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
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 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'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).
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.