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This article focuses on the character.
For the story, see Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.
For his monster, see Gerhardt Frankenstein.

I wanted my name to stand for life, but everybody just thinks it's the name of a monster.

—Dr. Whale to Ruby src

Dr. Victor Frankenstein, currently known as Dr. Whale, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. He débuts in the third episode of the first season and is portrayed by guest star David Anders.

Victor Frankenstein is based on the character of the same name from the classic novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.


Before First Curse

In the Land Without Color, Dr. Victor Frankenstein is celebrating Christmas with his father Alphonse and his brother Gerhardt. Alphonse gives a gift to each of his sons. To Gerhardt, he bestows a watch that had been their mother's, and Victor's gift is a commission to join the army as a physician. This will require Victor to abandon his scientific exploits, which has been funded by his father's money and housed in the family's summer home. Though Victor pleads, his father refuses to continue supporting his endeavors. Upset, Victor leaves his father's home, though Gerhardt catches up and tries to offer solace by giving him the watch. Victor refuses to take it and instead plans to find another way to complete his scientific work. As the two depart, Rumplestiltskin secretly watches from behind the shrubs. With no other alternative to continue funding the experiments, Victor packs up his equipment when suddenly Rumplestiltskin strikes up a deal with him. Rumplestiltskin is interested in learning how Victor restores life since such a feat is not possible in the land he is from, and promises him a large sum of money in exchange for these details. After Victor accepts the deal, Rumplestiltskin conjures an enormous pile of gold for him. Just then, the lab assistant Igor enters the lab, to which Victor begins introducing him to Rumplestiltskin, but the man is already gone. Victor excitedly instructs Igor to bring the equipment back so they can search for a body to experiment on. ("In the Name of the Brother")

During the night, Victor travels to a graveyard where he goes digging for a body. He is approached by Gerhardt, who thinks negatively of his brother's strategies for scientific work. They are caught by the graveyard guard, who shoots at them, but the two brothers just manage to escape in a carriage. To Victor's horror, Gerhardt sustained a gunshot wound and passes away shortly after. Victor takes his corpse to the lab, and prepares to bring him back to life via experimentation, but Gerhardt's heart can't handle the strain and burns to a blackened, charred state. Alphonse arrives and asks about the corpse Victor had brought with him. When he notices the corpse is Gerhardt's, Alphonse furiously blames Victor for his death. Despite trying to explain he wants to bring Gerhardt back so his father can have both his sons back, Alphonse angrily replies that now he has no sons. ("In the Name of the Brother")

In a bargain with Rumplestiltskin, Victor is promised a stronger, more powerful heart he can use to resurrect Gerhardt if he pretends to revive the dead lover of Queen Reigna in the Enchanted Forest. Via Jefferson's portal-jumping hat, he is brought to the Enchanted Forest and meets Regina in the gardens of her palace. She believes him to be a wizard, though he prefers the title "doctor". He is taken to see his patient, Daniel, and Victor examines the corpse by making an incision on the man's hand, which draws fresh red blood due to a preservation spell Regina cast to keep the body in perfection condition. At first, when Victor asks for a strong heart for the procedure, Regina balks until Jefferson reassures her. She opens up her mother's old vault containing innumerable enchanted hearts and offers Victor free rein to choose any one. After having his pick of a heart, he sets up a tent with Daniel's body on an operating table as Regina and Jefferson wait outside. Victor fakes a failed resurrection, as Rumplestiltskin ordered, and walks out to deliver the bad news to a heartbroken Regina. The next day, Rumplestiltskin rewards him with an enchanted heart after their terms have been satisfied, with Regina undergoing a change since permanently losing Daniel, and wishes Victor luck with creating his own "monster". They argue whether magic is the most dependable source of power with Rumplestiltskin placing a wager that Victor will need magic in the future. Confidently, he indicates he won't, but agrees nonetheless. Following a return to the Land Without Color, Victor successfully transplants the enchanted heart into Gerhardt as his brother's body begins showing signs of life. Astonished, Igor is in awe of the magic, but Victor is certain that science made this possible. ("The Doctor")

Excited by his accomplishment, Victor shows a recovering Gerhardt to Alphonse. Though Victor says Gerhardt is still adjusting, Alphonse examines him and realizes this person is not his son. In a fit of rage, Alphonse physically attacks Victor. Agitated by the commotion, Gerhardt pulls his father to the ground and beats him to death while Victor stoically watches. After the ordeal, Victor locks his brother in a tower room and decides he must put him out of his misery. When Gerhardt sees the gun, he aims the end of the barrel at his own head. However, Victor cannot bring himself to pull the trigger and leaves his brother unscathed. ("In the Name of the Brother")

During First Curse

As the head doctor of Storybrooke's hospital, he receives Regina's adopted infant son, Henry, as a patient. He checks on him, but can't find anything amiss with the infant's health and suggests to Regina that perhaps she needs to look at the birth mother's medical records to discern if there are any pre-existing genetic illnesses he inherited. ("Save Henry")

One evening, Dr. Whale is out on a date with Mary Margaret at the diner. He jokingly makes a comment about her wanting fifteen kids, which Mary Margaret refutes by saying she is a teacher to fifteen children. She goes on to tell him about how her desire to have everything in a relationship such as marriage and kids, but abruptly notices he is not paying the slightest attention to the conversation. Instead, he is busy ogling Ruby as she works on her waitress shift. Seeing as the date is going badly, Mary Margaret asks for the check to end the dinner. Later, upon Henry's insistence that the coma patient John Doe is actually Prince Charming and Mary Margaret is his true love Snow White, Mary Margaret agrees to read the storybook to John Doe which tells the story of how Prince Charming and Snow White. As she comes to the end of the story, John Doe suddenly grabs her hand while still unconscious. She calls for Dr. Whale, but after checking the brain-wave readings, he lies and states nothing out of the ordinary occurred. He suggests Mary Margaret imagined things, and urges her go home to get some sleep. After she is gone, Dr. Whale calls Regina to notify her there was some minor brain-wave fluctuation in John Doe, and Mary Margaret's involvement in triggering this. ("Snow Falls")

After David wakes up from his coma and begins recovering in the hospital, Dr. Whale prescribes physical therapy sessions for him. He also tells him that walking is good to improve his recovering health. ("That Still Small Voice")

When David is released from the hospital, Dr. Whale attends the welcome home party at David's house. Though David's wife, Kathryn, tries to reintroduce him to old friends, he does not remember anyone there, which the doctor says is normal. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Whale runs into Mary Margaret at the diner and brags about how it was under his doctorly watch that David was able to come out of his coma. They share drinks together and later have a one night stand. The next morning, he sends flowers to her apartment. ("The Shepherd", "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter")

A few weeks later, Dr. Whale approaches Ruby at the bus stop, where she is waiting for a ride out of town, and insists he can help her out. Ruby continually rejects his advances until Emma and Mary Margaret stumble onto the scene, and after a few verbal cues from the ladies, Dr. Whale takes the hint that they want him to back off and then leaves. On another day at the hospital, Dr. Whale evaluates an injured and delirious David, who was found in the woods without any recollection of where he has been. He concludes to Emma that this episode is similar to what David experienced shortly after coming out of his coma. Regina barges in demanding David be arrested for Kathryn's disappearance, much to Emma's annoyance, though Dr. Whale stresses to Emma that Regina is still David's emergency contact and discharges him from the hospital. ("Red-Handed")

When Kathryn mysteriously reappears in town, she begins recovering from her ordeal at the hospital. Kathryn recalls being in the car crash, then held in a dark basement where food and drink were always available, and about possibly being drugged. Dr. Whale confirms to Emma that they are trying to detoxify her body of the drugs. Emma states that everyone believed Kathryn was dead because the heart in Mary Margaret's jewelry box matched her DNA, and Dr. Whale points out that there must be now an investigation as to who doctored the DNA results to frame Mary Margaret. Following Mary Margaret's release from jail, Dr. Whale attends a party to welcome her home. ("The Return")

When Henry is brought to the hospital after taking a bite of Regina's poisoned apple turnover, Dr. Whale tries to treat the aliment. Emma shows him the apple turnover that Henry ate, but Dr. Whale doesn't believe the boy to be poisoned, yet can't find what is causing the reaction. From this, Emma realizes Henry was right about magic's existence and that it caused him to be poisoned. ("A Land Without Magic")

After First Curse

After Emma breaks the Dark Curse, Dr. Whale leads a mob of angry townspeople to Regina's house, where he demands she come out. When she does, Regina asks if he will kill her. He responds by saying she must suffer first. Dr. Whale backs away when Regina attempts to cast a spell, but gets up in her face after finding out she's powerless. As he moves to strangle her, Emma arrives to stop him. When David pushes him away, Dr. Whale snarls at him that he is not his prince. David, realizing he actually doesn't know the identity that Dr. Whale had before the curse, asks who he is, but Dr. Whale responds that is his business. ("Broken")

While David is busy looking for Mother Superior, Dr. Whale asks him, "Are the nuns still nuns, or can they, you know, date? Don't say it's me asking." Suddenly, Leroy comes bearing bad news about what happens to a person when he or she steps out of town: their Enchanted Forest memories are lost forever. With too much going on at once, David asks everyone to regroup for a meeting at town hall in two hours time, however, David never shows up. Instead, Regina shows up, having regained her magic, and frightens Dr. Whale and the other citizens with her abilities. Fearful of living under Regina's tyranny once again, Dr. Whale and many of the other residents decide they would rather risk losing their Enchanted Forest memories by leaving town than continue to deal with her. As Dr. Whale drives out of town, David blocks all the line of cars while inspiring the townspeople with a speech to accept both their cursed and uncursed selves, which helps change their minds about leaving Storybrooke. ("We Are Both")

After hearing rumors in town that the Enchanted Forest still exists, Dr. Whale approaches David for confirmation, but receives a punch to the face from him as penance for sleeping with his wife, Mary Margaret. He defends himself by saying that was at a time no one had their Enchanted Forest memories back yet. When David considers that it's possible the Enchanted Forest is still intact, Dr. Whale becomes hopeful of returning to his own world and reuniting with his brother. He interrupts Regina's therapy session with Archie to beg her to send him back, but when she admits it's not possible, he storms out of the office and decides to get revenge by bringing back to life her dead fiancé, Daniel. The experiment is a success, but Daniel reawakens as a ferocious monster and rips off Dr. Whale's arm. Regina later finds him in a painful and disheveled state, and then goes after Daniel himself. After being treated at the hospital and preserving his bloodied arm in a cooler, Dr. Whale demands Mr. Gold's help in reattaching the arm and begrudgingly admits that he needs magic. To this, Mr. Gold puts Dr. Whale's arm back seamlessly. ("The Doctor")

During a night shift at the hospital, Dr. Whale is having more trouble letting go of his past and begins drinking on the job while neglecting to pay attention to the incoming ambulances to the hospital. Eventually, he straightens himself up to calm down a worried and agitated Mr. Gold in the hallway and reassures him Belle, who has been admitted as a patient, will be fine. He goes to check up on Greg, a stranger who crashed his car into Storybrooke and informs David, Emma, Leroy, Mary Margaret and Ruby that the man is bleeding into his chest cavity. Though Emma orders him to fix it, Dr. Whale is uncertain if he can help the stranger and implores Mr. Gold to fix Greg with magic. Mr. Gold refuses, stating he owes no favors to anyone, and since Greg saw him use magic, they should hope he dies instead of trying to save him. The group relocates to a private room to come to a decision and agree that they must save Greg's life and deal with the consequences of his arrival later. While still highly intoxicated, Dr. Whale leaves the room and examines a watch found in Greg's possession, which reminds him of a watch that his brother Gerhardt had. When David comes up to him wondering why he's not in surgery, Dr. Whale insists he is not drunk. Dr. Whale later abandons his doctorly duties by stripping himself of his hospital jacket and fleeing to the docks, where he hopes to end his life, however, Ruby arrives to grab him in time just as he jumps. He shares the heartaches of his past life with her, talking about how much he wanted the name Frankenstein to stand for life, but instead, everyone associates it with a monster. While magic comes with a price, he believes that science does as well. She sympathizes with his pain, especially since her own past is just as messy as his, but they now have a chance to start anew. She persuades him that there is still time to do good, and he returns to the hospital with her to perform the surgery on Greg. On his way into the operating room, he thanks Ruby for her support. After the surgery is successful, he notifies Emma that Greg is now awake and ready to talk about the accident. ("In the Name of the Brother")

On the street outside of the bar, Dr. Whale is intimidated by Mr. Gold and a changed Belle, who now goes by the name Lacey, into lying on the ground. Mr. Gold threatens him to kiss his shoe as punishment for looking at Lacey, and he quivers in fright until Mr. Gold's son, Neal, stops his father from harming him. Dr. Whale then takes the opportunity to escape from Mr. Gold by fleeing the area. ("Second Star to the Right")

During Second Curse

A new curse is cast by none other than Snow White; returning Victor to his life in Storybrooke as Dr. Whale. However, as a result of Wicked Witch of the West's interference, everyone's last recollection is the final day in Storybrooke when Regina stopped Pan's curse, but no one can recall anything further than that. Emma returns and holds a town hall meeting to figure out who is behind the new curse. Leroy is quick to accuse Regina of wrongdoing, which Dr. Whale agrees with wholeheartedly as do the other residents. Even Emma refuses to believe Regina, who causes a building tremor out of frustration and then magically dissipates away. Unknown to the townspeople, this is a ploy Emma and Regina set up in order to make them believe the madam mayor is guilty while the two sleuth out the real criminal. During an evening hospital shift, David, Hook, Robin Hood and some of the Merry Men bring in an unconscious Little John, who was bitten by something and begins convulsing violently. Dr. Whale attempts to administer a sedative, but a tail forming on Little John's body knocks him away. In shock, they watch as Little John transforms into a flying monkey right before their eyes and barges out a glass window. ("Witch Hunt")

One day, a pregnant Mary Margaret begins feeling ill after being temporarily possessed by the deceased spirit of Cora, causing a worried Emma to call Dr. Whale to check how the baby is. He examines Mary Margaret and tells she has a tough placenta, meaning the baby is well. ("Bleeding Through")

After Second Curse

Suddenly going into labor after the curse is broken, Mary Margaret is rushed to the hospital while Emma enacts a protective barrier to keep the Wicked Witch, Zelena, away. With Dr. Whale's assistance, she pushes the baby out just as Emma's magic is drained away and the barrier fades. After briefly checking the baby boy, Dr. Whale places him in David's arms and he passes the infant to an ecstatic Mary Margaret. Suddenly, Zelena storms in, rendering Dr. Whale unconscious as she snatches the child as the last ingredient needed for her time spell. ("Kansas")

After Third Curse

As Zelena's pregnancy rapidly advances because of Emma's magical influence, she goes into labor, with Dr. Whale present in the hospital room to help her with the birthing process. He introduces himself to Zelena, noting that the last time they met, she magically threw him across the room in order to steal Mary Margaret's baby. Regina notices his bleached hair, to which he quips about her judging him unfairly since Emma has the same color. With the doctor's help, Zelena gives birth to a healthy baby girl. Suddenly, Belle runs in to warn them about Emma's plans to use the baby to snuff out all light magic, and before they can fight back, Emma appears, flinging Dr. Whale against the wall and knocking him out, before teleporting both herself and Zelena away. ("Birth")

After a time, Dr. Whale begins running a lab in his garage to resume the work he did as Dr. Frankenstein. Snow and Regina take Dr. Jekyll to meet the doctor, who has equipment that he can use to create the serum. When Frankenstein comes out in his lab uniform, Regina introduces him as Dr. Whale to Jekyll, but the latter corrects her by saying Whale was his cursed name and that it was as Frankenstein that he's done his best work. Jekyll goes over to greet the doctor and shakes his hand before the two become engrossed in deep conversation. From watching the two doctors interacting, Mary Margaret becomes inspired and suggests to Regina that they can have both doctors on the first-graders' science faculty at school. ("The Other Shoe")

Finding a dying stranger in the woods, David brings the man to the hospital for surgery. Dr. Whale later provides Snow with a good prognosis on the man's health and tells her that the surgery went well. ("Dark Waters")


Unknown †
Alphonse Frankenstein
Victor Frankenstein
Dr. Whale
Gerhardt Frankenstein


  • Solid lines denote parent-child blood relationships
  • Dashed lines denote marriages that result in offspring
  • denotes the deceased



Character Notes

  • Victor Frankenstein is the first character to appear from a work of literature not written for children.
  • Unlike most known characters in Storybrooke, Dr. Whale is not a native of the Enchanted Forest, but another realm. Dr. Whale's presence confirms that Regina was able to bring people originally from other magical realms to Storybrooke through the curse. ("The Doctor")
  • Dr. Whale is one of the few Storybrooke inhabitants to have a different accent from his counterpart. ("The Doctor" et al.)
  • Victor's commission letter[2] is written in German. It transliterates as: ("In the Name of the Brother")
"Dear Doctor Viktor [sic] Frankenstein,

by the forces of power and authority, which are invested in me by the Chancellor and the Emperor's Commission, I appoint you FIELD MEDIC.
You are expected to carefully and conscientiously execute the duties of the medical field and to serve as an example to lower ranked officers and soldiers. We expect you to follow said instructions to keep order and discipline and execute future commands. Posted in arms, written by me and sealed on the third of March. By order of the Emperor invested in me, T Herman.

Captain T Herman, 34th Mobile Division
Klagenfurt, Carinthia
Klagenfurt-Land County in the name of the Minister-President of the Austrian Empire"

Production Notes

  • Actor David Anders originally auditioned for the role of Prince Charming, but ended up being offered the role of Dr. Whale instead.[3]
  • David Anders knew from the very beginning that Dr. Whale was really Victor Frankenstein because the casting director explained that everybody on the show played two characters and told him right away that Whale would be Dr. Frankenstein. That was the reason he why took the part.[3]
  • David Anders wanted to use an English accent for the character, but the show creators said no.[4]
  • The character of Victor Frankenstein was inspired by Mary Shelley's husband,[5] Percy Shelley, who was known to be a womanizer.[6] Dr. Frankenstein's Storybrooke counterpart Dr. Whale is also a womanizer. ("Snow Falls", "The Shepherd", "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter", "Red-Handed", "Second Star to the Right")
  • According to David Anders, Ruby and Dr. Whale were originally going to be love interests after the events of "In the Name of the Brother". However, these plans were shelved once Meghan Ory left the series to star in the short-lived CBS drama Intelligence.[7]
  • The reason why Dr. Whale's hair is dyed blonde in "Birth" and "The Other Shoe" is because David Anders bleached his hair for his role on the television series iZombie.[8] Dr. Whale's and Regina's comments about his hair in "Birth" are a tip of the hat to the people at iZombie, who worked with Once Upon a Time's schedule so that they could get David Anders back.[9]
  • David Anders is credited in the press release for "Leaving Storybrooke" despite not appearing at all.[10] This was likely meant to say David Avalon who is in the episode but not in the press release.
    • Dr. Whale’s name is also misspelled in the press release as Dr. Wale.

Fairytales and Folklore

  • In the traditional Frankenstein stories, there is always an angry mob out to destroy Dr. Frankenstein's creation. After the curse is broken, Dr. Whale leads an angry mob. ("Broken")
  • Although the literary (and movie) Frankenstein is better known for reconstructing people from parts of different bodies, the Once Upon a Time version makes use of a magic heart to bring people back to life. That said, when his brother revives, he is clearly stitched together a la the classic Frankenstein monster. ("The Doctor", "In the Name of the Brother")

Popular Culture

  • The scene where Frankenstein's monster comes to life in "The Doctor" (parts of the scene are also re-used in "In the Name of the Brother"), is based on the famous movie scene where the creature comes to life in the 1931 Frankenstein horror film: The scene is shot in black and white and takes place in a laboratory during a thunder storm, where Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant, surrounded by highly technical equipment, try to bring the creature to life as it lies under a white shroud on a big table. A harnessed lightning bolt is used to bring the creature to life (in the novel, it is implied that the creature comes to life via electricity, referred to as a "spark of being", as seen in Chapter 5; however, no lightning or thunderstorm is present). As the monster awakens, it raises its arm and there is a close-up of its hand, prompting the doctor to say, "It's alive", all of which mirror the iconic movie scene.
  • "In the Name of the Brothers" contains additional references to the 1931 horror film:
    • Victor's attempts to find a body to experiment on by digging up a corpse from a grave. In the 1931 film, the titular character states that he made the creature from bodies he took from graves (and other places). In the novel, Dr. Frankenstein assembles the creature from body parts sewn together, but it is not stated where he got them.
    • Victor succeeds in his experiment by using a enchanted heart. In the movie, Dr. Frankenstein states that he experimented on a human heart, which he kept beating for three weeks.

Props Notes

  • Though the credits and the show's website spell his name "Victor", the commission he is given by his father spells his name "Viktor."[2] ("In the Name of the Brother")
    • "Victor" is the Anglicanised form of the German name "Viktor".[11]

Set Dressing

Costume Notes


"Archive" denotes archive footage.

See also


  1. Once Upon a Time - Behind the Magic, Titan Books, London, October 2013, p. 162. Facsimile by Google Books.
    David Anders (October 28, 2012). James Whale? Director of Frankenstein?" Yup! That's the wink Eddie & Adam had in mind. You cracked the code. Twitter. Archived from the original on June 26, 2013.
    The Official ABC Once Upon a Time Podcast: "The Doctor". ABC (2012). (At 00:08:35)
  2. 2.0 2.1 File:212Commission.png
  3. 3.0 3.1 Shawn (August 15, 2013). NERDIST AND THE WHALE – AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID ANDERS. “N: The producers came to you with the part of Frankenstein, not Dr. Whale? DA: No. I would’ve demanded to know what I was playing. At the time the show hadn't aired yet. I think I'd read for Charming at one point, I don't remember, but the casting director explained that everybody plays two characters and told me right away that my character would be Frankenstein. I didn’t understand how that fit into the fairy tale world, but I said, "Sure, I'll play the sh-t out of that."”
  4. David Anders Talks Once Upon A Time Season 3 & Which Disney Characters He Wants To See Next!. Wetpaint (July 17, 2013). Archived from the original on April 15, 2017. (At 00:00:39)
  5. Frankenstein, Harold Bloom, Chelsea House Publishers, 2004, p. 170. Facsimile by Google Books.
  6. Naughty Boys: Ten Rogues of Oxford, Rob Walters, 2011, p. 75. Facsimile by Google Books.
  7. Mitovich, Matt Webb (May 31, 2013). Once Upon a Time EP: Storybrooke Will Not Be Forgotten -- Plus: The Hook-Up You Won't See. TVLine. “Had Ruby been able to stick around, it appears she may have found a "spark" with Victor Frankenstein aka Storybrooke's Dr. Whale. "I know they were talking about exploring a relationship between us," David Anders shared at the Upfront event for USA Network, where he now recurs on Necessary Roughness, "but Meghan just got her own show! So there's that. But I’m so, so proud of her."”
    David Anders fanboys over Frankenwolf. YouTube (June 13, 2015).
  8. Moynihan, Robb (July 10, 2015). How iZombie Makeup Turns Rose McIver Into the Undead. TV Insider. “David Anders [who plays fellow zombie Blaine DeBeers] bleached his hair, and that definitely made the process easier because we didn't have to worry about wigs.”
  9. David H. Goodman on the Season Five Blu-ray/DVD commentary for "Birth"
  10. Once Upon a Time: Leaving Storybrooke (5/18) - SERIES FINALE. Disney ABC Press (May 14, 2018).
  11. Given Name VICTOR. Behind the Name. Retrieved on September 6, 2018.
  12. File:603WhalesCar.png
  13. File:603TheRefrigerator.png
  14. File:205Science.png
  15. File:212IDidIt.png