'Once Upon a Time': The Show's Best & Worst Fairytale Updates

Television Without Pity

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"Once Upon a Time" has made it its business to offer up modern takes on classic fairytale characters (or at least the Disney-fied versions most people are familiar with). We look back at the first season to see who they did right, and who they got really wrong.

Best: Rumpelstiltskin
He's mischievous and devious, which is perfect, and in the Enchanted Forest he can always strike a devilish deal with consequences. He also had a complicated relationship with his son Baelfire and fell in love with Belle, but thought that she was a spy, so he screwed things up and now thinks she's dead. It hasn't been all easy for the dark one with magical powers. Plus, he just gives us the creeps when he appears out of the shadows.

Worst: Pinocchio
He's a selfish brat, essentially. Geppetto carved him out of an enchanted tree and puppet Pinocchio was only given the gift of life because he saved his "father" from drowning. But that was his last selfless act, as when he's told to take care of baby Emma and help save the folks of the Enchanted Forest from the Evil Queen's spell, he ditches her because he didn't like his life in the real world.

Worst: Jiminy Cricket
We felt for Jiminy when we saw his terrible shifty parents conning people all over the Enchanted Forest, but he had such a meek personality that he couldn't bear to just leave his mother and father to get on with his life. So he got a spell from Rumpelstiltskin and turned two innocent people into puppets in the process, and then had to get the Blue Fairy to help him get away from his 'rents, so she turned him into a cricket. We always thought of Jiminy as such an inspiring little sidekick instead of an annoying insect who doles out advice.

Best: Evil Queen
The Evil Queen in the typical Snow White tales is a pretty one-dimensional, self-involved woman who is jealous of Snow and completely focused on her appearance. But boy, is this show's Queen a doozy. She turned on a young girl because she was manipulated by a bigger bitch than Regina herself. So she's spent her life trying to kill Snow off, has a bitter rivalry with Rumpelstiltskin and has a habit of ripping out people's hearts and keeping them in boxes. We couldn't ask for more from a Big Bad than someone who has killed their own father in order to get revenge.

Worst: Cinderella
She's called Ella here and she's remarkably stupid. Her fairy godmother showed up to give her the night with the prince and the dress and everything, but the poor woman was killed off. So instead of momentarily thinking that maybe she's not meant to go to the ball, Ella signed a contract with Rumpelstiltskin without giving it much thought at all. Then, when he came to claim his price (her first-born child), she ran away and then tried to outsmart Rumpy with a magic quill, losing her beloved prince in the process. We were hoping for more of a feisty blonde, instead of a flighty stereotype.

Best: Genie/Magic Mirror
This one was actually rather heartbreaking, as the Genie (not nearly as annoying as the Robin Williams version in "Aladdin"), showed up in a lamp with wishes for Regina's husband King Leopold. Unfortunately, he asked for love, fell for the evil she-beast and through a series of events ended up being transformed into her precious mirror, so that he can gaze upon his beloved for the rest of his days. But now he's trapped and miserable again. We always wondered where such an Evil Queen got such a dutiful reflecting glass.

Worst: Hansel
He's an obnoxious little child who doesn't listen to instructions at all. We wanted to reach through our TV and smack him. He ate a cupcake, despite a clear warning. He couldn't be bothered to grab a key, even when it meant getting him and his sister out of danger. He screwed up their exit from the witch's house because he's clumsy. And he nearly went to live with the Evil Queen instead of finding the father who loved and would care for him. We almost wish that fireball had taken him out along with the blind witch.

Best: Grumpy
The show is at its best fleshing out characters who don't have a lot of pre-existing backstory, and Grumpy is one of those. As an egg (don't ask), he was dosed with extra fairy dust and originally named Dreamy, until he fell into an impractical romance with a fairy named Nova. When things didn't work out (neither are allowed to date; union rules or something), he became the gruff Grumpy who is living a lifetime alone.

Worst: Blue Fairy
What's even the point of her? She can't undo magic created by Rumpelstiltskin; she can only come up with avoidance tactics. And she may have been more effective if she hadn't helped Rumpy's son escape the Enchanted Forest in the first place. Also, she broke up Nova and Dreamy/Grumpy, which is unforgivable.

Best: Red Riding Hood
She's the wolf! We loved that switcheroo, despite some of the heavy-handedness about female cycles. And having her wear a red cloak to keep from shifting into a werewolf is something we didn't immediately see coming. Too bad that her grandmother didn't think to tell her ahead of time so that she wouldn't have killed Peter, but that wasn't entirely her fault. And we love that Red isn't a little girl but rather a feisty, provocatively dressed (particularly in Storybrooke) teen who even gets to rescue a prince now and then.

Worst: Princess Abigail
Sure, the guy she loved was turned to gold by her father (King Midas), but that's really no excuse for her constantly obnoxious behavior. She really is just an insufferable princess, who happily dispatched the man she was supposed to marry on a suicide mission just so she could get what she wanted.

Best: Mad Hatter
Admittedly, the market for Mad Hatters is wildly oversaturated, so we were dreading how the Wonderland hero would fit in with these Enchanted Forest residents, but his brooding, mysterious presence turned out to be a welcome surprise. He's a father who wanted to provide for his daughter and ended up losing his head in the process, thanks to both the Evil and Red Queens. The sight of him surrounded by failed attempts at making magical hats may have endeared him to us for the run of the series.

Worst: Prince Charming
We want to like Prince Charming, but he's kind of a dolt. He ended up pretending to be his dead twin brother and nearly forced into marriage to the awful Abigail, but luckily seemed to get out of it thanks to Abigail's golden boyfriend and the appearance of the thieving Snow. But instead of just being honest and upfront, he caused so much confusion and chaos and there were so many times where he ran away, endangering his life or Snow's, that it was dizzying to try and keep up.

Best: Belle
Despite the cloying way this backstory had to retrofit "Disney" trappings like Chip and Gaston, we were utterly charmed by the show's version of Beauty from Beauty and the Beast. We even suffered through some truly terrible CGI to see how her shining beacon of love turned Rumpy human again (briefly), before he went off on his rampage. She was sweet and delightful in the face of some sucky circumstances, so of course she was tortured for it.

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