Once Upon a Time is a fairy tale drama TV series, which works in elements of various fairy tale & fantasy universes. The series featured several Oz cameos and mentions but no full inclusion in the story until the second half of Season 3, in which the Wicked Witch of the West was added as a new villain and her Winged Monkeys also appeared.
The series has also produced a one-season spin-off, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, which is based on Alice in Wonderland and which features very few, if any, Oz references.
Oz Appearances and References
The following episodes contain either references to Oz, or appearances of Oz-related elements.
The Evil Queen Regina's adopted son, the little boy Henry, has a storybook which has the fairy tale histories of all the residents of Storybrooke inside. On one page, an illustration of Winged Monkeys is seen.
In this Alice in Wonderland-themed episode, the Mad Hatter brings the Evil Queen with him to Wonderland. On the way, they pass through a room with doorways to many different worlds. One of the doors is green and bears the symbol of Oz.
Emma Swan, the show's protagonist, was given Ground Poppy Dust by Mulan to use against the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. It was able to immediately put him to sleep. Mulan said she had to go to another kingdom to get the poppies.
Season 3 - First Half
Quite a Common Fairy
Neal mentions Ruby Slippers as a portal to another world. Also, later in the episode, Regina suspects that Tinker Bell has put her to sleep using Poppies.
Regina mentions the Munchkins.
Season 3 - Second Half
The second half of the third season marked the first full inclusion of Oz in the show's story. The Wicked Witch of the West was introduced as the main antagonist, the Wizard of Oz as an occasional recurring character, and Glinda is set to appear. The Land of Oz itself was also seen.
New York City Serenade
Emma is dating a man named Walsh, who proposes marriage to her, a decision she gives some serious thought to. When Hook restores her memories, Emma tells Walsh that she can't marry him - and he attacks her, in the process revealing his true form. He is a Winged Monkey.
In flashback scenes from one year prior, Regina is attacked by a Winged Monkey, who scratches her, before being driven off by Robin Hood.
The characters later learn that someone has placed a protection spell over Regina's former castle, and is presumably residing there. This enrages Regina, who vows to return.
The same monkey who scratched Regina later returns to his master, a Green-skinned witch, apparently the new resident of Regina's castle, and tells her of his struggle. She takes the drop of blood from him and puts it into a vial.
In the present, Emma finds out that someone has placed a new curse, restoring Storybrooke but erasing the previous year in the Enchanted Forest from the residents' minds. That someone is presumably the same witch.
In flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest one year ago, another Winged Monkey attacks the party, seemingly heading for Robin Hood's young son, but Regina uses her magic to transform it into a stuffed animal, which she then gives to the boy.
The party discusses the origin of the creatures, and Belle says she's read about them and that there's only one place they can be found -- the Land of Oz. They subequently conclude that the new occupant of Regina's castle must be the Wicked Witch.
When Regina plans to break into the castle on her own, objections are raised that the Witch might have protection. Regina sardonically responds that she dosn't care even if the Witch is guarded by the whole Lollipop Guild.
When Regina meets the Witch, the Witch introduces herself as Zelena and reveals that she and Regina are half-sisters, their mother being Cora (the miller's daughter from Rumpelstiltskin and eventual Queen of Hearts), who had Zelena first but gave her up to marry Regina's father Prince Henry. The Wicked Witch then flies away on her Broomstick.
In the present day, in Storybrooke, citizens have been disappearing, and it is soon revealed that they have been attacked by Winged Monkeys. When this happens, the victims themselves turn into Winged Monkeys after being wounded.
The Wicked Witch is not green in Storybrooke, though she wears a green jewel. She befriends Mary Margaret and offers baby advice.
Upon realizing that the Winged Monkeys are from Oz, an incredulous Emma realizes that the perpetrator must be the Wicked Witch of the West. However, no one in town has memories of the previous year they spent in the Enchanted Forest, and so no one knows that Zelena is responsible for everything.
Zelena continues her plans in Storybrooke, earning David's trust and tricking him into drinking a potion that will make his fears real. She reveals more about her history, talking to Rumplestiltskin about her father's drunkenness. Apparently he always insisted on maintaining appearances, which Zelena emphasizes as she shaves Rumple.
When David conquers his fears, Zelena steals his sword, which is a "totem" of his Courage according to Regina.
One year ago in the Enchanted Forest, the Wicked Witch has entrapped Lumiere in the form of a candelabra, which she uses to trick Belle and Neal into restoring Rumplestiltskin to life.
In the present, she continues her plans in Storybrooke, until Rumplestiltskin escapes. She orders one of her Flying Monkeys to find him, but Emma finds him first and he reveals that Zelena is the Wicked Witch.
It's Not Easy Being Green
Many years ago, in the Land of Oz, a magical Cyclone appears and drops off a baby girl. A couple finds the baby and adopts her, calling her Zelena. Even in babyhood they notice her powerful magical talent. The father, even then, is afraid of her magical power.
When Zelena has grown to adulthood, her adoptive father chastises her for her inability to control her magic powers as she helps him shave, he reveals to her that she was found in the forest and is not their natural daughter. He also makes it apparent that she's always been trouble for him. Zelena is shocked and storms out, saying she'll trouble him no further. She's going to see the Wizard of Oz.
Zelena journeys to the Emerald City, where she passes two Winkie guards to see the Wizard. The Wizard's throne room has a giant "Oz" logo on the door and curtains. When Zelena approaches, four flames erupt from the pedestal before him.
The Wizard shows Zelena her true mother, Cora, and sister, Regina. He also shows her Rumplestiltskin, a powerful wizard from another world, who can teach her to use magic, and he gives her the Silver Shoes which can transport Zelena anywhere she wants to go when the heels are clicked three times.
When Zelena meets and begins studying with Rumplestiltskin, he at first hopes to have her cast the curse for him, but Regina ultimately gets the job because the thing Zelena loves most is Rumplestiltskin, which she would have to sacrifice in order to cast the curse. Zelena still attempts to get on Rumpel's good graces, by claiming that she could still get him what he wants, even without the curse, only for Rumpel to state that unless she could find a way to send him to a land without Magic then it is unlikely, She then showed her the Silver Slippers, upon which Rumpel attempts to take back everything he said, but Zelena would not be dissuaded, so he attempted to take the slippers by force, forcing Zelena to leave. Zelena. Zelena's jealousy and anger at Regina has begun to turn her skin green.
When Zelena returns to Oz with her Silver Shoes, she casts the Winkie soldiers aside with her magic and confronts the Wizard, demanding to be able to change the past. The Wizard says this is impossible, and in anger, she magically pulls his curtain aside -- revealing that he is an ordinary circus performer from Kansas named Walsh.
Seeing a circus poster of a Winged Monkey behind Walsh, Zelena turns him into one -- a mindless, obedient servant for her.
In the present, Zelena challenges Regina to a duel. When Regina objects that this isn't the wild west, Zelena responds that it is the "Wicked West". (This is probably not an actual reference to the "Wicked West" comics, but a coincidence).
The Jolly Roger
Zelena impersonates Ariel, the Little Mermaid, and tricks Hook into revealing his love interest to her - Emma. Zelena then enchants his lips so that if he kisses Emma, she'll lose her magical powers. And if he refuses to comply, she'll kill everyone Emma loves.
Zelena appears in Regina's house to gloat about stealing her heart. While there, she gives Regina a bowl of green apples. (In Oz the Great and Powerful, Evanora gives Theodora a magical green apple which transformes her into the Wicked Witch of the West).
Zelena reveals her plan to Rumplestiltskin - she intends to use Charming's Courage, Regina's Heart, Rumplestiltskin's Brains, and Snow White's baby to travel back through time, in order to change the course of her life.
A Curious Thing
In the Enchanted Forest during the missing year, the Charming family finds out that the only way to defeat Zelena is with the help of the Good Witch of the South, Glinda. They also find out that Glinda was forced to relocate to the north of the Enchanted Forest (Perhaps a reference to Glinda being the Good Witch of the North in the 1939 film).
They encounter Glinda hidden behind a portal which only the pure of heart can pass through. She reveals that, before she was banished from Oz, she and Zelena were good friends. She gave Zelena the green pendant she wears, to help control her magic.
In the present, Zelena moves to take Snow White's baby, to finish her spell. In the past in Oz, meanwhile, Zelena has just transformed the Wizard of Oz into a Flying Monkey when Glinda appears. Glinda is not upset at the Wizard's transformation, saying he was tricking the people of Oz, giving them false hope. She says some time as Zelena's pet will do him good.
Glinda invites Zelena to join their sisterhood of witches, and become the Witch of the West, representing innocence. Zelena objects that she's become wicked and is definitely not innocent, but Glinda says that innocence reclaimed can be the strongest kind. Glinda brings Zelena to the Heart of Oz, a table where the four witches meet, and invites her to fill the empty seat. There, she introduces Zelena to the witches of the North and East.
Glinda, who is the keeper of the Book of Records, reveals that a prophecy in the book states that a sorceress from the West, having come to Oz by cyclone, will fill the fourth seat at the table.
When Glinda shows Zelena the land she is to rule -- the west -- a new cyclone shows up, and a house crashlands nearby. Zelena and Glinda find a survivor inside, a little girl who introduces herself as Dorothy Gale from Kansas. Glinda tells Dorothy that she is a special girl to have survived such a crash, and brings her to meet the other witches. Zelena is immediately jealous of Dorothy, who she realizes may be the true fulfillment of the prophecy.
While the other three witches talk with Dorothy and share cookies with her, Zelena secretly watches in jealousy and contempt. Glinda soon finds Zelena by the nearby well, where Zelena has been reading the Book of Records. Apparently the full prophecy states that the sorceress from the west will unseat the greatest evil Oz has ever seen. Zelena interprets this to mean that Dorothy is that sorceress, and Zelena is the greatest evil. Glinda cautions her that she makes her own destiny, and that no one knows what the prophecy truly means.
But Zelena can't be comforted, and, donning black clothing and a black hat, she confronts Dorothy and prepares to use a fireball on her. Panicking, the confused Dorothy throws a bucket of water at Zelena, causing her to start melting.
Dorothy calls for Glinda, who says that Dorothy must be destined for the fourth seat after all. Dorothy thanks her but says she just wants to go home. Glinda takes Dorothy along the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz.
When they arrive, the Wizard gives Dorothy a pair of Silver Shoes and tells her to tap them together three times to get back to Kansas. Dorothy does, and disappears.
Zelena then reveals herself as the Wizard, having survived the pail of water after all. Glinda says she will find someone capable of stopping Zelena, but Zelena banishes her to the Enchanted Forest.
In the present, Zelena has gathered four ingredients, representing Courage, Heart, Brains, and Innocence. She begins to cast her spell, but is confronted and defeated by Regina, who has learned to use light magic. Later, she is killed by Rumplestiltskin, to avenge the death of his son.
There's No Place Like Home
Besides mentions of Zelena, this episode is only thematically related to Oz -- as evidenced by its title, which is Dorothy's line upon returning to Kansas in The Wizard of Oz. The episode has the main character, Emma, thrust into a foreign place -- the Enchanted Forest, in the past, which makes her realize Storybrooke really is her home, after initially intending to move back to Manhattan. This is similar to Dorothy realizing her home is in Kansas after trying to run away in the beginning of the movie.
Heart of Gold
In the past, Rumplestiltskin sends Robin Hood to Oz, on a quest to find and steal a magical potion. He returns to the Emerald City and manages to steal the potion and a Six-leaved Clover before encountering Zelena and barely escaping.
In Storybrooke in the present, it's revealed that Zelena's still alive and using a six-leaved clover to disguise herself as Marian, Robin Hood's wife, who she has killed.
Zelena, along with her clover, appears again and Regina confronts her.
The Dark Swan
As Emma is transported somewhere else, only the Apprentice's wand can take them to her. However, none of them are powerful enough to use it, except for Zelena who is locked up. Since Regina doesn't trust her, Hook and Henry secretly get her the wand, but as expected, she escapes. She is confonted while trying to create a magic tornado portal back to Oz so she might rule again, but Regina and others take it away from her as they re-route the tornado to the Enchanted Forest where Emma is. The green tornado picks up Granny's Diner with Snow, Charming, the dwarfs, and everyone else in it as it lands in the forest.
Regina brings Zelena to clock tower and knock her out of the glass and will flies into a tornado sending her back to Oz as Regina says that Zelena is going "Somewhere over the Rainbow".
In a recent press release, it has been noted that the character of Dorothy will reappear as “a brave warrior for good" within the 2nd half of the season who is somewhere in her late 20s to early 30s who will try to reclaim Oz from Zelena who has been sent back.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
There are no confirmed Oz references in this Alice in Wonderland-themed series, though there is at least one possible reference.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Alice is kept in a mental institution for her belief in Wonderland, and is scheduled to undergo a treatment to cure her of it. This is very similar to Dorothy's situation in the beginning of Disney's Return to Oz, and Once Upon a Time frequently references other Disney properties.
Webisodes & Shorts
"Witch Watch 2014"
This humorous minisode features Regina, the town mayor, warning the citizens of the dangers of the Wicked Witch, playing on real storm watch news broadcasts.
She also mentions the Flying Monkeys, citing their ability to transform humans into more Flying Monkeys.
She recommends that citizens keep buckets of water nearby, to throw on the Wicked Witch if need be (which melts the witch in the orignial novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz).
The scrolling text at the bottom of the screen notes that skywriting in the area was reported, reading "Surrender, Regina" (a reference to the famous skywriting message from the 1939 film which reads "Surrender, Dorothy").
The scrolling text also warns citizens to report any of the following phenomena:
- Green-skinned bicyclists (Implying the Wicked Witch and her counterpart, Miss Gulch);
- Storm-tossed terriers (A reference to Toto)
- Pointy headgear (Such as the Witch's hat)
- Hover Brooms
- Jet Brooms
- Jet Broom Mid-Air Docking Facilities
- Silver Slippers
- Silver Slipper polish
- Flying Monkey food
- Flying Monkey droppings, including partially digested Munchkins
Citizens are warned not to try using fire extinguishers or any liquid other than water to kill the witch; milk only makes her stronger.
As of the beginning of the show's third season, Oz had not been visited and no characters from Oz made appearances, though Wonderland and Neverland both had been (the former now being the subject of a spin-off). However, the show's producers had stated in an interview that they do intend to visit Oz at some point, and that they have a way they intend to do so.
The Wicked Witch of the West was set to appear in the second half of season three, and was shown in the trailer for the show's return in March. She appeared, along with her Flying Monkeys, in the premiere episode, and since that time Oz itself has been visited and other Oz characters and settings have appeared.
The appearance of the Wicked Witch matches the version shown in the 1939 film, having green skin and a black dress, with a pointed hat. Her dress also looks very similar to the version seen in Oz the Great and Powerful.
- Fables, a comic book franchise with a similar premise which also uses elements from the Oz series.
- Emerald City (TV series), the upcoming series by NBC expected to air in 2016 that also has a 20s something Dorothy as a warrior.