Love is weakness, Regina.
Cora is a supporting character on Once Upon a Time. The cruel and controlling mother of Regina, Cora appears to have forgotten her humble origins, which she forsook when she formed a liaison with the powerful Rumplestiltskin, in order to get access to magic and turn her life around. Her power got to her head, however, and Cora started going to extreme lengths to control her daughter's life, claiming it to be the best for her. Eventually, Regina pushed her through a looking glass and into Wonderland, where she became the notorious Queen of Hearts. Cora eventually found her way back to her daughter after the breaking of the Dark Curse, with a master plan in mind. However, she was ultimately killed by Snow White.
Before the Curse
I didn't make the sacrifices I did in life to get you to the cusp of greatness so that you could end up the wife of a stable boy.
Cora manages to spin straw into gold before the entire kingdom. ("The Miller's Daughter")
Cora was the daughter of a miller who slacked off and was constantly drunk. One day, she arrived home to the mill to find her father passed out drunk, not having delivered the flour that they need in order to eat that week. Due to this, Cora goes to sell the flour in her father's stead, however, when there, she collides with a princess named Eva, causing both of them to trip. King Xavier, who is also there, forces Cora to apologize, and she does so through gritted teeth, feeling absolutely humiliated. That night, she sneaks into the royals' masquerade ball but is soon recognized by the king, who tells her that despite his kingdom's poverty, he is still of higher social standing than her. Insulted by this, Cora tells him that she is able to spin straw into gold, and Xavier announces this to his subjects, locking Cora up in a tower full of straw overnight, telling her that she will die if she fails to produce gold. As she contemplates jumping, Rumplestiltskin appears to her and offers to spin the straw into gold in exchange for Cora's first born. However, Cora refuses this, demanding that Rumple teach her magic, and the contract that Cora signs changes to state that she must only present Rumple with his own child. He teaches her to use her emotions to wield magic and she does so by remembering her humiliation via King Xavier, and the next day, she is able to spin straw into gold before the kingdom's very eyes. Prince Henry then proposes to her and Cora accepts, and on her wedding night, she is met by Rumple and they decide they will run away together. Before they do so, Cora decides that she wants to rip out Xavier's heart and crush it. When she arrives to do so, he reveals that he knows she loves the imp and not his son, and tells her that love is weakness. Taking this in, Cora rips out her own heart as she sees it as an obstacle, and tells Rumple that she cannot run away with him. He accuses her of breaking their deal, but she points out that she must only present him with his own child, and from now on, any child she does have, will be the prince's. Months later, Cora presents her baby to the kingdom, telling them that she is to be called Regina, for one day, she will be queen. ("The Miller's Daughter")
From then on, Cora would always try to control her daughter's life, claiming it to be the best for her. She would be incredibly forceful, manipulating all of Regina's 'choices' in life and drawing her path for her, often resorting to magic to get her way. ("The Stable Boy") Along her life, Cora performed one of her most recognizable enchantments: ripping the hearts out of people while they're still beating and ensnaring them with a spell, therefore controlling said people. Cora kept her extensive collection of hearts in a vault hidden behind her fireplace. ("The Doctor")
"I will turn Snow White's heart black as coal." ("The Queen Is Dead")
When Snow White's mother, Queen Eva, is dying of a fatal illness, Snow goes to see the Blue Fairy in order to make a wish to save her mother. She meets the fairy in the woods but the Blue Fairy tells Snow that fairy magic is pure and good whereas cheating death is the darkest of deeds. However, she offers Snow a candle, one that, when lit, shall save her mother, but take another's life. She requests that Snow keep this a secret and the young princess agrees. With Snow not being able to take another's life, Eva dies and her funeral is held. Snow is the last to leave, and after she is escorted out by her maid, Johanna, the Blue Fairy flies down to Eva's casket before revealing herself to be Cora in disguise. Cora tells the queen's corpse that death suits her, revealing herself to be the one that murdered her via poison. She goes on to say that she shall turn Snow White's heart black as coal, thus ruining the legacy that Eva had hoped to leave behind, making her own daughter, Regina, the queen and making Snow know what it feels like to be the miller's daughter. Much later, Cora approaches her daughter, Regina, and tells her that she's arranged some extra riding time for her and her horse, Rocinante. Regina is grateful and as she is meeting with her lover, Daniel, Cora makes Snow White's horse go wild, knowing that Regina will save her, making the girl's father, King Leopold, propose. ("The Queen Is Dead")
Cora rips out Daniel's heart. ("The Stable Boy")
As a kind young woman, Regina developed a love for her stable boy, Daniel. One day, during a riding lesson, a young girl rides past Regina on an out of control horse. Regina manages to save the girl, who is Snow White, the king's daughter. The king hears of what Regina did and proposes to her. Cora, Regina's mother, accepts on her behalf. Horrified that she's marrying the king, Regina suggests running away with her lover, Daniel, so they can be together. Snow White sees the two kiss and Regina begs her to keep it a secret. However, when Cora tells Snow White that she feels Regina has drifted from her, Snow White explains that if she wants Regina to be happy, she should let her be with her true love, Daniel. Cora kills Daniel in front of Regina to ensure her marriage to the king. During a wedding dress fitting, Snow White tells Regina that she told Cora the truth of her and Daniel, unaware that he had been murdered. Regina manages to keep herself calm, which her mother compliments. After this, Regina grows a strong hate for Snow White, wishing she'd let her die on the horse... and thus establishing the future queen's hatred of Snow. ("The Stable Boy")
Cora is banished by her daughter. ("We Are Both")
During the build-up to her wedding to King Leopold, Regina tries to leave on her horse, but a barrier spell conjured by her mother, Cora, stops her. Cora tells Regina that she cannot leave unless with Leopold. Regina later reveals her growing hatred to her father and she asks how her mother became the way she is. He tells her of a man who gave her the book of spells and taught her the dark arts. Regina steals the spellbook off her mother and summons the owner, Rumplestiltskin. He reveals that they have met before when she was younger. Regina seeks help from Rumple, so he gives her a portal to an "annoying world", to which she can banish her mother. During a fitting for her wedding dress, Regina uses magic against her mother to push her through the portal. Regina seeks Rumple to return the spellbook, but he lets her keep it and convinces her to let him teach her the dark arts, as she loves using magic. ("We Are Both")
Meet the Queen of Hearts. ("Hat Trick")
After Jefferson takes Regina to Wonderland to retrieve her father, who had been taken by the Queen of Hearts (Cora), he is left there and taken before the Queen, whose face is covered by a red veil. The Knave of Hearts serves as her interpreter, communicating with Jefferson on her behalf. The Queen claims to know that he's responsible for her being stolen from, and when he says that Queen Regina tricked him, he is corrected, for according to the Knave there is only one queen: the Queen of Hearts. Jefferson apologizes, and is then asked how he got into their world. Jefferson asks if he can go home to his daughter if he tells them, and his question is met with laughs. The Queen then says, "Off with his head!", and a guard with a very large axe walks cuts off his head, while another guard holds it by the hair. Jefferson looks in shock at his headless body on the floor, surprised to still be alive. The Knave asks him to explain how he got there in order to get his body back, and Jefferson explains that he used his magic top hat. He adds that Regina took it, and he is then forced to make another hat, similar to that one. ("Hat Trick")
Cora pretends to be dead... and her daughter mourns her. ("Queen of Hearts")
After Captain Hook breaks into Regina's palace to squeeze some information on how to defeat Rumplestiltskin from Belle, Regina's prisoner, the Queen herself intercepts him, and offers her assistance to help him get revenge on the "crocodile" he wishes to skin, should he do her a favor in return. Hook is thusly requested to assassinate Cora, Regina's mother, and bring her body from Wonderland. There, he is unable to rip out Cora's heart, for she does not keep hers where everyone else does. Cora overpowers him and demands to be told the truth, and once she is told that he was sent there by Regina, she offers him her assistance as well, for Regina tricked him: those who are caught by her curse are destined to lose their memories, so he wouldn't be able to get revenge. Killian brings Cora to Regina, so that she can kill her daughter, but when Regina mourns her mother's apparent death and explains to her lifeless body why she did it - because she loved her too much and, as Cora once pointed out, "love is weakness" - Cora has a change of heart, and casts a spell on a portion of the land that protects it from the curse, keeping everyone in it frozen in time until the spell is lifted by the savior. Cora plans to get to Regina's new land in 28 years and reconnect with her daughter, help her pick up the pieces. All the while, she agrees to let Hook keep her company, so that he may one day quench his thirst for vengeance. ("Queen of Hearts")
After the Curse
Excellent... you'll be able to see your daughter. And I can skin myself a crocodile.
Cora in the pit. ("We Are Both")
After Emma and Mary Margaret are sent to the Enchanted Forest, they are taken prisoner by Mulan and Aurora, who bring them to their safe haven. There, Mary Margaret attacks the princess and makes a run for it, along with Emma, but the teacher is knocked out by Mulan. Emma comes back to her aid and the warrior tells her peers to throw the two prisoners into a pit. Emma and Mary Margaret, the latter still unconscious, are thus thrown into a caved jail, and there Emma tries to bring her mother back to consciousness... and is met by someone the survivors have locked up as well: Cora... ("We Are Both")
Cora gets what she set out to find... ("Lady of the Lake")
Snow White recuperates consciousness to find herself appalled by the presence of the evil Cora in the pit. She tries to keep her daughter Emma from telling Cora about Storybrooke and Henry, but it's to no avail. The two new prisoners are then set free to meet with the leader of the safe haven's people, and Snow is surprised to find that it's her old friend Lancelot. The brave knight allows them to travel in the search for a portal back to the land they came from, a location Snow refuses to disclose because of the presence of Cora, even though the old woman is said to be powerless now. Snow and Emma therefore go back to the castle where the royal couple lived and where the blonde was born. There, they encounter the wardrobe through which Emma passed to our world. Lancelot makes himself appear, and although she's excited to see him at first, Snow quickly becomes the wiser when Lancelot mentions Henry by name... a name Emma had only shared with Cora. Sir Lancelot then makes himself appear as Cora, who had been passing for him after allegedly killing him. Cora attacks Snow and Emma, planning to go through the wardrobe, but Emma is able to set the wardrobe on fire and Cora then vanishes into the thin air. However, after Snow, Emma and their travelling companions, Aurora and Mulan, leave the castle to head back to the safe haven, Cora reappears and collects some of the dust left from the burnt wardrobe in a glass, and we can see there's still some magic left in it. ("Lady of the Lake")
Hook and Cora plan on going to Storybrooke. ("The Crocodile")
Killian Jones is standing on a seashore near the small island hamlet where the survivors of the Dark Curse reside. He watches the refuge through his telescope, but stops when Cora approaches him from behind. When she stands beside him, she shows him the ash remains of the Enchanted Wardrobe. He mocks them at first but then asks if they can get them to the other world. Cora replies by saying it's a start, but they will need other things first. He asks for the name of their destination, so Cora tells him it's Storybrooke. Killian comments that this is a curious name and then ask if that's where "he" and "she" are. Cora confirms. Happy, Killian tells Cora she will be able to see her daughter, and he'll be able to skin himself a "crocodile". ("The Crocodile")
After Daniel, the stable boy, is brought to life by Dr. Frankenstein, in Storybrooke, which was the main reason why Regina delved into the world of magic, he is left in a state of disorientation, and heads to the last place he can remember being at: the stables. There, he comes across Henry, Regina's son, and when the child reaches out his hand to him, Daniel has flashes of the time Cora ripped out his heart, which fuels a violent reaction and leads him to strangle Henry. However, the young man is saved when Regina and Charming arrive. ("The Doctor")
Cora is displeased with Hook's betrayal. ("Into the Deep")
When Hook finally makes his way down the beanstalk, Cora is there to receive him, annoyed at his betrayal. She demands to be given the compass, and Hook tells her that Emma bested him and took it. Cora tells him there are consequences to him having chosen Emma instead of her, and adds that now she will leave him in that land without ever quenching his thirst for revenge. She then sets off to make matters into her own hands and uses her magic to breathe life back into the hearts of the people she killed in the haven, and make them rise and find the quartet of heroines. Aurora is eventually taken by the undead, and Cora plans on using her as an exchange coin, trading her for the compass she seeks. Aurora doesn't think Emma and Snow will oblige, but Cora states that they can't help saving the innocent, regardless of the personal cost. Cora also wonders why Aurora wants to help, and realizes that the princess is hoping to go to Storybrooke as well; the evil witch then tells her she could help her bring Phillip's soul back, but Aurora refuses to play along. Cora knocks her out, and sends a message to Snow that she will kill the princess if they don't bring her the compass by sundown. However, Hook makes it to the haven and frees Aurora, making it clear that he's on Emma's side. Meanwhile, Snow speaks with Charming in the netherworld, and learns of Gold's advice to stun Cora. The latter is enraged when she learns of what Hook did, and plans on killing him, until he stops her by claiming to have a gift... which is none other than Aurora's heart, taken by him, which Cora can use to control the princess and get a leg up in her plan to retrieve the compass and head to Storybrooke. ("Into the Deep")
Cora is unable to remove Emma's heart. ("Queen of Hearts")
After Aurora, under Cora's thrall, manages to lock the heroin quarted inside Rumplestiltskin's old cell, the powerful witch is able to get her hands on the compass she sought, and Hook teases Emma about the withered magic bean he took from the giant. Cora and Hook make it to the dry area that once contained Lake Nostos, the lake whose waters are said to possess the power to bring things back that once were lost. Cora therefore plans to use the lake's waters to make the magic of the wardrobe dust work again, and with a few swirls of her fingers, she cracks through the ground with magic and a fountain of water springs from under it. Snow White is able to use Rumple's squid ink to break through the cell's spikes, and they make it to the site of Lake Nostos, just in the nick of time to stop the two villains from jumping through the portal. A battle ensues, during which Mulan is able to retrieve Aurora's heart and get it back to her. Emma overpowers Hook, knocking him out, but Cora still stands in their way. Regina's wretched mother then plans to give her daughter what she always wanted: Snow's heart. However, just as she's about to lunge her hand inside Snow's chest, Emma steps in her place. Cora teases her, claiming that love is weakness, but then she is unable to remove Emma's heart. The blonde tells her love is strength, and a wave of magic energy emanates from her, ridding her of the evil witch. Emma and Snow make it through the portal and arrive safely in Storybrooke - after Regina lifts a deadly spell from the well, which was meant to keep Cora out - and all's well that ends well for the noble protagonists... but trouble resurfaces, when a vintage ship is seen on the horizon, about to reach their town, bringing with it Hook and Cora, who came through with the aid of the magic bean... ("Queen of Hearts")
Archie is strangled, by Cora the transformer. ("The Cricket Game")
Upon her arrival on Storybrooke, Cora instantly realizes that there is magic in the town, and thus stops Hook from going up against an empowered Rumplestiltskin. When a fisherman notices their vessel and starts inquiring them, Cora conceals the ship through magic and turns the fisherman into a fish. The pair of villains then decide to skim through the town in order to properly execute their plans. When Cora finally spots her daughter Regina, she realizes that the former Mayor isn't as "broken" yet as her mother had hoped. Therefore, Cora resorts to her usual trickery to get what she wants: she disguises herself as Regina and heads into the office of Dr. Archie Hopper, her daughter's therapist. There, she freezes Pongo the dalmation and strangles Archie. The following morning, Ruby and Emma find Archie's lifeless body, and all of the evidence of the murder seems to point to Regina. When Emma uses a dreamcatcher and magic to extract Pongo's memories of the attack, she witnesses Regina killing the shrink. The Charming family and the Blue Fairy corner Regina, trying to capture her, but it's to no avail. However, Emma tells her rival that Henry will never again believe her lies, and that they now know she is incapable of change. Regina gives up and disappears, and later witnesses as Emma tells her son that she killed Archie. Regina breaks down into tears, which pleases Cora, who thinks her job is done. Then, Cora reveals to her ally, Hook, that Archie is very much alive, and hidden in their invisible boat: the Queen of Hearts killed a random person and disguised its body as Archie. She then reveals her plan to use the town's shrink to provide them with intel on the residents of Storybrooke, including Rumplestiltskin. ("The Cricket Game")
Cora makes amends with her daughter. ("In the Name of the Brother")
Cora goes to Mr. Gold's pawn shop and surprises Rumple, who is less than happy to see her. She makes it clear that she's there to declare a truce, giving him a peace offering of a white globe that will help him find his son. Gold wonders what she wants in exchange and she explains that she wants her daughter. They shake on it and Cora requests that they "seal it like they used to" and the two share a kiss. Cora is soon seen in Regina's house and is going through her daughter's things, she steals a clay tile from Henry that was given to Regina. Later, Henry is seen walking into Regina's vault and finding his mother, saying that he knows she was framed for Archie. Regina wonders how he knew and it turns out Henry is Cora in disguise, she reveals herself as says she knows because she did it. Regina is shocked to see her mother again and Cora explains that she knows why she tried to have her killed, and it's alright. Regina tells her that she thinks it's not alright as her mother wanted her broken, Cora states that she merely wanted her daughter to be receptive but Regina refuses to argue. She wants to take her mother among the townspeople to prove her innocence and Cora obliges to go with her. In the car, the evil witch reveals that something is irritating her before pulling out Regina's clay tile, given to her by Henry and containing his hand print. Regina is angry with her mother for going into her house and taking one of her most treasured possessions. Cora points out that as long as Emma and her parents are in town, Henry will never truly be Regina's. Cora asks what Regina really wants and her daughter says that she wants her son back. When Cora apologizes some more, Regina forgives her, asking her how she plans to return Henry to her. Cora says that she has a few thoughts... ("In the Name of the Brother")
Cora went and got herself some people clothes. ("Manhattan")
Regina is seen with Cora in her house as she digresses her woes over Henry leaving town with Emma, her mother comforts her, assuring her that Henry shall be hers soon enough. Hook is pleased to hear that Rumplestiltskin is out of town as this means he's powerless and can be killed, however, Cora stops him, telling him that whilst the Dark One is gone, they can search for the one thing that can actually kill him within Storybrooke - his dagger. Regina figures that he would have hid it with the person he trusts most, that being Belle, and so the three of them head to the library where they begin searching between books, believing the dagger to be somewhere among them. As they do so, Regina asks her mother what the plan is and Cora explains that once they find the dagger, they shall control the Dark One, meaning that they can use him to slaughter the Charmings and emerge blameless, taking Henry back. A map is soon found between a couple of books and Hook, being a pirate, is able to read it. He soon does so and deciphers where the dagger is hidden, but Cora being Cora, she betrays him and knocks him out with magic, taking Regina to go and find the dagger for themselves. ("Manhattan")
Cora throws Johanna through the face of the town clock with magic, killing her. ("The Queen Is Dead")
Cora and Regina are seen in the woods by Mary Margaret as they are digging up some earth in search of the Dark One's dagger. Not being able to find it, Cora tells Regina that Hook must have lied to them about the dagger's location but that she shall be able to reconstruct the map herself, and once she does, she can make Rumplestiltskin kill anyone Regina wants. Shocked at this, Mary Margaret meets Regina at Granny's Diner, telling the queen that she has one last chance to be good. However, Regina refuses to accept this and tells Mary Margaret that she has one last chance to not get in their way, before leaving. Mary Margaret and David are soon told the dagger's location by Gold, who's in New York with Emma, and find it within one of the hands of the Storybrooke clock. Once they retrieve the dagger, they are met by Regina and Cora who have Johanna, Snow's beloved maid, hostage. Regina rips out Johanna's heart, telling Mary Margaret that her maid shall die if she does not hand over the dagger. After hesitation, Mary Margaret gives Cora the dagger and Regina returns Johanna's heart to her body, however, before leaving with her daughter, Cora waves her hand and causes Johanna to smash through the clock face and fall down to the pavement, killing her. When they return to Regina's house, dagger in tow, the mayor asks her mother why she never told her about her history with Snow's mother, which was revealed during their confrontation with Mary Margaret and David, and Cora tells her daughter that it wouldn't have changed a thing, before it also unravels that Cora orchestrated everything to ensure that Regina would become the queen. ("The Queen Is Dead")
Cora dies in her daughter's arms, soon after regaining her heart. ("The Miller's Daughter")
Cora and Regina are seen listening into Mary Margaret and David's phone conversation, however, after being called "wicked" by them, Cora knocks the phone tap off the table, breaking it. Noticing that Rumple's name is disappearing from the dagger, Cora realizes that he's dying, explaining that if he dies without being stabbed with the dagger, all of his power will just boil off into the air. She then decides that she must find Rumple and stab him with the dagger, becoming the Dark One herself. Regina and Cora make their way over to Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer where Emma has cast a protection spell, however, the two witches cast a fireball together and the spell is broken with ease. They are met inside by Charming, Bae and Emma, all of which are armed with swords, with Rumple hiding in the back room. Cora knocks Charming out but Emma and Neal make their way into the back room with Gold, sealing it off with invisible chalk and thus casting a protection spell. Cora tells Regina that someone is after her heart, which is in the mayor's vault, and requests that Regina go stop them. Her daughter obliges and leaves, and Cora attempts the break the protection spell surrounding the door leading to the room containing Gold. After a long while, she finally succeeds in doing so, being greeted by Emma and Neal who point swords at her. Cora merely waves her hand and the two of them are transported into the town woods, she then approaches Rumple, dagger in hand, his name almost completely faded. She admits that he's the only man she ever truly loved, before proceeding to try and stab him, but before she can, Regina places her heart into her chest through her back. Cora begins to laugh and smile, her emotions and love for her daughter returning, however, she soon collapses. Although this was unaware to Regina, but Mary Margaret lit the magic candle over the heart and whispered Cora's name, meaning that Cora's life is being taken so that Mr. Gold's shall remain. As she dies, Cora tells her daughter that she doesn't need power as she would have been enough, which breaks Regina's heart. Just after, Mary Margaret comes running in, telling Regina to stop, but it is too late, Cora is dead and Regina knows that Snow is to blame. ("The Miller's Daughter")
Thank you, mommy.
Regina mourns her mother. ("Welcome to Storybrooke")
Soon after her death, Regina has Cora's body placed within a tomb in her family mausoleum, where upon it, it reads, "Cora Mills, Beloved Mother". Regina is seen visiting the tomb and sadly placing a red rose upon it, tearfully saying goodbye to her mother. Soon, Mr. Gold turns up, much to Regina's dismay, but she is surprised to learn that he is merely there to pay his respects. Rumple places another red rose upon Cora's coffin, stating that she shall always hold a place in his heart. As Regina and Gold converse, she reveals that she plans to avenge her mother by murdering Mary Margaret, despite Gold trying to convince her, to no avail, to give up her obsession with vengeance. He points out that she will not be able to kill Snow and have Henry back, but Regina assures him that she will find a way to have everything. Later, in her vault, Regina looks through some of her mother's old things and in a fit of passion starts tearing Cora's dresses apart, angry and sad. She collapses to the floor with the destroyed dress in her arms when she discovers one of her mother's curses, one that will make someone think they love you. Realizing that she can use it on Henry, Regina thanks her mother. ("Welcome to Storybrooke")
Promotional poster of the 1951 film adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, featuring the Queen of Hearts.
The character of Cora is based upon the heroine of a fairytale originated from Germany, "Rumpelstiltskin" or "The Miller's daughter", the tale was later collected by the Brothers Grimm in the 1812 edition of Children's and Household Tales and was revised for subsequent editions. Cora is also the wicked mother of the Evil Queen, the main antagonist of the popular fairy tale of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". She also embodies the role of the notorious Queen of Hearts, an antagonist in the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by English author Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world (Wonderland) populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. In it, the Queen of Hearts is presented as a foul-tempered monarch who is quick to decree death sentences at the slightest offense. Her most famous line, one which she repeats often, is "Off with their heads!". The Queen is referred to as a card from a pack of playing cards by Alice, yet somehow she is able to talk and is the ruler of the lands in the story, alongside the King of Hearts. Disney made a film adaptation of the story in 1951, presenting the Queen as a "fat, pompous, bad tempered old tyrant", with a short husband to match her. In Once Upon a Time, the powerful Cora was banished to Wonderland through a looking glass (an element from Carroll's sequel book, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There), and became the Queen of Hearts.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the character.