Once Upon a Time

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Title Once Upon a Time
Network ABC
Premiere October 23, 2011
Purchase Available on Amazon

Once Upon a Time is an American fantasy television show that takes place in the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine, whose residents are fairy tale characters whose memories have been erased and who have been transported to the "real" world.

LGBT Representation

May contain spoilers

The show introduced an LGBT character in season two when it hinted that Mulan (Jamie Chung) might be developing romantic feelings for Aurora (Sarah Bolger), but before Mulan could reveal her feelings in season three, Aurora announced that she and Prince Philip were expecting a baby together and Mulan left heartbroken to join Robin Hood's band of Merry Men, not appearing again until season five.

In season five, the show introduced an LGBT couple when Ruby (Meghan Ory) and Dorothy (Teri Reeves) shared not one, but two kisses in 5x18 "Ruby Slippers", which aired April 17, 2016.

Related Links

Swan Queen Controversy

Once Upon A Time is a frequent target of accusations of queerbaiting and insensitivity to LGBT fans. A large and active population of the shows fans ship the non-canon femslash ship Regina Mills/Emma Swan, commonly known as "Swan Queen". As explained in an article entitled "The History of Femslash, the Tiny Fandom That's Taking Over the Universe":

Once Upon a Time's premise is a little gay. A kid has two moms, and those moms like to argue passionately with one another while looking at each other's lips.[1]

However, the show's creators have not been supportive, or even tolerant, of the Swan Queen ship, referring to any homoerotic subtext as "unintentional" and introducing heterosexual love interests for both characters.

As one fan wrote:

The SwanQueen fandom has been super vocal on social media to both the actresses and the show’s creators about their love of this ship. Despite that, neither of these shows has given any indication they plan on following through with the romanticization of the relationships in question. And while they shouldn't have to acquiesce to every fan ship out there, if the relationship works in the storyline and the characters have chemistry, why wouldn't they? If the characters are telling you they are queer, make them queer. If they are straight, leave them straight and cut out the subtext. Either way quit playing games with our hearts; it's condescending. If OUAT's endgame is that everyone is going to live heterosexually ever after, it doesn't deserve its loyal queer girl fanbase.[2]

Autostraddle[3], a website for queer women, and Swan Queen podcast PodQueen[4] have ended recaps and podcasts respectively as a result of perceived queerbaiting on the show's part.

However, other fans disagree with the characterization of the show as queerbaiting. For example one fan examined the show in light of a popular definition of queerbaiting and came to the conclusion that:

[Once Upon a Time] has its problems and we should be fighting for more queer representation (and more minority representation in general) on the show, but one of the few problems Once does not have is queerbaiting, at least in regards to the Swan Queen relationship.[5]


In addition to the popularity of Swan Queen, which is tagged in more than 6800 of the more than 26,000 works tagged Once Upon a Time on popular fanfiction archive An Archive of Our Own, other slash and femslash ships popular with the fandom include Belle/Ruby and Aurora/Mulan.

Related Links


  1. http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-history-of-femslash-the-tiny-fandom-thats-taking-o-1765143690
  2. http://www.afterellen.com/tv/471593-lets-end-queerbaiting-2016
  3. http://www.autostraddle.com/and-they-lived-heterosexually-ever-after-why-im-not-recapping-once-upon-a-time-anymore-233838/
  4. http://podqueen.tumblr.com/post/57256357453/and-from-all-of-us-a-very-goodnight
  5. http://ouatqueer-antisq.tumblr.com/post/94018358604/why-once-upon-a-time-isnt-queerbaiting-swan-queen

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