One of Once Upon a Time’s greatest attributes has always been its colorful characters and high caliber performances. Over the years we’ve seen high and rightful praise for its lead actors Jennifer Morrison, Colin O’Donoghue, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla and Rebecca Mader, while guest stars such as Robbie Kay, Victoria Smurfit, Joanna Garcia-Swisher, Elizabeth Mitchell and the other Frozen cast members Georgina Haig, Elizabeth Lail and Scott Michael Foster were loved and adored by many. But there have been many more wonderful characters and actors worthy of such praise that often have been overlooked. As the show approaches its end, it’s time to celebrate them as well.
12. Charles Mesure (Blackbeard)
Favorite Quote: “This trunk will make sure you die without fin-terference.”
Blackbeard is the kind of villain I absolutely love- dastardly, but suave, cunning but funny, and this pirate captain and rival to Captain Hook fits the bill perfectly. The bonus is that he looks just like the traditional depiction of the Captain Hook character and when he is on screen with his rival it’s absolutely golden. But not matter who Mesure shared his scenes with, he portrayed the pillaging pirate with great charisma. You were never rooting for him but loved every dastardly moment he appeared on screen.
11. Jamie Chung (Mulan)
Favorite Quotes: “Love is sacrifice.”
“It is dangerous to confuse justice with vengeance.”
Mulan is a brave and fierce warrior who wore strong armor literally, and much like our beloved Savior, figuratively. But she also showed moments of vulnerability and wisdom. She would sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of others, and in my heart I hope she found her own happy ending somewhere. Jaime Chung so wonderfully portrayed Mulan’s layers- strong, often headstrong, but so, so caring.
10. Jessy Schram (Cinderella/Ashley)
Favorite Quotes: “If I can get a happy ending, anyone can.”
“You just said it, I have to throw the punch. You can’t do it for me this time.”
Her story and character may follow the traditional attributes we know, but with the familiar also came a new and poignant story about a mother and girl taking control of her life, with the help of a certain Savior. But after Emma inspires her, Ashley’s finds her own happiness and redemption for a past wrong with her step sister. This Cinderella is strong and relatable, sweet and audacious, finding her happy ending with her husband, daughter and own sense of self by running her own day care in Storybrooke. And Jessy Schram made the character feel ever so real- like a real woman you’d want to be friends with and also be inspired by.
9. Rose McIver (Tinkerbell)
Favorite Quotes: “I can’t believe you want me to ignore someone who needs help. That’s not very fairy like.”
“For the record, I know why you risked your life back there and it wasn’t for yourself or revenge. It was for Emma.”
Rose McIver brings everything you’d expect for the Tinkerbell character: spunk, humor, grace, and beauty. But there’s more to this fairy and McIver also brought such warmth and poignancy to her story of betrayal, loss of faith (and her wings), and finally learning to believe in herself again and becoming a hero when she needed to be. Like a good fairy, she always wants everyone to find love and happiness, and like a good person, she learns to never give up on others and herself despite the obstacles. She’s as powerful as pixie dust!
8. Beverley Elliott (Granny)
Favorite Quotes: “Wolf’s hearing is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you run a hotel.”
“Meatloaf back home. What a bitch!”
The best things about Granny’s character are not only that she brings the warmth you would expect from a Grandmotherly character, but also that there is so much more depth than you could have ever expected, brought to life perfectly by Beverley Elliott. Not only does she treat us with endless humor and one liners, but she is tough as nails, sassy, overcame tragedy, is fiercely protective, loving, supportive of her granddaughter, and never takes guff from anyone- especially over her cooking. Whether she is wielding a knitting needle or a cross bow, Granny is a force to be reckoned with.
7. Liam Garrigan (King Arthur)
Favorite Quotes: “I was once prophesized to repair a broken kingdom. My mistake was thinking that kingdom was Camelot.”
“I’ve had victories and I’ve had losses. And I’ve learned it’s the losses that require us to be brave.”
One of the more complex and interesting villains the show ever did, the traditionally heroic King Arthur character became a man consumed by prophesies and his destiny- a good man who let a quest darken his soul so much that he lost sight of really mattered- his love for Guinevere and purpose to lead and restore a broken kingdom. Liam Garrigan was brilliant as the corrupt king, showcasing charisma and vitality, and in the end true heroism as he finds redemption after death, finding his true destiny- restoring peace to the kingdom he was meant to repair: the Underworld.
6. Meghan Ory (Ruby Lucas)
Favorite Quotes: “I should be out there having adventures with lemurs!”
“I sort of found someone in myself, and it was more than I expected.”
In one of the show’s greatest twists ever Ruby also became one of the show’s most interesting and relatable characters. With a beauty inside and out her warmth, bravery, and the journeys she went through were very poignant and Meghan Ory brought a gentle vulnerability to the girl in the red cloak who was also the wolf. Ruby was a true friend, funny, sweet, courageous, and relatable in the ways she found herself through the love for others and herself.
5. David Anders (Dr. Whale/Victor Frankenstein)
Favorite Quotes: “Are the nuns still nuns or can they, you know, date?”
“So Emma changes her hair and no one makes a fuss, but I get ridiculed.”
For a long time, the audience did not know who Dr. Whale’s fairy tale counterpart was, and when it was finally revealed, it was one of the most dynamic, interesting and captivating of the series. The resident doctor in Storybrooke, and the legendary scientist in the Land Without Color, Whale is wonderfully (but mildly) smarmy, widely intelligent, funny, but deep down sad and insecure. David Anders was the perfect choice to balance not only the two sides to him, but also the many layers of the character, simultaneously able to make us laugh (even when he’s being a letch) and sympathize and love him. We always wanted to see more of “The Doctor.”
4. Eion Bailey (August Booth)
Favorite Quotes: “I’ve lived a life of selfishness, cowardice and dishonesty. And only I can cure that. Not magic, not science. Just me.”
“You know when you picked Swan, it made me happy. I figured it meant that you got it. That you were on your way to becoming the person you wanted to be.”
“Let’s just say I’m a believer. And I’m here to help others see the light.”
Emma once described August as a “typewriter wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in stubble.” And that’s definitely a fair assessment. He’s enigmatic, charming, and a writer. But he’s also much more. A friend and protector of Emma, he strayed from this path and much like the true Pinocchio character, inherently and deeply struggled with being truthful and unselfish. But he paid the ultimate price, and worked hard to make up for his mistakes and find redemption, for his friend, to make his father proud, but also for himself. Eion Bailey always brought a magnetism, warmth and mystery to the character who was such a source of mythology and knowledge, as well as a true believer. August W. Booth made mistakes, but like Pinocchio learned how to be selfless, brave and true.
3. Raphael Sbarge (Archie Hopper/Jiminey Cricket)
Favorite Quotes: “Maybe it’s not about how you end things. Maybe it’s about how you live them.”
“Or what, you’ll ruin my life? You’ll do your worst? Because I will always do my best.”
Perhaps the purest character of the series, literally playing a conscience without coming across preachy or self righteous is a tall order. But the opposite is true of Dr. Hopper, due in no small part to the brilliance of Rapahel Sbarge who showcases such wisdom, sweetness and non judgment no matter the person. Not free from his own tragic backstory, he spent his life dedicated to helping others and was a healthy and wonderful example of the benefit self reflection and therapy. The fact that he also became a wedding officiant, rejoicing in the happiness of people he helped was simply just a beautiful addition to an already wonderful character.
2. Sean Maguire (Robin Hood)
Favorite Quotes: “My mind was in the forest but my heart took me here.”
“A thief who steals from those in need has no honor.”
“Use my heart for the both of us.”
The legendary character of Robin is beloved by many and Sean Maguire’s characterization is one of the finest we’ve ever seen as he showcased such charisma and soulfulness. Robin is noble, brave, cheeky and charming. He’s a lovable rogue who is a decent man who follows his heart and his beliefs, steadfastly and until the end. From his love for his son and his soulmate Regina, his character is one of great heart and courage and ultimately sacrifice, laying down his life for the woman he loved. And we will love him forever.
1. Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas (Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard and Prince Charming/David Nolan)
Favorite Quotes: (Snow) “Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.”
“And what exactly do you think fairy tales are? They are a reminder that things will get better, if we just hold onto hope.”
“An ending isn’t happiness. Being together is.”
(Charming) “True Love isn’t easy, but it must be fought for. Because once you find it, it can never be replaced.”
“There’s always people in this world who want you to give up. Don’t make their jobs any easier.”
“There’s more to life than just looking for the next fight. You’ve got to look for the moments. Good ones, bad ones, there’ll all worth living.”
Seeing the beloved Snow White and Prince Charming at the top of this list, you may wonder, are they underrated? While they definitely are loved and rightfully praised, often the other main characters would receive much more. Both individually and as an on screen couple, Snow and Charming brought so much heart, depth, beauty, purity and inspiration not only to their characters and story but the series as a whole, with their versions of these fairy tale characters being the best to ever grace the screen.
Snow White is deemed the fairest of them all, and she is undoubtedly beautiful, but her inner beauty and strength is what makes her special. Snow is strong, wise, endlessly caring, a loyal friend, a loving wife and mother, is inherently protective and self sacrificing, and has an ability to hope and forgive that is very poignant. You never have to doubt the depth of her love. It is always beautifully written on her face. Goodwin gorgeously portrays this woman who is equally amazing with her abilities with a bow and arrow and her steadfast speeches of hope, to her heart that is so incredibly strong, she could share half of it with her husband to bring him back to life. Goodwin displays Snow’s sweetness, strength and complexities with utter warmth and vitality. It was truly a wonder to behold.
For the courageous and handsome Prince, it takes a lot to live up to the name Charming, but David certainly does. He is kind, brave, heroic, selfless, caring, and honorable. He is “Princely” in every way imaginable despite being raised as a poor shepherd. He is a devoted husband who loves his wife unconditionally and is always willing to fight for her, and is an endlessly supportive and protective father. And he is never too proud to show his emotions and cry, proving to be an ideal combination of masculine strength and sensitive tenderness. Josh Dallas brought so much to this incredible man displaying Charming’s gentleness and strength with equal authenticity and fervor, brilliant in both moments of quiet wisdom and love and traditionally brave heroics. Whether he’s fighting a dragon or proclaiming to always find the woman he loves, Dallas made this Prince Charming one for the ages.
And the two together left an indelible impression on what made Once Upon Time the show it was.