15 Life Lessons from ‘Once Upon a Time’


1.Everything comes with a price: You want to escape the Evil Queen? You give up your firstborn child. You want to become a ‘hero of the land’? You sacrifice your heart. You want to stay up late, playing a humorous round of Cards Against Humanity? You are grumpy the next day. You give into your McDonald’s craving? You are facing a McTummy-Ache. Everything comes with a price; you just have to decide which prices you are willing to pay.

2. The longer you are around, the more enemies you create: Rumplestiltizken and The Evil Queen have to be at least 200 years old, and it seems that with every episode, a new enemy is revealed: The Mad Hatter, Peter Pan, Ursula. But, I find the same is true in my experience too. The older I get, the more I learn about people, the more opportunities they have to wound me (or I have to wound them), and the more enemies I create.

3. The best time to tell people you love them is in the face of grave danger: Falling off a cliff, about to get hit with a deadly spell, heart about to get crushed to dust—you may have only merely seconds to save yourself, but this is most definitely the best time to tell people you love them (and then proceed into some kind of long make out sesh).

4. We all have the abilities to change: One of my favorite story arcs is Rumple’s in Season 3, as he treks through Neverland, and sheds his cowardice. He’s been weighed down for the last 200 years (or however old he is) by the label of being a coward, and his actions are motivated by selfish gains until he meets Belle, and he finds strength, courage, and selflessness as he journeys through the jungle. I, personally, was so proud of Rumple for his change. I knew he could do it.

5. Belle is Irish?: Who would have thunk? But, I do love her accent! (And all the other accents for that matter).

6. But, people always remember who you once were: Right, this is why the townspeople don’t believe Regina in Season 3 that she didn’t produce the curse. Or, why Baelfire doesn’t accept his father’s apology in the beginning. Or, that Emma will forever have to be “The Savior”; although we know, ourselves, are fluid, changing creatures, we forget that other people are as well, and we always remember them in static ways.

7. There’s nothing wrong with living in an “imaginary” world: In Season 1, Henry goes to counseling in order to remove his “allusions” and to ground him in the “real” world. But, Archie asks the question: What is wrong with Henry believing in magic? It stimulates his imagination, entertains his mind, and makes him happy.

8. Even the Evil Queen once had feelings: One thing I appreciate about the show is the character development. Each episode does a fantastic job of paralleling the character’s past and present lives. As the series goes on, it is revealed how the Evil Ones turned so evil.

9. Can’t trust no one: You really root for Emma’s relationship with Graham/The Huntsman. Then he turns out to be sleeping with the Evil Queen. You aren’t ever really sure where Hook’s alliances lay. You never know who is really benefitting from Rumple’s deals. Is it Peter Pan or Henry? Even Regina and Emma team up together. And, the same thing is true with real people. I’ve gotten myself caught in multiple situations where I divulged information to people I thought I could “trust”, and it ended up blowing up in my face (like it does for The Huntsman). So there really are two options in this scenario: tell no one nothing, or don’t care if you get ratted out someday (but, in the case of Once Upon a Time, betrayal could be very, very costly).

10. Our past experiences taint our present selves: Every single character in Once Upon a Time has a past, and even if they aren’t aware of it, those past experiences taint their present selves. The Mad Hatter, for example, found himself stuck in Wonderland due to his prideful nature, which sent him into a mental breakdown that influences his current, mad, repressed, deranged, isolated self.

11. Logic, reasoning, and a genuine heart overpowers magic: I’m always really perplexed as to how Prince Charming overcomes the Evil Queen with his sword, whilst carrying Baby Emma in his arms, or how Snow is able to dismantle the Evil Queen with her piercing gaze. In the case of Frankenstein and the intruders, the story suggests logic and reasoning (aka science) overpowers magic.

12. Don’t worry, they are never really dead for too long: I’m currently in Season 3, and from what I’ve learned, you can never really count on someone being dead for too long. I honestly can’t imagine the story proceeding without Rumple; he’s too foundational of a character (and knows too much about the people) to be gone forever.

13. “True love” is when you are always running from each other: Snow and Prince Charming’s favorite lines are, “I’ll always find you”. Like, they really are never together (I’m not sure how they even have a relationship since they never seem to spend any quality time together). Prince Charming spends the whole first season, chasing Snow/Mary Margaret, and trying to convince her they should be together. Then, in the second season, Snow/Mary Margaret spends the entire time trying to get home to Prince Charming. And, in season three (which is where I am), Prince Charming keeps wandering off in the woods, nursing his wound. I personally would love this kind of relationship where he is gone and away—often.

14. Power corrupts: We see this in almost every kind of story we see. If you dangle power in front of anyone (except Snow and Prince Charming, and Emma because she apparently carries their morality gene) they will do bad things; they become jealous, self-seeking, greedy. This happens with Rumple, The Evil Queen, Pan, etc. Even Snow gets a black spot on her heart when she realizes she has power over Cora. So, the moral of the story is: don’t give anyone any power ever and our world would be a happier place.

15. Danger is always lurking: Having a moment with your husband? Don’t worry, the Evil Queen is lurking right behind the wardrobe. Walking your son down the street? Don’t worry, the hairy wolf is about to run in front of you. Think your beverage is safe? Nope. These characters can never seem to catch a break.

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