Heart Vault
General Information


Character Affiliations
Show Information
First appearance

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Latest appearance

Shattered Sight


"I have no idea. I took so many. It was impossible to keep track."
Regina Mills to David Nolan[src]

The Heart Vault is an Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke location featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the seventh episode of the first season.


Before First CurseEdit

As a consort of King Leopold, the young Queen Regina takes on Rumplestiltskin as her magic instructor, but can't bear to learn his tactic of ripping out hearts as it reminds her too much of what her mother did to her fiancé Daniel. She desperately wants a magical solution to bringing him back to life, but Rumplestiltskin firmly states that no magic can make the dead rise up whole again. In a ploy to push her to forget about the past, Rumplestiltskin travels to the Land Without Color and makes a deal with a doctor, Victor, who is in need of one a heart. Rumplestiltskin offers him just that if and when he fakes a failed resurrection of Regina's deceased beloved. When Regina seeks out the doctor herself, she believes it is on her own terms and takes him to see Daniel's preserved body in the vault first. Victor is astonished the corpse is in perfect condition as if the man just died. He says she has a good chance of reviving Daniel. Directly after, she brings him to the vault of hearts. Grimly, she explains that the vault once belonged to her mother, who fancied tearing out the hearts of dozens of people. Victor picks one of the many and uses it to stage the failed resurrection. When he gives Regina the "bad" news, she is devastated that Daniel will never ever come back to her. Victor gets his reward from Rumplestiltskin while Regina, now more hardened, displays a willingness to learn the dark arts by extracting a woman's heart and crumbling it to ash. ("The Doctor", "In the Name of the Brother")

Following the death of the Queen's husband, she plans to assassinate her stepdaughter, Snow White. However, she risks losing the favor of the kingdom's citizens by staining her hands with blood, so the Evil Queen sends a Huntsman after Snow White to do the dirty work. In return, the Huntsman cares for nothing except the protection of the wolves, which she promises to grant. As proof of his kill, she wants him to cut out and bring back Snow White's heart. He disguises himself as one of the Queen's knights, but the princess sees through his lies. Snow White escapes deeper into the forest to prepare a farewell letter to her stepmother and finishes up just as the Huntsman catches up. He reads the letter and is moved to tears by her words. The Huntsman allows her to escape and takes the heart of a deer for the Queen instead. Arriving back to the castle, the Huntsman attempts to read the letter to the Queen, but she throws the paper into the fire after he has read half of it. After he finally gives her the heart, they go to the vault where the Queen tries to magically place it in one of the boxes. However, none of the boxes open, helping the Queen to recognize that the Huntsman did not kill Snow White. For his trickery, she takes his heart as a replacement and threatens him to never go against her again. As a demonstration of what will happen if he does, she squeezes his heart; causing him much pain. On her orders, the Huntsman is dragged away by the guards into the Queen's bedroom. ("The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter")

During First CurseEdit

After the casting of the Dark Curse, the Evil Queen has a new life in Storybrooke as the town mayor Regina. Her collection of hearts are brought along with the curse, and are stashed in a hidden room under her father's tomb in the cemetery. ("The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter")

Eighteen years later, Regina attempts to gain more meaning in her life by adopting an infant son, with Mr. Gold's assistance, who she names Henry. She researches her child's birth parents in an effort to find out if he inherited any genetic illnesses. To her shock, Regina receives faxed information about Henry's birth mother, who was found in the woods eighteen years ago. She recognizes the woman as the savior of the curse, and goes to angrily confront Mr. Gold over his trickery. However, he remembers nothing from his former life. In frustration, Regina takes Henry back to the adoption agency, but at the last moment, cannot part with the child she has grown to love as her own. She becomes fretful and anxious over the future, as the savior won't just take away the curse one day, but also Henry. To rid herself of these worries, she takes Henry with her to the vault in a crib. Regina lulls him to sleep with a bedtime story while she creates a potion and later drinks it to help herself forget the identity of her son's birth mother. ("Save Henry")

In another ten years, the savior of the curse, Emma, arrives and stays in Storybrooke while Sheriff Graham begins regaining some of his memories in his former life as the Huntsman. He consults Henry's storybook for answers. Henry shows him a photo of the Evil Queen's vault where she keeps the Huntsman's heart. Graham intends to search for his heart there and persuades a skeptical Emma that he needs to follow a wolf to the vault. The wolf appears down the street and it leads them straight to the vault in the cemetery. After Emma kicks the door open, they find a coffin and urns, but no sign of his heart. Regina arrives and demands to know what they are doing. She explains the vault is her father's grave, and Graham admits to bringing Emma, but refuses to justify why he came. Regina offers to escort him home, but he stiffly rejects her offer. When she tries to change his mind, but Graham breaks things off between them for good. She blames Emma, who scoffs and declares the issue is Regina, not her. Emma points out both Henry and Graham are miserable, and vents that the madam mayor should think about why people are running away from her. Worked up, Regina punches her and Emma fights back. Graham pulls them apart as he and Emma leave together for the sheriff department. Recognizing that Graham is no longer her pawn, Regina goes into the vault and pushes aside her father's tomb to reveal a set of stairs leading down. She heads into the room to take out Graham's heart from a box. Concurrently, at the sheriff department, Graham tends to Emma's wounds from her earlier fight with Regina. They share a kiss, to which he receives a flood of all his memories as the Huntsman. He thanks her for helping him remember. Before she can ask what he means, he falls to the ground in extreme pain, due to Regina crushing his heart. When she pulverizes it to ash, Graham dies. ("The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter")

On a quest to rid herself of Emma, Regina calls on Jefferson to make his hat open a portal so she may retrieve something that will be of use to the cause. She takes him down into a cellar; saying that the only remaining magic is contained in the things that she brought from the Enchanted Forest. She places some of her items into the hat, but nothing happens. Regrettably, Regina parts with a sentimental ring and puts it in the hat. Fortunately, it starts to work, but it does not open a portal. Jefferson says that, although they cannot travel to the Enchanted Forest, he is able to bring a small object back for her. She guides the hat's magic to the right time and place to repossess a apple Snow White was once poisoned with. Though she bakes it into an apple turnover as a parting gift for Emma, who has decided to leave town for Henry's best interests, it is not the savior who eventually ingests it. As the price of magic, Henry takes a bite of it to prove to Emma the curse is real, and falls into a coma. ("An Apple Red as Blood")

After First CurseEdit

In Storybrooke, Emma and Mary Margaret are absorbed into a portal in a hat and unexpectedly transported to the Enchanted Forest. Henry wants to find a way to reach them, so he makes up an excuse to meet with his adoptive mother, Regina, for lunch at the diner. While she is away, he breaks into the vault intending to look for an item which may help his dilemma. He passes by shelves containing hearts, which thump loudly. Henry stumbles onto a box, but upon opening it, vipers spring out to attack. He is saved when David arrives in time to close the box. Henry gives his reason for being here because he wants Emma and Mary Margaret back. David understands, but persuades him to go to school for the time being. ("Lady of the Lake")

Regina begins therapy sessions with Archie to help her overcome the need for magic. During one session, Dr. Whale storms in demanding for her to send him back to his old world. She insists it's not possible, and Dr. Whale leaves in an angry huff. To get back at her, he breaks into the vault and steals an enchanted heart to operate and bring back to life Regina's deceased fiancé Daniel in the hospital. Meanwhile, Regina admits to Archie that she is unable to let go of Daniel, even though he is dead, and preserved his body in the hopes he can be revived one day. Archie gently remarks that she must let go of the past in order to move forward, but Regina is unwilling. After abruptly cutting the conversation short, she drives home in the rain; seemingly witnessing a hallucination of Daniel. Unsure, she goes to the vault and discovers Daniel's preserved body is gone. In a confrontation with Dr. Whale, she finds him with a ripped off arm, as the resurrection of Daniel was successful, but the man is now a rampaging monster. Ultimately, Regina is forced to make Daniel disappear for good because he is too dangerous. ("The Doctor")

After Cora arrives to Storybrooke, she turns the townspeople against Regina by framing her for the murder of Archie. This causes Regina, in a broken state, to retreat to the vault. Cora disguises herself as Henry and goes into the vault to trick Regina into believing her son has come looking for her. Regina lets him in and insists she had nothing to do with Archie's death. Surprisingly, he believes her, but it's too good to be true, as the mask of Henry melts off to reveal Cora. Her mother is genuinely sorry for forcing Regina, in the past, to marry against her will. Regina is too upset at the fact Cora made everyone believe she killed Archie. Cora wants to make it up to her daughter, so both of them go into town to explain to the townspeople that Regina did not kill Archie. On the way there, Cora convinces Regina that even clearing up the misunderstanding won't bring Henry to her as she'll still have David, Emma and Mary Margaret to deal with. The two team up to take Henry back by force. ("In the Name of the Brother")

Cora is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with, and Mary Margaret is tired of playing it fair. She believes Cora must die or else no one will be safe, and is pushed into action when a dying Mr. Gold gives her an candle with the power to take away the life of one and give back life to another. Mr. Gold instructs how to perform the spell if she wishes to go through with it. First, she must find Cora's heart, and hold the lighted candle over it while saying the intended victim's name. Then, the heart must be placed back into Cora's chest for the spell to work. During the ensuing fight between Cora and Regina against David, Emma and Neal in the pawnshop, Mary Margaret sneaks away to the vault. She casts a curse with the candle on the woman's heart. On her way out, she puts the heart back in the box to carry away, but is stopped by Regina, who is upset at her intrusion in the vault. Mary Margaret tells Regina to take the heart, and place it in Cora's chest so her mother can truly love her; thus creating a family of love Henry will want to be part of. Regina accepts the heart, and leaves the vault with the intention of putting it in her mother's chest. Immediately after, Mary Margaret regrets her actions, but doesn't make it back in time to prevent Cora's death. ("The Miller's Daughter")

While Regina is mourning the loss of Cora, Mr. Gold makes an unanticipated arrival to pay his respects. He reveals to Regina that Cora will always have a place in his heart. Regina plans on killing Mary Margaret, and getting Henry's affections, too, out of revenge for the death of her mother, despite that Mr. Gold insists that holding onto vengeance will lead her down the same path as Cora. As she rummages through her mother's belongings, Regina finds a spell scroll for the curse of the empty-hearted, which will bring the demise of Mary Margaret and give her Henry's love. After she is gone, Mr. Gold and David search the premises. Mr. Gold keenly observes several particular ingredients are missing from the vault, and catches on to what curse Regina is going to set into motion. As a key ingredient for the spell, Regina will need the heart of the person she hates most--Mary Margaret. Regina's hatred for her is deep, but her love for Henry far more profound, to the point she later burns the spell scroll to placate him. ("Welcome to Storybrooke")

Following a journey to rescue Henry from the grip of Peter Pan in Neverland, they fly home on a ship. However, Pan secretly switched bodies with Henry. Once in Storybrooke, he sets his shadow free to kill another town resident and cause Regina to fear for her son's safety again. To protect him, she takes him to the vault. Pan slyly knocks her out with a powder and then runs off with the Dark Curse scroll with intentions of enacting it. David, Emma, Mary Margaret and Mr. Gold later awaken Regina and tell her the truth about Pan. Regina is extremely upset as she truly wanted to believe her son still needed her. Out of the shadows, Henry, in Pan's body, acknowledges he still does need her and they reconcile with a hug. However, everyone notices the missing Dark Curse scroll too late. ("The New Neverland")

Before Second CurseEdit

The Wicked Witch of the West, Zelena, makes a new home in the vacant palace of her half-sister, Regina, by breaking the blood magic lock on the vault. Following the undoing of Pan's curse, all former inhabitants of Storybrooke, except Emma and Henry, pay the price by returning to their former lives in the Enchanted Forest. The group travel to the palace, though a force field, set up by Zelena, blocks their way. Along with Robin Hood, Regina infiltrates the palace by sneaking through an underground tunnel. When they reach the vault, she is stunned that the door, bound by blood magic, is open. Inside, Regina sees her mother's coffin is right where it was left prior to when she cast the Dark Curse. ("Witch Hunt")

During Second CurseEdit

Regina is confronted by her apparent half-sister, Zelena, but has a hard time believing they are related. Zelena challenges her to look for proof in the past, and Regina marches into the vault to fumble through her mother Cora's old belongings. While Emma and Mary Margaret are also present, Regina finds a letter Rumplestiltskin once wrote to Cora praising the magical talents of her first-born child. Having read the note several times in the past, Regina always assumed Rumplestiltskin was talking about her, however, she now recognizes he was actually speaking of Zelena. Upset, she leaves the vault without offering Emma or Mary Margaret a proper explanation of the letter's contents. ("It's Not Easy Being Green")

Emma, hoping to gain a magical upper-hand against Zelena, agrees to be trained under Regina's instruction. They meet up in the vault where Regina firstly questions who is watching over Henry in Emma's absence. The madam mayor is displeased to hear Hook is babysitting as she thinks of him as a bad, violent influence. Emma defends her pirate friend since Henry is fond of him, though Regina hints Hook obviously is still head-over-heels for the blonde even though she doesn't feel the same. To begin the magic lesson, Regina opens a page from a spell book, but Emma is shocked the words are in an entirely different language. Emma suggests being taught methods Rumplestiltskin used, however, Regina herself can only recall her former instructor as being very pushy and borderline cruel. Nonetheless, this gives Regina the idea to put Emma into a life-or-death situation to force her into using magic. ("The Jolly Roger")

After Second CurseEdit

Since having her happiness shattered after Emma brought Robin Hood's deceased wife, Marian, into the present from the past, Regina desperately wants to reclaim her happy ending with the man she loves. To achieve this, she frees Sidney from the psychiatric ward and brings him to the vault. She shows him the storybook, which has an illustration of Marian and Robin Hood's reunion. Regina believes the book influenced their happy ending, but also suspects she is stronger than the book's magic. As Emma mentioned to her previously, Regina herself was the one, in the past, who sentenced Marian to death. Regina does not recall this, and she wants Sidney to show her the exact moment when this occurred. This is essential in Regina's plan since she intends to murder Marian before Emma can rescue her. At first, Sidney is confused how he has the power to help her see the past since he's no longer the Magic Mirror. Just then, Regina restores her companion to his former glory, much to Sidney's despair, although she assures him it's only temporary. Through his mirror, he manifests a flashback of Regina's first encounter with Marian, in which she demands to know Snow White's location. Marian refuses to say, so Regina captures and orders her to be executed the following day. As Regina walks off, Marian expresses pity towards her as she believes the Queen is cruel due to not having a family or love in her life. ("A Tale of Two Sisters")

When Marian is afflicted with a freezing spell due to the Snow Queen's magic, Regina halts the process by taking out her heart and storing it for safekeeping. As Henry and his mother spend time in the vault looking for a magical cure, he talks about his suspicion that Robin Hood still loves Regina. Elaborating further, he recalls Robin Hood previously attempted true love's kiss on Marian, which had no effect. Though Henry believes it's good news, proving Regina hasn't lost Robin Hood's love, she reasons that he's too young to understand the situation. She continues to research spell books when Henry approaches her with a plan for "Operation Mongoose"; their mission to find the storybook's author so the person can rewrite Regina's fairytale ending. Henry proposes that he goes undercover at the pawnshop since it's likely Mr. Gold knows the book author. ("The Apprentice")

Emma, finding a photograph taken by Sidney depicting herself and the Snow Queen arguing, goes to Regina for answers. She proves to know nothing about it or Sidney's whereabouts due to being busy working on a cure for Marian. Emma offers to lend magic in her cause; affirming allegiance to Regina, but the latter clarifies that the blonde has never been on her side. After Emma leaves, Regina beckons Sidney from his mirror and asks if he found the Snow Queen yet. Sidney states he hasn't, so she pushes him to do so. While awaiting news, Regina longingly stares at a photograph of herself and Robin Hood. Sidney reappears, reporting that he has found the Snow Queen's lair, but wants Regina to revert him to human first. She informs him that that'll be decided on whether his information is worth it. Sidney tries to force Regina's hand by withholding knowledge, but she threatens to lock him up at the psychiatric ward after he is changed back. Abandoning his tactics, Sidney willingly gives her directions to the lair, but he deliberately leads her into the Snow Queen's trap. After discovering Sidney's betrayal and defeating a monster with Emma's help, they have a short battle with the Snow Queen. Regina, believing Emma is assuaging guilt for bringing back Marian, refuses to be won over by her. She then disappears to her vault where Emma approaches again. Emma explains she isn't trying to lessen her own guilt, but wants to be friends with Regina. She vows to continue attempts of getting through to Regina even if the latter wants to kill her. As Emma walks away, Regina admits she doesn't want to kill her. ("Breaking Glass")

Flipping through the storybook, Regina looks at various illustrations featuring other people's happy endings. Despite previously telling Robin Hood the only known way to cure Marian is with true love's kiss and that he must fall in love with his wife again, he finds his way to Regina once more. He is unable to let her go, but Regina makes it clear they absolutely cannot be in each other's lives. She then leaves the vault so he can work out his indecisiveness. Later, she returns and stares fixedly at an storybook image of herself facing execution after Snow White and Prince Charming took back the kingdom from her. When Robin Hood walks in, Regina keeps her gaze on the photo, but she looks up as he talks about having lived his life by a code of honor. However, Robin Hood proclaims he won't today, and then sweeps her into a passionate kiss, which she gladly reciprocates. ("The Snow Queen")

Since spending the night together, Regina regrets her actions as Robin Hood is still a married man. She is certain, even if Marian didn't exist, their relationship wouldn't last. To further elaborate why they can't have a future, Regina shows and explains the workings of the storybook. On one page, Robin Hood sees an image of the past, in which a young Regina chose not to meet him when given the chance. She insists they cannot be physically intimate again, but Robin Hood humorously suggests if they don't leave the vault, it'll still count as their first time. Following another tryst, Regina leaves in a rush towards the apartment after receiving a call about Henry sustaining an injury from Emma, whose powers are out of control. Secretly, Robin Hood steals the storybook with his own plan of researching for a way to prove the past isn't set in stone as his lover believes. ("Smash the Mirror")

With Ingrid's curse seconds away from being enacted, Regina hurries into the vault room and magically barricades herself inside. ("Fall")


  • The insignia on the vault shows interlocking deer antlers,[1] a reference to the stag heart which the Evil Queen received from the Huntsman. ("The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter")
  • The boxes containing hearts are arranged in twelve rows and nine columns. When the two numbers are multiplied, the sum is one-hundred and eight, which is also Regina's house number in Storybrooke. ("The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter")
  • The ceiling of Regina's father's tomb says "QU[obscured]SSE VIDERIS".[2][3] "Quam esse videris" is Latin for "how to be seen".[4] Esse quam videri is a Latin phrase meaning "To be, rather than to seem (to be)", which has been used as a motto by a number of different groups. ("The New Neverland")


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.