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This is the River of Lost Souls. Touch it and it will make you lost. Reducing you to a mindless, tormented husk. So please, keep all arms and hand inside the boat.

Hades to Hook src

The Acheron,[1] also known as the River of Lost Souls, is an Underworld location on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the twelfth episode of the fifth season.

The Acheron is based on the river of the same name from Greek mythology, and the river Styx from the Disney film Hercules. It also shares aspects with the rivers Lethe and Styx from Greek mythology.


After Third Curse

In his lair, Hades plans to drop Killian into Acheron, a green river that is connected to the Worse Place. He leaves Killian dangled on a chain that gradually lowers over time into the river, but Emma frees him in time. After making a deal with Hades, in which he'll have the chance to return home, Mr. Gold flings Milah into the river, and he later lies to Emma and Hook about Hades being culpable for it. ("Devil's Due")

As hope begins to bloom in the Underworld, Hades attempts to snuff it out as soon as possible, by offering Gaston the opportunity to send Mr. Gold into the the Worse Place. He gives Gaston enchanted arrows, which have been dipped in water from Acheron. While Belle searches for a way to save Gaston and keep him and Mr. Gold from hurting each other, Hades presses her to let either Mr. Gold or Gaston throw the other into the river, and in return, he'll void the contract on her baby. She refuses the deal and tells Mr. Gold about it. Mr. Gold then attempts to throw Gaston into the river, but Belle forces him to stop. However, when Gaston makes one final attempt on Mr. Gold's life, Belle shoves her ex-lover into the river herself. ("Her Handsome Hero")

Learning the heroes plan to bottle a kiss of true love from Auntie Em to awaken Dorothy from a Sleeping curse, Hades puts some water from Acheron in her soup, which she drinks. At once, Auntie Em melts into a puddle of water, some of which Hades collects into a jar. Hades threatens to do the same to any other resident of the Underworld who helps the heroes, and he later dumps the liquefied remains of the old woman into the river. ("Ruby Slippers")

After overpowering Emma and Robin Hood, James and Cruella prepare to send them into the river, but David, Prince James' twin brother, intervenes in time. During the twins' fight, David insists he only wants to help James move on, but James reveals his unfinished business is to kill his brother. David blocks James from knifing him, and then flings him into Acheron. ("Sisters")

Mr. Gold uses a glamour spell on a wine-skin filled with water from Acheron to resemble a heart, which he puts inside the body of his father Peter Pan, revealing the deception just before the water takes effect and sends Pan's soul to the river. ("Firebird")

When Killian and King Arthur travel by ferry across the river to retrieve the storybook, two souls emerge from the river and attack them. After warding them off with fire, Killian and Arthur discuss how souls never rose from the river or displayed any sort of intelligence in the past, and that the nature of the river seems to be changing now that Hades has left the Underworld, indicating that all souls in it can eventually free themselves. ("Last Rites")

Unbeknownst to the other heroes, Mr. Gold smuggled a bottle of water from Acheron back to Storybrooke. The Evil Queen obtained this water and threatened to use it on all of the inhabitants of Storybrooke unless Snow and David brought her their hearts. ("Heartless")


Fairytales and Folklore

  • The River of Lost Souls shares aspects with three rivers from Greek mythology:
    • Lethe, the river of unmindfulness. All those who drank from the river experienced complete forgetfulness.
    • Styx, which some souls tried to swim across to reach the Underworld.
    • Acheron, the river of woe, where the shades are ferried across by Charon. In Homer's poems, the Acheron was described as a river of Hades.

Popular Culture

Props Notes

  • The platform over Acheron is shaped like a pentacle:[6] A pentagram with a circle around it. While often associated with evil and the devil, the pentacle and the pentagram are also seen as positive and spiritual images. These symbols have been used by major world religions, and can be found in ancient scriptures of Christianity and even Judaism. In earlier times, Christians have widely used the pentagram as a personal charm and a protective amulet, and at one time, the pentagram was used to symbolize the five wounds of Jesus when he was hanged on the cross. The pentagram and the pentacle have also been used by occult faiths and magicians, and today, the pentagram is used as a symbol for Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism. It is also said that the five points of the pentagram represent the five elements, fire, earth, water, air and spirit.[7] ("Devil's Due")
  • The torches in the Acheron temple[10] are reused in the Vault of the Dark One in "The Broken Kingdom".[11][12] ("Last Rites")

Filming Locations


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


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