Spotlight On... The Names From "Once Upon A Time"
ABC’s new drama Once Upon A Time has given us two full universes of names — both fairy-tale and modern — which, as name buffs, we’ve found enchanting.
Here’s the premise of the show… The Evil Queen from Snow White has cast her greatest spell yet: She’s taken characters that we know from fairy tales and transported them to modern day America, where they now lead normal lives with no idea of their pasts. But, in the moments before the queen’s spell took effect, Snow White and Prince Charming were able to save their newborn child from the curse. Now that child, a grown woman named Emma Swan, has made her way to the town that the Evil Queen created — Storybrooke, Maine — and it’s up to her to help these people remember who they were.
On the show, you see the past and present of each character. For example, Snow White, known simply as Snow to friends (see our post about snow-related names), is transformed into a modern-day school teacher who goes by Mary Margaret Blanchard, a name reflecting the purity of the princess she once was. Mary has its biblical connotations — the virgin mother of Christ; the saint name Margaret means “pearl”; and Blanchard, of French origin, is “white.”
Some of the other name changes, and the meanings behind them, include:
- The Evil Queen becomes Storybrooke mayor Regina Mills. Regina is of Latin origin meaning "queen."
- Rumpelstiltskin → the town's richest resident Mr. Gold. The strange creature Rumpelstiltskin is known for helping a young girl spin yarn into gold for the promise of her first born-child.
- Jiminy Cricket → resident psychiatrist Archie Hopper. Cricket, Hopper... get it?
- Red Riding Hood → unruly town resident Ruby, for the color of Red Riding Hood's cape
- Cinderella → Ashley. Before she was a glass-slipper wearing princess, Cinderella's evil stepmother made her sleep by the cinders and the ashes, thus earning the nickname, Aschenputtelchen or the "Ashy-Slut."
Some name mysteries on Once Upon A Time are yet to be revealed. It will be interesting to find out Prince Charming's modern name. Right now, he's only known as John Doe because he's a comatose patient at the Storybrooke hospital. And there’s been no real indication of how Emma Swan and the son she gave up for adoption, Henry, got their names, but they are both currently very popular names. On the Top-100 name list, Emma is No. 3 and Henry is No. 67. Meanwhile, Emma Swan sounds like some kind of a nod to (or rip off of?) Twilight’s Bella Swan.
A fun last note, the two lead actresses on Once Upon A Time have the same first name… or at least they used to! Former Big Love star Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard, was actually born Jennifer Goodwin but legally changed her first name so that 1) her name would stand out in Hollywood and 2) people would adhere to the Southern pronunciation her parents, who were from Memphis, intended. Ginnifer shares top billing with the House, M.D. alum Jennifer Morrison, who's Snow White's daughter Emma.
Tell us what you think: Did the creators of Once Upon A Time do a good job creating modern names from the established, well-known fairy-tale names? Do you think they missed the mark on any? Also, what are some of your favorite fairy-tale names for kids? While Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin likely aren’t great fits for little one, share the ones you think are.