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When people fall under a sleeping curse, the soul travels to a Netherworld, where it resides until awoken. Now, this world is between life and death, and it’s very real. However, even when the curse is broken, sometimes, in sleep, the victims find their way back to that world. Victims like you.

Mr. Gold to Henry Mills src

The Netherworld is a world featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the seventh episode of the second season


Before First Curse
In the Enchanted Forest, Snow White willingly allows herself to fall into a sleeping curse after taking a bite of a poisoned apple in exchange for the release of her true love, Prince Charming, from the Evil Queen's grasp. However, the Evil Queen tricked Snow White and keeps Prince Charming locked up even after she sleeps forever. This is to keep Prince Charming from giving Snow White a kiss of true love, which will break the sleeping curse. With the help of a huntsman and Rumplestiltskin, he escapes the Evil Queen and locates Snow White to awaken her with true love's kiss. Some time after, Snow White begins to experience a prolonged period of recurring nightmares in which she is trapped in a fiery room. Over time, the nightmares gradually fade. ("An Apple Red as Blood", "A Land Without Magic", "Tallahassee")

After First Curse

Following Emma giving Henry true love's kiss, he is awoken from the sleeping curse, and at the same time, the Dark Curse is broken in Storybrooke. In the Enchanted Forest, time resumes. Prince Phillip and his traveling companion, Mulan, have been searching for Phillip's lost love, Aurora. They find her asleep on a bier in a crumbling palace. He revives her with true love's kiss. Shortly after these events, both Henry and Aurora begin to experience an unsettling dream of a windowless, doorless room with red curtains burning in flames. Henry recounts his nightmare to David by describing the presence of a woman across the room, which Aurora mirrors in recollection of seeing a young boy in the dream's room. ("Tallahassee")

Once more, Henry and Aurora meet again at opposite ends of the room; trapped by the fiery flames threatening to engulf them. To understand what is happening to Henry, David and Regina consult Mr. Gold to learn more about this side effect of the sleeping curse. Mr. Gold explains that while a victim is asleep under the curse, the person's soul journeys to the Netherworld. Even after being free from the binding effects of the curse via true love's kiss, the soul will still continue to traverse to the Netherworld for a period of time. Mr. Gold gives Henry a special necklace to wear when he falls asleep so the flames in the Netherworld will not harm him. Fueled by the power of it, Henry easily fans down the fire separating him from Aurora and begins to breach a line of communication with her. ("Child of the Moon")

Henry learns from speaking with Aurora that she is from the Enchanted Forest, and is currently with Emma and Mary Margaret while trying to escape the clutches of their enemy, Cora. Henry tries to tell Aurora how to defeat Cora by gathering squid ink from Rumplestiltskin's old cell, but she is forced awake before fully hearing him. As Henry's soul has been continuously going to the Netherworld, he suffers physical burns resulting from it. To prevent Henry from being further harmed, David volunteers to be put under the sleeping curse in order to possibly communicate with Mary Margaret. He arrives in a mirror room and discovers the fiery room is underneath. After breaking the floor, David falls into a different room where Mary Margaret is presently waiting to speak to Henry. She is shocked to see him, but he makes haste by informing her about the squid ink. Mary Margaret tries to break David's curse with true love's kiss, but they are unable to physically touch while in the Netherworld. ("Into the Deep")

While Emma and Mary Margaret fight against Cora and Hook for their chance to return home, David remains asleep and trapped alone in the Netherworld. When they do make it back to Storybrooke, Mary Margaret rushes to David's side and revives him with true love's kiss. ("Queen of Hearts")

Following a mishap that lands Neal in the Enchanted Forest, his concern for Emma and Henry's whereabouts prompts Aurora to help him by trying to seek them out in the Netherworld. Neal asks for two messages to be delivered; to tell Henry his father is still alive, and for Emma to know he loves her, but she has no luck finding either party in the dream world. ("The Heart of the Truest Believer")

After Third Curse

In Oz, Dorothy is inflicted with the sleeping curse by Zelena, who wishes to use the silver slippers to return home. After being inflicted, Dorothy's soul presumably ends up in the Netherworld, but she is freed from this realm after Ruby returns to Oz and gives Dorothy a kiss, which breaks the curse. ("Ruby Slippers")

After Belle puts herself under a sleeping curse, her soul is trapped in the Netherworld. However, when Mr. Gold uses the Sands of Morpheus on her, she is pulled from the Netherworld and into the Dream World. Disguising himself as Morpheus, her unborn son warns Mr. Gold that Belle will be returned to the Netherworld if he does not awaken her before the hourglass runs out. However, in the end, she is awakened by her son. ("Ruby Slippers", "The Savior")

In an attempt to get her ultimate revenge on Snow White, the Evil Queen casts a sleeping curse on her and David's shared heart. As a result, whenever one is awakened by True Love's Kiss, the other is put to sleep, which assumably sends their soul to the Netherworld. ("Heartless")

Emma, Hook, Regina, Granny, Doc, Mr. Clark, Leroy, Walter, Archie and Marco, amongst others, each take a sip of the essence of Snow and David's sleeping curse, hoping to dilute it enough to break it. Presumably, they all briefly end up in the Netherworld while asleep. Fortunately, the shared curse turns out to be so weak that they all wake up shortly after. ("Awake")



For detailed location information, please see the list of minor Netherworld locations.

Ways to Access the Netherworld

The Netherworld can be accessed:

  • By being under a sleeping curse (to the Hall of Mirrors) ("Into the Deep")
  • By having the short term "side effect" of falling asleep after being awoken from a sleeping curse. (to the Red Room) ("Into the Deep")


On-Screen Notes

Production Notes


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


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