- Emma – “Like friends travel?”
- Regina – “Oh, if that's what you want to call it.”
- Emma – “I'm fine, Regina. I don't need a babysitter.”
- Regina – “But maybe I need you.”
Regina Mills, formerly known as the Evil Queen, is the adoptive mother to Henry Mills, the biological son of Emma Swan, daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. Regina and Emma meet through Henry who went looking for his "real mom". Antagonism runs a muck between these two, particularly on Regina's side as she hated that Henry went out and found his birth mother. When Regina learns that Emma is the "Savior", meant to break Regina's curse, she hates Emma even more so.
Emma and Regina continue to fight once the curse is lifted. However, because Henry asked her to, Emma repeatedly saves Regina from the vengeful mob of newly-woken fairytale characters out for her head. In her efforts to save Regina from getting her soul eaten by a Wraith, Emma accidentally triggered Regina's own magic by laying a hand on her arm, and then subsequently fell through a portal to the Enchanted Forest (aka Fairy Tale Land or FTL). Emma's absence gave Regina an opportunity to have Henry to herself forever, but because she made a promise to their son that she would be "better" and earn his love, she absorbed a death curse to save Emma and let her return to Storybrooke.
There were quite a few subsequent issues involving the return of Regina's abusive mother, Cora, a trip to Neverland, evil Peter Pan, the Wicked Witch of the West aka Regina's older sister Zelena, and although they still don't always get along, Emma and Regina now more often than not join forces to protect their family and the town.
Behind the Scenes
- “Surprising! But fantastic! I think they’re two very strong, powerful, intelligent, attractive women. Sorry, I’m biased. You’ve got a brunette with brown eyes—dark, sultry—and then you have this blonde, blue-eyed, very—Emma has a different quality from Regina. She’s definitely more athletic, more active, stronger physically in a different way than Regina would be. And Regina has a different internal power and that’s also very attractive, and a witch, and a humor, and a sassiness that we all love about her. She can be very snarky. And there are a lot of qualities that make these two characters connect and I can see why people would want them to be together. There’s also been tension between them throughout the years and they’re fighting and at each other’s throats, but not ever really physically hurting one another, and so there’s that tension that I think that can be perceived as very sexual by a lot of our audience, especially our SwanQueens. Oh, yeah! Some of it’s stunning, some of these drawings—they have these animated drawings of us and they have these beautiful, gorgeous sketches that I’ve seen. I think it’s beautiful. There’s a LOT of fanart out there—a TON. I actually own a lot of it, too. Some of it is just so beautiful, I even have some hanging on my wall. I don’t have any SwanQueen art hanging on my wall as of yet, but I do have a beautiful painting of the Evil Queen, which is just stunning. I wasn’t expecting it, because, you know, it’s not the story that the producers are telling, so when I’m working on Regina, I’m mostly focused on the story that they’re telling. It did come as a surprise to me, just because it was nothing I was anticipating, but I love all of our fans. There’s a lot of different ships on our show: The Robin Hood and Regina ship, there’s the Captain Hook and Emma Swan ship, sometimes they’ve even paired up the Aurora and Mulan ship. I support all ships—I really do. I support all of the relationships that they’ve paired up and even whatever the audience is hopefully wishing for. I just love that our audience can see these characters and they can relate to them in so many different ways. And with Regina and Emma being both moms, I can see that it’s a ship that is obvious and one that a lot of lesbians would support and hope for. Yeah, there’s a ton. There’s a ton of them! One of my favorite ones is, I think it was the end of the second season, when they were both in the cave and they were holding onto that massive diamond—forgive me, I can’t remember what it was called in the script because it was over a year and a half ago—but throughout the first two seasons, we saw these two women at each other’s throats and it was the first time where you actually saw them supporting one another and working together, and that was a big turning point for our characters. That was one of my favorite scenes. Yes, I think so. [laughs] But again, it’s the tension that we love to see between these two characters. Yes, I think Regina feels massively betrayed by Emma and that will have its repercussions throughout the season. Emma will feel a distance, a hatred, and an anger directed towards her from Regina. However, these two women have gotten very close, obviously, because they share a son. And really, at the end of the day, they are family. So I can’t see either one of them physically hurting one another or ever leading to death or wanting to kill one another, because at the end of the day they are family, and they will have familial conflict and arguments and such, but I think they’ll find a way to resolve. Thus far—we’re in episode six right now—and in the last episode of the last season, we had Elsa, who magically appeared, so now we’re really heavy in the Frozen arc. And where Emma fits in with that is she kind of created this huge problem, right? She traveled back in time and she brought some things back and some characters back with her that she wasn’t anticipating, so she’s really focused on how to resolve that problem. And Regina’s pretty caught up with the whole Robin Hood/Marian storyline. I think that this is something that she was not expecting; she finally found her happiness and now it’s been ripped away from her, so she’s really dealing with that in the first part of the season, and dealing with the broken heart and the repercussions of having Robin Hood’s dead wife come back [laughs] and what that means for their relationship, and really how are Emma and Regina going to continue being civil in each other’s lives now that Marian is back? So that’s really the main focus for Regina’s arc in the first part of the season. I don’t support bullying, period. I think everyone has the right to feel whatever they want to feel and to voice it. I support freedom of voice and freedom of speech, I support that. I find that if anyone has a sort of fantasy for any characters that they are affected by or inspired by, no one has a say in that. No one does. I think everyone has the right to feel whatever they want to feel. I don’t necessarily believe that the characters are going to move into that direction, because it’s just not the vision of the producers or writers; they didn’t create Once Upon A Time with the hopes that Regina and Emma would be a couple. So, unfortunately, I just don’t think that’s what they’re going to do. However, if the show ever did move in that direction and those two did become a unit, I would totally support that, I would. I would have zero objection to it. I’m a storyteller, that’s what I do. I portray characters. And if that was what would end up happening between Emma and Regina, then that’s the story I would tell, and wholeheartedly tell it in every way I have since the beginning of playing this character. Well, you know, I’m a huge advocate. I love the LGBT community. My cousins are gay, some of my best friends are lesbians, it’s a community I’ve grown up in my whole life, so for me it’s one I’ve supported since I was—I mean, my cousin Cesar, who is gay, walked me down the aisle when I got married. He did. He’s my best friend aside from my husband, and I love the community, I’ve always been an advocate. I’ve been going to gay and lesbian bars since I was probably too young and had fake IDs. [laughs] I’ve always had gay and lesbian friends, and transgender friends, so I love the community, I really do, and as often as I can be there to support the community, I will. From NOH8 to the GLAAD awards to the HRC to, you name it. And sometimes shooting up in Vancouver I miss a lot of the events, but I’m always a supporter. You know, for all those SwanQueens, by the way, there’s a pretty fascinating thing that I found the other day, and I took a picture and sent it to Jen Morrison because it was such a great cashmere sweater, but Red Valentino has come out with this—it was SO awesome—it’s this swan with a crown! [laughs] I took a picture and sent it to Jen and I was like, “Oh my God, I saw this and thought of you!” and she’s like “We should both get one!” and I thought it was awesome. We both support the SwanQueen ship, we do. Unfortunately, they only had one extra-small. [laughs] But if anyone out there wants to get us one, we would wear it. I couldn’t believe it—I was like, “Oh my God,” and I wondered, “Did Valentino make this for SwanQueen?” It was almost as if it was fanart that I’ve seen before in the past, so it was really quite the coincidence, it was really cool. I don’t even know, I can’t remember the question you asked, oh! That they were happy we’re doing this—I’m SO happy to do this interview! Like I said, I love the SwanQueens and I even have SwanQueen jewelry and stuff that people send me, I think it’s great. I think it’s fantastic, and like I said, I love all ships and support all ships.”
- — Lana Parrilla to AfterEllen
- “We never created "SwanQueen" or "Snowing" or "RumBelle" or "CaptainSwan" or any of the ships, subtextual or not—our fans took our stories and ran with them. We fully expect them to continue to do so.”
- — Adam & Eddy to AfterEllen
Henry is Emma's biological son of son and Regina's adopted son. Emma gave Henry up for adoption after he was born and ends up being raised by Regina, who wants Henry to love her. When Henry found Emma and brought her to Storybrooke to brake the curse that was cast by the Evil Queen, Regina was worried that she'll end up taking Henry away from her. In the end, Emma and Regina become friends and came up with away for them to share Henry as co-moms.
The ship came to be when viewers started to notice the evident subtext between these two characters and when they started paralleling many canon true love couples on the show. This ship rivals the CaptainSwan and OutlawQueen pairings, which are both canon.
The pairing quickly gained traction in fandom, drawing femslashers from far and wide. However, as the series went on, fans of the pairing developed a somewhat tense relationship with the show's production team as SwanQueen has several times been cited as an example of queerbaiting, one of very few noted femslash examples of the same. Cranz notes in their History of Femslash:
- “Once Upon a Time’s premise is a little gay. A kid has two moms, and those moms like to argue passionately with one another while looking at each other’s lips. It spawned the major pairing, SwanQueen [...] But the showrunners of Once Upon a Time were not even a little okay with the queer focus of fandom, or the demands hinged on “social justice,” and they went out of their ways to assert the hetero nature of the leads. First by calling any flirtation “unintentional,” and then by trucking out male love interests for both characters, who just happened to be identical to the supposed female love interests apart from how they identify gender-wise”
- — History of Femslash
- SwanQueen has participated a few times in the 'AfterEllen Ultimate Femslash Madness Tournament' event:
- In 2013, SwanQueen participated in the "AfterEllen Ultimate Femslash Madness Tournament", but lost to Faberry.
- In 2014, SwanQueen returned to participate in the "AfterEllen Ultimate Femslash Madness Tournament", and won.
- In 2015, SwanQueen participated in the "AfterEllen Ultimate Femslash Madness Tournament", winning it for the 2nd time in a row.
- SwanQueen appears several times in AO3 'ships stats':
- In 2013, SwanQueen ranked 78th among ships with the most fanfics on AO3; having 1005 fanfics.
- In 2014, SwanQueen ranked 51st on the ships with the most fanfics on AO3. And first in the "Overall Top 20 Femslash"; having from 2359 to 2366 fanfics.
- In 2015, SwanQueen came in 40th place on the ships with the most fanfics on AO3. And in the "Overall Top 20 Femslash" it took first place; having 4602 fanfics.
- In 2016, SwanQueen was ranked 27th in the ships with the most fanfics. And in 1st place in the "Overall Top 20 Femslash"; having 7249 fanfics.
- In 2017, SwanQueen was ranked 27th in the ships with the most fanfics. And was in 1st place in the "Overall Top 20 Femslash"; having 9071 fanfics.
- In 2019, SwanQueen ranked 35th on the ships with the most fanfics. On the ships that had the most fanfics throughout the year, SwanQueen came in 86th place. SwanQueen took first place in the "Overall Top 20 Femslash"; having 11388 fanfics.
- In 2020, SwanQueen came in 41st place on the ships with the most fanfics on AO3. SwanQueen came in 2nd place in the "Overall Top 20 Femslash"; having 12286 fanfics.
- SwanQueen has participated several times on "Zimbio TV Couples March Madness":
- In 2014, SwanQueen participated in "Zimbio 2014 TV Couples March Madness" arriving in the 4th round, where he lost to Destiel.
- In 2015, SwanQueen participated in "Zimbio 2015 TV Couples March Madness", and reached the 4th round, where he lost to Shoot.
- In 2016, SwanQueen participated in the "Zimbio 2016 TV Couples March Madness", and reached the 4th round, where he lost to Clexa.
- In 2017, SwanQueen participated in the "Zimbio 2017 TV Couples March Madness". SwanQueen arrived in the 5th round, where he lost the prize to Clexa.
- SwanQueen won the "Zimbio 2018 TV Couples March Madness" ship battle.
- SwanQueen appeared on the "These Are The 20 Most Shipped Couples Of 2015" list at 14th place.
- Lana Parrilla said she supports SwanQueen.
- DragonSwanQueen refers to the ship between Maleficent, Emma and Regina
- Morrilla refers to the ship between their actresses Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla
- RedSwanQueen refers to the ship between Red, Emma and Regina
- Swan Mills Family refers to the ship between Henry Mills, Emma, and Regina
- History of Femslash
- 2017 TV Couples March Madness
- 2018 TV Couples March Madness
|SHIPS||femslash||Bellanna • Belsa • Brave Warrior • Desert Mermaid • Frozen Swan • Frozen Warrior • MadArcher • Mermaid Beauty • Mermaid Snow • Red Warrior • Ruby Slippers • Sleeping Warrior • Swan Queen • Warrior Beauty
|het||Arwen • Captain Swan • Cindercharming • Darling Fire • Darling Pan • Eriel • Evilfire • Glass Believer • Gwencelot • Hanna • Helsa • Henvy • Hercugara • Jaladdin • Kristanna • Kristelsa • Mad Swan • Millian • Outlaw Queen • Philora • Snowing • Stable Queen • SwanFire • Tianaveen • VioletBeliever|
|CHARACTERS||female||Anna • Ariel • Belle • Cinderella • Elsa • Emma Swan • Fa Mulan • Jasmine • Merida DunBroch|
|male||Hans • Kristoff Bjorgman|