Quick Answer: ABC's Once Upon a Time (2011 - ), a show that wasn't supposed to make it past its first season, is now swiftly approaching its sixth. One of the show's most unique characteristics is its huge ensemble cast of characters, each of whom is based on a fairy tale character. After five seasons, it can be difficult to keep up with so many players. Here is a who's who guide to all of the characters on Once Upon a Time.
Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White
Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) definitely doesn't need a Prince to save her on this show. In the fairy tale, and particularly in the Disney movie, Snow White is a damsel in distress who spends her time cooking and cleaning for a house full of men. Once Upon a Time's Snow White is a much-needed modern retelling of the fairy tale classic. Extremely skilled with a bow, she fights for what is hers, for her Kingdom, and for her people's freedom. She may be strong and resilient, but she also knows that love is not a weakness.
Josh Dallas as Prince Charming
Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), also known as David, has become more compelling to watch over the course of five seasons. A fairly one dimensional character in the fairy tale, his character is much more multifaceted on TV. As David wasn't born a prince, he lives modestly and knows what it means to work hard. Moreover, he knows that Snow is capable of defending and protecting herself, especially considering she hit him with a rock the first time they met.
Lana Parrilla as Regina
The Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), better know as Regina, perhaps diverts the most from her original character. While she starts off evil, vain, and greedy like the Queen we know, she has a fair reason to be; her motivations come almost entirely from a lost loved one. Throughout the series she makes amends and transforms from one of the show's biggest villains into one of its greatest heroes. Regina is proof that anyone is capable of redemption and has the capacity to change.
Jamie Dornan as Sheriff Graham
Audiences are still waiting for the return of The Huntsman (Jamie Dornan), better known as Graham. A character very much in touch with his emotions, Graham cries over every animal he kills, thanking them for giving thier lives so that he might keep his. Unfortunately, Graham is murdered, and the better part of Once Upon a Time's viewers are stil grieving.
The Seven Dwarves Await Prince Charming
The Seven Dwarves are fairly similar to how they appear in the fairytale. The only dwarf we get to know well is Grumpy. We learn early on that the dwarves are named when they are given their axes. Grumpy was originally Dreamy, a dwarf who was extremely joyous, positive and very much in love. But after having his heart broken, he breaks his axe and becomes Grumpy.
Emilie De Ravin as Belle
As the princess with the most voracious appetite for reading, Belle is one of the most admirable characters on Once Upon a Time. The bookworm of the show, Belle saves many lives with her extensive knowledge and her kind heart. Don't be fooled by her kindness, though; Belle refuses to be walked all over. She won't tolerate dark magic, which makes her relationship with the Dark One more than a little bumpy, but she always sticks to her morals.
Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin
Rumplestiltskin/The Beast (Robert Carlyle), also known as Mr. Gold, is one of the show's most complex characters. He has gone from villain to hero to villain again, and truthfully, we're never quite sure where we stand with Rumple. Altogether witty, dark, clever and greedy, he can also be loving and kind when with Belle. Unfortunately, Rumple's lust for power has led to his repeated downfall. We'll have to wait and see if he'll eventually overcome this weakness.
Jessy Schram as Cinderella
Cinderella (Jessy Schram) only appeared in the first season. The beloved princess was a crucial character, as she signed her baby away to Rumple. Her storyline was emotional, but sadly it couldn't be carried out for too long.
Sarah Bolger as Sleeping Beauty
Aurora (Sarah Bolger), better known as Sleeping Beauty, is another heroine on the show. She does well to listen to Snow White, who inspires her to take charge and fight for her people as opposed to relying on others. Her loving and gentle nature makes for a good ruler and mother.
Julian Morris as Price Phillip
Prince Phillip (Julian Morris) only appears in a handful of episodes. In his brief stint on the show, Phillip faces terrible hardships and even teams up with Mulan, who saves him from a terrible curse.
Kristin Bauer Van Straten as Maleficent
Maleficent (Kristin Bauer Van Straten) was a character in Season 1 who returned as a main villain in Season 4. She is motivated by the desire to get her child back, a child that she lost thanks to Snow and Charming. The feud between them is obvious and surprisingly reasonable; while she wants her revenge, her child is more important to her.
Meghan Ory as Red Riding Hood
Red Riding Hood (Meghan Ory), better known as Ruby, is yet another powerful heroine on the show. Once Upon a Time flips the classic fairy tale on its head, making Ruby both Red Riding and "the big bad wolf." However, she doesn't know about her canine tendencies initially. It's only when she takes off her cloak that she turns into the wolf, a consequence she learns quickly.
Beverly Elliott as Granny
Granny (Beverley Elliott) does everything she can to protect her granddaughter, Ruby. She loves her with all of her heart and will always fight for her safety.
Rebecca Mader as The Wicked Witch
The Wicked Witch (Rebecca Mader), better known as Zelena, lives up to her name. She wasn't born green, but turned so after her jealousy and envy of her sister Regina completely enveloped her. Though she had always done everything for her own benefit, we learn in Season 5 that she is pregant. As a result, her selfishness is fading, and many of her acts are motivated by the love for her child.
Teri Reeves as Dorothy
Dorothy (Teri Reeves) is a fairly new character to the show. Fighting for her survival and trying to outrun the Wicked Witch, she recently awakened from a Sleeping Curse, which was cast by Zelena and broken by Ruby. Ever since, Dorothy and Ruby have been an adorable (albeit controversial) couple.
Jorge Garcia as Anton the Giant
Anton (Jorge Garcia) the giant is one of the show's most misunderstood characters. Although everyone assumes the worst of him because of his intimidating size, Anton doesn't let it get in the way of his sweet disposition.
Karley Scott Collins as Gretel and Quinn Lord as Hansel
Hansel and Gretel (Quinn Lord and Karley Scott Collins) are two more characters that only appear in Season 1. In the show, Regina commands the siblings to steal from the Blind Witch. Even worse, Regina kidnaps the pair's father to make them think he abandoned them.
Keegan Connor Tracy as The Blue Fairy
The Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy) is also known as Mother Superior. She aides Rumple's son Baelfire and Jiminy, among many others. She trains other fairies, one of which was the fairy Nova. Though Grumpy falls in love with Nova, the Blue Fairy convinces the pair that the effects of their partnership would be detrimental if they stay together. The Blue Fairy is a fan favorite whose actions are always in the service of the greater good.
Raphael Sbarge as Jiminy Cricket
Jiminy Cricket (Raphael Sbarge), also known as Archie Hopper, is a therapist back in Storybrooke. A kind man with parents who were less than kind, he lives his life trying to do the right thing and help others.
Tony Amendola as Geppetto
Geppetto (Tony Amendola) is the father of Pinocchio. Like many characters on the show, all of his actions are motivated by the love for his son.
Eion Bailey as Pinocchio
Pinocchio (Eion Bailey), better known as August Booth was one of the first season's most vital characters. Charged with looking over Emma, he fails in this task until he is much older. He is the one to convince her that she is the Savior and helps her to realize her destiny and save the town.
Giancarlo Esposito as Regina's Magic Mirror
Magic Mirror/Genie (Giancarlo Esposito) is another interesting combination of characters. As a Genie, he is found and set free by Snow's father, Regina's husband, and he is granted three wishes. But he soon falls in love with Regina, and after murdering the King, he uses his final wish to be by Regina's side always. He becomes trapped in her mirror and lives to serve her.
Joanna Garcia Swisher as Ariel
Ariel (Joanna Garcia Swisher) appears in the show with the story we all know and love: saving Prince Eric from drowning. But later, when Eric is captured and taken aboard Black Beard's ship, the Jolly Roger, she works together with Hook and his crew to take back his ship and save Eric.
Merrin Dungey as Ursula
Once Upon a Time's Ursula is given a much richer background than her Disney counterpart. Originally a mermaid, Ursula is the King of the Sea's daughter. The King holds a grudge against humans as Ursula's mother was killed by a pirate. He tries to have Ursula lure sailors to their death by using her singing voice, but she refuses, as she inherited her singing voice from her mother. Ursula eventually has her singing voice taken away from her. She turns her tail into tentacles and swears that no one shall harm her again; all shall fear her. But many years later, Ursula sees the error of her ways, reconciles with her father and gets the happy ending she always wanted.
Gil McKinney as Prince Eric
Prince Eric (Gil McKinney) is a secondary character, and not much is known about him. He loves Ariel with all of his heart and will always fight for their happy ending.
Robbie Kay as Peter Pan
Though Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) is known as the beloved pirate-fighting hero who never grows up, his character on the show is completely different. In the Once Upon a Time universe, Peter Pan is the villain. Not only is he one of the most psychotic villains on the show, he is actually Rumple's father. He abandons his son, turning into a boy again so he can forever be young and without worry. He loves chaos and loves to have his fun, a fantastic twist on such a classic hero.
Rose McIver as Tinker Bell
Tinker Bell (Rose McIver) is a fairy who always disobeys orders, choosing instead to sneak off and see the world. She finds Regina and tries to help her find true love. Although she truly wants to help people, she never thinks of the cost. As a result, she has her wings taken away. She ends up in Neverland, becoming one of Pan's most trusted spies and allies. Eventually finding her way back into the light, she aids the heroes and helps Regina find her true love, Robin Hood.
Colin O'Donoghye as Captain Hook
Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue), also known as Killian Jones, brings a new swagger to this well known villain. His looks are not the only thing that differ to the original character. While this captain is charming, he is also a hopeless romantic, a true hero, and the love interest of the Savior, Emma Swan, herself. Originally a member of the King's Navy, he turns to piracy after a terrible fate befalls his brother. He falls in love with a woman named Milah, Rumple's wife, and Rumple kills her out of revenge. So begins a long feud between Hook and Rumple. But after meeting and falling in love with Emma, Hook turns from a charming villain to a lovable hero.