- “I'm the saviour, right? I'm supposed to bring back all the happy endings.”
- ―Emma to Mary Margaret
Emma Swan is the main character and protagonist of Once Upon a Time. She is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming and the older sister of Neal Nolan who was sent to the real world after the Evil Queen placed a terrible curse upon the Fairytale Land. She was a bail bondsman living in Boston until her son, Henry Mills, found her and brought her to Storybrooke to break the curse.
She is portrayed by Jennifer Morrison.
The dark wizard Rumplestiltskin, determined to find his wayward son no matter what, had foreseen through his dark witchcraft that Emma's birth would be a catalyst for his plans of travelling to the Land Without Magic, where his son was living. After manipulating Queen Regina, who was blinded by revenge, into enacting the Dark Curse upon the enchanted lands Rumplestiltskin tricked Cinderella into imprisoning him with good magic so he could manipulate Charming and Snow into creating a magic wardrobe that would allow Emma to escape the curse and travel to Land Without Magic.
Emma Swan is a deeply damaged and a very conflicted woman. She is a survivor, and used to being a loner, and therefore a sucker for the underdog. Against her better judgement, she will compromise herself to fight for what is right and to help those in need. She is strong and aggressive, but her brokenness and her emotions are not buried far beneath her tough exterior. Her first reaction to most things is anger, but she has spent her life trying to manage her temper. She is both rash and calculated, and is forced to deal with her instincts to protect her child, a child she believes she is not capable of mothering. In the simplest form, Emma is a list of contrasting qualities: She is hard and soft; she is intense and easy going; she is strong and vulnerable; she is safe and dangerous; she is logical and impulsive.
Powers and Abilities
- Detective Skills: Emma has an eye for detail and is very skilled at detective work. She used this skill to work as a successful bail bondsman in Boston. She later used this when she was investigating the case of Kathryn's (supposed) murder.
- Magic of True Love and Light Magic: As the result of True Love birth Emma is capable of using magic. This magic was always with her, even though she was living in a world without magic. However when Mr. Gold brought magic to our world her magical powers were greatly enhanced, particularly within the confines of Storybrooke; she has recently been taking magical lessons from her former nemesis Regina to better harness her abilities, proving to be an apt student. Her practice of the magical arts grants various mystical abilities, of which are known:
- True Love's Kiss: A magical kiss that can break any curse as long its fueled by True Love. True Love is not limited to romantic relationship but can also extend to the love of a mother for her son.
- Immunity to Heart Removal: In the universe of OUaT, witches and wizards are capable to use black magic to penetrate a person's chest and literally remove their hearts. While in possession of these hearts the witch is capable of controlling the person, which remains in a state of full health despite the removal of such a vital organ. Emma is however immune to this form of black magic and if a witch attempts to remove her heart they will be hit by an energy blast.
- Lie Detection: The power to detect if a person is lying. Emma used this power subconsciously on Earth, possibly due to the lack of magic.
- Eclipse Inducement: The power to cause an eclipse. When Peter Pan and her son Henry left to Skull Rock to "save magic", the heroes found themselves blocked by Pan's protective shield that only allows people without shadows to enter. Emma and Regina join their magics together to create an eclipse, which would take away their shadows and render the shielding spell useless.
- Telekinesis: She is capable of manipulating objects or people without physically touching. This was first seen when she had to telekinetically blast both David and Killian in order to save them from the Snow Queen.
- Pyrokinesis: She is able to create, control, and manipulate fire, often in a form of lighting a candle or a flame/fire-related spell.
- Abjuration: Emma demonstrated being able to teleport Hook's, uh, namesake implement away from him as a prank.
Before the First Curse
Born to Snow White and Prince Charming, Emma was the product of true love and destined to be the saviour. To protect her from the Dark Curse, the Blue Fairy had Gepetto fashion a magical tree into a wardrobe which could carry Emma into A Land Without Magic and protect her from it. As only two could go, Gepetto forced the Blue Fairy to let Pinocchio go with Emma, fearing he wouldn't survive the curse and be turned back into wood.
As the plan was to take Snow into the cupboard while she was pregnant, after she gave birth, her and Charming reluctantly agreed to take Emma to the wardrobe, holding onto the hope that she will find them after the curse has been cast.
During the First Curse
As a baby Pinocchio was tasked to protecting Emma as a baby while they were both in the foster care system, however he abandons her later on.
Realizing she would never be adopted having "missed her chance" as she's too old, she runs away and meets a young girl named Lily who helps her shoplift. The two bond together after she discovers that Lily is an orphan just like her. The two break into a house and spend the night there where they enjoy each others company and Emma see's a star shaped birthmark on her wrist. Lily tells her that it makes her feel special and then draws one onto her wrist too. The girls promise to be friends no matter what until a man enters the house, Lily's father. Lily explains she was an orphan like her too, only she got adopted and feels invisible at her home. Hurt by Lily's lies, Emma rubs off the star on her wrist and walks away from Lily, who cries and repeatedly calls for Emma.
Arriving in a net foster home, she meets a carer called Ingrid. When she catches her trying to escape, Ingrid convinces her to stay and the two eventually become close until one day she tells Emma that she is going to adopt her and that even though Emma doesn't see her as a mother, she can be like her older sister. While the two are waiting for a bus, Emma thinks out loud about having magic like Harry Potter. Knowing she does, Ingrid (who is really the Snow Queen from the Enchanted Forest) tries to endanger her by forcing her in front of a car so that she can unleash her powers, however, Emma gets away from her grip at the last minute. Thinking she is crazy, Emma runs away from her.
Years later, Emma attempts to steal a car and breaks in, not knowing it has already been stolen by someone else called Neal. They soon start to con people and and one day decide to have a life of their own in Tallahassee, but they need the money. Neal gets Emma to retrieve some stole watches but she gets caught and sent to prison where she finds out she is pregnant. She gives birth to a boy and gives him up.
Ten years later, Emma is 28 years old and working as a bail bondsman. She is working undercover on a date where they start talking about their lives. When she reveals to her date that she knows he skipped town when on bail, he flees, trying to get away in his car, but as he didn't realize it was towed when he got in, he is caught and arrested by Emma.
She goes home later that night, to spend her twenty-eighth birthday all alone. She brings out a cupcake a lights a blue star candle on and blows it. Suddenly, someone knocks on the door and she finds a young boy on the other side. He tells her that his name is Henry, and he is the son she gave up for adoption ten years ago. He asks her to go home with him but she refuses to but agrees to take him back to his home town, Storybrooke, Maine.
After arriving, Henry explains to Emma that time is frozen in Storybrooke and that the Evil Queen sent the fairy-tale character from the Enchanted Forest to Storybrooke and now they are trapped and can't leave. She doesn't believe him, but the pair are soon interrupted by Archie Hopper, who is Henry's therapist. He tells Emma that Henry is they mayors child. She thanks him and Henry explains to him that he is really Jiminiy Cricket. The pair head to Henry's house, where Emma meets his adoptive mother, they mayor, Regina Mills. Regina invites Emma inside for apple cider and the two talk about Henry's adoption. When she leaves, she meets the towns sheriff, Graham.
After she bonds with Henry, Regina fears that she may want him back and so repeatedly warns Emma to stay away from them, telling him that she is his mother, not Emma. However, Emma decides to stay in Storybrooke anyway, ignoring Regina's warnings.
She develops a friendship with Henry's school teacher Mary Margaret (who is really her mother Snow White) and the two move in together. She also is appointed deputy by Sheriff Graham. She develops an attraction for Graham until she sees him leaving Regina's house in the middle of the night. He kisses her and and starts to get visions of his past in the Enchanted Forest. Realizing something isn't right, he questions everything and everyone, getting more and more aware of the curse. He asks Emma for help, but the pair run into Regina. She tells Graham to come back with him but he refuses her. Regina then accuses Emma of stealing everyone away from her. Emma replies to Regina that Henry and Graham were miserable and she didn't steal anyone away from her. They came to her because they were miserable with Regina. The two start to physically fight until Graham separates them and Emma walks away with him back to the police station. He apologizes to Emma and tells her that he regrets getting involved with Regina. As he helps clear her cuts from her fight with Regina, the two kiss and Graham remembers his past life as the Queens Huntsman. He thanks Emma, but before he can explain, he dies, having his heart crushed by Regina, who had it in her possession. Emma cries over Graham's dead body.
Emma later competes against Sydney Glass for mayor and wins. Emma is later forced to arrest Mary Margaret after she has been framed for the murder of Kathryn, as she is the prime suspect, having had an affair with her husband David Nolan. Evidence stacks up and Emma has Ruby find a box which is sent for analysis. It is revealed that it is Mary Margaret's box and it contains Kathryn's heart. However, it is revealed that the DNA tests were faked and Emma is allowed to release Mary Margaret.
Fearing Henry would never be truly hers if Emma is still in the picture and knowing that if she kills her, the curse would automatically be broken, Regina tries to put Emma in a sleeping curse by feeding her an apple turnover, made with the same poisoned apple that she fed Snow White. Henry tries to stop her from eating it by telling her its cursed but, but she doesn't believe him; He eats it and falls under the sleeping curse. Emma finally opens her mind about magic and touches Henry's storybook where she gets visions about her parents, Snow White and Prince Charming and she finally believes in magic. Finally realizing the truth, she grabs Regina and starts to hurt her. The two realism that Henry is the priority and so Regina and Emma form an uneasy alliance to go find Gold who can tell them how they need to wake Henry. He tells them of a True Love Potion which can help them wake him up, however there is a catch. The potion is underneath the Storybrooke clock tower inside the belly of Maleficent, who was trapped in her dragon form when the curse hit. Emma battles the dragon with her fathers sword and eventually defeats the beast and finally obtains the golden egg which contains the True Love potion. Emma and Regina finally arrive to the hospital to give Henry the potion, but, its too late and he is pronounced dead by Dr Whale. Emma goes to Henry and tells him that she loves and gives him a kiss on the forehead. Henry is brought back to life and the curse has finally broken after 28 years.
After the First Curse
After Emma has broken the curse she is reunited with her parents. She is overwhelmed, having discovered her parents are Snow White and Prince Charming and they're the same age as her. She is sent to the Enchanted Forest with Mary Margaret where she meets Mulan and Aurora. The two meet Regina's mother Cora, the Queen of Hearts and Captain Hook. Emma and her mother face off against the two and end up back in Storybrooke. However, what they are unaware of is Cora and Hook have also arrived. Emma and Henry go with Mr. Gold to locate his long lost son Baelfire, but what she discovers when she arrives to New York is that Baelfire is non other than Neal, Henry's father. They arrive back in Storybrooke and Emma defends Gold who has been poisoned, against Cora who need to kill him to become the Dark One. However, Mary Margaret kills Cora. Emma meets Neal's fiance Tamara, and its discovered that her and another outside (Greg Mendell) are secretly working together to get rid of magic, and their employer is is non other than Peter Pan. Because Pan needs the heart of the truest believer, he gets Tamara and Greg to kidnap Henry so Emma, Regina, Mary Margaret, David and Hook all head to Neverland to rescue Henry. Emma eventually finds Henry and saves him but what she doesn't know is that Pan and him swapped bodies. After Pans body is released from a trap, he swaps it back with Henry's and Emma discovers that Pan's plan is to re enact the Dark Curse to create a "new Neverland". She her parents, Belle, Regina and Neal are all frozen and watch as Gold kills Pan and kills himself in the process. Regina then explains to Emma that everyone from the Enchanted Forest is going to return back there but because Henry was born in this world, he won't. She tells Emma that only she can escape the curse as she is the savior and all her mamories of Storybrooke will be gone. Regina then gives Emma and Henry new memories of a life in which she never gave her son up. Emma than says goodbye to her parents as she leaves Storybrooke, and the curse takes everyone back to the Enchanted Forest.
Before the Second Curse
Emma and Henry leave Storybrooke and obtain false memories. They live in New York.
During the Second Curse
Hook restores Emma's memories with a potion and the two return to Storybrooke with Henry to find out there has been a new Dark Curse caused by Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West. She finds Neal trapped within Mr. Gold's body, thus causing him to lose his mind. Neal asks for Emma to free his father by killing himself to defeat Zelena; she reluctantly agrees. Regina later helps Emma to strengthen her magical powers, though they are removed when Zelena curses Hook.
After the Second Curse
After Regina kisses Henry and breaks the second curse, everyone's memories are restored.
After Emma and Hook are dragged into Zelena's time portal, she accepts Storybrooke as her home, regaining her magic to re-open the portal to the present where she begins a relationship with Hook. However, unaware to her, she also brings a previously deceased Maid Marian to the future, shattering her growing friendship with Regina, whom Emma hopes will accept her as a friend despite their differences. The two later regain their friendship to defeat the Snow Queen with Elsa, who helps Emma to finally embrace her powers fully and control them. When Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff leave Emma learns that Mr. Gold is back to his evil ways. Emma also learns that Gold has Hook's heart and she gets it back and puts it back in him. Emma later learns that Regina wants to find the writer of the book. After Cruella De Vill kidnaps Henry, Emma, Regina, and Captain Hook had to go to rescue him. Isaac later tells Mary Margaret and David that Emma will give in to darkness as it was foretold. When Cruella has a gun to Henry's head, Emma angrily uses her abilities to push Cruella off the cliff they are on to her death. Mary Margaret and David arrive too late to see what Emma has done.