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You have a sister, you are never gonna be alone. Other than when I'm not around, but even then I'll be there in spirit.
—Anna to Elsa src

Princess Anna, briefly known as Joan, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. She débuts in the first episode of the fourth season and is portrayed by guest star Elizabeth Lail.

Anna is based on the character of the same name from the Disney film, Frozen.


Before First Curse

Anna is born to Queen Gerda and an unnamed King of Arendelle. Her elder sister, Elsa, becomes Queen upon their parents' demise during an ill-fated sea voyage. After visiting their parents' graves, Elsa surprises Anna, who is set to marry Kristoff, with their mother's old wedding dress for her upcoming marriage to Kristoff. As a touch of "something new", Elsa gives her a snowflake necklace, which belonged to their mother. Excitedly, Anna tries on the gown, but then notices something amiss with Elsa, who just discovered their mother's diary. Upset at the book's contents, Elsa runs off into the forest. Anna, after chasing her down, reads an entry from the diary that ambiguously alludes their parents left due to Elsa's powers. Believing this is all a misunderstanding, Anna takes her sister to the Troll, Grand Pabbie, for answers. Pabbie, however, only knows that their parents had gone to a place called Misthaven. Wishing to solve their family's mystery, Anna wants to go there with Elsa, but her sister refuses to consent, so she books a solo trip there. Prior to leaving, she asks Kristoff to stay behind so Elsa won't be alone. ("A Tale of Two Sisters", "Fall")

Arriving in Misthaven, a place also known as the Enchanted Forest, Anna seeks out Kristoff's old acquaintance, David. Refusing to give out her real name or her reasons for travelling, she introduces herself as Joan and asks for permission to stay on his farm for the night. David, however, can tell from her engagement ring that she is Kristoff's fiancé. As they talk, the warlord Bo Peep approaches; demanding monetary payment from David and his mother, Ruth. Bo Peep gives them until tomorrow to pool the money, and if they cannot, she will take their farm. Additionally, she brands them, using a shepherd's crook, as part of her "flock", and they will become her slaves if payment is not delivered. Anna, believing David must defend himself against this tyrant, teaches him how to sword fight. After she destroys him in a match, he gives up; believing that the only way to survive is to submit to Bo Peep's requirements. While he thinks some battles can't be won and survival is most important, Anna insists that surviving is not living, and she further elaborates about how her sister tried to solve problems by running away like him. When she claims he knows nothing about loss and is only afraid of it, David recalls how his father's death due to alcoholism is what shaped his beliefs that battles cannot be won. Despite his pessimism, Anna offers to continue training with him tomorrow. The next morning, she has her snowflake pendant stolen by Bo Peep, who brands and imprisons her in a shed as a means to intimidate David. Instead, he outsmarts the warlord and tracks down Anna's location with the shepherd's crook. As he bursts in to free her, Anna, mistaking him as Bo Peep's associate, tackles him before recognizing him. After returning the lost pendant, David explains his decision to fight due to realizing that surviving means being able to move on from a life he doesn't want. Before leaving to continue her journey, Anna relates to Ruth about her parents' troubles with magic and her desire to find someone who could help with this matter. Ruth then gives her the name of a powerful wizard. Lastly, she is gifted David's steed, which he no longer needs as it's a reminder of his past. ("White Out")

Anna enters into Rumplestiltskin's castle where he agrees to help, but only if she puts a bottled substance in an old man's tea. As part of the deal, Anna signs a contract. At the man's cottage, he graciously lets her in so she can join him for tea and biscuits. Unable to hurt the kind stranger, she dumps the bottled substance into a fire. After, Anna reports to Rumplestiltskin that she did as he asked. He, in turn, announces her action helped the man to remain alive since she gave him an antidote for poison. Shocked, she owns up to her lie and begs for more antidote to save the man. Through a crystal ball, Rumplestiltskin shows her that the man is already transforming into a mouse. She rushes to the cottage in search of the mouse where Rumplestiltskin reveals the poison was his doing since the man is a sorcerer's apprentice who guards a special item he desires and that relic's second line of defense can be broken by someone like her who has been tempted by darkness, but has not given into it. Since she broke the contract, her punishment is to be locked up in his castle forever. Desperate, Anna threatens him with a sword, but after a tense moment, she collapses in tears. One of her tears falls onto Rumplestiltskin's dagger, which meets the criteria for breaking the relic's second line of defense. After retrieving the item, a box which absorbs magic, Rumplestiltskin tells Anna about her parents, fearful of Elsa's powers, wanted to be rid of them. She learns that he wants to be unstoppable once the box absorbs a full capacity of magic, but the Apprentice, in mouse form, bites Rumplestiltskin; causing him to drop his dagger. Gaining the weapon, she realizes it is his weakness and forces him to hand over the box. She then orders Rumplestiltskin to do three things—return her and the box to Arendelle, never harm her or Elsa and revert the apprentice into a human. Whisked home, Anna reunites with Kristoff and painfully admits what she discovered about her parents' fear of Elsa. ("The Apprentice")

On return to the castle, Anna expresses surprise at Elsa's control over her powers and the Snow Queen arrives to introduce herself. Anna learns the Snow Queen is her mother's sister and has ice powers like Elsa. Despite this, she relates suspicions to Kristoff about this new family member. Anna finds it strange the Snow Queen isn't in any of the family portraits or records, so she decides to ask Grand Pabbie. Kristoff talks about Anna's decision to withhold the truth, concerning what her parents did in the Enchanted Forest, from Elsa until the time is right, which he supports. Stopping by Oaken's shop, she overhears a woman, Belle, explaining that she recently lost her mother. Learning that Belle is looking for rock trolls, Anna allows her to join the trip. On the journey, Belle reveals she doesn't remember how her mother died and needs rock trolls to restore her memories. After Grand Pabbie helps Belle, Anna privately asks him about the Snow Queen. He admits that the Snow Queen, Ingrid, is her mother's oldest sister, and they had another sister named Helga. When Helga and Ingrid mysteriously vanished one day, they were erased from all records. Desperate to warn Elsa about Ingrid's secrecy, Anna and Belle hurry down the mountain. However, a storm created by Ingrid stops them. A fierce wind strikes, hurling Anna off the cliff, where she clings to a ledge. Before Belle can pull her up, Anna's grip loosens and she hits the ground; falling unconscious. While she is blacked out, Ingrid steals the sorcerer's box and whisks her away as a helpless Belle watches. Waking up in a cell, Anna faces accusations from Ingrid that she intended to use the box on Elsa. Ingrid admits she wants a family, and had thought Anna and Elsa could be hers. However, since Anna does not fit the criteria as the third family member, Ingrid vows to find someone else who will. ("Family Business")

To further drive the sisters apart, Ingrid insinuates that Anna had plans to use a magic absorbing hat on Elsa. Anna receives a visit from an upset Elsa; accusing her of wanting to take away her powers with the hat. Only after the guards are dismissed from the room, Elsa admits she doesn't believe Ingrid's lies. Together, they look in Ingrid's old room for an urn capable of trapping a magical being. Upon opening a wardrobe, Anna becomes frightened by the sight of a frozen Hans, but she finds the urn next to him. As part of the plan, Anna returns to the dungeon cell with the urn, but Ingrid shackles her in chains. Under duress, she tells Ingrid the Norse legend of The Trolden Glass, in which a king made a mirror for his daughter to see her own beauty, however, she died before receiving it. Thus, the mirror reflected the king's misery. Since Anna cannot remember anything else in the tale, Ingrid explains the grief-stricken king learned dark magic to make the kingdom share his pain, which caused the subjects to see only the bad in others and turn on each other. Akin to the story, Ingrid intends to cast it one day, but she'll need to gather many mirror pieces. With one shard, she places Anna under the spell. This brings out Anna's anger towards Elsa for letting her believe, for all those years, that she was to blame for her sister's unhappiness. Under the spell's influence, Anna throws the necklace that Elsa gifted her into a fire. Ingrid orders Elsa to freeze Anna to prevent her from trapping her inside of the urn, however, the latter refuses. Anna, unsealing the urn, absorbs Elsa in. Before disappearing into the urn, Elsa declares that no matter what Anna does, she will always love her. After Anna reverts to normal, Ingrid instigates her until Kristoff intervenes. Angered that they are looking at her like a monster, Ingrid freezes them into ice statues. ("Smash the Mirror")

After Second Curse

Thirty years later, Anna, Kristoff and all of Arendelle unfreezes. The pair quickly find themselves threatened by Hans, who declares himself as the kingdom's new ruler and sentences them to imprisonment. Anna and Kristoff fight their way out and escape. As they figure out a plan, Anna recalls reading in her mother's diary about a wishing star, which is used to grant a wish. She remembers the journal stated her parents tracked the item to a man named Black Beard, so they go to the Enchanted Forest to bargain with him for the wishing star, which they hope to use to find Elsa. Once the deal is sealed, the couple become surrounded by Hans and his brothers; revealing Black Beard has been working with them. Black Beard tell her about his past encounter with her parents who sought the wishing star, but they were unable to use it since the item needs someone with a pure heart. Anna and Kristoff, with their hands tied, are sentenced to death by Hans and dumped into an coffer. She insists that Elsa will escape from the urn and reclaim the throne from him, but Hans reveals Arendelle was frozen for thirty years. The coffer is then shut and thrown into the sea, which sinks and fills with water. Kristoff frees himself and Anna from the binds, but she, out of fear they will die, begins reciting her marriage vows to him. He insists they won't be married until they are out of danger. Due to the power of Elsa's belief in finding her sister, and her possession of the wishing star, the coffer is transported to the shores of Storybrooke where the siblings reunite. Anna is led to the diner so the nuns can make a spell with her hair to counter Ingrid's imminent curse. However, they find the nuns gone. At the sheriff station, Anna, Elsa and Emma brace for impact, though the three are immune to the spell. While hugging Elsa, Anna helplessly watches as Kristoff's eyes are infiltrated by mirror shards. ("Fall")

Anna, recalling the epilogue of The Trolden Glass, states the king's spell of shattered sight only ended when he was killed. Emma leaves Anna in charge of Neal and the others while she and Elsa take out Ingrid. David and Mary Margaret argue with each other, so Anna proposes they remember their relationship before the curse. However, when Mary Margaret reveals her capacity for murder, Anna backs off. When Regina, garbed in Evil Queen attire, arrives to battle Mary Margaret, Anna tries to reason with her. Instead, Regina returns her and Kristoff to "where they came from", which puts them at the beach where they arrived due to the wishing star. Kristoff proclaims he is swimming home while Anna suggests it's unlikely since they came through a portal. Kristoff then complains about his complicated life such as a sister-in-law who can set off eternal winter and Anna's aunt who wants to kill everyone. He is also peeved Anna caused their wedding to be delayed by thirty years while she contends it was due to Ingrid freezing Arendelle. As Kristoff takes off his boots to dive into the ocean, she trips over a bottle and then uses it to knock him out. Anna finds a scroll inside and discovers it's a note from her mother. Rushing into the snow lair, she reads the letter to Elsa, Emma and Ingrid. They learn Gerda, remorseful about wiping people's memories of her sisters, wants Anna and Elsa to use a crystal to restore the kingdom's memories of Ingrid and Helga. Additionally, Gerda requests that Ingrid be freed from the urn and states she truly loved her sister and regretted trapping her away. Convinced those words are lies, Ingrid throws Elsa and Emma backwards and chokes Anna, who desperately talks her out of it. Though she hasn't lived with magic as her aunt has, Anna reasons that if Gerda loved her, it means they too are family, and family never gives up on each other. After releasing Anna, Ingrid touches the scroll crystal and receives Gerda's happy memories with her and Helga. Realizing she always had her sisters' love, Ingrid destroys herself to ensure the curse is lifted. With her demise, the spell of shattered sight comes to an end. Fittingly, Anna and Elsa decide they must restore the memory of Ingrid and Helga to the people of Arendelle. ("Shattered Sight")

At the town line, Elsa tears down the ice wall, but remnants of Ingrid's magic still remain; making it impossible for anyone to re-enter Storybrooke after leaving. Having lost track of time, Anna and Kristoff suddenly recall they forgot to tell Elsa about Hans conquering Arendelle. Once they reveal this, Elsa, too, becomes just as urgent as Anna to return home. Emma is tasked with locating a portal, but she has no leads until Hook, seemingly with Mr. Gold's help, discovers a door to Arendelle hidden in an abandoned mansion. After Elsa and Kristoff walk into the portal, Anna starts to follow until she curiously asks about Mr. Gold's identity when he was still living in the Enchanted Forest. She guesses, incorrectly, that he was a "fairy godfather", although David states his name was Rumplestiltskin. To this, Anna reveals Rumplestiltskin lied about not knowing her or Elsa; causing Emma to suspect Mr. Gold has ulterior motives. After arriving in Arendelle, the two sisters regain the kingdom from Hans' control. While in the east wing of the royal castle, Anna discovers a portrait of Ingrid, Helga and Gerda, which she places in the great hall. Just before her own wedding commences, Anna catches Elsa studying the portrait. Elsa, struck by Anna's past decision to postpone the wedding to go to Misthaven, inquiries her on why she chose to do so. Anna cheerfully reasons that she couldn't be happy if her sister wasn't as well. Catching a whiff of their favorite sweet treat, chocolate, in the air, the two giggle and then head out of the room together. ("Heroes and Villains")


King Magnus[1]Queen Astrid[1]
King Olaf[1]
Queen Sonja[1]
King Harald[1]
King Arendelle †


  • Solid lines denote blood relationship
  • Dashed lines denote marriage relationships
  • denotes the deceased



  • In the song "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" from Disney's major motion picture Frozen, Anna makes friends with the portraits to ease the loneliness. In one line, she talks to a portrait and says "Hang in there, Joan.". "Joan" is the alias she uses with David.
  • Emma was originally supposed to be named Anna.[2]

Production Notes

  • The ABC series' describes her as, "Elsa’s slightly younger sister is a fun-loving, fearless optimist who often gets herself into situations where she is in over her head, yet is able to triumph due to her resourcefulness and can-do spirit. She values her relationship with her sister above all else".[3]



  • There is a close-up of Anna's eye as the shards from Ingrid's spell are absorbed into her body.[4] This is a recurring theme from Lost. ("Smash the Mirror")
  • After escaping Hans and his brothers, Anna says, "I don't hear eight enormous feet, so I think we lost them." This is a reference to the second Lost number. ("Fall")


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Some Runes Used in "Once Upon A Time" Season 4. Panya's Blog: Linguistic Aspects (October 11, 2014, updated on December 12, 2014).
  2. ONCE UPON A TIME "Pilot" by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz (PDF). Retrieved on May 20, 2019. “Through the front door walks a woman who is, let's not kid ourselves here, a PRESENCE. This is ANNA SWAN. Late 20s. Beautiful, with great strength behind classic features.”
  3. Mitovich, Matt Webb (June 7, 2014). Once Upon a Time Scoop: Which Other Frozen Characters Are Being Cast?. TVLine. “ANNA | Elsa's slightly younger sister is a fun-loving, fearless optimist who often gets herself into situations where she is in over her head, yet is able to triumph due to her resourcefulness and can-do spirit. She values her relationship with her sister above all else.”
  4. File:408ShatteredSight.png

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