In the TV series Once Upon a Time, Snow White and her Prince Charming are central characters. They're central characters not just in the 'this TV show focuses on these characters' sense, but in universe as well (characters have remarked on how events seem to revolve around Snow and Charming). Given the premise of the show, it seems odd that one fairy tale/Disney film would be elevated like this, and so I'm curious why Snow and Charming were picked specifically. During the first season alone, dozens of fairy tales/Disney films were integrated into the show's canon, so out of all those stories, why was Snow White's chosen as the main through line?

Why did the showrunners choose Snow White and Prince Charming to be the central characters in Once Upon a Time?

  • I'm thinking it was a mix of antagonist who could cast the curse + well-known protagonists
    – Izkata
    Mar 30, 2014 at 22:42
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    I always thought of it as Emma's/Henry's story. Most of the other main characters are there because of their relationship to Emma/Henry. They had to pick someone to be Emma's parents.
    – Zoredache
    Mar 31, 2014 at 1:12
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    Snow White was the movie that put Disney on the map - it kind of makes sense that Disney would want to honour it. Ultimately, though, it probably is mostly down to something like what @Izkata says - the requirements of the story elevate them to a significant role.
    – HorusKol
    Mar 31, 2014 at 1:41
  • It specifically is Snow that Regina wants to hurt with the curse, so it naturally revolves around them.
    – BMWurm
    Jul 28, 2014 at 11:51

1 Answer 1


I would say for a series of choices made by the series authors.

Story plot.

The idea behind the show (at least in the first season) is the one of moving the fairy tale characters in a new world where magic is not known, which can be obtained by casting a curse.

Then, something magical is needed to break this curse. During the first season we learn that a major ingredient of the show is true love:

True Love is the strongest magic of all

as defined by Rumplestiltskin. Since it is so strong, this is the only thing that can break the curse (otherwise, the characters would be imprisoned in this world forever and without their memories).

Show ingredients.

Thus, two ingredients to run the show are needed:

  • a witch that can cast the curse
  • a couple that can, with their love, overcome the curse

Selecting the ingredients.

Now, true love in the classical sense is the one between the classical couples:

  • Snow White and Prince Charming
  • Belle and the Beast
  • Princess Aurora and Prince Philip

(although we learn from the following seasons that true love can be found in new couples too, see [probably] Emma and Hook, Regina and Henry, Emma and Henry, Regina and Robin Hood. Still, the authors needed a "known" starting point, so they needed to use a known couple)

From these couples you can cross out those couples whose story do not involve an evil witch/sorcerer et similia that can cast the curse. So, we are left with a few of them (i.e., Cinderella&Prince, Snow White&Prince).

Why Snow White?

To me, Snow White is a good candidate for the following reasons:

  • it involves a witch that is also a queen
  • it involves heart ripping, from which you can develop the "heart control" and "heartless" topics (main topics during the series, see Cora, Rumplestiltskin, and the Knave of Hearts too for the Wonderland counterpart)
  • it involves a lot of fairy tales characters, like the Huntsman and the dwarves

As a further reason, there could be (but I am not so sure) the fact that this was the first fairytale that was transposed as cartoon by Disney. It could be, since now in Season 4 we will have Frozen too (that comes from Disney), entailing a relationship between Disney and the show.

Adding an external factor.

And here comes who (to me) is the real main character: Emma.

As a third element (that I did not list before) there should be an external factor. Why is this? Well, if true love from the classical characters would suffice in breaking the curse, the situation would be solved in a single episode: the characters are sent in a new world, they recognize to be somehow in love, Snow White and Charming (or, better: Mary Margaret and David) have the first kiss in this new world, the curse is broken, see you all in the next season.

So, who could be related to a classical fairytale character (as Snow White), born in a fairytale land (as the Enchanted Forest), but external to the curse? A son/daughter of course, which somehow was sent across worlds to save him/her from the terrible curse, and that (as product of true love) can finally break the curse.

  • It's worth pointing out that the series was always intended to show parallels between the past (in the Fantasy Kingdom) and the present (in Storybrooke) and had they chosen Belle/Beast the make-up costs for Beast would have been extremely high. Based on that, they can easily be excluded from the 'classic couples'. That puts it down to Aurora/Phillip and Snow/Charming. Between the two, Snow is clearly more well-known and popular.
    – Jeff
    Jul 28, 2014 at 16:05
  • Depending on location I would assume. And wether you are talking about the Disney (which is more likely on a channel owned by Disney) or the original Grimm tales, where "Aschenputtel", Cinderella that is, is arguably the more popular story.
    – BMWurm
    Jul 28, 2014 at 16:11
  • I'm a little late on this, but you might also want to mention that (from an out-of-universe perspective) Snow White & her prince were in fact the ORIGINAL Disney prince/princess - they were the ones that started the Disney "empire", similar to Superman's role within the Justice League of America. Making them the central characters is most likely a nod to this from Disney.
    – Omegacron
    Oct 14, 2014 at 17:55

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