- This article focuses on the character Rumplestiltskin. For the fairytale, see Rumplestiltskin (Fairytale).
All magic comes with a price!
—Rumplestiltskin's iconic phrase
Rumplestiltskin is a major character on Once Upon a Time. He débuts in the first episode of the first season. He is played by starring cast member Robert Carlyle, and is the fairytale identity of Mr. Gold. Rumplestiltskin is an extremely powerful but crooked and greedy wizard who is able to foresee the future. He is one of the most feared beings in Fairytale Land and is notorious for his deals.
Rumplestiltskin was once a normal, widowed spinner with a son named Baelfire, whom he loved with all his heart and who was his most treasured possession in the world. At some point before Baelfire was born, Rumplestiltskin ran from a war that he was meant to fight in, and was forever labeled as a coward.
When the kingdom finally has to resort to using children as soldiers in the Ogre Wars, Rumplestiltskin and his son flee into the forest, only to be found and bullied by royal knights. After the knights leave, Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire are approached by a mysterious old man who offers them help in exchange for a small amount of food and company.
After listening to Rumplestiltskin's story, the old man tries to inspire him to find another way to save his son, but Rumplestiltskin is adamant that the only real choice was to run away. Knowing that Rumplestiltskin cannot run forever, the old man offers him a more complete solution to his problems.
He informs him that the Duke of the kingdom has a magical dagger in his possession. The Duke, in turn, uses this magical dagger to control the Dark One, a terrifying entity with unmatched magical powers who is the most feared being in all the land.
As such, if Rumplestiltskin could steal the dagger, he, rather than the Duke, would have control over the Dark One. Thus, he could protect Baelfire and turn the Dark One into a force of good. Of course, Rumplestiltskin realizes that he would never be able to truly hold the Dark One as a slave because he will be terrified of him. The old man sympathizes with Rumplestiltskin, but reiterates that obtaining the dagger is the only way to protect Baelfire from being taken away.
Convinced that he has no other choice, Rumplestiltskin plots to steal the dagger by setting fire to the Duke's castle during the night. After stealing the blade, Rumplestiltskin runs back into the forest to meet Baelfire, whom he told to go wait at home while he summoned the Dark One.
Upon calling the name on the dagger, "Zoso," the Dark One appears. Though he attempts to act bravely, Rumplestiltskin cowers in the Dark One's presence, and when he implies that Baelfire isn't truly Rumplestiltskin's son, Rumplestiltskin stabs the entity in a fit of blind rage.
Upon getting a better look at the dying entity's face, Rumplestiltskin discovers the Dark One was in fact the old man who had told him about the dagger in the first place. Shocked, Rumplestiltskin asks him why he would do such a thing as plot his own murder. The man tells him that all the horrible deeds he was forced to carry out as the Dark One has made his life a burden, and that he welcomes death as a release.
Cackling at Rumplestiltskin's blind faith and desperation, the old man spits his last words: "Magic always comes with a price," knowing that now that price was Rumplestiltskin's to bear forever, sealed with his own name replacing Zoso's on the dagger.
Rumplestiltskin, now with more power than he ever dreamed, returns to his hamlet to humiliate and kill the knights who had harassed him the other day, all while Baelfire watches in horror as his father relished in their deaths. When Baelfire asks his father the cause for his actions, Rumplestiltskin states that he had simply protected what belonged to him, and that he wasn't longer afraid, thus beginning his reign of terror.
Eager to fulfill his promise, Rumplestiltskin put his newfound powers to use by bringing about an end to the Ogre Wars, walking into the middle of battlefields and brokering a truce between the warring parties. However, while this good deed brought Rumplestiltskin reverence and respect, the powers of the Dark One had corrupted him, causing him to continually hurt people and seek more power for fear that he wouldn't be able to protect Baelfire from his enemies otherwise.
As such, reverence turned into fear, allowing Rumplestiltskin to become a wealthy and powerful individual who terrified those around him, much to the distaste of Baelfire, who believed that his father wouldn't need so much power to protect him if he simply didn't have any. Rumplestiltskin knew this was not an option, as the only way he knew he could be rid of the Dark One's abilities would be if someone killed him with his magic dagger.
Wanting things to return to the way they were before, Baelfire offers his own deal to Rumplestiltskin: if Baelfire is able to find a way for Rumplestiltskin to give up his powers without killing him or hurting Baelfire in the process, Rumplestiltskin must do so. With this goal in mind, Baelfire seeks out the Blue Fairy, who offered him a magic bean which can produce a portal to transport him and his father to a "land without magic," where Rumplestiltskin would be powerless--but alive and with his son.
However, when it came time to follow through with Baelfire's plan, Rumplestiltskin reverted to his former personality. Not wanting to give up the influence he had garnered as the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin clung to the edge of the bean's magic portal with his dagger, abandoning Baelfire in the process. In their last moments together in Fairytale Land, Baelfire called his father a coward and Rumplestiltskin broke the only deal he ever really cared about: sacrificing power for his son's happiness.
Immediately regretting his decision, Rumplestiltskin summoned the Blue Fairy and begged her to send him to be with Baelfire. When she said that it was impossible to do so by any magical means, Rumplestiltskin tricked her into revealing that a powerful curse could allow him to be with his son. From that point on, Rumplestiltskin swore that he would stop at nothing and would sacrifice an entire world if it meant seeing Baelfire again, acknowledging that he had "all the time in the world" to figure out how.
Some time later, Rumplestiltskin had amassed considerable wealth and a castle of his own, but grew lonely and sought someone to take care of his estate. Summoned by King Maurice to protect his town from a horde of ogres, Rumplestiltskin made a deal to protect the kingdom in exchange for the king's daughter, Belle, to live in his castle as a caretaker.
After holding her captive for several months, Rumplestiltskin grew fond of Belle, and allowed her to go into town on the pretext of fetching him straw for spinning gold (really a test of her affection for him, since he wagered she might not return). While traveling on the road, Belle encountered the Evil Queen, who encouraged her to kiss Rumplestiltskin, as "true love's kiss" would cure him of his evil.
Against Rumplestiltskin's assumptions (as well as her own) Belle returns to the castle and kisses him, causing Rumplestiltskin to begin to revert to his human form. Shocked by her actions, he incorrectly believed that Belle was working with the Queen when she stutters that she learned from a woman that kissing him would break his curse.
In a fit of anger, Rumplestiltskin locked her in his dungeon and later cast her out of his castle, saying that he valued his power more then the love Belle was willing to give him. However, Belle challenged Rumplestiltskin, saying that despite all his efforts to be seen as powerful and feared, he was still a coward at heart for not being able to accept that someone could actually love him, and that all that his power would bring him in the end would be "an empty heart and a chipped cup." Little did she realize the true motivation behind his incessant quest for magic and power: an all-consuming drive to reunite with his son.
After Belle left, the Queen visited Rumplestiltskin and goaded him about her fate, telling him that after Belle had returned to her own kingdom, her father had locked her in a tower and sought priests to cleanse her, believing that she had succumbed to Rumpelstiltskin's evil ways. According to the Queen, after being tortured and disavowed, Belle killed herself by jumping off the tower. This is, of course, a lie, as she is still alive years later in Storybrooke.
Visibly shaken by this knowledge, Rumplestiltskin called the Queen a liar and told her to leave. Left in his grief, an emotional Rumplestiltskin replaced a golden chalice in his trophy room with the teacup that Belle had chipped on her first day as his caretaker, the only memento he still has of his lost love.
Some time later, he was summoned to King George's court, where King George begged him to bring his son, who had been killed in a tournament, back from the dead. Rumplestiltskin admitted that not even magic can bring back the dead, but told the King that his dead son had a twin. Apparently, years before, the King and his wife could not bear children and so had made a deal with Rumpelstilskin to bring them a child. Rumpelstiltskin, for his part, made a deal with a poor couple that had given birth to twins but were about to lose their farm, whereby they might give one of their sons to the King in exchange for clearance of all their debts.
He demanded the location of King George's family fairy godmother in return for getting the other twin, information which King George reluctantly gave. He went back to the farm to collect the other twin, who turns out to be Prince Charming. He convinced James to go to King George's court and become a prince, which he did.
Some time later, he met with Snow White, who wanted him to give her something that would make her forget about an unforgettable love. Rumplestiltskin plucks two hairs from her head, using one to create a forgetfulness potion for her, keeping the other as payment. Prince Charming, however, was still in love with Snow and just as determined not to marry Abigail. After helping Abigail free her true love from a curse, he went to Rumplestiltskin to ask for help in locating Snow. He told Prince Charming that he would help him in return for the cloak that he was wearing. Prince Charming agreed and left with information leading to Snow. After Prince Charming had gone, Rumplestiltskin took a strand of hair off the cloak and put it in a bottle with the hair he took from Snow White. As he places it on his shelf with his other potions, it begins to glow. In this manner, Rumpelstiltskin succeeded in bottling the last and strongest magic, which he had heretofore been unable to capture. With it, he could do "anything."
Rumplestiltskin then went to Cinderella's step-family's manor, where the fairy godmother was in the process of granting Cinderella a chance to go to Prince Thomas's ball. He destroyed the fairy godmother and took her wand, much to Cinderella's shock. However, despite her angry protests, he convinced her to make a new deal with him instead - she could go to the ball, but she would owe him something "precious".
Cinderella agreed, signed the contract, and hurried off to the ball. Later, at a second ball celebrating her wedding to Prince Thomas, Rumplestiltskin showed up, just long enough to claim his "precious" price as her firstborn child. Many months later, he met with Cinderella again, whereupon she told him that she was having twins and wanted to make a new deal. (This was just a ploy to get Rumpelstiltskin to handle a cursed quill and trap him somewhere where he could not take her child.) At first he did not believe her but, after warning Cinderella about the consequences of using magic against him, he eventually signed the contract with a magical quill, which paralyzes him.
Thomas, Grumpy and James load him up into a cart to take him away to prison, but Thomas mysteriously disappears. Cinderella confronts Rumpelstiltskin, who says that Thomas would never return unless he received her baby: all magic comes with a price, and this was it. Then he was carted away to his prison in the dwarves' mine.
During Snow White's wedding, the Evil Queen appeared and announced her plans to destroy the happiness of Snow White—and everyone else in the Fairytale Land as well. When she attempted to fulfill her plans using the Dark Curse, she found that it did not work. She approached Rumplestiltskin to find out why, and his price for the information was that he receive riches, comfort, and influence during his life in Storybrooke—and that if he came to her for any reason, she must give him anything he asks for, provided he says "please." After the Queen agreed to this, Rumplestiltskin told her that she must sacrifice the heart of the thing she loves most for the Curse to work.
Some time after the Queen's declaration at their wedding, Snow White and James went to him, seeking help because of the Evil Queen's Dark Curse. Their escort warned them not to tell him their names, because it would give him power over them, but Rumpelstiltskin already knew who they were--he greeted them by name and told them to take down their hooded robes.
Rumplestiltskin agreed to give them information in exchange for their unborn baby's name, to which Snow White agrees, in spite of the guard's earlier warning. He tells Snow White and James that the only thing that can save all the people in the land from the curse is "that thing growing in her belly" and that the final battle will not begin until her 28th birthday. As they turn to leave, Rumpelstiltskin asks for "her" (the child's) name, seeing through Prince Charming's lie that it's a boy. After a moment of hesitation, Snow White agrees, and so Rumpelstiltskin finds out that the savior's name is to be Emma.
He, along with every other character, is consumed by the Dark Curse the night of Emma Swan's birth.
|Once Upon a Time: Season One|
|"Pilot":||"The Thing You Love Most":||"Snow Falls":||"The Price of Gold":||"That Still Small Voice":||"The Shepherd":||"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter":||"Desperate Souls":||"True North":||"7:15 A.M.":||"Fruit of the Poisonous Tree":|
|"Skin Deep":||"What Happened to Frederick":||"Dreamy":||"Red-Handed":||"Heart of Darkness":||"Hat Trick":||"The Stable Boy":||"The Return":||"The Stranger":||"An Apple Red as Blood":||"A Land Without Magic":|
|Once Upon a Time: Season Two|
|"Broken":||"We Are Both":||"Lady of the Lake":||"The Crocodile":||"The Doctor":||"Tallahassee":||"Child of the Moon":||"Into the Deep":||"Queen of Hearts":||"The Cricket Game":||"The Outsider":|
|"In the Name of the Brother":||"Tiny":||"Manhattan":||"The Queen Is Dead":||"The Miller's Daughter":||"Welcome to Storybrooke":||"Selfless, Brave and True":||"Lacey":||"The Evil Queen":||"Second Star to the Right":||"And Straight On 'Til Morning":|
- His true love is Belle, and he takes the place of the Beast from the fairytale, "Beauty and the Beast".
- He is the second known Dark One.
- Both he and his counterpart have been captured and locked in prison cells.
- Rumplestiltskin is given a deadline of three days to save his son from becoming a soldier in the Duke's army. In the original fairy tale , Rumplestiltskin gives a girl a deadline of three days to guess his true name, or else she must forfeit her firstborn child.
- He is seen spinning gold out of straw in various episodes. However, gold is worthless to him; he does it to forget what he has lost.
- Like all curses, Rumplestiltskin's can be broken with a kiss of true love.
- He is a potion-maker, and once claimed to have a potion for every magic in existence, except for true love--a potion that he later crafted from intertwined strands of hair from Snow White and Prince Charming
- The Blue Fairy claims a curse to send him to "a land without magic" is beyond his abilities, so he says, "If you can bottle love, you can do anything" and then he crafted a true love potion.
- While still human Rumplestiltskin looked normal. During his time making deals, his voice become higher-pitched and his skin became more gray.
- In the traditional fairytale, Rumplestiltskin was an imp, who spun straw into gold for a girl in return for her firstborn child. The girl was told she could keep her child if she could guess his name. When she finally did, Rumplestiltskin destroyed himself.
- He has a habit of calling everyone he meets "dearie", Belle and Prince Charming being examples.