I loved him. I loved him!
Daniel Colter is a minor supporting character on Once Upon a Time. He was a stable boy who worked for Regina's family and served as the latter's aid during her riding lessons. Daniel looked after Rocinante, Regina's prized steed, and eventually he and Regina became involved in a secret romantic relationship and planned to be together. However, Cora, Regina's wicked and powerful mother, had much greater plans for her child, that involved her marrying a king, not a stable boy. Regina and Daniel then planned to elope, but Cora ultimately murdered him to keep her daughter on the track she'd chosen for her. Daniel was brought back to life by Dr. Frankenstein, but his pain became too much to bear and Regina was forced to let him go and mourn his death yet again.
Before the Curse
Who cares about magic? True love is the most powerful magic of all. It can overcome anything.
Daniel is killed in front of Regina. ("The Stable Boy")
Daniel works as the stable boy for Regina's family on their manor. He teaches Regina how to ride horses, and one day, during a session, she is stopped by her mother, who disapproves of the way she's riding. Daniel tries to diffuse the argument, but Regina scolds him and send him back to the stable with her horse. Later, Regina finds him and apologizes and the two kiss, revealing they're in a secret relationship. The two lovers later meet up for a secret rendezvous, however, when Regina yet again puts off telling her mother about their love, Daniel expresses his frustration. As the two are about to make up, a young girl rides past on an out of control horse, however, Regina saves her. The young girl turns out to be the king's daughter, Snow White, and after hearing of Regina's bravery, the king proposes to her and her mother accepts for her. A distressed Regina comes to tell Daniel the news and they plan to run away together and get married. Regina proposes to Daniel and he accepts by giving her an engagement ring he'd planned on giving her. As the two kiss, they're seen by Snow White. Regina convinces Snow to keep the secret, but Cora manipulates her into revealing it. As Regina and Daniel plan on leaving, Cora stops them and eventually kills Daniel by ripping his heart out and crushing it. Regina is left heartbroken. ("The Stable Boy"/"The Doctor"/"The Queen Is Dead"/"Out of the Past")
Daniel's body is examined before Frankenstein attempts to bring him to life. ("The Doctor")
Shortly after his death, Regina uses a preservation spell on him to keep his corpse fresh. After marrying the king, Regina is left unable to let go of her love for Daniel and she regularly visits his preserved corpse to mourn over him. Whilst learning magic with Rumplestiltskin, it becomes apparent that Regina only seeks to bring Daniel back from the dead. She is told that this is not possible so the lessons are called off. However, Regina is approached by Jefferson, who claims to know a man who can raise the dead. They visit Victor Frankenstein who examines Daniel's corpse. He is pleased with its condition and then he explains they need a strong heart for the procedure to work. After retrieving a heart from Cora's vault, Victor begins his procedure in private and attempts to raise Daniel from the dead. However, it fails and Regina is sadly forced to let go of her grief and move on. She then becomes focused and able to perform magic as she now realizes there is no possible way to bring Daniel back. However, the failed procedure turns out to be a plan hatched by Rumple, Jefferson and Frankenstein so they could help Regina become an evil sorceress. ("The Doctor")
Regina finally gets her revenge. ("An Apple Red as Blood")
Years later, sometime after Regina has taken full power, due to King Leopold's passing, it's the anniversary of Daniel's death, and already being in not the best of moods, things are made worse when she goes to his grave, only realize someone else has already placed a flower over it. She realizes it was Cora, who has returned from Wonderland, but she now wishes to make amends with her daughter and help her find a new love. Regina remains unable to let go though, seeing Cora as the enemy, eventually pushing her mother back out of her life. ("Mother") During her hunt for Snow White, Regina is one day met by Daniel's brother, William, who blames Regina for Daniel's death. He wishes to kill the Queen, and though Regina tries to fight back, without harming the brother of her lost love, she accidentally kills him. ("Out of the Past") Regina's longtime war with Snow White finally pays off, when taking Prince Charming captive, agreeing to spare his life for Snow's, the bandit princess makes her way to the stables Daniel was killed at where Regina gives her stepdaughter a poisoned apple, stating that it won't kill her, but merely curse her to sleep for an eternity. Wishing to save her own true love, Snow eats the apple, and collapses to the ground, entering her eternal slumber. ("An Apple Red as Blood")
After the Curse
Daniel appears, as Regina hands over her engagement ring. ("An Apple Red as Blood")
When Regina wants to be rid of Snow White's daughter, Emma Swan, who poses a threat to breaking the curse, she goes to Jefferson, requesting his help. She reveals to him that she has his magic hat, and under the promise that if the plan succeeds he'll get a new start with his daughter Grace, he agrees to use it to help her travel to the Enchanted Forest to collect something useful in taking down Emma. Using the privacy of the mausoleum, they attempt to use the hat...however, it doesn't work because it lacks any magic. Regina lets the hat absorb the magic from a few trinkets she has left...but they're not strong enough. Desperate to find something with stronger magic, Regina reluctantly decides to use the engagement ring that Daniel gave her. Before throwing it into the hat, she looks into it and sees a magical moving image of Daniel that she's kept for years. Once she throws it into the hat, the magic begins working. However, it's weak, so a full person can't pass through. Regina decides to go back to the moment she poisoned Snow and using a small portal, they're able to grab the apple. This apple is then turned into an apple turnover intended for Emma to eat...however, Henry ends up taking a bite from it. ("An Apple Red as Blood")
He's a monster!
Regina finally lets go of Daniel. ("The Doctor")
During a therapy session with Archie Hopper, Regina reveals that Daniel's preserved body was brought to Storybrooke as that is what she chose to bring. When talking about Daniel becomes too much for Regina, she decides to leave the session and go home. However, as she drives home, she sees a man stood on the streets who appears to be Daniel. The next day, Regina goes to see Daniel's corpse, which is in her families mausoleum, but discovers his body is missing. She instantly realizes who took the body so visits Dr. Whale, only to discover his office destroyed and the doctor lying on the floor with his arm ripped off, Whale explains he raised Daniel from the dead, but he's a monster. After taking Whale to the hospital, Regina and Charming realize that Daniel may be headed towards the stables, as that is where he had his last memories. However, this means Henry is in danger, as he's also at the stables. When Daniel arrives at the stables he attacks Henry, but is stopped by Regina and Charming. Charming plans on shooting Daniel but Regina convinces him to let her talk to him. He reluctantly agrees and then leaves her with him. Regina attempts to talk to Daniel but he attacks her, however, he stops when Regina tells him she loves him. This triggers Daniel to regain his memories and the two reunite. Daniel is in pain though so begs for Regina to let him go. She sadly agrees and disintegrates him using her magic. She is left, yet again, heartbroken. ("The Doctor")
Regina relives the loss of her first love. ("Dreamcatcher")
On their latest adventure, this time being set in Camelot in order to find the Sorcerer Merlin to free Emma from the darkness which has overcome her, they all come to learn that Merlin has long been trapped inside of tree. Emma, who uses a magic dreamcatcher to view what happened, realizes that the original Dark One took one of Merlin's tears - a tear of lost love - to use on the dagger and detain him. Regina comes up with the idea to take one of her own tears of lost love for Emma to use and free him, an idea the darkened Savior thinks just might work. Using the dreamcatcher, Regina is forced to watch as it projects Cora killing Daniel all over again, from giving them her blessing, to betraying them both by ripping the stable boy's heart from his chest and squeezing it to dust, all for her daughter in the past and present to watch. Emma's able to get the tear though, but despite all the pain it made Regina relive, the tear is not enough. It may have been heartbreaking, but Regina has since moved on and found love in Robin Hood; this leads them to Henry, who has just had his heart broken by his first crush, Violet. Emma gets the tear, and it works; she's able to free Merlin. ("Dreamcatcher")
Daniel is in a better place, to Regina's comfort. ("Devil's Due")
When Regina is in the Underworld on a mission to rescue Captain Hook, she decides to search for Daniel's grave in the vast cemetery, wanting to know whether or not he ended up in a better place. She learns from Cruella De Vil that if a person's grave is upright, then they're there in the Underworld; if the person's grave is tipped over, then they've moved on; however, if their grave is cracked, then they've gone to a worse place, full of unimaginable horrors. Snow White accompanies Regina to the graveyard, not wanting her to have to do this alone, but they're soon overcome with relief when they see that the grave of Daniel Colter is tipped over, meaning he's ascended Mount Olympus. Regina is greatly comforted by this knowledge, and coming to terms with it allows for her magic to return. She soon discovers an injured horse and heals it with her powers, remaining content that the stable boy has moved on. ("Devil's Due")
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the character.