Once Upon A Time’s Season 6 and Christian Symbolism

Once-Upon-a-Time-Season-6Once Upon A Time’s Season Six—Worth the wait?

Once Upon a Time’s Season Six was just released on Netflix.  I rarely watch television shows during their original air dates, but Once Upon a Time is the exception for me.  Much to my dismay though, a contract dispute between my cable company and ABC prevented me from watching the second half of season six until its release last month.  Knowing a few behind-the-scenes happenings prior to viewing, I raced excitedly through the episodes while simultaneously wishing it would never come to an end.  I also hoped that my favorite fairytale characters would get their happy-ever-after.

Fairy Tales and Faith

C.S. Lewis said, “Sometimes fairy stories may say best what’s to be said.”  And, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in one of his letters  that Lord of the Rings is “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work…the religious element is absorbed into the story and symbolism.”  Once Upon a Time combines perfectly fairy tales with fun twists and a great message, and uses Christian symbolism.  As a huge fan, I’ve wondered whether others had noticed and written about the religious references appearing in Once Upon a Time.

I searched the Internet and found a couple of sites that did mention religion relating to Once Upon a Time OnceUponatimewikia.com had this fun “List of Religious References .”  Also, check out Once Upon A…Religion as a fun behind the scenes resource.  But if you can’t check it out just yet, below are a few of my favorites.

      • Mary (Margaret/Snow) is the name of the Savior’s mother.
      • David Nolan, the cursed identity of Prince Charming, a former shepherd, shares his name with King David of the Bible, also a former shepherd.
      • A statue of the Virgin Mary sits outside of the convent.
      • Hook refers to Charon’s boat as the S.S. Purgatory.
      • Violet’s horse is named Nicodemus, a reference to a Christian saint mentioned in the Gospel of John, who is most notable for assisting in the burial of Jesus.
      • Stories from the Bible are also mentioned: the belly of the whale and a statement “like baby Moses in the basket.”
      • And this is one of my own speculations (just for fun and since there have been Catholic elements in the show).  Could August be a nod to St. Augustine?  His character is described as an intriguing author, with the intention of making Emma open her eyes to truth around her, and who says himself he hasn’t exactly been a good boy.

The Magic of Once Upon a Time and Evil

Once fans can easily fill in the blank to this statement. “Magic always comes at a _______, Deary.”

It’s interesting that magic is mostly performed by The Dark One on Oncethe evil characters (aside from the savior, Emma).  And anyone who uses magic for his own gain pays a very high price.  Magic is not glorified.

Another great thing about this series and its themes is how evil characters—Regina, Zelena, Hook, even Rumpelstiltskin—suddenly have us rooting for their redemption once we learn their backstory.  Though, I have to say, it’s a little harder with Rumple.  His list seems a little longer and a lot darker.  Still, a priest once said in a homily that until someone draws his last dying breath, he can be saved.

Once Upon a Time’s Happily Ever After

Did you watch Season Six yet?  If not, and you haven’t kept current on the shows happenings, then you may want to skip this part.  With some of the major actors moving on (Emma, Charming and Snow), it kept me wondering until almost the end what would make the perfect ending for this fairy tale?

I like Tolkien’s explanation on what makes good story.

“It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the “turn” comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality … In such stories when the sudden “turn” comes we get a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart’s desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story, and lets a gleam come through.”

A beat and lifting of the heart for me? Episode 20, “A Song in Your Heart.”  Just so much Emma-and-Hook-from-Once-Upon-a-Timefun!  And the end with Hook and Emma’s wedding (finally!)—both beautiful and magical.   But that wasn’t the end; it was the beginning for “The Final Battle” episodes.  One scene in particular made me tear up (directly below). Once the final battle


Whew! Sigh…Once Upon a Time, Season Six delivered.  And one final comment about symbolism …well, really, the scene speaks for itself.  The savior Emma, surrounded by those closest to her, breaking bread and drinking wine.

Once Upon a Time Season Six


Now, it’s back to rewatching Season Six.  I want to see if I missed anything in my haste to get to the happily-ever-after part.  But thank you, Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Kitsis for the perfect ending, the slow good-bye to some of my favorite characters from Once Upon a Time.  The ending reminded me of The Return of the King, leisurely, no loose ends, and the kind I like best.