The Wicked Witch of the West is one of the most iconic villains in the history of entertainment. Once Upon A Time put their unique spin on this classic villain through the character Zelena. She was introduced as the primary antagonist for the second half of the show's third season. Like many of the show's villains, Zelena had a tragic backstory that shaped hernefarious ways.
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As the series progressed, Zelena's role shifted into a supporting villain and eventually a heroic character who earned her redemption. Zelena could be a formidable threat capable of inflicting lasting and devastating damage upon the heroes. Her backstory and her road to redemption also made her a character worthy of sympathy, though.
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Felt Bad: Abandoned As A Baby By Her Mother
Zelena had a rough start to her life as her mother Cora abandoned her in the woods. Cora was determined to gain power and influence and knew it wouldn't be possible if she was saddled with a lowborn daughter like Zelena.
Even as a baby, the odds were against Zelena, with even her own mother choosing her dreams overher life. When Zelena learned about this abandonment later in life, she was crushed by her mother's betrayal.
Hated Her: Put Dorothy Under A Sleeping Curse
When Dorothy refused to hand over the silver slippers to Zelena, she put Dorothy under a sleeping curse. Zelena always felt threatened by Dorothy and was envious of how the people of Oz always loved Dorothy more than they loved her.
Dorothy did nothing wrong. It was unjust of Zelena to punish her because of Zelena's own insecurities and desperation to get the silver slippers. Zelena ultimately regretted what she'd done to Dorothy and gave up the silver slippers so Ruby could go to Oz and break the curse with true love's kiss.
Felt Bad: Shamed By Her Adoptive Father
When a cyclone carried baby Zelena to Oz, a couple found and adopted her. The mother was sympathetic toward Zelena and treated her well. The father never trusted Zelena because of her magic.
After the mother died, the father became increasingly hostile toward Zelena. He shamed her for her magic, even calling her "wicked" and telling her to put on her best face so she could hide the ugliness inside of herself. He tried to constantly make Zelena feel as though there was something inherently wrong with her and that she should feel guilty for her burdensome existence.
Hated Her: Stole Baby Neal After He Was Born
Zelena kidnapped baby Neal shortly after Snow White gave birth to him. The newborn child was needed for Zelena to cast her time travel spell, but that in no way excused her actions.
In order to protect her from the first Dark Curse, Snow and Prince Charming sent Emma away to the Land Without Magic shortly after she was born. They missed out on her entire childhood and seeing her grow into an adult. Because of Zelena, Snow and Charming nearly lost their second child as well.
Felt Bad: Rumplestiltskin's Rejection
After a lifetime of being shamed for her magical abilities, Zelena found someone who mentored her and made her feel accepted. Rumplestiltskin taught her how to control and channel her powerful magic and Zelena finally felt happy. He did all of this so she could cast the Dark Curse for him. The person who cast the Dark Curse had to kill the person they love most, though, which for Zelena was Rumplestiltskin.
He rejected her and cast her aside when he realized this as there was no point in casting the Dark Curse if he had to die. He tried to backtrack when he saw Zelena had silver slippers that could get him to the Land Without Magic instead of the Dark Curse, but it was already too late. The damage was done and once again Zelena was rejected and made to feel insignificant.
Hated Her: Controlled Rumplestiltskin And Kept Him Captive
Zelena resurrected Rumplestiltskin so she could control him and keep him captive via the Dark One dagger. She kept him imprisoned inside of a cell, forced him to do whatever she desired, and mockingly taunted him to fight back, knowing that he was powerless to resist while she wielded the dagger.
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She relied on his abilities as the Dark One and sent him on errands to try and make her time travel spell a reality, while also promising she would eventually use his brain for the spell. It wasn't all about this endgame, though, but was also about humiliating and tormenting her former mentor.
Felt Bad: Cora Erased Her Childhood Memories With Regina
Cora abandoned Zelena when she was only a baby. She only sought out Zelena when she needed her magic to heal Regina. After successfully healing Regina, Zelena formed a close bond with her. They played together and found the companionship they'd always wanted.
When Zelena and Regina realized they might be sisters, they confronted Cora about it. Cora admitted they were siblings before forcing them to take a potion that would erase all memory of the time Zelena and Regina shared together. Cora sent Zelena back to the adoptive father who mistreated her. Without these memories, Zelena continued to have a miserable childhood andas an adult, she developed a deep resentment and hatred toward Regina. It was a long time before Zelena and Regina developed a positive bond again.
Hated Her:Neal's Death
Zelena manipulated Neal and Belle into resurrecting Rumplestiltskin, knowing that the individual who resurrected the Dark One would lose their life in exchange. Neal was the one to resurrect his father and thus sealed his fate. Rumplestiltskin sacrificed the Dark One dagger so he could absorb Neal's body and allow his son to continue living for the time being.
This only worked for so long and eventually, Neal died because of Zelena's machinations. Rumplestiltskin lost the son he'd worked so hard to reunite with for years, Emma lost the love of her life, and Henry lost his father. Unlike some of the main characters' deaths on Once Upon A Time, Neal's was permanent, a devastating loss that wouldn't have happened if not for Zelena's ruthless schemes.
Felt Bad: Hades Manipulated Her Love
After years of feeling rejected, isolated, and misunderstood, Zelena thought she found her soul mate in Hades. Zelena and Hades bonded over the shared feeling that their siblings' lives were handed to them while Zelena and Hades were cast aside.
Zelena believed Hades truly loved her and even brought him back to Storybrooke. He manipulated her feelings in order to gain more power. He even tried to kill Regina with the Olympian Crystal and killed Regina's true love, Robin Hood, instead. Zelena had to realize that her love would never be enough to make Hades change for the better, leaving Zelena with no choice but to killher lover with the Olympian Crystal.
Hated Her: Sexually Assaulted Robin Hood
In order to reinfiltrate Storybrooke and to drive a wedge in the relationship between Regina and Robin Hood, Zelena disguised herself as Robin Hood's formerly deceased wife Marian. While disguised as Marian, Zelena slept with Robin Hood and she became pregnant.
This was sexual assault because Robin Hood thought he was being intimate with his wife and gave no consent to being intimate with Zelena. Sexually assaulting her sister's lover was the most heinous and twisted thing Zelena could do.
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