Graham puts on a tough act around the men of the town in the fairy tale kingdom, but he is actually a sensitive and emotional man who cries when must kill a deer for food. Though he agrees to kill Snow White in exchange for the freedom of the wolves (an emotional bargain, built up of his personal affection for them), he cannot do it and sets her free, instead offering Regina an animal heart in place of her own. In Storybrook, as the Sheriff, though obedient to Regina’s wishes (in thrall to her because she has his beating heart), Graham also shows a certain amount of defiance in pursuing what he wants when he hires Emma to his office. Though he initially threw her in jail, he sees her potential to be a good deputy and puts her to work, though this annoys the mayor. He’s drawn to her and romantically interested in her, and it’s a way to keep her close to him. Graham prefers to deal with things on a surface level, to take immediate action, and show his feelings rather than talk about them. He was an adept tracker in his previous life, and had curried a reputation as an excellent huntsman. But most of his decisions are based in his feelings toward people, wolves, and his job. He is greatly discomforted when he can “no longer feel” and follows his instincts and Henry’s fantastical story about his previous life, in order to find his heart. But Graham is wrong about where she keeps it, and … it costs him his life.

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Graham underestimates himself in assuming he has no conscious morality when he agrees to kill Snow White for a price (the royal pardon of all wolves in the kingdom, to prevent their slaughter). He intends to just do it, and numb himself to the consequences, but finds he cannot. Though he shows flits of defiance, Graham hates conflict and for anyone to be upset with him. When Emma catches him sneaking out of Regina’s home after an intimate encounter, and accuses him of bad behavior with “Henry in the house,” Graham pleads with her to understand and tries to make amends. He admits that he has a general lack of feeling and that it bothers him. He swings between giving in to Regina through compliance and asserting himself strongly through flits of aggression, such as when he risks her displeasure by hiring Emma and doesn’t care how she reacts to it. When he realizes she has been using him and has stolen his heart, Graham goes behind her back to find it again in defiance, out of a disgust at having been “trapped” into something he never agreed to in the first place. The last thing he wants is for someone to control his actions.