Somebody somewhere talked about how they’d like to see Regina/Evil Queen redeemed but not lose her edge, and after writing this post, I hit upon a solution: make Regina into a Byronic heroine in a similar vein as Xena.
Like Regina, Xena has done a lot of awful shit in her time. She once used her phenomenal gifts as a warrior for warmongering (read: kill, terrorize, enslave, and otherwise fuck shit up). But, inspired by Hercules, she has chosen a different path, one where she uses her abilities to protect and empower people. She doesn’t suddenly turn nice, either. She mellows out a bit because she’s hanging around Little Miss Sunshine Incarnate all day every day. But Xena will still fuck your shit up if you fuck with her or the people she cares about.
Just like Xena, Regina is more than capable of forging a new destiny for herself. Of course, Regina’s path is going to be harder than Xena’s because her past is always around her. She literally cannot leave Storybrooke (as far as we know), so she’s always face-to-face with what she’s done and how it’s affected others.
All she needs is a plucky blonde idealist to show her the way.