The beginning of the Arc Words. Prince Charming breaks the spell on Snow White, and tells her with sincerity, "No matter what, I will always find you."
Grumpy begrudgingly applauding during Snow White's wedding.
This becomes more Heartwarming In Hindsight, as he was likely hesitating to applaud due to his bitter memories of what he thought was the love of his own life. But now he recognizes that Snow White has actually found hers.
The end of the pilot, with the clock moving again now that Emma's settled into the town.
When Snow White starts to rethink whole wardrobe idea because she doesn't want to leave Charming, his response is easily the most romantic line in the pilot.
Snow White: He said it would be on her 28th birthday! Prince Charming: What's 28 years when you have eternal love? I have faith. You'll save me, as I did you.
Episode 2 - The Thing You Love Most
There's something mundanely sweet about seeing the first shot of this episode: Storybrooke waking up. Everything is about to change, but for now, it's just a small town beginning their day. It's almost relaxing.
Mary Margaret has her late night chat with Emma, pushing her to realize her protective streak of Henry, and that she should stay precisely because she cares.
Episode 3 - Snow Falls
After their first misadventure together, Prince James tells snow that if she ever needs some help, to send for him, and he will find her.
Snow: I almost believe you.
Emma going to stay with Mary Margaret so that she would have someone at the end of Episode Three.
Mary Margaret wakes up David with a kiss and the words, "Come back to us. Come back to me." Made better by the fact that the "us" there is (unbeknownst to Emma and Mary Margaret) his wife, his daughter and his grandson.
Episode 4 - The Price of Gold
There's a serious "best friend" vibe in the dialog between Cinderella and Snow White. Snow even tells Ella that she is an inspiration to them all.
Prince Thomas's promise to his wife right before he disappears.
Prince Thomas: As long as I'm here, you will never have to go back to that life.
Also, when Cinderella reveals that Rumplestiltskin was the one who helped her go to the ball and ultimately marry him, Thomas refuses to believe her fears that this is the only reason he loves her. He insists that magic didn't create the love he has for her, and that love is never going away.
Henry, listening to Emma talk about the importance of knowing what you're getting into if you keep a kid, tells Emma that if she wanted to, she could leave any time. Considering that part of why he brought her back to Storybrooke was because she "needed" to be there, it's a surprisingly mature gesture for him to give Emma the choice to leave in his own way.
Ashley thanks Emma for helping her keep her newborn.
Sean places Ashley over his father and apologizes.
Sean puts new baby shoes on their child in a perfect fit. And then they kiss.
Episode 5 - That Still Small Voice
Jiminy getting his wish of being turned into a cricket to escape his parents, and heading off to be Gepetto's conscience.
Regina and Kathryn's conversation before the latter tries to return to the party to see David. Regina looks utterly moved when Kathryn tells her she just lost her husband for the second time, and says that she knows what it is like to lose someone, but that Kathryn has a chance to find her love again. Kathryn then turns around, and tells her that she is a good friend, and Regina beams, saying she isn't used to having friends. They both smile at each other, and when Kathryn leaves, Regina looks as if she is about to shed some Tears of Joy.
Sadly diminished completely later, when Regina attempts to have Kathryn killed in order to screw Mary Margaret over.
A mix of this and Tear Jerker, but "The Shepherd" says goodbye to his mother, who tells him that he will find true love.
Despite the bad things that come of it afterwards, it's rather sweet that the king who can turn anything to gold considers his daughter to be the most precious thing in the world.
Episode 7 - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
The huntsman, after reading Snow's letter to her stepmother, has her escape.
Graham finally remembers, and tells Emma thank you right before Regina kills him.
Episode 8 - Desperate Souls
Mr. Gold offering Emma some advice/keepsakes from Graham's death. Gold might not be the nicest man (which Emma knows from what he tried to do with Ashley), but his sincerity in talking about spending time with kids gives us a glimpse into the softer man we'll get to know this episode.
It ends badly, but the fact that Rumplestiltskin, poor and on the run with his son, took the time to give an old beggar whatever he could spare.
Episode 9 - True North
Nicholas and Ava reuniting with their father.
Gold giving Emma the name of Nicholas and Ava's father, especially when it's revealed that the card he was "reading" off of was blank. Did he have to do this? No. Did he get anything out of it? No. He did it simply to get those kids to their father. Why? Because the thought of a child without their father is a terrible one to him, for obvious reasons.
Episode 10 - 7:15AM
The dwarves taking in Snow White after she was forced to tell James she didn't love him, and Grumpy convincing her to wait on taking the potion that will make her forget him. Even before that, he silently offers his hand and she takes it as they walk through the forest.
Mary Margaret and David successfully reuniting a dove with its flock, and then finally getting together.
Episode 11 - Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
In our introduction to Snow's father, he establishes that he tries to care for all, by using his first wish to set the Genie of Agrabah free. Of course, this ends up turning into a Tearjerker with what the Genie does to him later.
Episode 12 - Skin Deep
While out on a Valentine's Day Girls' Night, Ashley is unable to get over the fact that she and Sean have been unable to truly be together, much less married, due to her taking care of the baby, and him working long hours in order to support her and the baby. Just as she's getting ready to leave, cue Sean with flowers. And a ring and proposal.
Emma's willingness to spend time with Henry even though she knows it's a distraction by Regina so she can talk to Mr. Gold.
It ends in tears, but Rumpelstiltskin's burgeoning relationship with Belle is incredibly sweet. And even in the real world, we see that he'll go to any lengths to retrieve the one memento he has of her.
Indeed. When Belle returns with straw, he's positively surprised that she actually came back and skips down stairs. Then he pretends he was spinning the whole time in that awkward embarrassed sort of way that people do when they're trying not to be obvious about something. And then later in the real world, when Regina is dangling Belle's cup, Mr. Gold's hands are positively trembling beneath it since he's so afraid it'll get damaged in some way.
The fact that true love's kiss was actually working even if it all went to shit afterwards.
Rumple: It helps me forget.
Belle: Forget what?
Rumple: *beat* I guess it worked. *giggles*
Judging from his expression, it's probably the first time in ages that someone has actually laughed at one of his jokes. And it's not a nervous laugh, either; she genuinely thought what he said was funny.
When Gaston appears at Rumple's castle, Rumple could have turned him into anything: A snail, a bug, etc. Instead, albeit in a grim sense, he turns Gaston into a rose to give to Belle.
Episode 13 - What Happened to Frederick?
Princess Abigail helping Charming find Snow White, and Charming helping her by bringing back Frederick. The two of them had a nice understanding of each other and a nice friendship.
Charming tells the siren that he doesn't want the affections of Snow's image, but he wants the real love that can hurt sometimes.
Episode 14 - Dreamy
Dreamy and Nova watching the fireflies, after Belle advised him what she really wanted.
There's something rather sweet that Dreamy's brothers, after finding out he's leaving, give him a hug goodbye rather than try and stop him.
Also, Mary Margaret and Leroy hugging after they sell all their candles. Snow White and Grumpy are friends again!
Granny lighting Mary Margaret's candle at the end and smiling, showing that she's forgiven her for her affair with David, whereas in the previous episode she had told her "you should be ashamed of yourself".
Episode 15 - Red-Handed
Granny revealing to Ruby that she's planning to retire soon, and wants to give the cafe to her.
Ruby saying that she isn't afraid of ending up like Granny. She's afraid that she won't be good enough to end up like Granny.
Episode 16 - Heart of Darkness
After getting shot by an arrow, Charming tells Snow that he'd be willing to die for her. Touched by this, she kisses Charming, breaking the potion's hold on her, causing her to cry tears of joy, seeing her charming again.
Snow returning to the dwarves with a mug, saying it's all she can replace when she trashed the cottage. She apologizes, and the "It's you/It's me" exchange puts it into borderline Tear Jerker territory. And then they all reassure that they'll help her to rescue Charming, every step of the way.
Episode 17 - Hat Trick
The Mad Hatter explaining why he doesn't contact his daughter, the fact it's not even a consideration if it might cause her pain, the sheer disbelief he expressed at the thought of it showed just how much he must care for her.
Bound to be made even better by the reunion scene we'll surely get in season two. And as of the third episode, it finally came.
Jefferson quickly making a stuffed bunny for his daughter when he couldn't afford one at the market earlier.
The exchange between Emma and Mary Margaret at the end of the episode.
Emma: Nobody's ever been there for me, except for you. And I can't lose that, I cannot lose my family. Mary Margaret: Family?
Henry's reaction when Emma asks to borrow his book, showing that she's starting to believe.
Episode 18 - The Stable Boy
Once upon a time, Snow White and Regina could have been great for each other, and seemed to have an immediate liking to each other. Right before the feud began.
Further, when Snow sees Regina with the stable boy, and hears about why True Love is so important, she gives her blessing to Regina, and wants to let her father know that they should call off the wedding.
August immediately forgiving Emma when she realizes he wasn't the one who betrayed her. That kind of thing isn't seen too often in stories like this. It's not a sign of selflessness, August has a guilty conscience. He abandoned Emma when she needed him the most.
Episode 19 - The Return
David and Kathryn reconciling after Kathryn is found
Kathryn: What we had, it just wasn't it for you. Maybe not for me either. You were just the first to see it. David: You're kinda amazing.
In the Enchanted Forest, Morraine talking to Baelfire and suggesting a solution to his problem with his father. Keep in mind, she's the only one who will have anything to do with him because all of the other kids are scared of Rumpelstiltskin.
Episode 20 - The Stranger
"I'm a Real boy!"
August finally talking to his father, Marco at the end of "The Stranger."
Marco: You realized your mistake and you tried to fix it. That's important. If I had a son, that would be enough for me.
August: How would you feel about... taking on an assistant?
Marco: I can't pay you.
August: That's okay. I just feel like fixing things.
Gold giving August a nudge towards his father. As with the kids in True North, this wasn't something he had to do or gained anything from. He just has a soft spot for reuniting families.
Especially touching because, in the previous episode, he thought August was his own son, Bae. Since he can't find his own family (yet), he helps August find his.
Episode 22 - A Land Without Magic
August, in his last moments before turning back into wood reaffirms his belief in Emma, telling her that she's not normal, and she can save everyone.
In the season finale, the reunion between Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin and Belle.
"I remember now! I-I love you!" (They embrace)
"Yes. And I love you too.".
Diminished somewhat by the fact he's still looking for power.
Snow White and Prince Charming having their reunion in the middle of the street, then just holding on to one another as the inevitable tide of magic hits, ready for any outcome.
In the Fairy Tale Land, Prince Charming brings us back to the pilot, breaking the curse on Snow white, and then afterwards, asking her to marry him.
Emma breaking the curse when she kisses Henry after his Disney Death. Props to the writers for having True Love's Kiss not limited to romance, but showing true love can be any form of pure love.
Henry: You saved me.
Regina: You did it!
Henry: I love you, too.
Episode 1 - Broken
Every scene in "Broken" of the fairy tale characters reuniting after their memories are restored.
Especially Snow and Charming meeting their daughter as an adult for the first time.
Henry pleading to Emma to save Regina from the angry mob. "Please! She's still my mom!"
Regina's brief genuine smile after learning that Henry made Emma promise not to kill her.
Rumpelstiltskin tries to push Belle away right after getting her back, believing he's still a monster. She replies that that's exactly why she should stay. (The confused look on his face, as if he has absolutely no idea why she would want to do that, is what really sells it.)
Charming comforts Henry by promising that he'll find a way to get Snow and Emma back after Jefferson's hat transported them back to Fairy land.
Small, but Mulan's plea to transfer the wraith's mark from Philip over to her, so he can be with Aurora.. Whether or not she's in love with him (denial or otherwise), it's a beautifully loving and self-sacrificial action.
Regina taking a huge step forward in her character development by willingly giving Henry up, accepting that she needs to work to redeem herself before she can be the mother he deserves.
Grumpy promising the re-cursed Sneezy that they'll find a way to get his memories back, even though he has no idea what that means. Then he leads the others off with a determined "It's off to work we go!"
Charming telling Henry in the diner that FTL still exists and that he can feel Emma and Snow are there and still alive. Then the shot of grandfather and grandson at the counter drinking soda at the same time.
Charming convincing the entire town not to give up on their fairy-tale selves.
Episode 3 - Lady of the Lake
Whenever there is any danger, Snow immediately puts herself between it and Emma.
When Emma and Snow come upon Emma's nursery, Emma finally understands that her parents didn't just ship her off to save themselves, they were giving up the chance to be a part of their daughter's childhood to save her.
Charming's mother giving up her only chance to live after being shot with a poisoned arrow so that a cursed Snow can have a baby.
The scene afterwards. Snow is ready to tell David that they can't have a child...only to look down at the device Ruth gave her, and realize that she is going to be a mother. Just the expression on her face, as well as repeating over and over "We're going to have a child", is enough to move anyone.
A small gesture but considering who it's coming from... Regina is tricked by Henry into leaving her office so he can steal the keys to her hidden vault. When she realizes this, what's her first reaction? Tell Charming/David ASAP since she knew Henry wouldn't have listened to her if she came herself.
Charming teaching Henry how to sword fight. Then factor in the fact that he wanted a son and it crosses into a mishmash of Heartwarming and Tearjerker.
Jefferson's daughter gleefully running into his arms, after he'd been avoiding her for fear that she'd hate him for "abandoning" her. Even his conversation with Henry beforehand, which finally convinces him to seek her out.
Episode 4 - The Crocodile
Rumpelstilskin giving Belle the library and the conversation that follows.
Every scene with Red and Belle.
Red/Ruby taking the time to personally come all the way to the mines, just to bring Henry a muffin while he's watching the others work. She then casually promises to be back again with lunch. Just the way she did it was incredibly sweet; you could tell she was checking up on them, and just wanted to make sure everything was all right. She clearly thinks that (presumably) walking from Granny's to the mines several times a day is nothing if it means she's taking care of the people she loves.
Afterwards Emma hugging a frantic Snow to calm her down and assuring her that they are going to try go back home together.
Snow comforting Aurora after a nightmare and gently stroking her hair to help her fall asleep again.
Charming doing the same thing with Henry after the latter woke up from a nightmare.
Anton busting out of his trap... to let Emma go.
Episode 7 - Child of the Moon
The building of the friendship between Red and Snow, with Snow assuring Red that the "monster" isn't who she really is, and Red referring to Snow as her family.
David spends the episode fighting to make Ruby believe that she isn't the one that killed Billy, telling her that he knows her and knows that she hasn't lost control.
David calling Regina to stay with Henry, who's having post-curse nightmares. Also Gold giving Henry a magical necklace to help him control his actions in the nightmare world so he will be less afraid. He wants nothing in return. He's just doing it for Henry.
Regina's scenes with Henry. Her attempt to comfort him after the nightmare and the fact that she went to Gold of all people in her desperation to help him was... oddly sweet.
Belle's unwavering trust in Ruby, despite knowing she's a werewolf.
The Ship Tease between Ruby and Belle in the library. Yes, it was swiftly and harshly subverted, but the fact that Ruby both puts Belle's safety above her own and gives her enough credit to assume she'd do something heroic and stupid to save Ruby's life is very sweet.
The fact that Ruby was willing to hand herself over to King George to be killed, just to make sure she would never hurt any of the people she loves.
Episode 8 - Into the Deep
Regina and Charming finally agree on something. Henry gets burned again in the dream world.
Rumplestiltskin: He's going to need some time to recover before he can be sent back.
Regina: Out of the question!
Charming: Not a chance in hell!
The jury is out on whether or not Regina really is on the road to redemption, but her scenes with Henry in this episode were all adorable.
She and Charming spent the night by his bedside because of the nightmares.
She brings Henry his blanket from home and he actually smiles and thanks her for it.
And finally, the entirety of the conversation they have while Regina is making the sleeping curse for David.
Henry: Have you been using magic?
Regina: Henry, I told you I wouldn't. And I haven't. Except for...with Daniel... and now. I've really been trying.
Henry: *smile* It's okay. At least you're using it to help people now.
Regina: *holding his hand* I am trying. And after this... I won't.
Henry: I know. Will David be okay?
Regina: He'll be... asleep. And in there, he won't die. Gold's explaining everything to him right now.
Henry: I should be me. I can go in there without a curse and still come back.
Regina: Henry. David and I have many differences but on this we agree. We won't let you risk your safety. It's just not worth it.
Henry: It is to me. He won't wake up.
Regina: Unless he succeeds. And if there's one thing I know about your grandparents... they always find each other.
Mulan's determination to protect Aurora, even if it is at the expense of Emma and Snow.
Snow and David's meeting in the netherworld. Especially since Rumpelstiltskin even warned him that nobody knows if it was even possible for it to happen, since while Snow was already cured of it, David was just succumbing to it. And it takes him less than five minutes there to succeed.
Snow and Emma reassuring each other that they're going to get home and Emma holding Snow's hand while she's knocked out by the poppy.
Aurora's determination to help Emma and Snow and her refusal to give them up to Cora, despite Cora's offer to bring back Phillip.
The long awaited Rumpel and Belle hamburger date.
Rumpel even offers ketchup: "The most powerful magic in this world."
The date gets interrupted, of course, but in the subsequent conversation Gold is adamantly protective of Belle and, true to his word about being honest with her, insists she stays so that there aren't any secrets about whatever Regina might want to talk to him about.
Gold to Charming: "I say this with all sincerity: good luck."
Regina glancing over at Gold, who can only shake his head silently. Whether or not she actually cares about David, she certainly cares about Henry. The fact that she's being so open about something that is a lot of progress from the closed off distant persona she was in season 1. And in this case, she's also demonstrating the ability to empathize beyond a direct link from her to someone.
Regina's reason for helping Gold in the first place was not to get rid of Snow, Emma and Charming but to save Henry from Cora.
Snow and Emma show genuine concern about getting Aurora's heart back while Mulan shows genuine concern about getting the compass. Compare this to the last episode, when they were nearly turned against each other due to their conflicting agendas.
Emma shoves Snow out of the way when Cora tries to kill her but Cora can't rip out Emma's heart. Because she's protected by true love. Heart Is an Awesome Power.
Even the surprise on Emma's face is heartwarming. At that moment, all she expected to happen was to save her mother's life in a Heroic Sacrifice. But for her to survive and realize that not even somebody as powerful as Regina's mother can defeat True Love finally made her fully believe it. How she says "It is strength" indicates that she's just as surprised as Cora by what happens.
Henry acknowledging Regina has changed. While the show makes it clear nearly immediately she still has a long way to go in his eyes, that fleeting moment makes all the hell she's gone through so far worth it.
Mulan returning Aurora's heart and the both of them deciding to go on a heroic quest to save Phillip.
It makes it even more heartwarming since this is the very first time ever that we see Mulan crack a smile.
The family reunion. Henry calling Emma "Mom". Snow snogging the living daylights out of Charming (and not wasting any time before doing it too, knowing how powerful and effective it is).
Red running over to hug Snow after the latter returns from the Enchanted Forest was adorable.
Heartwarming In Hindsight: In light of their budding mentor/student relationship, the entire scene between Gold and Emma at the end.
Emma's immediate insistence that Gold doesn't need to apologize for almost killing them in order to stop Cora from coming to Storybrooke.
The fact that he was apologizing in the first place.
Gold acknowledging that, even though he's taken advantage of her courage and heroism at times, he didn't make her what she is. The sincerity in his voice when he says, "Everything you've done, you've done yourself," is particularly touching.
Episode 10 - The Cricket Game
Emma invites Regina to the welcome back party at Granny's, even knowing everything Regina's done. She even encourages Charming and Snow not to be angry about it. This is an especially sweet gesture considering that we are talking about the person who tried to throw her into an eternal sleep last season.
Emma refusing to believe that Regina is responsible for Archie's death until she sees it in Gold's dreamcatcher.
Henry's "I'm glad you came" to Regina.
Regina apologizing to Emma for snapping. Also, Emma's perceptible restraint at stooping to Regina's level shows how far she's come as well.
Belle bringing Gold lunch at his shop in a picnic basket. Gold for his part seems genuinely delighted at whatever meal she made him.
Episode 11 - The Outsider
Henry's reunion with Archie after he's rescued from Hook's ship.
Belle's declaration that she "will never stop fighting" for Rumpelstiltskin, especially when you take into account his belief that he is impossible to love.
There's something sweet that Emma has come to accept that her parents are going to be part of her life from now on, as she mentions that their dream was to have them all under one roof.
Blink and you'll miss it, but as the car comes plowing down the road into Storybrooke, Rumple's immediate reaction is to throw himself over Belle to protect her.
Listen closely, and when he sees the car coming, his yell of fright sounds like "Belle!"
Episode 12 - In The Name Of The Brother
Ruby saving Whale from committing suicide and talking him into doing the surgery by saying that he can still do good here and now by saving Greg Mendell's life.
Episode 13 - Tiny
Anton the giant being convinced that good humans exist, and finally being able to integrate with them, complete with getting a dwarf pickaxe that gives him his old nickname, which he'd previously hated but now sees as his true identity.
Grumpy seals the deal by clasping him on the back and saying "Welcome, brother." And the "dwarves" start breaking soil while whistling "Heigh Ho"
Charming going down into the hole and reaching out. "If you wanted to die, you would have let go already" and apologizing for his brother's vile actions.
Anton's expression softens slightly when Snow mentions that Emma is hers and Charming's daughter. Not to mention that despite his anger, he's willing to talk things over peacefully with Emma.
Snow assuring her husband that he is not his wicked, spoiled, bloodthirsty brother.
And on another note, while discussing the possibility to use the magic beans to go home, Snow tells her husband that she'll only go, if Emma will go too.
A few moments between Emma and Gold as they're going through airport security. She's very patient and protective through the whole scene - passing him off as her father, assuring him that she won't let him forget who he is, and wrapping his shawl around his shoulders again as soon as they're through. He's way out of his element, and she knows exactly how that feels. It's a tiny bit of common ground, but it's a start of something more.
Also some Heartwarming In Hindsight, considering what's revealed in the next episode. In addition to being the mother of his grandson, she was once close to being (and still possibly could become...) his daughter-in-law.
On a similar note, there's something oddly touching about the fact that she considers a road trip with Rumplestiltskin a safer option than leaving Henry in Storybrooke.
The "I promise no harm will come to your family" moment between David and Gold.
Anton gets a pickaxe that gives him his dwarf name "Tiny." He's found himself a new family.
Episode 14 - Manhattan
After Emma and Neal finish calling each other out, Henry finally gets to meet and talk with his father.
The bonding between Gold and Henry is pretty touching, especially after the reveal that Henry is Gold's grandson. The contrast between Henry looking at the situation like an optimistic little kid would and Gold looking at things much more realistically straddles the line into Tear Jerker territory.
Also, the fact that Emma was willing to leave the two together in the first place. Granted, she didn't have a whole lot of choices, but there was no hesitation, no threats. Just a "Watch Henry!" and off she went.
Emma calling Mary Margaret to ask for advice about whether or not to tell Henry that Neal is his father. With all her show of "I can do it myself" and stoicism, in spite of all her trust issues, she calls her mom for help.
Episode 15 - The Queen is Dead
When Cora tells Snow that she was the one who killed her mother, Regina gives her a brief "what the hell?" look. Depending on your interpretation, it could show that not even Regina would stoop to that level. Her confronting Cora afterwards makes it more likely.
Fridge Brilliance: Not only is Regina showing her standards, she's also realizing yet another way in which Cora has been manipulating her life.
She also looks genuinely shocked when, after she returns Johanna's heart, Cora throws her out of a window. She did have a major Kick the Dog moment afterwards but there's still some hope for her.
The fact that neither Henry nor Emma seems to have any qualms about accepting Gold as part of their family.
"So should I call you grandpa now?"
Emma's insistence that Gold needs to start trusting people, and that he should start with family.
The fact that he listens to her.
Baelfire immediately switching gears to concern for his father after he's poisoned, even calling him "Papa." He notes later that being upset over his childhood is a very different matter than wanting to see his father die.
That this and the following episode puts the family histories - especially the relationships between parent and child across all the generations - makes this also something of a Tear Jerker too. Befitting of his role as a Morality Pet, Baelfire - unlike most of the characters - seeks to comfort his father at the time rather than seeking revenge or power to fix what he is wise enough to realize he can not change or blame others for what happened.
Episode 16 - The Miller's Daughter
Rumpelstiltskin's phone call to Belle. Also crosses into Tear Jerker considering Belle doesn't remember any of what he's telling her. Not to mention this is Rumpel we're talking about; we so very rarely - if ever - hear him speak sincerely, much less emotionally. The only time he has done this was with Bae and even then, especially later in life, it was always strained with Bae. Here, it's just... raw. To boot, note some of what he says such as 'You made me want to go back...to the very best version of me. And that never happened before.' Not even Bae, his own son, had that reaction to him; he gained power for Bae... but he was willing to lose power for Belle.
Rumpelstiltskin: You don't remember who you are...so I'm gonna tell you. You...are a hero, who saved her people. You are a beautiful woman...who loved an ugly man - really, really loved me. You find goodness in others...and when it's not there, you create it. You made me want to go back...to the very best version of me. And that never happened before. So when you look in the mirror, and don't know who you are...that's who you are. Thank you, Belle.
The fact that he calls her 'sweetheart' instead of 'dearie' just prior to this speaks volumes.
Baelfire and Rumpelstiltskin reconciling afterwards.
Baelfire: I didn't think you had that in you. (in response to the above speech)
Oddly enough, Rumpelstiltskin and Cora have one when she goes to kill him and take his power. Rumpelstiltskin asks her if she ever really loved him, and Cora tells him he was the only man she ever loved.
Cora getting her heart back and smiling at Regina like she's seeing her for the first time. Regina being so happy that she's truly getting her mother's love.
"You would have been enough" So sad what happens three seconds later, though...
The budding student/mentor relationship between Emma and Gold.
"You're Henry's grandfather. We're family now, and I'm going to save you."
Despite acting unconvinced after this line, Gold still trusts her to cast a protection spell, and they share a small moment of pride and satisfaction when she succeeds.
Near the beginning of the episode, Neal and Henry can be seen together at the helm of the ship. It's brief, but it's sweet.
David, rather than going Knight Templar Parent on the man who knocked up his seventeen year old daughter and had her arrested, very quietly asks Emma if she's alright and leaves it at that. He successfully managed to treat her like an adult and look out for her at the same time. The look he gave Neal at the start of the episode didn't hurt either.
Episode 17 - Welcome to Storybrooke
Rumple attending Regina's private funeral for Cora, waving off the fact that she had been inches away from killing him with a, "We had our differences," and adding that she will always have a place in his heart.
Miraculously, despite everything that happened to her in the last episode, Regina ends the episode held back from a complete fall to the dark side by Henry. Again.
And he does so by telling her she can't force him into loving her because that wouldn't be real love. This is exactly the lesson Regina DIDN'T learn with Owen 28 years ago, shown in this same episode. But it finally sinks in now and she destroys the love curse, showing that Regina isn't completely beyond help after all.
Kurt telling Owen to run and holding Regina and Graham off without a moment's hesitation, essentially sacrificing himself so that his son can get away.
Archie greets Regina with the same "beautiful day, isn't it?" despite no longer being cursed. He's the only person in town who gave her a chance without a catch.
Despite his rather cold "wars have costs" attitude throughout the episode, Gold does, in fact, stay and protect Snow from Regina. And when Snow asks how he lives with himself, instead of a witty response, he gives some surprisingly honest and well-intentioned advice. Maybe he's warming up to his new-found one-of-the-family status.
Episode 18 - Selfless, Brave, and True
Henry's realization that August's final actions, returning to town at risk to his own life and spending his last moments trying to reveal who his attacker was, fulfill the spell's requirements that he be "selfless, brave, and true," allowing him to be reborn as a child again, and giving some hope to Mary Margaret that she can also be redeemed.
Emma apologizes to Henry for lying to him about Neal, and asks for his forgiveness and to not push her away.
Blink and you'll miss it, but when Belle picks up a random book to flip through, he's giving her a sideways look as if to see if she's pleased or not.
Gold realizing that there is some of the old Belle in Lacey during their date at Granny's.
Lacey tells Gold that when she looks at him, she sees a man who wouldn't hurt anybody. Gold is clearly touched and says that he really needed to hear that, especially now. She's wrong, and probably didn't mean it as a compliment, but his reaction is heartwarming because it shows that, deep down, that's still the man he wants to be.
Crosses over into Funny. The Sheriff of Nottingham offers Robin Hood's whereabouts to Rumple. His price? A night with Belle. Rumple gives the Sheriff a chance to politely change that price. When the Sheriff refuses and insists, Rumple takes the Sheriff's tongue and starts waving it around like it was a ticket stub.
Rumpel giving Belle a pillow in her cell. Given, he says it's to muffle her crying and not help her sleep. But still, notice that when he tells her that her crying is distracting, and she gives him a major look of disbelief, he pauses as if deciding to actually be a bit nice.
When Anton/Tiny and Emma meet again when Emma visits the magic bean crop field, they immediately hug each other.
Episode 20 - The Evil Queen
Henry visibly showing that he cares about Regina and hoping that she's found a valid way for them to be together again. Unfortunately she hasn't, and Henry is horrified at what her way is, but the moment was heartwarming while it lasted.
Especially the part where Regina is ready and able to draw the sword Snow gave her and kill her with it...but chooses not to, hoping for reconciliation instead.
ALL of the Henry/Emma scenes. These two have rarely had any time together just hanging out and it was a nice callback to season 1.
Episode 21 - Second Star to the Right
Wendy giving Bae a whole tray of bread loaves, after he broke into the house for just a desperate quick bite. And then Mrs. Darling letting him stay with them upon learning how bad his situation is.
Charming's effort to console Emma after Neal/Baelfire drops down a vortex and away from her again. This is a more advanced level of parenting than he's really used to or ready for, but he's doing his best.
Mary Margaret tending to Regina, who is severely weakened after being tortured. It serves as a beautiful contrast to Snow tending to Regina in "The Evil Queen".
Episode 22 - And Straight On Til Morning
While also a Tear Jerker in context, Emma finally referring to Snow and Charming as "Mom" and "Dad."
Also Tearjerker/Heartwarming, Belle's memories returning. The conflict between being so happy to have her back, and being crushed over losing Bae...
On top of this, the dwarves making Gold an extra dose of the memory-restoring potion, after he's spent the whole season with almost everyone hating him and refusing to help.
More importantly, Gold deciding to use the potion. He could easily remain content with Lacey and return to his old ways, but it's implied that he realised that Lacey would never love him as much as Belle does. More than that, he genuinely prefers being who he is around Belle, who drives him to stop being a coward and actually try to be a better man.
Regina preparing to make a Heroic Sacrifice for Henry and everyone in Storybrooke. And her and Emma joining their magic together to save the day in the end. It's her line that really sells it:
Also, both scenes in which Henry hugs her. The first is early in the episode, where Regina apologizes for everything and says she loves him and Henry, for the first time, finally says out loud "I love you too." The second is when it looks like all is lost, the Charmings have a family group hug as they prepare for the end, but Regina can't join in because she's still holding the diamond's power back. Henry then leaves the group hug, goes over and hugs Regina tight as she apologizes to him once again.
The fact that after everything that went down between them during Season 2, Snow is still vocally in favor of trying to save Regina.
The last scene in which the Charmings, Gold, Regina, and Hook all work together to sail the Jolly Roger.
The fact that they're all willing to work together. When Henry was kidnapped, no one questioned each other (apart from Hook and Gold, but even that was brief), and no one was suspicious; they just knew they had to work together and accepted it. When they set out, they left not as enemies putting their differences aside, or even as friends banding together; they left as a family going to rescue one of their own.
The expression on Hook's face when he realizes that not only is Neal/Baelfire Henry's father, but that he died. It's only then does he begin to consider helping out.
There's also the expression on his face when he insists that Baelfire stay with him on the ship. He genuinely wanted him to stay.
Finally, just when he's about to set sail with the magic bean in hand, he sees the carvings by the steering wheel that he made to help Bae learn how to steer the ship. This gives him the final push to go back to Storybrooke and return the bean, outright telling Emma that he's finally been reminded that he IS capable of caring about more than just himself.
At the end, when Neal is found in the Enchanted Forest. The fact that he's alive is heartwarming in itself, but just look at who finds him. Mulan, Aurora...and Phillip. They found a way to bring him back.
Belle and Gold saying goodbye is a Tear Jerker, but Belle insisting that she'll see Gold again makes it heartwarming.
When they do, Gold calls Henry his grandson and is willing to save him in Bae's memory, even though Henry is destined to bring about his downfall. Seriously. No. Longer. A. Coward.
The way Gold rests his forehead against Belle's, as though she's the last bit of true peace he will ever know. Say what you will about that man, but the one thing that cannot be doubted is that, even broken and flawed as he is, he loves Belle heart and soul.
Episode 1 - The Heart of the Truest Believer
Henry says that both of his moms are coming to get him.
He again expresses faith that his family will save him even when the runaway boy he's with says that lots of boys have thought their families were coming.
After Rumple gives Emma a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Hook goes below deck to reassure her. He gives her Neal's old sword. Then they drink to Neal's memory.
When Aurora asks Neal what he wants her to tell the others if she can make contact, the message he wants passed on is "Tell Emma I'm alive. And I love her."
When he's in his father's castle, Neal finds his father's old cane. Mulan suggests that it might have belonged to a looter, but Neal points out the notches on it where Rumpelstiltskin charted his growth. He then muses that while it may not have seemed like it at times, family was important to Rumpelstiltskin. Even after everything that's happened between the two of them, past and present, this is still his dad we're talking about and he loves him, flaws and all.
You remember the scene where Emma jumps off of the ship to get everyone to stop fighting. It worked. While fans fully expected Charming and Snow to stop fighting with the other two in order to help Emma, we didn't expect Hook's and Regina's reaction to it. Hook and Emma have been Friendly Enemies (with notable Foe Yay) throughout most of their confrontations, so him being visibly worried about her is understandable to an extent. The thing is, Regina was worried to. Considering that she and Emma have been putting aside their differences more often as of late and the fact that "Quite A Common Fairy" reveals that yes there is still some genuine good in Regina's heart that split second scene of all four running to the side of the ship becomes very heartwarming. For one reason or another four people that aren't Henry or Neal care about Emma. Then you remember all her friends back in Storybrooke, and then you add both Aurora and Mulan to the equation; That's when you realize that this broken hurt person who is still working to overcome her problems truly isn't alone for once, and will probably never be alone again.
The entire scene with Belle and Gold. Gold admits that he's turned into his father and Belle advises him that the first step to change is letting go of the past.
Emma admitting to being the eponymous "lost girl". Because simply saying you're the "savior" when everybody else has been telling you that for more than a year is still a denial of who you really are. It's probably the most introspective moment she's ever had in her life, and having her mother by her side was probably the only thing that gave her the courage to admit to her own deepest pains and fears.
Episode 3 - Quite A Common Fairy
This exchange between Emma and Regina, after Emma learns that Regina has been calling the rescue mission "Operation Henry":
Regina: I've been calling it that because... Emma: That's what he would call it. Regina: He'd have a better name. *beat* But it's the best I can come up with.
Emma and Regina's interactions in general here. Les Yay jokes aside, the two have definitely seemed to have bonded since the second season's finale.
Charming is dying from poison, and who does he share this terrible secret with? Hook, whom he has clashed with repeatedly in the past. That Hook shows sincere regret for Charming's situation makes it even more heartwarming.
The fact that Regina seems to genuinely care about Tinker Bell. To the point where she ripped her own very black heart out to show Tink what her heart will become if she chooses revenge. And then trusts Tink not to crush it.
Parts of Regina's heart, which is covered in black spots, still glows red. She still has a chance at redemption.
Even better: the red parts actually glow brighter when Regina mentions loving Henry.
Regina: If there's one thing I've done right, it's him.
Mulan getting the inspiration to confess her love. Not to Phillip, but to Aurora.
Plus the overwhelming fan support for this development. Witness the comments at the Onion AV Club review after it sailed right over the writer's head.
Not to mention that she's the first Disney character who's a lesbian. Disney has had Ambiguously Gay and Ambiguously Bi characters before, but never something this overt. That's quite an achievement.
Episode 4 - Nasty Habits
Rumpel's reunion with his son, at least for a while. Especially his declaring that he is not just willing but determined to die to save Henry, as the only way his redemption can be complete.
Hook's genuine concern for Charming after becoming the Secret Keeper that he's been poisoned.
Episode 5 - Good Form
Snow, Emma and Regina manage to make contact with Henry using a Magic Mirror. For a moment, there was no Evil Queen and her mortal enemies. There was just three women and the kid they all adored.
Emma: It's not a trick. Henry, I promise you, this is real. Kid, it's "Operation Cobra Rescue."
Regina saying "We love you." She's acknowledging other people, including her archnemesis Snow, as members of her son's family.
After their extremely troubled relationship, it's very touching to see Emma casually refer to Henry as "our son" when talking to Regina.
The kiss between Emma and Hook. After all of the pain Neal has caused her, it's really nice to see Emma begin to trust him and care for him as much as he seems to care for her. Also, it was really, really hot.
Remember last season, when Regina was gloating over Snow White having darkness growing in her heart? Now she's outright stating that her role on the team is to do the dark stuff, so the others won't have that burden.
Charming making up the story about the Lost Boy ambush and Hook saving him from a poisoned arrow, rather than telling the real story about the spring, just so he can honestly say Hook saved his life from the poison. The look on Hook's face, as it's been a long time since he was praised.
Charming: I just thought he deserved a little credit.
Snow and Emma holding up their drink in Hook's name.
Episode 6 - Ariel
Emma and Regina are arguing over whether or not to follow a trial that Emma believes will lead her to Neal. Regina tells her to go "follow the evil munchkin's dirt road" if that's what she wants. When Regina starts to walk away, Emma demands to know where she's going and Regina responds "To save our son." Given her initial fear that Emma might try to take her son away, it's pretty sweet to hear Regina call Henry "our son."
It's even better since Emma also said "our son" in the previous episode. Regina saying it now just further shows that, even when they still clash a little, the two of them are on the same page when it comes to Henry at last.
Hook tells his big secret in the Echo Cave. That he didn't think he'd ever get over Milah until he met Emma. He does this all to rescue Neal.
Despite all the issues they have to deal with still, Emma telling Neal she loves him and the way they wrap each other into a hug the instant the cage is dissolved.
And that was right after she told him she was relieved when she thought he was dead, so maybe she could get over the pain their relationship ended up causing her. He doesn't. even. care.
Neal,not dismissing Emma's feelings and abandonment issues, and generally being really understanding about the whole thing.
One from the writing staff: Lana Parilla very openly loves Ursula. And so they allow her to play Ursula in exactly the same fashion of her portrayal in the movie. As in character as the Queen doing what she needs to for her plans is, it's still very plainly the writers allowing Lana to come to work and play one of her favorite characters.
Episode 7 - Dark Hollow
When Snow and Charming have it out over his keeping his being stuck in Neverland secret, half the argument is just them declaring how deep their love is, because of course Snow would stay there too if it meant being together, and his not wanting her to be stuck with him is exactly why he didn't tell her.
Neal apologizing for fighting with Hook over the lighter and agreeing to put Henry first.
Henry's belief that his family is coming for him, despite what Pan says. It seems the Magic Mirror face time a few episodes ago got through to him.
Regina honoring her deal with Ariel and allowing her to change to having legs any time.
John and Michael Darling still working to keep their sister safe, even after a century of doing Pan's bidding. Fridge Horror when you realize they probably did much the same as what Greg and Tamara did, including murder, but they still care for her enough to not stop trying to get her back. Considering doing evil corrupts your soul in this universe, no matter what your intentions, that speaks volumes.
Episode 8 - Think Lovely Thoughts
The two spinsters a young Rumpelstiltskin is left with. We're first inclined to be suspicious of them, but they turn out to be very sweet ladies who want what's best for him, and happily take him in after his father gives him up.
Everyone is naturally suspicious after learning the prophecy that Henry will be Rumpelstiltskin's undoing. Neal says the only way they can believe he doesn't want to kill Henry is to hand over Pandora's Box, and he immediately does. And later, it does become clear that his intentions are honorable, enough that Neal gives it back.
The reason why the Darlings ended up in a position where they had to help Pan. When the Shadow took Baelfire away, they found a way to get to Neverland to try and save him because they consider him family. Obviously it didn't work out but at least they tried.
The reason why Wendy doesn't try to fight Pan counts too. Just as Pan has threatened to hurt Wendy if John and Michael disobey, he has threatened to hurt John and Michael if she disobeys. Talk about a family that loves each other.
The moment when Wendy is reunited with Neal.
All three of Henry's parents standing together as they attempt to save him from Pan.
A gut-wrenching subversion of a Heartwarming Moment: Pan says he does still care for Rumple, which is why he named himself after the doll he gave Rumple. But it's just manipulation to get Rumple to stand down, and when it doesn't work, Pan locks Rumple away in Pandora's Box without any hesitation or remorse.
Episode 9 - Save Henry
The whole episode was a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming for any viewers who'd come from adoptive families or anyone who felt like there were a lot of anti-adoption messages in the way parenthood was being treated by the show. This definitely was a good step forward in remedying that.
The Lost Boys being won over by Emma's promise to take them home and find parents for them. And she actually does pull it off.
They even took Felix-despite basically him saying no and making his loyalty to Pan clear.
The flashbacks show that Regina really did start out wanting to be a good mother to Henry, terrified that she's doing something wrong when he won't stop crying and overjoyed when he finally does stop. And in the end she makes a potion so she can forget he's the grandson of Snow and Charming, and focus entirely on being as good a mother as she can be. Crosses into Tearjerker territory when you recall from Snow White's experience what memory loss potions do to a person, and you understand that this act is what caused Regina to be a not-so-good mother to Henry despite her intentions.
The implication that beating the Darlings to Henry's adoption unwittingly saved all of them from an early victory for Pan.
Regina's fairy tale to Henry and her callback to it when tucking him in.
Emma and Regina hugging Henry after putting his heart back inside him.
In a twisted way, Regina having no regrets over her evil past because it led to Henry.
Neal's joy and relief when Rumplestiltskin is let out of Pandora's Box and his reassurance that he's nothing like his father (Peter Pan) because unlike Pan, Rumple actually tried and came back to find his son after he abandoned him.
Also Neal calling Rumplestiltskin "papa", showing that he has forgiven Rumplestiltskin and he still loves his dad regardless of the anger Neal felt at being abandoned.
Neal and Henry's hug after he's saved and Neal's promise to stay and be a father to him. It doesn't happen right after Henry gets his heart back, but it's sweet in its own way as just a private moment between them after the action.
When Wendy gives Tinker Bell the last bit of fairy dust left in Neverland and saying "I believe in you." Especially heartwarming considering that in the original novel and certain film adaptations, Tinker Bell was quite...unfriendly towards her at a sociopathic degree.
Also, Tink continuing to reconcile with Regina, saying she knew that there was still good in her.
Regina's genuine happiness for Tinkerbell when her magic briefly works. And the fact that it's Tinkerbell's belief in Regina that leads to the pixie dust working.
Regina: If I were to guess, I'd say for a moment there... you believed.
Rumplestiltskin saving Henry from Pan (at least he thinks he is) and his line to Regina afterward.
Rumplestiltskin: He'll be fine. He's a strong boy. You raised him well.
Easy to miss, but when Mary Margaret is able to get Henry to stop crying when Regina couldn't, she apologizes to Regina, who says "No, it's not your fault...it's me." Let that sink in: she's saying that to Snow White. And it's the exact opposite of her usual attitude toward her problems and Snow White.
When Pan is rubbing Emma's regrets in her face, Snow defends her. Then, when Pan turns on Snow, Regina interrupts him. They really are making progress, even if they have a lot to make up for.
Hook's reaction to saving Henry was rather sweet. He immediately smiles when Henry wakes up and offers him the Captain's quarters to sleep in.
Regina is giddy to become Henry's mother. Walking into Gold's shop for news, she's practically bouncing. And when the nurse comes in with the newborn Henry, her face breaks into an awed smile and gasp.
Episode 10 - The New Neverland
When the gang get back to Storybrooke they get a warm welcome from the towns residents, hugs all around.
Including Ariel finding Eric, and Snow announcing to everyone that Regina played a large part in their success.
Wendy is finally reunited with her brothers. Additionally, Wendy introduces her brothers to Neal, Baelfire all grown up.
Technically, this is the first time that Neal has met Belle. The first time, she was Lacey. This time however, there's no sign of ill will between them.
Gold tells Belle that the only future he's interested in is the future where he spends the rest of his life with her.
Hook being very close to being killed by Pan's shadow if it meant saving David, Neal, and Tink. The same Hook who was previously cared about no one but himself.
Very subtle, but David pulling Hook out of the way from the shadow.
Tink saw through his lies about doing it for himself, but for Emma.
Neal tactfully asks Emma out on a lunch date. Unfortunately, it was canceled because of the Blue Fairy's murder, but props to Neal for trying anyways.
Charming's "Moments" lecture, which ended up being a boomerang of heartwarming. He tells it to Emma to ease her worrying (in an adorable father-daughter moment), then she uses it to discern if "Pan" is really Henry (while Charming watches), then a flashback reveals that he first gave a similar talk to Snow right after they were married, to ease her worrying about Regina. AAW.
Episode 11 - Going Home
Regina, unable to stop the fading of the curse from wiping out Emma and Henry's memories of their time in Storybrooke, does the next best thing: she gives them memories of a life where Emma never gave Henry up for adoption. This from the woman who wanted Emma nowhere near Henry when they first met.
There are tears in both Regina and Emma's eyes as they say goodbye to each other. The fact that they share a son used to be what made them sworn enemies, but now it's made them friends...and both of them have had so little exposure to friendship in their lives that this really means a whole lot to them.
Henry: If I had never gone to get Emma... if I just lived under the curse with you... none of this would have ever happened. I thought I was alone. I thought you didn't love me. But I was wrong.
Regina: Henry, I was wrong too. It wasn't you're fault, it's mine. I cast a curse out of vengeance. I'm... I'm a villain. And you heard Mr. Gold. Villains don't get happy endings.
Henry: You're not a villain. You're my Mom.
Henry and Emma's happy life together in New York, one year later. Sure they've lost all memories of the rest of their family but they just look so happy together. And after all the crap they've both been through seeing them finally living a peaceful life is kind of heartwarming
Episode 12 - New York City Serenade
Snow finding Regina burying her own heart in the forest so she won't have to feel the pain of not being with Henry and gently convincing her to put it back, reminding her that Henry would want her to be happy.
Snow and Regina, full stop. After trying to figure out who's going to rule the kingdom now that they're all back, Snow suggests becoming co-queens with Regina to give the people hope. And Regina, who's defined much of her life by her grudge against Snow, is on board with it, and later calls it "our castle" when the kingdom is blocked off by a protection spell. This from two women who've spent much of their lives fighting one another is nothing short of a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
Henry encouraging Emma to accept Walsh's proposal and to accept that she can be happy.
"Mom, not every guy is going to be like my dad. Not every guy is just going to leave you."
"You're always looking for something to be wrong. You don't have to do that. Sometimes it's okay to accept things that are good."
Becomes Harsher in Hindsight by the end of the episode though, as Walsh turned out to be a flying monkey sent to spy on Emma.
The almost exact recreation of the scene in "Manhattan" when Emma discovers that Neal still has the dream-catcher. Right down to the shot of her through the window. (This is especially heartwarming if you support Emma and Neal being together.)
Neal and Belle bond. She insists that Neal will see Emma and Henry again and encourages him just like she did his father. They are the only ones who believe that Rumple is still alive.
Relatively minor, but Emma and Henry making conversation while playing a video game together is heartwarming in its own right.
Robin Hood did not forget the time when Belle saved him from Rumpelstiltskin. His ecstatic cry of "Belle!" will seriously get you.
Episode 13 - Witch Hunt
Just seeing Red again, given how Meghan Ory hoped it could happen when she was released from her contract the previous season.
Emma not questioning at all that Regina is innocent, even as Regina herself lays out all the reasons for doubting her.
After a flying monkey nearly attacks Robin Hood's son Roland, Regina turns it into a stuffed toy and gives it to him to play with.
Robin Hood's concern when he realizes Regina is going to put herself under a Sleeping Curse and pleading with her not to go through with it.
Emma having Regina meet Henry, because she knows how much Regina loves him. Doubles as a Tear Jerker considering he doesn't remember her.
Episode 14 - The Tower
Finally, a glimpse of Emma as the princess she was meant to become. And a nice father-daughter bonding moment of Charming teaching her to dance. Even if it ended up being a Nightmare Sequence for Charming, it was nice while it lasted.
A glimpse of Regina's generous and grateful side when Robin tells Charming that she gave him gold-tipped arrows as a thank you for accompanying her in the castle tunnels. Especially nice since she didn't want him to go with her in the first place...
Charming: The queen must like you.
The scene where Regina and Henry are walking by the lake. First, after commiserating with Henry about feeling alone in New York because of the huge amount of strangers all around, she talks about what makes small towns better: "Everyone knows everybody here. It's like a big family." You get the feeling Regina is finally starting to see all the characters, or the people of her kingdom, as this. Then when Henry talks about having only two place settings and wishing he had more, she says quite knowingly, "I think one day you'll have more family than you know what to do with."
Hook's talk in the woods with Emma about Walsh. After she admits that yes she was going to marry him but "as usual he wasn't what he seemed and I got my heart broken", he tells her he's glad she said that: "If it can be broken that means it still works."
Rapunzel's reunion with her parents at the castle, with everyone there to see it. Including Regina, who's almost tearing up at the sight of parents being with their child again...
Episode 15 - Quiet Minds
Neal and Hook reaffirming their friendship, and realizing how silly the Love Triangle they've found themselves in really is.
Hook hugs Neal. It comes out of nowhere, especially from the cynical Deadpan Snarker pirate, and is possibly the sweetest moment between the two. Metric tons of tears are added when you realize this is the last time they interact before Neal dies.
As a bonus, it's also the first time Neal calls him "Killian". Even after what Hook did, Neal doesn't bring up that, even acknowledging him as a hero.
Robin Hood getting much more comfortable around Regina, to the point of calling her "Evil Queen" moniker a misnomer.
Robin: You know, I've heard many stories about the great and terrible Evil Queen, but from this angle, the "Evil" moniker seems something of an overstatement. Bold and audacious perhaps... but not evil.
Lumiére having a "flash of conscience", as he calls it, to save Belle from Zelena, despite him being the latter's prisoner.
Rumpelstiltskin absorbing his son in a desperate attempt to save him from his sacrifice. If nothing else, at least Neal got to see Emma one more time.
What makes this better is that Rumple had to choose between protecting his dagger or his son. Without hesitation or a second thought Rumple throws the dagger to the ground to absorb Neal in order to save him. It looks like he really did kick his nasty habit of self-preservation.
Belle and Neal throughout the episode. Part of Belle's reason for trying to bring Rumple back is so he can help Neal get back to Emma and Henry. They have a heart-to-heart about Rumple. Neal even refers to himself and Belle as Rumple's family when they discuss his father's sacrifice for them.
Episode 16 - It's Not Easy Being Green
The sheer joy in Zelena's adoptive mother's face at seeing her for the first time, even despite being oblivious to the baby's magical abilities.
Zelena's backstory shows how starved she truly is for affection. When Rumpelstiltskin teaches her how to control magic, not just with picking a dark moment from which to draw negative emotions but also a happy one to curb her urges, the happy memory she chooses is when Rumpel decided to take her under his wing.
Hook volunteering to take care of Henry for the day and try and tell him about his father. Their moment under the stars is a huge one.
Regina giving her heart to Robin Hood. Literally. She does imply that she's not yet doing it metaphorically as well... but it's a start, at least.
Robin: You're really going to entrust something so valuable to a common thief like me? Regina: Can't steal something that's been given to you.
When Robin is reading Rumpelstiltskin's letter to Cora out loud, he pauses at "stunning, in every way" and looks directly at Regina when he says it.
Two heartwarming moments with Rumpel: first when Zelena asks if his son was really worth all the trouble he went through to find him, Rumpel responds that yes, he was. Later, he tells Zelena that if he had to do things all over again, he would still have chosen Regina to cast the Dark Curse, showing rare pride for Regina as his pupil in saying this.
Despite how things turned out between them, he and Zelena had a couple heartwarming moments during her training: when she asks for what his happy memory is and he describes the spinsters' meat pies, and then later when she makes some for him. (This turns into a Tear Jerker when he ignores it to go and train Regina instead, and becomes absolutely twisted when in present-day Storybrooke he taunts her about not making them for him again after her fight with Regina is a draw.)
Episode 17 - The Jolly Roger
Regina working to protect Snow White's unborn child from Zelena. Every good thing she's done so far has been solely motivated by Henry, and nobody else. Seeing her do this for the girl who she once considered her most hated enemy proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she's no longer a villain.
Charming and Emma trying work on the baby's crib.
Smee finally returning by Hook's side, after being so cruelly turned into a rat by Rumpelstiltskin.
The entire episode shows just how much Emma has changed Hook's life since they met. First, Hook turns down a prostitute his own crew had hired for him. He then allows Ariel to tag along with him when he reclaims the Jolly Roger. And despite him letting Blackbeard walk the plank rather than find Eric for Ariel, he eventually and sincerely apologizes for it when they meet again in Storybrooke, as he finally realizes that his love mattered so much more to him than being a pirate.
The reveal that Ariel and Eric have already had their happy ending, and were saved from Zelena's new curse.
At the end of the episode, the Charmings go out to dinner, and Regina with them, with no mention that it's in any way abnormal or special.
Rumple's previous sarcastic remark that "Maybe one day, they'll even invite you for dinner" is now Heartwarming In Hindsight.
Episode 18 - Bleeding Through
The present-day events of the episode can be summed up as Regina's official Heel-Face Turn.
She sincerely apologizes to Belle for all the abuse she's inflicted.
She protects Snow White from Cora's ghost, even warning Cora that she would have to go through her if she wanted to hurt Snow! After the ghost is dealt with, she and Snow have a heartfelt talk about their very troubled history, discussing it without judgment and even with some humor, and it ends not only with Snow apologizing for Cora's death, but also with her encouraging Regina that she doesn't need her heart to feel love and find happiness.
Snow: I know you. And you feel things deeply. With or without [your heart], you feel things with your whole soul. Don't let anything hold you back.
With Snow's encouragement, Regina finally takes a chance on love and kisses Robin Hood.
Note that she did all of the above without her heart! Every other heartless character in the series has been described to be incapable of love, and yet Regina acts motivated by it anyway. And the likely reason why? Other heartless characters had their hearts taken out in some fashion and then stashed away or crushed. Regina gave her heart to another.
Emma's enthusiasm as she practices her magic at Granny's. After two-and-a-half seasons, she's finally starting to enjoy the strange new world that she's been pulled into.
Robin Hood feels genuinely bad that he lost Regina's heart when she entrusted it to him, which he gave up because Rumpelstiltskin was threatening to kill Robin's son if he didn't, and apologizes to her numerous times. However, Regina reassures him that she is not angry at him and that nothing is worth allowing the kid to die.
Episode 19 - A Curious Thing
Regina is still incredulous as to how she managed to find happiness with Robin Hood. And yet her happiness just shines through, and is immediately obvious to Mary Margaret and the others; especially since she hasn't been smiling that much since she was with Daniel.
Mary Margaret: Regina! If I didn't know any better, I'd say you look smitten.
Robin telling Regina that, until she gets her heart back, she can use his for the both of them. Also acts as figurative foreshadowing for what literally had already happened with Snow and Charming.
Snow still being considered "pure of heart", even after killing Cora.
Charming volunteering his heart without a second thought so Snow can cast a new Dark Curse that will allow them to return to Emma.
Henry finally regaining his memories and immediately calling for both of his mothers.
Emma using her own magic to hurt Zelena enough to stop her from killing Henry.
Snow and Charming's very tearful goodbyes before the new Dark Curse is completed. So tearful, even Regina is visibly distraught at having to separate them.
Note that this is coming from a woman who's spent nearly her entire life attempting to destroy the happiness her step-daughter has with her true love. It just expresses how far the Evil Queen has come.
Also, when Snow is begging Regina to break her heart in two to share with Charming, she completely reverts to a child-like state, on her knees and pleading with her stepmother. And Regina kneels down and the two have their arms on each other's shoulders just like their first meeting in "The Stable Boy", back when they had love for one another. And now they've gone back to that, at long last.
Regina being the one to break the Curse this time around.
Snow proving that she and Charming truly are of one heart, by having Regina split her heart amongst the two of them, simply having faith that it would work.
Neal escaping Rumpelstiltskin's body long enough to get a message out to Hook and lead him to Emma. Even after Hook abandoned him and was fighting over him for Emma, Neal still saw that good man in him and trusted him to help out Emma.
Henry finally recognizing his father's sacrifice and visiting his grave.
Episode 20 - Kansas
Glinda bringing Zelena into the Sisterhood of Witches, giving her enough confidence to let go of her jealousy, if only for a brief period.
Emma reviving Killian, even at the cost of her own magic.
David asking Emma to take Killian with her to defeat Zelenda. He recognized their argument was not unlike his and Snow's own argument when he didn't tell her about his secret in Ariel and didn't want any of that for them. Bare in mind, he wasn't so fond of them together.
Henry believing that Regina can wield light magic and is now a hero and no longer a villain, as proven by True Love's Kiss.
Regina not only successfully stopping Zelena with light magic, but also restraining Rumpelstiltskin from immediately taking revenge. Also, how she is suddenly empowered by it once Robin Hood takes hold of her heart.
Later, her offering Zelena a second chance, saying she knows how she feels and that good can be made through choice just as evil can. It doesn't work, but still.
Rumpelstiltskin proposing to Belle by handing her his dagger. Too bad the moment only lasts until he reveals that he gave Belle a fake one so he could kill Zelena with it.
Snow White finally getting to see her newborn child, after having almost missed it yet again.
Even better: she lost her first child because of a Regina. Now, this tragedy is prevented from happening a second time because of Regina.
Episode 21 - Snow Drifts
Regina and Robin having a private celebration for the restoration of her heart and talking about how they both thought they'd never find love again until now.
Even though it ends up accidentally causing them never to meet, Emma spying on Charming and Snow White is very sweet, especially her eager expression as she peers up into the tree.
Rumpelstiltskin's reaction when Emma tells him he finds his son.
Episode 22 - There's No Place Like Home
The entire flashback with Emma and Neal in which the lost boy teaches the lost girl what home really means:
Neal: That's how you know you've really got a home. 'Cause when you leave it, there's this feeling that you can't shake. You just miss it.
Emma tearfully watching as her parents successfully meet and their relationship is put back on track.
How she finally realizes that she's been breaking her mother's heart every time she refused to acknowledge her family.
The return of Emma's magic, as it helps her, Hook and Maid Marian return to Storybrooke.
Emma acknowledging Neal and her love for him once more, as Rumpelstiltskin succumbs to his curiosity and asks her what becomes of his quest to find his son. Followed by Rumple listening to Emma and drinking the memory loss potion so that he doesn't screw anything else up trying to prevent his son's death, letting Neal keep his Heroic Sacrifice untainted.
When Emma gets back home, she just throws herself into her parents' arms and again calls them "Mom" and "Dad".
The name of Snow and Charming's new baby is announced: Neal.
Rumple and Belle's wedding vows, interspersed with all the couples sharing moments: Snow, Charming, and baby Neal, Regina and Robin Hood walking down the street with Roland, Emma and Killian still kissing on the patio.
Belle's father accompanying her and formally giving Belle to Rumpelstiltskin, saying that she has forgiven him and that he acknowledges her love for Rumpelstiltskin.
The lines themselves that are voiced over the shots of the couples:
For the Charmings:
"Belle: I realize that I have not spent my life losing you — I've spent my life finding you."
Emma and Killian:
"Rumplestiltskin: I wasn't just unloved, and unloving: I was an enemy of love. Love had only brought me pain. My walls were up... but you brought them down. You brought me home."
Regina and Robin Hood:
"Rumplestiltskin: You brought light to my life, and chased away all the darkness. And I vow to you: I will never forget the distance between what I was and what I am."
And of course, Belle and Rumpelstiltskin:
Belle: Sometimes the best book has the dustiest jacket. And sometimes, the best teacup is chipped.
We finally learn how Hook crossed realms to get back to Emma: he traded the Jolly Roger for a magic bean. Emma seeing that she means enough to him to give up the ship that was his home and practically part of his family for countless years for her crumbles the last wall between them.
Not to mention Killian's worried expression (he attempts to hide it with a smile) at seeing how she would react to it; when she responds with the kiss, it's heartwarming beyond any measure.
As bad as it is for Regina, Maid Marian's reunion with Robin Hood and Roland also qualifies, especially with Roland's elated "Mommy?" before she hugs him.
Episode 1 - A Tale of Two Sisters
Rumpelstiltskin and Belle's recreation of the Beauty and the Beast ballroom dance. It even comes directly after he gives Belle the true dagger so there's no uneasy tension hanging over it like there was for their wedding.
Emma to Regina, after Regina has spent the whole episode avoiding Emma (and is still hiding in her office, not acknowledging Emma):
"Henry brought me to Storybrooke so I could bring back the happy endings. My job's not done until I do that for everyone, including you."
Regina letting Marian live. She had the perfect opportunity to let Marshmallow crush her and not be at fault, but she went out of her way to save the woman. She's not going to get her own happy ending at the expense of others anymore.
Anna spends the entire episode reassuring Elsa that she's not a monster and she's not a danger to anybody anymore. And at the end of the episode she leaves for the Enchanted Forest, but forces Kristoff to stay with Elsa in Arendelle so that neither of them are alone while she's away.
Elsa finding the snowflake locket she gave to Anna in Mr. Gold's Shop and promising to Anna "I will find you", just like Snow White and Prince Charming have vowed to each other in the past.
Rumple visits Neal's grave and reveled that his fondest memory was comforting young Bae during a thunderstorm. When Bae smiled at him he felt for the first time that he was capable of taking care of his son on his own. Then he got the dagger and it turned him into a monster. Despite having a fresh start with Belle, Rumple feels guilty about starting their marriage off on a lie and vows to set things right. It crosses into Tearjerker when Rumple gives into temptations again.
Just how happy and excited Hook is at the prospect of spending time with Emma, even though he has absolutely no idea what they're doing later.
A meta example: There's something touching about the depiction of the Frozen characters. It feels like they jumped from the movie right into this show. Anna especially is perfect.
Episode 2 - White Out
The confirmation that despite initial appearances, Elsa is not the Big Bad of the season, and once she's calmed down from the shock of arriving in Storybrooke, everyone is perfectly happy to help her.
Charming getting Elsa to find the strength and power to melt the ice wall by reminding her of the words of Anna that helped him save his mother and himself:
"Survival isn't enough, you have to live."
Henry starts the episode putting together a post-breakup basket for his mom (compete with DV Ds and red wine). Even when Regina tells him not to visit her, he goes anyway after seeing how much the Charmings look after each other.
Killian and Emma...good god, every scene with them. Some highlights include:
Killian's adorable attempt at flirting of how they don't get quiet moments together alone.
His worry for her every moment she's trapped in the ice cave.
His utter joy when Emma's freed from the cave. She immediately jumps into his arms and he carries her.
The cuddling scene at the end as Charming notes that their family never gives up on each other.
"Baby high five!"
In one of the two deleted scenes for the episode had Regina give her former archenemy and step-daughter advise on how to lead Storybrooke, while being a new mother in her own snarky way. Snow in turn advise her on how to deal with Henry. It wasn't in the main episode it shows how much Regina has grown as a character. Despite her falling out with Emma Regina's problems with Snow White has officially ended and their relationship is evolving into what King Leopold had hoped for them.
In the another deleted scene Gold and Henry have a heart to heart talk when Henry comes to see Gold about giving him fake memories to forget about Regina. To Gold's credit he gives his grandson sound advice about how while memories can be painful and a burden that they ultimately shape who you are as a person and allow you to grow from experience, a process he admits isn't easy, especially for himself. For the first time since their blood relation was revealed in season 2 they make a connection.
Episode 3 - Rocky Road
Elsa and Kristoff's interaction throughout the whole episode. A important highlight is when Elsa hands over the urn to Hans to free Kristoff, trusting that Kristoff will be able to find Anna and save Arendelle from Hans and his brothers. After Hans is quickly frozen by The Snow Queen (who was in the urn), Elsa tells the Snow Queen that Kristoff is her friend.
Regina shows just how far she's come from being the Evil Queen in her talk with Henry, where, instead of being manipulative or evasive, she straight out tells him her crazy idea to find the writer of the storybook and try to rewrite the story so that she can have a real happy ending. And Henry...thinks that's a great idea, and offers to help.
Plus, her unquestioningly jumping in to help Marian, which also involves Robin trusting her with Marian's heart.
Archie's heart-to-heart with Mary Margaret about whether she is being too clinging with baby Neal. It includes a double reference to both Frozen and the old adage about what you do with things you love so they will come back to you: "Just let it go."
Episode 4 - The Apprentice
Anna and Kristoff. It feels good to finally see them on screen together. Their interaction, from his look of relief, their embrace, their kiss to her subsequent confiding in him very much show that they're in love. Scott Michael Foster and Elizabeth Lail's performance really take the lovable couple right from the movie into the show.
Mr Gold and Henry's final scene. Mr Gold accepted Henry's "application" for a job pretty much without hesitation. Whatever else was shown about his evil, treachery and power-hungry in the episode, Mr. Gold still holds his family very close to his heart.
From supplementary material, Gold writes Belle instructions on how to make breakfast since she's unfamiliar with modern technology. As part of the note, he mentions of course that he loves her. Heartwarming in general but considering how part of his public schtick is making deals (i.e. don't give away anything you can trade or sell), the gesture is particularly nice.
If you don't believe it, read it for yourself.
Forgive me. I had to depart early this morning. You were sleeping so soundly I couldn't bring myself to wake you.
I am out on business, but I should be back just after noon to join you for lunch. I would prefer you not go out alone, as the town is much bigger than one might anticipate, but of course you are free to do so, should you wish. It is simply an advisement, neither a command nor request.
Should you choose to remain indoors, there are several items around the house with which you may not be familiar. We will confront all of them in due time, but I hope to have covered the necessities here.
I assume you will be hungry upon waking. I took the liberty of slicing you a bowl of plums. They are in the refrigerator: the large man-sized metal box next to the stove. Simply pull the handle (it will open towards you), and the bowl will be sitting on the second shelf from the top. Do not be alarmed: the air is much cooler inside. For this reason, please try to remember to shut the door once you have retrieved the fruit.
On the counter next to the refrigerator is a smaller, metal show-box type contraption. You will see two slices of bread protruding through slits in the top. Push down on the lever so the bread disappears, wait one minute until it pops up, then remove it and place it on the plate I have set out. This box is a toaster. It has, accordingly, made you toast. DO NOT put your hands inside the slits in attempt to pull the bread out before it has reemerged. It is VERY HOT inside the toaster. You WILL burn yourself.
Butter is on the dish by the sink. Tea is in the cupboard over the butter. I take it you have not forgotten how to use a kettle. It has been filled with water.
Should you need me, for any reason, please call. I will be upset if you do not. I know we broached the subject yesterday, but a refresher: the telephone is the "silly red upside-down hat with a curly tail" (as you aptly described it), on the table to your right when you wake up. My number is taped to the top.
I love you. I could not wait for lunch to tell you.
Please do try to remember to shut the refrigerator.
On a Meta level, there's something heartwarming about Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin's Romance on the Set. It's as if no matter what reality it is, Snow White and Prince Charming will always find each other.