The Queens of Darkness are major antagonists of the second half of the fourth season of ABC's "Once Upon a Time".
Consisting of Maleficent, Cruella, and Ursula, created, and later directed by Rumplestiltskin, the Queens of Darkness is a team of evil, devoted to changing the rules so that villains can get a Happy Ending like heroes.
The Queens first appear in "Heroes and Villains", when Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella ambush Rumple and hold Belle ransom for a magical Gauntlet.
In "Darkness on the Edge of Town", it is revealed that Rumple is the one who assembled the team in the first place, and in present time New York, he reassembles the band of evil as their director and planner. Collecting Ursula and Cruella, Rumple manages to get them back into Storybrooke where they eventually resurrect Maleficent as Rumple's Co-Leader, as she was originally the de facto head.
In "Enter the Dragon", The Evil Queen joins the team as an undercover agent and Maleficent has Regina do work for her before revealing that the Queens are working with Gold.
In "Poor Unfortunate Soul", Ursula betrays their plan to Hook, who gets her back her Happy Ending, and leaves the group to be with her father.
In "Best Laid Plans", Maleficent assures Rumple that he needs her for the plan, claiming Cruella and Ursula to have only been a means to an end to revive her and tells him that she is most useful for the group and his greatest ally, reminding him that he needs to give her what she wants in return, showing that she wants the alliance to be equal-sided. Regina delivers Rumple a page from the story book that supposedly contains the Author, but he quickly recognizes it as a fake and has Maleficent put her to sleep, with the three of them realizing that they've had an undercover agent. Ursula leaves the group after receiving her happy ending.
In "Heart of Gold", it is revealed that Zelena is allied with them as well.
In "Sympathy for the De Vil", The Author, whose name is Isaac, joins the team, while the original group (Rumple, Cruella and Maleficent) begins to break up, with Maleficent and Cruella at odds with each other, after Maleficent discovers she and Ursula had left her daughter Lily to die in the woods. Rumple also discovers that Cruella and the Author knew one another, while she goes off on her own and kidnaps Henry, and eventually dies at the hands of Emma Swan.
In "Lily", Maleficent announces to the heroes that she has left Rumple's side, after sensing that he will betray her in the same way he did Cruella. Now the group consists only of Rumple, Isaac and ally Zelena, with the core group all gone, however Maleficent is still very dangerous and vengeful, even when she provides assistance in exchange for Emma and Regina assisting her in retrieving Lily, as she clearly still hates the Charmings.
In "Mother", Maleficent has reunited with her daughter, meaning she no longer requires the assistance of the other team members, and no longer wants revenge. Zelena is imprisoned and Isaac starts writing his new story for Rumple.
In "Operation Mongoose", Isaac's story is reversed by Henry, Regina, and Emma, leaving Rumple's heart dying. Isaac is locked up and Rumple's body shuts down after The Darkness nearly consumes his heart. Emma absorbs it and disappears, while Rumple, still alive, is preserved by magic in the hopes that he and his heart will recover.
Maleficent is the last remaining member still active, although only a former one, and has seemingly found solace in her daughter.
Rumple is revived and redeemed in Season 5, while Maleficent continues to work with Lily in the background for their future plans together, unseen, and Zelena has escaped.
- Rumplestiltskin - While the title "Queen of Darkness" does not apply to him, he is responsible for the foundation of the group and acts as both leader and planner in Storybrooke, being the one who reformed the team promising to get everyone a happy ending and the one who does most of the talking during group discussions. He assigns missions to the group and mostly stays in the background. While all of this is fact, he is reminded by Maleficent that, while she is content to let him plan everything and direct everyone as long as the results yield to her satisfaction, it's an equal partnership between the two of them and she is not a pawn and a tool like the other members, even forcing a new deal on him to show her lost child. Despite Rumple's promise to get each team member what they want, he is shameless about throwing them under the bus if need be to secure his own victory, best shown when he manipulated both Emma and Cruella into facing off and resulting in Cruella's death.
- Maleficent - After the formation of the team, Maleficent served as the de facto leader and always took point in any schemes she and the others would carry out, although the trust between the three villains was always limited. When the Curse hit, Maleficent spent her days under the library as a dragon before being destroyed by Emma. After Rumple instructed Cruella and Ursula to revive her, she took back her place as leader alongside Rumple. It was her idea to curse the entire town to sleep for the majority of an episode. After, she reminded Rumple that, although he was in charge of the plans that she would willingly carry out, he still needed to give her what she wanted and that, while Cruella and Ursula were nothing more than a means to an end for the two of them, she was an equal and could demand a favor from him. Knowing that he just wanted to help himself and that he got Cruella killed on purpose was a factor in her betrayal.
- Cruella De Vil - While Cruella never took the lead in any schemes, she constantly taunted and mouthed off to Gold despite knowing that he could easily kill her and only carried out his plans because he promised a happy ending for her in return. She also left Maleficent's child to die in the forest and neglected to mention it to anyone in the team, save for Ursula (the other one responsible) and willingly betrayed the team and tried to force Isaac to write her back her ability to kill by kidnapping Henry and threatening to shoot him, which she was unable to. Little did she know that Gold was playing her and that Emma would kill her in defense of Henry.
- Ursula - Ursula mainly acted as the brute force of the group using her attack tentacles. Much like Cruella, she was sarcastic and snappish towards her employer and only worked with the group to get her singing voice back. She also enjoyed both listening to opera singing (her former specialty) and torturing August for information. After she found Hook, who was responsible for the loss of her singing voice, he proposed a team-up with her and restored her voice with Ariel and King Triton's help, proving that villains could get happy endings without the Author.
- The Evil Queen - Regina joined as an undercover agent for the heroes, having redeemed herself long ago. Maleficent recruited Regina to the team after she had claimed that she was merely playing good to save herself from the heroes, putting her through a series of tests to see if she was still "a bad girl", culminating in Regina and Maleficent burning a sheriff car. Rumple and Maleficent still had their doubts about her, and Mal sent Regina to kidnap Pinocchio, which she did, after which Gold turned him back into August and tortured him, which Regina played along with. After Ursula left, Regina filled in her spot and was assigned the mission of getting the page containing Isaac from Henry. Once the page was given to Gold, he instantly recognized it as a fake and that Regina should know the difference, having Maleficent put her to sleep and holding her hostage, using Zelena as leverage over her and Robin. Eventually she escapes, finds leverage, and allies herself and Emma with Maleficent for real after Emma is persuaded to find Maleficent's daughter.
- Isaac Heller - While not an official "Queen", Isaac is the catalyst for the entire story and the man whom the plans of the team revolve around. Eventually, Emma releases him and he escapes only to be found and recruited by Rumple into writing a new story for him in which Isaac is an acclaimed writer and his book contains different versions of all the characters, Rumple included (the Queens are not seen). The only Queen he interacts with is Cruella.
- Zelena - The Wicked Witch of the West forces Rumple to find her a happy ending after he suffers a heart attack, and he decides to use her as leverage against Regina, knowing that she is disguised as Marian and lives with Robin. After finding Lily for Maleficent, Emma and Regina return Zelena to Storybrooke and lock her up. She never interacts with any of the Queens.
- The name refers to Maleficent, Cruella and Ursula, however Rumple is also a member and Regina briefly joined as a double agent.
- Zelena is considered more of an ally than an actual member, as she never gets involved in any of the missions, nor does she interact with the rest of the group.
- Oddly, the Disney movie counterparts, Maleficent and Ursula died in their movies, and Cruella De Vil lived in her movies, and in Once Upon a Time, it was reversed.