The Wicked Witch of the West is based on the character of the same name from L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz book series.
View the Zelena Gallery.
In December 2013, Rebecca Mader was cast as the Wicked Witch of the West, to serve as the new antagonist for the second half of the third season of Once Upon a Time. She made multiple appearances during the second half of season four and was promoted to a series regular for the show's fifth season. The role of the Wicked Witch of the West was written specifically for Rebecca Mader. It was announced that the writers had chosen not to continue with Zelena's storyline and Mader would not be returning for the seventh season of the show.
Zelena (which means "green" in some Slavic languages) is a vile woman with a soft spot for flying monkeys. Born to Cora in the Enchanted Forest, Zelena spent her life in Oz after being abandoned by Cora when she was a baby. After finding out about her sister, Zelena becomes envious of her sister's privileged life and literally turns green with envy. Like her mother and half-sister, Zelena was trained in magic by Rumplestiltskin, but the Dark One realized that Zelena was too emotionally unstable to be controlled, and abandoned her in favor of Regina.
Zelena has white skin, red hair and blue eyes. Her envy for her sister and Dorothy turned her skin green. Like the other characters in the series, Zelena remained ageless for twenty-eight years until the first Dark Curse was broken. In the episode "Our Decay", her birthday was revealed to be the fifteenth of April.
When Zelena traveled to the Enchanted Forest for the first time, she fell in love with Rumplestiltskin but she was not matched and when she returned to Oz and took control of the Emerald City she has a brief love affair with the Lord of the Underworld, Hades.
Rivalries and friendships
Zelena is known for her rivalries with her half-sister Regina and Dorothy Gale. Zelena spent much of her life trying to create a Time Travel spell in order to take the place of her half sister. After Emma, Killian and Zelena went through the Time Travel portal, Zelena took the place of the deceased ex-wife of Robin Hood to ruin the life of her half sister. Zelena hates Dorothy because according to an ancient prophecy of Oz, Dorothy is the only one who could stop her. After leaving Oz to realize her revenge against her half-sister, Zelena was banished back to Oz years later by Regina. As soon as she arrived in Oz, Zelena took the Emerald City again and put Dorothy under a Sleeping Curse in order to steal the silver slippers and return to Storybrooke. Later Dorothy's Sleeping Curse was broken by Ruby/Red Riding Hood's true love kiss. After having a daughter and remembering her brief friendship with Regina as children, Zelena seeks a relationship with her half sister; the two of them decide to put the past behind them and get along fairly well now. This is proven as Regina appears distraught to learn Zelena ended up stuck in the Land of Untold Stories. Their relationship becomes more inconsistent throughout season 6 as Regina repeatedly blames Zelena for Robin Hood's demise at the hand of Hades, Zelena's love interest. By the end of season 6, Zelena and Regina's relationship improves as observed during Emma and Killian's wedding. Zelena was also an ally to Rumplestiltskin in Season 4, King Arthur in Season 5 and the Evil Queen in Season 6.
Clinging to her dream to being more than a miller's daughter, Cora abandons her child in the woods, where a passing cyclone whisks the babe to Oz. Whilst walking along the yellow brick road, a woodcutter and his wife witness a cyclone and a small baby fall through it. The woman wishes to raise the baby as their own but her husband is more skeptical after seeing the baby move a tree with just a wave of her hand. After much persistence, the wife manages to persuade her husband to take in the baby and they decide to call her Zelena. ("It's Not Easy Being Green", "Bleeding Through")
Sometime during her childhood, Zelena's adoptive mother dies. During her time as a teenager, Zelena, who by now is discovering her powers was about to be punished by her father, but is saved by Cora, and is brought to the Enchanted Forest to help save Regina after she tampered with a wand that left her unconscious. Zelena then saved Regina and the two become bonded but when Cora tells them that they're sisters, Cora erased their memories of having met each other because her presence could alter Regina's future as the Queen. Zelena is sent back to Oz with her memories of meeting her mother and Regina wiped. ("Sisters")
Time passes as Zelena grows into an adult. Zelena is reduced to helping her father and shaving her father. During one shave, she accidentally cuts him and uses magic to produce a cloth. This angers the woodcutter who declares that she is wicked and that he only looked after her because Zelena's 'mother' wanted the girl. He then reveals that Zelena is actually adopted to which she responds by walking out on him and going to ask the Wizard of Oz for help. Arriving at the Wizard's palace, she explains her situation to the great Wizard. She discovers that her birth mother was Cora and that Zelena was originally from the Enchanted Forest. At Zelena's request to visit this world, the Wizard supplies her with silver slippers that allows the wearer to visit any location so Zelena could find out more about her birth family. After meeting Rumplestiltskin, Zelena learns how to use her magic but also discovers that her younger sister, Regina is being taught magic and that she will cast a curse for Rumplestiltskin. Jealous, Zelena discovers that she isn't allowed to cast the curse so returns to Oz before Rumplestiltskin can get her silver slippers. Zelena goes to visit the Wizard so he could help her change the past. The Wizard refuses to help which only angers Zelena more. The young witch removes the Wizard's curtain and discovers that he is just a mortal named Walsh. She transforms him into an obedient flying monkey, before spying on Rumplestiltskin telling Regina that she is his greatest student. This causes Zelena to be jealous of her younger sister and her skin turns green with envy. ("It's Not Easy Being Green")
Shortly after, Glinda, the Witch of the South, recruits Zelena into a sisterhood of witches. Along with the Witch of the East and the Witch of the North, the trio believe Zelena is destined to join them because of a prophecy foretelling of a sorceress arriving by cyclone and becoming the Witch of the West. Zelena is still obsessed about changing her past, but with Glinda's encouragement, she decides her own future as a good witch is more important. After receiving a pendant to harness her powers, Zelena views the western area of Oz, which she will be responsible for watching over. She and Glinda approach the wreckage from a cyclone to rescue a young girl named Dorothy. Fearing this child, who also arrived by cyclone, is the actual Witch of the West, Zelena researches the prophecy in the Book of Records, discovering that the sorceress will "unseat the greatest evil the realm has ever seen", which she believes is herself. Even with Glinda's advisement that her fears may be not true, Zelena plots to get rid of Dorothy by attacking the girl with fire. However, Dorothy counters her assailant with water, causing Zelena to physically melt away. Despite being seemingly dead, Zelena reemerges at the Wizard's Emerald City palace. Glinda offers Dorothy the opportunity to join the sisterhood, but she declines since she only wants to go home. Assuming the Wizard's voice, Zelena sends Dorothy back to Kansas with the silver slippers, and then reveals herself to a shocked Glinda. Zelena reaffirms her goal of changing her own past, and to keep Glinda from finding another sorceress to fulfill the prophecy, she banishes the Witch of the South to the Enchanted Forest. ("Kansas")
With the Wizard under her control and Glinda trapped in the Enchanted Forest, Zelena takes dominion over the Emerald City and its guards. Zelena had one of her flying monkeys bring Scarecrow to her so that she can take his brain for her first attempt at a time-traveling spell. When Dorothy returns, she and Toto free Scarecrow and escape from Zelena. With help from Hades, Zelena finds where they are hiding. Zelena then uses her magic to magically freeze Dorothy and then rips out Scarecrow's brain, leaving him without a brain. Before she can show Hades, Zelena noticed that Hades was not there. ("Heart of Gold")
Intending to prove that Cora deserted the wrong daughter, she moves forward with creating a time travel spell, by getting the Scarecrow's brain. Before she can, Dorothy storms the palace to stop her. While Zelena prepares to finish her with a fireball, Dorothy's dog Toto wanders the room without her noticing. Zelena tosses the fireball at Dorothy, who ducks, with the flame incinerating a guard instead. Toto then pulls at a wall string, making the curtains topple onto Zelena, giving Dorothy time to flee with her dog and the Scarecrow. Blaming the munchkins for Dorothy's return, she tries to intimidate them into giving up the girl's hiding spot, but the munchkins scatter after being frightened by Hades' flaming hair. Hades thanks her for providing him with many souls in the Underworld and later offers to help her find the Scarecrow. Sympathetic to her plight, Hades explains that, he too, has to compete with an older sibling who has everything he wants. Leading her to an area where Dorothy landed in Oz years ago, he persuades Zelena into riding Dorothy's old bicycle with him, until they crash onto the ground, both giddy with laughter. After Zelena puts a tracking spell on the bike, she and Hades find Dorothy at a cottage. When Hades flirts with her, Zelena leans in to kiss him, but the romantic moment is cut short once they spot the Scarecrow. Confronting Dorothy, Zelena works quickly to extract the Scarecrow's brain, but she finds Hades gone. She returns to the palace, where Hades has prepared a celebratory banquet for her. Hades professes that he wants to be with Zelena, and his belief that a kiss of true love between them can restart his non-beating heart. Zelena rejects him, suspecting he wants the time spell for himself, since only one of them can use it. Believing no one can love her, she reasons that if he does love her, he won't stand in the way of her revenge. With a tone of finality, she sends him away, warning him to never show his face again. ("Our Decay")
One day, a thief known as Robin of Locksley travels to Oz to acquire a potion called the Elixir of the Wounded Heart. He meets a young man named Will Scarlet, who helps him break into the Wicked Witch's palace. Zelena catches Robin, who narrowly escapes with some of the elixir. However, rather than taking it with him, Robin chooses to give the elixir to Will Scarlet. ("Heart of Gold")
After the first Dark Curse was broken, Zelena took control of large swathes of the Enchanted Forest in preparation for Regina's eventual return. Although Snow White is the one who enacted the second Dark Curse to take the people of the Enchanted Forest back into Storybrooke, Zelena is able to hijack it and be the one to retain her memory and become the town's manipulator. After being confronted by the heroes, Zelena has a showdown with Regina and loses to her half-sister's new light magic, leading to Zelena's arrest. Later, while in a cell, Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold stabs her and is led to believe that he killed her. ("New York City Serenade"), ("Witch Hunt"), ("The Tower"), ("Quiet Minds"), ("It's Not Easy Being Green"), ("The Jolly Roger"), ("Bleeding Through"), ("A Curious Thing"), ("Kansas")
Instead, Zelena travels the time portal with Emma and Hook to change the past, where she takes the opportunity to kill Robin's wife, Marian, and takes her place instead using magic to conceal her true identity. At some point after turning into Marian, Zelena uses magic to learn everything she can about her.
Zelena's true identity is finally revealed while living with Robin and Roland in New York after she becomes pregnant with Robin's child. She travels back to Storybrooke with Regina, Lily, Robin and Emma. Zelena is locked in a cell beneath the hospital until her child is born. ("Snow Drifts"), ("There's No Place Like Home"), ("A Tale of Two Sisters"), ("Rocky Road"), ("Heroes and Villains"), ("Heart of Gold"), ("Lily"), ("Mother"), ("Operation Mongoose")
Zelena is mistakenly freed from her cell by Hook. She kidnaps Robin Hood, the Apprentice's Wand being ransom. She states that she wishes to transport her and her baby back to Oz so she will be free from Regina. As she conjures a tornado, the spell fizzles, but carries on. This distracted Zelena long enough for Regina to put a magical binding cuff to her sister's wrist. Zelena travels with the heroes to Camelot in search of Emma, after becoming the Dark One. She is told to pretend to be Regina's mute handmaiden (Regina having taken her voice). In Camelot, Zelena is threatened by Regina that her baby will be taken by Regina once it has been born. She takes this as a strategy to kidnap Snow/Mary Margaret as the rest of the group tries to sneak into Camelot (having been thrown out) and regains her magic with King Arthur's help. She enchants the main hilt of Excalibur to bind Merlin's soul, allowing its holder to control him. Zelena, Arthur and Merlin hold Emma's friends captive with the Protheum flame and the Dark One Dagger as ransom. Before she can do anything, she is tricked by Emma and tied by magic around a tree. After a battle between Merlin and Emma, Zelena transports herself and Arthur back to Camelot. Arthur and her plan to take a magical helm from the kingdom of DunBroch. After many failed attempts to reach the helm, including a battle between Arthur, Zelena and Red, Mulan and Mérida, she transports herself back to Camelot, where Emma casts the Dark Curse, ripping everyone back to Storybrooke without their memories of ever stepping foot in Camelot. Zelena awakens in Granny's Diner and is almost immediately put back in her cell. Zelena is met by the Dark Swan (name for Emma as the Dark One) and is told she will need an ally in the town after people learn the truth. Zelena eats darkly enchanted onion rings (made by Emma) and as a result, her pregnancy is sped up from two months to nine. She gives birth to a baby girl and is taken away by Emma into her basement with Hook at her side. She is freed from her cuff once again and leaves Hook in Emma's house, wanting to get answers. Zelena steps back inside after Emma finds him. She brings in an enchanted dreamcatcher, which holds the memories of Hook becoming a Dark One (it is Emma's fault) in order to save him. Zelena learns that Robin and Regina are allowing her to see her baby, as long as one of them is with her. This is when she shares a bonding moment with her child. During the Dark Siege of Storybrooke, Zelena plans to take Regina's place in Storybrooke including her office. After claiming full custody of her baby, Zelena is transported by Regina (and the Apprentice's Wand) back to Oz. She claimed they will see each other again. ("The Dark Swan"), ("The Price"), ("Siege Perilous"), ("The Bear and the Bow"), ("Nimue"), ("Birth"), ("The Bear King"), ("Broken Heart"), ("Swan Song")
Unfortunately, this proves true when Zelena returns to take her still-unnamed daughter back. This leads her into a struggle with Belle and Mother Superior as a portal to the Underworld is opened. Now in Hades' realm, Zelena leaves her daughter with Robin and the heroes. She later runs into Hades, who reveals that the love he's felt for her since their first meeting has never died; he remodeled the Underworld to look like Storybrooke because he wanted to give her everything that Regina wanted. Shocked, but worried about her daughter, Zelena vows to get her back alone; Hades is willing to wait until she's ready to accept his love, and eventually gives in. When Hades asks Zelena to be his partner in chaos, the news leaves Zelena awkward and Regina (who saw this through her mirror) furious, prompting her to bring Cora in to stop this relationship from happening. The tensions between Zelena and Regina worsens until Cora intervened and restored their previous memory of having met each other as young girls, which also became Cora's "Unfinished Business" to make peace with Zelena and Regina, restarting their relationship with Regina giving Zelena a chance to help Hades. However, Gold is upset with Zelena giving Belle the spindle that placed his wife in a sleeping state in order to protect their child, and with the help of Peter Pan kidnaps her as payback to what she done to him back in Storybrooke. When Hades realize that Gold used Zelena as leverage, Hades tore up the contract to take Gold and Belle's unborn child, allowing Zelena to be with Hades, whose true love's kiss freed him from being confined to the Underworld. When Hades agreed to let everyone return to Storybrooke through a portal, he told Zelena to go first but left out the part that he wanted to trap the others (but they escaped before it closed). When they returned to Storybrooke, Zelena felt that Hades truly loved her but when Emma, Regina and Robin told her that he was using her in order to create a new kingdom, Zelena thought they were going to kill Hades because he hasn't changed, until he revealed a family heirloom, the Olympian Crystal, which he wants to use on the living Storybrooke residents that he posed as a threat. Emma showed Zelena the new pages that confirmed his plot and when she returned to Regina's office she saw Robin's deceased body on the floor and after Regina knocked the crystal out of Hades' hands she picked it up and killed Hades instantly. During Robin's funeral Zelena told Regina that has named her daughter Robin in honor of her father. ("Our Decay"), ("Her Handsome Hero"), ("Ruby Slippers"), ("Sisters"), ("Firebird"), ("Last Rites")
After a tremor erupts in town, Zelena and the heroes investigate the clock tower, where they learn the tremor resulted from Mr. Gold tethering Storybrooke's magic into a piece of the Olympian Crystal. While Emma and Regina pursue Henry, who has disappeared with the crystal, Zelena uses the Apprentice's wand to create a portal so Merida, the Merry Men, and the Camelot natives can return home. Afterwards, Zelena tries to close the portal, but her control on the wand goes awry because the town's magic is linked to the crystal. She, Snow, David, and Hook are then pulled into another realm named the Land of Untold Stories, where the wand becomes broken. They seek magic from a groundsman, Jekyll, to fix it, but he is too terrified to help them. An orderly, Poole, shows up and magically tasers them into unconsciousness, before locking them up in a caged cell. There, a warden named Hyde accuses them of working for the Dark One, and though Snow convinces him otherwise, he still refuses to let them go. While Hyde is away, Jekyll agrees to fix the wand for them if they take him with them when they return home. As the heroes wait for Jekyll frees them, however, he lost the wand to Hyde. When they reach the outside city, Jekyll provides the heroes with a backstory of this land, which is home to people of all backgrounds that have fled from various dangers. They stop by Hyde's house, where Jekyll finishes making a red serum to defeat the warden for good, but Poole makes him to ingest a blue serum that forces Hyde to manifest in the body. When Zelena's magic apparently has no effect on Hyde, the heroes flee the house. After Hyde takes the red serum to separate himself and Jekyll, the group return in time to save Jekyll. Poole tries to stop their leaving, but Zelena takes care of him with a bolt of her magic. As the heroes and Jekyll attempt to get out of the city, they run into Hyde. With magical help from the Land Without Magic, a portal opens, allowing them to return home. On return to Storybrooke, Zelena joins David as he shows Jekyll to the town diner. ("Only You"), ("An Untold Story")
In Zelena's past, the witch is asked by her childhood friend, Stanum, to help him find the Crimson Heart, which would restore him back to human form after he was cursed by the Wicked Witch of the North, turning him slowly into tin. Unfortunately, Zelena's envy and her refusal to give up her magic to find happiness leads to her betraying Stanum, as she keeps the Heart and leaves him to become the Tin Man. In the Present, The Black Fairy tempts Zelena with an offer to join her, only to have Zelena seeking revenge against her. This vendetta brings Regina into the chaos when they find the Black Fairy and Gideon in the Mines, where the Black Fairy tricks Zelena into utilizing her unstable Dark Magic to help her prepare for the Final Battle, which later causes a rift between the sisters. Realizing that there is nothing left for her back in Oz, Zelena decides to help the residents fight back against the Black Fairy, by using the Crimson Heart to restore the crystals in the mines, at the cost of her magic. Regina and Emma then use their magic and one of the crystals to bring Mother Superior out of her coma after Zelena tells them where she's been (Where Bluebirds Fly). After losing her magic Regina teaches her how to drive in case they lose the Final Battle and so Zelena can escape to New York with Robin and Henry, she has some struggle with learning but gets the hang of it when she runs the Black Fairy over to save Regina. The day of Emma and Hook’s wedding Zelena helps Regina to prevent the Black Fairy’s curse from being cast, after planning to stop time with a small potion from the first curse to prevent the new curse, Gold steals the potion and uses it on Zelena, Regina, David, Snow, and Hook. After Emma gets her powers back she sings the song in her hearts and unfreezes everyone, Zelena is present at Emma and Hook’s wedding with Robin and dances with Regina. When the curse is cast Zelena and Robin are sent to Oz, she then uses the Mad Hatter’s hat to escape the apocalyptic Oz with some Munchkins. Zelena helps Regina with trying to find a way back to Storybrooke, they also get help from the Evil Queen. When the Black Fairy dies Zelena and everyone return to Storybrooke, she is present when Emma fights Gideon. After the Final Battle is over Zelena and Robin go to Granny’s for a family dinner with everyone.
Years after the Final Battle, Zelena continues to raise Robin in Storybrooke, soon after travels to another realm where time moves different and later returns to Storybrooke with Robin who is now 18 years old and has been practicing magic but Zelena forbids her from doing so, after an argument between them Robin disappears and Zelena travels to the New Enchanted Forest to tell Regina. Wish Realm Hook then offers to help Zelena find Robin when they discover it was Mother Gothel who took her, afterwards they find Robin with Gothel and Madame Leota. Robin tells Zelena she ran away and wants to stay with Gothel and for her to leave, Hook then convinces Zelena to don’t walk away from her daughter and to fight for her, Zelena then tries to save Robin when Gothel tries to use her a sacrifice to revive Leota but Robin saves her. Robin then decides to give up using magic to train to use a bow like her father and gives her magic which is in the resurrection amulet to Zelena. Eight years later, Zelena and Robin continue to live in the New Enchanted Forest on a farm, when Regina arrives to tell them about Drizella being freed by Gothel. Zelena reveals the others who helped her are powerful witches who are part of a coven called "The Coven of the Eight", but Regina thinks they are stronger than them and asks her for her help, to which Zelena agrees. When Regina, Zelena, Ella, Hook, and Jack arrive to stop Gothel, Drizella and the witches from casting the curse they find out that they’ve poisoned Henry and the only way to save him is to cast the curse to send him to a land without magic to which Regina (who is the only who can cast it) does. Zelena is sent to Hyperion Heights with everyone from the New Enchanted Forest under the new name "Kelly West", who owns the bar with her sister Roni (who is Regina) but after Roni ruins her daughter’s life, she is later pushed out of the neighborhood by Victoria Belfry and moves to San Francisco and becomes a spin instructor. After Regina is awakened by Drizella, she travels to San Francisco with Henry to bring Zelena back, who still hates and refuses to speak to her. Regina then gives her a drink with a potion mix in (that Drizella gave her) to give her memories back and as Zelena agrees to return to Seattle with her, she is confused with what to do as she is getting married. Zelena still agrees to return to Seattle with Regina and they start a plan to save both Henry and Lucy. Zelena then receives messages from her fiancé Chad but ignores them as she does not know what to say to him yet and continues to help Regina find a way to cure Henry’s heart and to break the curse along with dealing with Baron Samdi who is Dr. Facilier, and is revealed to be awake. After her daughter Robin cursed as Margot returns home Zelena and her start to have problems as she wants to know what he mother isn’t telling her but after a talk with Tilly, Margot understands her mother’s position and will wait when she’s ready to tell the truth but Zelena is then given a chocolate heart shape box by the "Candy Killer", meaning she’s the next witch target. It’s revealed that the killer is Nick Branson who is also Jack, but is revealed to Hansel, and Zelena actually knows him, Zelena also tells Regina that when she was cursed as Kelly, she was happy and loved and misses Chad. In the past Zelena met Hilda, the "Gingerbread Witch", in Oz who had captured Hansel and Gretel and was feeding them too much food to get them ready to eat for her Harvest Moon feast, as Zelena tried to kick her out of Oz the witch proved to a strong foe and damaged Zelena’s necklace and weakened her. As she passed out she was taken in by a kind man named Ivo who was blind and is Hansel and Gretel’s father, after spending some time with him Zelena goes back to save Hansel and Gretel and steal the Gingerbread Witch’s eyesight to give to Ivo but the children escaped already and told their father about her and after he rejects her she throws the eyesight bottle in the fire. Hansel then decides to fight her with a knife but she burns his arms with fire and leaves. In the present, Zelena visits Weaver and asks for help but is given her old necklace to try and fight back as the witch she was but is tired of her old ways and wants to be done with paying for her past sins. Nick kidnaps Zelena’s fiancé, Chad, to lure Zelena to him and after a fight, Zelena manages to stop him and save Chad. Zelena is sad because she believes Chad shouldn’t have to pay for her past problems and not be involved in this should leave but he tells her he loves her no matter what. After Nick is arrested, Zelena tells Regina that she doesn't know what to do as Chad wants her to come back to San Francisco but she wants to stay and help Regina break the curse but Regina tells her she deserves to be happy and gives her, her blessing to go back with Chad. Zelena also tells Margot about going back and asks if she wants to come but Margot decides to stay in Hyperion Heights to be with Tilly. Afterwards when the curse is broken in Hyperion Heights and Regina, Henry, Hook, and Rumple are in trouble in the Wish Realm, Robin and Alice travel back to Storybrooke to get help from Zelena, Snow, and Charming. Soon after Wish Rumple is defeated and Regina casts another curse to unite all the realms of story, Zelena is seen to have gotten her magic back again and driving Regina to Snow and Charming’s castle and stands and claps with the audience to see her sister crowned Queen of the United Realms of Storybrooke.
Zelena’s character has been met with critical acclaim. Many viewers and critics point her out as the breakout character of the show and that Rebecca Mader truly embodies the role of the wicked witch. Many believe she is a joy to watch from making you cry, to being a menacing yet entertaining villain and supporting hero to the cast.