NOTE: This focuses on Emma Swan as the Savior, for her times as the Dark One check her page on the Villains Wiki.
|“||Henry brought me to Storybrooke to bring back the happy endings. My job's not done until I do that for everyone, including you.||„|
|~ Emma Swan to Regina Mills|
|“||As the Savior. It's a title I've thought about running from numerous times, but I never have, and what she did today reminded me why I don't run, why I fight. Because I want to protect my family and my friends and the people that I love.||„|
|~ Emma to Captain Hook|
|“||Hook, I will find you. I will always find you.||„|
|~ Emma's promise|
Emma Swan, also known as the Savior and formerly known as the Dark One or as the Dark Swan, is the main protagonist of the TV show Once Upon a Time. She is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming and the mother of Henry Mills who she gave up for adoption when he was born. She broke the Dark Curse that Queen Regina made in the beginning of the show. Henry told her she was a savior and a superhero. She's also the older sister of prince Neal who was named after her late first lover by her parents. She is also the love interest and later wife of Killian Jones.
She is portrayed by Jennifer Morrison (adult) and Abby Ross (young).
Before First Curse
Her parents, Snow White and Prince Charming, who inhabit in a world called Enchanted Forest, discover that they are going to have a baby when Maleficent senses the child inside Snow White. She says that whether the child will be a hero or a villain is uncertain. Snow wants to ensure that the child will be a hero, so they locate a unicorn, and touch its horn, as doing so reveals something you desire. Charming sees the baby girl happily cooing in a basket, but Snow sees a teenage Emma tearing out her heart and crushing it, saying that she doesn't care that Snow is her mother. Snow is terrified, and soon they meet a peddler, who tells them that Maleficent had had her child in the form of an unhatched dragon egg in a nearby cave, and tells them to visit a kind old man living nearby for safety. At his house, the man reveals himself to be the Sorcerer's Apprentice, and explains that they both saw different futures for their daughter because, as she was unborn, she had not made choices to affect her siding. Snow says that there must be a way to ensure her goodness, and he says that they must find another unborn creature and he will transplant all the baby's dark potential into it. The Charmings successfully snatch Maleficent's egg, thinking that it will be an evil dragon when it hatches and that no child of a villain could be good anyway. When the spell is complete, the Apprentice says he must then banish the egg to a realm where there is no magic, so the creature's increased dark potential would be unable to harm anybody. They are scared, as they had told Maleficent they would bring the egg right back, but the Apprentice opens the portal. As it grows larger, the egg begins to hatch, and they are horrified to see the hand of a human baby reaching out from it. Ursula and Cruella, Maleficent's accomplices, arrive on the scene trying to save the egg, but they fall into the portal with it and are banished to our world. Snow and Charming talk with the imprisoned villain Rumplestiltskin, who trained Regina the Evil Queen, how they could prevent her Dark Curse. He says that their baby will be the Savior of their world, as long as it makes it safely to our world, where the Dark Curse would banish all of the Enchanted Forest.
At a hero council, the Blue Fairy enters with a magical tree, and she says that if they make a wardrobe from it, it can transport one being to our world with memories intact. They decide that Snow must use the wardrobe and have Emma in our world.
However, Snow goes into labor before entering the wardrobe, and so only baby Emma can be sent to our world. However, Geppetto had earlier convinced the Blue Fairy to say that the wardrobe could only take one, while in reality it could take two. He did this to ensure that his son, Pinocchio, would also be transported to our world safely, as he believed that the Curse would certainly turn him into a puppet.
During First Curse
When she arrives in our world, she is taken by Pinocchio into a foster care system. However, he is abused, and leaves Emma to run away. Emma grows up in the foster system, sad that no families really want her. She finally runs away, ending up in Hopkins, Minnesota, where she meets a girl named Lily who helps her get a box of Pop Tarts with a stolen credit card. They become BFFs, and stay in a summer home, where they will be safe as it is fall. However, the man pursuing Lily wakes them up, and reveals himself to be Lily's adopted father. Emma is angered that Lily lied to her about being mistreated when in reality she had a loving family. She goes back to the adoption center, ignoring Lily as she calls that they can still be friends.
Emma is soon taken into a home, where the other children bully her and play with her camera. However, the foster mother, Ingrid, later revealed to be the Snow Queen, favors Emma over the other children who, as she conveniently explains to Emma, are afraid of spiders, including her rubber ones whose location she describes in great detail. Later, Emma and Ingrid are at the amusement park together, and Ingrid helps Emma win a prize from the claw machine. She then tells Emma that she is going to adopt her. However, the Snow Queen knows who Emma is, and, hoping to form a literally magical bond, pulls Emma into oncoming traffic, telling her to stop a car with magic powers. After Emma runs to the curb, Ingrid tries to explain the reality of magic, how a scary situation helped her find her magic, but Emma tells Ingrid that she is insane and flees. Ingrid, disappointed that she was unable to keep Emma with her until Elsa showed up, uses the Apprentice's scroll to teleport to Storybrooke, where she becomes an ice cream vendor to lay low until Emma arrives at Storybrooke.
Soon Emma is with a new family who treats her as one of their own. As Emma goes out to the garage to get a sleeping bag for a family campout, she discovers Lily in the garage, who pleads for Emma's help. Emma's new dad walks in on them, and Lily says truth by saying the Emma and her are old friends, but lies by saying that they knew each other from the foster system and her foster family moved into the neighborhood. Taking the bait, foster dad invites Lily to stay for dinner. At the table, Lily tells another lie, this one about how she and Emma met, and Emma takes Lily out into the hall, furious. As she rats Lily out, she sees the news on TV about a grocery store robbery, and on close inspection, sees that Lily is one of the bandits. Lily says it was her boyfriend's idea, and that she wants her to go to the house her boyfriend is staying in to get the necklace Lily had from her birth mother. Emma complies, but when she returns, her foster parents confront her, saying that Lily had stolen their vacation money and left. After foster dad chooses the wrong words to say at the wrong time, Emma leaves. Lily meets Emma at a bus stop, and offers Emma the opportunity to be a rogue with her, but Emma declines, saying she is tired of Lily's lies, but Lily says that no matter what she does, every choice she makes is wrong, and she does better near Emma, but Emma leaves, saying she never wants to see Lily ever again.
At seventeen years old, in Portland, Oregon, Emma, while attempting to steal a car, meets Neal Cassidy, a thief who also plans to steal it. In an amusement park, he tells her that he once had a loving home, but he escaped because his father changed too much. They quickly fall in love and begin making small robbing heists. One day, they decide that they want to settle down somewhere and start with a clean slate, so Neal gives Emma a map of the States and tells her to close her eyes and pick a place for them to live. Her finger lands on Tallahassee, Florida. However, before they leave, Neal tells Emma that he tried to steal some watches from a store to pay for the move, but was caught on tape and had to hide the watches in a locker at the local train station. Emma successfully reclaims the watches, but while she is on her mission, Neal is pulled aside by the adult Pinocchio, going by the name August Booth, who reveals to him the existence of the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke, and that Emma needs to have a better life than that of a thief if she is to be the savior of the Enchanted Forest. Neal doesn't believe it until August shows him something that changes his mind: a note stating that August knows that Neal is Rumpelstiltskin's son. They then tip off the police to catch Emma and take her to prison. In jail, Emma finds out Neal left her their yellow Volkswagen and some money, and that she is pregnant.
Emma gives birth in jail, but refuses to hold or see the child, as she believes that she can't be a mother. She gives the baby to the adoption system, and moves to Boston where she becomes a bail bondsperson, similar to a bounty hunter.
On a mission for the police, Emma goes on a date with her target, and successfully catches him and turns him over to the police. At her apartment, she dully celebrates her twenty-eighth birthday, and makes a wish to not have another birthday alone. When she blows out the candle, she hears a knock at the door. She sees at the door a young boy claiming to be the son she gave to adoption ten years earlier. She brings him back to his home in Storybrooke, as he tells her about the Dark Curse and how she must break it to restore happiness to the fairy-tale characters. At Storybrooke, she meets Henry's adopted mother, Regina Mills, who is mayor of Storybrooke and, secretly, the Evil Queen. Regina immediately takes a disliking to Emma when Henry introduces her as his real mom. Regina request that Emma leave, but Emma goes to the inn and rents a room, as she feels she should stay. As she takes the room key from Granny and Ruby, the town clock begins to move, having been frozen at 8:15 forever. This signals that things are beginning to change in Storybrooke.
The next day, Regina notices the clock moving, and visits Emma with some home-grown apples and a threat to leave Storybrooke, which makes Emma want to stay even more. She walks Henry to the bus stop, and he tells her about the people, and how they were brought into this world by Regina's evil curse, and that Emma is the only one who can break the curse. This makes Emma concerned about Henry's mental health, and she talks to his therapist, Archie Hopper (Jiminy Cricket), who gives her his therapy files. However, Regina was secretly working with Hopper to frame Emma for stealing the files from the therapist. She has Sheriff Graham arrest Emma. Fortunately, Henry's school teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White), is kind enough to bail her out. Then, to take revenge on Regina, Emma gets a chainsaw and hacks away at Regina's beloved apple tree. Livid, Regina invites Emma in for a chat, where Regina works another scheme to make Emma look bad by talking about Henry's mental health right around the time when he gets home from school. However, Emma is able to make Henry feel better, and that she was just saying what Regina wanted to hear.