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We aren't going to break it down, Emma. It was enchanted to hold Rumplestiltskin. We don't have a chance.
Mary Margaret to Emma src

The Dark Dungeon,[1] also known as Rumplestiltskin's Cell, is an Enchanted Forest location featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the first episode of the first season.


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Reason: Save Henry and The Song in Your Heart recap

Before First Curse

A housemaid, Cinderella, contracts a deal with the wizard Rumplestiltskin that if she manages to win the heart of the prince, Thomas, she will have to give him something in return. Later, he asks to have her first born child, but Cinderella wants to back out of the deal. She tricks him into signing a new contract with a magic quill containing squid ink by saying she is pregnant with twins, and giving him only one of her children requires a new signed deal. The ink freezes him and his powers. Though she escapes having to hand over her child to him, he magically makes Prince Thomas disappear into thin air. Cinderella confronts him in the cage carrying him off to his dungeon jail cell, and he cackles her prince shall not return until he receives his end of their deal. Rumplestiltskin is jailed, but secretly he carries his own bottle of squid ink that he hides in his cell for later use. ("The Price of Gold", "Into the Deep")

As they needed to know more about the Dark Curse the Evil Queen is going to use against all the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest, the dungeon jailer takes Snow White and Prince Charming to see Rumplestiltskin. He warns her to let Rumplestiltskin know her name, though he already knows who they are despite that they are wearing cloaks to shield their faces. He says that he can tell them about the curse, but it will cost them something in return.

Prince Charming defiantly refuses but Snow White insists and asks what he wants. Rumplestiltskin asks for the name of their child and Snow White agrees, and he tells them that they will all soon be imprisoned when time stops, imprisoned somewhere horrible where everything they love will be ripped from them.

When Snow White asks what can stop it, Rumplestiltskin says that her child is their only hope and they should get her to safety. On the child's 28th birthday, she will find them and the final battle will begin. Snow White and Prince Charming walk away and Rumplestiltskin demands the name of the child; saying that it is a girl. Prince Charming insists that it is a boy, but Rumplestiltskin says that Snow White knows the truth. She turns and tells Rumplestiltskin that the child's name is Emma. ("Pilot", "Into the Deep")

After he is given by Snow White the name of her unborn child, Rumplestiltskin obsessively scribbles down Emma's name over and over again on a piece of parchment using the ink. The ink itself is able to turn the jail cell bars into dust, but Rumplestiltskin does not try to escape. ("Into the Deep")

He receives another visitor in the form of the Evil Queen disguised as a rat. She transforms to her human form and tells him that the curse he gave her is not working. Rumplestiltskin says that Snow White and Prince Charming visited him, and that he told them that only their unborn child can stop the darkness. She asks what she did wrong, and Rumplestiltskin requests to have certain things in the new land they will be in after the curse is cast. He wants riches, but also wants the Evil Queen to obey him in the new world as long as he says "please". The Evil Queen notes that he will not remember anything if the curse succeeds, and agrees to the deal. He tells her that she needs to sacrifice the heart of something precious. When she states she used the heart of her most prized steed, Rumplestiltskin hisses she needs more than just a horse's heart for the curse to work. The Evil Queen asks what will suffice, and he says the heart of what she loves most. When she says that what she loved most died because of Snow White, Rumplestiltskin says that there must be something else and tells her to consider how far she's willing to go. The Evil Queen is troubled by what she will have to do, but says she will go as far as it takes. Rumplestiltskin snaps at her to stop wasting time and go kill it. ("The Thing You Love Most")

After First Curse

After being awoken from the sleeping curse by Emma, Henry has horrifying nightmares of being in a fiery windowless room. Through Mr. Gold's help, he is able to communicate with another person, Aurora, who is also trapped in the same world while asleep. From her, Henry gains information about someone named Cora that is getting in the way of Emma and Mary Margaret's plans in finding a way back to Storybrooke from the Enchanted Forest. As Henry is slowly falling asleep and returning to the burning room, Mr. Gold lulls him with a story to inform Aurora that Emma and Mary Margaret need to steal a special compass, and go to the dark dungeon to gather up the remaining magical ink in his old jail cell. The ink has paralysis effects which will work on any magical being; including Cora. ("Into the Deep")

Aurora, Mary Margaret, Emma, and Mulan then go to the dark dungeon to acquire the jar of ink, but Mulan finds the jar to be empty. Instead, they find the ink had been used on a piece of parchment with Emma's name written repeatedly. At that moment, Cora influences Aurora via her heart to throw a rock at the lever and slam the gate shut; trapping the four women inside. Cora and her accomplice, Hook, appear and they steal the compass. When all seems lost, Mary Margaret remembers how Cora used magic with her spell book and blows the squid ink off of the page onto the cell bars. It forms a cloud and disintegrates the cell bars and they are able to escape. However, Aurora fears that as long as Cora has her heart she will be to dangerous so she asks to be tied up.

After Cora and Hook are defeated and Mary Margaret and Emma travel back to Storybrooke, Mulan returns with Aurora's heart and places it back inside her body. The two discuss bringing back Prince Phillip's soul, and they go off to make plans to do so. ("Queen of Hearts")


On-Screen Notes

Production Notes

  • The Dark Dungeon was the setting for a specially made promotional trailer for Season Five that was shown at San Diego Comic-Con. The trailer featured Emma Swan as the Dark One trapped in the cell and the Jailer bringing her food. She reaches out and grabs the Jailer, ripping out his heart and crushing it.[2]
    • This trailer mirrors a deleted scene from "Pilot", where an imprisoned Rumplestiltskin, watched over by the Jailer, is brought food by a guard. As the guard places the food in the cell, Rumplestiltskin grabs him and tells him, "It has begun".[3]

Filming Locations


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  1. "Into the Deep", Once Upon a Time, ABC
  2. File:SDCC Season 5 Dark Swan Promo
  3. "Pilot" (deleted scene), Once Upon a Time, ABC
  4. Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis on Season One DVD/Blu-ray Commentary for "Pilot"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ginnifer Goodwin on the Season One DVD/Blu-ray Audio Commentary for "7:15 A.M."
  7. Colin O'Donoghue on the Season Two DVD/Blu-ray Audio Commentary for "And Straight On 'Til Morning"
  8. David H. Goodman and Colin O'Donoghue on the Season Two DVD/Blu-ray Audio Commentary for "And Straight On 'Til Morning"
  9. File:101DungeonStorybook.PNG
  10. File:322Look.png

Start a Discussion Discussions about Dark Dungeon

  • Was the Final Battle foreshadowed in the Pilot?

    14 messages
    • They clearly did not have this in mind when they wrote the pilot, but now they are saying that yeah, it's the battle Rumple prophesized.
    • Tysonjackson wrote:Eskaver wrote:ChocolatEyes613 wrote:Farerb wrote: When Rumple said it, I don't think that they intended for the fi...
  • Flash Forwards/Time Jump?

    22 messages
    • Edzz wrote: In this article they say: “The construction [of Season 5A] is different as far as flashbacks go,” Horowitz noted.  Does t...
    • well the jail scene isnt canon but we had a time jump