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You're turning green, dearie. Envy will do that to you.

Rumplestiltskin to Zelena

"It's Not Easy Being Green" is the sixteenth episode of Season Three of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Andrew Chambliss and directed by Mario Van Peebles. It is the sixtieth episode of the series overall, and premiered on April 6, 2014.


With Rumplestiltskin as her slave, Zelena challenges Regina to a fight to the death and shocks the Evil Queen with the reveal of their familial connection, and the town lays Neal to rest. Meanwhile, back in the past in the land of Oz, a jealous Zelena asks the Wizard to send her to Enchanted Forest after discovering that she has a sister, Regina, and that Rumplestiltskin is training her to become a powerful force to be reckoned with.[2]


This section is a detailed recap of this episode. There are major spoilers. Click to expand.

Years ago, a woodcutter and his wife are walking in the woods when suddenly a tornado manifests; dropping a basket containing a beautiful baby girl. The man is hesitant, but his wife accepts the baby readily. While the woman remains unaware, her husband witnesses the infant use magic to move aside a falling tree. The woman names the child Zelena and raises her as their own daughter in Oz.

In Storybrooke, Emma, Henry, Hook, and other townspeople quietly take turns shoveling dirt onto Neal's coffin. Emma steps up to shovel some dirt and she stares at her necklace.

In Zelena's cellar, Mr. Gold mourns for his son while Zelena cruelly taunts him over his death, dagger in hand. She asked him if he was worth all the trouble. Mr. Gold retorts that she knows nothing about family.

Many years after Zelena's adoption in Oz, Zelena is shaving her father's facial hair when she accidentally cuts him. Apologetically, she conjures a wiping rag for him, though her use of magic only frightens and angers him. He furiously calls her "wicked" for using witchcraft, driving Zelena to tears, reasoning she can't help her magic use. Abruptly, her adoptive father reveals she is not his biological daughter and recalls how he and her deceased adoptive mother found her as an infant. Hurt by her father's words, she leaves home to see the Wizard of Oz. In the Wizard's audience room, Zelena asks to know about her past. Zelena is shown the day her birth mother, Cora, abandoned her because she wished to gain royal status, which was something her first-born child could not give her. At first, upon learning she has a half-sister, Regina, Zelena is happy. However, she is troubled that unlike herself, Regina was able to marry into royalty and fulfill Cora's desires. In one image, Zelena sees Regina being taught magic by Rumplestiltskin and becomes angry that he is teaching her sister and not herself.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma is throwing darts at Granny's as Hook tries to comfort her about Neal's death. Hook offers to talk to Henry and tell him stories about his father. Tinker Bell enters, sees Regina looking at the lion tattoo on Robin Hood, and realizes he is Regina's soulmate. Tinker Bell is confused and lectures Regina for not opening herself up to love, and that if she did her life wouldn't end up the way it did. Regina is offended and Tink gives up and walks away. Zelena storms in with the dark one's dagger. Emma tries to attack Zelena but Snow holds her back. David threatens Zelena to not come any closer and Zelena admits she is not here today for their baby but here to pay a visit to her little sister, Regina. Everyone is surprised and confused. Zelena reveals that Cora lied to Regina, in that she was not her only child. See demands that Regina meets her on Main Street at sundown. Regina asks why and Zelena replies that she will destroy the Evil Queen.

At the docks, Hook is showing Henry his boat and Henry jokes that his mom is always pawning him off with people who have boats. Hook admits to Henry that he was friends with his father Neal when he was a boy. Henry asks what his father was like as a child. Hook invites him on board the ship and he can see for himself.

Back at Granny's everyone is trying to figure out why Zelena wants to kill Regina. They all argue, disagreeing with each other when Regina leaves to try to find out what Zelena thinks Regina did to her.

In Oz, Zelena is walking through the castle to meet Oz. The guards quickly pull away from their staffs. Oz knows Zelena came because she wants to find her family. Oz offers to help but tells her that it won't be easy. Oz shows Zelena that Cora left her and she was brought there by a cyclone. Zelena asks why Cora abandoned her and Oz tells her that it was because she couldn't give Cora the one thing she wanted, to become royalty. Oz shows Zelena that Regina is her sister and that she was able to give Cora what she wanted. Regina is a Queen and being trained by Rumplestiltskin to do magic. Zelena becomes envious that Rumplestiltskin should be teaching her magic and not Regina. Oz grants her a pair of shoes that she can click the heels three times to find Rumple, demanding she brings something back that belongs to Rumplestiltskin. Zelena clicks her heels three times and appears in Regina's castle. She is rummaging through her closet. Rumplestiltskin appears thinking it was Regina but finds Zelena instead. Zelena admits she is Cora's firstborn but Rumplestiltskin admits this is a surprise. He holds out a flask to find the truth and find that Zelena was not lying.

Back in Storybroooke, Regina and Snow are looking through her vault to find a letter. After reading the note, it is evident what Zelena says is true. On Main Street, David, Emma, Snow, Tinkerbell, and Belle gather to try to protect the town and realize Regina is missing. Belle offered to try and convince Rumpelstiltskin another way Regina is pretty clear she doesn't want help.

In the woods, Regina is looking over the letter she found when Robin Hood appears behind a tree. Robin Hood stole it out of her pocket and asks if he can read the letter. Regina doesn't stop him.

The letter was written by Rumple to Cora letting her know she has found her firstborn and that he thinks she is even more powerful than Cora. Regina admits to Robin Hood that she has seen the letter a million times before and found comfort in it but only now she realizes the letter wasn't about her but it was about Zelena. If Rumplestiltskin, the man who taught her everything she knows about magic, thinks Zelena is stronger than her, there is no way she can win the fight with Zelena.

In Oz, Rumple is teaching Zelena magic and she is to find Rumple by channeling her anger and emotions. She quickly loses control and Rumple suggests she think of a happy memory to control her magic. Zelena asks Rumple to give her an example and reveals that it is the meat pie that the spinsters, who took him in after he became orphaned, made for him that he ate and felt happy enough to forget the pain he had from his father's abandonment of him. Zelena finds her moment of happiness and bakes Rumple a meat pie and asks to be the one to cast his spell. Rumple tells her no because in order to cast the spell, she has to give up something she loves and that thing is him, and he can't have her do that. As Zelena rants about how Regina doesn't even deserve to have him as her teacher, Rumplestiltskin points out that her skin is starting to turn green with envy.

In Storybrooke, Belle, Emma, David, Tinkerbell, and Snow find Rumple in the cellar in Zelena's barn. Rumple tells her to leave because he is afraid of what Zelena will do to her. Rumple bursts out and threatens them to stay out of Zelena's way of destroying Regina or they will all pay. Hook is seen showing Henry how to use the sextant like he showed Baelfire. Henry only wants to learn about his dad.

Zelena goes to town and gets ready to battle Regina with Rumplestiltskin in tow. Regina shows up and demands to know what she ever did to Zelena Zelena says her mistake was that she was born, in which Regina replies by slapping Zelena.

Zelena thinks that Rumplestiltskin is wasting his time on teaching Regina, and threatens to kill her in her castle. When she stabs Regina, a cloud of green smoke reveals Rumplestiltskin, who was shapeshifting. Zelena tries to convince Rumple to let her cast his curse, though this is shown impossible because she would have to give up the thing she loves the most. Zelena's most beloved item is Rumple, and he isn't willing to sacrifice himself. Zelena's skin becomes even greener. Her magical slippers intrigue Rumple, but she uses them to go back to Oz. Right before she goes, she tells Rumple that he should've chosen her. Zelena wants to know what it is that Regina can do that she can't. Rumple tells her she can't get him to a place with no magic. Zelena remembers she has the shoes that Oz gave her that can take him wherever he wants to go. When Rumple tries to change his mind since he wants the slippers, she tells him it is too late since he already chose Regina and the only way he'll get the slippers is by killing her. Rumplestiltskin lunges at her, but Zelena teleports away and promises she will see him again. She then clicks the heels of the slippers and disappears.

Back to the fight, Zelena tells Regina that Rumplestiltskin should've chosen her, and Regina realizes that she's jealous of her, and therefore has done all these terrible things. The fight starts, but Zelena is more powerful. Zelena wants Regina's heart, and when she digs her hand in to try to take it, there is no heart because Regina remembered what her mother taught her, never to bring her heart to a fight, something she would know if Cora didn't abandon her. Zelena threatens she will take everything Regina ever had, in which Regina replies "not today".

Emma, David, and Snow show up and Regina reveals to them that Zelena wants her heart, David's courage, and Gold's brain and that they are ingredients for something.

Regina runs through the forest to find Robin Hood guarding her heart but asks Robin Hood to hold on to it. Robin Hood tells Regina she still owes him a drink.

Hook returns Henry to his mother and tells Emma that she needs to tell Henry about Neal.

Zelena locks Rumple back in the cell and he tells her that he would still pick Regina. Whatever spell she is casting won't change anything. She tells him she's not casting a spell but a second chance.

Zelena goes back to see Oz demanding the Wizard bring her back to the past to the moment where her mother abandoned her. He tells her he can't do that; even his powers have limits. Zelena rips off his curtain to reveal that Oz is really Walsh, Emma's ex, and he was behind it. He tells her that the shoes are real even though he has no magic. He collects things that can do magic to carry on his charade. He tells her no magic is strong enough to do what she wants. She then tells him she has no use for him. What she needs is someone to do whatever she wants without any question, like a circus animal, and turns him into a flying monkey.

In Oz, Zelena sees Rumple praising Regina as the best student he has ever had and Zelena vows to take it away and turns fully green. The episode ends on "When I'm done, Regina, You'll never have been born".

Deleted Scenes

These scenes are included on Once Upon a Time: The Complete Third Season.

"Force Fed"

Zelena forces Mr. Gold to eat using the dagger. While he eats his meat pie dinner, she exclaims that soon, he will obey her of his own volition rather than being forced to.


Trying to feel some connection with the father he no longer remembers, Henry tells Emma that being on the boat with Hook was the closest he's felt to his father. Emma then takes off her swan necklace and asks Henry if he wants to hear about how Neal gave it to her.



Guest Starring



*: Only in archive footage



  • The title card features the Wizard's four geysers of fire.[4]
  • The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on January 14, 2014.[5]
  • MUSICAL INSPIRATION: The title of the episode comes from the song "Bein' Green" by Kermit the Frog, made famous on Sesame Street in the early seventies, and later on The Muppet Show; the latter was acquired by Disney in 2004.[6] The song contains the lyrics "It's not that easy bein' green / Having to spend each day / The color of the leaves" and "It's not easy bein' green / It seems you blend in / With so many other ordinary things".

Production Notes

Event Chronology

Episode Connections



Fairytales and Folklore

  • One of the circus and freak show acts listed is "The Bottle Imp",[10] an 1891 short story by Robert Louis Stevenson. In it, the protagonist buys a bottle with an imp inside that grants wishes. However, the bottle is cursed; if the holder dies bearing it, their soul is forfeit to hell.
  • Pictured on the poster is a mermaid, a fabled marine creature from European folklore.[11]
  • Walsh says that he is from a place called Kansas, which is where Dorothy Gale is from in the novel.

Popular Culture

Props Notes

Set Dressing

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: According to the poster, Walsh's circus is called The Omaha Circus and Freak Show.[9] In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel, Omaha was the name of the Wizard's birthplace. The circus and freak show acts listed are:
  • "The sorcerer's black tent"[9]
  • The Feejee mermaid,[10] an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish. During the 1800s, it was a common feature of sideshows, where it was presented as a version of a mermaid.
  • The Bottle Imp ("living human head confined in a glass bottle"):[10] "The Bottle Imp" is an 1891 short story by Robert Louis Stevenson. In it, the protagonist buys a bottle with an imp inside that grants wishes. However, the bottle is cursed; if the holder dies bearing it, their soul is forfeit to hell.
  • The Dog Faced Boy,[17] a reference to Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy, a famous Russian sideshow performer during the 1800s, who suffered from the medical condition hypertrichosis.
  • The bearded lady:[10] Women with visible beard have a rich history in the sideshows of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The flying monkeys[10]

Costume Notes

  • BRAND INFO: Belle is wearing[24] a RED Valentino Uva Tweed Coat[25] over an Alice + Olivia Houndstooth Top with Collar[26] (no longer available). Note that the coat was hemmed and the middle button was removed by the costume department.
  • BRAND INFO: Tinker Bell is wearing[29] a Francis Leon Stevie Black And Stone Leather Jacket (no longer available).[30]

Filming Locations


  • In the mirror scene where Cora abandons her child, after she puts her daughter down, she immediately walks out of there and goes. However, this scene is not matched with the one in "Bleeding Through", where after Cora puts her daughter down, first she tells her about why she's leaving her and slowly walks out of there which makes it impossible to do that all in a couple of seconds.
  • When Regina is placing her heart in a bag after retrieving it from a hiding place in the woods with Robin Hood, the image is mirrored when the camera is focused on her during her line "she said I don't always realize what I have right in front of me". This can be seen as the parting in her hair changes from her left to her right and her lip scar is not visible.

International Titles



  1. Sunday Final Ratings: ‘Once Upon a Time’, ‘American Dream Builders’, ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ & ‘Resurrection’ Adjusted Up. TV by the Numbers (April 8, 2014). “Once Upon A Time (...) 7.26”
  2. 2.0 2.1 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, April 06, 2014. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#316) "It's Not Easy Being Green".”
  3. TwitterLogo.svg @JaneEspenson (Jane Espenson) on Twitter (April 21, 2014). "I believe all the shots of Cora were the lovely @rosemcgowan in this ep. No doubles used that I know of." (screenshot)
  4. File:316Title.png
  5. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (January 14, 2014). "Hiatus #OnceUponATime #titlespoiler time! Hope to see ya in March!" (screenshot)
  6. Susman, Gary (February 18, 2004). Disney buys the Muppets. Entertainment Weekly. “In a deal announced Tuesday, Disney said it was buying the rights to the characters from "The Muppet Show," the various Muppet movies, and the kiddie show "Bear in the Big Blue House" from the Henson family, heirs to Muppet creator Jim Henson.”
  7. Van Norman, Zach (May 10, 2015). OnceUponaFan interview with rebecca mader. The L Chat (originally published by Once Upon a Fan). “When we meet in the town square and I flew through the air. That was 5 o'clock in the morning. I was really ill with bronchitis. I was so cold. You know it could have been a really hideous experience, but it was just epic.” (Note: The original link has been taken offline.)
  8. File:316AndYoureSure.png
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 File:316No.png
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 File:316LooksAtPoster.png
  11. Mermaid. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on October 13, 2021. “In European folklore, mermaids (sometimes called sirens) and mermen were natural beings who, like fairies, had magical and prophetic powers.”
  12. File:316GreenDearie.png
  13. File:516LookingAtTheMirror.png
  14. File:518ToMakeMe.png
  15. File:620FinallyTheMoment.png
  16. File:608NoWayOut.png
  17. File:316Transformation.png
  18. File:316TheseSlippers.png
  19. Georgina Bridal. Peter Fox Shoes. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011.
  20. File:316TooManyPeople.png
  21. ALEXANDER MCQUEEN Black/White Crochet Knit Cardigan Sweater Size M. Yoogi's Closet. Retrieved on September 21, 2018.
  22. File:316VeryLongTime.png
  23. VICTORIA BECKHAM CONTRAST SLEEVE V-NECK DRESS. Lane Crawford. Retrieved on September 21, 2018.
  24. File:316ToStopHer.png
  25. RED Valentino Solid Tweed Coat. Last Call. Retrieved on September 21, 2018.
  26. alice + olivia Houndstooth Top with Collar. Shopbop. Retrieved on September 21, 2018.
  27. File:321SorryToDisappoint.png
  28. File:418Regina.png
  29. File: 316ToStopHer.png
  30. FRANCIS LEON Stevie Black And Stone Leather Jacket. Endource. Retrieved on September 21, 2018.
  31. File:316TownGathering.png (the bystander can be seen in the upper right corner of the screenshot)
  32. File:217FixASAP.png
  33. Screenshot from Stargate SG-1: "Sight Unseen"
  34. Screenshot from Supernatural: "Meet the New Boss"
  35. File:316ZelenaEnters.png
  36. "Robin Hood" Oz Guard ensemble from Once Upon a Time Season 4, Episode 18.. iCollector. Archived from the original on March 4, 2019. “Inspired by the legendary designs by Adrian for the MGM musical.”
  37. 37.0 37.1 Gittins, Susan (January 23, 2014). SHOOT: ONCE UPON A TIME Films Jared Gilmore & Colin O'Donoghue at Steveston's Garry Point Park. Hollywood North Buzz. “What are Once Upon a Time's Henry (Jared Gilmore) and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) doing together on a beach with a campfire? Season three's back half of episodes are a mystery to me and that’s fine most of the time except when it comes to knowing how large a spoiler scene this is. Medium? Major? Once Upon a Time crew set up on this beach in Steveston's Garry Point Park at night before to shoot the season two finale Neverland scene.”
  38. Gittins, Susan (March 31, 2012). SHOOT: ONCE UPON A TIME's Neverland at Steveston's Garry Point Park for Season Finale 2×22 – Updated. Hollywood North Buzz. “Then in late afternoon, production moved to a beach in the 75-acre waterfront Garry Point Park, west of the historic fishing village. There they filmed a way-too-spoilery to-share scene on the beach with some Fairy Tale World characters and grownup Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James, who tweeted that Thursday was his final day of shooting season two). And then Once Upon a Time filmed a flashback of a night in Neverland, featuring the Lost Boys and young Baelfire (Dylan Schmid) in a row boat coming to shore.”