Top 30 Once Upon a Time Characters

To celebrate Once Upon a Upon a Time coming to the Disney Plus streaming services I thought it would be a good time to revisit the series and countdown some favorites. Here, we rank the Top 30 Characters from the fairy tale series. Of course any kind of ranking is all relative. The following list could be very different from you the reader, or it could be strikingly similar. And of course there is a difference between personal favorite characters and ranking them in other terms. If that was the case my list would look a little different. For this list it was a difficult process but I ranked them by a combination of the following categories (in order):

  • Character dynamics and likability, whether they be hero or villain
  • How well the character was written
  • Importance to the plot
  • Development or growth (if applicable)
  • Acting
  • Legacy and importance to the series overall

So, let’s take a look back at a wide array of wonderful characters, varied and beautiful enough to fill any number of magical storybooks.

30. Tinkerbell (portrayed by Rose McIver)

Smart, spunky, and sweet, this fairy who once lost her wings, learned to believe in herself with just a little faith, trust and pixie dust. She forgave Regina for her betrayal and encouraged her to go after love. She also killed Pan’s shadow which restored the Blue Fairy’s life and was one of the contributing factors that helped the heroes to escape Pan’s curse, proving instrumental in one of the show’s most crucial moments. Above all she just wanted to help those in need and for them to find their happy endings, a lovely quality that defines what it means to be a fairy.

29. Sheriff Graham Humbert/The Huntsman (portrayed by Jamie Dornan)

As the Huntsman he was a sensitive and compassionate soul, as Sheriff of Storybrooke he was a charming and strong man who decided to find his heart and choose his own path. In the Enchanted Forest, he helped Charming escape Regina’s castle, and as Henry sweetly points out, he spared Snow’s life. Without both of these moments, Emma would have never been born, solidifying a connection between them that was established in Storybrooke in an emotional and heartbreaking moment. We were able to see the type of man Emma would be attracted to while showing us a brief flicker of hope that her heart could open to someone worthy. His death was an early game changer and showcased the gravity of the curse, how we could lose anyone and how precious life is, making each subsequent time he showed up extremely satisfying.

28. Ursula (portrayed by Merrin Dungey and Tiffany Boone)

Once a mermaid full of sadness over the loss of her mother, but kindness in her heart, she loved to sing and bring people joy. After a betrayal from Hook and her father, she turned herself into another sea creature after losing her singing voice, not wanting to ever let her father use it to lure sailors to their doom. As an adult she lost her way, but with the help of Captain Hook and a reconciliation with her father, both she forgives, her voice and beautiful spirit were returned and restored, leading to crucial information for the heroes to defeat the latest threat. She was fun as one of the Queens of Darkness, but it was lovely to see her return to the light.

27. Grumpy/Dreamy/Leroy (portrayed by Lee Arenberg)

When it comes to Dwarfs, their pick axe will choose their name. This dwarf was born as Dreamy, but a broken heart turned him Grumpy. Despite that, both in the Enchanted Forest and in Storybrooke as Leroy, he as he says need his pain, it’s only because it’s a reminder of what in life we fight for. Grumpy is loyal  and stubborn, gruff but sweet. And if there is any gossip that needs repeating he is just the Dwarf for the job.

26. Lancelot (portrayed by Sinqua Walls)

A former Knight of the Round Table, Lancelot was a courageous man with honor, selflessness and a kind and loving heart. Not only did he perform the wedding ceremony for Snow and Charming, making sure Charming’s mother’s final moments were happy ones, he made sure Snow received the water which would break her infertility curse. Without him there would be no Emma, and therefore no Savior, making him one of the show’s most important characters. On his own, he loved Guinevere truly, and looked after her when Arthur was obsessing over Excalibur, while also being willing to sacrifice himself to the darkness for her. Hopefully he found her again and they are living happily ever after in a restored and no longer broken kingdom.

25. Granny Lucas (portrayed by Beverley Elliot)

Granny Lucas 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. A former wolf herself, she sheltered Ruby from the truth, but learned to help her embrace it, while she wanted nothing more than to leave Granny’s Diner to her. She loved her family, blood and otherwise and whether she was wielding a knitting needle or a cross bow, Granny was a force to be reckoned with. 

24. Merlin (portrayed by Elliot Knight)

As a stroke of genius and in a great form of subversion, the iconic wizard who traditionally was an old man with a long white beard, here is a young and dynamic man of color who was brilliant and disarming. As Emma once told him he was the greatest Sorcerer that ever lived and indeed, Merlin was so powerful he was able to break free from the darkest and strongest control when he needed to most. As a young man and founder of the Holy Grail, his immortal life gave him wisdom and a peaceful nature. Although he was often cryptic and had moments of failure, it gave the wizard a relatable, human quality, on top of being charming and brave. His loss was a great one, but his legacy remained.

23. King Arthur (portrayed by Liam Garrigan and Webb Hayes)

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. As a child he was sweet despite being made to feel inferior. But as an adult he was a good man who let a quest darken his soul so much that he lost sight of what really mattered- his love for Guinevere and his purpose to lead and restore a broken kingdom. A corrupt king, showcasing charisma and vitality, in the end, although quick, he found one of the show’s most satisfying and believable paths to redemption. After his death, he found his true destiny. Restoring peace to the kingdom he was meant to repair- the Underworld.

22. Cora Mills (portrayed by Barbara Hershey and Rose McGowan)

A woman obsessed with power and getting what she thought she deserved, Cora was manipulative and often frightening in her cruel behavior and demeanor, but it made her one of the most realistic villains of the show. Believing love is weakness, she never let her emotions get in the way of her grand ambitions. She betrayed Rumple, abandoned her first child Zelena, and when she married and had her daughter Regina, ripped her own heart out, so she would always stay true to the path of gaining royal power. She was unflinching, devious and twisted, and we loved to hate her.

21. Mulan (portrayed by Jamie Chung)

Mulan was a brave and fierce warrior who wore strong armor literally and figuratively. Guarded with her emotions, she also showed moments of vulnerability and wisdom when it came to matters of the heart and life. Strong, often headstrong, but so, so caring, Mulan was also incredibly clever, helping our heroes multiple times, becoming a member of Robin Hood’s gang, a guide and mentor to Merida, and faithful friend to Ruby. She would sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of others and felt the deep pangs of an unrequited love for Aurora. But despite never seeing it on screen I hope she found her own happy ending somewhere.

20. Dr. Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket (portrayed by Raphael Sbarge and Adam Young)

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, who showcases such wisdom, sweetness and non judgment no matter the person. Not free from his own tragic backstory, he was tricked and inadvertently and irrevocably hurt Gepetto’s parents, and so wished nothing more than to be a cricket and dedicate his life to helping and guiding others. In Storybrooke he 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 the people he helped was a beautiful addition to an already wonderful character.

19. Ingrid (portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell and Brighton Sharbino)

Also known as the Snow Queen, the Aunt to Anna and Elsa had even more tragic backstory than that of her nieces. As an young girl Ingrid discovered she had ice powers, and while she became even more reserved and hid from the world, she and her sisters remained dedicated to each other’s happiness. It was only when a devastating accident led to one of her sister’s death with the other trapping her for years in an urn, that Ingrid became the monster she thought everyone would call her. With an icy and chilling demeanor, this was merely masking a heart that was deeply wounded, and underneath it all, true. Determined to find sisters that will love her unconditionally, all it took was knowing her sister’s deep regret, belief and love for her, for Ingrid to realize her grave mistake, reverse her spell of Shattered Sight and sacrifice herself in the process, leading her back to her sisters in the end. And despite the deception, her affection for Emma was sincere and she proved an important figure in her life. Ingrid’s character was poignant and her sacrifice was a moment of true redemption that was deeply emotional and beautifully moving.

18. August Booth/Pinocchio (portrayed by Eion Bailey, Jacob Davies and Rustin Gresiuk)

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.  Much like the Pinocchio of the original novel, his desire and penchant for less than honorable and deceiving behavior was an inherent quality he had to constantly battle. As a young child he leaves Emma alone, but deeply regrets it and so keeps tabs to makes he she remains on her path and not lose faith. And when he fails as an adult in that, he tries everything to make up for his failings and be the friend and guardian angel Emma deserves. With a magnetism, warmth and mystery to the character he 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.

17. Belle French (portrayed Emilie De Ravin)

A true beauty inside and out, what was so beautiful about Belle’s character was that it demonstrated heroism in unconventional, but poignant ways that are not seen nearly enough. Her strength, beauty and heroism came in the form selflessness, compassion, forgiveness, intelligence and cleverness. When her kingdom needed her, she agreed to be Rumplestilskin’s servant so her people would be saved. When another kingdom was at the mercy of the Yaoguai, this intelligent bookworm single handedly tracked it down in a day, realized this so called “monster” was in pain, understood it and saved it as it was truly a cursed Prince Philip. She forgave those who hurt her, always endeavored others to follow their hearts, saw the good in Rumplestilskin and encouraged him endlessly, had the courage to banish him when he reached one of his lowest points, and although Rumplestilskin was often undeserving of her love and forgiveness, she bestowed it with belief and conviction. Some may disagree with her choices, and indeed her end was very sad, but her unfailing faith in others proved the depth of her compassionate heart. She remained a kind soul, loving wife and mother until the very end.

16. Ariel (portrayed by Joanna Garcia-Swisher)

Sweet, optimistic, naive but courageous, Ariel was an absolutely delightful character and as wonderful a depiction as any Little Mermaid fan surely dreamed of. On land she literally was a fish out of water not knowing or understanding certain human things calling forks “mini tridents” and not being afraid of a gun because she didn’t know what is was, resulting in adorable moments. But these moments of humor were matched by her moments of wisdom and belief in true love not only for herself with the handsome Prince Eric but for the friends she meets along the way such as Snow White and Captain Hook. She saves Snow from the Evil Queen twice, is instrumental in helping rescue Henry in Neverland, rescued Hook from drowning and from himself as she helped open his eyes on more than one occasion showing him how True Love does indeed mean more than a ship ever could, and never fill the void left from a broken heart, and importantly that villains will never find happiness until their attempts to find happy endings must change for the better, becoming his friend in the process, and helping him communicate with Emma when they needed it the most. Whether on land or under the sea, Ariel, was a sweet, unassuming and beautiful part of the series.

15. Zelena Mills (portrayed by Rebecca Mader and Isabelle Blake-Thomas)

The infamous Wicked of Witch in the Once of Upon a Time universe is a great depiction of the iconic character as she is layered and interesting, evoking moments of terror, hatred, amusement and even sympathy. Abandoned as a baby, bullied for being different and abused by her father as a child, these sufferings led her to seek some place and someone who would love and accept her. Sadly, her suffering turned to envy and resentment towards others (especially her sister Regina) having what she was always deprived of, leading her down a dark path of revenge. And as that infamous villain she was captivating to watch with a cool demeanor one moment and maniacal tirade the next. Her wicked ways only changed when she found people willing to forgive her and let her try to be a mother to her daughter. The one blemish on the character was the troubling way she became a mother which was never properly and rightly addressed. But overall, when she learned to live her life unselfishly and be the mother her daughter deserved, she found that seemingly illusive, happy and peaceful place where bluebirds fly, no broomstick required.

14. Elsa (portrayed by Georgina Haig)

If there ever was a timely addition and example of characters who feel like they leapt off the silver and into the small screen in the Once Upon a Time universe, it would be with the characters of Frozen. The arrival of the Ice Queen of Arendelle Elsa was a surprise for both the character and the audience and she could not have been more perfectly cast, nor beautifully and seamlessly integrated into the story. Elsa was kind, reserved, but warm, ironically, and a faithful sister and friend. A natural and relatable kindred spirit for Emma, they formed a fast friendship when Elsa creates an ice wall around town as leverage to help find her sister Anna and accidentally traps Emma inside. Unbothered by the cold, she was able to save her new friend’s life, finding strength within herself and gaining control of her magic. The beauty of her character is that her own struggles, wisdom, and belief give Elsa a richness and sweetness while also mirroring and guiding those in Storybrooke, most especially Emma. She helped Emma learn to accept every part of herself in the same way she had to, giving our Savior a moment of self True Love. And she never gave up on finding her sister, her pure heart saving both Anna and Kristoff from a watery grave, giving us two of the most beautiful moments of the series. Although a return to Arendelle was imminent, her indelible impression on Storybrooke was everlasting, making it possible to believe she would remain friends with Emma forever, and may even be a certain baby girl’s Ice Queen godmother.

13. Anna (portrayed by Elizabeth Lail)

Spunky, incessantly adorable chatterer, sweet-natured Anna is just as lovely and perfect a characterization as her sister Elsa in the Once Upon a Time story. Nearly identical to her animated film counterpart, this Anna had all of her fine qualities while also bringing equal parts gravitas, pathos and beauty to the role. When the sisters discover that their parents had journeyed to the Kingdom of Mist Haven to hopefully learn more about Elsa’s powers, but ultimately perished, Anna takes it upon herself to finish what her parents began, wanting nothing more than her sister’s happiness, even delaying her wedding to Kristoff. She faced off against Rumplestiltskin, Ingrid and Prince Hans proving herself brave and resourceful even when he felt like she failed because it was her pure heart and constant support of Elsa’s that made her sister return that support in kind. Their bond saved Anna’s life because she is willing to die for those she loves. She even taught our beloved Prince Charming not only how to wield a sword but to stand up to his persecutors, relaying the profound truth that it’s not just about surviving; You have to live. A lover of sandwiches, her sister and man named Kristoff that she finally married at the end of this story arc, Princess Anna of Arendelle is a shining example of Once Upon a Time’s most prominent theme: to always have hope.

12. Cruella De Vil (portrayed by Victoria Smurfit)

The sardonic, gin soaked reckless driver with an inherent propensity for evil, Cruella lived up to her name in spades and was the most fabulous villains that ever was! Once Upon a Time almost always portrayed their villains with sympathetic lives making their turn towards evil understandable. With Cruella, it was a refreshing change of pace to see a villain be evil for evil’s sake. With one of the most creative and interesting backstories, Cruella lived in a 1920s land of flappers and jazz, where the silver tongued tale of being abused she told to the Storybook’s author, was the opposite of the gruesome twist. Cruella was cold and evil since childhood, poisoning her father, tricking the author into giving her power to control animals, killing her step mother and then her dogs and sewing their fur into a coat- all in one chilling night! Her treachery proved to be her downfall as her appearance and ability to kill was forever taken from her, making her threat to Henry moot when Emma killed her to save her son. But she was such a delightfully viscous and fun villain to watch that when we saw her again in the Underworld, it was a fabulous surprise for all us darlings.

11. Henry Mills (portrayed by Jared Gilmore and Andrew J. West)

One of life’s most precious gifts is the privilege of seeing a child grow up, discover the world and mature into the person they will become. When the series began little Henry Mills was a 10 year old precocious and sweet child determined to make his mother Emma break the curse so she can bring back all the happy endings to the people of Storybrooke. His belief in the curse and in Emma proved so strong that his greatest hope came true. Possessing the Heart of the Truest Believer, Henry truly became the heart of the series in that he brought characters together through their love for him inspiring many an “Operation” that our heroes embarked on to defeat villains, break curses and save lives. And we bore witness to this brave boy growing into a kind, forgiving, wise young man who never ever lost hope in any of his family. He became the next author of the Storybook earning the lofty job through his pure heart, courage and conviction, overcame mistakes by helping others find hope and wanted nothing more than both his mothers to be happy. And although the plot point to have adult Henry stay in the Enchanted forest for years instead of returning to Storybrooke felt out of character, his finest qualities remained as he was a loving and faithful man- a devoted son and step son, gentle and kind father, loving husband, sweet big brother and valiant warrior just as he always dreamed of becoming as a child. Family is everything to Henry.

10. Regina Mills/The Evil Queen (portrayed by Lana Parrilla and Ava Acres)

Regina Mills, known in the Enchanted Forest as The Evil Queen, is a character that is undeniably complex. When the series begins, she is a bitterly vengeful villain with a flair for the dramatic, as the Queen of misplaced anger, living what she thought would be her happy ending with an entire kingdom cursed in Storybrooke where time was frozen and its residents couldn’t remember their true selves, Regina being the only one aware of that fact. But when her adopted son Henry brings his birth mother Emma to town, who also happens to be the only one who could break this curse and miraculously does, Regina had to begin a path towards change for the better, learning to love her son in healthier and more supportive way, to stop relying on dark magic and underhanded and manipulative ways, and put away her evil tendencies. It was a huge struggle for her character but she eventually began to put aside her revenge on Snow and Charming, who compassionately let her back in, stopped trying to separate Emma and Henry, gave her sister a second chance at family, no longer ran from the possibility of love, embracing her destined soulmate Robin Hood, and tried to be a better mother to Henry. If only judging on the first 4 seasons the character would be ranked higher, but after that unfortunately the redemptive storyline became inconsistent, most especially a misguided story of splitting herself in two and remaining that way, as well as, like Zelena, some crimes and atrocities never being addressed and dealt with as they should have been. While early on the Evil Queen was fun in a love to hate way, this eventual inconsistency with her progress was a disservice. However, in the end the “Evil” moniker was no longer truly applicable with her finest moments being where she finally realized (and showed others like her sister) the strength love and hope can give you if you truly believe in it.

9. Robin Hood (portrayed by Sean Maguire and Tom Ellis)

The legendary character of Robin Hood is one of the most beloved ever and one that’s been depicted countless times. On Once Upon a Time we see one of the finest characterizations. Originally played by Ellis for one episode in Season 2, the role was then recast by Maguire (the difference in appearance cleverly explained in a Season 4 episode.) This Robin of Locksley and Sherwood Forest was just as one would expect as the iconic thief and leader of a band of Merry Men who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, fought against injustice and tyranny in the Enchanted Forest, and then becoming a protector Storybrooke when a curse brings them to the sleepy town. 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, without being saccharine or unbelievable as he falters and makes mistakes in his romantic entanglements. Ultimately, this charming archer, had a heart of gold, with a deep and unending love for his children and his soulmate Regina, whom he sacrificed his life for, making him the one loss in the show that I personally will forever deeply lament. Robin Hood left an indelible impression that always hit the bulls eye.

8. Jefferson/The Mad Hatter (portrayed by Sebastian Stan)

Never before has the classic Alice in Wonderland character of The Mad Hatter been as complex and captivating as Once Upon a Time’s Jefferson. Charismatic, obsessive, and extremely intelligent, this deeply layered character was not only brilliant individually but his choices, abilities and interactions with key characters proved to be integral to the plot of the series, so much so that nothing would be the same without his presence. Neither a fully fledged villain nor a virtuous hero, Jefferson was once a procurer of difficult to find items and the master of a magical hat that can help you to travel to any realm. He was key to Regina embracing her dark side, and his presence in Storybrooke created a kernel of belief in the validity of the curse in Emma’s mind. Without him, and therefore his magical piece of millinery, the poison apple would have never came to Storybrooke, and therefore the curse would not have been broken in the way it was, Emma never would had met Killian Jones, while him finding a crystal ball for Rumple helped the would be couple make sure another couple, Snow and Charming, fell in love. A good man who only wanted to give his daughter everything, he feared after leaving her, she would never forgive him even though he was tricked. His time in Wonderland drove him mad, and in Strybrooke his curse was having both sets of memories, seemingly like a maniac one moment, kidnapping Mary Margaret and Emma all so Emma could get his hat to work, to a hero to Belle the next, releasing her from her asylum prison, to a sweet and sympathetic father who is reunited with his daughter Grace, embracing her and finally finding his happy ending. The magnetic and brilliant Jefferson left an indelible impression to marvel at. No pun intended.

7. Ruby Lucas/Red Riding Hood (portrayed by Meghan Ory)

A classic, iconic and rich fairy tale tradition as there ever was, the tale and character of Little Red Riding Hood is a cautionary one to be weary of strangers and be smart and safe. But Once Upon a Time gave us another subversive twist on the tale by making Ruby not only a sweet girl in a red hood who loves her Granny, but also the dreaded wolf herself, who cannot remember those she kills when she turns into the creature. In doing so it not only was one of the show’s greatest twists ever, but Ruby also became one of the show’s most interesting and relatable characters. With a beauty inside and out, her warmth, bravery, and gentle vulnerability, as well as the journeys she went through were very poignant as she learned to control her time as a wolf, a emotional and prescient metaphor to not be afraid of who we are but instead embrace it and celebrate it. Her cursed Storybrooke persona was one of a boldness and defiance, but when things change and the curse is broken we see that was partly a mask to hide her insecurities which transform into courage to fight for herself. As she tells her Granny, she found someone in herself and it was more than she expected. Loyal and ever protective of her best friend Snow, she helped her in immeasurable ways, which Snow returns when Ruby is frightened of love and encourages her to open her heart to Dorothy. Ruby was a true friend, funny, sweet, courageous, and relatable in the ways she found herself through the love for others and herself. 

6. Peter Pan/Malcolm (portrayed by Robbie Kay and Stephen Lord)

When we imagine Peter Pan, chances are we either imagine the mischievous but ultimately good hearted boy who never grows up from the 1950’s animated film, or the 1990’s version, portrayed by Robin Williams, of the boy who grew up, had a family and now must rescue them by remembering who he is. Both are heartwarming tales. What Once Upon a Time does is take elements from the original character that could be twisted and upsetting and make them even darker and more sinister. This Peter Pan was once a man: a cowardly one who abandoned his son Rumplestiltskin because he couldn’t deal with being a father, using Pixie dust to turn himself into a boy who never ages. He is the ruler of Neverland, who uses his shadow to lure children who feel neglected away from their homes, essentially kidnapping them and turning them into The Lost Boys, who more closely resemble the murderous boys from Lord of the Flies, rather than cute ragamuffin orphans. This Pan is truly the darkest villain in the sense that he hunts down the innocent for his own gain and amusement, eventually setting his sights on Henry, needing the Heart of the Truest Believer to save his own dying organ. He manipulates Henry, tortures his family with needless riddles and pain, and does it all with a cool and sinister smirk on his face, and magnetic villainy. And it’s engrossing to watch. He takes pleasure in the evil he does, and is so selfish that it makes the moments his son gets the best of him so incredibly rewarding. As admirable a foe as the heroes ever faced Pan was a bloody demon with the face of a seemingly innocent boy.

5. Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard (portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin and Bailee Madison)

One of the most timeless characters of all time is given an iconic and remarkable characterization in Once Upon a Time as a woman who is not only beautiful, but incredibly strong, wise, forgiving, and endlessly caring. She is 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, with the ability the give the appropriate speech of hope when some need it the most. As a child, she had to learn humility and that sacrifice for your own gain will only turn your heart dark, not to mention how the evil can manipulate us. She was innocent and while these moments led to pain, they helped shape her into the good person she is. And although she had moments where her sense of morality and hope waivered, and struggled with how to be a mother to Emma, in the end she overcame these moments. When she was cursed as Mary Margaret , her true self was stifled but she remained under the surface as she found herself in love with David, physical strength coming through, and felt a profound familial connection to Emma almost instantly. As her true self of Snow White, her love for others is boundless, literally sharing her heart with her husband, forgiving and welcoming Regina into her family regardless of the past, and giving her daughter the only cure for her shared sleeping curse to help Emma reach Hook, deeply lamenting how Emma grew up without her and not wanting to take any more from her, displaying both a beautiful moment of motherly love and hope in her daughter to find another way to save them. Snow is sweet and strong and as capable with a bow and arrow as she is with her steadfast hope speeches. She is the fairest of them all in every way possible.

4. Rumplestliskin/Mr.Gold (portrayed by Robert Carlyle and Wyatt Oleff)

The classic fairy tale trickster, obsessed with the unborn, with the ability to spin straw into gold, is certainly seen in that way on Once Upon a Time, but there is so much more to the impish and flamboyant Rumplestiltskin  who has the penchant for making unbreakable deals and calling others “dearie,” in turn creating the most iconic version of the character we’ve ever seen. This Rumplestiltskin is known in Storybrooke as Mr. Gold,  but in truth is also the Beast to Belle and the Crocodile to Captain Hook, as well as infamous and ever feared Dark One, who is the most powerful dark wizard of them all. Abandoned as a child, he grows up to be a man so scared of losing his life in war, when he finds out he was to be a father that he purposefully injures himself, losing the respect and love of his wife. Letting fear bring out his worst qualities when he becomes The Dark One he allows that darkness to take hold of him, completely succumbing and controlled by the power he had felt denied of all his life. Plagued with self loathing and cowardice, he always struggles with choosing power over love, and is so often the master manipulator and puppeteer of everyone’s lives. And yet still we see how much he wants to love and be loved, often garnering empathy, particularly when he came to his quest to find his son and his deep love for Belle. One moment he is vindictive and dishonest, the next he shows true vulnerability and honesty. With the ability to be heroic he sacrificed himself to save everyone from Peter Pan, while he also proved to be dark and manipulative, even without the power of the darkness inside of him, when he transfers all of the darkness inside of Hook and Emma back to himself, betraying them and making Hook die, at least in that moment, in vain. It took the death of his wife for him to fully overcome his constant desire for immortality and power. No matter what, Rumplestiltskin is an endlessly complex and dynamic character that is always fascinating to watch.

3. Prince Charming/David Nolan (portrayed by Josh Dallas)

A classic Disney Prince if there ever was one, this Prince Charming, real name David Nolan, wanted to be known for more than awakening a sleeping Princess, even if doing so brought him great happiness. Indeed, this charming prince is so much more, with more complexities in both his origin story and personality. When he was cursed he literally was unable to overcome his confusion and bad choices but when that curse was lifted the wonderful Prince finally shined through. Perhaps not as flashy as the villains on the series, David, as the traditional leading man successfully showcases amazing qualities and captivating moments in ways that are both traditionally heroic and epic as well as understated and quiet. Raised as a shepherd he learned the value of hard work and true love from his mother, and when he became a prince it was to save her and his entire kingdom, determined to not let anyone suffer. Only when he meets Snow White does he realize the that he can stand up against the tyrannical King George and fight for and always find his True Love Snow. Stubborn and often hard headed one moment, he is also kind, brave, heroic, selfless, caring, and honorable. His traditionally heroic moments of fighting a dragon, or palace guards with his newborn daughter in his arms, are matched not only in the beautiful romantic moments with Snow White such as sacrificing himself on more than one occasion to keep her safe or putting himself under a sleeping curse, but also in his moments with Emma proving to be a gentle, protective and truly understanding father, as well as grandfather to Henry, offering advice, guidance or comfort whenever it was needed. He also learned to overcome prejudice and past wrongs and forgave the likes of Hook and Regina. This Prince Charming is the ideal combination of masculine strength and sensitive tenderness, brilliant in both moments of quiet wisdom and love and brave heroics, proving that the traditional fairy tale prince can be a modern, inspiring and relatable character.

2. Killian Jones/Captain Hook (portrayed by Colin O’Donoghue and Oliver Bell)

The character of Captain Hook has seen countless interpretations since the original iteration and none have ever been quite as extraordinary as Once Upon a Time’s Killian Jones. As a boy he and his older brother were sold into indentured servitude, suffering years of abuse but retaining a sense of honor along with his idolization of his brother Liam. When a treacherous King’s lies leads to Liam’s death, the young man who dreamed of a hero’s journey became the infamous pirate, and Captain of the Jolly Roger, one day falling in love and running away with Rumplestlskin’s wife, who, now as the Dark One, kills Milah, and cuts off Killian’s hand, leading to the birth of his more colorful moniker, Captain Hook; and a long and dark path of villainy and revenge against Rumple, spanning a century, with fate leading him towards another path: one of love, heroics and redemption. Killian Jones is an old fashioned, swashbuckling, sexy, charming, handsome, flirtatious, and adventurous pirate, who deems himself a dashing rapscallion, but is also sincere, loving, gentle and tender, as well strong in his motivations and convictions. When he met Emma it was as if he was seeing the sun again for the first time in centuries and she inspired him as he learned to hope again, to move past vengeance and tread the path of good. Although he falters and letting go of his revenge proved difficult, once he decided that revenge is not the way, he worked hard to prove himself worthy of Emma’s love, letting his feelings be apparent but letting her lead the way, showcasing an earnest respect.  

Indeed, meeting Emma Swan changed his life in a remarkable way and he found that love was not only possible again, but that it could be the most beautiful and extraordinary love imaginable and inspire you to be a better person. But importantly, though he had hope and confidence, he wanted to be a better man regardless of whether she ever returned those feelings. He supported and encouraged Emma to be her true and miraculous self, helped David find a cure for Dreamshade and find Henry in Neverland, gave up his ship so she could return home to her family, sought forgiveness and often protected Belle from harm after he hurt her deeply in the past, protected Henry from harm numerous times, and made sure Charming did not follow a path of revenge himself, knowing the pain it causes. When he realized he had been turned into a Dark One, he faltered and let it consume him, but soon turned around and made the ultimate sacrifice. When Emma is unable to bring him home he makes sure she will let him go, and proves crucial in the defeat of the villainous Hades, his sins forgiven by Zeus, allowing him to be resurrected, reborn, and returned to where he belongs: with Emma. Killian Jones will always retain the dashing pirate charm, but he also became a devoted husband, caring father and step father, loyal friend, and true hero. He is truly the greatest version of Captain Hook to ever sail the seven seas.

1. Emma Swan (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison, Mckenna Grace and Abby Ross)

When it came to choosing Once Upon a Time’s finest character, the most apropos choices had to be Emma Swan, the heroine and main character for the show’s first six seasons, and the one whose legacy, inspiration, and spiritual presence remained until she returned in the beginning and end of the final season, closing out the series in a beautiful, satisfyingly profound way that brought the series, and her character full circle. Emma is the lens for the audience and in turn the most relatable character as she grew up in the real world and dealt with real world struggles, pain, and heartbreak. A beautiful, complex, intelligent, resourceful, determined, empathetic, kind, and loving woman, she began the series very lonely and guarded, terrified of being truly vulnerable with anyone. But over the course of the series she found courage to open her heart with her son, her family, her friends, and the man she falls truly in love with. Born as the Savior, and the one who could bring back the happy endings, she was spared from the curse and sent to the Land Without Magic and grew up with a sense of abandonment and unworthiness, that only continued with painful experiences with both Ingrid and Neal which perpetuated her reluctance to trust, leading to a strong sense of self reliance and thick skin, but never hardening her heart completely. Through all the pain, she remained guarded but deep down never lost that kindness or desire to help others, adopting early on the surname Swan, which became a metaphor for her journey from the ugly duckling rejected as a child and feeling as she didn’t matter to anyone, to the person she truly was an wanted to be- the beautiful swan and the Savior, a destined hero but one whose choices and true goodness made her such. The magic that resides inside her takes times to hone but that is just another example of how Emma is like us all in the ways we must learn to not only find our place in the world but become our best selves.

Through her tears and her smiles, you feel every single heart beat of Emma’s journey of self discovery as she embraces her role as the Savior, begins to learns magic, and most importantly begins to heal the wounds she had carried with her all of her life. It takes a while for her to believe in magic and who she is but the love she forms for her son Henry breaks the first curse of Storybrooke, her True Love saving her son’s life and awakening the town from its 28 year sleep. But it is not smooth sailing from then on. She remained guarded around her parents but in time she learns to forgive, embracing Storybrooke and her family as the home she always wished for- a place you know when you just miss it. Her journey towards true romantic love is a rocky one, but when she opens her heart and begins to believe in hope, and believe in Killian’s sincerity, her heart awakens from its long sleep, and they find a deep and everlasting bond that survives both succumbing to the Darkness, and a test of True Love ordained by the Gods. In the final step in her journey and the final battle she overcomes her fears and makes the ultimate sacrifice, solidifying her position in the series as its greatest hero and Savior as she sacrifices her life for everyone, only to be resurrected with love. Despite the magical aspects to Emma’s character, she remained the most grounded character of the series. And importantly, Emma Swan is emblematic of the kind of inspiring hero, as well as showcasing qualities that many of us face every day. She is a beautiful depiction of a woman who exemplifies what it means to be human. Like all of us, she is neither all tough and hard, nor all soft and gentle. Emma Swan indeed is a hero, but she is more importantly a woman who taught us all that we decide the kind of person we are no matter what the world may tell us, and that strength comes not just from physicality and defeating monsters, metaphorical or otherwise, but by being vulnerable enough to open your heart to forgiveness and love. And that is why the woman with red leather jacket and yellow bug, the metaphorical color that arrives in Storybrooke, is such a profound character. And it is why Emma Swan, the lonely soul who becomes the strong, resilient, triumphant hero, Princess, Savoir, Sheriff of Stoybrooke, caring daughter, gentle and wise mother, and deeply loving wife, who realizes that her happy ending is truly a happy beginning, is Once Upon a Time’s greatest character.

Honorable Mentions: Ruth, Dr, Whale/Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Isaac (The Author), The Blue Fairy/Mother Superior, Sidney Glass/Magic Mirror, Tiana/Sabine, Merida, Alice/Tilly, Blackbeard.

Special recognition: Alice, Cyrus, Will Scarlet, Anastasia and Jafar from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (These are all wonderful characters and although Will and Jafar both appeared in the main show, their true greatness lies with Wonderland along with the other main characters of the series.)

Best of the Decade: Top 40 Favorite Television Shows

The Best Television of the past decade, the favorite shows from 2010 to 2019 were varied to say the least. These were often brilliant and beautiful, funny and poignant, captivating and intriguing; some shows that appear on this list will not be surprising with their inclusion as they are beloved here at The Girly Nerd. Others, and especially the ordering, might take you by surprise. The criteria was simple. The series had to have spent the major of its run in the decade. This excluded shows such as The Office and Lost, or the add on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life which did air in the decade but most of its run was out of that time frame. But all in all there was so much television to love from long running sitcoms, to bingable thrillers, to short-lived, but incredible dramas. They were all a wonder to behold.

Before delving into the Top 40 we must take note of some honorable mentions, many of which could be worthy enough to be included in the top 40 but were not simply because I have either just begun them, or fell behind and will need to revisit them at some point. Soon to be started is Netflix’s The Crown, along with Dolly Parton’s musical catalog inspired Heartstrings. Just began is the irreverent and quirky Schitt’s Creek, while I’ve fallen behind on was the touching and funny Speechless, thoughtful and steadfast Blue Bloods, intriguing and slick Lucifer, and the beautiful period drama Poldark. I look forward to revisiting and getting back into each of these. other shows that deserve not recognition are Happy Together and Happy Endings. But the purpose this is to highlight the best of this past decade. Without further ado here are the Top 40 favorite Television shows of the Decade.

40. Ringer (2011-2012) ringer
Dark and sexy drama, this tale of a woman who takes over the life of her selfish twin sister starred the amazing Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ioan Gruffudd and was full of twists and turns, and soapy dramatic intrigue and I loved every minute. The show ended with many things left unresolved which is a shame because it was a ringer in terms of sexy mysteries of the time.

39. IZombie (2015-2019)izombie
Often brilliant, always poignant, the only reason the show isn’t listed higher is I fell behind on the series by about the season. But regardless this zombie drama which is, thankfully for a viewer like myself, never too violent or glory, but rather a more thoughtful and even fun take on the concept as the amazing Rose McIver literally becomes a different person in each episode. It may be fantasy, but the heart is about human morality and love in all its forms.

38. About a Boy (2014-2015) about_a_boy
Based on the British film of the same name, the Americanized version is lighter and a bit softer in terms of the main character and his quirky neighbor who begrudgingly becomes friends with him after her son takes a shine to him. Its heartfelt and silly fun.

37. Galavant (2015-2016) galavant
This goofy, colorful unique breath of fresh air musical comedy show was bursting at the seams with talent from its amazingly talented cast which included Karen David, Joshua Sasse and Timonthy Omundson to the musical composer of the illustrious Alan Menken. The Monty Python-esque storytelling, Galavant was a niche show but beloved by those who discovered it’s hilarious greatness.

36. The Astronaut Wives Club (2015) ERIN CUMMINGS, DOMINIQUE MCELLIGOTT, JOANNA GARCIA SWISHER, AZURE PARSONS, YVONNE STRAHOVSKI, ZOE BOYLE
This wonderful mini-series, tightly crafted with an incredible cast, took a new angle at the depiction of NASA in the 1960s. Seen mostly from the perspective of the wives of NASA top astronauts, we see just what they endured as they watch their husbands embark on historic but extremely dangerous missions. But this isn’t an all hearts and flowers saccharine look at doting and meek happy housewives. No, we see real, very loving and intelligent women, all very different and dealing with every day trials and their husband’s work, and sometimes infidelities, as well as personal aspirations of their own. It’s equal parts fond remembrance and inspiring encouragement and hope for a better life then and now.

35. Reign (2013-2017) reign2
Perhaps not the most historically accurate, but one of the most enthralling, sexy, and exquisite looks at the life of Mary Queen of Scots, this series showcased all the drama, tragedy, and escapades of the Royal, romantic, sexual and wartime intrigues of France, Scotland and England in the 16th century. Fine cast, gorgeous production, and captivating storytelling, this show was for anyone who loves royal dramas rich with intrigue.

34. The Mysteries of Laura (2014-2016) laura
Two seasons wasn’t long enough for this engaging crime procedural with Debra Messing and Josh Lucas, Messing being Laura Diamond, one of the best homicide detectives in the NYPD, juggling being a single mother and sparring with her ex-husband Lucas who is now her partner. What really made this show was Laura’s character, a very real and relatable woman, who it amazing at her job, but still fallible in her everyday life, intelligent and strong, stubborn but loving, open and forgiving. These mysteries were grounded and wonderful.

33. Emily Owens M.D. (2012-2013) emily
This is short-lived but overall excellent medical dramedy wasn’t overly serious and bombarded with medical crisis. Instead while it did deal with these things, rather it more keenly focused on a group of young doctors, its lead being Emily, the perpetually teased but extremely hard-working young woman juggling her awkward social life with the pressures of a competitive and stressful workplace. It was well acted with a wonderful cast that included Maime Gummer, Justin Hartley and Michael Rady, and it was fresh and poignant and so enjoyable.

32. Manifest (2018-present) manifest
Part of my “Best of 2018,” as said Manifest is, “Intriguing, melancholy, gripping, and thought provoking, the comparisons to LOST were inevitable, but let it be said that Manifest is its own show and one that mixes and perfectly balances unexplained phenomena, crime procedural and family drama, matched with an impressive cast led but the wonderful Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh as brother and sister Ben and Michaela Stone, who returned home to a world that had changed so much. [wanting] to know what happened to Flight 828 that caused them to somehow become lost in time to the rest of the world and lose 5 years.” It’s a mysterious and thoughtful journey so far that leaves us wanting more.

31. A Discovery of Witches (2018- present) A Discovery of Witches
Another that was part of the “Best of 2018,” in this fantasy show, ” Between the amazing cast, beautifully locales and exquisite cinematography, there is so much to be mesmerized by, most especially a love story- a kind of Romeo and Juliet love story between a witch and a vampire, two species who have always been on opposite, adversarial sides, who are instantly drawn to each other and form a unbreakable bond and love that transcends all, and defies obstacles, and proves that LOVE knows no bounds.” based on Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, it’s chilling and romantic, and the upcoming seasons are sure to be just as thrilling.

30. The Goldbergs (2013-present) goldbergs
Anyone who grew up in the 80s, or indeed lived in the 80s in any way should love this silly and good-natured look at family life in this formidable decade focusing on a young boy obsessed with movies, wanting to be the next big filmmaker, and the trials of being an awkward teenager, with a popular but equally awkward brother, Queen bee sister, smother for a mother, and tough but well-meaning father. It’s laugh out loud funny and so, so heartfelt.

29. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-present) DSC00208.ARW
Witty, fast talking, delightful, colorful, meaningful, poignant, funny, effervescent, female empowering, and yes completely marvelous, series, each episode is like stepping into a candy colored, bubbly musical time machine to the 1960s which is fun and lively, but not without turmoil or drama. At times it feels heightened in true Sherman-Pallidino style, at other times completely grounded in very real, relatable truths about life.” And in the third season it was a rich vignette style sense of storytelling. A smoke-filled, gin and tonic soaked nostalgic gem with a wonderful continuation of Midge’s journey. Where she heads to next is anyone’s guess, but it’s sure to be a simply marvelous.

28. New Girl (2011-2018) new girl
You can describe this comedy in the same way you can describe its leave protagonist Jessica Day played by the incomparable Zooey Deschanel – sweet, a little silly, quirky, but ultimately strong, wise and heartfelt. Jess was definitely a lovable character; she’s someone whose quirks and awkwardness was endearing and so relatable to anyone he was ever felt a little weird, but is smart and strong willed enough to not let that dim that special light that burns inside them. That is New Girl’s greatest takeaway as we see that with all the characters and relationships. They grow and love and learn, but never compromise their unique individual selves. It’s a triumph of showcasing goofiness and wisdom in a way that was always engaging.

27. Royal Pains (2009-2016) royal
There was so much to love about this dramedy from the cast, to the characters, to the fact that there wasn’t anything else like it on television. Dr. Hank Lawson loses everything when he acts with his conscience instead of his pragmatism, forcing him to look for work elsewhere. Begrudgingly with the partnership of his brother Evan, and the help of a physician’s assistant Divya (who was a refreshing depiction and an Indian woman breaking tradition to be her own fulfilled person), Hank becomes a concierge doctor in the Hamptons. A sort of MacGyver medical drama, patients offered interesting things to behold, while the drama that unfolded for the characters and their relationships remained rewarding to watch, with a truly satisfying conclusion.

26. The Good Place (2016-present) good place.png
Another winner from Michael Schur, what makes this absurd and unique comedy work, and indeed set it apart from other shows in lovely ways, are the interesting and vastly different cast of characters, and the way they all come together with love, friendship and teamwork on a profound level, looking at philosophy and morality of life in ways that are both funny and thought-provoking. This “Soul Squad” and their adventures are good for our souls.

25. Modern Family (2009-present) mod fam
Taking a cue from The Office in it’s format by speaking to the camera about what they are going through throughout each episode, the comedy and heart of this show works thanks to an incredible cast and great writing that showcase the humor of every day family life in universal ways with 3 families, all different and more modern in appearance. Sometimes silly and absurd, often heartwarming and poignant, Modern Family will be a classic for years to come.

24. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)The Change Constant/The Stockholm Syndrome
This long running comedy spent the majority of its run in the decade and it’s a prime example of a show simultaneously remaining true to its core concepts and heart will also improving and evolving. And evolving is the keyword when it comes to all of the characters who end in better, happier, more enlightened places. All while remaining so funny and sweet. These nerds learned so much without losing themselves.

 

23. Fuller House (2016-present) fuller-house-season-2
This reboot of the original series is sweet hearted, goofy but like the original has some poignant moment, perhaps left less often but still lovely and affecting. Seeing sisters DJ and Stephanie and best friend Kimmy grown with families of their own, navigating the ups and downs of adulthood, mirroring the concept of Full House, brings forth some wonderful moments and a lot of heart, with the proper dose of nostalgia there any fan of the original would delight in. Romantic entaglements, the ups and downs of parenthood, High School reunions, Weddings, musical numbers, New Kids on the Block, there is so much to delight in!

 
22. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013-2014)wonderland
The spin-off of Once Upon a Time may have had only one season and 13 episodes, but it was an exciting and heartfelt series, was indeed connected to the original with crossover characters and settings, but was amazing in its the singular story with a small and select amount of characters, that still had that ever present intertwining and fun blend of stories. Alice falls in love with a Genie from Agrabah and fights the evil Jafar, is best friends with one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, Will Scarlet who loves someone himself, The Red Queen who is also the step sister Anastasia. The writing was tight, characters wonderful, and story lovely and enthralling with a beautiful satisfying, tear inducing ending showing the power of true love and friendship.

21. The Middle (2009-2018)the-middle
Life in the middle of America for an average middle-class family was endlessly relatable in this sweet and always funny, often touching comedy. What makes the show is the characters in the Heck family which feel so real, relatable and endearing. The scenarios are sometimes presented in wacky ways, but make no mistake, the situations are ripe with truth. At the end of the day, The Middle is anything but middling, but rather a look at people who could be your friends and neighbors, and indeed happily so.

20. Trophy Wife (2013-2014) trophy
Absolutely hilarious, sweet natured comedy series that should have run much longer than its single season, don’t let the title throw you off. This is a modern family comedy about a man who is on wife number three, much younger than him, but they are a sweet couple to behold. And their crazy and unconventional lives which includes three kids, and both ex-wives showcases them navigating this life together with bits of silliness and heartwarming moments. Fantastic cast, with the characters all so different, the ex-wives are a bit extreme opposites but still likable, the kids feel like real kids and are all, again, different, but sweet and endearing, and the main couple in question is believable in their love and relationship. Worthy to note, this show bolstered two of the most relatable moments ever – asking someone to look up an actor’s filmography online because they seem so familiar, and trophy wife Kate wanting her wedding to have the same vibe and feeling as Kermit and Miss Piggy’s.

19. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019) a-series-of-unfortunate-events-season-2
As said in the Best of 2018 series, ” The Netflix original series based on the children’s books of the same name is dark and filled with gruesome scenarios that befall the unfortunate Baudelaire orphans, and yet it remains sweet and touching. A steampunk-esque visual feast for the eyes, it features intelligent writing, which actually gives you vocabulary lessons in each episode in a way that is so entertaining you crave it, hilarious absurdity, and an amazing cast. The story of the Baudelaire children may be an unfortunate one but you will not want to “look away” as the theme song and narrator often advises the audience to do. Instead you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well.. The contrast of the absurd situations, breathtaking visuals and profound meaning of this material is astonishing.”

18. Hart of Dixie (2011-2015) hart
A sweet, funny, gentle, dramedy, Hart of Dixie is a guaranteed pallet cleanser for those who need it. A bit Gilmore girls esque, in this story of a young New York Doctor who moves to the small Alabama town of Bluebell, complete with a colorful cast of real characters, we see how this journey to the South changes her life and the lives of the town forever; and it is absolutely delightful. Flawed characters who you genuinely love, relationships that go through tribulations but all end up happily, growth from all, and touching friendships, the heart of Hart of Dixie is the very epitome of making lemonade out of lemons and finding your life in the most unexpected of places

17. This is Us (2016-present) this_is_us_cast-publicity-h_2019_
Interwoven stories of a family seen at different times in their lives, has been heartwarming, heartbreaking, relatable, lovely, and moving each and every season, due in no small part to the fine writing, wonderful characters, and exceptional cast. Becoming a bit of a phenomenon, the popularity is matched by the quality and it’s clear and understandable why audiences yearned for this type of dramatic family storytelling. There is so much to love about the Pearson family at every stage of their lives, and its current season we see that scope broaden into other characters as we see that age old truth of how a single person can come out of the blue and completely change our lives. If a show had a heartbeat on those relatable truths of life, it would be This is Us.

16. Pan Am (2011-2012) pan am 1
Chic, romantic, beautiful, optimistic nostalgia, Pan Am looks at a time in history ripe with hope for the future, and big changes in the world, but also still so far to go in terms of equality and fair and good treatment of women and others alike. 1960’s stylish with the best modern sensibilities about chasing your dreams and believing in a future better than the past, these attributes reflected the glamorous but sometimes turbulent life of a Pan Am stewardess. The cast is wonderful, including Christina Ricci and a new to Hollywood scene Margot Robbie, the stories are a mix of light and fun, and dark and serious, showing the life of an undercover spy. It’s a breezy drama that truly soared and deserved to be on (and in the air) much longer.

15. White Collar (2009-2014)whitecollar_epguide_206
Most definitely inspired a bit by Frank Abagnale and Catch Me if You Can, White Collar was another in USA network’s string of entertaining serialized crime shows, this one being a more lighthearted caper drama about a white-collar criminal who alluded authorities for so long and went finally caught makes a deal to work with the FBI to stop criminals with the lead who tracked him down, the two eventually becoming close friends. The concept was fresh, the stories interesting, and the dynamic between the characters always great to watch. I was often mesmerized by Matt Bomer’s charisma as this charming thief Neal Caffrey, and touched by the friendship that formed between him and Tim Dekay’s Peter Burke Ending in a satisfying by open ended way, if we ever revisited these characters it would be a joy.

14. Murdoch Mysteries (2008- present)Tinsel
This long running Canadian drama is an absolute delight for those who enjoy turn of the century stories, interesting and endearing characters, stand out of history, and procedural detective shows. Detective William Murdoch’s life as a member of the Toronto Constabulary is always an exciting, thoughtful one and the adventures we see, especially with the woman who becomes his wife, the intelligent and inspiring medical examiner Dr. Julia Ogden, as well as Chief Inspector Brackenreed and constable George Crabtree are sometimes lighthearted, sometimes intense, but always enthralling. Through the wonderful period details and integration of real life people of note in history from Thomas Edison to Mark Twain, you get a truly rich series.

13. Castle (2009-2016) castle
When it comes to procedural crime dramas, you need the right combination of a fine cast, interesting cases, and captivating overarching stories. Castle had these in spades. But what really made the show was the characters, their chemistry, they are evolving relationships, from cocky but good hearted writer Richard Castle, the intelligent and guarded detective who inspires him Kate Beckett, homicide detectives that are often so funny, but also capable Ryan and Esposito, Castle’s classy and no nonsense mother, and his sweet and mature teenage daughter Alexis. They all become a family over the course of the series which had a very unique hook – a writer looking for inspiration who begins working with one of New York’s finest homicide detectives, causing sometimes trouble but eventually becoming part of the crime solving team in a crucial way. Although the show almost took a detour, in the it ended extremely satisfyingly. And overall this Castle was magnificent.

12. The Mentalist (2008-2015)mentalist 1
Dark, thrilling, emotional, on the edge of your seat drama, The Mentalist had an abundance to love. The twinkle in his eye, disarming smile, calming presence and overall charisma of Simon Baker’s Patrick Jane was unparalleled. He’s man who has keen observational skills, and the ability to tap into people’s thoughts, sometimes in a manipulate ways- a true mentalist that helped the California Bureau of Investigation solve countless cases, along with and amazing other cast of characters, and fine actors to boot, the strong, smart and caring Teresa Lisbon, who Patrick loses his heart to, and other agents, brave and funny Wayne Rigsby, spiritual and resilient Grace Van Pelt, and stoic, no nonsense Kimball Cho. emotionally so, Patrick’s charm was matched by the despair in his eyes whenever he is forced to revisit his darkest day when his wife and child were murdered by the infamous serial killer Red John. Although the week by week cases all had great intrigue, it was the over arching story of fighting and stopping that infamous killer that was the core of what made the show captivating until the very end, especially when it involved its characters who went on journeys of self discovery and healing. The show’s final moments are truly a beautiful example of hope and peace overcoming darkness.

11. Burn Notice (2007-2013)burn
Intense, addicting spy drama not only bolstered amazing characters but had one of the best series endings of all time. This show was the perfect blend of dark and light as Michael Weston tries to find out why and who burned him as a spy, along the way helping those who really need it with help from his trigger-happy ex and eventual girlfriend Fiona, a friend who used to inform on him to the FBI, hiarious ladies man Sam Axe, a down and out spy Jesse Porter he met along the way and his chain-smoking mother who kept him in his check. An unconventional family to say the least, their adventures involved more mojitos and explosives than the fourth of July, but the humor and heart were matched by the griping storytelling. Always keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, it was amazing to see these characters grow and showcase the importance of a fridge full of yogurt and standby tactical support. In all seriousness, Burn Notice was an astounding shoe that brought it’s characters full circle in a truly moving way.

10. Forever (2014-2015)STEPHEN BARKER TURNER, ALANA DE LA GARZA, IOAN GRUFFUDD
Such a rich, unique series that deserved more than a single season, Forever took a captivating and unique take on the crime procedural by having its protagonist Henry Morgan, a medical examiner in New York Cry who begins working with the police to help solves cases, have a defining trait like no other- he lives forever. Or rather he can die but is always reborn moments later. Take this concept, making is rolling by casting Ioan Gruffudd, add a touching point of his older “friend “actually being a son he adopted from a Jewish internment camp with his wife in that time period, (a woman he still yearns to discover what happened to her after a mysterious, heartbreaking disappearance) and weekly mysteries and continuing story of the mystery to Henry’s condition, a chilling man whose discovered this, and we get an amazing show that deserve so much more time.

9.Smash (2012-2013)smash 1
The magic, music and drama about all it takes to make a Broadway show, from the writing, casting, and grueling rehearsal process is the heart of this musical drama. The lives of all involved revolving around the making of a musical based on Marilyn Monroe in season one, to a Modern rival musical written by ingénues coming up in the wings in season two, and finally a race to the Tony awards, this series showcased a particular part of our culture that is ripe with intrigue, fun, sadness, joy and excitement; and I loved every single moment. Without outstanding production quality, as well as production numbers and music, these shining moments shone as brightly as it’s truly exceptionally talented all star cast which included Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Angelica Huston, Leslie Odom Jr. and Jeremy Jordan. Smash was truly smashing and deserves a standing ovation.

8. Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) parks
Absurdly hilarious in the same vein of The Office, this somehow morphed into a surprisingly sweet and hopeful fable about people who were all so different- different ages, upbringings, assuredly personalities and political ideologies- and they not only learn to love each other like family, but support and work together despite, and even because of those differences. Through it all this group is led by the incomparable Leslie Knope, the woman which more enthusiasm, heart, creative ideas, and hopeful ideals that truly inspires everyone, from her best friend, beautiful starfish Ann Perkins, sardonic assistant who pretends to care less April Ludgate, grumpy but ultimately caring libertarian Ron Swanson, nerdy eventual husband Ben Wyatt, impossible optimistic Chris Traeger, the sweet and silly Andy Dwyer, the yearning to be an entrepreneur Tom Haverford, always maligned by sweet Jerry Gergich, and sassy and smart Donna Meagle. Don’t we all wish life could be like this – the town of Pawnee may be strange at times, but at its heart we see good people navigating life, friendship and family, all while being laugh out loud hilarious. Parks and Recreation is sweet lovely, absurd and brave all at once.

7. Stranger Things (2016-present)stranger-things-season-4-netflix-what-we-know-so-far
Three seasons so far and each one has been an incredible blend of sci-fi, drama, government conspiracy, and coming-of-age tale. It’s a show I never knew I needed but this story which starts about a small town boy going missing, a mysterious, traumatized girl with telekinetic abilities sheltered by a group of young boys, a resourceful mother who would do anything for her children, and snarky but intelligent badass police chief investigating these strange occurrences, captured the minds of so many. As the show has evolved so have the characters, most especially said police chief Jim Hopper, and the remarkably powerful ways so many ways young girl Eleven who becomes his surrogate daughter, as well as the group of misfit boys who are maturing with each season. Each year the threat of the truly terrifying upsides down, a paralleled world filled with destruction, monstrous creatures call demagorgans, as well as the gargantuan Mind Flayer continues to be thrilling and moving not just in the fight against terrifying monsters, but in showing the power of the human spirit. We fight for those we love learning just what we are capable of and it’s an extraordinary journey to witness.

6. Agent Carter (2015-2016)agent1.jpg
Stylish, thrilling, moving, and filled with wisdom, this incredible series was part superhero comic pulp, part detective drama, park comedy and romance, and all around criminally underrated and short-lived. It only two seasons and 18 episodes, Peggy Carter and her team brought us fantastic mystery and inspiration as part of the marvel universe. What truly makes the show what it is was the title character, as said in the “Best of 2015”, “Agent Carter rests on the shoulders of Peggy Carter the character and the performance by its star Hayley Atwell. And for that reason we have seen the show deliver poignant and dynamic television. Peggy is strong and brave no doubt, but it’s the moments of vulnerability even when she tries to push that aside that make her even stronger. It’s this moments when she is determined to gain the respect she deserves, all with dignity, that she becomes even braver. And it’s the moments when she says that she understands and knows her value and that everyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter that she becomes even more of an inspiration than she already was. Peggy Carter may not always have garnered the credit she has earned many times over but the beauty of her character is that she knows what truly matters is that her self-worth is not determined by others.” In addition to Peggy, the show bolstered amazing character, most especially Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark’s valet who helped Peggy and became her true partner in crime, as well as Agent Daniel Sosusa, the brave and steadfast man who takes a shine to her, for all the right reasons. Agent Carter shows the power of self-worth and integrity wrapped in a colorful, nostalgic, nourish package that I still miss every day.

5. Timeless (2016-2018)timeless.jpg
Timeless was a remarkable and truly a magical show. As written in the “Best of 2018”, “This series is the perfect blend of adventure, history, humor, drama and mystery with amazing characters and relationships. Timeless brings history to life with both well known figures, but also nuances and individuals who are not, illuminating eras and inspiring people.” seeing everything from Alamo and the Moon Landing, Bonnie and Clyde, Benedict Arnold, to Hedy Lamarr and Alice Paul . The evolving relationships were the true heart beat of the show with show’s ending demonstrating that life is a journey, not a destination. It’s a beautiful journey with Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus, Flynn, Jiya, Denise, and Connor through time: “The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists, inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes. Timeless is as timeless a form of entertainment and fine storytelling as there ever was.

4. Downton Abbey (2010-2015) Promo.jpg
Immaculate, sumptuous, enthralling period drama that captured the hearts and minds of so many and truly became a cultural phenomenon, what made Downton Abbey such a special and extraordinary series was its characters. The format and historical aspect isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, and yet the stories of the Crawley family and its large estate staff felt fresh and captivating in a way like we’ve never seen. Perhaps it’s the vast amount of characters, the heady style of drama which ranged from romantic entanglements, to World War I, to tragic deaths, to repairing broken spirits and souls. These characters and the family, which includes everyone because we see despite the class differences and even disparity among the Crawleys and staff alike, family and love endured. With already one inspired movie released, the series is a breathtaking look at life and its timeless truths in an ever-changing world. It may be another time, but that heartbeat remains true with ours skipping a beat every time that musical theme begins and we step back into the immaculate grandeur and beautiful simplicity of its finest themes: love and family.

3. Chuck (2007-2012) chuck
A family drama wrapped in a wacky spy thriller, peppered with colorful characters led by the incomparable Zachary Levi, Chuck is a brilliant, sweet natured and endearing take on the concept. It spent three out of its five seasons in the beginning of the decade, and it was some of the show’s finest moments- ones that really evolved the characters and overall story in terms of their growing relationships and their stakes when Chuck’s intersect becomes more than simply government secrets, but also amazing abilities that he must learn to hone and utilize as he works to becomes a real spy. They face formidable villains and family drama, but at its heart, Chuck is about believing in yourself and doing anything for family, with characters who are endearing while all vastly different. Chuck is not just an intelligent and charming computer nerd and his not just a government asset. He is a brave and capable in his own right man with strength, integrity and heart that endures everything life throws at him. Sarah becomes more than a closes off and stubborn but always kickass spy. She is becomes even stronger through her love and willingness to doing anything to protect it. Casey becomes more than a hard-nosed NSA agent who pretends to care for little other than serving his country. He learns the power of family while remaining steadfast in his convictions. Morgan becomes more than Chuck’s geeky, awkward friend, but proves his bravery and good heart to be so great. Ellie and Awesome not only continue to be not only capable doctors and steadfast support systems, but even more open and loving to who Chuck has become. You love them all, root for them, and if you don’t believe Sarah and Chuck’s love overcomes in the end, perhaps you didn’t understand what the show was truly about.

2. Psych (2006-2014, 2017) Psych - Season 8
This comedy, drama, detective, fake psychic procedural, extraordinary goofy series spent half of its run in the decade, plus a movie. And it was just as hilarious, creative and at its core, heartwarming as the first half, perhaps even more so. The show began the decade halfway through its fourth season, and by that point the characters not only were well established but had grown individually and in their relationships. And while each case we saw had its moments, it was the captivating Yin and Yang, the musical, and Clue inspired episodes that were especially the pinnacle, along with the ways the friendships and romantic relationships grew, and eventually dealt with the truth about Shawn’s abilities. And from Shawn and his father really growing close, Shawn and Juliet finally coming together in love, (ending the series with a marriage proposal and the film with that long awaited wedding, impromptu as it was), Carlton finding his soulmate, and the heart of the show, best friends Shawn and Gus, it’s these relationships that really grounded the show through all the over the top hilarious antics as well as its darker moments. It’s a testament to the fine writing and performances, that you truly love all of these characters. They become a family and feel like one to audience. This brilliant series never made a false step. Psych was perfection!

1. Once Upon a Time (2011-2018) 6x22c
Anyone who follows The Girly Nerd shouldn’t be surprised at the show that’s taking the top spot for favorite of the decade. Captivated from the Pilot episode, a show about Disney and fairytale characters with a modern twist, a mysterious, whimsical, sweet, enthralling, romantic with themes of hope, family and true love, is the kind of series tailor made for someone with my (and indeed any true Disney and fairy tale fan’s) sensibilities and tastes. Despite final season taking a detour, in the end and overall the series are and these beautiful characters created new fairy tales for the ages that brought forth timeless themes in ways that captured our hearts unparalleled ways. It was a stroke of brilliance and creativity or to tell stories about what happens after happily ever after, and indeed intertwine them all together. How fun is it to see that Snow White is friends with Ariel and Cinderella, that Anna and Elsa have a long lost Aunt and Anna is the one who taught Prince Charming how to sword fight, that Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent make a formiable villain squad, and that the Wicked Witch of the West is sisters with the Evil Queen who falls in love with her soulmate Robin Hood, finding him with the help of Tinkerbell. How amazingly creative is it to have Rumplestilskin be this story’s Beast who loves Belle, and the Crocodile to Captain Hook, the pirate who grows into a true hero, while Peter Pan is the real villain. And it was an equally brilliant concept to create a brand new fairy tale character in Emma Swan, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who is a relatable, remarkable woman who is also a mirror for the audience. She is an outsider who finds her place in the world, her True Loves in her son and Captain Hook, and her family in her parents and truly so many that reside in the afiry take lands and the true home of the series Storybrooke. She becomes the hero who saves the happy endings for all, before finding her own, the main storyline and character wrapped around all these other amazing tales and characters. Through tragedy and curses, miracles and happy beginnings, we see that anything is possible if we just hold on to hope. In this day in age I can’t think of anything else more life affirming, which is why this series which was endlessly magical in its enchanting settings, and grounded and profound moments of enduring love, tops the list for the Best of the Decade.

Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time Connections?

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If you are a fan of the first Frozen film and a Once Upon a Time fan, chances are you enjoyed seeing those characters pop up on the fairy tale series. Although, it wasn’t everyone’s favorite storyline, it was however overwhelmingly loved and almost every fan would agree that the characterizations were spot on and some of the best the show ever did. For me personally, the characters and storyline are definitely favorites, so much so that the story written almost became so embedded in my mind as what happened to the characters after the film concluded. So when I heard there was to be a Frozen sequel, I couldn’t help but have the Once Upon a Time story in my mind. Not that I actually thought that the film would do that as they are completely separate entities. Though Oncers, admit it- wouldn’t you love to see animated versions of Storybrooke, Emma, Hook, Snow and others. How fun would that be!

In all seriousness, now that we have seen three trailers for Frozen 2, I do delight in some similarities, visual and character wise, as well as other possible comparisons. Whether these are intentional or not and whether they drew inspiration and took cues from Once Upon a Time will probably be open for interpretation. But it wouldn’t be the first time a Disney film did so, which is funny given what the concept of the series is. But at the end of Season 1 of Once Upon a Time, which aired May 13, 2012, Emma awakens her son Henry from a sleeping curse with True Love’s Kiss, something that came as a surprise and proved the strength of True Love obviously exists between a child and parent. Two years later in 2014, Maleficent was released, and there was a similar moment where Maleficent, who had become a mother figure to Aurora, awakens the princess from her sleeping curse in the same way Emma had awoken Henry. Is this merely coincidence, or a case of drawing inspiration? Whatever the case may be, the similarities and possible similarities between Once Upon a Time and Frozen 2 are definitely present and are all positive, natural, and/or interesting ones.

Team Family

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From what we can tell from the two longer trailers for Frozen 2, it seems like Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff are a united family, venturing off on an adventure together, facing dangers of all sorts. It also seems as if Kristoff may be living in the palace, and possibly engaged to Anna by now. In Once Upon a Time that is very much also the case. Kristoff and Anna are engaged, and while Elsa and Anna are separated, Elsa and Kristoff grow closer as friends and future in laws. And when all three are together again, there is very much a sense of a united front- they are a family. Frozen 2 obviously also presents that. Now this similarity is most likely a case of both merely taking the story and characters in a natural direction from the first film. So these comparisons are not surprising at all.

Runes and Gravestones

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As we see in the above images, we see what Once Upon a Time would often do: gain inspiration from the source and create their own take on it. In this case, Once Upon a Time took an image we saw in the film of the Gravestones for Elsa and Anna’s parents, with what look like ancient Runes, and recreated them in a new scene where grown up sisters, now happily together lay flowers for their parents. What is interesting is something we see in Once Upon a Time’s sisters in this and other moments is then in turn seen in Frozen 2 creating some visual and character similarities.

Holding Hands

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Above we see in Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna hold hands as they approach their parents’ gravestones. In a moment in Frozen 2 we see something very similar as we see the sisters holding hands, standing before large stones that look very much that of the graves for their parents. Visually this is an obvious comparison to make. But what I love is that Frozen 2 seems to be taking that character beat of the affectionate gesture between sisters they really emphasized on Once Upon a Time, and continuing that in the second film. In the first film, Elsa became so petrified of hurting anyone with her powers and always kept her gloves on, so it is both a natural and lovely to see that after overcoming that, Elsa instead chooses to hold her sister’s hand as a sign of love and strength, no longer afraid but instead confident with her sister by her side.

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The Enchanted Forest

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This comparison is somewhat superficial but I still delight in it. In Once Upon a Time, Anna heads off in search of answers of what happened to their parents after discovering that they were seeking something that could rid Elsa of her magic (or so they thought). Anna boards a ship to a place known as Mist Haven, or more widely called by its inhabitants as the Enchanted Forest. In Frozen 2, Elsa and Anna’s father tells them a story about an Enchanted Forest, and years later, the sisters and Kristoff seem to venture off to this mystical place. That is where the similarity ends, but the same name thing is interesting.

Anna’s Sword Skills

 

In the trailer for Frozen 2 we see Anna wield a sword with a great deal of force and confidence, something previously unseen in the first film. Where we did see this before was in the version of Anna in Once Upon a Time. In the show, Anna comes upon a friend of Kristoff’s, David before he becomes the valiant Prince Charming. It’s here we see Anna, whom she says was taught to sword fight by palace guards, helps David and teaches him to wield a sword himself. That back-story was one beloved by fans, and the sequel’s Anna looks very much the same, remaining her brave and plucky self but with impressive sword skills.

Elsa’s Magic

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In the first Frozen film, Elsa’s magic is very powerful, but at times it seems she has trouble with control and has issues when her emotions get the best of her. In Frozen 2, it looks like that still may happen, but importantly it looks like there is also a sense of even more power and more control of that magic. That is something we definitely see on Once Upon a Time. In fact, her story involves Elsa realizing her sense of self and self love, one that doesn’t have to have Anna with her to calm her down. She helps Emma gain control of her powers and learn to accept herself exactly as she is, choosing to keep instead of rid herself of her magic. Might we see a similar story in Frozen 2? Given what we’ve seen in the trailers, I think the possibility is strong.

A Found Family?

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In Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna discover that not only do they have an aunt named Ingrid who like Elsa has ice magic, but also that their parents did not wish to get rid of Elsa’s magic as they had thought. Instead, in their final moments they left a message in a bottle where they confess about their past mistakes of not accepting Ingrid’s magic, and that it should have be nurtured and cherished. Their Aunt Ingrid, whose anger over her sister’s “betrayal” led her to become a villain, sees the error of her ways and sacrifices herself to reverse her deadly spell of shattered sight. Anna and Elsa’s found family may not be with them in the physical sense, after that, but their spirits and what they learned from them remained.

After watching both trailers for Frozen 2, the plot is still somewhat hard to distinguish but I think there is a strong chance that the voice Elsa hears calling to her, and the people they meet in the Enchanted Forest could very well be family they never knew existed, just like Once Upon a Time’s Ingrid, as we see what is most likely the King and Queen in the Enchanted Forest as children. The older leader might even be a villain in the same way Ingrid was. The plots will obviously not be identical and this is pure speculation, but I do think a great deal of Frozen 2 could deal with not only the origin of Elsa’s magic, but the discovery of what happened to their parents, and possibly even others who possess magical abilities.

A Redemption for Hans?

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Lastly, although the reappearance if Hans is not a guarantee, Santino Fontana who voiced him in the first film, is listed among the cast. What could he be doing in the film? Would he continue to be a villain, or will be do what so many Once Upon a Time villains did and find redemption? This was commonplace of the series, but it isn’t really something Disney Films have done much. Most villains either die or are no longer seen again, remaining their evil selves. I actually think it would a welcome change to see a villainous character change for the better.

The similarities between Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time are most definitely there. Although some comparisons are simple and merely visual, others have a stronger connection. Whether even more plot connections exist remains to be seen. We shall find out this coming November. Whatever the case, Once Upon a Time’s Frozen interpretations will remain beloved, and any and all similarities that are present in Frozen 2 will be looked at with fondness and smiles in what is sure to be an exciting and beautiful film.

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Top 10 Favorite On Screen Pirates

Avast ye matey’s, yesterday be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so I thought I would look at all of the pirates that have ever swash buckled their way into our hearts and count down my favorites from film and television. Some are dastardly villains, some are humorous foes, some are romantic heroes, and some are every thing in the book. But all definitely have a flair for the dramatic, a distinctive personality and have tongues and wits as sharp as their swords!

10. “Captain Hook” portrayed by Hans Conried (Peter Pan)

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This version of the classic character may be a codfish, and one we can find humor in more so than be frightened of, like other Disney villain’s. But make no mistake, this pirate may often be fooled by his nemesis Peter Pan, but also has his moments of intelligence, clarity and downright evil, and against those who are very young including Tiger Lily, the Darling children and Pan himself. Thank goodness Tinkbell’s bravery out shined her vanity, and in the end Peter was saved and the Crocodile will continue to give the captain what he deserves.

9. “Blackbeard” portrayed by Charles Mesure (Once Upon a Time)

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Much more of villain than his on screen nemesis’ Killian Jones, this dastardly pirate looks more like a traditional version of Captain Hook than the show’s actual Hook with his long red coat and dark long hair. He is elegant, deceitful, but also quite funny, with a great chemistry between Mesure and O’Donoghue to boot, making this pirate one of the show’s best recurring characters.

8. “Captain Hector Barbossa” portrayed by Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The brilliant chameleon of an actor Geoffrey Rush manages to take a wicked, typical pirate villain and turn him into a well layered and compelling character that is more than villain throughout the course of the franchise. He is killed, then resurrected and continues in his cunning pirate ways, only for us to discover that there is an actual heart that is vulnerable and sympathetic to others, from the couple he married aboard his ship during an epic battle, to the daughter he never knew he had. I can’t believe I ended up crying over Barbossa, but I did!

7. “John Merrick” portrayed by Gabriel Byrne (Shiprecked)

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A pirate who is most definitely dark and evil, this understated pirate carries out his sinister work in the shadows and in disguise as the Naval Captain he murdered. Taking over a crew of good, hard working sailors, he slowly poisons a good Captain, delves out harsh punishments and is willing to hurt the young and innocent, all in the name of money. What a true pirate definitely was in reality, this is a grounded and effective character indeed.

6. “Elizabeth Swann” portrayed by Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The beautiful Elizabeth was born into a world of propriety and wealth, but all her life longed for adventure and was drawn to more. Make no mistake, the girl who showed us all that life is more than corsets, gowns and arranged marriages, learns inner strength as well as the ways of a Pirate life and found her way as both a capable woman and swashbuckling pirate in her own right. Eventually she is elected Captain Swann, a pirate King leading all of the crews of the world in an epic battle for freedom. She is fearless, strong and willing to do anything for those she loves. But like her eventual husband Will, always remains on the side of honor. Her story was one of resilience and patience as she is finally reunited with her beloved Will permanently, True Love knowing no bounds.

5. “Captain James Hook” portrayed by Dustin Hoffman (Hook)

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There is not a more traditional version of J.M. Barrie’s Captain Hook more brilliant than Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of the villain. Many years after Peter Pan left Neverland and had a family, Hook kidnaps Pan’s two children, wanting revenge and war against the “boy’ who cut off his hand and threw it to the crocodile. An evocative, delight of a film, what makes it stand out is definitely this Hook who is sardonic, sour, slimy and yet charming. He is funny but never ridiculous, cunning and resourceful but not without his moments levity. Hoffman’s Hook is dastardly perfection.

4. “Will Turner” portrayed by Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The more traditional heroic pirate of the series, comparatively, the handsome and steadfast William Turner, son of the pirate “Bootstrap” Bill Turner, didn’t even start out in this role. Beginning the franchise as a humble blacksmith who turned his nose up at those filthy, low life pirates he encountered as he vowed to rescue his love Elizabeth from, he soon became the ideal combination of pirate and hero as he teamed up, and sometimes became at odds with, Jack Sparrow, Barbarossa, Davy Jones and a vast crew of miscreants. However, he always remained on the side which was honorable and in the best interest as those he loved. Will Turner is the pirate who went on a great journey all in the name of love and family.

3. “Captain Jack Sparrow” portrayed by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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Is there any other character like Captain Jack Sparrow? I had seen many a pirate film, and had been on the ride in which the film is based on countless times. But when Jack first appeared on screen in the 2003 film, it was an indicator of exactly the kind of unique, wonderful and instantly beloved character he would become. Standing tall on the mast of a ship, the salty sea wind in his face, he looks proud and resolute, until we see he is on a modest boat that is sinking in which he sails right into the dock on the boat’s final moments afloat. He’s hilarious and unlike any other pirate we’ve seen. The seemingly perpetually drunk Captain Jack Sparrow is a character we can laugh at and root for despite his look out for himself ways. The franchise would not be what it is without this clever, funny, and resilient pirate, who simply wants freedom, respect, and above all rum.

2. “Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts” portrayed by Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)

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As Wesley’s portrayer Cary Elwes so perfectly stated recently, there’s a shortage of perfect films out there, and I would say that not only is The Princess Bride one of those films, but one of the main reasons is due to the character of Westley, and the incomparable performance by Elwes. After being presumed dead by his True Love Buttercup, poor farm boy Westley returns as the Dread Pirate Roberts, ‘kidnapping” (but truly rescuing) the princess and only revealing himself after a tumble down a cliff and an exclaim of those famous words of I Love You, “As You Wish.” Like the film itself, this pirate is charming, funny, and full of line after line of wisdom, truths, and flair. Westley is strong, romantic, brave, and all in all the perfect fairy tale pirate hero.

1. “Killian Jones/Captain Hook” portrayed by Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time)

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Was there any doubt as to who my number 1 pick would be. The dashing rapscallion of the beloved fairy tale series didn’t appear until Season 2, but soon became not only a fan favorite, but one of the best characters in the show with the brilliant performance by O’Donoghue and excellent character and story development. Going from a charming villain whose allegiances often simply aligned with whoever he could benefit the most from, this version of Hook, real name Killian Jones, became a fully fledged romantic hero, helping to save Storybrooke and many characters numerous times and winning the heart of the show’s leading lady, the Savoir herself Emma Swan. His story ended in a beautiful way as he retained his pirate flair, charm, and intelligence, while becoming a hero, husband and father. This modern version of Captain Hook is one for the ages!

What are your favorite on screen pirates? Did I mention some of yours? Let me know in the comment section!!

 

Shipwrecked Image Credit (x)

My First Trip to the D23 Expo

My first trip to the D23 expo which is held in at the Anaheim Convention center every two years was most definitely quite the learning experience. While I enjoyed myself, it was also a bit overwhelming and I now know what to expect, what to do and what not to do if I decide to attend the next one. Instead of taking the plunge and attending all three days, I went only one day (the last one). I actually almost missed attending all together because I grew ill a few days before, but luckily I started to feel better quickly enough and was able to power through and still go- albeit because of said illness I went about things at a slower pace and not at 100%, so there was definitely things I missed. But going in I had a few things I hoped to accomplish: see the show floor and attend at least one panel. And for the most part I did that.

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Without a doubt my favorite thing I saw from the expo was The Art of Disney Storytelling Panel, hosted by John Stamos and his wife Caitlin and featuring Disney Legends, animators, producers and imagineers Tony Baxter, Floyd Norman, Don Hahn and Paul Briggs. They each told stories and offered insights on their experiences and different approaches to storytelling in film and in the Parks and it was funny, informative and overall a delight. Some of my favorite things including stories about Walt Disney inventing the concept of storyboards (which I was unaware of), and Howard Ashman and Alan Menken being really involved in story meetings and Ashman explaining how foreshadowing exists in the song “Part of Your World,” which for as many times as I have heard that song and seen The Little Mermaid, is something I never thought of. I also loved Tony Baxter’s story of how he received a postcard from Ray Bradbury after he rode Peter Pan’s Flight with Charles Laughton of all people. He wrote to him that he had “boarded a pirate galleon, flew out of a child’s bedroom and over London! You can’t get much better than that!” And how true is that!

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The other favorite thing I saw was The ‘Heroes and Villains” Disney Archives costume exhibit. For just about anyone this display of a wide array of gorgeous and intricate costumes is amazing. But for someone like me who truly appreciates and loves what goes into filmmaking, including the aesthetics and true artistry of costumes, this exhibit was absolutely incredible. I truly lucked out with this year’s display as we got to see such a variety of yes, heroes and villains, and such a variety of films and television, from Once Upon a Time’s Cinderella and Captain Hook, to the live action remakes Cinderella, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, to the wonderful National Treasure and Prince of Persia, to EnchantedHocus Pocus, Alice in Wonderland and three different Mary Poppins costumes. It was a sumptuous feast for the eyes and I loved seeing each and every work of art.

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As far as everything else I saw, and the overall process I can say it was a combo of fun, overwhelming, and in my particular case a little lonely and confusing. The staff was overall friendly but would sometimes give me conflicting information and finding the line for my reservation panel was quite difficult. And lines are definitely everywhere. Consequently, I missed seeing some stuff because lines were quite long, or just long enough that I skipped them as I was tired. It is also very large and, at least for me, easy to get turned around and not be sure exactly where you were and if you missed walking by/through anything on the floor. After watching some videos from the expo I discovered, there was A LOT I missed. And being by myself, I didn’t have anyone for another set of eyes and help with confusion and bearings, take pictures, and overall share the con experience with. I have been to many cons alone before, but for some reason, perhaps because it was my first one, or simply the nature of it being a Disney con, I wish I had not been alone and with a friend or group. It was a little lonely. Still there were come really cool things to be seen and I was able to enjoy myself despite everything.

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Attending the D23 also gave me the opportunity for a few other things. I stayed at the Anaheim Hilton for the first time, and this is a beautiful hotel. My room offered an amazing view and Disneyland’s fireworks were visible at night. And On Monday I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Becka, aka DisneyKitee, in Disney California Adventure, along with her husband. I spoke about Becka in this article about Disney Tubers, and since have been getting to know her. Finally getting to meet was so wonderful as she is a sweet and lovely person. Disney friends really are the best!! Go watch her videos on YouTube if you don’t already!!

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So all in all, while I enjoyed walking through the show area and seeing the panel, I know that if I decide to attend in 2021, there are definitely things I would do differently. I would only go if I went all 3 or at least 2 days as there is just so much to see, panels to watch and stores to shop in, and there must be sufficient time to walk around and wait in lines. I also would only attend with another person or group as it would be an easier, more relaxed, and simply more fun con experience than attending alone. That might not be an issue for some, but for me it is. Disney is my favorite thing in the world, but sharing that love with others makes it even more magical. Fingers crossed for magical D23Expo experience in 2021!!

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