By Natalie Abrams
Updated August 21, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

Brave’s redheaded and defiant princess is coming to Once Upon a Time — and EW has the scoop on how and when the ABC fairy-tale drama will be meeting her.

Introduced in the season premiere, Merida (Amy Manson) is “a spitfire like [she was in] the movie,” says executive producer Edward Kitsis. “If she’s not your favorite new character this year, I won’t know what to say. She’s a lot of fun.”

“This is the first Pixar character on the show,” executive producer Adam Horowitz adds. “It’s a character Eddy and I have loved since the movie came out. We’re very excited to include her in the show.”

In the world of Once, we’ll meet Merida “some time after the events of the movie,” Horowitz says. “We’re going to give you a little taste of where she’s been since then, what’s happened to her since the end of that movie, and then we’re going to see that that somehow crosses with our people and with our Once Upon a Time mythology.”

Particularly, Merida will first cross paths with Emma (Jennifer Morrison) before eventually meeting up with the rest of our heroes and villains. “It’s certainly a part of Emma’s journey as the Dark Swan and dealing with her darkness,” Horowitz says. “All that is tied with how we explore the world of Camelot this year. At the end of last year, Merlin was revealed to be very important to what Emma needs. Hopefully you’ll see that it all ties together in a fun way. You’ll get that pretty much from the start. In the season premiere, there’s a lot that happens, including Merida and giving you a taste of what we plan to do with Camelot.”

While the powers that be have already debunked the initial report that Merida is Rumple’s (Robert Carlyle) mother — they wanted to keep the announcement of Merida’s introduction a surprise for Comic-Con so they released false casting sides — the fact that they’re somewhat polar opposites may come into play. “Her bravery and his cowardice, that certainly fits into the story that we’re telling with him and her and all of our characters,” Horowitz says.

“And I think, as we can all imagine, when the two of them get together, we don’t know what they’re saying,” Kitsis jokes of the Scotish actors.

The producers were also quick to debunk another theory that the redheaded archer is the as yet unborn child of Zelena (Rebecca Mader) and Robin Hood (Sean Maguire). “It’s just a fun theory, but the reality is we are sticking to the canon of the movie Brave in terms of who her parents are and where she came from, but post-movie is where our Once Upon a Time spin comes into play,” Horowitz says.

Once Upon a Time returns Sunday, Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

To continue reading more about EW’s Fall TV Preview, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy it here.

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Episode Recaps


Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

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