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You saw what I can do with an arrow. Do you really want to see what I can do with a sword?

—Merida to Lord Macintosh, Lord MacGuffin and Lord Dingwall src

Queen Merida, formerly known as Princess Merida,[1] is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. She débuts in the first episode of the fifth season and is portrayed by guest star Amy Manson.

Merida is based on the character of the same name from the Disney/Pixar film Brave.


After First Curse
After saving her mother and three younger brothers from a curse,[2] Merida joins her father King Fergus at a battle camp, where members of clans DunBroch, Macintosh, MacGuffin, and Dingwall are preparing to fight against southern enemies who are planning to invade their territory. Lord Macintosh doesn't take her seriously because she is a woman, but Merida ignores his jibs and focuses on learning about the nature of war from her father. Fergus gifts her a bow and mentions getting her a tutor to teach her how to fight, but because Merida is eager to prove she is capable, she rushes into a sword duel with a nearby soldier. The mystery warrior quickly knocks her flat on the ground, much to the redhead's shock, but then, the soldier takes off the helmet, revealing she is a woman as well and introduces herself as Mulan. This new acquaintance teaches Merida how to duel properly and disarm her opponent, but also instructs her on being a warrior. As her father contemplates the upcoming skirmish, Merida asks about how he has managed to instill respect into his men so they will fight for him, as she will have to do the same one day if she inherits the crown. Fergus states she must show proof that she is willing to die for the same cause they are fighting for. Although Fergus secretly procured a magic helm to guarantee a victory in battle, he decides to take his own advice by leading his men by sheer strength of character, and throws the helm into the river, having no more use for it. During another sparring session, Merida hears a horn blow signaling the southerners' attack. Realizing her father had Mulan keep her away from direct combat, she hurries to join the battle, getting there in time to see a knight, whose face is obscured by a helmet, approaching to attack Fergus. Merida shoots an arrow at the knight, but the shaft punctures a piece of the man's cloak instead. In horror, she watches the man cut down her father and steal his helm, before Mulan leads her away from getting further involved in the bloodshed. ("The Bear King")

Before Third Curse

Although Merida is next in line and becomes Queen, the clans lose faith in her because she failed to protect her father King Fergus during the southerners' invasion. Additionally, because she refuses to marry any of her three suitors from the three clans to further cement her ties, all the clansmen decide she is unfit to rule since she is a woman, and they rebel against her by exiling her mother Queen Elinor and kidnapping her three younger brothers, leading her to set out to rescue them. ("The Dark Swan", "The Bear and the Bow", "The Bear King")

Several months later, while still looking to find her brothers, Merida discovers a will-o'-the-wisp, and she catches it, hoping it will lead her to them, only to be magically pulled back by a woman, Emma, who is also seeking to obtain the wisp. Merida, mistaking her for a witch, prepares to shoot her with an arrow, but Emma explains she needs the wisp in order to be rid of her cursed Dark One powers. Sensing the stranger's desperation and sympathizing with her plight, Merida lowers her bow and quiver to the ground and suggests they fight in hand-to-hand combat and the winner can have the wisp, provided that Emma doesn't use magic. Emma refuses, not wanting to give into darkness, and tells her to just take the wisp and go. Merida thanks Emma and offers to give her the wisp after she is done with it. On their journey to the Hill of Stones where wisps originate from, Merida hurriedly hacks away branches in their way, while Emma questions why she is in such a rush. Merida asserts her desire to wage war with the clans to save her kidnapped brothers. Suddenly, she trips over and falls to the ground exhausted. Emma convinces her to rest for the night, so they set up camp. That evening, Merida overhears Emma seemingly talking to herself about betraying her. In the morning after Emma has left to get food, Merida sets her cloak on a rock and tree pieces as a decoy, before sneaking off to the Hill of Stones on her own. At the hill, she whispers into the wisp and releases it. When Emma approaches, a distrustful Merida trains her arrow on her, as the blonde unsuccessfully tries to persuade her that she means no harm to her. After a moment of silence, Merida shoots an arrow, only for Emma to catch it. Merida hides behind the stones and continues releasing more arrows, but Emma grabs every one of them. Eventually, Emma magically pulls Merida to her, rips out her heart and begins crushing it, believing only if Merida is dead can she possess the wisp to find Merlin and cure her own darkness. In the nick of time, Emma's family and friends appear, persuading her to return the heart instead. Afterward, while Merida is watching the wisp fly around, Emma asks if she is okay. The redhead has no hard feelings about having her heart ripped out, and then thanks Emma for helping her see that she has darkness within herself too. Merida realizes she intended to kill the clans, but now, she has decided to give them mercy as a way to bring the lands together. After a farewell, Merida goes off to follow the wisp. ("The Dark Swan")

Sometime after parting ways from Emma, Merida makes the mistake of stealing a boat that belongs to King Arthur, in her attempt to cross the Ivory Sea to DunBroch, where the wisp is guiding her towards. She is captured and imprisoned in King Arthur's castle, with the wisp taken away from her. She remains alone until another person, Lancelot, is brought into the cell next to hers. Lancelot tells her he had a disagreement with the king, to which she walks up to the adjoined bars between their cells, remarking that any enemy of Arthur's is a friend of hers. ("The Broken Kingdom", "The Bear and the Bow")

When Merlin, accompanied by David, Hook and Belle, arrive at the dungeon to break Lancelot out, they decide to free Merida as well. With Belle's bookish help, Merlin magicks away the prison bars. Because the guards are quickly closing in on them, Merida is forced to flee with the group, without retrieving the wisp. Believing Belle will be useful to her because of her magic knowledge, Merida purposely distracts her before knocking her out, taking the girl with her on a boat to DunBroch. Upon awakening, Belle expresses irritation at the redhead's forceful tactics, while Merida insists she couldn't risk asking for Belle's help and being turned down. At a witch's house, Belle helps make a spell to see Merida's brothers, who are set to be executed by the three clans, in order to secure the throne for themselves. In order to beat the clans, Merida has Belle make a potion for turning into a bear. Belle, catching the fierce redhead during archery practice, is amazed to see Merida hit a bullseye thrice, as the loosed arrow cleaves the prior arrow in half each time it hits the target. She questions why Merida needs magic to change her brothers' fates when she can use her archery skills to prove herself. Only later, when they are preparing to ambush the clans, Merida admits to Belle about her father's fate, and the guilt she harbors for not being able to save him. Thus, she believes magic is necessary to win this time, however, Belle disagrees and secretly switches out the potion with water. When push comes to shove, with the clans releasing three arrows to kill her brothers, Merida looses a single arrow that cuts off all three arrows before they hit their targets. The clansmen draw their swords, but she warns them not to test her sword skills, as they already know what she can do with an arrow. Eventually, they kneel in recognition of her as Queen, as Merida remarks that they're lucky someone once taught her to be merciful. After Merida's happy reunion with her brothers, she sends Belle off, presumably back to her allies, in a boat. ("The Bear and the Bow")

On the day of her coronation, Merida pays a visit to her father's gravesite, happily telling him about how she rescued her brothers and gained the clans' approval to be Queen. During the ceremony, Lord Macintosh presents her with a crown, swearing fealty to her on behalf of his own clan as well as clans Dingwall and MacGuffin. Before her mother can place the crown on her head, the old witch bursts in, asking Merida to return a magic helm that King Fergus got from her in a past deal to ensure the fate of his kingdom. She warns that if the helm is not returned by sundown tomorrow, she'll turn everyone into bears. Recalling that the knight who killed her father had stolen the helm, Merida tracks down her old friend Mulan to help her. At the old combat site where the southern invasion took place, they find the old arrow that Merida shot at the knight, which has a piece of the knight's cloak on to it. Before they can use it to track down the knight, Arthur and Zelena confront them, stealing Merida's bow to locate the lost helm. Fearing the quest is a lost cause, Merida prepares to turn over the mission to Lord Macintosh, promising him her crown seat if he can get the helm by tomorrow. However, with help from Mulan's acquaintance Ruby, they discover Arthur was the knight who killed Fergus, though he insists the helm he took had no magic, helping Merida realize her father hadn't used the actual magic helm during the siege. To keep him from taking the real helm, she duels him, with Arthur retreating after Lord Macintosh, Dingwall and MacGuffin back her up. After Merida is crowned, she announces her intent to destroy the helm rather than return it because no magic should force people to fight for a cause they don't believe in. To this, the old witch congratulates her on passing the test, as she gained the confidence to lead DunBroch without resorting to magic. The old witch rewards her with magical ale, which Merida sprinkles on her father's grave, giving her a chance to talk with Fergus one last time. After her father's spirit vanishes, Merida is reminded that King Arthur is to blame for his death and decides to seek revenge. ("The Bear King")

On horseback, Merida travels into the woods near Camelot, but before she can go any further, she is swept up by the enacted dark curse, which takes her to Storybrooke and erases her memories of the last six weeks. ("Broken Heart")

After Third Curse

In Storybrooke, Merida is taken hostage by Emma, who binds her to the front of a car hidden in one of Storybrooke's tunnels. After a time, Emma returns to rip out Merida's heart, before ordering the redhead to fetch her bow from the inside of the car. Merida has no choice but to obey, while Emma unveils her grand plan to make Merida turn Mr. Gold into a hero. ("The Broken Kingdom")

Under Emma's command, Merida takes Mr. Gold into the woods to begin turning him into a hero with a sword sparring session. Mr. Gold, too weak from his leg limp, refuses to fight, so she hastily breaks a sturdy branch and throws it at him for him to use it as a cane. When he continues to be non-compliment, the frustrated girl knocks him out, convinced that he must have a weakness she can exploit for her benefit. Merida enters the mayor's office, finding the storybook, and learns from one of its pages that Mr. Gold treasures a chipped cup. After taking the relic from the pawnshop, she confronts the now awake Mr. Gold, using the cup as the prize she will forfeit to him if he beats her. To begin the match, she throws him a sword, which he attempts to attack her with before she swiftly cuts him down, making him fall and drop his weapon. Seeing as the cup is chipped, Merida taunts him about whether Belle saw the monster he truly is, causing an incensed Mr. Gold to lunge at her with his sword, which the redhead blocks. Pleased at his improvement, she points out the change in him, explaining that Belle is the cause of his sudden bravery. Merida tests him several more times, and when Mr. Gold blocks her every time, she remarks that he still has a long way to go before he can take on Emma. ("Dreamcatcher")

Having done her best to push Mr. Gold to his limit, Merida leaves him, with his hands tied, at a nearby camp, while she fetches Emma. When she returns with the Dark One, however, Mr. Gold has already escaped. Upon seeing Emma menacingly grasping her heart, Merida exasperatedly tells her to hurry up with crushing it, as she'd rather not be under her control anymore. Instead, Emma orders her to kill Belle so Mr. Gold will be forced to protect her. Storming into the pawnshop, Merida warns Mr. Gold of the consequences of his cowardice, since she now has no choice but to hurt Belle. As the redhead warrior readies her arrow in her bow and looses it, Belle and Mr. Gold barricade themselves in the backroom, just as a second arrow pierces through the door frame inches from Belle. After breaking into the room, Merida shoots an arrow at what she believes is Belle and Mr. Gold, which turns out to be their reflections. When they are cornered by her, she hastens Mr. Gold to stop her, but he still refuses to act, prompting Belle to pull out a rug from underneath Merida, who is knocked out. To ensure she fulfills the mission, Emma tells Merida to ingest a transfiguration potion. Finding Belle shortly after she parted ways from Mr. Gold at the town line, Merida uses the potion to turn into a bear and chase Belle through the woods. Mr. Gold sacrifices himself to the bear, who moves to finish him off, but as his last hope, he throws magic dust on her, which reverts her to human form. Afterward, he and Belle take a captured Merida back to Emma. In a deal, Emma returns Merida's heart and reveals the girl's brothers are safe with their mother after Mr. Gold agrees to try pulling out Excalibur. ("The Bear and the Bow")

Under orders from Regina, Merida is told to keep watch on Emma, whose magic has been nullified, in case she tries to escape. Although she dislikes being in the same room as Emma, Merida toys with the idea of shooting her as retribution for all the things Emma has done to her. Just as she is considering putting an arrow in Emma's knee, Hook surprises her from behind. Merida looses an arrow on him, but he swiftly catches it and then magically knocks her out. After Emma regains the dreamcatchers Hook stole from her, she returns some of her family and friends, including Merida, in order to restore their lost memories from six weeks ago. ("Broken Heart")

While some of the heroes are away in the Underworld, Merida is left to guard King Arthur in his cell. She mistakenly leaves Sleepy in charge at one point, which allows Arthur to make an escape once the latter dozes off. Shortly after Snow's family returns home, Emma and David join Merida and the dwarves to track down Arthur, whose corpse they find after Hades has killed him. Merida regards the dead king with pity, as she once hoped to kill him, but now, she feels sorry for his end. The trio meet up with Robin and Regina outside the magic-protected town hall, where Zelena is hiding inside with her baby and Hades. As Regina and Robin sneak in through an underground tunnel, Merida helps the others at the library to look up information about Hades' weakness. After Robin is killed by Hades, Regina persuades Zelena that her love for Hades is not enough to change him, causing Zelena to kill him. Merida is later present at Robin's funeral, where the townspeople take turns placing rose entwined arrows on his casket. ("Last Rites")

That night, Merida joins the townspeople at the diner for Robin's wake. During this, a tremor rips through Storybrooke, as a result of Mr. Gold absorbing the town's magic into the Olympian Crystal. To the shock of everyone except Emma, who wanted to break the news delicately to Regina, Hook rushes in, having been restored to life earlier by Zeus. The next morning, Merida comes to the heroes about her concerns that she and the Camelot natives can't return home because magic will be gone soon. To keep this from happening, Zelena uses a wand to make a portal, which Merida goes through to return to her family. ("Only You")


King Fergus
Queen Elinor
MeridaTriplet brothers


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


Character Notes

Production Notes

  • Her casting call name was "Evanna". However, to divert the attention away from Merida, Evanna was presented as Rumplestiltskin's mother.[4][5]
  • The casting call describes her as "in her mid-20s to early 30s", Evanna is "stunningly beautiful", but also "plucky, strong and imbued with an unshakeable sense of self-confidence. Evanna sometimes acts before she thinks", but "she never acts out of pure self-interest".[4]
  • Hadn't Amy Manson declined the offer, Merida would have been a regular character.[6]
  • When Amy Manson auditioned for the part, she thought she was reading for the role as Rumplestiltskin's mother. According to Amy, the scenes that she got were very similar to some of the scenes in the movie Brave. She put her own spin on it and labored on the pain of a mother-daughter relationship. Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis got back to her and asked if she could do the scenes again but with more humor.[7]
  • Amy Manson and the show creators considered dyeing Amy's hair for the role as Merida, but the hair department requested that she wear a wig instead since a wig required less maintenance and control.[8]
  • Merida appears in a special promo shot for San Diego Comic Con.[9] According to Amy Manson, she had about an hour of practice with an experienced archer before they shot the promo. She then requested if she could have a couple of days with proper archery lessons, which really helped her performance for the show.[7]
  • According to Amy Manson, Merida's storyline on Once Upon a Time takes place ten years after Brave's events.[10]

Prop Notes

Costume Notes

  • When creating the Once Upon a Time version of Merida, the show creators got to meet with the writers and the directors of the movie Brave, who let them see the patterns for Merida's costume, and even sent them the tartans for the costume.[15]


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

See also


  1. LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME: Air Date: Sunday, September 27, 2015. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#501) "The Dark Swan".. The Futon Critic. “"The Dark Swan" - [...] Along the way to Camelot, she gets help from the plucky and brave warrior princess Merida, as well as King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, in the adventure-filled season five premiere of "Once Upon a Time", SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.”
  2. King Fergus: You gave me daughter magic, turned my wife and boys into bears.
    - "The Bear King", Once Upon a Time, ABC.
  3. File:509Title.png
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mitovich, Matt Webb (June 17, 2015). Once Upon a Time Casting Rumple's Mom — Dare We Hope for Karen Gillan?. TVLine.
  5. TwitterLogo.svg @NatalieAbrams (Natalie Abrams) on Twitter (July 12, 2015). "#OUAT scoop: Per E&A, Merida is not Rumple's mom. Casting sides were a red herring. Won't be seeing Rumple mom. At least for now." (screenshot)
  6. McDonald, Toby (July 31, 2016). Scots actress wins Trainspotting role after filming with Robert Carlyle on American show. Daily Record. “Despite the success, she turned down the chance to be a regular on the show. She added: “I declined only because it would have kept me unable to do any other work for at least six months. It is all down to storylines and I would rather be back at the Edinburgh Lyceum working all year than being used every other episode in a TV show.””
  7. 7.0 7.1 Abrams, Natalie (November 29, 2015). Once Upon a Time star Amy Manson on Merida’s Brave quest. Entertainment Weekly. “ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let's talk about how you landed the role. Had you seen Brave yet? AMY MANSON: No, I actually hadn't, believe it or not. I hadn't seen the movie. Initially, when the sides came through, the synopsis wasn't Merida. The name was Evanna, and she was coming into the show as Rumplestiltskin's mother. The scenes that I got really were similar to a few of the scenes in the animation Brave. I put my own spin on it and my own take, and labored on the pain of a mother-daughter relationship more so. I sent those tapes away and then Eddy [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] got back to me and said, "Can you do the scenes again, but with humor?" Then I did those tapes and sent those back and then here I am. Did you know how to shoot a bow and arrow at the time? No. I've never shot bow and arrow in my life. Actually, they flew me over quite quickly for San Diego Comic-Con, to do the promo. I got a bow and arrow stuffed in my hands, like, "Right, on you go," quite quick. I had about an hour before we shot that with an archer. Then I requested if I could have maybe a couple days with proper archery lessons, which really helped and I thoroughly enjoyed.”
  8. Mitovich, Matt Webb (October 30, 2015). Once Upon a Time's Amy Manson Talks Merida's New Target, Ruby/Mulan Team-Up, Crashing With Karen Gillan. TVLine. “The thing is, we did discuss it — [series creators] Eddy and Adam both said, “Would you be willing to dye your hair?” and I was like, “Yeah, let's do it.” And then the hair department said there’d be a lot maintenance with something like that, whereas they can control it and do a lot of work [to a wig] before I put it on my head, so it saves a lot of time.”
  9. Once Upon a Time - SDCC 2015 Merida Promo. YouTube (July 11, 2015).
  10. Gibsom, Kelsie (December 9, 2015). Once Upon a Time's Merida Reveals the Cast Member She Loves Working With the Most. PopSugar. “PS: How would you say that Merida's portrayal in the show is similar or different from her Disney character? AM: Well, it starts 10 years later. So, I've changed as a person in the last 10 years and that's what you have to think.”
  11. File:505Promo5.jpg
  12. File:312Promo32.jpg
  13. File:404TheSorcererHimself.png
  14. Once Upon a Time - Merida's Stunt Sword (0377). iCollector. Archived from the original on August 2, 2020. Retrieved on August 2, 2020. “This style of sword also saw use by Prince Charming (S03) and the Apprentice (S04).”
  15. Edward Kitsis on the Season Five Blu-ray/DVD Audio Commentary for "The Dark Swan"