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This article focuses on the world also known as the Broken Kingdom.
For the Wonderland location with a similar name, see Underland.
For the Fairy Tale Land realm with a similar alias, see Camelot.
For the Season Five episode, see "The Broken Kingdom".

All that matters is that all these people, in this Underworld, are dead and trapped because they have unfinished business.

Mr. Gold to Emma Swan src

The Underworld, mistakenly referred to as Hell,[1] and also known as Purgatory, Limbo or the Broken Kingdom,[2] is a world featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the twelfth episode of the fifth season.

The Underworld is based on the location of the same name from Greek mythology, and the Underworld from the Disney film Hercules. Underbrooke itself is based on Storybrooke.


Before First Curse

While the Underworld has been able to exist on its own in the past, Hades is banished to this realm and made to rule it, as punishment by Zeus for trying to usurp a family heirloom. He is left unable to repair the heirloom, the Olympian Crystal, after Zeus stops his beating heart, an ailment that only true love's kiss can cure. ("Our Decay", "Last Rites")

Sometime during Hades' reign, two key events occur. While a man named Orpheus is already in the Underworld,[3] he saves his dead lover Eurydice by feeding her ambrosia, giving her the ability to be alive again. The couple escape the Underworld together, and this angers Hades so much that he cuts down the ambrosia tree to bar anyone from ever leaving again. Later, some people stage an unsuccessful rebellion against Hades, in which rumors spread among them about a certain book that can defeat him. ("The Brothers Jones", "Firebird")

Hades' hopes for undoing Zeus' sentence rest on Zelena, whom he falls in love with and wishes to leave the Underworld for. Zelena ultimately rejects him, believing he is using her to gain her time spell, leaving Hades no choice but to return to the Underworld. Despite the sting of rejection, Hades attempts to win over Zelena by remodeling the Underworld into Storybrooke's likeness, as this is something of her sister's that Zelena has always wanted. The replica is not perfect, however, as it decays and becomes hellish as a result of the Underworld's nature. ("Our Decay")

In the new Underworld town, residents begin using a haunting booth, which is a telephone line that connects to the land of the living. People are able to communicate with their loved ones who are still alive, however, no one is certain if their messages reach the other side. ("Our Decay")

After Third Curse

Like countless souls before him, Killian is one of the deceased that end up in the Underworld, with the difference being his lover Emma coming to bring him back to the land of the living. From the moment Emma and her allies come to the Underworld, Hades schemes to ensure they fail on their mission. After the heroes help three people move on to a better place, Hades attempts to make Killian choose three of his friends who will stay in the Underworld in place of the lost souls. When Killian refuses, Hades leaves him to be lowered into the River of Lost Souls, though Emma eventually saves him. Emma, Mary Margaret and Regina's names are later added to headstones by Hades to make them permanent Underworld residents. The heroes hope to overthrow Hades by finding his weakness in a book, but the pages are lost during the search. With help from the Apprentice, Henry finds the quill and tasks himself with rewriting Hades' lost story. Hades gains Mr. Gold as an unwilling accomplice, after threatening to take the latter's unborn child, and forces him to open a portal to Storybrooke to retrieve Zelena's daughter. Rather than just the baby, both Zelena and Mr. Gold's wife Belle are pulled to the Underworld. ("Swan Song", "Souls of the Departed", "Labor of Love", "Devil's Due", "The Brothers Jones")

After much ado, Zelena gives Hades a kiss of true love, which ends his banishment in the Underworld and restarts his heart. This also triggers a portal to Storybrooke that is set to open in a few hours' time. Hades frees the heroes by removing their names from the headstones, but he purposely stalls them from going through the portal, while Zelena remains oblivious to her lover's unchanged ways. Henry helps Underbrooke's residents move on by providing their unfinished businesses, as Cruella declares herself the new Underworld ruler now that Hades is leaving. Killian decides to stay in the Underworld and move on to a better place, but he is unable to after learning Hades is a danger to Emma and her friends in Storybrooke. Aided by King Arthur, Killian finds the missing pages from Hades' story and then goes on to search for the book that Cruella hid away. With Hades no longer around, the souls in the river gain mobility, with two of them rising up to attack the men, but they are quickly taken out with fire. After Killian delivers the pages to Emma and Hades is defeated, a path to Mount Olympus opens for him. Arthur, instead of going with him, opts to stay in the Underworld and repair it, as he was once prophesied to fix a broken kingdom. ("Firebird", "Last Rites")

Description, Society and Culture

  • All souls of deceased people and creatures go to the Underworld after they die, where they have a chance to go to the worse place and suffer for all eternity, or move on to the better place. Moving on means a deceased person must come to terms with his or her unfinished business, and if the person fails to do this, he or she will get surrendered by fire and tossed in the Fiery Cave, meaning they get trapped in the "Worse Place". ("Souls of the Departed")
    • According to Jane Espenson, not all bad things someone has ever done are included in their Underworld unfinished business.[4]
    • According to Mr. Gold, a person who dies as a Dark One must have an unfinished business, therefore this person is automatically sent to the Underworld. ("Souls of the Departed")
  • Edward Kitsis describes the Underworld as "a weigh station between two other worlds".[5] These worlds are Mount Olympus, which is above the Underworld and where dead people finishing their business are sent, and the "Worse Place", where dead people get stucked before finishing their unfinished business and going to the Fiery Cave. ("Souls of the Departed")
  • According to Adam Horowitz, the Underworld is not Hell, but a place between Hell and the living world. It is described as "the place for people with unfinished business", which is not about being good or evil.[1]
  • It is possible for a person's soul to not make the journey to the Underworld if the person is revived shortly after death. In David's case, his soul never made it to the Underworld because he was brought back to life within a minute of being dead. ("Firebird")
  • Residents of the Underworld can communicate with the living via a phone booth. However, it is a one sided method of communication, as the users are unsure whether their messages get through or not. According to the Blind Witch, the phone booth's main purpose is for haunting people, and is classified as a "Level 1 haunting". ("Our Decay")
  • According to the Blind Witch, the breath of the living sells for a lot on the Underbrooke black market. ("Our Decay")


Current Inhabitants

Former Inhabitants


For detailed location information, please see the Underworld Locations category or the list of minor Underworld locations.

Ways to Access the Underworld

All the souls of the deceased people come to reside in the Underworld until they complete their unfinished business and move on to Mount Olympus, or to the "Worse Place" by not completing their unfinished business and going to the Fiery Cave earlier or Acheron. (Souls of the Departed" et al.)

The Underworld is also reachable by a portal which can be opened with the help of the blood of a person who has died and come back to life. At this moment, the only known person who accomplished that is Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold. However, it can only be achieved in some specific areas, like the Heritage Park for Storybrooke for instance. ("Broken Heart", "Swan Song")

A portal can be opened in a location which is not a specific one, but it requires some other work and effort. ("Our Decay")

Ways to Leave the Underworld

It is possible to summon the spirit from someone in the Underworld either by getting the person's murderer to use the murder weapon to open a portal, or by using the Ale of Seonaidh brewed by the Witch from DunBroch. ("Bleeding Through", "The Bear King")

Any souls trapped in the Underworld can be returned to any mortal world by Charon. However, they are branded with the Mark of Charon which will force them to return when the moon reaches its peak. The Mark of Charon can also be traded with another person, allowing the trapped soul to remain in the living world, while the recipient of the mark takes their place. ("Swan Song")

Living people who visit the Underworld can escape either taking the Charon's boat, or going through the portal of the broken Underbrooke Clock Tower after Hades' heart restart once again. ("Devil's Due", "Firebird")

The King of Mount Olympus, Zeus, can resurrect people and send them to the land of living without making them pay any price of magic. ("Last Rites")


On-Screen Notes

The Time on the Clocks
  • Every time the hands on the broken clock tower moves, it means that a soul has left Hades' domain. The other clocks in the Underworld seem to follow the same pattern:
    • When the heroes first arrive, the hands on the clock tower[16] and the wall clock in the diner[17] both show the same time: 8:15. ("Souls of the Departed")
    • After the hands on clock tower move to 8:16 after the Valet left the Underworld in "Souls of the Departed",[18] the diner wall clock shows the same time.[19] ("Labor of Love")
    • When Hercules and Megara leave, the hands on the clock tower move to 8:17[20] before the scene cuts to the clock in Hades' Lair moving from 8:17 to 8:18.[21] Later, the diner wall clock[22] and the clock at the sheriff's station[23] also show 8:18. ("Labor of Love", "The Brothers Jones")
    • After Liam Jones and six of Captain Silver's crew leave the Underworld in "The Brothers Jones", the hands on the clock tower move from 8:25 to 8:27 in the next episode.[24] However, the time on the diner clock[25] and the Underbrooke Blanchard Loft wall clock[26] shows 8:25. The time on the clock tower is later shown as 8:27,[27] indicating that two more souls have left the Underworld. Admittedly, Blacktooth and Captain Silver have left for the Worse Place; however, the clock did not move when Blacktooth left in "Souls of the Departed". Making matters even more complicated, is that when Hades seeks out Gaston at the Underbrooke Pet Shelter, the wall clock shows 8:26.[28] ("Our Decay", "Her Handsome Hero")
      • Neither did any of the clocks move when Milah fell into the River of Lost Souls in "Devil's Due", even though "Ruby Slippers" shows that the headstone of someone who falls into the river cracks, which, according to Cruella in "Devil's Due", will happen to a tombstone when someone goes "some place worse".
      • In addition, after Cora leaves for Mount Olympus in "Sisters", the clock tower shows 8:28.[29] If the clock tower is the correct version, it does not account for Gaston and Prince James, who both fell into the river in "Her Handsome Hero" and "Sisters" respectively. ("Firebird")
Business Notes
  • La Tandoor and Worthington's Haberdashery are seen in an exterior shot of Underbrooke in Ruby Slippers,[30] where stock footage from the first season was used; even though previous episodes have established that the storefronts next to the Underbrooke Diner are the Underworld versions of Chop Shop, Duperré & Hughes and Any Given Sundae.[31]



Set Dressing

Costume Notes


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Whitney, Alyse (December 7, 2015). 'Once Upon a Time' Bosses Discuss "Unfinished Business" in Underworld, Potential Rumbelle Baby. Hollywood Reporter. “Are only evil people in the underworld? It's like hell, right? Horowitz: It's not hell. The underworld isn't hell — it is a place between. It's the place for people with unfinished business, so it’s not about good or evil.”
  2. King Arthur: "I was once prophesied to repair a broken kingdom. My mistake was thinking that kingdom was Camelot. But now I think I understand the kingdom I have to repair... is here... the Underworld." ("Last Rites")
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hades: These are the only two souls who ever escaped my realm.
    (Hades says that Orpheus was a soul when he escaped with Eurydice, so it means he was also dead at this moment.)
    - "Firebird", Once Upon a Time, ABC.
  4. TwitterLogo.svg @JaneEspenson (Jane Espenson) on Twitter (March 20, 2016). "Not everything you've ever done wrong is included in the Underworld's "unfinished biz" file." (screenshot)
  5. Mitovich, Matt Webb (February 29, 2016). Once Upon a Time Underworld Preview: 'Dangerous' and 'Warm' Reunions, Emma Under Pressure and More. TVLine. “KITSIS | The Underworld is kind of a weigh station between two other worlds. Hades has a brother that's up in Mount Olympus, and then there's a place "downstairs" that's even worse. This is kind of a domain where you're there because you haven't found closure yet.”
  6. File:513IfHesDownHere.png
  7. Hades: "You've sent so many my way. That last headless guard... You have panache.
    "Our Decay", Once Upon a Time, ABC
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  15. Once Upon A Time - Chaos in Storybrooke. Leah Thom Photography (November 4, 2015). (Photograph)
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