Post Mortems

Once Upon a Time Creators Talk Regina's Blast from the Past, Confirm Season 4's Frozen Twist

Once Upon a Time Season 4 ElsaABC’s Once Upon a Time at the close of Sunday night’s two-hour Season 3 finale served up a chilling twist, when it was revealed that in the course of time-traveling to and from The Fairy Tale Land That Was, Emma and Hook brought back to Storybrooke an uninvited guest. TVLine invited series creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis to clear the air on the new character’s identity as well as weigh in on the heartbreak they threw at Regina, in the form of a different blast from the past.

RELATED | Renewal Scorecard: What’s Coming Back? What’s Cancelled? What’s on the Bubble?

TVLINE | First things first: Who are we looking at there at the very end?
ADAM HOROWITZ | That is Elsa. We fell in love with the movie Frozen when we saw it, my daughters are obsessed as is Eddy’s son… It is something that ever since we saw it would gnaw at us, “Is there a way to fit it into our world?” And we cooked up a way to do it. We pitched the studio and the network and they were kind enough to say, “Go do it.”
EDDY KITSIS | What’s funny is that people think Disney called us up and was like, “You need to do Frozen,” and it’s really actually quite hard to get these characters. It’s not like they call you up and say, “We’d like you to do this.” It’s actually quite the opposite. You have to work at it and have a vision and the spirit.

TVLINE |  Right, for something as fresh in pop culture as this, it’d seem you have less leeway.
HOROWITZ | Look, we had an idea for how we wanted to approach this story, and we are very well aware of how beloved the movie is, so we’re very careful that we want to tell a story that is uniquely ours but also honors that movie and those characters that everyone fell in love with this past year.
KITSIS | The thing we  love about Elsa is she is a character that is perceived to be a villain but is clearly misunderstood, and that goes to the heart of our show.

TVLINE | Does she have a history with Rumple? He seemed a bit afraid of that chamber she was locked up inside.
KITSIS | It seems like they’ve crossed paths….

TVLINE | Is this role Maggie Grace’s or Elizabeth Mitchell’s to lose? 
HOROWITZ | We are so excited to dive into the process of casting. We literally delivered the final [cut] of the finale on Friday…
KITSIS | … and now we have two weeks off. When we come back we’ll start dealing with casting.

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TVLINE | Moving on to Maid Marian: Once Upon a Time Elsa FrozenObviously the Regina fans are none too happy this morning. To quote one, “Why did you go to the trouble of redeeming her only to crush her heart all over again?”
HOROWITZ | Heres the thing: What we feel like we’ve done with Regina over three years is grown the character. She has changed and evolved, and this doesn’t change that. What it does is it changes the way she reacts to this. That’s the drama for us — how does this “new” Regina deal with this kind of adversity? We’re throwing a challenge in her way. This is not about her suddenly becoming that character we met three years ago.
KITSIS | Also, there’s Emma’s side of this — does she feel any guilt? She saved someone’s life, but in a lot of ways crushed someone’s [life], just like her mom did. We’d like to play out the reality of all this.
HOROWITZ | [Regina and Emma] are in new place. That doesn’t just go out the window. If it did, what would have happened at the end of the finale is Regina’s eyes would have glared red, she would have conjured a fireball and Emma would be toast.
KITSIS | I disagree — she would have tried to do a heart-rip first, and when she couldn’t do that, then she would go to fireball.

TVLINE | Will you be playing a love triangle, or will Robin Hood up and bail on his new love?
HOROWITZ | We’ll just have to wait and see.

TVLINE | But Robin Hood did think Marian already was dead before Regina went to execute her, right?
HOROWITZ | To clear it up: In Season 2 we saw Marian ill, which is why Robin was trying to steal the wand from Rumple. And then she was cured, and she went on to give birth to Roland. In Season 3, Robin Hood talks about how he lost his wife — not from the illness but a whole separate thing. So something clearly happened that we’ll explore next season, where they were separated and she died — and he certainly didn’t think the Evil Queen killed her. There’s a story there to be told.

TVLINE | Can you confirm yet that Sean Maguire will be a series regular for Season 4?
HOROWITZ | What we can say is we certainly hope to have him back next season — as what [status of cast member] remains to be seen.

RELATED | Once Upon a Time Finale Recap: That’s the Power of Love — Plus: A Chilling Final Twist!

TVLINE | And then we haveOnce Upon a Time Finale Recap Emma and Hook, who outside of the Charmings are now Storybrooke’s most stable relationship!
HOROWITZ | Give ’em time. [Laughs] They had a nice moment, but we’re not fast-forwarding to ordering in Chinese and watching movies.

TVLINE | Who in the writers room gets credit for “Princess Leia”?
KITSIS | Give credit to “the writers room of Once Upon a Time,” a room of Star Wars geeks staring at the life-size Boba Fett helmet in Adam’s office. So when she started to say, “Princess…,” the entire room went, “Leia!”

TVLINE | All told, how much fun was it Back to the Future-ing the Snow/Charming meet-up?
KITSIS | Whenever Adam and I are asked, “What’s the script you wished you wrote,” it’s always Back to the Future. We wanted to write [the double-episode finale] like a two-hour movie, so it was like, “Let’s go for it.” We knew that the theme for this second half was “There’s no place like home,” so we really wanted to thematically watch Emma see what it was all about. It’s probably the most fun we’ve had.

TVLINE | And one last bit of housekeeping: All of the friendlies who were turned by Zelena into flying monkeys were returned safely?
HOROWITZ | Yes. We saw Aurora smiling happily at the baby naming…. Grumpy explained that she did not give birth to a flying monkey. What happened with her was the pregnancy was put into stasis as she was monkey-fied. Now she’s back to where she was.

Want more scoop on Once Upon a Time Season 4? (I have mad leftovers!) Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.


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  1. Viridiana C. says:

    The chapter was just perfect, it was very exciting for by one moment I thought that the time travel would ruin the series but really know how to handle it and thanks to that, we have another season more!

    The wedding was really emotional, and the return of Marion really do not like me ;( Regina deserves to be happy, so I hopefully that break Robin with Marion, so that Robin Hood so run to the arms of his beloved Regina and Emma finally accept their family roots, and their love to Hook so I hope more romantic scenes of this couple in the next season.

    And the new onset of Elsa is really exciting, i don’t know if she is good or evil, really the next season we expect new adventures, more kissing scenes and more fights.

  2. alex says:

    Ohh maggie lawson as elsa would be awesome

  3. Personally I can so see this happening Hopefully Elsa will be a little more of The Snow Queen fairy tale) like she was going to be in the movie before they chance it. I loved Elsa in frozen but i can’t help think what it would have been like if she was the ‘Villain’. I really hope her as the villain in season 4 would be good re-write for her character. Can not wait to read more :3

  4. Brendi says:

    I agree with many others on here, Claire Holt would be the perfect Elsa!!!

  5. Jess says:

    I think it’s funny how people suggested Elizabeth MItchell to play Emily’s mom on Revenge for season 2 and now people are suggesting her to be Elsa.

    I mean, I love Elizabeth Mitchell and would LOVE to see her on either show, but people need to stop suggesting her for roles she’s too young and too old for…

  6. Christina says:

    Brittany snow should definitely play Elsa! And I really didn’t like frozen but I love ouat so I’m hoping they find a way to make it good. And is Neil coming back?! I kinda want him and Emma back together. After all, he is Henry’s father.

  7. Liza says:

    My heart was breaking for Regina at the end! I have absolutely loved her redemption and thought her coupling with Robin Hood was wonderful!!! Please don’t ruin this!!!!

  8. Whatevah says:

    Regina is going off the tattoo. That’s how she knew Robin was her soulmate. They even mentioned it at the beginning of the episode. What if someone else has the same tattoo?

  9. Mifflin108 says:

    I actually liked Hook and Emma, he’s just so smitten with her that he’s basically putty in her hands, it was hilarious to watch the old Hook and the now Hook. But I literally cringe every single time Robin comes onto the scene. He’s so useless, his arrows don’t work, he can’t even protect the things he’s supposed to (Roland, twice; Regina’s heart; his wife etc). I’m so glad Marian’s back, the two of them should get back together and go back to the forest. I’m waiting for the show to introduce a proper love interest for Regina, one who is actually on her level and can stand properly next to her.

  10. Linwe says:

    I absolutely loved Frozen, so as much as I wished they would have waited to introduce Elsa, I’m glad they did anyway and I’m excited to see what they do with her. I’m not interested in seeing her as the rather one-note villain from The Snow Queen (a story I had never read until after I saw the movie), so I’m really glad they were obvious about saying “this is Disney’s Elsa”. Making her into a more complex, flawed character who was neither hero or villain was a brilliant creative decision on Disney’s part, and I think another misunderstood almost-villain would be great for Regina’s arc as well; we’ve already seen her up against several actual villains, and as the villain herself.

    I just really hope they don’t overuse her; she’s so new there’s a possibility her OUAT character will overtake the movie character, and most especially, PLEASE don’t give her a love interest. It was a huge thing that a Disney princess didn’t have one, and I don’t want to see her reduced to the traditional princess-meets-prince story. Storybrooke already has enough of those.

  11. Panabella says:

    Elsa is Cinderella’s daughter. The deal Rumple and Cinderella made in exchange for her happy life!

    • Shelly says:

      her daughter was born in season 1 her name is Alexandra. Emma owed rumple a favor for negating that deal remember?

  12. DiverKlein says:

    At the very least it was light years better than the Castle finale. I didn’t see the Marian reveal coming, probably should have given the way things were going with Robin and the Queen, but at least it was done better than a few other finales this season

  13. lissi says:

    “Give ’em time, they had a nice moment.” WHAT?! r u saying that something is now going to happen to their relationship? please dont do it their finally together don’t take it away. 2 seasons this has been going on (feels like 3 cause of the break in middle of season 3) and as for regina and robin……. marion can just go die again.

  14. T. says:

    After reading many comments, it seems like a good many of the negative ones are by people who do not seem to like Disney movies. Whether it is plots being too different than the original fairytales, the writing not being adequate, or the business strategies that have made Disney the multi-billion dollar franchise it is today all seem to ranted about in one way or another. Not to state the obvious, however, the ABC network is owned by DISNEY. Perhaps if you do not like Disney, you should consider picking a different network.

    For me, it is the all around “Disney feel” of Once Upon a Time that got me hooked in the first place. Learning to love the villains and discovering that my childhood heroes are not the perfect people they were portrayed has been my favorite parts of watching this show. It is because I love the Disney-magic that I am able to connect with this show. If viewers are watching for anything less, I suggest they find a better use for their hour, because it sounds to me as if it is being waisted.

  15. nofar says:

    when will start the season 4?

  16. CBowman says:

    If they wanted a Ice Queen so bad why not the Snow Queen from Narnia.

  17. Shelly says:

    I think everyone needs to rewatch season 1 and 2 before they comment anymore, I feel like you guys just went and forgot all the previous details really.

  18. Noelle nelson says:

    Hi ummm how did you make the choice for Elsa. Plus if you pute elsayou have to pute Anna and Olof. How will you make Olof will you use amimation? When is season 4 starting. When Elsa comes into town will rumple recognize her? I hope all my questions are answered

  19. Nigel says:

    I’m a little glad the wife is back. I need The Queen to be super angry. I dislike Elsa even more than I want The Queen to be happy. The Queen is a super strong, hot, fire ball wielding, magic using, misunderstood, independant woman. She will, eventually, be okay without Robin. If it comes to that. But I want her, for the time being, to be super angry, so she can take it out on Elsa and show her what real power is. The blizzard isn’t going to work on The Queen.

  20. jolly says:

    OK I am a huge fan of Once Upon a Time and this Elsa twist is amazing but the big question is who is Elsa true love that’s how she control her power in the movie is it the same in OUT or different are you going to put Anna as the one that will put Elsa in control or a whole new thing like her true love is Jack Frost like they have there own fan base it will be huge if you put them together. I am jelsa fan and a really want to see what you guys will do

  21. Elsa_is_Queen says:

    I hope they surprise everyone with the casting, and we see Idina Menzel, the true Elsa, play her live on Once. That. Would. Be. Awesome.

  22. Sara says:

    Please bring back the Huntsman! If you are going to play with time travel, bring him back!

  23. Theresa says:

    They need CeCe Frey! She looks JUST like Elsa, check out her pics online, you”ll agree!

  24. Johanna says:

    So excited for season 4!!! Loved the finale but I hate Emma now I ship Regina/Robin so hard ugh :( why does the charming family have to mess with Regina’s life all the freaking time. I am also excited to see what they are going to do with Elsa. And note to all people who are mad that they are tying in Frozen- stop watching the show. We don’t care how much you hate Frozen.

    • Ray says:

      I’m not going to stop watching a show because I dislike (the addition of) one character. Who is this “we” that you speak of?

  25. Izzy says:

    Well, hopefully…Emma and Hook are a couple, but not like a regular couple. They sword fight, go on adventures, exc. They are fairytale characters. Regular couples go to the movies, go on dates, exc. Snow White and Charming are married and they don’t do that so…Emma and Hook are a fairytale couple…Right? I hope so! Captain Swan 4 EVER!!!<3 I really want Regina and Hood together. She is finally happy. She is in love. Truthfully…I want the wife of Hood to DIE again. Elsa and Rumple of coarse have crossed paths. She was in his mansion in a silver bottle thing. I think she may want revenge like Hook did. Maybe Rumple took Anna and Elsa was trying to get her but he captured her instead. We will just have to see. And it is not really Hooks fault for bringing Hoods wife. It is Emmas. Emma saved her, not Hook. Lets not forget one major thing!!!!! Belle and Rumple got married! Congrats you too! Is Belle gonna have another Bellfire (idk how to spell it:/)? Are they going to have a baby? I wonder how there marriage is going to plan out with Frozen 'Elsa' in Storybrooke. One last thing…when is season 4 release date??? I need to know!!

  26. Izzy says:

    Of course hook and Emma won’t be a regular couple.they are a fairytale couple. They will go on adventures, sword fight, exc. Not movies and dates at restaurants! Snow White and Charming are married and they dont do that. Hook and Emma are a fairytale couple right?!? Hook and Emma 4 Ever!!!<3 Elsa and Rumple have.obviously crossed paths. She was in a silver thing in his mansio.. I have a thought that Rumple took Anna and Elsa tried to save her, but instead she was captured by him. Now she wants revenge. Regina and Hood are true loves. I want Hoods wife to DIE again. Regina was happy, that shouldnt be ruined. Lets not forget a major scene in the season finale…Belle and Rumple got married!!! Congrats you two! Will they have a baby? I wonder how things will plan out with Elsa now in Storybrooke and may want revenge on Rumple. Will she try to take Belle or try to kill her?!?! So many questions. Srry:)

  27. Savanna says:

    I liked once upon a time, all seasons where awesome! Totally kept me hooked season 3 finale was also beautiful, but bringing back marian and breaking regina’s heart kinda derailed me a bit, I liked the new regina and I totally liked her new found happiness! Emma and hook I also liked! Not sure about rumple tho cz he kinda lied to bell about the dagger and not killing Selena. Hope season four will be just as awesome and I hope regina finds happiness again

  28. joshie monster mainly says:

    i m still here):nt turned into a flied monkey.but a monster):coz i played digomon online for 3 consecutively days.

  29. Ange Ncali says:

    Just watched all of the season, due to the preview of Elsa being in the next season! Enjoyed watching this show. Kind of like being on a roller coaster with the to die or not to die, to love or not to love theme going on. I don’t like love triangles, so it sucks that they brought Marian into the scene. Especially if Regina caused her death. Now its back to the blame game, ugh. I think they need to resolve the issue with her blaming and then going after it.

    I am also glad that Emma went with Hook, I saw the chemistry from the get go, Neal was the past and Emma couldn’t let go until the past was taken care of. I just hope they don’t do the on/off/die or not die with them.

  30. you have not did something with the characters of merlin or a young king arthur would enjoy seeing some of them on the show and i love love the show thank you.

  31. Jordan Gardner says:

    I’m just worried about Regina right now. this is the second time she lost a love
    and all I hope is robin stays with Regina
    If I were Regina I’d make Emma send her back and keep robin for my self
    cause tink did say they weren’t destined to be together

  32. Kay says:

    So many of you are talking about Frozen while I’m heart-broken over Regina and Robin!!! I for one think they should get back together. Hopefully Elsa “accidentally” hits Robins wife with ice and she dies of coldness. Don’t know, desperate here.

  33. tenia says:

    they need Jasmine and tiana in this show too, but I think Elsa is a stretch tho :/

  34. Michelle says:

    I really loved this show. I liked Frozen. I bought this whole season on amazon and now I wish I hadn’t. This frozen theme got old after the 3rd episode. I really miss all the other seasons,

  35. amos says:

    i dont think the movie robinhood should end like that

  36. ryanna says:

    When is season 4 of once upon a time coming out on Netflix?

  37. Crystal Leason says:

    When is season, 4 of once upon a time coming to Netflix?

  38. Emma says:

    when is going to be the 4 season in Netflix?

  39. Britney says:

    When will season 4 be out on Netflix?

  40. Elizabeth says:

    When will season 4 be on Netflix?

  41. Sara says:

    When will season 4 be out on Netflix??

  42. What Im most concerned about right now is when will the fourth season of OUAT error on Netflix! I mean I’ve been holding out on other tv shows until season 4 of OUAT comes out on Netflix because I don’t want to forget everything that has happened! Please Please Please tell me when it will be back on because I can’t stand waiting any more.

  43. zamari says:

    I thank Emma should have lessons to hook an Regina would be thanking about turning evil queen again

  44. Karis Ladewig says:

    Take away Marion!!!!! Regina deserves her happy ending!!!!!

  45. Karis Ladewig says:

    When is Netflix coming out on Netflix?

  46. Karis Ladewig says:

    When is once upon a time coming out on Netflix?

  47. Ella says:

    When will season 4 be coming to Netflix? I’m so behind and need to catch up!

  48. amberley says:

    When will season 4 be on netflix!? $?!?!?!?!?!? !?

  49. Autumn Brown says:

    When will season 4 of Once Upon A Time be on Netflix?! I really wanna watch it!