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This article focuses on the first iteration of Gretel.
For the second iteration, see Gretel (Sisterhood).
For the story, see "Hansel and Gretel".

You're... you're letting us go?
—Gretel to the Evil Queen

Gretel, currently known as Ava Zimmer, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. She débuts, with her only appearance, in the ninth episode of the first season and is portrayed by guest star Karley Scott Collins.

Gretel is based on the character of the same name from the fairytale, "Hansel and Gretel".


Before First Curse

In the woods, Gretel and her younger brother, Hansel, meet up with their father, who is chopping down wood for their hearth. Their father asks them to take the cart and collect dry kindling, but before the two children set off, he gives his compass to Gretel so she and her brother don't get lost and can always find their way back to him. After collecting some kindling, Gretel notices it is getting late and wants to get back to her father. She takes away the slingshot that Hansel is playing with and begins using the compass to navigate the area, while her brother pushes the cart. The siblings arrive back to where they last saw their father, but he is no longer there. As they shout for him, they hear a man crying out in pain and rush out to the road, where they are surprised by a pair of Black Knights, the Queen's guards. Gretel crashes onto the ground to avoid them, which breaks the compass. One of the guards forces the children up and shoves them in front of the Queen, Regina, who questions what they are doing in her woods. Gretel tells her they just lost their father, and while at first Regina expresses sympathy for their plight, she then orders her guards to seize them. While Hansel is told by his sister to run, Gretel hits one of the Queen's guards with the slingshot before fleeing the area. Regina blocks them by teleporting in front of them and then uses roots to pin them to the ground. She calls their escape attempt foolish but also notes their bravery, which is exactly why she decides to spare them. She agrees to find their father for them if they retrieve a black leather satchel from the Blind Witch's house that contains something which was once hers. Regina instructs them to wait until nightfall for when the witch is asleep before going into the house, and she forbids them from eating anything inside the home no matter how tempting they may seem. ("True North")

Upon entering the house, Gretel and Hansel become prisoners of the witch after Hansel accidentally wakes her up by taking a bite of a cupcake. As the Blind Witch prepares her oven for cooking Hansel, Gretel instructs her brother to grab a key from the witch's pocket and give it to her so she can unlock the cage door. Hansel, however, is too scared to do it when the witch comes to get him, so Gretel puffs up her cheeks to make the witch choose her instead. Gretel pilfers the key and tosses it to Hansel, who frees himself and goes to get a cane to attack the witch. Hansel trips as Gretel is having her hands bound up, causing the witch to shove Gretel aside as she magically propels the cane out of Hansel's hand. The witch begins dragging Hansel away, but Gretel pushes her onto the cooking rack instead before she and her brother lock her in the oven. After Hansel grabs the leather satchel, he and Gretel flee back to Regina's castle to deliver it to her. The siblings are anxious to be reunited with their father, though Regina ponders if they truly want to be with someone who abandoned them. As Gretel sadly laments that their father is all she and Hansel have, Regina suggests they can live with her and she will give their hearts' desire, with their own rooms, personal carriages, and valets. Despite this, Gretel professes she and her brother only care about finding their father, no matter if he deserted them or not because they don't want to be with someone as terrible as her. Angered at their refusal of her, Regina sends them to the Infinite Forest, where, unknown to the children, their father has also been banished to by the Queen so the three will wander in search of each other forever, never to be reunited. ("True North")

During First Curse

Twelve year old Nicholas and Ava Zimmer attempt to steal food from the pharmacy by putting it into Henry's backpack. When caught, they try to frame him for it, but are taken home by sheriff Swan. However, as Emma starts to get out of her car, Ava says her parents would be too embarrassed if she came in. Emma informs them she can tell whenever someone is lying to her, but Ava sticks by the given story.

Seemingly satisfied, Emma watches them go to the doorstep and then drives away. Once she is gone, the children run from the house and take the back alleyway to an abandoned house. They hear someone moving upstairs and go up to investigate to find Emma waiting for them. She asks where their parents are and Ava admits they do not have any.

Searching for information on the siblings' parents, she learns their mother, Dory, passed away some time ago. Her only clue is a trinket Dory used to keep, and she goes to Mr. Gold to ask him if someone in town purchased the item in his shop before. Mr. Gold is able to give her the name of the man, Michael Tillman, a local mechanic. Michael denies the children are his, but recognizes the item Emma shows him, which is something he gave to Dory a long time ago. He wants nothing to do with his kids, especially since he has been unaware of their existence until now, and cannot accept the responsibility. With his outright rejection, Emma has no choice but to follow the plan of bringing the children to Boston where they will go into the foster care system. As they leave, Emma's car breaks down and she calls Michael.

As the children wait in the car, Ava notices her compass is beginning to move. Michael arrives in his tow truck and realizes the children are his. Ava and Nicholas watch from the backseat as he and Emma converse. Michael agrees to assume care of his children, and makes his way towards them. ("True North")


Mother †
Dory Zimmer
Michael Tillman
Ava Zimmer
Nicholas Zimmer


  • Solid lines denote blood parent-child relationship
  • Dashed lines denote marriage, engagement and adoption relationships, and relationships that result in offspring
  • denotes the deceased


Character Notes

4979 MA
Telephone: 555-0145
Fax: 555-0146
[image begins]RATIVE − [three illegible words] Sun 10/14 11:22 − [illegible word] 03 – 10 – 0742
[image begins]ARY PLACEMENT − [illegible word] Dorris Zimmer [sic]

[image begins]. Sheriff Graham responded to the are of Franklin Drive in
[image begins] our vehicle parked in the woods. The explainant, Neil Westlake,
[image begins]gar one parked in the woods and is wounded like [illegible word] was
[image begins] woods. Upon Graham's arrival, he found a white [illegible word], early 90’s
[image begins]s. He made contact with the driver, Dorris Zimmer [sic], 01/01/02.
[image begins]he was suffering from clinical depression and that she was not

[image begins]ed and checked the area. She was largely incoherent and is
[image begins] [illegible]. This prompted the Sheriff to further inspect the vehicle,
[image begins] ran taped to the tall pipe of the vehicle. At this [illegible word],
[image begins] and taken into custody under the [illegible word] of the Baker Act.

[image begins]he no longer wants to live. She also keeps stating that she was
[image begins]le.” She admitted that she had been institutionalized two times
[image begins] suicide.

[image begins] background check, it was [illegible word] that Zimmer had a previ-
[image begins] incident during the New Year festivities in Storybrooke Park.

[image begins]re called and Zimmer was transferred to the Storybrooke Mental
[image begins]is point, the Clinical Psychiatrist on duty alerted the Special
[image begins] [illegible word] in the presence of her two children, Nicholas and Ava (both 4

[image begins]fed and the children were found alone at the Zimmer
[image begins]is Boulevard, since − without a primary caregiver present. The
[image begins] into short-term foster care while while Zimmer underwent further
[image begins]sted this file was S.B. Edwards who is responsible through the
[image begins] and impounded at the municipal premises on Will Road.
("The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter")

Script Notes


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  1. 1.0 1.1 File:107DartMisses.png
  2. File:109BirthCertificate.png
  3. ONCE UPON A TIME "Pilot" by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz (PDF) pp. 28. Retrieved on November 19, 2018. “And then the DOOR FLIES OPEN. In walks A WOODCUTTER, accompanied by his two children. HANSEL and GRETEL. They HAUL in a LARGE TREE TRUNK. Plop it on the ground.”
  4. File:109HanselAndGretel.png
  5. File:118HanselAndGretel.png
  6. File:218TheseAre.png
  7. File:310HanselAndGretel.png

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