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Villain Overview

All magic comes at a price.
~ Rumplestiltskin's catchphrase
Evil isn't born dearie, it's made.
~ Rumplestiltskin

Rumplestiltskin, also known as the Dark One, Mr. Gold in Storybrooke, and the Weaver in Hyperion Heights, is the central antagonist of the series Once Upon a Time.

He is the son of Malcolm/Peter Pan and Fiona the Black Fairy, the husband of Milah, later Belle, the father of Baelfire/Neal Cassidy and Gideon, the paternal grandfather of Henry Mills and the paternal great-grandfather of Lucy Mills/Vidrio. He debuts in the first episode of the first season.

Rumplestiltskin is one of the most feared beings in The Enchanted Forest and is notorious for his deals. He is the overall main antagonist of the series due to having set the events of the Curse in motion in the first place.

Rumplestiltskin is based on the titular character from the fairytale Rumpelstiltskin and takes the place of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast and the Crocodile from Peter Pan.

He is portrayed by Robert Carlyle, who also portrayed Francis Begbie in Trainspotting, Albie Kinsella in Cracker, Durza in Eragon, Dracula in Castlevania, Renard in The World is Not Enough, and Adolf Hitler in Hitler Rise of Evil.


  • He serves as:
    • The secondary antagonist of Season 1
    • A supporting antagonist/anti-hero in Season 2
    • An anti-hero turned (unwilling) secondary antagonist of Season 3
    • The overarching antagonist in the first half of Season 4
    • The main antagonist in the second half of Season 4 (behind the Queens of Darkness)
    • An anti-hero/supporting antagonist in Season 5
    • The secondary antagonist turned anti-hero in Season 6
    • And a supporting protagonist in Season 7.
  • An alternate reality version of him from the Wish Realm is the final antagonist of Season 7 and the series as a whole.



Rumpelstiltskin is based on a character of the same name from the fairy tale, "Rumpelstiltskin". He also takes the place of the Beast from the fairy tale, "Beauty and the Beast" and the Crocodile from "Peter and Wendy".

The role of Rumplestiltskin was given to Robert Carlyle; it was written with Carlyle in mind, though the writers initially thought he would never accept the part. Horowitz recalled Carlyle's prison sequence, which was the actor's first day on the set as "mind-blowing...You could see Ginny actually jump, the first time he did that character. It was fantastic!"

Robert Carlyle revealed in an interview that it takes approximately two hours to dress him in Rumplestiltskin's costume, twenty minutes of which is spent on his boots. He also revealed that it takes about one hour to remove the costume. Robert's youngest son, Pearce, gave him the idea of how to do Rumplestiltskin's voice.


Originally, Rumpelstiltskin is a quiet and kind man who despite having had some success in life he had to live in the shadow of his father's cowardice. Rumpelstiltskin proves to be scared, but brave as he saw the opportunity to emerge from the shadow of his father, Rumpelstiltskin willingly went to war, however, when a seer tells him that he will die, leaving his unborn child to suffer the fate of growing up without a father, Rumpelstiltskin has second thoughts and returns home committing an act of self-harm.

Rumplestiltskin's love towards his son, and his family in general, is one of the most important traits of his personality and the largest, if not the sole motivation of his life. When he thinks that the pirate Killian Jones took Milah prisoner, Rumplestiltskin tried to intercede for the life of his wife, mainly due to the fact that he believes Baelfire needs his mother. Being lame, Rumplestiltskin has only two options: die at the hands of Captain Jones and his band of pirates, leaving Baelfire an orphan or go back, once again branded as a coward, but secure in the fact that his son is not an orphan.

When a new war of the ogres, the army of the Duke begins to send the children of the kingdom in battle. Ignoring the official propaganda that is noble and brave to give his life for the country, Rumplestiltskin understand that to fight is to die, and there is no honor in sacrifice. At this point in his life, Rumplestiltskin is scared and desperate, but willing to do what is necessary to save Baelfire and, following this instinct, Rumplestiltskin, alone, attacked the duke's castle and steals a magical dagger that allows him to kill the Dark One and gain his powers.

The Dark One

During the early days of the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin is quite consistent with his original personality but soon changes, showing others the cruelty that he himself has suffered, using his power with arrogance and pride. (Even if you saved and brought the kids home from the war of ogres is implied that he did so only because he had promised to his son). He says all he really wants is happiness and security for Baelfire but when Baelfire got a magic bean that can take them to an alternate world free of the curse of the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin is unable to abandon his powers and accidentally leaves Baelfire in another world.

After the departure of Baelfire, Rumplestiltskin gets incredibly ruthless, lonely and vindictive. In this period he continues to amass wealth and property in an attempt to get away from his old life. However, Rumplestiltskin still regreted his actions against Baelfire and this regret got louder until it becomes an obsession that leads him to extreme acts in order to reunite with him. Over the years, Rumplestiltskin acquires a fearsome reputation as one that is inevitable agreements, without worrying too much about the consequences they have on others but more selfishly worrying to get what he wants. Although ruthless in its agreements, Rumplestiltskin warns anyone who wants to make a deal to be cautious, because there is no way out.

Rumplestiltskin is patient, as shown when he is willing to wait until he has everything he need to create and to break the curse. He knew that eventually, his plans and machinations will come into fruition, having acquired the power to glimpse the future during the course of his long life granted by his immortality. But Rumplestiltskin is still alone, turning to his spinning wheel for comfort, a recluse in a huge castle, until Belle enters his life. He acquired her as part of a deal to save her kingdom from Ogres that he agreed to enact on the condition that Belle becomes his maid. After meeting her even though her brain reminds him that he is essentially unlovable, dark soul, a beast, his heart still yearns for love.

What happened next was something that not even he, with all his infinite cunning and powers of foresight could ever have foreseen; Belle's innocence and belief that there is still good in him, began to wane down his defenses, giving him the opportunity to love another again. Unfortunately, his prized apprentice, Regina, with whom Rumple has a rather strained relationship, learned of the growing affection between Rumple and Belle and formulated a plan to strip the sorcerer of his powers by having Belle give him True Love's Kiss.

Of course, Belle's intention was to bring Rumpelstiltskin back into the man he once was, but he saw otherwise, believing her to have conspired together with Regina to rob him of his powers, despite Belle arguing that her love for him is real. And even as he casts Belle from his house, believing that one day she despise him, he mourns his loss. After the departure of Belle (and presumed death), Rumplestiltskin puts his plan in motion, and it is in this period, which encourages Rumplestiltskin, making offers to buy the ingredients of true love from him and Snow White.

Storybrooke Counterpart

In Storybrooke, his counterpart, Mr. Gold has an influence that seems to know no bounds. From real estate to politics and even in the personal lives of his neighbors, the knowledge and involvement of Gold is virtually endless and the citizens of Storybrooke actually appear to be more intimidated by him than they are to the Queen. Always fresh and dressed with a touch of sartorial cosmopolitan, Mr. Gold exudes the kind of confidence that only comes from knowing you are the master of your domain. Mr. Gold also owns and operates the local pawnshop, where numerous objects of the Enchanted Forest, and where he spends most of his days taking care of the various items he has collected over the years and do business with the inhabitants.

He walks assisted by a cane, a remnant of his self-injury, a reminder of why he beat the curse, and the goal of his life. Mr. Gold, however, is still afraid of his impotence and sends Emma to recover the true love potion so he can unleash the most powerful magic of all of Storybrooke through the enchanted well and regain his powers. Over time, Mr. Gold is changed from his family and his relationship with Belle. His only constant is that he will do anything for his family; he is fiercely loyal, but also slow to forget the injustices done to him. All he wanted his whole life is family and the love and the tragedy of Rumplestiltskin is essential that he has not been able to get any of these for a long time.

Mr. Gold is a give and take relationship with Regina Mills, and he helps her by planting the idea in her head that tries to destroy Mary Margaret as she poses as a murderess. He found Henry for Regina to take, but he is not always on her side. After Emma arrives, just as he had predicted, he helps her to gain acceptance as the sheriff in town and he refuses to help Regina when she goes to him for help in destroying Emma.

Hyperion Heights Counterpart

Following the casting of another curse, Rumplestiltskin is transported to Hyperion Heights in Seattle, where he takes on a new identity of a detective named Weaver.

Physical appearance

As a child, Rumplestiltskin, had a round face with soft, features, light-brown hair that appear blond to light, a bulbous nose, hazel eyes and a slender build. As an adult, in his middle age, Rumplestiltskin, has a slender build, but not as weak as may seem his hair becomes darker and lose the blonde highlights, his features became more pronounced as well as his nose, his eyes appear sunken in the orbits and show the hairs typical of an adult. His overall appearance as an adult can be described as "skinny."

As the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin preserves the appearance that he had as an adult human being, but as a result of the power he acquired his skin takes on a golden reflection that, epending on the brightness of the light around him, may appear as green or gray, his eyes dilate and become amber, her teeth rotten appearing yellow, his hair take on a reddish tinge and is disheveled and finally his nails become black. After the Dark Curse, Mr. Gold is restored to his human form and the only differences are evident in his hair, which become partly gray, and his teeth, which appear much more carefully than they were before. Mr. Gold later cuts his hair short and it becomes silvery grey.


  • Malcolm/Peter Pan (father) †
  • Fiona/Black Fairy (mother) †
  • Malcolm's Father (paternal grandfather)
  • Milah (ex-wife) †
  • Belle (wife) †
  • Baelfire/Neal Cassidy (son) †
  • Emma Swan (unofficial daughter-in-law)
  • Henry Mills (grandson)
  • Cinderella/Jacinda (granddaughter-in-law)
  • Lucy (great-granddaughter)
  • Gideon (son)
  • Maurice/Moe French (father-in-law)
  • Colette (mother-in-law) †
  • Cora (ex-girlfriend/apprentice) †


  • Cinderella (briefly)
  • Jiminy Cricket
  • Mad Hatter
  • Victor Frankenstein
  • Pongo
  • Zelena (former apprentice)
  • Cora Mills (formerly) †
  • Ingrid (bitter rival) †
  • Cruella De Vil †
  • Maleficent (formerly)
  • Ursula (formerly)
  • Belle †
  • Isaac Heller (formerly)
  • Alice
  • Rapunzel Tremaine/Victoria Belfrey †
  • Drizella Tremaine/Ivy Belfrey
  • Anastasia Tremaine


  • Emma Swan (formerly)
  • Evil Queen serum (former apprentice)
  • Regina Mills (formerly)
  • Snow White (formerly)
  • Prince Charming (formerly)
  • Henry Mills (formerly)
  • Blue Fairy (more or less)
  • Sheriff of Nottingham
  • Zelena (formerly)
  • Cinderella
  • Peter Pan †
  • Prince Thomas
  • Captain Hook (formerly)
  • Greg † and Tamara †
  • Cora †
  • Hordor †
  • Beowulf †
  • Frederick the Healer †
  • Sir Maurice/Moe French
  • Mr. Smee
  • Gaston
  • Fairy Godmother †
  • Maleficent
  • Hades †
  • Mr. Hyde
  • Black Fairy †
  • Mother Gothel
  • Dr. Facilier †
  • His Wish Realm Counterpart †

Powers and Abilities

Dark One's powers: After killing Zozo, Rumplestiltskin acquired all the powers of the Darkness, making him an extremely powerful person.

  • Immortality: As the Dark One, Rumple does not age, but can be killed by the Dark One's Dagger, magical poison, sufficiently powerful magic i.e. light magic, dark magic, divine magic, magical artifacts, Excalibur or the Olympian Crystal.
    • Regeneration: Rumplestiltskin, if injured without the Dark Dagger being used, will automatically regenerate from any injuries.
    • Resurrection: If a Dark One kills himself, there is no successor, so the power has nowhere to go. To avoid dissipating, the magic transports the Dark One to the Vault of the Dark One, where he can be resurrected with the sacrifice of another life.
  • Magic: Due to his status and power as the the Dark One, Rumplestilskin was the second most powerful sorcerer in the realms, surpassed only by Merlin. Since having gained the power of every Dark One that has ever lived, including Nimue (the original recipient of the Holy Grail's magic), himself (twice over), Dark Captain Hook (who gained his power by Emma taking Merlin's own power and turning it dark in the process), and the Dark Swan (who Merlin stated to be the most powerful Dark One to date (before Rumple's returned status as the Dark One)), Rumpelstiltskin has became the most powerful sorcerer in all the realms (having also been stated this by the Wizard of Oz), surpassing Merlin and Nimue and enough to impress Hades, who saw Rumplestilskin as a "worthy rival to his hot throne".
    • Foresight: Rumplestiltskin can see part of the future, in pieces.
    • Teleporting: Rumplestiltskin can move instantly from one place to another, which he often uses to taunt his enemies or in combat.
    • Telekinesis: Rumplestiltskin can influence the movement of people or objects, for example to open a door or choke a person.
    • Shape-shifting: Rumplestiltskin can take the appearance of other people or change the appearance of what he wants, as when he took the appearance of Zelena or when he turned a peasant into a snail.
    • Elementary control: Rumplestiltskin can control the elements, usually to control fire by forming a fireball from his hand like a weapon. He also controlled the plants to immobilize Killian Jones.
    • Heart ripping: Rumplestiltskin is one of the first (after Nimue) to have used the technique of heart snatching, and taught it to all his apprentices in magic.
    • Healing: Rumplestiltskin can heal any wound by placing his hand over the wound.
    • Immobilization: Rumplestiltskin can freeze people with just a thought.
    • Protection charm: Rumplestiltskin can protect a place or an object by creating a magic barrier.

Knowledge of Magic: Rumpelstiltskin has been shown to be extremely knowledgeable on the topic of magic, rivaling that of Merlin and Hades, and surpassing that of his students (Cora, Regina and Zelena). He is also the most knowledgeable practitioner on Dark Magic surpassing that of than any other sorcerer (with the possible exception of his mother, the Black Fairy); having instantly become a master of dark magic through the power so of the Dark One and furthering his magical expertise over his two centuries of living.


  • The Dark One's Dagger: The Dark One is magically bound to obey the commands of whosoever holds the Dark One's Dagger, and, it is the only weapon capable of killing them, however, whosoever kills the Dark One, becomes the new Dark One, with all the immortality, magic, and being bound to the Dagger that that entails.
  • Lack of Magic: Both the Dagger's and the Dark One's powers are useless in an area with no magic in it, rendering the Dagger a worthless knife, and the most powerful known wizard a mortal man. During the first half of season four, Rumple attempted to cast a spell that would allow him to keep his powers and immortality, and lose the weakness of the Dagger in such a place, but his plan was stopped by Belle.
  • Magic: Despite being the most powerful known wizard in any known world, if he's caught off guard, the magic of others can be used upon Rumpelstiltskin to, among other things, stop him from using his powers and can kill him if sufficiently powerful enough. It was revealed that, just before he was imprisoned, Rumple and Cora had clashed fiercely and that, although Rumple eventually came out victorious, Cora had almost succeeded in defeating him. He also feared Peter Pan, a sorcerer whose power and knowledge almost equals, if not truly equals his and Merlin and Nimue were noted to be more powerful than him and thus were capable of defeating him. While with the power of all other Dark Ones, Rumplestilskin is unable to be defeated by any other Sorcerer currently known in a direct way. It was even shown that his mother, the Black Fairy, did not want to confront her son’s power and would rather use emotional manipulation or his dagger to control him rather than engage in a magical battle she knew she could not win. Even Hades knew the threat that Rumplestiltskin was.
  • Price of Magic: Even the Dark One is subject to the Price of Magic, one of its most fundamental laws.
  • Limits of Magic: Rumple cannot change the past, revive the dead, or make someone fall in True Love.
  • Limited Power: Despite being the most powerful wizard in the known world, even the Dark One has a limited amount of power, though it is a near god-like amount.
  • Squid Ink: It can paralyze any magical being or user even him. Since obtaining the powers of all the Dark Ones, it is unknown if squid ink still has any effect on him. Dried squid ink no longer works on him as shown when it was used on him by gang of Storybrooke, he only pretended that it worked on him.



  • His true love is Belle and he takes the place of the Beast from the fairy tale, "Beauty and the Beast" and the Crocodile from "Peter Pan".
  • He is the fourth known (and most prominent) Dark One; his predecessors were Nimue, the first Dark One, Gorgon the Invincible, and Zoso, whom he killed to become the Dark One.
    • He is also the first person to be abandoned by the Darkness without having to be killed, the second being Emma Swan.
  • Rumplestiltskin is potentially the most powerful non-deity and magical practitioner in all the realms, having surpassed Merlin when he gained his original powers back as the Dark One as well as absorbing the powers of every past Dark One that had ever lived including Nimue, Dark Hook and Dark Swan. He was even shown shortly after gaining his new powers to stop the Savior Emma Swan dead in her tracks from hurting him, stating that she can't hurt him because he has the power of every Dark One who ever lived, including her. Prior to losing the magic of the Dark One, Rumpelstiltskin was already stated by the Wizard of Oz to be the most powerful sorcerer in all the realms as well as the writers of the show. Merlin, who was also stated to be the most powerful sorcerer in all the realms (by Captain Hook) was most likely equal to or slightly more powerful (through more experience as both Merlin and Nimue had both received the same powers, albeit Merlin received them many centuries earlier). It is plausible to believe that Merlin was the most powerful light sorcerer and Nimue/The Dark One was the most powerful dark sorcerer until Rumplestiltskin gained the power of every Dark One, surpassing them all. Even the Black Fairy, his mother and the only known practiconer of dark magic that could rival a Dark One, was destroyed by Rumple using her wand and was the only person in Storybrooke capable of defeating her with magic.
  • As of right now, it is not known how powerful Rumplestiltskin is in comparison to the gods. However they have many similarities. Both are immortal, both are very powerful beings and both possess powerful magical abilities. It is also important to note that Merlin and Nimue (the original Dark One) were both the original recipients of the immortality/magic, and both received their powers and immortality from the Holy Grail, which is the chalice of the gods. Hades himself, acknowledged the power that Rumplestiltskin possessed and saw him as an idol of evil. When fighting against the heroes, Hades used trickery, leverage, and compromises against/with Rumplestiltskin rather than fighting him head on; which indicates that Hades clearly saw Rumplestiltskin as a threat and was not 100% sure he could beat him, and would rather have him as an ally then an enemy. In return, Rumple clearly saw Hades as a huge threat to his own security, as well as that of Belle.
  • 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 most 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.
  • While still human Rumplestiltskin looked normal. During his time making deals, his voice become higher-pitched and his skin became more gray and reptilian-like.
  • 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. In this series, he spun straw into gold for Cora and then taught her how to do it herself in exchange for the custody of any child they have together (which never happened).
  • He has the habit of calling people "dearie."
  • In the Season Three episode It's Not Easy Being Green it is revealed that Rumplestiltskin has the ability to shapeshift, as in one scene he took the form of Regina to test her half-sister Zelena. In the Season 4 episode Enter the Dragon, he takes the form of Hook.
  • Being under Zelena's control in Season 3B spurred his goals for Season 4A.
  • In the overall story of Season 4, Rumplestiltskin is the main antagonist because he had longer plans than anyone else and was the most recurring, although he shares his status as main antagonist with other villains in both halves of the season, most notably Ingrid, Maleficent, and Isaac Heller.
  • Rumple's goals in Season 4 are similar to those of Prince Charming from Shrek: They both want their happy endings and enlist a group of fairy tale villains to get it.
  • Replica of the Dark One's dagger can be bought here.
  • According to his portrayer Robert Carlyle, Rumplestiltskin was 300 years old by the time the Dark Curse was cast.
    • However, dialogue from the series would suggest his age is closer to two hundred, and the creators have stated that age to be more accurate.
  • He shares his role as main antagonist in Season 4 with three other people. His opposition was Ingrid, who was part of a Big Bad Ensemble with him until she sacrificed herself out of remorse in "Shattered Sight". Maleficent joined him in "Unforgiven" and they worked as a Big Bad Duumvirate until "Lily", when she leaves his side after sensing betrayal. After she leaves, he is joined by Isaac Heller, who becomes his new partner.
  • Rumple is the most recurring antagonist/anti-hero in the entire series, being present in all seven seasons. He is the Bigger Bad for most of the series anyway because if it wasn't for him, Cora, Regina, Zelena, and many other characters would not have turned evil. In a twist, his parents are responsible for his transformation into a villain.
  • Rumple would've become much like his parents (or worse) if he disregarded his family for his own desires like his father had or remained addicted to retaining his power as his mother was. Overall, he would've ended up similar to his counterpart from the Wish Realm.


           OnceUponATimeTitle.png Villains

Main Villains
Regina Mills/Evil Queen | Cora Mills | Greg Mendell | Tamara | Peter Pan | Zelena | Ingrid the Snow Queen | Rumplestiltskin | Maleficent | Cruella De Vil | Ursula | Emma Swan | Nimue | Hades | Fiona | Lady Tremaine | Drizella | Jafar | Anastasia | The Darkness

Secondary Villains
Captain Hook | Felix | The Shadow | Flying Monkeys | Isaac Heller | King Arthur | Mr. Hyde | Gideon | Mother Gothel | Jabberwocky

Other Villains
Anita | Blackbeard | Blind Witch | Bo Peep | Caterpillar | Chernabog | Cheshire Cat | Clorinda | David | Duke of Weselton | Gaston | Henry Jekyll | Isla | Jack | Jonathan | King George | Knave of Hearts | Lady Tremaine | Lily Page | Medusa | Monstro | Mr. Smee | Prince Hans | Prince James | Sheriff of Nottingham | Sidney Glass | Snow White | The Walrus & the Carpenter | The Woodcutter | Wraith

Dark Ones | Queens of Darkness | Lost Boys Coven of the Eight