The only way to ever truly be in control of your powers is to embrace them.
Queen Elsa of Arendelle, also known as the Ice Queen, is a supporting character on Once Upon a Time. She was born in Arendelle with innate magical powers that allowed her to control - a term used loosely - snow and ice, and was isolated for the majority of her growing up due to her inability to master such powers and her fear, added to her parents' fear, that she could hurt someone.
Her sister Anna became of great assistance, but when their mysterious aunt Ingrid came about, the two sisters were separated, and Elsa was trapped inside a magical urn. She was ultimately accidentally released in Storybrooke, Maine, where she set off on a quest to find her sister and get some closure on what happened to them.
Before the Curse
Do what you will and know that no matter what, Anna, I love you.
Elsa blames herself for her parents' deaths. ("A Tale of Two Sisters")
In Arendelle, Anna and Elsa place flowers at their parents' grave markers. Elsa assures Anna that they would be proud of her, and Anna says that they would be proud of both of them. Elsa says that she has a surprise for her wedding and leads her back. She takes Anna into the palace to show her the surprise: their mother's wedding dress. Anna hesitantly touches it and Elsa insists that she wear it for her wedding, giving her a necklace to wear with it. As Anna tries it on, Elsa looks around and notices a book on her parents' desk. Opening it, she realizes that it's her mother's diary. Anna comes out in the dress and notices that snow is filling the air. She asks what's wrong and Elsa says that their parents' death was her fault. She runs out and Anna goes after her. Anna catches up to Elsa in the forest and asks what is wrong. Elsa finally tells her that their parents didn't go off on a diplomatic mission as they thought. Anna reads the diary and in it their mother says that they have to figure out a way to stop Elsa's powers. She doesn't believe it and points out that it doesn't say where they were going or what they had planned. Elsa doesn't believe it and apologizes, and Anna insists that she's not a monster and will prove it. Anna takes Elsa to the troll field over Elsa's objections, and calls to Grand Pabbie. Anna asks what her parents were really doing on the voyage. Grand Pabbie doesn't know but he says that he knows that they were going a land called Misthaven. After Grand Pabbie goes back to sleep, Anna asks for two weeks to go to Misthaven. Elsa says that her parents said the same thing and walks away. Later, after Kristoff reveals Anna's plan to her, Elsa goes to the dock and realizes that Anna's ship has left. Kristoff assures her that Anna will be fine. Elsa worries that Anna acts before she thinks and worries that they don't know anything about Misthaven. ("A Tale of Two Sisters")
Elsa has a decision to make. ("Rocky Road")
Sometime after Anna has left for the Enchanted Forest, Elsa sends out scouts to find her, worried for her well-being. She even considers going after her younger sister herself, but is talked out of it by Kristoff, who reminds Elsa that Arendelle needs their queen. Elsa soon learns that Prince Hans and his twelve older brothers are marching an army through the Southern Mountains to attack Arendelle. Kristoff offers to sneak up there and eavesdrop on Hans' plans, but Elsa won't hear of it, wanting to handle the situation herself. However, the soon-to-be prince disobeys Elsa and spies on Hans. He returns the castle, revealing that Hans is after a magical urn that can trap people like the Ice Queen. Kristoff then suggests he bring a few soldiers with him to find the urn and destroy it himself. Elsa decides instead of sending him with soldiers, she'll accompany him. They soon reach the cave where the urn is located, and Kristoff offers to let Elsa destroy it. She refuses, however, when she discovers ancient words written on the urn, which may have information about others like her. Kristoff continues insisting that the Ice Queen destroy the urn, but it is too late, for Hans has arrived with three of his brothers. They surround Elsa and Kristoff; Elsa tries to fight back with her ice magic, but Hans threatens Kristoff's life. Elsa promises Hans the urn in exchange for Kristoff's safety; she then apologizes for not listening to Kristoff in the first place. Putting her trust in him, the Ice Queen tells Kristoff that once she's gone, he must go after Anna and save Arendelle. Hans tells Elsa that a monster like her should not rule Arendelle, and proceeds to uncap the urn, pouring out a white liquid. The Snow Queen soon arises, and having taken insult to Hans' previous comment, turns him into an ice statue while his three brothers flee in terror. Elsa and the Snow Queen are next seen back at the castle, chatting away about their ice powers. Seeing a portrait of Elsa's parents, the Snow Queen finally decides to confess to Elsa that the late Queen of Arendelle is her sister. Still concerned about Anna, Elsa relates these fears to her newly discovered aunt, who promises to assist her in finding the young princess. ("Rocky Road")
A family reunion. ("Family Business")
The Snow Queen begins training Elsa, helping her learn to control her powers. One day, as Elsa practices alone, she is interrupted by the surprise return of Anna. The two sisters embrace in a hug, and Elsa proceeds to catch her sister up on recent events. She then asks what all Anna found out in the Enchanted Forest, but not wanting to tell her sister that their parents wanted to find a way to strip the Ice Queen of her powers, she lies, saying that she's waiting on answers from people she met. She also realizes that Elsa has begun learning how to control her powers, to which Ingrid enters, introducing herself to Anna as the girl's aunt. As Elsa wholeheartedly welcomes the magical woman into her life, Anna grows suspicious. Anna then seeks out Grand Pabbie, who reveals Ingrid is in fact her mother's sister, and aside from Ingrid, there is another sister named Helga. Pabbie goes on to tell that after the two sister's disappearance, Gerda had both Ingrid and Helga wiped out of the records and everyone's memories. Anna tries to return home and inform Elsa of her shocking discovery, but is captured by the Snow Queen before she can. ("Family Business")
Elsa is trapped in the urn. ("Smash the Mirror")
Ingrid lies to Elsa and tells her that Anna planned to use the magic hat on her which would take away her powers, causing Elsa to storm into the dungeons, where her sister is being held, and angrily confront her. However, this is soon revealed to be a ruse for the guards' benefit so that Ingrid doesn't found out that Elsa is freeing Anna; the two sisters make amends as Elsa returns Anna's necklace to her and all soon becomes clear. They search the castle for the magic urn so that they can trap Ingrid and eventually find it in the closet with a frozen Hans, much to Anna's surprise. They then station Anna back in her cell so that Elsa can send Ingrid there and Anna can trap her; however, Ingrid is already lying in wait and she seizes the urn so that she may cast the spell of Shattered Sight over Anna, which only allows her to see the absolute worst in her sister. Because of this, she berates Elsa for all she put her through during childhood and ends up throwing her necklace into the fireplace. She then traps her sister in the urn, but Elsa doesn't care, knowing that Ingrid has done something and that these aren't her sister's true feelings. When Elsa is trapped, Anna comes to her senses and tries confronting Ingrid, along with Kristoff, but the Snow Queen simply embraces the fact that everyone thinks she's a monster and freezes them, as well as the entirety of Arendelle. Ingrid proceeds to use the magic of the rock trolls to steal Elsa's memories so that she and her niece may have a fresh start, and Rumpelstiltskin pops by for a visit, taking both Anna's necklace from the fire and the urn containing Elsa, which he transports to the dark vault within his own castle, refusing to give her back until he once again possesses the sorcerer's hat. However, Ingrid decides to follow a prophecy and head into a land without magic instead of giving the hat back, in the hopes that she and Elsa will be reunited one day, along with their third magical sister. ("Smash the Mirror")
After the Second Curse
Well you just better hope to hell you didn't bring anything else back.
Elsa arrives in Storybrooke. ("There's No Place Like Home")
When Rumplestiltskin is unable to return Emma Swan and Captain Hook, who have fallen through a portal to the past, back to their correct place in time, he simply locks them away in his vault full of magical things that even he, the Dark One, is unable to comprehend or understand. Whilst trapped, Hook begins to look around and picks up the urn containing Elsa, however, Emma tells him to put it down in case it's dangerous. The pirate is soon able to help Emma realize that Storybrooke - the town in Maine to which they're trying to return - is her home, her magic resurfaces and she's able to power a magic wand that's capable of performing any magic that's ever been accomplished. With this, she opens a portal to the future, and the urn is last seen shaking atop one of the vault's surfaces when this occurs. Soon enough, Emma and Hook are back home, but they take Marian with them, having saved her from being executed by Queen Regina, and the formerly Evil Queen is less than happy to see her new boyfriend's supposedly deceased wife's life has been saved. She tells Emma, who she views as responsible, that she better hope she didn't bring anything else back with her, but across town, it's revealed that the urn managed to make its way through the portal. The lid bursts open, and a blue liquid pours out, filling in the markings left behind by the defeated Wicked Witch. The blue liquid begins to rise into a human form, and before long, Elsa emerges. The Ice Queen removes her glove and uses her ice magic to destroy her former prison, going on to exit the barn with extreme haste, leaving behind a trail of frozen ground. ("There's No Place Like Home")
Don't worry, Anna... I will find you.
Elsa vows to find her sister. ("A Tale of Two Sisters")
Elsa walks out of Zelena's barn and takes the road into Storybrooke, with no idea where she is. When she sees a sign for the town, she freezes it over with a glance. Leroy and Walter are driving out of town after the party and Walter dozes off. As Leroy grabs the wheel, they head toward Elsa. She instinctively freezes the van to a stop and stares in through the windows at Grumpy, knocked out by the impact. The next morning, Elsa walks into Storybrooke, leaving a trail of ice behind her. A motorcyclist goes by, startling her, and Elsa fights to control her powers. After a moment she reins them in and spots a wedding dress in a window. When Emma and Hook hear of Leroy's and Walter's accident, they see one of Elsa's ice trails and begin following her with it, leading her to run away and hide, creating a giant snow monster in the process. This keeps her chasers dealt wit for a while and, as Elsa hides, a newspaper with Rumplestiltskin and Belle's wedding announcement blows past, and so she decides to search for Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer. When she finds it, she breaks the lock with her ice magic and finds inside the necklace she gave to Anna the day before her wedding day. She vows to find her sister. ("A Tale of Two Sisters")
Love will thaw. ("White Out")
Elsa decides that no one is leaving town until she finds her sister, Anna, and so she erects an ice wall around the perimeter of Storybrooke to prevent anyone from escaping, accidentally cutting off the electricity as she does so. Emma and David drive out to the power cables at the town line to see what's going on, which is where they discover the ice wall and also Hook, who's eager to help. Elsa is there, and Emma tries approaching her, but David and Hook accidentally startle the young monarch and she unintentionally traps herself and the savior in a cave of ice. Emma tries to get her to melt it but soon discovers that Elsa doesn't know how, and can only really control her powers when her sister is around, and so they need to find her. Inside the cave, the two women bond over such things as having uncontrollable magic bestowed upon them, but all the while Emma is slowly freezing to death. After a trip around town in an attempt to sort this predicament out, David realizes that he knew Anna and he uses one of her phrases to goad Elsa into being able to melt a hole in the wall, through which she and Emma escape. Back at the apartment - with Mary Margaret having restored the town's power - they use the magical crook that David stole from Bo Peep to discover that Anna is definitely alive, much to everyone's relief. Emma then takes Elsa to the ice wall so she can melt it, however, Elsa is unable to, meaning that someone else with the same powers as she must be keeping it up. ("White Out")
A less than joyous reunion. ("Rocky Road")
Elsa goes with Emma and Hook to confront Gold as to how she ended up in the urn in his vault, but he claims not to know and gets Belle to use the dagger on him to prove that he's telling the truth. Meanwhile, at Mary Margaret's first fireside chat as Mayor, Marian collapses due to an icy curse and everyone is quick to blame Elsa, who Emma tells to stay in the Sheriff's Station with Hook whilst she and David go to investigate matters further. However, Hook refuses to stay put and pays another visit to Rumplestiltskin along with Elsa. The pirate blackmails the Dark One and, as such, Gold agrees to help and gives them a way of tracking the real culprit behind Marian's curse. Hook and Elsa thus discover the Snow Queen in the woods, but she quickly discovers the two of them in turn and uses her magic to nearly kill Hook. She explains that the citizens of Storybrooke will soon deduce that Elsa is responsible and the Ice Queen will be able to learn an important lesson; that normal people eventually grow to fear those with magic. Elsa is confused as to how the two of them know each other, and the Snow Queen explains that the rock trolls pulled memories from her head to make her forget. Emma shows up just in the nick of time to save the day, fending off this new villain with her magic. ("Rocky Road")
Snow helps Elsa search for Anna. ("The Apprentice")
At Mary Margaret's apartment, she and David provide Elsa with thorough records of both of the Dark Curses, meaning that - if Anna is in town - these records could give her some semblance of who or where she is. Elsa thanks the Charmings, but the search is soon distracted by Emma, who's dressed to impress for her date with Captain Hook. Elsa asks her if her short dress is just the corset, wondering where the rest is, but Emma tells her that this is the rest. The savior tries offering to stay behind and aid the search, but Elsa points out that her sister aborted her own wedding to help her and she doesn't want to be the cause of anyone else missing out on the milestones of life. Hook then arrives and everyone is shocked to see that he has both hands, thanks to a deal he made with Rumplestiltskin (a deal he later goes back on due to extenuating circumstances); Emma then leaves with the pirate and Snow, Charming and Elsa get back to searching for Anna. ("The Apprentice")
Elsa is trapped by the Snow Queen. ("Breaking Glass")
Elsa and Emma are searching through the town records in hopes of finding a clue that could lead them to Anna, only to discover a picture of Emma arguing with the Snow Queen, which she has no memory of. Elsa and Emma head to Regina's vault to confront her about the pictures, for she had them taken, but Emma is nervous about seeing her due to their now strained relationship. Once Elsa has convinced her to go (and Emma discovers that Regina has no memories of the picture either), a voice is heard calling her name. Elsa exits the car to see the figure of Anna int he mist. She starts walking away, but Elsa chases her far through the town's woods. She finds Anna up a cliff and so builds an ice staircase to get to her. When she finds her, however, it's revealed to have been an icy illusion created by the Snow Queen, who shackles Elsa to the ground with chains of ice. She explains to her supposed niece that those chains will strengthen the more scared she is, and so Elsa tells herself that she isn't afraid and manages to break them. The Snow Queen is impressed, telling Elsa that there's hope for her yet, and the Ice Queen later walks home with Emma, giving her some more advice on how to repair her relationship with Regina. ("Breaking Glass")
The Snow Queen's plan is revealed. ("Family Business")
Emma shows everyone the tape she and Hook found of the Snow Queen as her foster mother and, per Henry's directive, she and the others decide to storm the ice witch's ice cream truck, which the Merry Men locate in the woods. Meanwhile, Elsa and Belle do research in the library, but when something comes up, Belle leaves early, so Elsa continues searching. Later, back at the sheriff's station, Elsa shows Emma a book she found at the library which bears her family tree; it reveals both that the Snow Queen is her aunt and that her name is Ingrid, as well as the fact that she had another sister besides Elsa and Anna's mother, named Helga, who, as Hook points out, looks exactly like Emma. The blondes deduce that Ingrid plans to recreate her family, which becomes more apparent when Elsa decodes the scroll Emma earlier found, which is actually a prophecy predicting that the savior's name is Emma and Emma will be Ingrid's sister, at which Belle rushes in and admits that she's the reason Anna is missing, because she allowed her to be taken by the Snow Queen along time ago. She goes on to explain that she earlier stormed Ingrid's lair and discovered a mirror imbued with much dark magic, and Rumple told her that, which this mirror, the Snow Queen plans to cast a spell of shattered sight, which will cause every resident of Storybrooke to turn on each other. Hook realizes that the town will destroy itself, and Emma adds that there'll be no one left... except she and Elsa: Ingrid's perfect family. ("Family Business")
Elsa's aunt gets under her skin. ("The Snow Queen")
Emma and Elsa prepare a spell involving a candle that should be able to capture the Snow Queen if they come across her; Emma tries practicing on Elsa, but fails, and so the Ice Queen suggests trying again. However, Emma has to leave so that she can babysit her little brother, but as she is about to do so, she receives a call from David telling her that the Snow Queen is in the clock tower. She and Elsa rush over and successfully capture the ice witch with the candle, causing magic shackles to bind her hands and her powers, and they escort her back to the sheriff's station for interrogation. Elsa demands to know where Anna is, but Ingrid tells her that she shouldn't care because Anna is the one who trapped her in that urn. Elsa doesn't believe her, but Ingrid keeps pressing the matter, sending Elsa into a rage. Finally, Emma recommends that she leave so that she can talk to the Snow Queen alone, and Elsa obliges, later returning when she and the others realize that the mirror in the clock tower is fake and that Ingrid got captured on purpose so that she could seal herself and Emma in the sheriff's station together. When everyone arrives, however, Emma has blown a hole through the wall and her magic has gotten out of control. She accidentally sends a lamppost falling towards her father and injures him, causing he and Mary Margaret to look at her with fear in their eyes, and so she runs away. Back at the apartment, Elsa explains to Emma's parents how hurtful it was for her family to see her in such a way, and Mary Margaret comes to the realization that she failed as a parent that day. ("The Snow Queen")
Elsa stops Emma from making a huge mistake. ("Smash the Mirror")
Henry finally finds Emma out in the woods, but her powers, which are still very much out of control, accidentally cause her to injure him, and he returns home with a cut sustained behind his ear. Elsa creates an ice pack for him to use on it, assuring him that the only reason his mother hurt him is because she was trying so hard not to hurt him, but, because of this incident, Emma elicits the help of Mr. Gold to help rid her of her magic permanently via a spell, which she tells Elsa and the others with a phone call to her mother. When it looks like the Charmings are going to let their daughter go through with it, Elsa quickly steals the locator spell Regina brought round and uses it on Emma's scarf, then following it to the abandoned mansion where the savior is contemplating entering the room with the spell that will remove her evermore erratic powers. The Ice Queen gets there just in time to stop her, and explains that controlling your powers isn't just about gaining the acceptance of your loved ones; you have to love yourself as well and embrace your magic, for it is a special and important part of you. Elsa then extends her hand so that Emma may take it, knowing full well that it might kill her, but the two blondes soon hold hands and a burst of magic is released, settling Emma's powers and returning them back under her control. They head outside, where the savior puts on a light show for her family, but yellow ribbons soon appear around the wrists of both she and Elsa as the Snow Queen harnesses their magic so that she may cast the spell of Shattered Sight over Storybrooke. ("Smash the Mirror")
Elsa is reunited with Anna. ("Fall")
It becomes clear that the spell of Shattered Sight has been cast over Storybrooke and will turn everyone in town against each other by sundown, and so Emma suggests that they simply leave town before the spell is complete. However, the ice wall does not take kindly to brute force and grows aggressive, rendering the savior's plan moot, but Elsa is able to find Anna's necklace which, with the locator spell they retrieve from Belle, can be used to finally find the Ice Queen's sister who can then be used as a vaccine to the spell because she's been under it before. The necklace leads them into a dead end in the mines, which could take days to explore properly, and it is soon revealed that the necklace itself could be used to combat the spell due to the mirror dust embedded in its metal... but that would mean the total destruction of the necklace, meaning any hope of finding Anna is lost. The Charmings decide that the entire town isn't worth one woman and take the pouch containing the necklace over to the fairies, except Elsa actually swiped the real necklace and uses it to lead her back to the dead end, which she busts through with her ice magic. Emma soon tracks her down and the two of them end up on a beach on the other side. Elsa makes a wish upon her necklace for Anna to be with her, and, suddenly, Anna and Kristoff wash ashore in a box, Anna's necklace turning out to actually be the wishing star. The two sisters share a joyous reunion and, with Anna back, the counter-spell can be made, but the fairies have all mysteriously disappeared by the time they return, meaning that the spell appears inevitable. Everyone begins sealing themselves in various places for the protection of themselves and others, apart from Elsa, Anna and Emma, all of which are immune. The spell soon becomes complete, the rain of glass falls, and the sight of all the townspeople becomes shattered. ("Fall")
Elsa is saddened by her aunt's death. ("Shattered Sight")
With the spell of Shattered Sight complete, everyone in town starts to tear each other apart, besides Elsa, Emma and Anna. Anna soon reveals that Ingrid got the idea for the spell from an old Nordic tale and, in said tale, the way in which the spell was broken was by killing the caster, and Emma gives Anna her baby brother whilst she and Elsa leave in order to do what must be done. They soon find the Snow Queen, but they cannot harm her due to her love which flows through the ribbons on their wrists, and so they go to Regina's vault and use the Evil Queen's equally strong hatred to destroy them. The two blondes next head to Ingrid's lair in the woods. She is disappointed to see that they've lost their ribbons, but worries not, for she knows that they will love her soon regardless. She then reveals that she has their memories stored in magic rocks and is prepared to return them, but all the two girls will remember is the particularly good times they shared with Ingrid, and they shall cherish her as a result. However, it isn't long before Anna hurries in with a note in tow, which was written by her and Elsa's mother before she died. The note expresses their mother's sorrow over what she did to Ingrid, as well as an admission of love, but Ingrid doesn't believe her until she sees the note for herself and accesses the memories stored in the crystal on the seal. She quickly regrets what she's done to Storybrooke and plans to reverse the spell by destroying herself, which she begins to do using magic. She returns Elsa and Emma's memories and they grow sad to see her die, wanting to find another way, but Ingrid appears content, and rejoices over the fact that she can now join her true sisters. It isn't long before she disappears and a snow falls over the town, thus breaking the spell. ("Shattered Sight")
Elsa and Anna prepare for the latter's wedding. ("Heroes and Villains")
Following Ingrid's death, Elsa is finally able to remove the ice wall surrounding the town with her powers; however, some of the Snow Queen's magic remains, making it so that anyone who leaves Storybrooke may never return. This disappoints Anna, who wants to get home to Arendelle, but Elsa assures her that walking wouldn't get them there anyway, for they need a portal, and they have plenty of time to find one. It is then that Anna realizes she forgot to tell her sister about Arendelle having been conquered by Hans and his twelve brothers, and the Ice Queen tells Emma that they need to find a way back immediately. As luck would have it, Mr. Gold has located a portal back to Arendelle in the form of a door, over at the lakeside mansion where Emma almost lost her magic. Hook tells this to everybody, and so they all make their way over there and say their goodbyes. Elsa is the first to leave, followed by Kristoff, but Anna stays behind briefly in order to ask the identity of this Mr. Gold. They reveal that his real name is in fact Rumplestiltskin, and it becomes evident that he and Anna have met in this past, despite his earlier insistence that he was completely oblivious of Elsa's sister. This leads them to realize that the Dark One has been lying to them for quite some time, and they are able to stop him in his tracks before his evil plan has a chance to unfold.
Meanwhile, back in Arendelle, Elsa, Anna and Kristoff are able to dethrone Hans, and afterwards, Anna prepares to finally marry Kristoff Before she goes down the aisle, however, Elsa asks her why she postponed her entire wedding just for her, to which Anna explains that she couldn't walk down that aisle unless her sister was as happy as she was, and Elsa, touched, assures her that she is indeed happy. After detecting the amazing smell of chocolate, the two sisters join hands and proceed down the aisle together. ("Heroes and Villains")
As punishment for Black Beard's crimes against Anna and Kristoff, Elsa shrinks the Jolly Roger down and traps it in a bottle. While doing so, however, a mermaid named Ariel gets trapped as well, that is until Hook sends Ursula to the Enchanted Forest to retrieve the vessel, and he is able to resize it with the help of Will Scarlet. ("Poor Unfortunate Soul")
- Ice Magic: The ability to control and create ice and cold temperatures for various purposes.
Gallery of photographic stills used to promote the character.