Tear Jerker: Once Upon a Time


  • In brief: Everything. In long form, while every other similar page (Heartwarming, Awesome, Funny, Fridge, Nightmare) has categories for each season or leaves out certain episodes, this one has at least one example per episode. And the Tear Jerker aspect of the scenes are due in no small part to the amazing actors, not just in the stories.

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    Season 1 
Episode 1 - Pilot
  • The playground scene, especially the part near the end where Emma, close to tears, tells Henry how she was left by the freeway and later rejected by her foster parents and that he's lucky to have someone who wants him never mind loves him.
    • To a lesser extent, Emma blowing out a candle on her birthday cupcake.
  • Snow White putting on a brave face for Prince Charming before he goes to deliver Emma to the wardrobe, only to break down in cries of agony for her lost baby after he leaves.
  • As he lays dying, Prince Charming's smile when he sees that Emma got away.
    • "Find us." Who knew what was once so beautiful now has become so sad in 1 episode.
  • Snow White trying to wake up Prince Charming with a kiss.
  • The look on Charming's face in the opening scene when he finds Snow White in the coffin and thinks she's dead. Sure she wakes up, but still...
  • The ending of the episode shows Charming, in Storybrooke, to be comatose, with Mary (Snow White) visiting him. Once the bright side, Charming survived, but on the bad side he is trapped along everyone else in Storybrooke, in what could be probably called a Fate Worse Than Death (the others characters, while brainwashed, are still able to live somehow), and Mary doesn't even know who he is, despite bringing him flowers.
  • Mary Margaret telling Emma that Henry struggles with the most basic question that all adopted children inevitably face: "Why would anyone give me up?" It's subtle, but for a minute Emma looks like someone just stuck a knife through her heart.

Episode 2 - The Thing You Love Most
  • The Queen's struggle then ultimate decision to kill her own father. There's no going back for her after that.
  • The reveal that Regina named her adoptive son after the father she killed in the fairy tale realm.
  • Emma's face when she learns that Henry believes Mary Margaret Blanchard is Snow White (and therefore her mother).

Episode 3 - Snow Falls
  • Mary Margaret's utterly crushed look when David's "wife" swoops in after they rescue him.
  • Listening to Snow snarking about arranged marriages and how there's no such thing as true love becomes this on a rewatch, since we later learn what an idealistic girl she used to be. Regina's crusade against her just sucked it right out of her.

Episode 4 - The Price of Gold
  • Ashley sobbing to Emma that she wants to keep her baby and doesn't want Mr. Gold to take her baby from her as they head back to the hospital in town. She just sounds so afraid.
  • Cinderella tricked Rumplestiltskin and got him locked up, but lost her husband, who had promised to love her no matter what.

Episode 5 - That Still Small Voice
  • Jiminy not only failing to put a stop to his sociopathic parents' thievery, but discovering that the Baleful Polymorph potion he'd intended to use on them was replaced, and that he had unwittingly sold it to the nice couple they had just swindled. As if that weren't enough, after finding the couple has been turned into wooden puppets, their child returns home to find them in this state. The same child who had earlier been cheerfully eager to see the puppet show Jiminy's family put on.
    • And that same kid turns out to be Geppetto. Jiminy's been taking care of the poor guy this whole time.
  • Regina and Emma's terrified look when Henry is down the mine, and Henry's desperate need to prove himself to Emma.
    • Emma's look when Regina asks her to stop hugging their son and get back to her work after she saved him.
  • The look on Archie's face when Henry runs out of their session. He's nearing tears, only able to silently watch on, and knowing that he willingly devastated this young boy by telling him his fairy tale theory was nonsense. This is a boy Archie clearly adores and cares deeply about, and to have to hurt him that way because he was threatened by Regina? No wonder he looked so heartbroken.
  • And what's Archie doing the next time we see him? Having a drink.
  • That moment in the climax when it seemed certain Archie was going to die when the mine elevator was about to collapse with him still in it.

Episode 6 - The Shepherd
  • James saying goodbye to his mother. Not only will he never see her again, but he's being forced into the one concession he swore he'd never make by marrying for a reason besides love.
    • It gets a little better when, thanks to the magic of fairy tales, his mother's insistence of him taking their family wedding ring ultimately results in happier ending than they believe at the time.
  • King George's fate is sad, no matter how much you end up hating him.

Episode 7 - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  • Sheriff Graham's death at the hands of The Evil Queen/Regina Mills.
    • Made worse by the fact that right before he died, Graham had fully regained his memories of being the Huntsman. Emma realizing she had feelings for him right as he died is heartbreaking, especially considering the conversation she had with Mary Margaret about how she was rejecting romance because she was afraid of being hurt again earlier in the episode.
  • Everything about Graham and Emma.
    • Graham's increasing desperation and fear throughout the episode are bad enough—the opening scene where he pleads with Emma to understand that he doesn't feel anything and then the later scene where he insists to her that he doesn't have a heart. And she tries to comfort him by convincing him he does.
    • "It's okay. It's going to be okay." Oh, the irony...
    • The hesitant, almost frightened way Emma approaches Graham before their second kiss. And genuine, unguarded smile on her face after he thanks her. Emma barely ever smiles so freely. Combine that with her heartbroken sobbing about a minute later...
    • Graham being able to feel again and crying with relief after he and Emma kiss.
  • Snow White's resignation at the thought of being killed by Graham, and her letter afterwards.

Episode 8 - Desperate Souls
  • Rumplestiltskin's life before getting his powers is depression incarnate: branded a coward for refusing to fight a pointless war, a wife that left him in disgust, and now fighting to keep his son from being conscripted at 14.
  • Morraine's parents screaming, pleading and crying as she is taken away by the guardsmen to be conscripted.
  • His efforts to save his son being thwarted by Hordor, who then humiliates him.
  • Zoso, the previous Dark One choosing to die to free himself. Probably because no one loves him.

Episode 9 - True North
  • Emma's unpleasant experience with the foster system might be a tad biased for sending a message, but the way she talks about not finding her parents is so sad what with Dramatic Irony that she's telling all this to her own mother.
  • Hansel and Gretel awakening in the woods after The Evil Queen releases them and holding hands as they walk off to find their father. Their determination is heartwarming but the next shot shows just how little chance these two have of finding him. The implication is that they don't...at least, not in the fairy tale world.

Episode 10 - 7:15AM
  • Snow White's departure from the castle, after making a huge breach in her relationship with Charming.
  • Snow having to tell Charming that she doesn't love him per King George's demands. Charming's hurt face during the scene alone is enough to jerk tears.
  • Snow White unwittingly taking the vial to forget about her feelings for Prince Charming the moment he backs out of his wedding to Abigail to find her. It's all the more crushing when Snow responds to Grumpy's news of this with, "Who?"
    • For that matter, Grumpy is smiling excitedly about the news himself. And when she says "Who?", you can see the slow horror coming across his eyes and his face fall again.
  • The death of Stealthy, Foregone Conclusion though it may be. Especially with Doc's statement of "Now we're seven."
  • The whole relationship between James and Mary Margaret from Kathryn's perspective: she finally got her husband back, and he says he is willing to work things out despite his amnesia, but he keeps running off with another woman.

Episode 11 - Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
  • Regina confesses that she feels trapped in Leopold's castle, but unable to leave. It's very sad stuff, especially given what you find out later on how she got there.
  • Leopold's disbelief in The Genie's betrayal of him.
  • The Genie, after being free for a while, ended up trapped again by his own wish. Hoist by His Own Petard with Love Makes You Stupid.
    • Heck, the Genie in general. He falls in love with a woman and is so enamored by her that he's willing to kill her husband, his friend. He does this all to set her free. And then he finds out that she never loved him to begin with. And just to drive in the last nail, his final wish to remain at her side forever (even after she told him that she was just using him!) comes true in the worst way imaginable. And her face says she's enjoying his pain.

Episode 12 - Skin Deep
  • Rumple still keeps his son's clothes.
  • Rumplestiltskin's complete freakout after Belle kisses him. At that moment, he doesn't seem that upset about potentially losing his powers, he's mostly upset because he honestly believes nobody could ever truly love him, therefore Belle must be faking everything in an elaborate ruse to kill him for the Evil Queen. Even sadder because by the time he uncovers the mirror, the proof of Belle's love- the restoration of his human form- has faded away. It gets worse later, when he realizes that she does love him, and decides to stop any possibility of losing his powers (and Bae) by breaking Belle's heart and sending her away. When the Queen drops by to inform him of her fate, he obviously wants nothing more than to have her back in the castle again, because he reciprocates her feelings.
  • When Rumplestiltskin is trashing his castle and he sees that he's about to destroy the chipped cup. He immediately restrains himself, but the look on his face just screams "Man, I really messed this up, didn't I?"
  • Rumplestiltskin small Hope Spot when he hears that Belle has been shunned by her father. His first thought is "so she needs a home, then?", with a sad/scared/hopeful smile creeping across his face, before the Queen tells him she died (a bluff). Props to Robert Carlyle (Rumple's actor) for the subtle but ever growing wide-eyed look of horror as the Queen tells him that she didn't just die... she was tortured to the point of suicide because of him.
  • Rumple replacing the golden chalice with the chipped tea cup. And weeping. Robert Carlyle really sells the heartbreak.
  • The things that Gold does throughout the episode are pretty creepy, but when you learn he did it all (or at least most of it) to retrieve the only remnant he has of Belle...*sniff*
  • Good news, Belle's not dead! Bad news, Regina's held her captive for who knows how long...and Gold has no clue she's even still alive.
  • This is an odd one, but Gold's beating of Moe French probably counts after a bit of thought. He's just had his last keepsake of the woman he loves stolen by the man he believes was responsible for her death. After the first preliminary questions, he stops mentioning the cup altogether and starts screaming about what Maurice did to his daughter and trying to absolve himself of the blame. It's made even worse by the fact that French clearly has no idea what Gold's on about and that this is the most uncontrolled we see Gold in the entire series.

Episode 13 - What Happened to Frederick?
  • Mary Margaret and David breaking up and not knowing Kathryn left a note behind saying they could be together (because Regina burned it).
  • Kathryn/Abigail in general this episode.
    • Kathryn/Abigail being kept from her true love (Frederick) in Storybrooke due to Regina's plan for no happily ever afters.
    • Kathryn calling Regina the closest thing she has to a friend, and shortly afterwards it's highly probable Regina is the one who made her disappear.
    • Kathryn having to come to terms that her marriage is over, and might have only been an illusion all along (not in the curse sense, but whatever). And that her husband has fallen love with someone else.
    • Abigail having tried to get over Frederick but failed.
    Charming: Have you tried true love's kiss?
    Abigail: Until my lips bled.
  • Prince Charming on the run with Red from King George with no idea how to find Snow White.
  • Kathryn/Regina's last confrontation. Regina goes from warm and friendly to full Stepford Smiler mode.
    Kathryn: Have you ever been in love ?
    Regina: Once...
    Kathryn: Well, I've never was. (Beat) I want someone to look at me like that.
  • Storybrooke's treatment of Mary Margaret after they find out about the affair - especially with David seemingly not being given the same. Double Standard much?
  • No sign of Mr. Gold; either he's still in jail or THAT messed up from 'Skin Deep'.

Episode 14 - Dreamy
  • "It's Grumpy now."
  • When it seems all hope is not lost, because Leroy is going to sell his boat, a tearjerker in itself because he seems so proud of it. Then, even though he will only get 3,000, Mr. Gold backing out of the deal entirely because for some unknown reason (at the time) he hates nuns.
    • And subsequently Astrid's face when she discovers all the candles boxed up under a tarp on the dock.

Episode 15 - Red-Handed
  • Red's a werewolf, she's killed and half eaten her true love Peter, the villagers are coming to kill her, she has to go on the run and leave Granny behind, and all this while she's still reeling, confused and horrified at what's happened to her.
    Red: I don't like this...

Episode 16 - Heart of Darkness
  • Snow White's back to normal - but first she shot Charming, and now they've been seperated yet again. In the real world David has turned against Mary Margaret because his memories are returning with the wrong context entirely, and out of desperation she does a jail break and is presumably on the run.

Episode 17 - Hat Trick
  • Jefferson spent years in Wonderland trying to build another world-hopping hat in the hopes that he could return to his daughter in the Fairy Tale world. It didn't work, and now he has to watch her Storybrooke counterpart live and be happy with a different family every day, without any memory of him, while he sits in the lap of luxury with full knowledge of everything that's transpired.

Episode 18 - The Stable Boy
  • Regina's mother has ignored all of her daughter's wishes for her own personal happiness, has killed Regina's lover Daniel, and is forcing Regina to marry the king. Then Snow comes in and reveals that, yes, she did in fact tell Regina's mother. Regina very quickly puts two and two together, and silently places the blame on Snow, formulating her revenge plot in the process.
    • Regina's abuse at Cora's hands.
    Regina: Please... I'll be good.
  • Watching Regina and Daniel's story while knowing that it isn't going to end well.
  • The early affection between Regina and young Snow White. Will not go well in the future.
  • The Regina/Mary Margaret scene in jail. Mary Margaret is terrified, doesn't understand and makes apologies for something she doesn't remember doing. Regina does something reminding of the maternal figure she was supposed to become, then crushes her by telling her that she thinks she is guilty.

Episode 19 - The Return
  • Baelfire falls into the portal without Rumplestiltskin.
    • And then Rumplestiltskin scrabbling in the dirt where the portal was, desperately pleading that he wants to go.
    • And then you find out that everything Rumplestiltskin did was to get his son back.
    • The scene with August and Rumplestiltskin's Reunion...ESPECIALLY on a rewatch. Although it turns out August was playing along, no doubt August's words are what he was saving up for his real father

Episode 20 - The Stranger
  • Emma's stubborn refusal to believe and manipulating her mind to see what she wants to see, despite August's pleas.
  • The realization that Emma can't let herself believe because her self-esteem is just that low and she's terrified to have people relying on her.
    August: You're our only hope.
    Emma: *very sincerely* Then you're all screwed.
  • The scene in the orphanage where Pinnochio decides to abandon Emma.
    • And you're reminded that even though Jiminy and Gepetto might have prepared him, Pinocchio was still just a kid, and the fact that he was given that much responsibility that early was just too much. Really sad that desperation ended up creating so much sadness and guilt on all parties.
  • Gepetto weeping over the seemingly dead Pinocchio, and reminding Jiminy of exactly why he took the job he has.
  • August seeing his father again, whom he feels he has failed, for the first time in twenty-eight years — and his dad has no idea who he is.
    August: I don't think I became the man he wanted me to be.
  • Mary Margaret's speech to Regina when she first returns to work.
    Mary Margaret: I forgive you. Even if you can't admit what you did, I forgive you anyway. Your life must be filled with such incredible loneliness that your only joy comes from destroying everyone else's happiness. It's so sad, Mayor Mills, because despite what you think, it won't make you happy. It's only going to leave a giant hole in your heart.

Episode 21 - An Apple Red as Blood
  • Snow and Charming's conversation through the mirror and Snow choosing to take the apple to save Charming.
    • "Then congratulations. You've won."
  • Emma's goodbye to Henry at the end of the episode. She fails to hold back tears as she insists that it's best for her to leave and that Regina will take good care of him.
    • Her defensive posture when she insists that all Regina has ever done is fight for Henry and "it just got out of hand." Emma knows that's not true (and the audience knows the full-extent of what Regina has done) so seeing her so helpless and just desperate to cling to the belief that her son will be safe is heartbreaking.
  • "You may not believe in the curse—or in me—but I believe in you."
  • Regina's nightmare in the opening: A horrifying vision of Emma, Henry, and everyone she's cursed forming a lynch mob and arranging her execution. Even more of one when you realize what it means: Somewhere in her dark, twisted soul, Regina realizes just how horrible her actions are. Especially telling is when Dream-Emma plucks an apple from Regina's tree, crushes it so black goop comes out, and says, "Rotten to the core."
  • August's resignation that he couldn't do any more to help Emma. It's so sad to see someone who tried so hard to get Emma to believe just...give up. Practically the only ally Henry had, and now he can't help anymore.
  • Before her confrontation with Snow at the stables, we see Regina fingering the ring Daniel gave her, which she eventually sacrificed to get the poisoned apple. It's just another thing in her life she loses because of revenge.

Episode 22 - A Land Without Magic
  • Seeing both Emma and Regina heavily distraught over Henry.
  • Graham/the Huntsman not only spared Emma's mother, he actively defied the Queen to save her dad. And he's the only one who's dead here...
  • Henry's Disney Death - Yeah, you could see it from a mile off. Didn't make it any less of a hit.
  • Emma breaking into August's room - to see he's turned back into wood.
  • The breaking of the curse, oddly enough. It's weirdly haunting to think that all the Storybrooke personas we've gotten to know and love over the course of the season are just...gone. Good-bye, Mary Margaret the lovelorn schoolteacher. Hello, Snow White the battle princess.
    Gold: You're real? You're alive?
  • And then Belle doesn't even remember him. The heartbroken face he makes doesn't help.
  • Rumple recalling his love with Belle, describing it as "a shimmer of light in his darkness". Charming asks what happened, to which Rumple replies that she died. He says it in his usual sing-song voice, but you can tell he's still hurt.

    Season 2 
Episode 1 - Broken
  • Prince Phillip's death at the hands of the wraith and Mulan and Aurora's reaction to it.
  • Snow keeps trying to ask Emma to talk to her, but Emma still resents them for sending her away no matter how good the reason. The looks on Emma's, Snow's and Charming's faces are heartbreaking.
    • More so because, if you think about it, Snow and Charming are used to a world where a long lost child would simply embrace them and Happily Ever After would occur. But since Emma is de facto real world, she reacts a lot like a real world person would. So not only are Snow and Charming heartbroken, they're also a bit confused and try to invoke the rules of their world later in the episode.
  • Regina looks completely heartbroken after Henry declares that he wants nothing to do with her until she finds a way to get Emma and Snow (the two people she hates most) back from another dimension.
    Henry: I don't want to ever see you again.
    Regina: (trying not to cry) No, don't say that.
  • The scene where Belle leaves Rumplrstiltskin, but only for a little while after he unleashes the wraith on Regina.

Episode 2 - We are Both
  • Once again we get to see what a sweet girl Regina was, even after her Start of Darkness. Whether you think it justifies what she does later on or not, it's still tragic to see the abuse and manipulation she suffers at the hands of Cora and Rumplestiltskin, respectively.
  • Gold trashing his shop in a fit of anguish after learning that even though the curse is broken, no one can leave Storybrooke without losing their Fairy Tale memories again as well. Which means he doesn't dare leave to find Baelfire. All that time, all that planning, all that waiting and desperate hoping, and he's still just as trapped and unable to find his son as ever.
  • Regina realizing she's become just as bad as Cora, and letting Henry go until she's worthy of him...but still being unable to let go of her magic.
  • Sneezy losing all of his Fairy Tale memories again, perhaps permanently this time.
    • And imagine how this affects Grumpy, who actually pushed him over the line when he was too scared to do it himself.
  • Geppetto's desperation over not knowing where Pinocchio is, and finding that he's already left once he gets to the hotel room.

Episode 3 - The Lady of the Lake
  • The scene with Emma and Snow in the nursery.
    Emma: I'm sorry I torched our ride home. I couldn't let her get to Henry.
    Snow: You had to put Henry first.
    Emma: I was angry at you for so long. Wondering how you could choose to let me grow up without you. Just seeing all this... you gave up everything... for me. And you're still doing that. *crying* I'm sorry, I'm not good this. I... I guess I just...I-I'm not... I'm not used to someone putting me first.
    Snow: (hugs her) Well, get used to it.
  • Snow's Imagine Spot of Emma in her crib.
  • The look of pure joy and Regina's face when Henry calls and asks to meet her for lunch. What we don't see is her finding out he just said it to get her keys and search the crypt, then sending Charming to get him because she thinks he won't go with her. Henry's actions are completely understandable. The woman has seriously crossed the Moral Event Horizon and has kicked a whole pound's worth of puppies but picturing her waiting at Granny's (probably with a crossbow pointed at her) is gut wrenching.
    • Not to mention that this is Regina we're talking about meaning this isn't the first time a child has betrayed her trust. And in this case, it was intentional. To her credit, she did the right thing this time.
  • Jefferson's breakdown in front of Henry and his reunion with Grace.
    Henry: Why won't you go and find her?
    Jefferson: Because I left her... and she'll hate me.
  • Charming's mother's death.
  • Finding out post-curse Lancelot was really Cora in disguise and that she killed him a long time ago.

Episode 4 - The Crocodile
  • Hook, of all people, gets a tragic backstory with Milah, Rumplestiltskin's wife, his lost Lenore. YMMV considering we see him harassing what he thinks is a harmless beggar, apparently for fun.
  • Milah's death, partially because she had just acknowledged what she did to her husband and son was wrong and sincerely apologized for it, even admitting that she was more of a coward than Rumplestiltskin was, and partially because she dies telling Hook she loves him.
  • Little Baelfire coming into the tavern and calling for his mother is more than a little depressing. It even moves Milah to temporarily break her Parental Neglect of him... but only temporarily.
    • It's also a tearjerker for Rumple in retrospect...he knows how it feels to be in Bae's position here all too well.
  • Rumplestiltskin, upon being told his wife has been kidnapped, hobbles down to the docks, finds his way aboard a ship full of pirates, and begs them to let her go. He's challenged to a fight he knows he can't win, cruelly humiliated when he's too terrified to even pick up the sword, and, on top of everything else, has to go home and break the news to his son.

Episode 5 - The Doctor
  • The overjoyed look on Regina's face when she thinks Daniel is alive.
  • Regina performing a Mercy Kill on Daniel, sobbing hysterically while she does it.
  • Regina, still crying, turning up at Archie's door.
    Regina: I used magic.
  • Regina begging Charming, screaming at him... not to hurt Daniel.

Episode 6 - Tallahassee
  • The Giant revealing that the version of the war against him we heard was severely skewed by the victors. His people weren't evil, and now he's the only one left and wears the now useless magic bean on a necklace "as a reminder that you're all killers."
  • Emma spent two years waiting in Tallahassee for Neal. Who left her to spend 11 months in jail and (unknowingly) pregnant. Because August told him she was the savior. And he's in love with her. And he gave her the yellow car, plus twenty thousand dollars which August didn't send.
    • "Where are the other watches?" "They're gone. They're gone and they're never coming back."

Episode 7 - Child Of The Moon
  • Red (unintentionally) kills her own mother to keep her from killing Snow. Gets even more depressing when you think about Snow's mother issues and how horrified she must be that she was essentially the cause of her best friend ending up in the same position she's in.
  • The entire episode is basically this about Red. She honestly believes that she's a monster that deserves to die. Even when Belle tries to reason with her, and Red admits that she might be right, she then promptly handcuffs Belle to a pipe and goes to give herself up to King George. The looks on both of their faces are rather upsetting.
  • Red crying over her mother's grave, and Snow going to hug her.
  • David's breakdown after Spencer throws Jefferson's hat in a fire. This was, so far, David's only hope of getting to Snow and Emma, and the dwarves had just found the diamonds to make fairy dust to maybe get it to work...

Episode 8 - Into The Deep
  • Charming puts himself under a sleeping curse to talk to Snow, confident that she can just kiss him to break it. Except they're intangible in the dream world, so he has no chance of waking up unless she gets back to Storybrooke. And back there, Henry starts getting worried about how long Charming's been under, while Gold silently shakes his head at Regina.
  • Aurora getting her heart ripped out (off screen) on top of everything else she's been through (like being forced to go into the burning netherworld for strangers and essentially suffering from near-suicidal depression). And as far as we've learned, once the heart is out... there no putting it back. So she may never ever be the same again, even if she reclaims her heart. So much for this universe's version of Sleeping Beauty and her prince.
    • The reveal that Aurora wanted to go with Emma and Snow to Storybrooke to start over and then Cora suggesting that she's forgotten Phillip because of it. Low blow, Cora. Low blow.
  • Snow's utterly heartbroken words squeeze the heart: "I'm waking up..."

Episode 9 - Queen of Hearts
  • Rumple and Regina discussing the possibility that Cora might make it through the portal first. Tear Jerker because Rumple does a small scale Corrupt the Cutie moment on the reforming Regina and, as always, his words are seeded with just enough truth...
    • In fairness to him, while it is still an asshole move, it's evident by what happens when Henry shows up that he is legitimately concerned about what will happen if Cora gets through, and honestly doesn't think that Snow and Emma have a chance. He's only really manipulating her here because he doesn't think he has a choice, which somehow just makes it more depressing. And she approached him first and used his feelings about Belle against him while they talked in the diner.
      • In short, it's a pretty crappy situation all around. How much Regina's incredibly teary-eyed face impacts you on the matter, YMMV.
  • Regina's face when Henry hugs her... and then goes off for a celebratory lunch with Emma, Charming and Snow, leaving her alone in Gold's shop. And her expression when Henry calls Emma "Mom". A part of you knows that she deserves it, but why does she have to make that face?
    Rumplestiltskin: Congratulations. You just reunited mother and son. Maybe some day they'll even invite you to dinner.
  • A subtle and sad bit of Fridge Brilliance here: Remember last season in the second episode, when Maleficent warned Regina that enacting the curse would leave a void in Regina's heart that can never be filled? That's what's happening. And Regina is now feeling it. Ouch.

Episode 10 - The Cricket Game
  • Regina apologizes to Emma using the same line she used on Daniel before her Start of Darkness, "I am sorry I snapped at you".
  • Emma has to tell Henry that Regina murdered Archie. Henry's response to all this is to cry in her arms. Regina watches this from her car. Crying. Laser-Guided Karma is a bitch.
    • Taken further in the details. Regina didn't kill Archie, rather Cora did, framing her in an effort to completely destroy her, and send her into her arms. Judging by the absolutely devastated look on Regina's face, it seems to be working.
  • Snow in the Fairy Tale Realm showing the Evil Queen as much mercy as she could, saving her from execution, freeing her from her cell, desperately clawing, trying to find some piece, no matter how small, of Regina that she can redeem. And failing. The look on her face tells it all, that she truly wished she would have accepted the truce, and was visibly pained when she didn't.
  • Regina telling her dad, "I could never be angry at the one I love the most". Yeah. . .
  • The look on Regina's face when Emma tells her that Archie is dead.

Episode 11 - The Outsider
  • The reason Hook doesn't destroy Baelfire's cloak. "Because she made it."
    • Made even more sadder when you realize Baelfire was Hook's surrogate son for a little time.
  • Belle, the town girl who tried her hardest to redeem a beast, ends the episode shot, over the line, and without her memories.
    • Rumplestiltskin's broken cry of, "What you've done cannot be undone!"
  • Seeing Dreamy again, this time knowing the advice he's thanking Belle for will end horribly for him.
  • The entirety of Archie's funeral. Especially Marco's eulogy. Short and sweet.

Episode 12 - In The Name Of The Brother
  • "For Mommy."
    • Cora using it to manipulate Regina was painful to watch.
  • Gold trying to get Belle her memories back using the cup Belle chipped in FTL as a talisman. Belle, confused and frightened by the strange man who tried to kiss her earlier is at first annoyed. Annoyance quickly changes to frustration, and Belle smashes the cup against the wall.
    • Made worse when you remember that, prior to this, Belle was pretty much the only one in multiple worlds who didn't view Rumple as a monster. And she, who had previously been the one to assure him that he is a man, ends up asking him "What are you?"
  • Heck, pretty much the whole episode. For instance, Victor Frankenstein explains to his father, Alphonse, that he had tried to bring his brother back to life so he can have two sons again. His father responds harshly that now he has none. It is pretty much a mix of Kick the Dog, and I Have No Son. It doesn't help that David is really good at making Dr. Whale look sad.
    • It doesn't help that Alphonse isn't an abusive monstrous villain like King George or King Xavier. He's a broken man too.
    • Also, when Victor shows Alphonse the resurrected Gerhardt, he was filled with joy for what Victor had done and wanted to embrace Gerhardt, only for him to cower over fire and goes into fetal position. He doesn't take this kindly and once again disowns Victor, which became his final words before Gerhardt kills him:
      Alphonse: I believed you. The terrible thing is, for a moment, I believed you did it. (pointing at Gerhardt) He's a monster. What a fool I was. That's not my son! You are not my son! You're a ghoul and a grave robber! A fool and a witch doctor! You're a disgrace to this family!
  • Every flashback in this episode is sad, since the audience knows how Whale's efforts are going to turn out, but a special mention goes to him trying to get the nerve to end his resurrected brother's misery.
  • Gold's reaction to Belle's amnesia are heart-wrenching: at first his somewhat helpless attempts to comfort her, than the kiss in the hospital (it looks like he was trying for Cure by True Loves Kiss, and if so, what does that mean about the two of them?), and his less-than-smart attempts to cure the amnesia, rattling Belle with stories of castles and magic instead of paying attention to what she wants. Given Gold's usual careful behavior around Belle, this is a clear sign of just how precarious his hold on himself is without her belief in him. So is his quick reversal to his nastier side.
    • True Love's Kiss doesn't work on people with amnesia due to the Curse. (Think about the multiple times Snow and Charming kissed while under the spell, without breaking it.) But that just makes it worse. He has to know that, but he has to try anyway because he's so desperate to get her back.
    • The example of this most on point is probably the time Charming tried to kiss Snow in the EF while she was under the effect of the forgetfulness potion - she full-on punches him in the face.
  • Somewhere between this and Heartwarming is the conversation between Whale and Red, particularly when Red admits that the Curse wasn't all that bad for people like the two of them, who have so much crap they would like to be able to forget.

Episode 13 - Tiny
  • Watching Regina act like her old Evil Queen self, knowing all the effort she went through to try and redeem herself.
  • The look on Jack's face when James abandons her.
  • Anton's eldest brother Arlo dying in his arms.
    • And the scene before that when Arlo tells Anton to raze the fields and salt the earth so that the humans would not have the beans. Both of them know what Arlo is really saying and you can see the tears in Anton's eyes. What's more, Arlo's telling Anton to burn the fields not to spite the humans or to get Anton to safety. He's telling Anton to do it for entirely noble reasons: preventing the likes of James and King George from getting to other worlds and pillaging them.
  • Anton's situation. All he wanted to do was explore, make friends, and learn about humans. Instead, Jack and James decide to invoke Humans Are the Real Monsters in the most manipulative and evil ways possible, being a False Friend, trapping him in human size (albeit, a pretty big human) robbing the giants, killing off Anton's whole family, and then James turns on Jack and gets away with the goods.
  • Mr. Gold in the bathroom, punching the wall until his knuckles bleed. He tries to heal it with magic, but cannot. We basically just watched him self-harming.

Episode 14 - Manhattan
  • Henry's response to finding out that Emma lied about his father.
    Henry: I thought you were different but you're just like her. Regina. She always lied to me too.
  • Gold's story gets some pretty tear-worthy details. Talk of his cowardice in the war in earlier episodes implied he was injured fleeing from actual battle. This reveals that, because of the Seer, he was too terrified to even see a second of it. Instead, he crushes the end of his foot with a sledgehammer to avoid combat. This ends up making Milah look even worse. She apparently did know his side of the story the entire time and, as usual, didn't care.
  • Actually, Milah's case IS also sympathetic if one stops to think of it from her perspective: the opening scene shows that she genuinely fell in love with Rumple because he was the son of a coward who strove to break away from his father's reputation which he suffered from by association. No matter what his justification was, the fact is that he still did something that would brand him a coward and have a negative impact on both Milah and her new child, making them suffer in the same way he had. No wonder she said "I never loved you" later on...from her point of view, the Rumple she fell in love with was a sham and he actually was just like his father.
  • In hindsight, Rumple's initial reaction to being called to the front, including a singsongy, "I report for training in the mooo-rning." He's so eager to prove himself, and it ends so badly.
  • Emma calls Snow to tell her that Bae is Henry's father Neal. She's practically hyperventilating, and you can hear the shock and fear in her voice as she tries to figure out what to do.
    Snow: (gently) Are you sure this is about protecting Henry, and not yourself?
  • Think about this whole thing from Neal's perspective. He's traumatized from being abandoned by his father, only to find out that he (inadvertently) did the same thing to his own son.
    • Rumple's added backstory in this episode reveals it's been a very vicious cycle. His own father abandoned him as an infant. Years later, when a young and idealistic Rumple chooses cowardice to get home to Milah and an infant Bae, not wanting to have Bae grow up without a father. A few years later, Bae has to do just that because of Rumple's cowardice. When Emma meets Neal, it seemed like Neal was going to finally be able to turn over past habits in his family line. But, thanks to August telling him that Emma is The Chosen One, Neal chooses to run.
  • Rumple gets hit hard in the present day too: His plan succeeded. Every deal, every machination, every little scheme that he pulled came to fruition in this episode. He finally got the reunion with his son that he'd been hoping for and said son wants nothing to do with him. Damn, writers. That's cold.
    • And the boy Rumple vowed to kill, to prevent said boy from being his undoing? It's Henry. His grandson.
  • Rumplestiltskin telling Baelfire that there's magic back in Storybrooke and that he can turn Baelfire back into a fourteen year old again, so they can start over. As Robert Carlyle noted at a Paleyfest panel, it's been three hundred years since he's seen his son and that's all he has to offer.

Episode 15 - The Queen Is Dead
  • The reason why Snow is a Birthday Hater. Her mother died on her birthday. Oh, and you know what? Her caretaker and only link to her mother is flung out of a window by Cora. On her birthday. Oh, and it turns out that Cora is hell bent on turning Snow evil as well as Regina. Because she hates Eva. For some reason. And it may or may not be working.
    • It gets worse. Cora was the one who killed Eva in the first place.
    • "And what would you know about mothers?" Coming from her step mother, that's gotta burn.
  • How absolutely broken Neal looks in the immediate period after Rumple is stabbed.
    Neal: "Papa?"
  • A retroactive one, given the events of "The Miller's Daughter": Eva dies without ever getting the chance to apologize for the way she mistreated Cora. With how much emphasis she puts on being good and treating people with kindness and respect no matter what their social status, it's not hard to imagine that her relationship with Cora developed to a point where that was now one of her biggest regrets.
    • That Cora does a kissing gesture to Eva's dead body, however twisted it may be, also reinforces the notion that maybe Eva and Cora temporarily bonded despite their rocky start (which Cora did seem to just forget about as "The Miller's Daughter" went on), in which case something must have gone horribly wrong, leaving Eva to become her own antithesis out of penance and Cora to bear Eva an eternal grudge and desire for vengeance.

Episode 16 - The Miller's Daughter
  • This new promo. Just try watching it without shedding a tear.
    • Also, when Bael and Rumple are holding hands, look at Bael's fingers. He's gripping his father's hand so hard his knuckles are white. He never wants to let go.
  • Snow, blackmailed by Rumple, has to choose between saving Rumplestiltskin's life or letting Henry's grandfather die. She uses the candle that a disguised Cora gave her to curse Cora's heart, and convinces Regina to put Cora's heart back into her body by manipulating Regina's lifelong lack of love from her mother.
    • Also, consider the fact that Snow quickly realized that this is not who she is and tries to stop it from happening, but it's too late.
  • The fact that right now, it's over. After Snow tricked Regina into accidentally killing her own mother, now Regina has a new way to hate her, and the redemption of the evil queen is probably over for the rest of the season. All that buildup and work in the first half of the season, is blown to ashes. The queen will probably go right back into evil mode, only much more justified.
    • Hell, Cora's death is actually pretty heartbreaking. Regina places her heart back into her body and a smile of genuine love spreads across her face. Then she feels the effects of the candle... and then comes her last words.
    • Regina's broken sobbing as Cora dies. "Mother, please don't leave me! What am I going to do now?"
    • Not to mention because of what amounts to a petty one-sided feud by Cora and Eva, Regina ends up killing both her parents directly by her own hand (literally) and Snow commits a terrible crime. Worse still, Cora might not have been so eager for power in her misguided quest for love and recognition if her own father wasn't a drunk. For the sins of their parents and their parents before them, Snow and Regina have been tainted and manipulated and played as pawns and now... unless both can find a way to change, the cycle of humiliation and now outright violence might never end. It's become as much a battle between a family with everything and a family on the outside looking in as it is about good and evil.
  • Cora's backstory. No excuse for what she does later but you gotta feel bad for her upbringing. A father who does nothing but drink and get bossed around by a monster of a king in Xavier, echoing pre-dark-Rumple's "kiss my boot" situation.
  • Cora is made to choose between picking up the dagger or saving Regina, who Emma has at knife-point. She chooses the dagger. While Regina watches.
  • Given, since Rumplestiltskin and Belle are one of the main couples, every viewer knew that Cora and Rumple weren't going to be a thing. But still, it's kind of hard not to feel bad for Rumple when he finds out that Cora never really loved him, but was more or less using him. He already lost a wife and son, and now this. He even tries to revert to blackmailing her, telling her that he will kidnap her firstborn because of their deal...before Cora tells him that they changed the deal: Rumple was going to get his and Cora's child out of the contract. A child he was never going to have.
    • In the same sense, the scene where he and Cora are talking about running away together, and he asks if the deal can be changed to their child. Just...gah.

Episode 17 - Welcome to Storybrooke
  • Regina is planning to put a spell on Henry to make him love her. By using the heart of the one she hates the most. Snow's heart. Gold points out that the only way to stop the blood feud is to kill Regina. The twisted part of the whole thing is that Henry does love her.
    Henry: Stop! Listen to yourselves! You're talking about killing my Mom!
  • Thanks to Regina, Owen loses his father.
    • Regina crying on the other side of the barrier while Owen promises his dad that he'll find him. She's either crying because she lost her chance at being a mother to this boy, or because she feels guilt over what has happened. She had to kill her own father in order to cast the curse that made Storybrooke. Now not long afterwards, she's caused someone else to be left without father.
    • Probably the latter, as Regina had his father killed immediately after he ran away before. So when this scene transpires, she knows the father he's swearing to find can never be found, and is thus experiencing a rare My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • Snow turning up on Regina's doorstep, begging Regina to kill her for what she did to Cora. Regina is more than willing to grant Snow's request... until she sees the dark spot in Snow's heart. Regina decides to spare Snow, reasoning that letting Snow's inner darkness fester and grow will do a better job of bringing down the Charmings than anything she could come up with herself.
    • Regina is crying through the entire thing. They're less tears of triumph than they are tears of "really, REALLY screwed up".
      • They're both crying. And they're both initially asking to do what they've spent their entire (almost) lives doing to each other. Snow dying and Regina winning right now. But now, they both want the exact opposite - Snow wants Regina to kill her and Regina wants her to live - and it's somehow even worse. And, they're both acting like each other - Snow being evil (such as it is, demanding a death) and Regina being good. If nothing else, it goes to show how much both of them and their families have paid for the petty feud between Eva and Cora. It says something when Rumple is the only sane man in the episode.
  • "You're supposed to be heroes!"
  • A lot of it with Regina, really - even after paying the terrible cost to cast the curse, she was satisfied for no more than a few days, before realizing otherwise. She hurts so many people, and she can't quite grasp how much she's hurting herself as well.
  • Rumplestiltskin's surprisingly honest answer when Snow asks how he lives with himself.
    "Well, you tell yourself you did the right thing. And if you say it often enough, one day you might actually believe it."
  • The realization that Regina knows Cora was playing her but goes along with it anyway. She knows that the spell will not make Henry truly love her but still tries to cast it. All because "it will be something." How desperate is this woman?
  • Regina telling Owen she just wants him to stay with her and that she won't hurt him. She sounds like a child trying to convince another girl to be her friend, she has no idea that she can't just force a child and his dad to stay. Lana Parrilla's delivery makes Regina's twisted logic come across as sympathetic.

Episode 18 - Selfless, Brave, and True
  • Seeing August groveling on the streets of Hong Kong after getting the cure for his wooden transformation taken from him by Tamara.
  • Marco/Geppetto confessing to Snow that the wardrobe he built for Emma had enough magic to transport two people but he made the Blue Fairy keep it a secret so he could send his son Pinocchio with her. The look on both Snow and Emma's face when they realize they could have been together all these years is heartbreaking.
    • Mary Margaret punches Marco. She immediately regrets it and is panicking at the darkness taking over her heart. Even worse, Marco accepts it and says he deserved it.
  • Watching August die after finally deciding to do the right thing, even though he gets better.

Episode 19 - Lacey
  • Gold finally convincing an amnesiac Belle to trust him enough to come live with him until she manages to get her memories back gets derailed when Regina gives Belle a Storybrooke identity. Lacey is Belle's complete opposite, and isn't wooed by Gold's sensitive side.
    • But he does end up winning her heart once more...by indulging in his dark side, which she is now attracted to.
  • Just Mr. Gold as he asks "Lacey" (after finding her kissing another man) why the date wasn't going well. Mr. Gold, snarkiest, most stoic man in Storybrooke, is on the verge of crying.

Episode 20 - The Evil Queen
  • "Because I don't have anyone else to talk to."
  • Henry's eager hopefulness that Regina has found a way to be together with him again that doesn't involve hurting the rest of his family...only for Regina to reveal that her way not only involves killing them, but killing everyone in Storybrooke. To see him so horrified, all his hopes for his adoptive mother dashed, is very sad to witness. And then, to top it all off, Regina casts a spell on him that wipes his memory of the event.
  • Bizarrely, the scene where Regina finds the FTL version of a carny running a game where people try to put arrows through the heart of a likeness of her:
    Carny: It's fixed actually. You can't get an arrow into her heart. *beat* cause she hasn't got one.
  • In the flashback, Regina's desperation to be forgiven by Snow and welcomed back as a member of her family, and it almost happening....only for Snow, in a moment of very justifiable anguish, to say the worst possible thing that could be said in the situation: "she takes it back, she won't forgive Regina, Regina is evil, always has been, and always will be". Fate is cruel.
  • Regina having an entire village slaughtered because they wouldn't tell her where her innocent step daughter was. There was no warning. There was no threat. She lied about Snow's 'misdeeds' (deeds of her own) and when the village wouldn't bite, she has them all slaughtered. Innocent men, women and children died.

Episode 21 - Second Star to the Right
  • Neal's expression when he realizes that Tamara was using him from the start and never really loved him.
  • In the flashbacks, Bae sacrificing himself for his newfound family.
  • Gold has one of Regina's tears in his cupboard. Why? Because he does. And considering all that Regina's been through, that's all the explanation we need.
  • When Mary Margaret uses the spell to link with Regina...right as she's going through Electric Torture. Her agonized screams, and David rushing to her side, are bad enough, but when she comes out of it, and describes it as the worst pain she's ever felt...and considering she's gone through losing her mother, her father, being put under the Sleeping Curse (and experiencing the nightmare dimension), almost losing Charming several times...
  • Emma's face when when Neal lets her hand go. First Graham, now Neal.
    Emma: (shellshocked) How am I going to tell Henry?
  • Greg might be a Knight Templar Omnicidal Maniac but when he finds his father's bones...
    • Many have expressed no sympathy for the man himself, but have nothing but pity for the boy he used to be. This was the moment where that boy died for good.

Episode 22 - And Straight On Til Morning
  • Belle gets her memories back, and Gold proceeding to collapse in her arms, sobbing about Bae's death and saying only "I failed."
    • She and Gold saying goodbye is also heartbreaking, especially since Gold is sure he won't see her again.
  • Henry realizing that Regina is staying behind to allow everyone to escape. Him hugging her later also counts.
  • Emma finally calls Snow and Charming "Mom" and "Dad" as her parents hug her close. Doubles as a heartwarming moment.
  • The way Hook and Bae's story ends. Hook desperately tries to get Bae to stay on his ship and accept him as his new father, but Bae refuses, so Hook sells him out to the Lost Boys. Hook then goes to the steering wheel and furiously uses his hook to scratch an X through the directions he had carved out for teaching Bae to steer with. Even worse is that it immediately shifts to the present day, where Hook is looking at the crossed-out carvings with sadness.
    • We actually see the heart of gold we know Hook has. He genuinely began to care about the boy. You could tell selling Baelfire to the boys wasn't something he didn't want to do, but what he feels like he needs to do because all he sees in himself is a coward. Just look at the fast transition from his caring self to his nastier side when he gives up trying to get Bae be his new family. The fact that Bae compares him to Rumplestiltskin for this is just icing on the cake.
    • Made even worse when he finds out about Bae's/Neal's fate.

    Season 3 
Episode 1- The Heart Of The Truest Believer
  • The one minute flashback in the beginning. It shows Emma giving birth to Henry. The doctor happily tells her it's a boy, then a nurse whispers in his ear. He tentatively suggests it's not too late to change her mind. The clincher comes with Emma, on the verge of tears, saying she can't be a mother. It's not even brought up whether she wants him or not, she truly believes she would be a bad mother.
    • Just that scene of an eighteen year old Emma, giving birth, shackled to the bed. And then being too traumatized and broken and lacking in self-worth to even hold her child. If you don't feel bad for her after that, call Cora to get your heart back, man.
    • Emma refuses to even look at Henry. This means that their meeting in Episode 1 was the very first time she saw her son.
  • Regina and Hook's banter.
    Regina: "Henry called me a villain, and villains don't get happy endings. You believe that?"
    Hook: "I hope not, or we've wasted our lives."
  • The demonstration of just how tenuous and fragile the Enemy Mine between the main characters is. Last season, they were determined to rescue Henry and prepared to work together to do it. Come the season 3 premiere, they've barely started and they're already at each other's throats over how they should accomplish the job.
    • Especially one for Snow, who proceeds to get in a vicious fist fight with Regina, while telling her how sick and tired she is of her. Looks like she hasn't kicked that darkness out of her heart just yet.

Episode 2-Lost Girl
  • Emma revealing to Snow that she didn't kill a Lost Boy because she recognized the look of despair in his eyes from when she was growing up alone and abandoned in the foster system. She tells her even after being reunited with her and Charming she still feels like an orphan.
    • Even more than that, Snow puts the pieces together before Emma and then has to tease it out of her.
  • Peter Pan telling Emma that just like she hasn't forgiven her parents for abandoning her, Henry hasn't forgiven Emma for giving him up, and that by the time they find Henry, he won't want to come back.

Episode 3- Quite a Common Fairy
  • The Blue Fairy taking away Tinker Bell's wings.
  • Mulan's Aborted Declaration of Love to Aurora. The moment she finds out that Aurora and Phillip are having a baby, you can see her heart breaking. But she smiles, pretends to have good news, and tells Aurora she's joining the Merry Men. As she walks away, she starts to cry and the general audience reaction was an urge to wrap her in a blanket and hug her until she stops.
    • Aurora's reaction is also quite sad. She's oblivious to Mulan's true feelings for her, but still loves her deeply as a friend, and is visibly confused and saddened that such a close friend is leaving and she has no idea why.
  • Regina in the flashback denying herself a chance at happiness with a new love, because she's grown so accustomed to defining herself by anger and hatred that the thought of starting over with a clean slate frightens her, especially if it ends up in tragedy again like with Daniel.
  • The whole confrontation between Regina and Tinker Bell; Tink is furious at Regina, seeing her as the root of all her misfortune and seriously considering squeezing Regina's heart to dust. Regina, meanwhile, is remorseful for what she did and fully acknowledges she was afraid to be happy, while begging Tink not to make the same mistake she did.
    • Tink's comment to Regina while reminiscing about their shared past, and how Regina never tried to make up for it:
    Tink: Do you know how selfish that is? ...You didn't just ruin your life. You ruined his.

Episode 4 - Nasty Habits
  • Gold reunites with Baelfire and immediately attacks him, believing him to be a vision.
    Gold: I will sacrifice my life to save Henry and nothing is going to stop me!
  • What Pan tells Rumple in the flashback. Once you learn who Pan really is and what his connection to Rumple is, this just becomes horrible and disgusting.
    Pan: You're not afraid of your son being taken from you. No, you're afraid that he'll leave you! After all, being abandoned is what you're best at. Everyone you've ever loved has abandoned you. Your wife, Milah...not to mention your own father.
  • Emma's tearful breakdown about losing Neal:
    Emma: I knew the moment I saw him that I never stopped loving him.
  • Snow White having no idea how to comfort her own daughter. Followed by the expression on Charming's face when Snow hugs him, saying nothing will happen to him.
  • Bae is kidnapped by Peter Pan, who offers to let him go if he'll just say he wants to go back to his father. But Rumplestiltskin doesn't want to take the chance and removes him by force...only for Bae to reveal he would have gone back if given the option. He just destroyed the last vestige of his son's respect for him, for nothing.
  • Neal rejecting his father's attempt at a Heel-Face Turn. You can't even blame him, because he makes some very valid points. Rumple genuinely does want to change today, but what about tomorrow, especially now that he has something to live for that could bring back that nasty 'self-preservation habit'?
  • The very end, when Henry hears the music. He looks so happy...

Episode 5 - Good Form
  • Killian's brother being poisoned by Dreamshade, only to be given the mystical healing water by Pan. But that's just a Hope Spot because he dies as soon as he leaves the island.
  • Oddly enough, the kiss between Emma and Killian. Because as hot as it might be, you know there's going to be trouble once Emma finds Baelfire in Neverland as well.
  • Emma holding Snow back so Regina can take the Lost Boy's heart. Showing that when pushed to the line between doing the right thing and saving Henry, Emma is going to take Regina's side over her own mother's.

Episode 6 - Ariel
  • Thanks to Regina, Gold learns that the encouraging vision of Belle that he's been seeing since arriving in Neverland was just Pan's shadow in disguise.
  • Mary Margaret's darkest secret: She feels that she got cheated out of experiencing Emma's childhood.
    • And the subsequent reveal of David's secret: That he won't be able to leave Neverland without dying, thanks to the Dreamshade cure, meaning that Mary Margaret's dream of having another child can't happen with him.
    • Hook is the first one to reveal his secret: He's falling for Emma, despite having thought he could never get over Milah and love again. The problem? He was forced to confess to this in the middle of the rescue operation to bring Emma and Neal back together again. That man seriously needs a hug.
    • Emma's may be the mother of them all: She secretly hoped that Neal was dead, so she wouldn't have to face another round of the pain they went through.
  • The end of the episode: Ariel saved Snow from Regina and went back to Eric to tell him the truth about her, only to find that Regina took her voice away as payback. She helplessly calls out to Eric, who walks away, thinking she isn't coming to their designated meeting.

Episode 7 - Dark Hollow
  • Snow gives Charming the silent treatment for half the episode, and when she finally does let her feelings out, it's a painfully realistic treatment of such an argument, both sides having sympathetic points so that you wish this didn't have to come between them.
  • John and Michael Darling's desperation to save Wendy. And even if they do, their relationship will be forever changed as she's still the same age while they've grown into adults.

Episode 8 - Think Lovely Thoughts
  • The true backstory of Rumplestiltskin and Peter Pan. Pan is his father, who gave up any idea of Rumple as his son so he could stay in Neverland as a child himself. Literally every one of Rumple's issues in his entire life started with this emotionally scarring experience.
  • The reaction of Henry's parents to Pan telling him that they're lying to him because adults always lie. The lies they told him for various reasons backfire horribly.
  • Snow telling Emma she wants to stay in Neverland with Charming, while Emma goes back to Storybrooke. Although Snow's acting out of love for Charming and Emma's old enough to get along without parents, she's been doing that her whole life, so hearing her parent tell her she might get abandoned again just when she finally had a family had to be really hard to hear for Emma. No wonder she begged for them to find another way.

Episode 9 - Save Henry
  • Something pointed out by one reviewer. What could have happened that turned Regina the slowly devoted mother into Regina the cold-hearted mother between when she got Henry and when Emma came into her life? What turned the woman finally putting someone else first into the woman who Emma had doubts about her sincerity towards Henry?
    • Judging from Eddy and Adam's treatment of the situation, one the one hand, it seems that her characterization as a parent in season 1 was not completely meant to appear as heinous as that in the end (it was clear as early as episode 5 that she loved Henry, and Emma's power had failed after 11 episodes), and there are clues that she was happy with Henry and him with her at some point earlier in Henry's life (the objects Cora looks at when trying to find how to persuade her to do a Face-Heel Turn). On the other hand, this might classify under Completely Missing the Point and Obliviously Evil in her characterization. She is putting him before her, to make him live the life she would have wanted in his place. Just like her mother did to her...
    • Maybe the memory loss potion caused her to forget how to properly and constructively love, because it made her forget why having him was a sacrifice: because he was an obstacle to her avenging the Stable Boy and because she loved Daniel. Also, remember what Rumple's memory loss potion did to Snow's personality? It looks like a similar case here, only worse because Regina was already evil to start with.
  • When Regina says that Henry is all she has and she's not about to lose him is heart-wrenching enough, but it becomes even Harsher in Hindsight with what happens two episodes later.
    • This is the first time in the season that Regina actually Breaks The Haughty, telling Emma that she has everything: her parents, Neal, and Hook's affections. Meanwhile, after murdering her own father, unintentionally doing so to her mother as well, and said mother murdering the only man she's ever loved, Henry is all Regina has. Even Emma looks guilty.

Episode 10 - The New Neverland
  • Regina crumpling to the ground as she realizes all of Henry's wanting to be around her were lies by Pan. Luckily, the real Henry saves it by telling her he really does need her.
  • When Emma tries to warn Regina about Henry and Regina takes it to mean she doesn't think Henry would want to be around her. It was so painful to see both of them at odds on this because judging by the way Emma immediately backtracked and let Henry stay with her the night before, she does see her as Henry's mom as well, and Regina was clearly hurt that she would think differently.

Episode 11 - Going Home
  • All of it. The entire bloody thing. But a few scenes stand out.
    • The price of breaking the curse? Same as it was for Regina casting it. The thing Regina loves most. She can't see Henry ever again.
    Henry: This isn't fair. This is all my fault.
    Regina: (genuinely confused) What do you mean?
    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.
    • Reality Subtext makes it worse: Lana Parrilla is, by Jared Gilmore's own admission, his second mom. It wouldn't have been hard for either of them to tap into the tearing grief of being separated forever.
    • Rumplestiltskin's Redemption Equals Death moment in which he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice that kills himself and his horrible father. What makes it worse is right before they die, Rumplestiltskin gives his father a kiss on the cheek, as if to say, "I forgive you."
      • It's especially sad since his father finally broke down earlier and admitted that he'd always resented and despised Rumple from the day he was born. And yet Rumple, even after hearing this, still had love for his father even to the bitter end.
    • Belle sobbing when Rumplestiltskin dies. Regina looked pretty miserable too.
      • Not just sobbing, she dropped to her knees and looked like she was having a full-blown emotional breakdown...
    • Emma and Henry lose their memories of their time in Storybrooke. Of their family and friends. And Regina... Regina freakin' Mills... gives them new happy memories. Memories in which Emma didn't give up Henry.
      • Emma and Regina in general, doubling as a Heartwarming Moment. They're both on the verge of tears when saying goodbye to each other. These two women that started off as mortal enemies because they shared the same son are now friends because of that exact same reason.
  • Despite the fact the place wasn't their home, it came from a curse, and everyone was unhappy there for 28 years, it's actually quite sad to see Storybrooke disappear into the smoke at the end, considering how long we've all been with it, come to know it and become fond of it. The very last shot is especially sad, since it shows the storybook being swept away too.
  • In its own warped way Pan killing Felix to fuel the new curse. The casualness that he does it shows that even the one he loves the most is so utterly disposable to him shows just how shallow the ties he forms with others are...even the one he loves the most is just a tool to be discarded when no longer needed. And the look of absolute betrayal in Felix's eyes...

Episode 12 - New York City Serenade
  • Regina has gone missing from the group, so Snow goes looking for her. She finds her in the woods, burying her own heart so that she doesn't have to suffer the pain of being separated from Henry.
  • So Emma's lost her memories of Storybrooke and her friends and family from there. That's pretty bad, but it's balanced by the fact that she has a happy life with Henry and a pretty awesome new boyfriend... until it all goes straight to Hell. She gets her memories of said friends and family back just in time to learn that they're in danger, she has to abandon her new life to go and save them, and to top it all off, her awesome new boyfriend turns out to be a flying monkey sent by The Wicked Witch of The West to keep her occupied. Come on, writers, that's just wrong.
    • Not to mention Walsh's Hans-esque one-liner before assaulting Emma.
  • Poor Hook has it rough this episode. He and Emma were at least friends when they parted, and now she's treating him like a stranger at best and a crazy stalker at worst, when all he wants is to help her. By the end of the episode his feelings are made very clear when the first thing he does when he's alone is reach for a bottle of alcohol.
    • Emma telling him that she has "a guy I love". The look on his face is heartbreaking, because All Love Is Unrequited yet again, he knows it, and while he wants her to be happy he needs to take her away from that happiness to save everyone in Storybrooke.

Episode 13 - Witch Hunt
  • Regina's reaction to seeing Henry for the first time since she broke the curse - and realizing that he has no idea who she is.
    • Then after their first face to face meeting in a year, they part ways by shaking hands. Regina is clearly trying to restrain herself from giving him a hug.
  • In the flashback segment, Robin Hood discovers that Regina is preparing a Sleeping Curse and asks who she plans to use it on. Her response? "No one you'll miss. No one anyone will miss." Then she plucks some of her own hair from her head and you quickly realize that she was talking about herself. If you read it in such a way, you could probably interpret this as her being Driven to Suicide.
    Regina: This curse can be broken by the only true love of my life and the only reason I would ever want to wake: my son.
  • Zelena was abandoned by her mother in another world, and later given up by Rumplestiltskin as a teacher in favor of Regina. And no matter how much Regina protests that she lucked out in avoiding being raised by Cora, she insists that growing up alone in Oz was worse.
    • She looks crushed when she learns about Cora and Rumple's demise. Then, she puts on a good face, and goes on with her Obviously Evil routine, stating that she does not need them alive, just Regina. Envy is literally all she has.

Episode 14 - The Tower
  • Belle's reaction to being called "Mrs. Gold" by Zelena.
    Zelena: Where's Mr. Gold?
    Belle: He—he's gone.
  • Rapunzel's background story. Her older brother died trying to save her. After his death, she tried to conquer her fears. Except, her own fears overpowered her and trapped her in a tower.

Episode 15 - Quiet Minds
  • Emma finally finds Neal again in Storybrooke... only to lose him yet again, this time for good.
    • This requires a little more unpacking. Several times before this Emma had thought she'd lost Neal, or that he was dead, only for him to turn up all right and often helping save the day. Now after thinking he might have become a Winged Monkey, she instead learns he gave his life to bring his father back from the dead, that the only thing keeping him alive is being trapped inside Gold's body—and he insists she use her magic to separate them so that Gold can tell them how to stop the Wicked Witch. So she is forced to commit the act that finally ends his life. Then she and Gold get to both hold him in their arms as he dies, while he insists his Heroic Sacrifice is worth it so they can save everyone and tells his father he finally taught him what was important, about sacrifice. Then we get her giving the news to Snow, the Moment of Silence where Snow and David tell Belle and Hook—Belle breaks down and even Hook is shedding Manly Tears—and finally Emma has to break the news to Henry...who still doesn't even remember Neal or their time together. It's utterly, utterly heartbreaking.
  • The true circumstances regarding Rumplestiltskin's revival. Restoring the Dark One involves the cruelest of trades: a life for a life. Being the Dark One's son makes that trade infinitely more heartbreaking. And in a desperate attempt to save his son, Rumple absorbs Neal, rendering him insane in the process. Meanwhile, Zelena now wields Rumple's dagger. And Belle can't do anything but watch helplessly as all this unfolds in front of her. Yes, Rumple does the right thing and the universe still fucks him over like its cosmic plaything!
  • Regina's reluctance to find happiness again after finding out exactly who the man with the lion tattoo really was.
  • Belle gets to see her recently deceased True Love revived for the better part of three minutes before she has to desert him so he won't kill her. She's just shaking her head as she stumbles away into the forest.

Episode 16 - It's Not Easy Being Green
  • Poor Rumplestiltskin can't even attend his own son's funeral, and is still being browbeaten by Zelena while mourning his son.
    • Belle tries to rescue him, but it turns out that Zelena is toying with them.
    • For better or worse, he knows it and greets her with a GET OUT. After everything she's done, Belle can't catch a break either.
  • Zelena's backstory. Seems like nobody ever really wanted her; Case in point:
    • Certainly not her mother Cora, who abandoned her in the woods as a baby because she ruined her plan for social advancement, and never mentioned her to Rumplestiltskin or anyone else before Zelena met him. Even as the Queen of Hearts, she never bothered to try to find her, and in the spin-off series, she mentions Regina as her only daughter, and a disappointment, which she seeks to replace with the Red Queen. This leads to the following possibilities:
      • She thinks that Zelena is dead because she knew about the cyclone, but didn't bother to leave her in a safe place.
      • She thinks that Zelena is dead because she knew about the cyclone, and knowingly left her there to die.
      • She won't bother looking her up, despite her powers, because unlike Anastasia and Regina, Zelena was most likely not a queen.
    • Not her adoptive father (who was even the first one to call her "wicked", both for trying to patch his wounds with magic and for saving his life in this fashion as a baby). He generally acts like an Entitled Bastard and revealed his wife's lies about her origins either shortly after her funeral or after a long, unhealthy mourning (both his "now there's only us", "now I can say it" indicate that he hasn't moved on, and that's without mentioning the red eyes and his scary drinking problem). And the last thing that drives Zelena to finally leave him is his blaming her for his own alcoholism!
    • Not even Rumplestiltskin, who reveals his own abandonment issues only to laugh at her over hers later on, for his own petty satisfaction of scorning a woman who loves him, maybe enacting some twisted revenge on Cora. To top it off, Zelena might have been seeking a father figure, not a lover. If she was indeed seeking a lover, her role as a replacement for her mother, taking care of a man who displays no paternal feelings towards her, seems to have severely screwed up her expectations: there are several callbacks to her adoptive father in her relationship with Rumple, such as the shaving scene. It seems that their interactions were preparing her for an All Take and No Give relationship with anyone who accepts her.
  • She learns the extent of her misfortune in quick succession, because her father snaps at her, a negligent con man needs magical items and a great wizard needs her to cast a curse. As remarked on the character page, Walsh denounces all the mistreatments she endured rather bluntly, perhaps using it to convince her to go to her sister's palace. His warning about envy was nice, but came a bit too late, and while he seemed to genuinely believe he was helping her, he still used her and lied to her like everyone else in the episode, while she was undergoing an identity crisis.
    • It's no wonder her true goal is to change the past so that Cora would accept her as her daughter. She cannot get acceptance from her in the present, and Rumple and her adoptive father were only ever interested in what she could do, not her. After the lies her actually caring foster mother told her, Cora is the only one left to idealize.
  • The proof that Zelena is indeed Regina's sister. Regina has been looking at that letter all her life as validation of her power, that Rumplestiltskin regarded her as a force to be reckoned with. With the revelation that Zelena is Cora's true firstborn, Regina realized that she was nothing but a point of comparison.
    Regina: I've seen that letter a hundred times before. In my darkest moments, I'd go to it for comfort, solace, or a boost when I needed it. Because I... because I always thought it was about me.
    • Even worse: if Zelena had somehow gotten a hand on the letter, she might have gotten the same feeling from it since it is exactly what she has been looking for for years, and despite the humiliation, Regina would have avoided being targeted yet again because of her mother.
  • Oddly enough, the true story behind Walsh, the flying monkey sent by Zelena to play the role of Emma's boyfriend. He is the Wizard of Oz, or rather, a guy who pretends to be a wizard and keeps the charade up by collecting magical items. Zelena found out his secret and forcibly transformed him into a flying monkey to be her servant. Even if you think the guy is kind of a dick, that's pretty sad.
  • Neal's funeral in general. Nobody said anything during it but that made it sadder. Especially since the one reason they can't memorialize him properly is because his own son doesn't even remember him, and couldn't mourn him the way he's supposed to.
  • Hook in this episode; he's been helping out Emma so much these few episodes when it came to protecting her son from the Wicked Witch, but due to her stubborn attitude (and the fact that Neal just died), she really can't reciprocate those feelings.
    • Henry is a Tear Jerker precisely because of how sad he isn't. Neal had bonded well with him, but it didn't leave the expected mark for both of them since Henry doesn't remember.

Episode 17 - The Jolly Roger
  • The ending where Hook looks longingly at Emma through his telescope, knowing that he can't be close to her, because of the curse the Wicked Witch put on him.
  • Hook admitting to Ariel who is really Zelena in disguise the wrong he did to her in the Enchanted Forest during the missing year. There are actually tears in his eyes and his voice is breaking as he says he'd do anything to take it back now.

Episode 18 - Bleeding Through
  • Cora taking out her straw ring. Her feelings were probably shallow and partly due to the fact that he was dashing and respected her despite supposedly being a superior, but they were real.
  • Cora abandons baby Zelena in the woods, telling her that the word is cruel and full of betrayal, and that she has to give her up to give herself her best chance, a very selfish twist on one of the show's signature phrases. And then as she leaves, baby Zelena starts crying and reaching out after her.
  • Cora's ghost knocking Regina around like a ragdoll, while she's desperately trying to protect Snow.
    Regina: *to Snow* You officially have a less damaging relationship with my mother than I do. And you killed her.
  • Rumple's clear pain at having to use Robin's child in order to get Regina's heart, he truly hated having to threaten someone's child after losing his own.

Episode 19 - A Curious Thing
  • The next pair of characters revealed to have been turned into flying monkeys? Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora. Seeing Hook, Emma, Charming and Regina fight off a bunch of them later really doesn't help matters, especially as they're doing so without a second thought as to whether any of them might be someone they knew.
  • Belle's clearly doing everything not to break down as she approaches a very unhinged Rumplestiltskin and tries to get him to tell them how to defeat Zelena.
  • Charming and Snow's tearful goodbyes before enacting the new Dark Curse so they can return to Emma and stop Zelena. Even though we know they both survive somehow despite one of them having to sacrifice the heart of the one they love most, it's really heartrending to watch.
  • After regaining his memories, Henry finally recognizes his father's sacrifice and visits his grave.
  • Emma snapping at Henry that she's not going to explain anything to him, essentially having turned into pre-redemption Regina.
  • Emma telling Hook that she just can't trust him anymore after his attempt to take Henry back to New York without her knowledge, since that resulted in Zelena nearly killing Henry. She sounds especially hurt that he didn't bother to tell her about the curse Zelena put on him.
    • The look in his eyes as she says this. He's spent so long building up their friendship and trying to be a better person, for her, and hearing that she doesn't want to see him just crushes him.

Episode 20 - Kansas
  • Snow immediately losing her newborn child yet again. Thankfully, the separation doesn't last as long this time.
  • During the Enchanted Forest flashbacks in this episode we see the moment when Dorothy first arrives in Oz via the cyclone. Zelena and Glinda are there to greet her. Glinda states that few would be able to survive a storm like that, and that Dorothy must be very special and powerful. Zelena is silent during that exchange, but look at her face, particularly when Glinda says that Dorothy is special. You can practically feel Zelena's envy starting to grow. As we see during the flashbacks, Zelena has the capacity to be good, much like we've seen with Regina, Hook, and Gold, but unlike her sister, she threw that chance away for a very petty reason: she's jealous of a girl with no known magical powers who is not even a threat to her. It's quite sad, because considering the current-day Storybrooke events, we are well aware of the dark path on which Zelena is heading.
  • Poor Dorothy never meant Zelena any harm, and yet she was made to believe that she killed Zelena by throwing water on her.
  • Glinda's banishment to the Enchanted Forest, after all her efforts to keep Zelena from giving in to her evil.
  • Emma losing her magic, seemingly for good. Made worse by how she doesn't miss it, and is still determined to take Henry back to New York and leave Storybrooke behind.
    • The desperation in her voice as she begs Hook not to die on her. All three of her previous Love Interests have ended up dead and she's clearly about to have a breakdown at the prospect of losing the fourth.
    Emma: Hook...Hook...Hook, wake up! (getting louder and more desperate) Killian! Killian, come back to me! Oh God...
  • Rumplestiltskin lying to Belle about trusting her with his dagger, and succumbing to his need for revenge against Zelena.
    • Zelena's death and how she acted during it, not so much scared that she was about to die (since she earlier was fine with the possibility of Regina doing it) as grief-stricken that her beloved "Rumplestiltskin'' is the one who's going to kill her.

Episode 22 - There's No Place Like Home
  • Emma has a number of these.
    • Little Emma's heartbroken look on her face as another child in the children's home is adopted. Especially since she's the oldest of the remaining kids.
    • Her confession to Hook, that she has always run away and will keep doing so until she finds a place that when she leaves it, she misses it, and then she'll know that's home...is revealed to be something Neal taught her.
    • Her watching as Snow White is seemingly being burned at the stake by Regina and breaking down in Hook's arms.
    • Her realizing Snow didn't know who she was, that she had lost her even as she saved her...and that this was the same way she'd been treating Snow, acting as if she didn't know her or she didn't matter just because she hadn't raised her.
    • Her final words to Rumplestiltskin as he tries to stop her from going back through the time portal: telling him that yes, Neal died, but he was a hero, and that Rumple needs to take the potion, forget everything, and let her go back so that he won't have died for nothing.
      • Earlier, the look of joy on Rumple's face when he found out the the curse would lead him to his son. Timelines aside, Emma and even Hook don't have the heart to tell that it will barely be worth it. His son will die shortly after they've made peace with each other.
    • The look on her face when she realizes the woman she saved and brought to present-day Storybrooke is Marian, Robin Hood's love, and that she's thus pretty much ruined any chance for him and Regina. The look on Regina's face afterward, and how she pronounces she's "just like her mother, never learning actions have consequences", is just as heartbreaking, especially if this indicates Regina's Heel-Face Turn may not stick.
      • Word of God is that Regina's Heel-Face Turn will stick, thankfully...but one of the main components to it, her friendship with Emma, will have been totally set back, which is also very disheartening.
    • It also helps somewhat that the pixie dust confirmed that Robin is Regina's true love and that was when Marian was still alive. So this does mean bad news for Marian somewhere down the line.

Season 3 Deleted Scenes
  • The letter Regina leaves for Snow White, after she stops her from burying her heart and as she's on her way into the castle to cast the Sleeping Curse on herself:
    "The day we met I saved your life. Thank you for trying to save mine."

    Season 4 
Episode 1 - A Tale of Two Sisters
  • The footage from Comic-Con has Regina visting Sidney in the Storybrooke Asylum, where he's been locked since the end of Season 1. Does Regina come there for a friendly visit or to release him our of the goodness of her heart? Nope. Instead she releases him because, as she says, "There's someone standing in the way of my happiness. I need your help getting rid of them." Regina's regressed back to her old self, and things are going to get ugly.
    • The actual premier sheds a different tear-jerky light on it. She tries to put a plot in play to kill Marian in the past rather than in the present, because doing it now would put all suspicion on her. But when she sees her first encounter with Marian as the Evil Queen, Regina is noticeably shaken by what she used to be. By the end of the episode she's decided that Marian doesn't need to die, but now she wants to find the author of the book and have them change how it's written so that the villains can get happy endings. After all she's done, after everybody believing she was the hero, she still thinks of herself as the villain.
    • Not to mention that this course of action is likely delusional and doomed to failure, as all we've seen of the book so far indicates that it records what happens rather than causes it, so the writer probably can't give Regina what she wants. Once again, she's chasing a lost cause.
  • Robin is visibly distressed over the fact that he is still madly in love with Regina, but has to stay with Marian because he made a vow and he cannot break his code of honour.
  • Elsa regressing into a bit of Power Incontinence when she finds her mother's diary and learns her parents' fatal trip was because of her.
  • Rumple's speech at Neal's grave. His happiest memory was of comforting young Bae one night because it made him feel that for once he capable of defending his child. Then he got the dagger and it turned him into a monster. Despite having a fresh start with Belle, he feels guilty and lying to Belle and starting their marriage off on deception. He vows to Neal to set things right. It just makes it even more depressing when he gives into temptation again later.

Episode 2 - White Out
  • Hook becomes desperate to get Emma out of the ice cave that Elsa accidentally creates that he starts digging a hole in the wall using his own hook (twice). Charming has to pull Hook away from the wall both times in order to stop Hook's futile attempt, as Elsa's magic created the wall and only Elsa can take it down.
  • Elsa yells at Charming that she'll freeze the whole town if Anna isn't found. As Emma later points out, it wasn't a threat, but a warning. Elsa is terrified that without Anna, she won't be able to control her ability and will freeze this town full of (mostly) innocent people.
    • Elsa become more terrified once Emma starts freezing to death due to the coolness of the ice cave, and tries very hard to keep Emma awake.
  • Henry's reaction to Regina's message about her not seeing him for a while. He looked devastated and interpreted that his mother didn't want to see him again period. Nothing Emma says or does can cheer him up. There is something about seeing someone as optimistic as Henry look utterly defeated.
    • One of the two deleted scenes from the episode shows how bad Henry is hurting from what he perceives as Regina's rejection. He goes to Gold's shop and asks him to give him back his fake memories so he can forget about Regina and have simpler life back. The scene explores the extent of how the events of the series have taken its toll on Henry and how much of the optimistic kid is disappearing.

Episode 3 - Rocky Road
  • The Snow Queen looks devastated each time she mentions her backstory or that Elsa and Emma can't remember her. It seems we have yet another Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, and a good one at that.
  • Hook confronts Emma over her distance from him, demanding to know if she doesn't trust him. Instead, it turns out that she knows she has a Cartwright Curse and is terrified of losing him too.

Episode 4 - The Apprentice For an episode whose premise is a date, 4x04 is a surprisingly dark and sad episode.
  • Hook... just Hook.
    • To elaborate, Hook wants to get his hand back for his date with Emma, and he does. However, he does this by blackmailing Rumple: if he doesn't do what he wants, he'll tell Belle about the dagger being fake. He begins to act strangely and is terrified by this. He then confronts Rumple and begs for him to remove his new/old hand and Rumple refused to do so, unless Hook does something for him. Hook then does Rumple's dirty work for him and Rumple uses this to blackmail Hook. And there is nothing he can do about it. Granted, Hook had it coming but just the way Rumple maliciously gloats about it gives you some sympathy for him.
    • Also, his horrified, remorseful reaction to Rumple's "The Reason You Suck" Speech telling him that the hand was never cursed and that Hook's misdeeds were done of his own free will. While Rumple tricked him into thinking it was cursed, Hook isn't as changed as he wants to believe. And right after that revelation, Hook threatens Belle by "crushing her heart". After all trying to be a good man for Emma, he was willing to give in to his darkness to hurt an innocent woman to spite Rumple. Just like he would do in season 2.
  • Anna rejecting her inner darkness, thus allowing Rumplestiltskin collect the box. Shows usually treat the hero doing this as a victory, unfortunately due to the circumstances, it turns out to be Rumple's win, rather than Anna's. There's as much despair as disgust in the way she says this line:
    "You take the most precious thing in the world — love — and you use it as a weapon."
  • Anna learned that her parents did go on that voyage because they were afraid of Elsa and wanted to remove her power permanently. Her stunned expression at the time and helplessness at the end of the episode are really painful to watch.
  • Will Scarlet broke into Storybrooke Public Library and stole a book, he was later found drunk, holding said book to his chest and had a torn page in his jacket. The book in question is "Alice's adventures in Wonderland" and the page is a picture of the Red Queen. For those that have watched the Wonderland spinoff, this suddenly takes on a new meaning. Every character in "Alice" were his friends and the Red Queen was his True Love. For some reason he couldn't be with them anymore and the book was his only way to remember them by.
    • Made even sadder by Emma's off-handed comment "and celebrate with all your friends" while holding the book to his face. Because he really was celebrating with his friends, it just that they can't interact because they're just characters in the book. His expression's just so sad.
  • Rumplestilskin's slipping back in to evil deserved special mention. It's depressing to see after all his development, it only took a hat to turn him back into the evil, power-hoarding maniac that everyone feared. And the fact that his own wife Belle has absolutely no say in things.
  • The Apprentice's final fate. After spending his whole life (thousands of years) guarding the Magic Hat, he was forced to watch it fall into the hands of the Dark One. Even worse, he was forced to become a part of the very thing that he was tasked to prevent. He was sucked into the hat, his power added to the magic inside, and brought Rumplestilskin one step further to completing his plan.

Episode 5 - Breaking Glass
  • Elsa getting lured by the Snow Queen using an illusion of Anna, and then being bound by chains that would tighten the more afraid she became, bringing her down to her knees by the time the Snow Queen leaves her.
  • The abrupt end to Emma and Lily's friendship. Although it's easy to understand how betrayed Emma may have felt at the time, the heartbreak on Lily's face as Emma spitefully walks away is just painful to watch.
    • And it apparently still haunts present day Emma, since she tells Regina that she wishes she'd been able to forgive Lily back then.
  • The reason why the Snow Queen was so surprised to see Emma again in Storybrooke. She was one of Emma's foster mothers, and had even talked with Emma during her early days in Storybrooke. Yet it turns out Emma remembered none of it. Made more painful when the Snow Queen admits her deepest longing: a family that wouldn't leave her.
  • Hook looking at a photo of Emma and Neal together. His face says it all: grief for his friend.
    • Emma notices the change in his demeanor, and shares a look with him. You could swear an entire conversation's worth of emotions were exchanged between them, and they didn't even have to say a word.
  • Regina's constantly putting Emma down over saving Marian throughout the episode. After all her hard work, she's still falling back into her old patterns of behavior, just like Rumple.

Episode 6 - Family Business
  • Belle's tearful confession to Mr Gold about a secret she kept from him all the while showing a deep trust in him. Rumple's reaction is both conflicted and painful.
  • Regina, telling Robin Hood that he needed to forget about her to save his wife, effectively sacrificing her own happiness to ensure that of her beloved. Both Heart Warming and Tear Jerking at the same time.
  • Anna being captured by Ingrid, and the particularly cruel speech she gives about Anna being "the odd woman out", and how she can't be part of her and Elsa's family.
  • Elsa beginning to wonder if Anna really did put her in the urn and worrying that she might never see her sister again. Someone give that poor girl a hug.

Episode 7 - The Snow Queen
  • Much tears was shed this episode.
  • Ingrid's youth was much like Elsa's, which means she was a loner, lived in fear of hurting the one she loves. And then she accidentally froze/shattered/killed her sister Helga in a bout of uncontrolled magic triggered by the Duke of Weselton attempting to woo/rape her. Then her other sister showed up, accused her of being a monster and locked her away in a magical urn indefinitely. Tragic Villain at its finest.
  • Gerda. Although the audience knows Helga's death was an accident, Gerda has no idea, and she is clearly distraught with grief when she puts Ingrid in that urn.
    • When she asks Grandpabbie to cast the spell she says she lost both her sisters.
    • It may or may not eventually be shown onscreen, but Gerda's encounter with Ingrid suddenly casts her relationship with her daughter Elsa in a whole new light.
  • After Emma accidentally hurts David, Mary Margaret yells at Emma and immediately regrets it.
    • Snow admitting to herself and David that they failed being Emma's parents when she needed them most.
    • Emma being terrified at what she did and runs away. Elsa sadly relates to that.
  • Snow being called a "first-time mother" in front of Emma. She tries to say that she's fine with it, but she is also unconsciously boiling the milk in the bottle she's holding.
  • The way Ingrid draws out Emma's powers by inciting her anger. For a girl who's the product of true love and a wielder of light magic, it's incredibly cruel how Ingrid manages to turn that into something scary enough to unsettle even her parents.

Episode 8 - Smash The Mirror
  • Emma accidentally hurting Henry, who was trying to help her. Their reactions won't help.
    • It wasn't that Henry was afraid of her. It was that he feels he's useless to help her because he doesn't have magic. There are characters who don't think much about themselves because of having magic, and there are characters who don't think much about themselves because of their lack of magic.
  • Ingrid capturing Anna and using the spell of shattered sight on Anna to turn her against Elsa. Elsa refuses to hurt Anna, while Anna opens the urn and traps Elsa in the urn as Elsa tells Anna to remember that she loves her.
    • It gets worse. Elsa wasn't facing a possessed Anna. She was seeing Anna's darkest feelings come to light. Knowing her sister, who's as pure as one could ever be, revealing to her about her feelings of abandonment and blaming it on Elsa, is too heartbreaking, and all Elsa can say is, through a tone of helplessness:
      "Do what you will, but know that no matter what, Anna, I love you."
      • Then, there's Anna's immediate regret of her actions. Hell, just to see Anna in that state, who audiences have come to known as innocent and pure as one can be, lashing out and becoming very bitter is too much to watch.
    • What happens next is even worse: Ingrid freezes Anna and Kristoff! While it's very unclear if they can be thawed from the curse - and unfortunately Hans - after defeating the Snow Queen (the fact Anna's heartbeat could still be heard with Bo Peep's staff gives us hope), when you think back to Frozen and how much of the movie focused on Anna not dying by Elsa's magic, to see her now frozen again possibly forever makes this moment even sadder. Coupled with the fact that a few episodes before, Elsa was worrying she'll never see Anna again.
    • When Ingrid sees into Anna and Kristoff's eyes, she realizes she will always be a monster to everyone because of her powers, which is the last straw for her because she finally gives in and accepts herself as nothing more than a monster and then freezes them and removes Elsa's memories of all she had discovered of her.
  • Mr. Gold is downright scary in this episode, but during his scenes with Emma, he reveals that he genuinely believes that he'll never be able to overcome his villainous tendencies, despite Belle's faith in him.
    • Mr. Gold made a lot of progress in the last three seasons. Now all of that is gone, and he's back to his old self. Even his marriage to Belle isn't enough to keep him grounded anymore. It's too clear that losing his son for good has utterly destroyed him.
    • It says something when Hook points out that Emma is the mother of his beloved grandson, and it doesn't faze him in the slightest.
  • Hook calling Emma, over and over, desperate to reach her before she sacrifices her magic. Each time he gets her voicemail, he leaves a long, heart-felt message explaining what Gold is making him do, that he wants to be a better man for her but can't because of Gold, and that she must not trust Gold. He ends the messages by begging her to call him back so he knows she's alright. And each time, Gold somehow deletes the message before Emma hears it.

Episode 9 - Fall
  • The moment the light from Anna's necklace suddenly stops shining, Elsa breaks down, thinking she'd lost her sister forever, while Emma comforts her, herself in tears as well.
    • Anna having given up on hope herself, such that she's resigned herself to drowning in the trunk, and only wishes to die as Kristoff's wife. Thankfully, Kristoff (and, unbeknownst to them, Elsa) will have none of that despair.
  • All the scenes of the parting couples/families...Regina and Henry, Regina and Robin, Emma and Killian, Anna and Kristoff...and then...
    • Killian/Emma is particularly soul-crushing. She starts to yell at him for sticking around despite the curse being minutes away. He responds that he just had to see her one more time before he chained himself up. That simple statement makes her break down in tears. What really makes it hurt, though, is remembering that Rumplestilskin promised Killian he'd kill him once this was over. So that line about having to see her one more time? Was literal. He thought this was the last time he'd see her. That goodbye was an actual goodbye.
    • Regina seals herself in the vault, not because she's afraid of everyone hunting her down, but because she's afraid of hurting everyone.
    Robin Hood: I'm not afraid of you.
    Regina: *eyes shiny with tears* You should be.
    • Emma practically has a breakdown over the prospect of locking her parents in jail cells so they don't hurt each other. The whole time they're reassuring her and literally have to talk her into jailing them.
    • Snow and Charming crying as they hand over Neal to Emma, because they're afraid they'll hurt him. As she takes him from them and locks them up, they clasp hands through the bars and give a forced, teary smile.
    • Regina and Rumplestilsken locks Henry and Belle, respectively and separately, in rooms under protection spells so they can't get out and hurt someone...and more importantly, so no one can get in and hurt them.
    • Anna is one of the perkiest, most Adorkable, most optimistic characters ever, yet even she starts crying as she chains her fiancé Kristoff to a desk for his own safety.
  • The final scene with Prince Charming and Snow White. The two of them are the most prominent example of True Love, they have been to hell and back to be together, they are literally of one heart. And even they can't overcome Shattered Sight. No one in Storybrooke is safe anymore. The last scene of them unlocking their hands and the cold look they give to each other after the spell hits highlights how dark the situation is.
  • Hook's trapping of the fairies is a huge one for 2 reasons:
    • The sheer horror on Mother Superior's face when she is getting sucked into the hat.
    • Hook's extreme regret for this and his sorrowful apology.
  • Much like how Hook pleaded with Gold to spare Emma for the sake of his grandson, he pleads with him yet again, pointing out that Belle truly loves him and that he can have that forever. Again, doesn't faze him at all.

Episode 10 - Shattered Sight
  • Anything and everything to do with Ingrid and her Heroic Sacrifice. And the letter from Gerda. And the flashbacks to when Ingrid was Emma's foster mother.
    • The music during this scene is especially tear-jerking, and the special effects were quite beautiful and moving.
    • The Irony of Emma and Ingrid's past is particularly cruel: Ingrid spent most of her life believing that she could only have a family that truly loved her if she surrounded herself with people who had magic...then she became Emma's foster mother and Emma honestly did love her...until Ingrid drove her away because of her obsession with awakening Emma's magic. If she'd just left it alone, then she would have had a little sister (from her perspective) who loved her, magic or no magic. Everything that happened this season could have been avoided.
    • Ingrid also realizing too late that she didn't became a monster due to her magical powers, but she became one by using her powers to harm others.
  • There was something sad about Gold telling Hook, "I won't be a villain. I'll be a hero," after plotting to save Belle and Henry while leaving the rest of the town. He wants to be a hero, but he doesn't think he can anymore and so is resigned to tricking people into believing he is.
  • S.Sight!Kristoff telling Anna he's glad they never got married and that his haircut "wasn't the only bad decision" he's made, which visibly upsets her.
    Anna: I know this is just the spell talking and not you, but it's still upsetting, so I'm just going to go over there with my sister. You stay here where you can't hurt anyone. Except me, with your words.

Episode 11 - Heroes and Villains
  • Belle banishing Gold from Storybrooke.
    • The entire breakdown. She finds the gauntlet she'd thought he'd traded away for her safety, realizing he went back to get it later and that he's never truly given up on anything, especially power, for her.
    • Gold's final words before she forces him across: "I'm afraid!"
    • Gold desperately promising Belle that he can change and Belle not believing him, with good reason. Indeed, the fact that Gold is getting exactly what he deserves just makes the whole thing more tragic, as if he had only stuck to his promise at the beginning of the season, this wouldn't have happened.
    • When he finally gets pushed over the line, his crippled leg crumples and he falls. All he can do is sit on the road, calling for Belle despite the fact that to him, she's no longer there.
    • Right before Rumple is pushed completely over, Belle just turns away. She still holds the dagger at him, but her arm is shaking and she starts crying. This has one of two interpretations, both equally depressing: that she was too disgusted to even look at him, or that she couldn't bear to see his sorrow but couldn't back down from doing the right thing.
    • This exchange really hammers it home:
      Gold: We can have it all.
      Belle: I just wanted you.
    • What makes things even worse? The latter half of Season 4B reveals that, outside of Storybrooke, Rumple's heart, corrupted and damaged by darkness, is killing him. Everything he did with the hat was to tear himself from the dagger and, probably, heal his heart. In banishing him, Belle has, indirectly and unintentionally, killed him. Yes - Belle has officially become a murderer.
  • Regina gets a massive Yank the Dog's Chain. Robin is willing to continue his relationship with her and Marian has given her blessing, not wanting to trap Robin when he doesn't love her. Then the curse they thought was gone kicks in on Marian again and she has to cross the town line to save her life...and never come back, because the town line is cursed. Unwilling to let Robin lose his son or Roland his mother, Regina lets them go, ripping up the page from the book about her and Robin afterwards.
  • Hook clinging to Emma's arm, not wanting to let go, when Gold is controlling him and the words he says with his heart. It's a desperate move toward his loved one from a man who is essentially stuck in a horrific And I Must Scream scenario.

Episode 12 - Darkness on the Edge of Town
  • Belle clearly is still devasted by losing Rumple, even while she recognises that she did the right thing.
    • Similarly, even though he's aware that Rumple forced him to do it, Hook is still regretful and blames himself for trapping the Apprentice and the fairies in the hat, to the point of not considering himself a hero when Emma claims he is.
  • When Rumple is waiting outside the border line of the town, and thinks for a minute that Ursula and Cruella have ditched him, he clearly gives into despair as he turns and walks away, thinking he'll never see Belle again.
  • When Emma is searching in Regina's office and comes across the alternate page from the storybook—we'd last seen Regina tear it up after being forced to lose Robin, but here it's revealed she rescued the pieces and taped them back together. As if that isn't bad enough, when Emma asks her what it is, the way Regina just dismisses it as having any value or meaning, and claims it only existed as a way for the Author to taunt her, was heartbreaking.

Episode 13 - Unforgiven
  • In a flashback, Maleficent reveals that she is pregnant, just like Snow White. Towards the end of the episode, we see a newly-resurrected Maleficent take out a baby rattle and tearfully give it a shake. Moments later, Snow White confesses to Regina that because of her and Prince Charming, Maleficent had lost her baby.
    • What drives it home is that when you first see David holding the trinket, you'd think it would be some kind-of powerful magical item. Nope. It's a simple baby rattle that Maleficent probably made herself, judging by how it matches her staff.
    • Just look at the way her face breaks when she puts it together. This is someone who harnesses great and evil power. And in this moment all she is is a mother that never got to see her child. And the way Snow says it too; you can tell how heartbroken she is that she's responsible for such a thing.
  • The look on Rumplestiltskin's face when he sees Belle with Will.

Episode 14 - Enter the Dragon
  • The look on Regina's face when she has to knock out Marco and Pinocchio, then kidnap the latter.
    • There's also, for Pinocchio and Marco, being separated yet again.

Episode 15 - Poor Unfortunate Soul

  • Hook taking Ursula's voice. After swearing not to do such a thing, knowing how much it meant to her, he does so in a fit of rage to spite her father. The look on poor Ursula's face and the way she grasps her throat sells it.
    • Hook's genuinely remorseful later, and he tries to return her voice. It looks like it's going to work…only for the magic to be sucked back into the seashell, leaving Ursula to bitterly restate that villains don't get happy endings.
    • And then Ursula tries to drown him, and taunts Emma about it. Emma, who already has a fear of losing him to her Cartwright Curse.
  • The ending of the episode. Ursula gets her happy ending. She gets her father and her voice back. Yes, a villain finally did it.

Episode 16 - Best Laid Plans
  • Possibly the biggest Tear Jerker of all. Every character from the Enchanted Forest was implied to be a Cosmic Plaything to the current Author. Everything they had to endure was because the Author was a Jerkass God who wanted "a better story".
  • Maleficent begging for Snow and Charming not to kidnap her child. The fact that Snow failed her promise to return the egg after it was sent to another world. Therefore, the situation becomes even more tragic.
  • The fulfillment of Snow's vision.
    Mary Margaret: I'm your mother.
    Emma: I don't care.
    • Almost as bad, when Hook goes to comfort Emma out on the docks, she realizes he's there because her parents sent him. He explains that "they thought you wouldn't listen to them." Even as she's hugging him, she agrees she wouldn't have.

Episode 17 - Heart of Gold
  • The major reveal of the episode is one on multiple levels: Zelena killed Marian so as to replace her—imagine how Robin will react when he finds out, and poor little Roland! Which makes all his speeches to her about their love, his angsty dilemma about whom to choose to spend his life with, and his ultimate decision to stay with her and delete Regina's number from his phone a horrible, cruel knife-twist. To add the icing, we get to see what he gave up for the real Marian, and how they really were once a wonderful couple, plus we get to see how awesome Marian really was in standing up to the Sheriff of Nottingham and deciding to be an outlaw too, all in the episode in which we find out she's dead.
    • There's also a bit of related Fridge Horror that makes this even sadder because of the specific circumstances surrounding this reveal: Zelena killed and replaced Marian right after Emma knocked her out to keep her from going back to her family and changing the past. Which means since she died instead, she did so believing Emma was the one who killed her, a woman whom she had believed to be a good person unfairly imprisoned by Regina and a friend who had helped break her out of jail. She never woke up to realize this, of course, but think of how Emma would feel if Gold or Zelena told her how and when the switch happened...
  • Even before Zelena starts taunting him in his bed, and despite everything he's done this season, there's something very painful and desperately sad about seeing Gold in a hospital bed and finding out he's dying thanks to all the awful things he's done...a good portion of which we already know he did either in reaction to being thought a coward all his life (and what Malcolm did to him) or to try and get Baelfire back.
    • And then when the Zelena taunting actually starts, it's just depressing. Yes, Rumple can be and has been a horrible person - but watching him cower in terror as the lady who killed his son and held him prisoner for a year, clearly having a panic attack, until he literally goes into cardiac arrest is just sad.
  • Gold's speeches to Robin about Neal, and about holding on to happiness when you find it...knowing what happened to Baelfire, and how he's lost Belle too, is bad enough. But no matter what Robin chooses to do because of his advice, it's sad. He either stays with Marian who is actually Zelena and deprives Regina of her happiness, or he goes back to her but has to leave Roland.
  • The look on Regina's face when she is given her Sadistic Choice is absolutely awful...Lana Parilla really outdid herself. The look right after that, when she makes her choice, is even worse.
  • As awful as what Snow and Charming did is, and as much as they can't evade the truth by trying to blame the Author for it, seeing Emma lash out at them, and them desperately trying to get her to see they're sorry, that they're only human, and they want to atone for what they did, is heartbreaking.

Episode 18 - Sympathy For The De Vil
  • On rewatch, all scenes with or about Madeline and Cruella count.
    • In their first scene together, when Madeline asks her daughter to be a good girl and come back home, Cruella's incredibly firm "You can't make me !" isn't just a brave child resisting an abusive parent. It's from a would-be sociopath refusing to reform. Madeline's answer ("As a matter of fact, I can.") isn't so much intimidation as an attempt to change her daughter, whatever the means and cost.
    • She's really trying to keep her voice even, but you can tell she's pained and angry when she says Cruella's father is gone, because she is. Still, Cruella's hateful look in return is what makes it worse.
    • "So you're just going to lock me up here, like one of your dogs ?". Cruella probably isn't really that sad. She's just manipulating her mother using a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. Madeline deliberately avoids to look at her daughter when sentencing her to what's essentially long-term emprisonment. She still has some sort of plans or hopes for her at that point, since she only wants it to last untill "one day, [Cruella learns] to do as [she] says".
    • "You stole it, did you ?". The rest of the episode makes it clear that this isn't an isolated incident and Madeline, who by that point looks like she's aged a bit, has to go through her daughter's misbehaviors alone. Made even worse by the fact she still protects her daughter, insisting she remain in her room when she has visitors who could find out her secret.
    • Madeline's fit of rage when the Author mentions her husbands. Of course, he's bluntly and carelessly reminding her of her losses, but he's also curious about the crimes her daughter committed, and she's still trying to protect her.

Episode 19 - Lily
  • Lily's life in general. She's the Cosmic Plaything, incapable of making any right decisions in her life because of something that happened before she was even born. In fact, her Establishing Character Moment as an adult were apologizing profusedly to a customer for a minor mistake and paying some girl to pretend to be her daughter so she could appear to have a life. This could all be an act to fool Emma, but still...
  • Even by Once's usual True Love Is Boring standard, Regina and Robin's situation was arguably the worst ordeal any couple in the show had to endure. They both know that Zelena was Marian, but Robin couldn't leave her because she was carrying his child. So now, not only they couldn't reunite, Regina must knowingly leave her love with a crazy bitch of a sister who would kill him if she so much as looked at her wrong and Robin had to live with the woman who killed his wife, wanted to destroyed his True Love and probably would hurt him or Roland at any moment just to spite her sister. Compared to that, David and Mary Margaret's affair in season 1 seemed downright cuddly.
    • Related to this, the moment when Regina had to tell Robin the truth (before Zelena showed up)—you can see on her face and hear in her voice how upset she is to have to tell Robin Marian is dead, and has been the whole time. In fact considering Zelena's whole scheme was engineered as a way to get back at Regina and get her happy ending, that means her killing and replacing Marian is indirectly Regina's fault. So no matter if you go by the original timeline or the new one, she's to blame...
  • Seeing Emma abandon Lily again in the flashback, especially when you remember her earlier conversation with Regina about how she never forgave herself for breaking off their friendship.
  • Cruella's funeral. Sure, she's a horrible, despicable woman, but you can't help but feel bad for her when the only attendants to her funeral are Gold and the Author. There's a dark skinned man there too - possibly her husband?
  • The look on Belle's face as Rumple walks out of the pawn shop, and out of her life, having explained that he has now realized he's unworthy of her, given his actions. There's apologies, but no expectation of forgiveness from her. He actually is stepping aside and encouraging her to have her happy ending with Will - but Belle, as angry as she is with Rumple, drops Will's hand and stares after her ex with this utterly devastating look of what might have been. (Also tearjerking was Rumple's entire speech, considering it's probably the most sincere we've ever heard him.)

Episode 20 - Mother
  • When Lily wants Maleficent to help her get revenge on the Charmings and instead her mother only wants to get to know her and concentrate on a future, she immediately rejects her in as scathing and contemptuous a manner as possible. Then she makes it clear she will leave town...and when Maleficent desperately warns her if she crosses the town line she'll never be able to come back, and that she can't follow her without turning to dust, Lily callously says she'll send a postcard and leaves anyway. The look on Maleficent's face is absolutely heartbreaking...as is the next time we see her at the door of the loft, begging Snow and Charming to help her find her daughter before it's too late.
  • When Cora claims to have found Robin Hood for Regina, and puts her in her fancy dress of old, for a moment Regina really does think her mother loves her and has learned her lesson. For the audience who knows better, it's a cruel twist of the knife...and when Regina learns the truth too...
    • What makes it even worse is Cora did genuinely come back to help her, but a screw-up on her part made Regina think she was out to get her...leading to her sterilizing herself to spite her.
    • That Cora's idea of genuinely helping her daughter is to throw a boy toy that fits her sense of propriety, without bothering to think about what might be bothering her daughter. Wuth parents like these...

Episodes 21-22 – Operation Mongoose

  • The Apprentice’s quiet grief while telling Isaac the last Author has just passed away. Without being showy at all, Timothy Webber nails with devastating precision what a blow Walt Disney’s death was.
  • Hook's Heroic Sacrifice. He knows he has no chance against evil Charming and Snow but stays behind to fight them anyway so Emma and Henry can live. Things look set to actually end well when Charming is disarmed and Hook turns his attention to Snow, but Charming comes from behind and literally stabs him in the back, making Emma's parents responsible for his death. Emma is so devastated that Henry has to pull her away.
    • Later, when trying to convince Regina to go after Robin, Emma brings up how she never told Killian how she felt about him, tears falling from her eyes as she does.
    Emma: The worst part is that I never told him I loved him. I was too scared...too scared that saying it would make it real...and change everything...but now I'll never be able to take that next step with him because he's gone...my only chance with him...is if you don't make the same mistake I did.
  • Just as, if not even, worse is Regina's Heroic Sacrifice. She has a chance to for once get her happy ending in the right way but chooses to save Henry, in this world a boy she thinks is just some crazy wanderer, instead. Isaac points out that this essentially means the world as it is will stay as he has written it, delegating it to a Senseless Sacrifice in the long run. The fact it actually turns out to be the key to saving the day, both through a hero (Rumple) killing her being an unheroic act to unravel the book and allow a new Author to be chosen and by providing the blood of a Light Savior for the ink, turns it into a moment of glorious triumph.
  • After returning to the real world, Henry considers using the pen one last time to bring his dad back to life. It shows that for all he has done Henry is still just a young boy, a young boy that just wants his father back.
  • Belle and Gold's anguished exchange on the floor of the pawn shop, just before she rushes to the others for help: he starts to tell her he's glad he at least got to have her and her love one last time, in the alternate reality, only for her to cut him off and say he did have it, that everything he wanted he could have had there in Storybrooke, if he had just let go of his need to be powerful and in control. She asks him why he couldn't accept what they had and he tearfully admits "Because I couldn't believe it." And then she promises he won't die alone. Rumple's right back to being The Woobie again...but thanks to the Apprentice, his heart is pure once more and he's back to the man he used to be before the Dark One's Curse.
  • Emma's Heroic Sacrifice. Just when it looks like everything is going to be alright and that she and her family and friends can finally rest, they learn that if the darkness from Rumple is taken out of him, the darkness tethered to him for centuries will be free. So they take it out of him and seal it in the Apprentice's hat...only for it to break out minutes later, kill the Apprentice, and try to possess Regina. Emma tearfully, finally tells Killian she loves him (during which he begs her not to do this), and, resolved to protect the town, uses her magic to seal the darkness threatening to consume everything. After a blinding blast of light, she vanishes, leaving only the dagger behind with her name on it. Pretty much the most emotional, climatic moment of an already emotional episode.