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Villain Overview

Love is weakness.
~ Cora Mills's iconic phrase.

Cora Mills is a major antagonist in ABC's television series, Once Upon a Time, and a guest star in the spinoff show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. She is the overarching antagonist of Season 1, the main antagonist of Season 2, a minor antagonist in Seasons 3 and 4 and an anti-heroine in Season 5.

She takes the place of the Miller's Daughter from the tale of Rumplestiltskin and the Queen of Hearts from the Lewis Carroll novel Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland. She is the mother of Regina the Evil Queen and Zelena the Wicked Witch and a prominent enemy of Snow White and her family.

She was portrayed by Barbara Hershey, Jennifer Koenig, and Rose McGowan (who also portrayed Courtney Shayne in the 1999 live action film Jawbreaker, Marique in Conan the Barbarian, and Parallel World Paige Matthews in Charmed).


Cora was a cruel and controlling woman who appears to have forgotten her humble origins, always wanting to achieve royal status at all costs. She learned how to control magic to turn her life around, but all that power went to her head. She loves her daughter very much but would always force her to do the lessons that would lead her to becoming a Queen.

For much of her life, Cora used masks to hide her true self. When Cora was younger, she sneaks into a castle during a masquerade ball to try and win over the affection of Prince Henry. She wore a mask to hide her true self, the poor miller's daughter. It was this disguise that sent her down a path of hiding her identity to further her position in the world. Later, when she's sent through the looking glass to Wonderland, Cora became the Queen of Hearts. As the Queen of Hearts, she always wore a red veil over her face or a gold and red masquerade mask baton. This was another symbolic way to mask who she is so that she can become this strange, mysterious leader who strikes fear in her subjects.

As the Queen of Hearts, she did not like outsiders in Wonderland always asking how and why a person has come to Wonderland. To mask her identity, the Queen of Hearts communicates through whispers by using a horn that the Knave of Hearts would speak for acting as her herald. She had a short temper, easily decapitating an individual if they annoyed her.

She finally took off her mask in season 2 to show her true self to Hook when he's brought to her castle. Cora has been seeking a way to Storybrooke to find her daughter and after the Dark Curse broke, she met Emma and Snow White. Cora later took the form of Lancelot to find the portal to take her to Storybrooke and after her cover was blown, Cora said she killed him a long time ago, but it was revealed that he survived in season 5.

Powers and Abilities

Cora was a powerful and deadly sorceress who many feared, including her own teacher Rumplestiltskin and her daughter Regina, the former of which barely won a duel against Cora. Her original power was spinning straw into gold. Cora used magic via spell books and incantations. When Cora used magic, it gave a pink, violet or purple glow. Her magical abilities included telekinesis, able to lift and throw objects and people, teleportation of herself and others, making objects appear out of thin air via purple smoke, and turning things invisible. Cora can also perform acts of transformation over herself or someone else and created a protective shield that blocked out the Dark Curse in a small portion of the land.

She was also able to easily manipulate the natural elements; fire, earth, air and water, but above all she has shown a greater affinity in manipulating vegetation (both when she prevents Regina from escaping from her marriage and even during her long period as Queen of Hearts).

Her most signature powerful act of magic was ripping out hearts and storing them away. Cora used the hearts of others to control a victim's speech and actions, used a heart to reanimate her victims' dead bodies, and mostly crushing and killing her victims. Having her heart ability led her to become the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland. Cora, as the Queen of Hearts' magic allowed her to cause physiologically impossible situations, such as cutting off someone's head without the occurrence of death (a skill that she also transmitted to her pupil, the Red Queen).



  • Arguably, Cora is one of the main antagonists of the series as whole, as she is behind three main antagonists.
    • She killed Regina's true love, which caused her to go dark and become the Evil Queen, and eventually the main antagonist of season 1.
    • She herself was the main antagonist of Season 2A.
    • She abandoned Zelena and sent her to Oz, which led to her becoming the Wicked Witch of the West and the main antagonist of the second half of season 3.
  • She is also responsible for Anastasia's dark turn in the spin-off series, as she is the one who taught the future Red Queen how to use magic and has partly contributed to widening the rift between the girl and her true love Will Scarlet.
  • Without her heart, Cora is Pure Evil, not showing any signs of love whatsoever and believing that love is weakness. She shows remorse over this upon regaining her heart.
  • Cora appeared in and was an antagonist in every single season of the show, except Season 6. This includes the spin-off series.
  • She is the main antagonist of Souls of the Departed, working under from Hades.
  • Cora is one of two main antagonists to redeem herself in the underworld after death, other being King Arthur (though some consider him secondary antagonist to Emma or Hook in Season 5 Part 1).


           OnceUponATimeTitle.png Villains

Main Villains
Regina Mills/Evil Queen | Cora Mills | Greg Mendell | Tamara | Peter Pan | Zelena | Ingrid the Snow Queen | Rumplestiltskin | Maleficent | Cruella De Vil | Ursula | Emma Swan | Nimue | Hades | Fiona | Lady Tremaine | Drizella | Jafar | Anastasia | The Darkness

Secondary Villains
Captain Hook | Felix | The Shadow | Flying Monkeys | Isaac Heller | King Arthur | Mr. Hyde | Gideon | Mother Gothel | Jabberwocky

Other Villains
Anita | Blackbeard | Blind Witch | Bo Peep | Caterpillar | Chernabog | Cheshire Cat | Clorinda | David | Duke of Weselton | Gaston | Henry Jekyll | Isla | Jack | Jonathan | King George | Knave of Hearts | Lady Tremaine | Lily Page | Medusa | Monstro | Mr. Smee | Prince Hans | Prince James | Sheriff of Nottingham | Sidney Glass | Snow White | The Walrus & the Carpenter | The Woodcutter | Wraith

Dark Ones | Queens of Darkness | Lost Boys Coven of the Eight

           Alice in Wonderland Logo.pngVillains

Queen of Hearts | Red Queen | The Jabberwock | Jubjub Bird | Card Soldiers
Unbirthday: Queen of Hearts | Card Cutter

Alice in Wonderland (1951): Queen of Hearts | Card Soldiers | Cheshire Cat | The Walrus & the Carpenter
Care Bears: Adventures in Wonderland: The Wizard of Wonderland | Dim and Dum
Alice in Wonderland (1999): Queen of Hearts | Card Soldiers | The Walrus & the Carpenter
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Iracbeth of Crims/Red Queen | Ilosovic Stayne/Knave of Hearts | Card Soldiers | Jabberwocky | Jubjub Bird | Hamish Ascot
Alice Through the Looking Glass: Iracbeth of Crims/Red Queen | Hamish Ascot | Ilosovic Stayne/Knave of Hearts | Card Soldiers

Alice (2009): Queen of Hearts | King of Hearts | Card Soldiers | Mad March
Pandora Hearts: Jack Vessalius | Vincent Nightray | The Will of the Abyss | Cheshire
Once Upon a Time: Cora Mills | Knave of Hearts | Card Soldiers
Ever After High: Courtly Jester | Cheshire
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Jafar | Jabberwocky | Red Queen | Card Soldiers | Cheshire Cat | Caterpillar

Video Games
American McGee's Alice: Queen of Hearts | Jabberwock | Red King | Card Soldiers | Tweedledee & Tweedledum | Mad Hatter | Duchess | March Hare | Dormouse | Voracious Centipede
Alice: Madness Returns: Angus Bumby/Dollmaker | Ruins | Queen of Hearts | Card Soldiers | Executioner | March Hare | Dormouse | Jabberwock | Tweedledee & Tweedledum | Mad Hatter | Duchess
Alice Mare: Cheshire

Alice (2016): The Jabberwock | The Rabbit | Caterpillar | The Walrus
Red Queen: White Queen | The Jabberwock
Wonderland: Mad Hatter
The Nightmare Experiment: Professor J.T. Wu | Mad Hatter
Alice of Human Sacrifice: Wonderland Dream | First Alice | Third Alice
The Alice Killings: Alice Killer