Once Upon a Time: All the Fairy Tales, Legends & Folk Tales That Are In the Show
One of our favorite parts of Once Upon a Time is trying to decode all of the fairy tale inspirations for the Fairytale Land characters that are featured in the show. Hopefully, by looking at their original stories, we can find out more about what’s coming up (and what stories are missing!). Below, we’ve collected a list of all the fairy tales, legends, and folktales that are featured on the show. Be sure to check back for further updates in the future!
Rumpelstiltskin His name may be slightly different, but Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) was based off of the titular character of this Grimm Brothers classic. However, outside of being an impish, magical character who likes to trade stuff for babies/humans, Rumple’s backstory and crossover with other fairy tales is nothing like the original Grimm tale.
Beauty and the Beast Speaking of Rumple, his True Love Belle (Emilie de Ravin) was inspired by the “Beauty” from this 18th century French fairy tale from Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, that eventually inspired wht 1991 Disney film by the same name. Like the original, Belle is traded by her father to go live in a Beast’s castle, but in OUAT’s case the Beast was Rumplestiltskin.
Cinderella Cinderella’s (Jessy Schram) OUAT story was inspired by (you guess it!) the 1950 Disney film Cinderella, which was in turn inspired by a classic folk tale that has survived through centuries.
Little Red Riding Hood Snow White’s bestie Little Red Riding Hood (Meghan Ory) is based off of the classic French folktale, Little Red Riding Hood, which was first published by Charles Perrault in 1697, and later adapted by the Grimm Brothers. Of course, in the original version, Red doesn’t turn out to be the Big Bad Wolf.
Interestingly enough, Snow and Red’s friendship might be a hint that they are linked to the lesser known Grimm fairy tale, Snow White and Rose Red, about two sisters who make friends with a bear who turns out to be a prince who was under a bad curse. In the original fairy tales, there was no link between the more famous Snow White and Red Riding Hood, but it could explain Red and Snow’s friendship on the show.
Aladdin The Genie of Agrabah (Giancarlo Esposito) was eventually turned into the Magic Mirror, but his pre-lookingglass days were inspired the famous Aladdin tale from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), which inspired the 1992 Disney film.
King Midas OUAT’s King Midas is based off of the Greek myth about a king who could turn things into gold with just the touch of his hand. The most famous version of King Midas is from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
The Odyssey Speaking of Greek stories, the Sirens from OUAT were directly inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. Maybe this is a hint that there are more Odyssey/Greek myths to come?
The Sleeping Beauty We’ve only met Maleficent so far, but OUAT Season 2 promises that we’ll explore this classic tale further. This tale was inspired by a 17th century French fairy tale from Charles Perrault, and later popularized by the Grimm Brothers. Of course, the original tale was also the inspiration for the 1959 Disney film.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland This classic 19th century novel by Lewis Carroll inspired OUAT characters The Mad Hatter (Sebastian Stan) and the Queen of Hearts (and, hopefully, it will inspire more characters in the new season).
Hansel and Gretel This cannibalistic Grimm Brothers fairy tale played a minor role during Season 1, when it introduced us to Hansel, Gretel and one of the Blind Witches.
The Little Mermaid This classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale inspired a hit 1989 Disney film, and has been alluded to during Season 1 of OUAT. (The Evil Queen mentions that she needs to take care of a “little mermaid.”) Surely Ariel will be featured on the show sometime in the future.
Jack and the Beanstalk This English folk tale will be featured in Season 2, with Lost’s Jorge Garcia portraying The Giant. Joseph Jacobs’ version from 1890 is the most commonly referenced version of the tale.
Mulan While it isn’t a fairy tale, Season 2’s Mulan will most likely be influenced by Disney’s 1998 film by the same name. The film was based on the legend of Hua Mulan, an ancient Chinese female warrior.
Peter Pan We know that Season 2 will feature Captain Hook, who is based off the main villain from J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play, Peter and Wendy. We’ll have to keep a lookout for Peter and Wendy, too!
The Legend of King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table OUAT Season 2 will feature at least one character from Arthurian legend (Sir Lancelot). The English legends have been floating around for thousands of year, but were popularized in Romantic poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson and his Arthurian poems.