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For the Once Upon a Time character, see Sultan.

A throne is made when the man who sits upon it is worthy.

—The Old Prisoner to Jafar src

The Old Prisoner, formerly known as the Sultan, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. He débuts in the second episode and is portrayed by guest stars Brian George and Amir Arison.

The Old Prisoner is based on the sultan[1] from the "Aladdin" story and the Disney film, Aladdin.


Before First Curse

Sometime in the past, the Sultan, whether he already ascended the throne as ruler of Lower Agrabah or not, meets a woman named Ulima. They are together for a time, and he gifts her a precious ring. For reasons unknown, the relationship ends. Ulima gives birth to his son, Jafar, though he remains ignorant of this. ("Bad Blood")

Later, the Sultan marries an unnamed woman and she gives him an heir, Mirza. One day, a young boy, accused of stealing from one of his guards, is brought into the throne room. The boy does not deny these claims and willingly holds out his hand to be cut off as punishment, to which the Sultan sees the ring on the child that was once his. He learns the boy, Jafar, is his and Ulima's son. From Jafar he learns that Ulima has passed away and he realizes Jafar purposely stole in the hopes of being recognized as his son. However the Sultan, both out of disinterest since he already has a son, and fear of being dishonored for having an illegitimate child, instead sets him up in the palace as a serving boy while sternly warning him never to refer to him as his father. While in a meeting, the Sultan listens to the officials complain about a supply blockade with northern provinces. The Sultan refuses to assist them and turns to ask Mirza to explain why it is so. Mirza states that it is against policy, though he doesn't know which one when questioned by an official. Jafar demonstrates superior knowledge of it being the farm policy, though the Sultan quickly covers for his son's humiliation by saying that in Lower Agrabah even servants are educated. Jafar further angers the sultan by nearly calling him father when he leaves. Not wanting to risk Jafar revealing their blood connection again the Sultan decides to murder the boy. Later, he walks in on Mirza slapping Jafar for his earlier arrogance in outshining him and encourages his son to hit Jafar again, stating that if he is to one day be Sultan, people must fear him. Shortly after this he finds Jafar in the washroom where he plans to murder the child. When Jafar notices him he apologizes for nearly revealing their blood relationship by accident and promises it wont happen again, to which the sultan smugly replies "I know". To hide his true intent the Sultan pretends to apologizes to Jafar for encouraging Mirza to hit him, saying that there are things that must be done to make sure children are raised properly. As Jafar goes to dry his face, the Sultan suffocates him to death in the water basin. Afterwards, he has the guards dispose of Jafar's body in the garbage. Many years later, the Sultan is accosted by a grown up Jafar who storms into the palace throne room. Jafar threatens to kill him, and challenges Mirza to a duel. The Sultan watches in horror as his son attempts to run away and is murdered by Jafar's sorcery. Though Jafar wishes to be acknowledged as his son, the Sultan swears to never give him what he wants. ("Bad Blood")

After First Curse

The ex-Sultan becomes Jafar's prisoner in a lair for many years, and lives in solitary confinement until a much younger man, Cyrus, is captured and thrown into another hanging cage beside his own. One day, as Cyrus wakes with a start, he expresses concern for his well-being. He notices Cyrus' recent arm burns from attempting to reach outside the enclosure, which is an impossible feat since the silver in the cage only causes bodily harm. Though the man tries to distract him with a makeshift chess game, Cyrus is disinterested; drawing a laugh from the latter who wonders if he has something better to do. He watches Cyrus write something on magic paper, fold it into a crane and set it free outside the cage to fly away as a message delivery to his beloved Alice. To the man's dismay, Jafar storms in and yanks Cyrus' cage down enough to begin using physical harm to interrogate him about a bottle. Cyrus is released only when the Red Queen herself strolls in to have an exchange with Jafar. ("Trust Me")

The old prisoner watches as Cyrus is taunted by Jafar and the Red Queen, the two of which have found a message from Alice flying through the lair. They believe it is only a matter of time before Alice makes her first wish, despite Cyrus believing that she will not. The old prisoner is later present when Jafar and the Red Queen research creatures to send after Alice, eventually settling on a Bandersnatch when assuming from a frightened look on Cyrus' face that Alice may not be able to defeat it without sacrificing a wish. This turns out to be untrue, however, and an enraged Jafar slams his staff, causing a shock-wave is sent throughout Wonderland. This rocks both Cyrus and the old prisoner's cages, the latter of which asks Cyrus what that was. Cyrus reveals that it means his plan worked, having set up Jafar and the Red Queen to fail. ("Forget Me Not")

Later, the old prisoner watches Cyrus beg a guard for the remnants of a bone in the hopes of getting even a morsel of meat off of it. After seeing the guard throws him the bone, he expresses pity at Cyrus getting hungry to the point of groveling for scraps. Yet, Cyrus turns around to show it wasn't the food he wanted, but the bone, which turns out to be a wishbone. Cyrus breaks the two ends apart and begins sharping both bones. However, he is discovered by a guard, and the older man warily looks on as one half of the bone is picked up by the henchman and dropped down into the bottomless pit of the lair. Shortly after, Jafar comes to visit Cyrus and gloat about Alice using her first wish and eventually the other two will come to pass as well. The old prisoner meets Jafar's glance, who in turn gives him an expectant nod. Luckily, Cyrus still has the other bone and begins telling the old prisoner about the myth of wishbones. He explains that genies created the lore so people would be misled into thinking they didn't need bottles to be granted wishes. By breaking a wishbone, whoever possesses the larger half can make a wish, or so people believe. In actuality, a wishbone wants the same thing as what others desire; to be joined with their other half. Cyrus demonstrates by placing the bone through a gap at the bottom of his cage, and to the old prisoner's amazement, the other lost half rises from below to reconnect with it. As they stick together, Cyrus uses the whole wishbone to cut a way out of the cage. ("The Serpent")

The old prisoner is subjected to heavy labor of carrying large boulders from the bottom of a staircase to the very top. After he is finished, the guards throw him back into his cage. As he catches his breath, the prisoner tells Cyrus what he was made to do, though the act of moving the boulders has no real purpose. Like Cyrus, he has something Jafar desires but refuses to say what it is. Cyrus continues to carve out of his cage as the old prisoner explains to him that the hallway leads to some stairs that only go downwards. He says there are few guards inside, but this can mean Jafar has more of them set up outside of the lair. Cyrus thinks they can use the darkness at nightfall to their advantage for escaping. The prisoner is more worried about having witnessed others before him attempt to leave, but none have ever made it out. However, he believes Cyrus has enough determination to free himself from the circumstances. At Cyrus' mention of a loved one or family, the prisoner briefly reminisces about having a life once, but it's lost now. This is all the more reason that Cyrus wants to free him, too, so he can begin a new life. Cyrus kicks out the cutout bottom of his cage and swings the enclosure until he is at a near enough distance to make a jump for the platform. He barely makes it just as a guard is approaching to check up on them. The prisoner tries to distract the guard, but the man notices right away that Cyrus is gone from the cage. From behind, Cyrus catches the guard by surprise and pushes him into the bottomless pit. Then, he is thrown a set of keys from Cyrus to open his own cage door. After catching it, the prisoner drops the keys and urges Cyrus to go on without him as he will only slow things down. Cyrus worries what will happen if he leaves him behind, but the prisoner reassures Cyrus that Jafar won't kill him and bids his friend farewell. ("Heart of Stone")

Left behind, he sees the Red Queen come into the lair looking for Jafar. Upon noticing Cyrus is gone, she causes him bodily harm to force out an answer. He refuses to betray Cyrus and only says the genie is guided by true love, which is the most powerful weapon. ("Who's Alice")

After Jafar learns Cyrus escaped, he confronts the old prisoner over the issue. The prisoner attests that Cyrus will soon reunite with Alice while Jafar loses. Though he himself is trapped in a physical cage, the prisoner believes Jafar is the actual one who is imprisoned. Later, Jafar hauls in another captive, Edwin, who the prisoner learns is actually Alice's father. Edwin's stay is extremely short as Jafar comes to take him away to use as leverage against Alice. Much later, the prisoner refuses to talk unless Jafar lets him out of the cage, which the sorcerer allows. Face-to-face, the ex-Sultan once again refuses to ever give what Jafar desires. Jafar smugly asserts that when he finally breaks the laws of magic, the prisoner's cooperation will no longer be necessary. Scathingly, the prisoner expresses regrets in not previously suffocating Jafar for a longer period of time so he'd be dead. However, he takes away the one thing that matters to Jafar—himself—and purposely tries to commit suicide by dropping down into the lair's bottomless pit. His attempt fails as Jafar's carpet catches and brings him back up into his cage. ("Bad Blood")

Once Jafar takes over the Red Queen's former castle and vows to reign as the new ruler, the old prisoner, while still imprisoned in a cage, is witness to it in the throne room. Even though Jafar smugly declares that the throne is now his, the prisoner states that it's only so if the man who sits upon it is worthy enough, and what he's sitting on is nothing but a large chair. When asked if he himself was ever deserving of having a throne once, the prisoner boldly attests that he certainly was; more so than Jafar is. He expresses no qualms about trying to kill Jafar in the past, and bitterly remarks, "If only I had succeeded, the world would be a far better place." The prisoner's words strike such a nerve that Jafar immediately calls for a guard to remove him from the throne room. ("Nothing to Fear")

Jafar begins preparation to cast the spell that breaks the laws of magic, causing the dungeon containing the old prisoner to shake. He asks what is going on, and the Red Queen, who is now imprisoned with him, reveals that it is magic. The old prisoner states he has never seen magic do that, but the Red Queen replies that he would be surprised by the things that magic can do. The old prisoner and the Red Queen later share a conversation, the latter insisting that the old prisoner must hate Jafar for keeping him locked up. However, the old prisoner believes that Jafar is just as much his prisoner as he is Jafar's, stating that they build their own prisons. Alice and Cyrus soon come to their rescue, and the old prisoner and Cyrus share a brief reunion, but this is put on hold when the Jabberwocky arrives to interrogate the Red Queen on why the spell is not working. The old prisoner is later present when Will's heart is returned to him, and Jafar kills the Red Queen. ("Heart of the Matter")

As Jafar openly baits Knave about his deceased lover, the old prisoner angrily shouts at him to stop torturing the man and show some mercy. Admittedly, he regrets the error of his own ways, but is still waiting for Jafar to do the same. Jafar entices Knave into helping him retrieve his stolen serpent staff, which is now in Cyrus' possession. Though the prisoner begs him not to listen, Knave ultimately agrees because the staff, if used to change the laws of magic, can also revive the Red Queen from death. Later on, Alice and Knave infiltrate the castle through the underground tunnel. While Knave is chased away by guards, Alice frees the prisoner. They leave the dungeon, facing more guards, where Alice fights their way through. Suddenly, she wavers in pain; sensing something is wrong with Cyrus. She rushes off to find him as the prisoner stays behind. ("To Catch a Thief")

Once the laws of magic are broken, he attempts to stop Jafar from killing Amara; insisting that there has been enough death and the way to show true power is to be merciful. Spitefully, Jafar inquires about the "mercy" the old prisoner dealt upon him when all he wanted was his father's love. The prisoner reasons that love wasn't something he could just give to him and had to be earned. Tired of excuses, Jafar swiftly uses magic to turn the prisoner's disdain for him into familial adoration, making him become a doting father who showers his son with praise and love. Jafar, in near tears, is pleased by this sudden outpour of affection but admits he desires something else from his father. Touchingly, the prisoner promises to provide whatever he wants. Jafar's mask of vulnerability drops, and in the next instant, icily states that he wishes for his father to know what it feels like to be killed by a loved one. The prisoner's look of confusion quickly turns to shock as an overflow of water gushes out of his mouth. He sinks onto his knees, desperately calling Jafar's name, until finally choking to death. ("And They Lived...")


Old Prisoner


  • Solid lines denote parent-child blood relationships
  • Dashed lines denote marriages and relationships that result in offspring
  • denotes the deceased
  • The Sultan and Ulima were never married


Production Notes

  • The casting call describes him as, "a 60-year-old Middle Eastern man who was imprisoned by Jafar 10 years ago."[2]

Fairytales and Folklore

  • One day, Jafar makes the Old Prisoner move giant rocks from the bottom of the stone staircase to the top. This is a reference to Sisyphus from Greek mythology, who was punished by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action for eternity. ("Heart of Stone")



  1. The exact spelling varies, depending on the translation. This article uses the version from the first edition of the "Aladdin" story, a story which was not found in the original Arabic manuscripts of One Thousand and One Nights, but was set down on paper for the first time by Antoine Galland (the French orientalist who was the first European translator of One Thousand and One Nights) in 1712; Galland heard the tale from a Syrian storyteller. (Source) The first edition, which can be read here (scroll down to "HISTOIRE D'ALADDIN, OU LA LAMPE MERVEILLEUSE"), spells "sultan" without a capital letter.

    Note that many publications cite Richard Burton's English translation of One Thousand and One Nights (source); his translation of "Aladdin" (published in the third volume of The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night with Notes Anthropological and Explanatory from 1887), which can be read online here, spells "Sultan" with a capital letter.
  2. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland - Episode 1.02 - Roles being cast. SpoilerTV (August 1, 2013). “For episode 1.02 of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, the following roles are being cast: (...) Old Prisoner, a 60-year-old Middle Eastern man who was imprisoned by Jafar 10 years ago. The Old Prisoner is a recurring guest role.”