Emma Swan/Regina Mills
|Pairing:||Emma Swan/Regina Mills|
|Alternative name(s):||Swan Queen, SQ|
|Gender category:||Femslash, F/F|
|Fandom:||Once Upon a Time|
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Emma and Regina share custody of Regina's adopted, and Emma's biological, son, Henry Mills, and met through him. Originally they were antagonistic towards one another, particularly Regina hating how Henry went out and found his birth mother. Not to mention Emma was the promised "Savior" who was supposed to break Regina's curse that brought the entire town of Storybrooke into being.
The two continued to fight once the curse was lifted, and the addition of magic to the town did not help matters. However, "because Henry asked her to," Emma repeatedly saved Regina from the vengeful mob of newly-woken Enchanted Forest-ers out for her head. In her efforts to save Regina from getting her soul eaten by a Wraith, Emma accidentally triggered Regina's own magic by laying a hand on her arm, and then subsequently fell through a portal to the Enchanted Forest (aka Fairy Tale Land or FTL) with her new mom, Snow White. Emma's absence gave Regina an opportunity to have Henry to herself forever, but because she made a promise to their son that she would be "better" and earn his love, she absorbed a death curse to save Emma and let her return to Storybrooke.
There were quite a few subsequent issues involving the return of Regina's abusive mother, Cora, a trip to Neverland, evil Peter Pan, the Wicked Witch of the West aka Regina's older sister Zelena, and although they still don't always get along, Emma and Regina now more often than not join forces to protect their family and the town.
The pairing quickly gained traction in fandom, drawing femslashers from far and wide and contributing to the growth of other femslash pairings in the OUAT fandom, such as Sleeping Warrior aka Aurora/Mulan. However as the series went on, fans of the pairing developed a somewhat tense relationship with the show's production team as Swan Queen has several times been cited as an example of queerbaiting, one of very few noted femslash examples of the same. Cranz notes in their History of Femslash:
Once Upon a Time’s premise is a little gay. A kid has two moms, and those moms like to argue passionately with one another while looking at each other’s lips. It spawned the major pairing, Swan Queen [...] But the showrunners of Once Upon a Time were not even a little okay with the queer focus of fandom, or the demands hinged on “social justice,” and they went out of their ways to assert the hetero nature of the leads. First by calling any flirtation “unintentional,” and then by trucking out male love interests for both characters, who just happened to be identical to the supposed female love interests apart from how they identify gender-wise.
It was an absolute shitshow. Fandom, accustomed to having its demands met when they were attached to the concept of social activism, was appalled by the tone deafness of OUaT’s showrunners (one showrunner still doesn’t have a Twitter account) and infuriated by the show’s complete refusal to entertain the idea of better queer representation.
Salt was added to the wound when the show hinted that Mulan was gay and then, only minutes later, shuttled her off screen for two seasons. [...] After raging at Once Upon a Time, the femslash fandom licked its wounds and began to migrate. They found refuge in Orange is the New Black and Orphan Black (even creating the Orphan is the New Black portmanteau as a result). On those shows, the ladies were unapologetically queer and at the forefront of the show.
Notably the Swan Queen fandom has a great deal of crossover with the The Devil Wears Prada fandom. This is likely due to the similarities of the romantic pairings. Both feature a stern and villainized woman with power who victimized and is victimized by the heroine.
San Diego Comic Con 2013
At SDCC in 2013 a fan asked the cast and showrunners about the possibility of Swan Queen being canon one day. Before the cast could respond the showrunners interjected and said any queer reading of OUAT was wrong and not intended by the creators. This led to an enormous uproar in the community with many BNFs leaving the fandom.
Awards & Statistics
- Swan Queen won the AfterEllen Femslash Madness Tournament in 2014.
- In 2015, Swan Queen was number 14 in most reblogged ships on Tumblr.
- Emma Swan/Regina Mills has consistently been the top femslash pairing on Archive of Our Own for a number of years, ranking 1st in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.
- Swan Queen: The official pairing name for the ship.
- Swen: What shippers (at least on tumblr) call themselves. Came from the SWan quEn Nation or SWan queEN.
- Swan-Mills Family: The name given to Emma & Regina & Henry in most fics.
- The Fragments Trilogy by heartsways - One of the first fics to feature Swan Queen and the first long form fic featuring the couple.
- Somewhere, someone must know the ending by maleficently - An extremely popular AU where magic does not exist and Regina and Emma were once married. One of the first AUs in the fandom.
- The Fatal Plunge Series by maleficently - A very popular trilogy that became rather notorious with the author removed the third part and provided a new third part instead. Remains unfinished.
- Letters From War by hunnyfresh. A fic by popular SQ author hunnyfresh that went on to become an example of Filing Off The Serial Numbers.
- Down The Rabbit Hole by amycarey - Was once the most popular Swan Queen story on AO3 in 2015
- Send Up a Signal (that everything's fine) by coalitiongirl - An Actor AU that draws heavily on the history of the Swan Queen fandom.
- Adventures with Cora Mills by WitchyLove14 - A popular crack fic in which Cora ships established couple Emma and Regina very hard. Features literal ship wars.
- You May Not Be Strong Enough, But Maybe We Are, Archived version by napfreak
- A Perfect Family (Tumblr link) by Feyrah
- No by samanthadoodles
- SQ - Home by Afterlaughs
- a message . reasons why i ship swan queen by Willow Hermione
- Swan Queen || Dancing in the Dark | Season 4 by Long Live Regina
- Going Home by nialies
- Swan Queen - Halo by Ex Animo
- Swan Queen Shippers and the Need for Lesbian Representation on TV; WebCite, In Media Res (2015)
- AfterEllen's exclusive interview with Lana Parrilla (who plays Regina) about the ship.
Archives and Links
- Emma Swan/Regina Mills Tag at AO3
- Swanqueen tag on Wattpad
- regina x emma community on Deviantart
- Swan Queen tag at Tumblr
- Beatthe0dds Was the most complete Swan Queen Tumblr archive, with recs and search options for genre
- regina-emma at LiveJournal
- swanmills at LiveJournal
- Aja Romano's How to kill your slash fandom in 5 steps at The Daily Dot
- The History of Femslash, the Tiny Fandom That's Taking Over the Universe
- Tumblr 2015 Year in Review: Most Reblogged Ships, Archived version by Tumblr Fandometrics
- AO3 Ship Stats 2014 by centrumlumina
- AO3 Ship Stats 2015
- AO3 Ship Stats 2016
- AO3 Ship Stats 2017
- AO3 Ship Stats 2019