Zelena (Wicked Witch of the West) is a main character on Once Upon a Time. She first appeared as the main antagonist of the second half of Season 3, and was a recurring villain until her redemption at the end of Season 5. Zelena continued as main character in Season 6 and a recurring character in Season 7.
Young miller’s daughter Cora is desperate to become royalty, and have her future daughter become queen. When she conceives a child with who she thinks is a prince, she realises when he is not that her first child must never be discovered by anyone, and abandons the baby, who is taken by a tornado to the Land of Oz.
The baby is named Zelena by a couple, who adopt her. Zelena displays magic at a young age, something which her adopted father hates, and he views her as wicked. As a pre-teen, Zelena is visited by Cora, who needs Zelena to awaken her second-born Regina from a magical coma. Regina and Zelena become close, but Cora sends Zelena back to Oz afterwards, and erases her daughters memories of the events. After Zelena’s adopted mother dies, she is abused by her adopted father, and eventually leaves to see the infamous Wizard of Oz for help. The Wizard reveals the truth; that Zelena was abandoned because her mother wanted a royal baby to become queen and give their family power. Zelena grows envious of Regina, her younger royal half-sister, and is sent by the Wizard to the Enchanted Forest.
Zelena tries to go after Regina and kill her, but she is stopped by the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin, who is training Regina in magic. At her request, Rumplestiltskin begins teaching Zelena, too. Rumplestiltskin also points out that Zelena is turning green due to her intense jealousy. When Zelena discovers that Rumplestiltskin wants his curse to be cast to be cast by Regina, Zelena is furious and returns to Oz and asks the Wizard to change the past. When he refuses, she exposes him and turns him into her flying monkey slave, and becomes entirely green, dedicating her life to try and go back in time and take Regina’s place. Later, Glinda approaches Zelena, saying that Zelena matches the description of the prophesised savior of Oz, a woman who arrived by tornado, who will defeat a great evil. However, another girl arrives via tornado, Dorothy Gale, and Zelena becomes convinced that she (Zelena) is the great evil and Dorothy will be the savior. Zelena tries and fails to kill Dorothy, who is then offered by Glinda to take Zelena’s place. Dorothy declines, wishing to return to her home in Kansas. Zelena disguises herself as the Wizard and sends Dorothy back to Kansas, then reveals herself to Glinda and banishes her to the Enchanted Forest.
Zelena works on banishing all Oz witches so she can become the only one, and gains the title Wicked Witch of the West. She goes to banish the Blind Witch, who has imprisoned Hansel and Gretel, but Zelena refuses to free them. Thanks to the Blind Witch, Zelena’s magic is neutralised and she escapes, being rescued by a blind woodcutter, Ivo. Zelena grows to like Ivo, and discovers that he is the father of the missing Hansel and Gretel. Zelena goes to rescue them from the Blind Witch’s gingerbread house, but find that they have already escaped and killed the Blind Witch. Zelena returns to Ivo, to find that Hansel and Gretel and there and they expose Zelena as the Wicked Witch who refused to help them. Zelena, angry, attacks Hansel before leaving.
Zelena begins collecting ingredients for a time travel spell, and fails to obtain the Scarecrow’s brain when Dorothy returns and saves him. Zelena attempts to force the Munchkins into giving Dorothy and the Scarecrow’s location, but she is interrupted by Hades. Hades and Zelena bond over their shared resent for an older sibling who gets everything they ever wanted, and Hades helps Zelena find the Scarecrow. She rips his brain out and taunts Dorothy. After returning to the Emerald Castle, Hades has prepared dinner for her, and they prepare to kiss, but Zelena realises that Hades wants a kiss so that his heart can start beating again and he can go after his brother Zeus. Hades insists that he really does love Zelena, but she rejects him and warns him to leave and never return.
When Regina casts the Dark Curse, all the realms are frozen in time for 28 years, and Zelena does not age during this time period. When the curse breaks, she travels to the Enchanted Forest and takes up residence in Regina’s old palace. Eventually, the inhabitants of the land return from Storybrooke, including Regina, and decide to try and take back the castle. Regina sneaks in and meets Zelena for the first time (as far as they remember), and Zelena tells Regina that she’s going to ruin her life as revenge on always being chosen before her. After Zelena takes control of Rumplestiltskin, aka Mr. Gold, Snow White casts the Dark Curse to return everyone to Storybrooke where her daughter Emma can defeat Zelena with light magic. However, Zelena drops a memory potion in the curse, so that nobody will even remember meeting Zelena.
In Storybrooke, Zelena’s green skin disappears and she blends in perfectly. Emma and Regina work together and try and find out who cast the curse and why, and trick Zelena into thinking that they’re onto her. After seeing her green magic and hearing reports of flying monkeys in town, the heroes realise who they’re up against. Zelena poses as a midwife to get close to a pregnant Snow White, with intentions to use the baby as an ingredient in her time travel spell. Zelena soon reveals herself, and has a duel with Regina in front of everyone, collecting her heart as another ingredient. Zelena also manipulates Captain Hook into taking away Emma’s magic so she can’t use light magic to stop her. After Snow White gives birth, Zelena kidnaps the baby boy and activates a time portal, but she is thwarted by Regina, who masters light magic. Zelena is imprisoned and stabbed by Gold, but her life force returns to the time portal and passes through.
Zelena’s physical form is restored, and she discovers that Emma and Hook inadvertently went back in time, too. With a new plan in mind, Zelena poses as Maid Marian, the long-dead wife of Robin Hood, and is returned to the present with Emma and Hook. Regina’s romantic relationship with Robin grows, but with Zelena posing as Maid Marian, Robin must return to her for his young son Roland Hood. Regina is heartbroken; soon, “Marian” is frozen by the Snow Queen, and must leave Storybrooke with Robin and Roland to survive. The trio move to New York, and Zelena poses as Marian for six weeks.
Through Gold, “Marian” is exposed as Zelena to the Storybrooke heroes, and Emma and Regina travel to New York to save Robin. After they tell him the truth, Robin reveals that she is pregnant with their child. Everyone returns to Storybrooke, and Zelena is locked up in the asylum. Regina threatens to erase her from existence with the Author’s magic, but decides to spare her.
After Emma becomes the Dark One and is sent to Camelot, the heroes discover that a portal can be created to travel there using both light and dark magic to operate the Apprentice’s wand to activate said portal. Hook impulsively sneaks into Zelena’s cell and attempts to take her heart to command her to use dark magic to help them, but her heart cannot be removed, and uses Hook’s hook to remove her magic cuff and escape. Zelena takes Robin hostage, and offers to return him to the heroes in exchange for the Apprentice’s wand, so that she can return to Oz and raise her unknown child. Regina tricks her into activating the portal to Camelot, and Zelena is forced to accompany the heroes there.
In Camelot, Zelena remains in captivity. The group discover that Excalibur can help to remove the darkness from Emma, but the cruel King Arthur has it locked away in his castle. Zelena offers to give the heroes a way in that she discovered, but double-crosses them and forges an aliance with Arthur to stop them. When the heroes manage to obtain Excalibur, Zelena and Arthur set out to find a magical helm that can help them. This proves unsuccessful, and later Hook becomes a second Dark One and casts the Dark Curse to return to Storybrooke and kill Rumplestiltskin. However, Emma erases everyone’s memories with a dreamcatcher, including Zelena’s.
Zelena is locked back in the asylum, but Emma, still the Dark One, temporarily frees her, and they have lunch as Emma offers an aliance between them. Zelena refuses and is returned to her cell. However, unbeknownst to her, Emma had accelerated her pregnancy, and Zelena is rushed by Regina and Robin to the hospital. Zelena gives birth to a baby girl, however is instantly kidnapped by Emma. Zelena finds herself locked in Emma’s basement with Hook, however they decide free each other. As revenge on Emma, Zelena exposes Hook as a Second Dark One, and it is revealed that Emma wanted to get the baby out of Zelena so that all the darkness could be contained in her as a sacrifice. Hook turns on Emma, and succumbs to the darkness immediately and goes after Rumplestiltskin. Regina finds Zelena and reluctantly introduces her to her daughter. Shortly afterwards, the Hook summons all the Dark Ones to Storybrooke to take over, and Zelena decides to take Regina’s place as mayor. However, Regina activates the Apprentice’s wand and banishes Zelena to Oz, alone.
After the citizens learn of Zelena’s return, Dorothy goes to confront her, but Zelena puts her under the Sleeping Curse and takes her magic slippers to teleport back to Storybrooke. Zelena finds Belle taking care of her daughter, and the three are suddenly dragged through a portal to the Underworld. Zelena is denied her baby by Belle, and reunites with Hades, who reveals that he wants them to rekindle their relationship and rule the world together. Zelena is at first hesitant, and gets her baby back from Regina and Robin. However, when she fears that Hades will take the baby for his own time travel spell, she surrenders the baby to the heroes, hoping that they will protect her. Zelena later gives Belle the Sleeping Curse at her request, so she can protect herself and her unknown child because Hades wants to steal it for his time travel spell. Knowing that her baby is safe because Hades wants Gold and Belle’s baby, Zelena decides to accept him and they begin a relationship, but she wants to change him for the better. Eventually, with their mother’s help, Regina and Zelena remember their first meeting as children and make amends.
Vengeful for giving Belle the sleeping curse, Gold and his father Peter Pan kidnap Zelena, and offer to return to her Hades in exchange for Hades leaving Gold and Belle’s baby alone. Hades accepts the bargain, and seems to redeem and helps the heroes try and find a way home. Zelena and Hades finally kiss, and his heart starts beating again. However, Hades sends Emma and Hook on a useless quest that also leaves their friends waiting, and during the distraction he flees to Storybrooke with Zelena and her baby. Hades prepares to take over, but Regina arrives, revealing that Hades tried and failed to trap the heroes in the Underworld. Zelena is hurt by Hades’ betrayal, and after seeing that he has killed Robin Hood, avenges him and saves Regina by killing Hades with the Olympian Crystal. At Robin’s funeral, Zelena decides to name her daughter Robin. Afterwards, Zelena opens a portal to send the Camelot citizens who came in the last curse back home, but the portal goes out on control and sucks Zelena, Hook, Snow and David to the Land of Untold Stories.
After everyone manages to return to Storybrooke, Regina separates herself from her dark half, creating the Evil Queen as a separate individual. As Zelena prepares to move in with Regina, it is revealed that she still blames Zelena for Robin Hood’s death. Zelena is heartbroken, and joins forces with the Evil Queen, who begins to convince her back into her old wicked ways. Over the coming weeks, Zelena and Regina’s feud forms again, but Regina saves Zelena when the Evil Queen betrays her and tries to kill her. Later, when the evil Black Fairy threatens baby Robin, Zelena takes it into her own hands to take the fairy down, and ventures into her lair in the mines. Regina tries to stop it, but is unsuccessful, and the Black Fairy tricks Zelena into using dark magic to activate her dark fairy dust and begin preparing for the Final Battle. Ashamed, Regina tells Zelena to go back to Oz. Zelena takes baby Robin and reluctantly travels to Oz, however only to find the Crimson Heart, a device which can take away her magic. Zelena takes the Crimson Heart to Storybrooke, and Regina and Emma support Zelena as she sacrifices her magic and the Black Fairy’s plans are thwarted. Zelena finally moves in with Regina, who teaches her how to drive in case Zelena may need to take baby Robin and Henry out of town during the Final Battle.
Zelena attends Emma and Hook’s wedding with Regina, but it is interrupted by the Black Fairy’s curse. Zelena is sent back to Oz, and flees to the Enchanted Forest with the citizens when Oz begins falling apart. Finding Regina, Snow, David and Hook, Zelena prepares to show them Oz via the Mad Hatter’s hat, but they find that it is been erased from existence. The five conclude that the Black Fairy wants to erase Emma’s belief, thus erasing Fairy Tale Land from existence, too. Zelena and the heroes attempt to use magic to return home to Storybrooke, but they are too late and the Enchanted Forest begins to shrivel away. However, Emma’s belief is restored, and Zelena and the others are returned to Storybrooke. Emma fights the Final Battle with Gideon, the Black Fairy’s unwilling slave, even after Gold kills her. Zelena and Emma’s family watch as Emma sacrifices herself to save everyone; light magic wins, and Emma is resurrected with true love’s kiss by Henry, and everything returns to normal.
Some time later, Zelena and baby Robin attend dinner with the heroes at Granny’s Dinner. Five years later, Zelena is confronted by her daughter from the future, adult Robin, and her girlfriend Alice Jones. They reveal that they are from the future and were sent back in time with a new curse, and need help from the Storybrooke heroes to defeat Wish Realm Rumplestiltskin.
Zelena discovers Robin practising magic at age 18, and ground her. After an argument, Robin mysteriously disappears. Zelena, worried, travels to the New Enchanted Forest where Regina has relocated, for help. Zelena, with the help of Wish Hook, finds that Robin has run away to become assistant to witch Gothel. Gothel wants to use Robin as a sacrifice, but when Zelena offers to take her place instead, Robin forgives her mother and they defeat Gothel, who flees. Eight years later, Zelena and Robin live at a farm in the New Enchanted Forest. Regina visits to recruit Zelena for help in stopping Drizella cast another curse. However, they ultimately fail.
Under the Dark Curse, Zelena becomes Kelly West, a spin instructor in San Francisco. Kelly’s false memories involve her daughter Margot leaving for Phuket, with Kelly blaming former friend Roni (Regina). Kelly falls in love with an ordinary man named Chad, until Regina, who has been awakened from the curse, locates Kelly and wakes her up. With her memories back, Zelena remains unsure of how to tell Chad the truth, and relocates to Seattle, where Regina reveals that Gothel has been freed from imprisonment and is preparing to wipe out humanity. Margot (Robin) returns from Phuket, and reunites with Zelena, who must pretend to still be Kelly in front of her, as the curse has not broken. It soon becomes clear that witches in the neighborhood are being murdered, and Zelena is the next target. She discovers that the “Candy Killer” is Nick Branson, who is actually Hansel from her distant past, who wants revenge on her and has Chad held hostage. Unable to convince him that she has redeemed, Zelena puts up a fight and stops Nick. Nick is locked up (and shortly killed by Dr. Facilier), and Zelena tells Chad the truth about who she really is. Zelena and Chad decide to return to San Francisco, with Regina insisting that she will find a way to defeat Gothel herself.
Some time later, after the realms have been united, Zelena attends Regina’s coronation as the Good Queen. However, it remains unclear whether the Zelena at the coronation is the one from Storybrooke who helped defeat Wish Rumplestiltskin, or the one who left with Chad to San Francisco.