The Sleeping Curse
General Information

Enchanted Forest

Current location

Absorbed into a needle and bottled

Physical Description

Blue (in liquid form) Golden green (In the needle)




Eternal sleep

  • Appearance of death
Usage Information
Created by


Possessed by


Used by


Used on

Sleeping Beauty

Show Information
First appearance


Latest appearance

A Curious Thing

"My victims are not supposed to wake up. That's why I certainly never care what happens to them after."
Regina to Mr. Gold[src]

The Sleeping Curse is a curse featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the first episode of the first season.


Before First CurseEdit

Maleficent casts a sleeping curse on a woman described by her friend, Regina as having "bested her". The woman is Sleeping Beauty,[1] and later, for reasons unknown, Maleficent casts the same curse on her daughter, Aurora. ("Broken")

Sometime following this, Maleficent retires into a castle and lives contently with a pet unicorn. Sometime prior to this, Regina trades the Dark Curse given to her by Rumplestiltskin for the sleeping curse to get rid of her nemesis, Snow White. She casts the sleeping curse on an apple she stole; with the help of two unwilling young accomplices, Hansel and Gretel, from a blind witch's house. Snow White willingly eats the apple and falls into an eternal sleep. However, the curse is broken by a kiss of true love by Prince Charming. Sometime after, Snow White begins to experience a prolonged period of recurring nightmares in which she is trapped in a fiery room. Over time, the nightmares gradually fade.

Frustrated at the failure, Regina asks Maleficent to give the Dark Curse back. Though Maleficent warns of the unseemingly dark powers in it, Regina takes the Dark Curse back forcefully. ("The Thing You Love Most", "True North", "An Apple Red as Blood", "Lost Girl")

During First CurseEdit

In present day Storybrooke, mayor Regina desperately wishes to get rid of the savior of the Dark Curse, Emma, but heeds Mr. Gold's advice that if she kills her, the curse will break. Therefore, Regina looks for a way to make Emma disappear from Storybrooke so she can have her adopted son—and also Emma's biological child--Henry, to herself. In part of a deal between her and the former portal jumper, Jefferson, Regina sacrifices the magic in her former engagement ring to his magical hat; reaching into the past to retrieve the poisoned apple Snow White ate. She bakes it into an apple turnover for Emma after the two of them come to an arrangement concerning Emma's visitation rights to Henry. As Emma is preparing to leave town, Henry sees the apple turnover, and in his fearlessness to make her believe in the curse, he eats it and falls into a coma. After Henry's state takes a turn for the worse and his heart monitor flat lines, Emma says her last goodbye to him. Not realizing she is giving him true love's kiss, the magical effects of it revive and release Henry from his curse and shatter the Dark Curse. ("An Apple Red as Blood", "A Land Without Magic")

After First CurseEdit

After the breaking of the Dark Curse, Princess Aurora awakens from the sleeping curse from the power of Prince Phillip's kiss of true love. She begins to suffer from nightmares of being in a fiery room, which she tells Mary Margaret about. Having experienced the same side effects earlier in her life, Mary Margaret reassures Aurora the dreams will eventually stop.

In Storybrooke, Henry goes through the same symptoms. In a mirrored fashion, both Aurora and Henry describe seeing another person in the fiery room that reflects the other.

To get to the bottom of the problem, Mr. Gold informs David and Regina the reason for Henry's unsettling dreams is because he was recently awakened from the sleeping curse. While someone is under the influence of the sleeping curse, the person's soul travels to a Netherworld. If the curse is broken, the victim will awaken, but will suffer through a period of continuously travelling to the Netherworld while asleep. Mr. Gold gives Henry a special pendant to protect him from the flames in the Netherworld's room. Through this, a line of communication is breached between Aurora and Henry. Henry attempts to inform her on how Emma and Mary Margaret can defeat Cora in the Enchanted Forest and return home, but Aurora wakes up before she can hear him. As a result of repeatedly returning to the Netherworld, Henry is afflicted with physical burn marks on his arm. So, David volunteers to be put under a sleeping curse instead. With a prick of his finger on a spindle from Mr. Gold's spinning wheel, he falls asleep and ends up in the Netherworld. Simultaneously, Mary Margaret uses poppy dust to induce and mimic the effects of the sleeping curse. They meet up in the fiery room and trade information. To Mary Margaret's horror, she is unable to break David's curse with a kiss of true love as they cannot physically touch while in the Netherworld. Upon her return to Storybrooke, she rushes to David's side and revives him with true love's kiss. ("Tallahassee", "Into the Deep", "Queen of Hearts")

Before Second CurseEdit

After Regina takes magical preventive measures to undo Pan's casting of the Dark Curse, all the inhabitants of Storybrooke pay the price by returning to the Enchanted Forest and reverting to their prior personas. However, it also means that Emma Swan and Henry Mills must stay behind as they do not belong to the Enchanted Forest, only to find themselves unable to enter their castle as someone powerful has hijacked the magical shield around the palace. Regina proposes to Prince Charming and Snow White that she break into the palace by using the underground tunnels, which are not protected by the spell, and afterwards, lower the shield so everyone can lead an army in. Robin Hood secretly joins her. After passing through numerous traps, the pair arrives inside the castle. At the bedchamber, she begins mixing ingredients for a Sleeping Curse and admits her desire to use the curse on herself. Regina wishes for the curse to be broken by the only true love in her life—Henry—since she wants to live for him. After taking down the shield, Regina apologizes to Henry before preparing to prick herself with the curse. The Wicked Witch of the West enters, revealing herself as the one who took over the castle, takes it away, and introduces herself as Zelena. The woman claims they are half-sisters, with Cora as their shared parent, though Regina is in disbelief. Zelena is embittered by the abandonment, yet her sister had everything, though Regina considers her lucky to have escaped Cora's grip. Nonetheless, Zelena describes her true intent as "her dreams being realized" while Regina will suffer a "fate worse than death". Motivated by an enemy, Regina decides she'll live to wreck Zelena's life. ("New York City Serenade", "Witch Hunt")

Curse TypesEdit

  • According to Mr. Gold, the traditional version of casting the sleeping curse is by dipping the tip of a needle in a special blue liquid potion, and putting the needle on a spinning wheel. Once the victim's finger is pricked with the needle, the potion reaches the bloodstream quickly for the curse to take effect. ("Into the Deep")
  • The Evil Queen combined the effects of an apple with the sleeping curse. ("An Apple Red as Blood")

In both types, the intended victim cannot be coerced against one's will:

  • Aurora said she "knows about sacrifice"; a possible implication of her willingness in being put under the curse. ("Broken")
  • Snow White made the voluntary choice to eat the poisoned apple. ("An Apple Red as Blood")
  • Henry intentionally ate the poisoned apple turnover to prove the Dark Curse is real. ("A Land Without Magic")
  • David and Mary Margaret offered themselves up to undergo the sleeping curse in order to communicate with another person in the Netherworld. ("Into the Deep")

Curse EffectsEdit

  • The sleeping curse will only work if it is willingly self-inflicted by the victim. Coercing a person by force will have no effect. ("An Apple Red as Blood")
  • The victim remains eternally asleep, but the soul is sent to the Netherworld where the person experiences dreams made of his or her own regrets. ("An Apple Red as Blood")
  • While under the influence of the curse, the victim's body mimics the appearance of death with no involuntary movement or breathing. ("Pilot", "An Apple Red as Blood")
  • Post-curse victims are repeatedly subject to common, horrible nightmares, which feature a red doorless, windowless room, with fiery curtains and engulfing flames. The dreams fade over a prolonged period of time. ("Tallahassee", "Into the Deep")
    • According to Mr. Gold, even after a person is awoken from the state of eternal sleep, the soul may still instinctively travel to the Netherworld while unconscious because of the victim's habitual residence there when the curse was still in effect. ("Into the Deep")

Curse BreakingEdit


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.