Once upon a time, our fairy tales were simple.
That is, until Once Upon a Time started bending all the rules about what ‘happily ever after’ really means.
A young girl falls in love with Prince Charming, they get married, and live happily ever after in a castle, far, far away. We believed it. It was canon.
All it takes is watching one episode of the hit ABC show, and you find yourself unsure of whether or not you want to continue to believe in those classic love stories of your youth, or trade them in for the more mature, thoughtful, fleshed out love stories that Once Upon a Time offers.
It seems like it would be an easy choice. Of course Belle and the Beast end up together. Anna and Kristoff are FOREVER. Captain Hook and the Evil Queen don’t deserve to be loved because they’re the ‘bad guys.’
Once Upon a Time offers a much different take on love, and on ‘shipping.
Each classic character is far more three-dimensional than their cartoon counterparts. As we learn more about them, and we how they can affect a character from a totally different story, we suddenly find ourselves enjoying this cracked fairy tale reality and the new love stories that we’re presented.
Snow White and Prince Charming will always be happy together, and that’s fine. If we’re looking at Once Upon a Time in a ‘shipping light, then ‘Snowing’ is #RelationshipGoals, for sure. Unfortunately, stability isn’t quite as fun to watch weekly.
So we’re fortunate that all of the ‘ships surrounding ‘Snowing’ are far from stable, far from predictable, and 100% exciting. They’ve left their classic roots behind them in favor of a new canon, one that will make you question why you ever believed in those old fairy tales to begin with.
Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable ‘ships on Once Upon a Time, and dive into what story-bending tales make them SO wonderful.
Belle and Rumpelstiltskin (Rumbelle)
In a way, Belle still ends up with the Beast; it’s just not the big hairy beast that we know and love. Instead, our favorite bookworm heroine has chased adventure all the way to the Dark One, the classic character who is known for making deals, Rumpelstiltskin.
These two characters have benefited greatly from the new reality of Storybrooke. Belle and Rumple are perfectly mis-matched. He’s dark and twisty, she’s sweet and pure. Yet they find a perfect balance. They fall into bad-boy trope, but one that’s so fascinating that we never question where the real Beast is. Rumple is beastly enough to match up with this lovely Beauty.
The Evil Queen and Robin Hood (Outlaw Queen)
Maid Marian, who?
When the skilled archer traded his story for one that included falling in love with the Evil Queen, we couldn’t help but be thrilled. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, on Once Upon a Time deserves love.
Regina simultaneously softens and becomes stronger the more she falls for Robin, and he can’t help but realize that the world isn’t always as simple as rich and poor. They educate each other, challenge each other, and truly make one another the best versions of themselves. (Well, they did anyway. Dammit, writers.)
Kristoff and Elsa (Yeah, I said it.)
Here’s the thing, guys. After watching Kristoff and Anna fall in love in Frozen, I was all-in for their post-Frozen arc on Once Upon a Time. ALL.IN. But then I took notice of what could have been if Kristoff and Elsa had given it a go instead. Once Upon a Time’s versions of the Disney superstars are much more mature, and much more…flirtatious.
Listen, I know Kristoff loves her little sister, but did anyone else get that butterfly feeling whenever the Ice Master shared the screen with the Ice Queen? I swear there was eye sex. I swear. I know I’m not alone! Many viewers were hoping for a new twist on the story. Ultimately, Once Upon a Time stayed true to the Frozen story.
But man…we’ll always have those sex eyes between Kristoff and Elsa.
Little Red Riding Hood and Dorothy from Oz (Ruby Slippers)
It’s pure perfection that Once Upon a Time would take two strong young women who star in their own stories of heroism, and have them kick ass together and fall in love. Maybe it works because we don’t know any other way for them. They’re both children in their canon roots.
Together, as grown women, they are unstoppable and give our hearts such happy feelings. The only downside here is that it happened far too quickly. I wanted a little more than just 45 minutes to fall in love with their love. But hey, that’s what flashbacks are for, right? There’s no way we saw EVERYTHING in those 45 minutes.
Sleeping Beauty and Mulan (Sleeping Warrior)
I know the way the fairy tale goes. Sleeping Beauty, true love’s kiss, blah, blah, blah. Once Upon a Time made this love story the one I most wish would have happened by having Mulan fall in love with Aurora. Everything I thought I knew about Sleeping Beauty went out the window.
I don’t care about Prince Phillip. I don’t care whether or not they have a kingdom or whatever. I CARE that Mulan and Aurora have chemistry for DAYS, and that Mulan’s confession of loving Aurora (or rather, her kind-of confession), gave me a thousand more feels than anything that Phillip and Aurora could have given me. My heart was shattered when Aurora told Mulan she was pregnant. And so was Mulan’s.
Captain Hook and Emma Swan (Captain Swan)
First of all, Captain Hook is supposed to be a dude with frilly clothes, a big ol’ hat, and long black hair, with a mustache that I long to twirl. The Captain Hook Once Upon a Time gave us is more tall, dark, and handsome than any other prince or hero on the series. Hook (real name: Killian) is undeniably sexy. (I don’t use that word lightly, folks.) But more than that, he’s charming. He’s a lost soul in search of redemption, and he doesn’t even know it at first. His list of positive qualities could go on and on, much longer than the room I have for this post. So can his list of sins, making him the show’s ultimate bad-boy.
As a fan of Emma and Neal, better known as Swan Fire, I didn’t think there was any possible way that I would switch sides. Hook was a little too smarmy for my liking. Until I did switch sides. Because, let’s be real: Emma’s not innocent herself. She’s seen and done some serious stuff that would require a little redemption of her own.
Together, Emma and Killian bend and stretch each other to exciting romantic limits that give them both the forgiveness and peace that they desire, while allowing them both to accept each other completely, bumps, bruises, and all. Captain Hook is totally romantic. Who’d have thought it, based solely on Peter Pan?