the new curse. They succeed, however, just before the curse cloud forms, the Wicked Witch drops a forgetting potion into the curse mixture to "spice it up a bit" and cause everyone to forget the past year in the Enchanted Forest so that they cannot stop her. After gloating and watching the curse cloud begin to expand, she flies off back to the Dark Castle to make antidotes for herself and Rumplestiltskin so that they can retain their memories of the past year. however, after she leaves the room, Neal temporarily escapes from his father's body and sends the potion and a note to Hook telling him to find Emma and give her the potion. Regina later splits Snow White's heart in half on Snow's request in order to revive Charming. After succeeding, the curse cloud engulfs them. ("A Curious Thing")

Hook receives a memory potion along with a anonymous message from someone asking him to deliver it to Emma. As the impending second curse approaches, Hook abandons his crew and successfully outruns the curse in the Jolly Roger until he reaches its boundary. With the re-casting of the curse, the connection between worlds and portal allows realm traveling to be made possible again. He later trades his beloved ship for a magic bean for passage to New York to find Emma. ("Snow Drifts")

During Second Curse

The second curse returns everyone to Storybrooke, however, their memories of the prior year in the Enchanted Forest are wiped clean due to the Wicked Witch's forgetting potion and no one can recall anything after Regina undid Pan's curse. The only clue that everyone has of time having passed is Mary Margaret's pregnancy. Emma's memory is restored by Hook and she returns to Storybrooke to find out about the new curse. She also discovers that the majority of the townsfolk suspect Regina. However, Emma teams up with Regina, orchestrating a town hall meeting to trick everyone into believing the mayor is responsible for the new curse. In secret, the twosome work on replicating the memory potion given to Emma to help them remember the missing year, however, it doesn't work. In another plan, they attempt to bait the real culprit by announcing to the townspeople that a memory potion is nearly finished, and whoever drinks it will remember who cast the curse. The criminal escapes, but they later discover Wicked Witch of the West is to blame. ("New York City Serenade", "Witch Hunt")

While temporarily assuming control of Mr. Gold's body, Neal realizes he and his father are sharing the same body. He makes Emma separate them so Mr. Gold can tell her the Wicked Witch's true identity. She succeeds, but Neal dies as a result. Mr. Gold reveals that Zelena is the Wicked Witch of the West. With Zelena's cover is blown, she publicly reveals herself Regina's older half-sister as well as Cora's first-born child. She later challenges Regina to a magical showdown on Main Street in front of the clock tower. ("Quiet Minds", "It's Not Easy Being Green")

After posing as Ariel and getting Hook to reveal his true love's name, Zelena curses his lips so that when he kisses Emma, her magic will be stolen. She also threatens to kill Emma's loved ones as motivation for Hook to follow through with the plan. David, Mary Margaret and Regina later realize that Henry's belief and Emma's true love is the key to breaking the new curse and search for the story book in hope to restore Henry's memories. The plan works, but Zelena steals Henry and threatens to kill him due to Hook's failure to remove Emma's magic. She proceeds to knock Regina out when she attempts to free him. Emma uses her magic to force Zelena to let him go, but she disappears in a cloud of green smoke. Henry races over to Regina, who wakes up and admits her love for Henry. She plants a kiss on his forehead, and this act of true love breaks the new curse. ("The Jolly Roger", "A Curious Thing")

After Second Curse

After the second curse is broken by Regina's true love for Henry, everyone regains their previously lost memories of the past year in the Enchanted Forest. ("A Curious Thing")

Known Ingredients

  • A lock of hair from those with the darkest of souls.
  • The heart of "the thing you love most".
  • Rumplestiltskin also added a drop of true love potion onto the parchment of the Dark Curse, which was created from two strands of hair from both Snow White and Prince Charming. It is unknown whether the drop of true love counts as an ingredient because the curse would still work even if it was not added as demonstrated when Peter Pan attempts to cast it.
    • Incidentally, Emma is the only one who can break the first curse because she is a product of true love. In the second curse, however, Regina is the savior as her true love for Henry breaks the curse in "A Curious Thing".
  • Extra ingredients can be added to the curse. For example, the Wicked Witch of the West drops a forgetting potion into the second curse, which causes everyone to lose their recollection of the last year in the Enchanted Forest. She later crafts an antidote for herself to prevent memory loss.


  • Nearly everyone from the Enchanted Forest and some other realms are transported to Storybrooke and lose all memories of their former lives and relationships.
  • A part of the Enchanted Forest remained untouched after the Dark Curse and froze for twenty-eight years; this is caused by Cora's protective shielding spell.
  • Some magical creatures are turned into humans, including fairy and dwarf species as well as Jiminy and Gus.
  • All powerful magic has been taken away, and is now limited, with only some exceptional consequences to performing it or trying to get in touch with it again.
  • Everyone's "happily ever after" is gone.
  • The curse does not affect outsiders with Enchanted Forest heritage, such as Henry Mills, as much as those who were originally cursed, but it does affect them somehow.
  • The curse does not appear to affect people who arrive to Storybrooke after the Saviour, namely August.
  • Time is frozen and no one ages or changes in either Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest. Henry is an exception because he was born in the Land Without Magic and is neither present in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest when the curse is cast.
  • Outsiders cannot come to Storybrooke, unless they have Enchanted Forest heritage, or they were already in the territory before the Curse was cast. Kurt and his son Owen were able to enter the city because they already camped over its location as Storybrooke came into existence. After this, Regina allows Owen to leave Storybrooke. Many years later, Owen is able to return to Storybrooke only because the curse is broken by that time. Ingrid is able to enter Storybrooke due to a powerful magical scroll given to her by The Apprentice on behalf of The Sorcerer.
  • Terrible consequences will happen to anyone, under the effects of the curse, who tries to leave Storybrooke. Examples include:
    • Ashley attempts to leave town after snatching back the adoption papers of her unborn child, she ends up having contractions in the process, and cannot drive. ("The Price of Gold")
    • Emma is left with no choice but to take Ava and Nicholas Zimmer to Boston after their father, Michael Tillman, refuses to claim them as his own. The car breaks down on the drive out of town giving Emma another chance to persuade Michael to take the children in. ("True North")
    • Kathryn decides to leave town, but in the process of going out of town, Mr. Gold abducts her as part of a previous deal with Regina. ("What Happened to Frederick")
    • When Emma drives out of town after dropping Henry off, she sees a wolf in her path and crashes the car. However, this might also be from different external forces trying to keep her in town to break the curse. Emma was not under the effects of the curse since it was shown at other times that she, as well as Henry, and August were able to leave Storybrooke while the curse was still in effect. ("Pilot")

Specific Effects

In addition to not remembering their Enchanted Forest lives, the characters have all been "punished" in their own ways.

  • Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard - Is a timid and meek schoolteacher often both in speech and dress. She has a lousy love life.
  • Prince Charming/David Nolan - Knocked into a coma due to the wounds he received before the curse took him, and is under the patient name John Doe. Upon waking up, David is placed in an unhappy marriage with Kathryn.
  • Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold - He "owns the town" as a monthly rent collector. Owns a pawnshop and is also a licensed lawyer. Has no power over Regina until he regains his memories, and while a mass presence in town, his power was limited only to his shop.
  • Jiminy Cricket/Archie Hopper - Reverts to human and once again becomes the voice of reason as the town psychiatrist, but has trouble listening to his own conscience and obeys Regina out of fear.
  • Huntsman/Sheriff Graham - He is the town sheriff, and engages in a physical relationship with the mayor, Regina, and is always under her thumb.
  • Red Riding Hood/Ruby - A young woman that lacks self-confidence but dresses scantily and is very flirty with customers. Waitresses at the diner and constantly has several disagreements with her grandmother.
  • Granny/Granny - She and Ruby constantly knock heads and argue about everything. Runs two town businesses; a diner and bed and breakfast.
  • Belle/Belle - A long term patient at the psychiatric ward of Storybrooke General Hospital. After the curse is broken, Regina gives Belle new fake memories, turning her into Lacey, a partying, cladly-dressed barfly.
  • Victor Frankenstein/Dr. Whale - A man focused on work, but becomes a bit of woman chaser and drinker.[1] Works at the hospital as a doctor.
  • Geppetto/Marco - Married, and is unhappily childless. Did try to have children, but "he was not meant to be".
  • Blue Fairy/Mother Superior - Head nun of all the sisters at the nunnery, and often clashes with Mr. Gold.
  • Magic Mirror/Sidney Glass - A reporter for the town's newspaper, the Daily Mirror, and is secretly in love with Regina. Spies on other people for her as a lackey.
  • Abigail/Kathryn Nolan - Married to David, but has an unhappy marriage rooted with issues.
  • Frederick/Jim - The gym teacher of the town school.
  • King George/Albert Spencer - Becomes a district attorney, and aside from that does not have much power in town.
  • Mad Hatter/Jefferson - Recalls all memories of his life in the Enchanted Forest, but lives in an extensive mansion. Is an amateur cartographer, and longs to be reunited with his daughter, Grace, who does not remember him.
  • Grace/Paige - Lives next door to her actual father, Jefferson, as the daughter of two unnamed parents.
  • Grumpy/Leroy - An outcast in town because of his drinking habits, and does shifts at the hospital as a janitor.
  • Cinderella/Ashley Boyd - Stays pregnant for twenty-eight years; unable to give birth and abandoned by her boyfriend and true love, Sean.
  • Prince Thomas/Sean Herman - A young man who presumably, under the false event modifiers of the Dark Curse, gets his girlfriend, Ashley, pregnant. With pressure from his father, he abandons Ashley and her unborn child.
  • The King/Mitchell Herman - Does not approve of his son's relationship with Ashley, and even more so because she is pregnant.
  • Hansel and Gretel/Nicholas Zimmer and Ava Zimmer - Two siblings who become orphans after their mother passes away, and resort to stealing for survival.
  • The Woodcutter/Michael Tillman - A mechanic who remains unaware he has children.
  • Nova/Astrid - Is a sister of the nunnery. She remains clumsy and hapless.
  • Sir Maurice/Moe French - Runs a flower delivery business, and is often late on rent for Mr. Gold.
  • Gus/Billy - Becomes human, and works as a mechanic.
  • Maleficent/Maleficent - Transformed into her dragon form and imprisoned beneath the clock tower in a cavern.

  • The Enchanted Forest inhabitants are transported back to Storybrooke with everything reverted to how it was before the first curse was undone. Magic remains in Storybrooke. ("New York City Serenade", "A Curious Thing")
  • Due to the Wicked Witch of the West dropping a forgetting potion into the second curse, everyone loses their memories of the last year spent in the Enchanted Forest. She herself ingests an antidote to retain her memories. After passing the vial to Rumplestiltskin, Neal temporarily breaks free from his father's body to send the potion to Hook. In writing, he asks him to use it to restore Emma's memories. ("A Curious Thing")
  • Those picked up by the second curse who weren't affected by the first curse have been given new lives in Storybrooke, however, they still retain their old names. ("New York City Serenade")

Breaking and Undoing the Dark Curse

Ways to Break the Curse

  • Mr. Gold designed the curse to break if Emma dies. ("An Apple Red as Blood")
  • Emma's true love for Henry breaks the first curse and the Sleeping Curse unintentionally inflicted upon him. ("A Land Without Magic")
  • Regina's true love for Henry breaks the second curse. ("A Curious Thing")
  • The trigger can reverse the effects of the first curse by erasing Storybrooke from existence, which would also kill all those not born in the Land Without Magic. The only way to escape this would be to escape to another land prior to the trigger's effects coming into full force. ("Second Star to the Right")
  • If Regina, the original caster of the curse, destroys the curse scroll, the curse can be undone. Additionally, destroying the scroll results in Storybrooke fading out of existence and everyone not born in the Land Without Magic returning to the Enchanted Forest. ("Going Home")

Parts of the Curse Broken and Undone

  • Time has resumed in Storybrooke, which allows changes in town's inhabitants' lives as well. ("Pilot")
    • Time is also unfrozen for the inhabitants left behind in the Enchanted Forest, who were protected by the effects of the curse twenty-eight years ago when Cora cast a shield. ("Broken")
  • Prince Charming's counterpart, David, awakens from his coma after Mary Margaret reads him the Snow White fairytale from Henry's book. ("Snow Falls")
  • Since the casting of the curse, Ashley remains heavily pregnant, but only after time resumes, she gives birth to Alexandra Herman. Afterwards, she happily reunites with her boyfriend and now fiancé, Sean. ("The Price of Gold")
  • Crickets return in town after Archie stands up to Regina. ("That Still Small Voice")
  • Graham regains his memories after sharing a kiss with Emma, but is killed by Regina. ("The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter")
  • A sinkhole collapses, and reveals a shard from Snow White's glass coffin, but Regina hides it in time. Later, she throws it down a mine vent as the shard collects with many other broken pieces of the coffin. ("That Still Small Voice")
  • David had flashes of memories from his life in the Enchanted Forest. However, he mistakes them as memories he had prior to being in the coma as well as confusing memories from the other world as ones he was recovering from his blackouts. ("The Shepherd", "Heart of Darkness")
  • Ava and Nicholas Zimmer reunite with their father, Michael Tillman. ("True North")
  • Fireflies appear when Leroy and Astrid reunite. ("Dreamy")
  • Jefferson realizes Emma's presence in town is causing time to resume, and recognizes her as having magic while everyone else is powerless. ("Hat Trick")
  • Ruby's rocky relationship with Granny changes for the better after she quits her diner job and works as an assistant for Emma. Ruby comes to realize she actually likes the diner job and only quit out of lack of self-confidence. ("Red-Handed")
  • Mary Margaret protects Emma from Jefferson by successfully using fighting moves from her prior life as Snow White, though she remains unaware. ("Hat Trick")
  • Since separating from his father at a young age, August finally gets the courage to talk to Marco and be his assistant. ("The Stranger")
  • Emma breaks the curse by giving Henry true love's kiss, which helps everyone to remember their past lives. ("A Land Without Magic")
  • After the curse ends, the residents can leave or enter town. However, Mr. Gold brought magic to Storybrooke, and as a price for it, he and everyone else cannot leave town without losing their Enchanted Forest memories. ("Broken")
  • Storybrooke is visible to and can be entered by outsiders. ("The Outsider")
  • Storybrooke fades from existence when Regina destroys the curse scroll and undoes the First Curse. ("Going Home")

Characters Aware of the Curse

  • Regina retains her memories from before the casting of the first curse because she is the one who enacted it.
  • Part of Jefferson's punishment is to remember his former life.
  • Mr. Gold regains his Enchanted Forest memories when he hears Emma say her own name for the first time. ("Pilot")
  • Graham begins to recall his former life when he kisses Emma, and the magic inside her triggers the memories. After they kiss a second time, he remembers everything. ("The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter")
  • August successfully evades the curse by being one of the two people to go through the wardrobe into the Land Without Magic. At the time, he is old enough to remember the first curse. ("The Stranger")
  • Henry believes in the curse because of the book he was given by Mary Margaret.
  • At least Archie, Emma and Mary Margaret are all aware of the concept of the first curse via Henry, though they do not believe it actually exists. Henry eats a poisoned tart intended for Emma and collapses. Following Henry's hospitalization, Emma realizes the curse is real after touching Henry's book and receiving memories of herself as an infant in the Enchanted Forest. ("An Apple Red as Blood", "A Land Without Magic")
  • The first curse is broken by Emma's true love for Henry and everyone remembers their Enchanted Forest past lives. ("Broken")

  • After Snow White and Prince Charming recast the curse, the Wicked Witch of the West alters the second curse and drops in a forgetting potion to make everyone forget the past year, but makes antidotes for herself and Rumplestiltskin. Before Rumplestiltskin can drink it, Neal sends the potion to Hook. The Wicked Witch of the West assumes a new identity in Storybrooke as Zelena. ("A Curious Thing")
    • The second curse is broken by Regina's true love for Henry and everyone regains their previously lost memories of the past year in the Enchanted Forest. ("A Curious Thing")


On-screen Notes

  • The way in which the Dark Curse is both prepared and cast has changed since its first appearance. In the first and second seasons, the curse is prepared by building a fire, placing the ingredients into it and then throwing the sacrificed heart into the flames. However, in the third season, the curse is prepared and cast by placing the ingredients into a bubbling cauldron (or in one case, the Storybrooke Wishing Well), and then crushing the sacrificed heart into the cauldron.
  • For the first and second curses, in both circumstances, Snow White and Prince Charming are lying together on the ground with the Evil Queen standing over them.

Production Notes

  • In the original "Pilot" script, the Dark Curse is not black smoke, but a green mist.[2] It only appears in its green mist form in "Going Home" after being cast by Peter Pan, however, the reasons for its altered appearance are unknown.
  • For the first curse, the show cast members believed it would only be broken in the very last airing episode of the series. ("Once Upon a Time: Secrets of Storybrooke")

Other Notes


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

  • The Dark Curse appears in Henry's storybook in "The New Neverland" and "Snow Drifts".[3]