|“||Your prison, all of our prisons, will be time. Time will stop, and we will be trapped. Someplace horrible, where everything we hold dear, everything we love, will be ripped from us while we suffer for all eternity. While the Queen celebrates, victorious at last. No more happy endings.||„|
|~ Rumplestiltskin to Snow White and Prince Charming (about the Dark Curse).|
The Dark Curse, also known as the Curse That End All Curses and The Curse, is the most dangerous and sinister, magical curse in the Once Upon a Time universe and it served as the series' main plot focal point.
It is originally cast by the Evil Queen/Regins Mills out of revenge against Snow White, and the curse is responsible for the bringing the Enchanted Forest inhabitants to the Land Without Magic, where everyone is trapped in the town of Storybrooke, Maine, thus granting the Evil Queen her happy ending. Stripped of their past life memories, they are given false memories by the curse's effects. Snow White later recasts the curse to return everyone to Storybrooke in order to find the certain Savior known as Emma Swan and stop Zelana, the Wicked Witch of the West.
For the third time, Killian Jones/Captain Hook, the newest Dark One, casts the Dark Curse to return to Storybrooke and finally get his revenge on Mr. Gold with his newfound powers.
There are ingredients necessary to create and cast the Dark Curse:
- A lock of hair from those with the darkest of souls.
- The heart of "the thing you love most".
- Rumplestiltskin also added a drop of true love potion onto the parchment of the Dark Curse, which was created from two strands of hair from both Snow White and Prince Charming. It is unknown whether the drop of true love counts as an ingredient because the curse would still work even if it was not added as demonstrated when Peter Pan attempts to cast it.
- Incidentally, Emma Swan is the only one who can break the first curse because she is a product of true love. In the second curse, however, Regina Mills is the savior as her true love for her son Henry breaks the curse.
- Extra ingredients can be added to the curse.
- The second Dark Curse, cast by Snow White, was never intended to wipe the memories of its victims. The Wicked Witch of the West drops a forgetting potion into the curse, which causes everyone to lose their recollection of the last year in the Enchanted Forest. She later crafts an antidote for herself to prevent memory loss.
- The third Dark Curse, cast by Captain Hook, was never intended to wipe the memories of its victims. Emma used a dreamcatcher with the stolen memories of Mary Margaret, David Nolan, Henry Mills, Regina Mills, Robin Hood, Zelena, and several others to add a memory wipe to the curse to erase memories of the past 6 weeks in the Enchanted Forest and Camelot.
Breaking/Undoing the Dark Curse
Ways to Break the Curse
- Mr. Gold designed the Dark Curse to break if Emma Swan dies.
- Emma's true love for Henry breaks the first Dark Curse and the Sleeping Curse unintentionally inflicted upon him.
- Regina Mills' true love for her son Henry breaks the second Dark Curse.
- The trigger can reverse the effects of the first curse by erasing Storybrooke from existence, which would also kill all those not born in the Land Without Magic. The only way to escape this would be to escape to another land prior to the trigger's effects coming into full force.
- If Regina Mills, the original caster of the curse, destroys the curse scroll, the Dark Curse can be undone. Additionally, destroying the scroll results in Storybrooke fading out of existence and everyone not born in the Land Without Magic returning to the Enchanted Forest.
Parts of the Curse Broken/Undone
- Time has resumed in Storybrooke, which allows changes in town's inhabitants' lives as well.
- Time is also unfrozen for the inhabitants left behind in the Enchanted Forest, who were protected by the effects of the Dark Curse 28 years ago when Cora Mills cast a shield.
- Prince Charming's counterpart, David Nolan, awakens from his coma after Mary Margaret reads him the Snow White fairytale from Henry Mills' book.
- Since the casting of the Dark Curse, Ashley Boyd remains heavily pregnant, but only after time resumes, she gives birth to Alexandra Herman. Afterwards, she happily reunites with her boyfriend and now fiancé, Sean.
- Crickets return to Stroybrooke after Archie Hopper stands up to Regina Mills.
- Sheriff Graham regains his memories after sharing a kiss with Emma Swan, but is killed by Regina Mills.
- A sinkhole collapses, and reveals a shard from Snow White's glass coffin, but Regina Mills hides it in time. Later, she throws it down a mine vent as the shard collects with many other broken pieces of the coffin.
- David Nolan had flashes of memories from his life in the Enchanted Forest. However, he mistakes them as memories he had prior to being in the coma as well as confusing memories from the other world as ones he was recovering from his blackouts.
- Ava and Nicholas Zimmer reunite with their father Michael Tillman.
- Fireflies emerge when Leroy and Astrid are together again.
- Jefferson realizes Emma's presence in town is causing time to resume, and recognizes her as having magic while everyone else is powerless.
- Ruby's rocky relationship with Granny changes for the better after she quits her diner job and works as an assistant for Emma. Ruby comes to realize she actually likes the diner job and only quit out of lack of self-confidence.
- Mary Margaret protects Emma Swan from Jefferson by successfully using fighting moves from her prior life as Snow White, though she remains unaware.
- Since separating from his father at a young age, August Booth finally gets the courage to talk to Marco and be his assistant.
- Emma Swan breaks the Dark Curse by giving Henry true love's kiss, which helps everyone to remember their past lives.
- After the Dark Curse ends, the residents can leave or enter town. However, Mr. Gold brought magic to Storybrooke, and as a price for it, he and everyone else cannot leave town without losing their Enchanted Forest memories.
- Storybrooke is visible to and can be entered by outsiders.
- Storybrooke fades from existence when Regina Mills destroys the curse scroll and undoes the first Dark Curse.
- Regina Mills' true love for her child Henry breaks the second Dark Curse.
- The way in which the Dark Curse is both prepared and cast has changed since its first appearance. In the first and second seasons, the curse is prepared by building a fire, throwing the ingredients into the flames and then throwing the sacrificed heart into the flames as the final ingredient. However, since Season 3, the curse is prepared and cast by placing the ingredients into a bubbling cauldron (or in one case, the Storybrooke Wishing Well), and then crushing the sacrificed heart into the cauldron as the final ingredient.
- However, the preparation drastically changes in its appearance in Season 5, with the ashes of the crushed heart simply being poured into a container full of an entirely different spell. The curse cloud changes appearance drastically in this instance as well, taking the form of a thick, purple smoke with golden lightning, much like the appearance of magic at the end of Season 1.
- The first and second Dark Curses engulf Snow White, Prince Charming and the Evil Queen in a parallel fashion. In both cases, Snow White and Prince Charming are lying together on the ground with the Evil Queen standing over them.
- In the original "Pilot" script, the Dark Curse is not black smoke, but a green mist. It only appears in its green mist form in "Going Home" after being cast by Peter Pan, however, the reasons for its altered appearance are unknown.
- Also mentioned in the original "Pilot" script, Rumplestiltskin tells Snow White and Prince Charming that the curse "won’t just affect this land. It will touch all the lands..."
- For the first curse, the show cast members believed it would only be broken in the very last airing episode of the series.
- In the episode "The Thing You Love Most", when the Evil Queen casts the first Dark Curse, it is clearly nearing the end of sunset, however, in another episode "Queen of Hearts", when Cora casts the protection spell to keep herself and Hook safe from the curse, it's still daytime.
- When the residents of Storybrooke reappear in the Enchanted Forest, everyone in the group return to their original clothes. However, Snow White, Belle, Neal and Hook are notable exceptions: Snow White is wearing a cloak (to hide Ginnifer Goodwin real-life pregnancy on-screen), Belle is wearing her signature yellow dress instead of prison attire, Neal was not in the Enchanted Forest when the curse originally hit yet he still has Enchanted Forest attire, and Hook's vest is changed from black to red despite that he was never cursed.