I've watched "Once Upon a Time" on-and-off over the past five years, enjoying everything from the OG memory curse to 1,282 episodes spent wandering the woods in Neverland to a "Frozen" spell to, most recently, stints in Camelot with a devious King Arthur and in the Underworld, with an even more devious, totally lovelorn Hades.
It's always a blast and occasionally very hard to follow — there are so. many. curses!! — but most importantly for the sake of this piece, it's also way darker (read: more fucked up) than you probably even realized, even if you're a long-time viewer. From murder to mind control to body (and baby)-snatching to actual rape, "Once Upon a Time" has done some seriously nasty things to its characters over the years ... but all under the guise of magic and with that special Disney touch, so it all ends Happily Ever After.
Below, let's come out from under the spell ABC cast on us with Rumple's Dark One dagger and discuss some seriously messed up plot lines from "Once," ranked by their utter insanity:
Arthur, a terrible husband, casts a spell on Guinevere that erases her free will in order to prevent her from hooking up with Lancelot.
The only thing that redeems this for me as that they didn't give this couple a Happily Ever After in the end.
I'd say she should get one with Lancelot, but Lancelot is Black, and therefore only appears in a few episodes to further a white story arc then disappears with the Lady in the Lake or whatever. Bye, Lance.
Peter Pan gets John and Michael to gay adopt his great-grandson in order to steal said great-grandson's heart.
Luckily they failed because Regina had a change of heart and kept Henry after all, but still. Peter Pan was a messed up dude with no sense of family loyalty.
"Wicked Witch" Zelena sends her Flying Monkey slave to have a relationship with Emma, who has amnesia.
There have been many curses on "Once" that give characters amnesia ... and the results, when you really think about it, are kind of — as the internet would say — problematic.
Regina's first curse, for example, had people sleeping with and even marrying humans they would normally never interact with, most notably David/Prince Charming with Kathryn, while his true wife Mary Margaret/Snow White was a mere block or two away. Not OK!
Also not OK was this Season 3 plot, in which Emma left Storybrooke at the cost of her own memories, then was preyed upon by the Wizard of Oz himself — who was now a Flying Monkey thanks to the actions of the Wicked Witch, Zelena — and tricked into what we can assume was a physical relationship.
Nothing like having sex with someone under false pretenses!
Snow White and Prince Charming inject an unborn baby with magic darkness so their own kid won't be evil.
First of all, it didn't even work, because Emma ended up being the Dark One anyway. Second ... don't steal a woman's unborn child (in egg form, because reasons) and inject her with magic evilness, then (oops!) allow that child to get sucked into a portal to another land, separating mother and daughter for three entire decades! Just don't!
Captain Hook steals Ursula's singing voice.
Captain Hook has stolen many things over the years — Rumple's wife, Aurora's heart, Spike from "Buffy"'s leather duster. But for some reason, his theft of Ursula's singing voice pisses me off the most. Robbing a woman of her livelihood and literally sole passion in this world? Not cool, Hookster.
Henry goes through puberty.
Easily the most disturbing plot line on "Once Upon a Time."
Belle endures a years-long relationship with an abusive person and we're told we're supposed to root for this.
I know "Rumbelle" shippers are intense and will @ me for this, but I do not care. This is textbook abuse, and it's pretty crappy that "Once" continues to paint Belle and Gold as tortured, star-crossed lovers (something I buy in other couples on the series) when he consistently lies to and manipulates her. (Remember that whole dagger thing? Jesus.)
Whatever Belle thinks their plans are for the future, Gold is always revealed to have other, dastardly plans that typically involve murder and outcomes that are only beneficial to him, like killing his own grandson and getting the hell out of dodge with his lady in tow.
Also, their entire relationship began with Belle being his captive, making Stockholm Syndrome a strong possibility, and pretty much permanently keeping their relationship on unequal footing.
This is not the Belle we fell in love with in the animated movie.
Regina habitually rapes Sheriff Graham.
OK, so here's where we get into things that are truly problematic. For much of the first season, Regina had a sexual relationship with Jamie Dornan's Sheriff Graham. However, it was under false pretenses — not only because she'd stolen his heart and was therefore able to control him, but because she erased his memories and gave him new ones that were much more conducive to him becoming her lover.
Zelena rapes Robin and gets pregnant with his child to piss off her sister.
Rape sure does run in this family, huh?
To get back at her half-sister, Zelena kills Robin Hood's wife Marion, takes on her form, has sex with him, and becomes pregnant ... and even though this is truly the most horrific sexual violation we've seen on "Once Upon a Time," the show glossed over it. And now, Robin is dead and Zelena gets to live happily ever after with her baby, I guess?