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Once Upon a Time’s narrative has grown more complicated as the series has worn on, introducing new characters and plotlines at a quick rate throughout its first two seasons. With Season 3 on the way, ABC’s fairy tale-oriented drama is adding some brand new characters from lore. The latest is Ariel, a spirited and redheaded mermaid who will be played by JoAnna Garcia Swisher.
Once Upon a Time has been teasing the appearance of the Little Mermaid ever since that show was gearing up to premiere on ABC. The character was talked about at Comic Con in its first year, and the bonus features in the Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season set also featured a segment explaining the backstory of the Little Mermaid. The writers may not have been able to work the character into the first couple of seasons, but at this year’s Comic Con panel, they said Ariel would be a part of the new season, and we finally have a few details about the appearance.
TV Guide first reported the news, noting that the character will have a twist on the Disney princess we’ve come to know and love, which isn’t a shock, considering twists on conventional characters are what the show does best. Additionally, the outlet says she will maintain her “wide-eyed charm.” The character won’t pop up until the sixth episode of the season, which will be conveniently titled “Ariel.”
The actress is currently expected to appear in at least two episodes, but that could change with time, as characters like Belle have moved from small roles to larger ones in the past. Other new characters in Season 3 include Tinker Bell and a larger role for Robin Hood, who will now be played by actor Sean Maguire.
Swisher is a veteran of television, having starred in Reba, and popped up in shows like Freaks and Geeks and Gossip Girl. Most recently, she appeared in Royal Pains and starred in NBC’s short-lived series, Animal Practice. She’s one of those women that can rock out a variety of different hair colors, and she should look great with Ariel’s signature hairdo. You can catch her in action after Once Upon a Time returns to the schedule this September.
At this point, there’s no way to know whether Ariel’s appearance will prove a welcome addition to the cast, but given her important status in the Disney canon, she probably needed to be incorporated sooner rather than later. Considering how long they’ve taken to do it, there’s every reason to hope there is a master plan and the show will do it correctly. Either way, we can expect Once Upon A Time’s biggest fans to sound off very loudly about whether they approve or disapprove.
Once Upon a Time returns to ABC’s schedule on September 29 at 8 p.m. ET.