She was portrayed by Jennifer Morrison.
Emma is a deeply damaged and very conflicted woman. She is a survivor and used to being a loner, and therefore a sucker for the underdog. Against her better judgment, she will compromise herself to fight for what is right and to help those in need. She is strong, energetic, influential, and aggressive, but her brokenness and her emotions are not buried far beneath her tough exterior. Her first reaction to most things is anger, but she has spent her life trying to manage her temper. She is both rash and calculated, and is forced to deal with her instincts to protect her child, a child she believes she is not capable of mothering. In the simplest form, Emma is a list of contrasting qualities; She is hard and soft; she is intense and easy going; she is strong and vulnerable; she is safe and dangerous; she is logical and impulsive.
After letting the darkness from the previous Dark One (Rumpelstiltskin) consume her, Emma is under the constant influence of dark urges but has since been able to hold back mostly. While she has gained ruthless qualities such as ripping out Merida's heart to control her and sending her after Belle to manipulate Rumplestiltskin, she still cares for her loved ones and everything she did was to turn herself back to normal, though she put up a vengeful and entirely evil facade to keep her family and previous dark ones from getting in her way. But rest assured, she was actually a good guy the whole time, though she would have turned dark forever had she killed Zelena.
Before First Curse
Fearing the potential that Emma will grow up to be a villain, Snow White and Prince Charming perform a spell to transfer all of Emma's darkness into Maleficent's daughter Lily, then they banished her into the real world.
Before Third Curse
Emma grew up to be a valiant hero, who became known as "The Savior" managing to break the First Curse and aid in the battle against Zelena, allowing Regina Mills to break the Second Curse. But eventually, Rumpelstiltskin makes other plans for her; he wanted to unleash Emma's darkness for his own benefit and recruited Maleficent, Cruella and Ursula to help him. With a "Dark Savior" running around, they could use her blood as ink for Isaac Heller, the Author, so he could re-write everyone's stories. But the plans change when Rumple finds another way to get what he wants. But Emma isn't out of the clear. The Darkness inside Rumple is released and the only way for Emma to stop it is to let it consume her. Emma does so and takes the title formerly held by Rumpelstiltskin: the Dark One.
Reappearing in the Enchanted Forest, Emma finds herself garbed in a cloak and a manifestation of the Dark One's power in the form of Rumplestiltskin, who can take the form of all the past Dark Ones, tempting her with evil. To get to Camelot, Emma asks a peddler for directions, but he wants money. When he continues to raise the price, she shouts at him desperately, unintentionally choking and levitating him. Later, Rumplestiltskin describes a place where she can find Merlin and asks her to picture it in her mind, leading Emma to blink herself there. He directs her to capture a nearby will-o-wisp, which can locate Merlin, but Merida grabs it first. Emma explains why she needs the wisp, while Merida agrees they can fight in hand-to-hand combat for it, as long as she doesn't use her bow and Emma doesn't use her powers. Not wanting to give into her own darkness, Emma refuses, asking her to take the wisp and go. Instead, Merida offers to give her the wisp after she is done with it at the Hill of Stones. As they travel to the stones, Merida tells Emma about going to save her kidnapped brothers, and her desire to wage war with the clans if necessary. After camping for the night, Rumplestiltskin tells an insomniac Emma that Merida will become the wisp's owner after using it, and it can never be used by another again. Merida overhears Emma talking to herself, and believing the blonde will betray her, sneaks off in the morning to use the wisp. Emma tries to persuade Merida that she means no harm, but the latter begins firing arrows at her. Emma catches each one, becoming more agitated every time, while Rumplestiltskin urges her to kill Merida's heart to get the wisp. Eventually, Emma rips out Merida's heart, after magically pulling her close, and begins crushing it, when Hook, Robin, Regina and her parents arrive, convincing her to return the heart. Merida, having no hard feelings about what happened, thanks Emma for helping her see she should be merciful to the clans rather than kill them. Mary Margaret tries to give Emma the dagger so no one can control her with it, but Emma hands it to Regina, asking her to do what needs to be done if she ever goes too far, and Henry reassures her that it won't happen. After regrouping with the rest of their party, they are approached by King Arthur and his knights, stating that Emma and her allies are the ones who will reunite them with Merlin, before taking them to Camelot.
King Arthur introduces the group to his wife, Guinevere, and proclaims to have a ball in honor of their new guests. He shows them the Tree of Merlin, which is Merlin himself, having been transfigured into a tree long ago. Arthur asks who the Savior is that was prophesied to come and free Merlin. Emma tries to take the responsibility, but Regina uses the dagger to prevent her talking and sets herself up to be the Savior, so as to prevent Emma from using dark magic to free Merlin. At the ball, one of Arthur's knights, who knows of Regina's previous deeds as the Evil Queen, tries to kill her, but Robin Hood blocks the blow and is fatally wounded. Emma, giving in to Regina's pleads, uses dark magic to save Robin. After she leaves, she meets Rumple again, who tells her that she liked using dark magic, and that is why true love's kiss won't break the curse.
Because Dark Ones don't need sleep due to their magic keeping them energized, Emma begins carving and fashioning dreamcatchers. One night, Rumplestiltskin tricks her into entering Regina's room, where the dagger is calling for her, but Emma refuses to do so.
After Third Curse
Six weeks later, a cyclone whisks the diner and everyone in it back to Storybrooke, though their last recollection is entering King Arthur's castle. Emma, clearly changed from her past struggles with accepting her darkness, enters. Regina tries to fulfill what Emma asked her to do if she ever went too far, but Emma reveals she has the dagger now. Before her former loved ones and friends, Emma professes that she will make them pay for what they did to her.
Powers and Abilities
- Detective Skills: Emma has an eye for detail and is very skilled at detective work. She used this skill to work as a successful bail bondsman in Boston. She later used this when she was investigating the case of Kathryn's (supposed) murder. And later uses her skills to try to find out who cast the second curse.
- The magic of True Love and Light Magic: As the result of True Love birth, Emma is capable of using magic. This magic was always with her, even though she was living in a world without magic. However when Mr. Gold brought magic to our world her magical powers were greatly enhanced, particularly within the confines of Storybrooke; she has recently been taking magical lessons from her former nemesis Regina to better harness her powers, proving to be an apt student. Her practice of the magical arts grants various mystical abilities, which are known;
- True Love's Kiss: A magical kiss that can break any curse as long its fueled by True Love. True Love is not limited to a romantic relationship but can also extend to the love of a mother for her son.
- Immunity to Heart Removal: In the universe of Once Upon a Time, witches and wizards are capable to use black magic to penetrate a person's chest and literally remove their hearts. While in possession of these hearts the witch is capable of controlling the person, which remains in a state of full health despite the removal of such a vital organ. Emma is however immune to this form of black magic and if a witch attempts to remove her heart, they will be hit by an energy blast.
- Lie Detection: The power to detect if a person is lying. Emma used this power subconsciously on Earth, possibly due to the lack of magic.
- Eclipse Inducement: The power to cause an eclipse. When Peter Pan and her son Henry left to Skull Rock to "save magic", the heroes found themselves blocked by Pan's protective shield that only allows people without shadows to enter. Emma and Regina join their magic together to create an eclipse, which would take away their shadows and render the shielding spell useless.
- Telekinesis: She is capable of manipulating objects or people without physically touching. This was first seen when she had to telekinetically blast both David and Killian in order to save them from the Snow Queen.
- Pyrokinesis: She is able to create, control, and manipulate fire, often in a form of lighting a candle or a flame/fire-related spell.
- Healing: When she uses her healing powers, her hand will glow with white and after having approached the wound, it will heal completely, leaving no visible sign.
- Apportation: Emma demonstrated being able to teleport Hook's, uh, namesake implement away from him as a prank.
- Conjuration: Emma is able to summon objects or beings through magic, often materializing in the form of a pure white manifestation. She demonstrated this when she conjured a copy of the door illustration page that the former author was trapped inside, hoping that this would fool Mr. Gold.
- Teleportation: Emma has demonstrated to be able to move from one place to another in the form of gray smoke. She demonstrated this in the underworld when she teleported herself. Megara and Regina from the forest to the Blanchard Loft.
- The magic of the Dark One: After letting the darkness from the previous Dark One, Rumpelstiltskin consume her, she became the new Dark One, the name of Emma Swan took his place on the Dark One's Dagger and Emma has earned all of his abilities of pure evil. Her powers seem to increase when she is in possession of a magical tool, like her dagger or wand of a fairy.
- Darkness Generation and Control: As the new Dark One, Emma can freely create, control and manipulate pure darkness and shadows to her will. She is now the pure human embodiment of all evil, chaos, and darkness in the world.
- Immortality: Emma has stopped aging when she gained her powers and is immune to diseases and other forms of human death. (However, may be minor damage such as being cut by a sword, will have to use her powers to heal). Apparently, she doesn't feel the pain of her wounds or at least has a great tolerance to it.
- Stamina: The power of the Darkness keeps the Dark One energized and thus they don't need sleep and don't suffer from sleep deprivation, and have some kind of hobby to pass the time.
- Teleportation: Emma can move from one place to another at will, disappearing into what looks like a black smoke formation or white, however, she can also appear without creating the smoke effect.
- Telekinesis: Emma is capable of manipulating objects or people without physically touching them. She mainly uses this power to harm others and when she uses this power, the individual does it with a hand movement that mimics the action she wants to perform.
- Pyrokinesis: Emma is able to create and manipulate fire, often in the form of a fireball, effectively using it as a weapon against her enemies.
- Accelerated Healing: When Emma uses her healing powers, her hand will glow with purple and after having approached the wound, it will heal completely, leaving no visible sign.
- Transfiguration/Shapeshifter: Emma is able to spin straw into gold, turning human beings into animals or changing the physical aspect of herself or others.
- Superhuman Strength and Speed: Emma is incredibly fast and strong. She was seen being able to catch several arrows fired at her by Merida almost subconsciously and with ease.
- Arcane Knowledge: Emma has an almost infinite knowledge and understanding of spells, potions, and other topics related to magic, allowing her to do impossible things for common witches.
- Summons: Emma is able to summon objects or beings through the magic, often materializing it in one hand via a purple smoke. (It is not known if she actually creates objects or transporting them from another place, but it is possible that both options are true depending on the circumstances).
- Heart Extraction: Emma can remove the hearts of other living beings without killing them and use them to control the owner or kill them by crushing the heart.
- Extrasensory Perception: Emma seems to be able to sense when someone calls her name or when someone is close to her.
- Resurrection: If Emma dies without having passed the title of Dark One to another being, Emma can be resurrected by the Vault of the Dark One, if another person decides to open it, giving up his/her life as a result.
- Technopathy: Emma's magic also allows her to control and manipulate technology.
- Dark One's Dagger: Anyone who owns her dagger will be able to kill Emma, causing her to lose her status as the Dark One and the chance to rise again. In addition, anyone who owns the dagger also has full control over the actions of Emma, who is unable to disobey orders if not for a very short time. However, since Emma forged Excalibur and the dagger back into one blade again, it can no longer control her, although it still bears the names of both the current Dark Ones.
- Laws of Magic: Like any witch or sorceress, Emma is subject to the laws of magic, as a result, she is unable to raise the dead, create love and time travel.
- Storybrooke Town Line: If Emma leaves Storybrooke, she will lose all of her magical abilities, becoming fully mortal. When she gave up her dark powers, she was able to leave Storybrooke, since she was not part of the original Dark Curse.
- Squid Ink: Like all magical beings, squid ink can immobilize her.
- Snow White (mother)
- David "Charming" Nolan (father)
- Henry Mills (son, adoptive step-uncle)
- Hope Jones (daughter)
- Lucy (granddaughter, adoptive step cousin)
- Prince Neal (brother)
- Queen Eva (maternal grandmother, deceased)
- King Leopold (maternal grandfather, deceased)
- Regina Mills (maternal step-grandmother)
- Ruth (paternal grandmother, deceased)
- Robert (paternal grandfather, deceased)
- Albert Spencer (paternal adoptive grandfather)
- Prince James (paternal uncle, deceased)
- Cora (maternal step-great-grandmother, deceased)
- Zelena (maternal step-great-aunt)
- Captain Hook (husband)
- Baelfire/Neal Cassidy (boyfriend/father of her child, deceased)
- Graham Humbert (boyfriend, deceased)
- Brennan Jones (father-in-law, deceased)
- Liam Jones (brother-in-law; deceased)
- Liam Jones II (half-brother-in-law)
- Rumplestiltskin (grandfather of her first child)
- Milah (grandmother of her first child)
- Emma is an interesting case, considering that she is the central protagonist of the series, who became the main antagonist.
- This is a reversal from the first season, where Emma was the protagonist and Regina was the antagonist.
- Emma was the main antagonist of the fifth season starting with The Dark Swan and lasting until the last minutes of Birth when her plan and secrets are revealed and Hook and Nimue become the villains.