- “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 forseen 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 imprisioning 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. 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.
Role in Once Upon a Time
Emma Swan is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, Henry Mills' birth mother, and older sister of Neal Nolan. She is the main protagonist of the series, known as "The Saviour". Emma Swan plays the role of the saviour who brings back all the fairytale characters' memories and tries to protect her son, Henry, from evil.
Before the First Curse
When Snow White becomes pregnant, Geppetto forms a magical wardrobe for her and Charming, after Rumplestiltskin informs them that their daughter is the key to breaking the Evil Queen's curse in 28 years. Emma is born shortly after and placed in the wardrobe, successfully travelling to the new land.
Emma Swan was born in the Enchanted Forest to Snow White and Prince Charming, moments before the Evil Queen was set to unleash a curse on the land. However, the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest had come up with a plan to stop the curse when it had been enacted. Gepetto was to craft an enchanted wardrobe which would transport only one person to the real world, free of the curse. However Emma was born earlier and had to make the journey alone.
Secretly Gepetto was scared that his son would turn back into wood in the new world as it had no magic and had blackmailed the Blue Fairy to let his son, Pinocchio, travel to the real world with baby Emma to protect him from the curse's harm. When Emma arrived in the real world Pinocchio brought her to an orphanage. Despite the promise he made that he would look after her, Pinocchio left baby Emma in the orphanage to go with other boys of same age. Growing up in the foster care system, Emma bounced from family to family.
During the First Curse
In the real world, Emma grows up in foster care, bouncing from various families, one including Sarah Fisher's (the Snow Queen also known as Ingrid). In Richfield, Minnesota in 1997, Emma has just become one of Ingrid's foster children. Though Ingrid intervenes when one of her charges steals Emma's camera, Emma attempts to leave when the bully still demands the device. Ingrid encourages Emma to stay by telling her that her bully is afraid of spiders. The two bond in the short time and Ingrid files to adopt Emma. When a carnival claw machine sparks, Ingrid believes it proof of Emma's magical talent and attempts to test it by throwing the both of them in front of an oncoming car. But this only has the effect of breaking their bond as Emma runs away,thinking she is crazy.
Years later an 18 years old Emma steals a car and meets Neal Cassidy, a handsome thief and the two fall in love and the two become petty thieves. However Pinocchio had resurfaced under the name of August and convinced Neal to leave Emma so that she could fulfil her destiny and to turn her over to the police. Emma and Neal had arranged to meet after he had sold stolen watches but instead Emma was arrested. Emma is jailed, later giving birth to Henry some time later, whom she gives up for adoption to give him a better life; he is then adopted by Regina Mills.
After some time in prison, Emma becomes a bail bond agent in Boston. She pursues a fugitive on her birthday. After turning him into the authorities, she heads back to her flat and lights a cupcake for her twenty-eighth birthday. A boy, Henry hows up claiming to be the son that she gave up for adoption ten years ago. plead for her to come home with him to Storybrooke/Maine. During the car ride home, he explains about the Dark Curse that caused all fairytale characters to be trapped. Disbelieving him, she returns him home to Regina in Storybrooke, who becomes worried that Emma wants to be in Henry's life. Regina's repeated warnings to leave town and keep out of Henry's life make Emma decide to stay.
In Storybrooke, Emma initially wants Henry to let go of his theories of the curse, but later plays along. She moves in with Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White), unaware that they are related, and Sheriff Graham appoints Emma his deputy as the two form an attraction, until Regina crushes his heart, causing him to die in Emma's arms. Emma is soon elected sheriff, assisting in the arrest of Mary Margaret for the alleged murder of Kathryn Nolan after her affair with David Nolan, Kathryn's husband, is revealed placing her as the top suspect. Kathryn is however found alive.
When August Booth arrives in Storybrooke revealing her destiny of breaking the curse, a pressured Emma decides to leave the town, not wanting Henry to suffer from her and Regina's feud. Regina, however, attempts to poison Emma, by using the only piece of magic she has, contained in a ring given to her by her former love Daniel to get a poisoned apple from the Enchanted Forest and disguises the apple in the form of a turnover. Henry willingly consumes it though to prove that magic exists. Emma finally believes and can save him by getting a parchment from Regina's oldest friend, Maleficent who is locked within the basement. Maleficent is in the basement but in her dragon form and elsa kills her to get the parchment that she has been guarding. Her and Regina arrive at the hospital but Henry is pronounced dead. However, he is awoken with true love's kiss from Emma, thus breaking the curse and allowing all residents to remember their true identities.
After the First Curse
Emma reunites with her parents, only to fall through a portal with her mother to the Enchanted Forest. They meet Princess Aurora and Mulan who blame them for Prince Phillip's supposed "death" after his soul is taken by a wraith. They eventually form an alliance and Mulan and Aurora try to help them return to Storybrooke. They try find an enchanted compass guarded by Anton the Giant which is upon a beanstalk. After Emma takes the compass they race against Hook and Cora who want to go to go to Storybrooke to. They eventually create a portal and return back home but unbeknownst to them Cora and Hook have arrived too. Cora allies herself with her distant daughter Regina and the two try to kill Gold so that Cora can become the Dark One. Mary Margaret then uses an enchanted candle to kill Cora.
Emma then helps Mr. Gold travel to Manhattan to locate his son Baelfire, who she discovers is Henry's father Neal. Returning to Storybrooke, Emma deals with newcomers Greg Mendell and Neal's fiancé Tamara. Emma's skeptical theories on the pair are proven correct when it is revealed they want to destroy magic. After Emma and Regina stop their trigger to destroy Storybrooke, Henry is taken to Never Land by Greg and Tamara; Emma, her parents, Regina, Hook and Mr. Gold follow them. The team eventually manage to rescue Henry from the sinister Peter Pan, and return to Storybrooke. However, Pan enacts the original curse once more, forcing Emma and Henry to leave Storybrooke after Regina reverses her curse, erasing the events following its enactment. Emma's past is temporarily altered by Regina and she lives with Henry in New York City instead of giving him up for adoption.
Before the Second Curse
Directly after driving out of Storybrooke, Emma and Henry obtain false memories of their life together. As Emma recalls, a fire broke out in her apartment in Boston, which causes the mother-son pair to start afresh in.
During the Second Curse
One year after the curse's reversal, Hook restores Emma's memories with a potion and the two return to Storybrooke with Henry to save her family by breaking the new 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 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 who was romantically involved with Robin Hood. 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.