6 likable side characters on Once Upon a Time that were underutilized

With seven seasons under its belt, OUAT saw many characters over the course of the series. Some were used well in the story, while others deserved more.

ABC/Eike Schroter
ABC/Eike Schroter /
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With seven seasons under its belt, Once Upon a Time saw many, many characters over the course of the series! Some were super likable like Ariel, others had tragic stories like Graham, and others were the villains of the season/story arc. We just love to hate them!

No matter where they fall, many of these side characters had their own stories. Many of them were done well. But some, not so much. And so, here's a list of 6 likable side characters on Once Upon a Time that I think were underutilized. Read on below to see our picks!

Red Riding Hood/Ruby

In the first two seasons of the show, Ruby was a constant and a great character to have around. Her unique backstory, sweet nature, and willingness to always be on Team Snow and Charming is what made this wolf fascinating and a fan-favorite. Right after the curse broke, she took charge and helped David with the townspeople, and more, in the second season. I also like her backstory of struggling with her wolf form and complicated relationship with her mom, as well as seeing the great friendships formed with with Emma, Snow, and Belle.

Unfortunately after the first two seasons, her role was reduced significantly, and Red hardly popped up again except for a couple of episodes in season 3. It wasn't until season 5 that we saw her again, but more on that below. I do know that actress Meghan Orgy got a job as the lead in the series Intelligence in 2014, and this was followed by Cheepsake Shores from 2016 to 2022. So I'm sure she was booked and busy, and we're so happy for her! I don't blame the actress for leaving the guest role on OUAT to go on and be the lead on her own series.

Though the reason Ruby is still on our list is because when the series did have a chance to bring her back, I don't think her character and story was used well. I wasn't a big fan of her storyline with Dorothy in Oz, and I think that's because we weren't able to spend a lot of time with the characters to actually see their relationship grow and Dorothy was really only on as an adult for two episodes. Viewers were exepected to fall in love with their love story in one episode.

Honestly, I think it would have made more sense for Mulan and Ruby to become a couple. They teamed up, worked together, are both two characters us fans are familiar with, and Mulan deserved to find a happy ending following the unrequited love with Aurora. For a character whose story was on an upwards trajectory, I don't like where Red ended up. There were also themes of not feeling like she belongs and loneliness being the only wolf around, so it would have been nice to see her find a pack or other werewolves like her to give the character a full circle story.

Mulan

I've talked a lot (here and here) about how I think the series didn't adapt Mulan's character well or giving her an ending she deserved. This strong warrior is definitely a character who deserved more screen time and a happier ending. The brave character really was a fan-favorite, and I wish we got to see more of her. Mulan was useful and instrumental in helping Emma and Snow get back to Storybrooke after being accidentally taken to the Enchanted Forest thanks to the Mad Hatter's hat. She's versatile, even joining Robin Hood's gang of Merry Men at one point.

However, there was no real development for the character. She just popped up once in a while to kind of be a sidekick to whoever needed help, and that's all. I think Mulan should have at least been a recurring character on OUAT. Perhaps she could have come to Storybrooke. . I don't know. But I do know that there was more story to tell with Mulan, and it was completely unfair that she didn't find a love or some sort of happy ending by the end of the series. Like I mentioned above, I totally ship Mulan and Ruby, and they're together in my mind.

Will Scarlett

Will Scarlett was an odd choice to bring to Once Upon a Time season 4 as we'd already been introduced to the character and actor Michael Socha in the short lived spin-off, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. And due to the timeline and him getting a happy ending with Anastasia, it's not clear how he fit into the timeline exactly. Anyways, he was brought on to be the town troublemaker and have a bit of a romance with Belle. Which I actually didn't mind. But other than that, there was no other reason for his character to be there. Which is surprising because the Knave of Hearts actually appears in a total of 14 episodes in the fourth season.

I think that overall even though he's troubled, Will is a fun character with his sarcasm, wit, and unusual charm. And that's why even though his story with Anastasia was established, the falgship series did not utilize him well at all. And he was randomly written off after the Storybrooke citizens were brought back from the alternate reality set in the Heroes and Villains Book, including Will. And that's a shame because he's a likable character and the series just didn't do him justice. He had a long history with Robin Hood and the Merry Men. That could have been explored.

Tinkerbell

I've already talked about my feelings in this post about how frustrating it is that the show left so many likable characters with unresolved stories. And that includes Tink. Like Ory, Rose McIver, who played the fairy on Once, had a busy schedule with the lead role in iZombie (which she co-starred in with Dr. Whale actor David Anders!). Still, I feel like this character could have been used and brought back at least once.

Tink was vital in helping the Nevengers beat Pan and find their way out of Neverland. She had a compelling and tragic backstory after losing her position in the Enchanted Forest for helping Regina and not listening to the Blue Fairy's orders. The character had so much more potential and could have gotten even a bit more screen time when she was around.

Granny

Granny was a constant for all six seasons of Once Upon a Time, and partly in the seventh. She actually had an interesting backstory with her brothers and father all killed by a wolf terrorizing her village. And when she got bitten, it casts a curse on her to shapeshift into a wolf. And that's how it becomes hereditary with her daughter Anita and granddaughter Red inheriting the gene. She had to be strong in the face of loss, as well as protect her granddaughter from the truth.

Granny is savvy with a bow and arrow and is no nonsense. No one can mess with her! She was also a useful war council member for Snow and Charming in the Enchanted Forest. While cursed, I understood her role. Though I do kind of wish we got more time with Granny and seeing her badass moments instead of just seeing the character running things in the diner. Because in those rare moments of strength, she was awesome!

ONCE UPON A TIME
ABC/Jack Rowand /

Robin Hood

I know Robin wasn't a side character, but I needed to include him in our list of underutilized characters. Look, I love Outlaw Queen and they're one of my favorite ships from the fairy tale series. Though I do wish that Robin got his own storyline here and there that wasn't revolved around Regina. I feel like the character had a lot more to offer, but there wasn't a chance for his great qualities to be portrayed further. Any of his storylines, including the annoying Marian is actually Zelena thing, were revolved around his relationship. Which again, don't get me wrong. I liked Regina and Robin as a couple. But I think if he had his own chance to shine a bit, it would have been great. And then to rub salt into the wound, Robin gets killed off. I'm still so salty, pun intendend, about that.

All seven seasons of Once Upon a Time are streaming on Disney+ and Hulu.

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