‘Once Upon a Time’ Series Finale: Does Everyone Have a Happy Ending?

Zach Van Norman

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from the series finale of Once Upon a Time, entitled “Leaving Storybrooke.” Proceed with caution.

Welcome Back!

Storybrooke’s final chapter began with Alice and Robin rolling into a very cold opening when Grumpy (Lee Arenberg), Sleepy (Faustino de Bauda), Doc (David Avalon), Granny (Beverley Elliott), Archie (Raphael Sbarge) and Pongo (himself) nearly captured them as soon as they arrived. It wouldn’t have been a visit to Storybrooke without our favorite supporting heroes giving one last heigh-ho to a new threat, and their presence was missed and welcomed. The two Hyperion intruders escaped the Lunchtime Hero Brigade to get help from Zelena (Rebecca Mader) and send word to the Charmings’ that Henry was in trouble. Zelena’s sass was on full display as she proclaimed her fabulosity and offered them a selfie, a fantastic moment that showed why we fell in love with Zelena in the first place. Her Wickedness later joined the other heroes to stop Wish Realm Rumple from cursing them into separate unhappy endings (though they couldn’t stop him from sending Keegan Connor Tracy’s Wish Realm Blue Fairy into exile).

Undoubtedly the most heartfelt cameo was the return of Robin Hood (Sean Maguire). The Outlaw Queen reunion was a beautiful flavor of bittersweet, showing that the two of them will be together one day in the hereafter. The perfection of their pairing was on full display as Robin reminded her of the best parts of herself, and that she did all the work to move into the light. And while their story was so short, it was still epic, as was that of the other villain who got their happy ending.

Farewell, Old Friend

The finale’s only death was also one of the most impactful of the series when Rumplestiltskin proved himself a changed man and sacrificed himself to save Wish Hook’s life. It was a fitting and heroic ending for a man who had shown himself to be a coward over and over again as the years passed. His choice emphasized a central theme of the show that people can get a second chance and villains can get happy endings too, and it resolved the animosity Rumple had felt towards every iteration of Hook for 300 years. His changed perspective on good and evil and how it affected his opinion of Hook, along with his realization that he should do the right thing because it was right and not for the reward, showed the growth and change in Rumple in a way that very few of his actions have ever done. It was that growth and change that led him home to Belle in the afterlife, his flickering light in the darkness, ending their tale as old as time evermore.

That’s A Wrap

Rumple wasn’t the only villain to get a happy ending (or, as she put it, a second chance.) Regina’s story came full circle when she was elected by the people and crowned as their leader the Good Queen. Regina began as the villain we loved to hate, the thorn in our collective side who deserved a comeuppance that never seemed to arrive. She showed why Snow White created her Evil nickname countless times over the years as she cast curses and crushed hearts, so her acceptance by the people, as well as her new role and title, showed grace and goodness that was unimaginable when she was terrifying the guests at Snow and Charming’s wedding in the pilot. That terror was long gone at her coronation, replaced by the smiling faces of her family and friends as their stories also came to a close. Henry and his family, Tiana, the citizens of Storybrooke and Hyperion Heights all joined together for a happy beginning. Emma’s late arrival, a role reversal from Regina’s grand entrance into the Snowing wedding, was the perfect visual metaphor for every story in the series: hope, and a savior, arriving just in time.

And who knows? Maybe one day Emma’s daughter Hope will be the hero of her own story in a Once Upon a Time reboot!

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