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This article focuses on the Season Five character.
For the Disney film, see Hercules (Film).

You can't let the fear of failing stop you from trying.
—Hercules to Snow White src

Hercules, also known as Herc, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. He débuts, with his only appearance, in the thirteenth episode of the fifth season and is portrayed by guest star Jonathan Whitesell.

Hercules is based on Heracles from Greek Mythology, and on the character of the same name from the Disney film Hercules.


Before First Curse

Born to Zeus and an unknown mortal woman, Hercules is a demigod with the power of super strength. He is told at some point in his life that he must complete the Twelve Labors, in order to be able to go to Mount Olympus, where he will be reunited with his father and become immortal. He nearly dies while trying to complete the first Labor, killing the Nemean Lion, due to its steel-like fur blocking his sword strikes. However, when it knocks him down, he drops his torch, which burns the fur off of the lion and allows him to strike it down. From this experience, Hercules adopts the belief that fear of failure should not keep him from trying because it was from failing that helped him succeed. ("Labor of Love")

Before attempting the twelfth task, slaying Cerberus, Hercules saves Snow White from a hunter trap. They tell each other of their plights, and Hercules encourages the princess to stop the bandit Dead Eye from attacking her kingdom and prove herself as a capable ruler to her people. When Snow White insists that she is not a hero, he decides to train her with his bow and arrow, encouraging her with the story of how fearful he was before battling the Nemean Lion. As Hercules teaches her how to hold a bow, he flirts with her, stating that he's using this as an excuse to enjoy the little time he has left, before he goes to Mount Olympus, by spending it with her. After some training, the pair heads to a village where the bandits are attacking, and Snow White threatens Dead Eye with her new archery skills as Hercules watches on. However, she quickly loses her bravado, after spilling all her arrows from her quiver. When Dead Eye threatens her with his sword, Hercules punches the ground with his fist, triggering a brief earthquake, to force the bandit into leaving. Miserable over this defeat, Snow White loses hope, but Hercules tries again to encourage her. He tells her the true story of how he defeated the Nemean Lion, that it was entirely by accident, yet it was through failing that he won. This time, when the princess confronts the bandits, she is able to knock Dead Eye's sword out of his hand with a single arrow. She threatens to do the same to the other bandits, and with the armed villagers backing her up, Dead Eye and his allies retreat. Before leaving to battle Cerberus, Hercules asks Snow White to come with him, but she opts to stay and look out for her kingdom. Proud over her success, he concludes that, one day, she will be a great queen. The two friends, having mutual feelings for each other, say goodbye to each other with a kiss. ("Labor of Love")

Shortly after, Hercules finds Cerberus chasing a girl. He tells her to run before he faces the beast himself, but he dies due to Cerberus' other two heads striking him when he tries to attack one. Due to never finishing the Twelve Labors, and also being unable to save the girl, who dies shortly after him, Hercules is sent to the Underworld, where he begins working at the docks sorting boat parts. ("Labor of Love")

After Third Curse

Hercules is reunited with the grown-up Snow White, Mary Margaret, when she arrives to the Underworld with her daughter to save Hook. Having learned from a prisoner of Hades' that Killian is being guarded by Cerberus, Mary Margaret asks Hercules to slay the hellbeast so they can set him free, believing it to be his destiny. Furthermore, she insists doing so will clear away his unfinished business and allow him to reach Mount Olympus as he always wanted. Hercules is reluctant to accept the task, stating that the hero he used to be died long ago, but Mary Margaret recalls what he once told her, that fear of failure shouldn't keep someone from trying. Accompanied by Mary Margaret, Regina and Emma, he heads into the mines to search for Cerberus and then ventures deeper on his own, coming face to face with the three-headed beast. In a panic, he drops his weapon and runs back to his party. Before Cerberus can reach the group, the beast is called off by Hades, who reveals himself, only to antagonize all of them. Hades alludes to how Hercules died, which Mary Margaret later grills Hercules for details on, in order to figure out what prevented him from actually killing Cerberus. Hercules admits he should have never fought Cerberus alone then because no matter how valiantly he fought one of the heads, the other two were too much for him. From this, Mary Margaret realizes he needs two other people to help kill Cerberus. The pair join up with Megara, a woman who Cerberus is after, and the trio take down the creature, with each person killing one of the three heads. With teamwork, the trio defeat the hellbeast, which not only completes Hercules' twelfth labor, but also results in him "rescuing" Megara. At the Blind Witch's diner, Megara realizes he was the man she ran into shortly before Cerberus killed her, and she thanks him for saving her this time when he couldn't then. Having finished their business in the Underworld, he and Megara leave for Mount Olympus, after saying a final goodbye to Mary Margaret and her friends. ("Labor of Love")


Human Mother


  • Solid lines denote blood parent-child relationships
  • Dashed lines denote marriage relationships that result in offspring
  • denotes the deceased
  • Zeus and Hercules' mother were never married


Character Notes

  • "Hercules" is actually the name used in Roman mythology, while Greek Mythology uses the name Heracles. Interestingly, Hercules' gravestone inn the Underworld reads HERCVLES.[2] On stone inscriptions in Ancient Rome, the U/V letters were both written like the letter V. This is because Latin did not originally have separate letters V and U. Instead, the letter V represented both, and could be pronounced as a consonant like "w" (as in "well") or as a vowel like "oo" (as in "good").[3] ("Labor of Love")

Production Notes

  • The casting call describes him as "a dashing, strapping young man who is single-minded in his pursuit of his destiny: to be the greatest hero who ever lived. All that changes however, when he falls in love with a beautiful princess."[4]

Props Notes



"Archive" denotes archive footage.

See also


  1. File:521HiddenPageTwo2.png
  2. File:513You.png
  3. Why was V once used as U?. Quora (July 19, 2018).
  4. Mitovich, Matt Webb (November 6, 2015). Once Upon a Time Casts Hercules, Meg — Plus: Scoop on a Returning Heroine!. TVLine. “As previously revealed in my Inside Line column, Hercules is described as "a dashing, strapping young man" who is "single-minded in his pursuit of his destiny: to be the greatest hero who ever lived. All that changes however, when he falls in love with a beautiful princess."”
  5. File:513NotAHero.png
  6. File:219Aiming.png
  7. File:513ThisMedal.png
  8. File:521HelpTheMost.png

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