Fall TV Preview

Once Upon a Time Season 3: JoAnna Garcia Swisher to Make a Splash as Ariel

Once Upon a Time Cast Mermaid ArielThings just got a lot better under the sea, with the casting of JoAnna Garcia Swisher as Once Upon a Time‘s Ariel.

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An ABC rep confirms for TVLine that the Reba/Privileged alum will play the mermaid with moxie in at least two episodes, starting with the sixth installment of Season 3. TV Guide Magazine first reported on the casting.

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Although Ariel’s appearance on the show — and often with Swisher’s name loosely attached — has been rumored since Season 1, the character’s Season 3 debut was confirmed at last month’s Comic-Con, in a teaser reel that showed a mysterious being sneaking up on a dwarf, stealing the fork (!) out of his lunchbox and vanishing into the ocean. Then, with the flick of a glistening fin, the redhead revealed herself and swam away.

Yet despite the context of the teaser (a la the previous Comic-Con’s misleading glimpse of Captain Hook), Ariel will not surface in Storybrooke but in another realm.

Once opens Season 3 on Sunday, Sept. 29.

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  1. Rob says:

    Casting PERFECTION.

  2. megan says:

    Ha, the fans called this one! Love her.

  3. John says:

    This is an excellent casting!

  4. Jon says:

    Seriously? Rebecca Mader is willing and available, OUAT! Get your s*** together!

  5. bamabunny says:

    Ah, except it’s not a fork, it’s a dinglehopper!

  6. Alex says:

    SO excited!

  7. hello says:

    Can’t see it. Too old for Ariel

    • Alice says:

      Yes. Because all princesses are frozen in time and NEVER AGE.

    • Addie says:

      It seems like this Ariel will probably be a little older than the movie version, but I think Joanna looks fairly youngish. Snow was aged up too- Ginny looks good for her age but it’s clear that Snow is supposed to be close to 30

  8. Elly says:

    I lover her but I’m slightly unsure of this casting. Fingers crossed!

  9. Tim says:

    wow that’s actually great casting

  10. Yasin says:

    Everyone called this and she even lobbied for it at the end of the first season!

  11. Ella says:

    LOVE this casting!

  12. Leny1 says:

    She was one of my picks to play Ariel and JoAnna is a pretty good actress!

  13. Amanda says:

    I’m so happy as she was long rumored since season 1 and she herself, Jennifer Morrison who is one of her best friends, and Eddie and Adam were pushing for it and the fans too. It just all was the timing and now it’s finally right. I can’t wait as Ariel is still my favorite Disney princess!

  14. Md says:

    Yay, she’s a good choice

  15. Andy says:

    JoAnna’s got everything. She’s got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty. She’s got whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs? She’s got twenty!

  16. Sarah says:

    Hmmmm…..too old????
    And who will play Eric?

  17. courts says:

    Oh. I’m glad they went for a generic pretty redhead that is shippable with Hook.

  18. Deena says:

    Yea! Love her & her hubby. And they just had a baby girl. Good things for the Swisher family!

  19. A says:

    Love Joanna. Definitely miss her Reba days. Cheyenne was awesome! She kind of looks like Ariel too so that’s a plus.

  20. Babygate says:

    Love it!!! I love Joanna. She is so funny and talented. This is a character I would love to see get a permanent home in OUAT, otherwise, I hope she finds a new show with a great script, unlike Better with You which was truly awful.

  21. Perfect role for the wife of baseball star Nick Swisher (which team is he on now?).

  22. Robin says:

    Yay! I really like her so this is great news! I hope it turns out to be more than just the 2 episodes though

  23. Josh says:

    She’s got a Disney princess face.

  24. Brandy says:

    Yes, yes, yes. LOVE her.

  25. Nick says:

    Tom Welling for Eric!

  26. Kay says:

    I am a HUGE Little Mermaid fan so I was very nervous when I found out that OUAT was casting Ariel because I didn’t think that I would approve of any actress for the role. I have been proven wrong. I have been a fan of Joanna since her Reba days and I can’t wait for her Ariel to become a part of my world.

  27. Juan says:

    Loveeee it so much, I love joana Garcia and very happy she’ll be ariel

  28. Anon says:

    Huh…that is spooky….I am pretty sure that in a “What If” type of article TVLine did last year, they picked JoAnna Garcia Swisher as their favorite.

    TVLine has powers.

  29. April says:

    PLEASE, OUAT writers, make Hook Ariels Eric. Pretty please? As a ginger myself The Little Mermaid and Ariel are my all-time favorite Disney movie and princess. it had the best songs, too!

    • Amanda says:

      They’re pairing Hook with Emma and there is a very possible theory that Ariel is Hook’s mother and Eric is his father that he thinks “abandoned” him.

  30. Steve F. says:

    Hmm… what about the actor that played Van on Reba for Eric? I thought those two had chemistry on the show.

    • A says:

      Yeah they were good together on that show, but I just don’t think he’d fit well on this show. Plus he really looks nothing like Eric and he definitely needs to cut his hair lol. It’s not doing him any favors keeping it long. He really has aged a lot since Reba imo

  31. tee says:

    You mean Steve Howey who currently plays Kev on Shameless US

  32. Kate says:

    Let me guess, she’s going to be super tough and kick butt.

  33. Tom Charles says:

    Well since it wasn’t going to be Felicia Day, this is EXCELLENT casting! *does dance of joy*

  34. Lore says:

    If you think of Ariel, you think of Joanna Garcia, since the moment we start to play the roles, she was Ariel

  35. Ram510 says:

    I’m just happy Joanna will be on a show that will stick around. She was best on Reba, Privileged was nice and Better With Yoi should’ve been renewed (the show was great especially the mom). I hope she either finds her own show that sticks around or they make her a regular character somehow on OUAT

  36. Jared says:

    Love Joanna and she is the PERFECT choice for Ariel!

  37. tiffany says:


  38. nv ifxn cfkxn ifcxj says:

    She doesn’t look like Ariel, sorry. She doesn’t even have Ariel’s expressive blue eyes and she looks and she is too old for the part. The only thing in common is the red hair.

    • A says:

      They never said that Ariel was going to be the same age as in the films so it really doesn’t matter what her age is. In terms of the eyes, they could always use colored contacts. The characters don’t necessarily have to look exactly like they do in the original films. Hook typically has long, curly hair, yet Colin O’Donoghue doesn’t. Pinocchio was shown both as an adult and a little boy. The Queen of Hearts from the Wonderland films/books was a really fat woman, but Barbara Hershey wasn’t. At least Joanna resembles a little bit of what an adult Ariel might look like. Also let’s not forget that when we’re comparing her looks to Ariel, we are basing it on a cartoon character so there will obviously be some difference.

  39. Tee says:

    Oh I like her! Looking forward to this.

  40. JC says:

    Interesting. I don’t know her from anything though. I’d actually kind of pictured Amanda Righetti in the role, but I knew she couldn’t do it because of The Mentalist. Or Molly Quinn, since they’re not using her much on Castle anymore. But it looks like they’re going for an older take on the character. I’ll be interested to see how they work her in. I hope it goes better than Aurora and Mulan last year. Or Cinderella/Ashley the year before. Even Belle’s handling has been hit or miss. Come to think of it, other than Snow, I haven’t been impressed with their handling of any of the Disney Princesses. Let’s hope Ariel goes better.

    • person says:

      Belle has been great, but you’re right that the show hasn’t used her properly all that much. “The Outsider was a fantastic episode”, but since then the show kind of sidelined Belle.

      Aurora and Mulan especially also weren’t used that well. I don’t think the casting was the issue so much as how the storyline went. Hopefully they manage to include them more since they discovered Neal.

      My order for OUAT princesses would actually be Belle > Mulan > Snow > Aurora > Cinderella, with Cinderella being significantly worse than all the others.

      • JC says:

        Belle and Snow have gotten the most attention of course. The problem with Belle is that so much of her story has been tied up with Rumplestiltskin, which IMO hasn’t done the character any favors. She does better on her own, such as in the episode you mentioned, “The Outsider”. Which makes me hopeful for this upcoming season, since she’ll be on her own in Storybrooke. As far as Mulan goes, she’s still pretty much a blank slate. So far she has no story of her own. Aurora…..I was really frustrated with Aurora. But you’re right that it was more a writing issue than a casting one. Cinderella…..well, that was both. :( That was a mess. All it really did was serve the Rumplestiltskin story.

        • Mary says:

          Wouldn’t look for too much more on Aurora and Mulan as both Sarah Bolger and Jamie Chung have new TV series that they will be on. Sarah’s in Mixology, which will air on ABC in the spring and Jamie is on a show that will be on NBC in the spring. They do say that Ella might be returning to Once as Jessy Schram is no longer on Falling Skies. She will be in the first episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

          • JC says:

            Interesting. I figured they’d decided to sweep the Cinderella story under the rug and never speak of it again. It didn’t occur to me that it might be a scheduling issue. I wish they’d done more with Aurora though. I don’t know what I hoped for exactly from the Aurora story, but it certainly wasn’t what we got. And Meghan Ory is doing Intelligence so we won’t see a lot of Red/Ruby either. :( I’d like to see Kathryn/Abigail come back too, just to see whatever happened to her after the curse broke, but I guess the actress is also in another show? I guess Abigail’s a OUAT princess too, since her father was King Midas.

  41. Terri says:

    Heh-heh. Swisher as a mermaid. Heh.

  42. Sims says:

    I’ve never actually watched this show but I just had to comment that this is the most amazing casting, so rarely is an actor so perfect for a role. Kind of wishing they made a new Little Mermaid with Swisher!

  43. rachelle says:

    Omg, how many fans were begging for this??

  44. Cherry says:

    Great news! Joanna has a very soft, feminine voice that’s perfect for Ariel, not to mention her Disney-looks! I hope they include her in Storybrooke too!

  45. Jenn says:

    This is a brilliant casting! I’m even more excited for season 3.. September 29th can’t get here soon enough!

  46. Amelia says:

    Rolls eyes at this decision.

  47. cas says:

    I love her! So excited for this. I always wondered why such a nice girl like her would marry such an ass like Nick Swisher.

  48. Honestly I hoped they would consider or picked Alexis Bledel because she has that look of innocence and spirit as Ariel has. All I want to see in this season is a romance between Hook and Ariel