Celebrity Names Blog

Spotlight On... The Names From "Once Upon A Time"

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
  • CinderellaAshley. 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.



Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

October 31, 2011 6:05 PM
By Suzy

I'll start with some fairy-tale names that I think would be great for kids: Talia, Stefan, Gretel and Sebastian.

October 31, 2011 6:18 PM
By Jennie

Love this post! Makes me want to watch the show... sounds much more creative and fun than it looked in the the promos..

November 1, 2011 12:12 PM
By Pamela S (not verified)

I'm dying to know how they're going to handle the fact that every fairy tale princess seems to end up with Prince Charming. Will it all be one Prince Charming as in the play "Into the Woods" (Charming certainly does not necessarily mean monogamous or trustworthy)or will someone sooner or later have to admit that Charming is a terribly common name for princes?

Which leaves me really curious about who the sheriff is, 'cause he seems more like a Prince Charming to me than the guy in the coma, who seems more like Prince Trustworthy, Prince Dependable or Prince Stalwart.

November 1, 2011 12:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The child Henry is named after the Evil Queen's father whom she sacrifices to work her spell.

November 1, 2011 12:28 PM
By Devin (not verified)

Henry was named for Regina/The Evil Queen's father. To enact the curse she needed to use "the heart of the thing she loves most". She originally tried to perform the curse suing the heart of her prized steed but that was not powerful enough. She almost doesn't go through with the curse because she loves her father, but eventually decides that enacting the curse is the most important thing to her, and stabs her father. His tombstone showed the name Henry at the end of the 2nd episode.
Emma on the other hand, there was no reason given for her name choice, other than Snow chose it. To get information on the curse she and the Charming went to talk to Rumplestiltskin who would only help them if she told him the name of her unborn daughter. Charming had thought the baby was a boy and was surprised to hear Rumplestiltskin ask this, but Snow seemed to know that it was a girl and independently replied that her name was Emma. So perhaps some insight will later be given into why Snow chose that name, because she didn't seem to have to think about it at all.
And anyone not currently watching it has been really super so far and I only see it getting better. So give it a shot if you don't do anything on Sunday nights :)

November 1, 2011 5:44 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I wonder if the sheriff, in reference to an earlier post, isn't like the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and because the queen changed him back into a human (maybe) he works for her. He certainly doesn't seem 100% bad. I thought it was interesting that they made Maleficent into a reformed villain. She has a pet unicorn and everything. I really like the show, and I hope it continues on in the same vein as it has. Very cool stuff.

November 4, 2011 12:08 AM
By Suzy b (not verified)

Thanks for the Henry info!!

November 7, 2011 10:13 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Emma swan, swan princess?
Sheriff, ??
How did Emma's name carryon to the new world? I mean, she came alone as a newborn.
Why is little red riding hood a slutty character? Lol
Who's this new lady pretending to be with prince charming? Although brought by the queen, is she related to the fairytale world too? I don't think so.
Great show! Can't wait to see what happens.

November 8, 2011 8:28 PM
By Tammy (not verified)

Great post!

Emma's name was sewn onto the blanket she was wrapped in -- that's how it carried into the new world. I too am curious as to who this sheriff is supposed to be!

November 11, 2011 4:45 AM
By Zoe (not verified)

The name Emma struck me as so very off. We have a fairy tale land and the queen names her baby Emma? I snorted when she said that because it's just so ridiculous.

If I had gotten to name her? Natalia, easy. It works for so many reasons. It means "birth" just as Emma's birth would save the kingdom. However, it is generally used to talk about a certain other savior's birth. And then there is the original Snow White story which was much grimmer and she had a daughter named Talia.

Television studios should have name nerds on hand for just these opportunities.

November 12, 2011 5:21 PM
By Grace (not verified)

According to http://www.ourbabynamer.com "The name Emma is of German origin and means "univeral, complete". It is generally used as a girl's name." Based on this (and the storyline)I'd wager to guess that it means that she's the solution, and Swan well there is the whole Ugly Duckling transformation thing, but then I'm just guessing. Also, since I'm just guessing, the above website also says,"The name Henry is of German origin and the meaning of Henry is "ruler of the estate". It is also of English origin, where it means "ruler of the estate"." Since he's by blood the son of Emma who is the daughter of Snow White & James (David in Storybrook)that makes Henry next in line. PS: James means "Supplanter" & David means "Beloved", but I digress

November 18, 2011 7:25 AM
By nymeria (not verified)

I also thought that the name of Cinderella's ex boyfriend, Sean Herman, could mean "her man".... but I'm not sure.

December 1, 2011 1:48 PM
By Jen (not verified)

To answer the question of why Little Red Riding Hood is portrayed as being slutty, her modern character represents her original folk story well. In one early version of the fairy tale, she is actually called a slut. I don't know why the early fairy tale decided to make her that way, but the current writers of the show are at least portraying her the way the character was originally written.

December 12, 2011 11:00 PM
By Libraryldy (not verified)

The Sheriff's name is Graham. The origin of his name is from the Sciottish - Grey Home. This fits as he was raised by wolves which are grey. He was literally brought up in a "grey home!"

December 13, 2011 3:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

John Doe's last name is Nolan, no land, a poor shepherd who is about to lose the family land and takes the place of his twin brother, the prince.

December 13, 2011 11:19 PM
By libraryldy (not verified)

Here is my take on David Nolan: David in the Hebrew means beloved and Nolan from the Irish / gaelic means champion. David Nolan ... Prince Charming...the beloved Champion who slew the. Dragon. Works, doesn't it?

November 26, 2012 6:02 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

W all know the story of the Ugly Duckling, lost and he didn't know who we was, where his mother was. He was alone and sad. Like Emma, She was abandoned as a child like the ugly duckling, left in a lone world, she didn't know who she was or where her parents where until she went to storybook, knowing her real personality, a princess, and finding her parents. Its quite obvious!!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.