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Rumplestiltskin/Mr.Gold/Weaver

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Rumpelstiltskin_2136.jpg
Rumpelstiltskin: "All magic comes with a price!"
Mr. Gold: "Honesty has never been the best color of me."
Played By: Robert Carlyle, Wyatt Oleff (child)
Centric Episodes: “The Price of Gold”, “Desperate Souls”, “Skin Deep”, “The Return”, “The Crocodile”, “Manhattan”, “The Miller’s Daughter”, “Lacey”, “Nasty Habits”, “Think Lovely Thoughts”, “The Apprentice”, “Heroes and Villains”, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, “Devil’s Due”, “Changelings”, “Ill-Boding Patterns”, “Beauty”, “The Guardian”
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Rumpelstiltskin is the manipulative and powerful "Dark One", who helps the Evil Queen / Regina Mills enact the Dark Curse for his own purposes. In Storybrooke, he enjoys a position of power as the wealthy pawnbroker, Mr Gold, and his memories of his former self are restored when he hears Emma Swan's name.


  • Abusive Parents:
    • Like Regina, he's emotionally (not physically) abusive to his son. He kills people in front of his child. He has massive overreactions to any injury done to Bae, best shown when he turns a man into a slug and stomps on him for hitting Bae with a cart. Bae also seems to have become afraid of his father. Lastly, he ends up unwilling to listen to Bae and uphold the deal made with him to go to a new world, choosing to drop Bae into the portal rather than let go of his power; a decision he immediately regrets and never stops regretting.
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    • His own father was, if not abusive, at the very least neglectful. He happily left his son with a couple of spinsters so he could go out and swindle people. Then, he outright abandoned him when Rumpel couldn't have been much older than eight or nine, leaving the poor kid to find his way back to the spinsters on his own. And as an adult his father is definitely abusive to him, outright stating that he considered Rumpel to be a burden from the moment he was born, not to mention happily throwing him through the room with magic and intending to kill Rumpel's child and wife.
      Pan: How old are you now, couple of centuries? Will I never be rid of you?
    • Subverted with his mother, who Rumple thought hated him, but who actually loved him so much she turned to dark magic to keep him safe. Sound familiar...?
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  • Adaptational Badass: In the original Grimm's Fairytales, Rumpelstiltskin was little more than an evil gnome that engages in trading children for favors. Once Upon a Time makes him an immortal nigh-omnipotent sorcerer, Magnificent Bastard and Chessmaster who plays everyone else - with varying degrees of success that, usually, come out on top for him - like a fiddle.
  • Adult Fear: He is living in one. After his years of weakness and his wife running off with another man he clung to the power of the Dark One like an addict to his fix. But because of this addiction and refusal to let the power go when there was a viable means without killing him, he has lost what he cared for most.
    • Once again living it in season 5, where his pregnant wife places herself in the equivalent of a coma to ensure Hades doesn't steal the baby. Cue his evil estranged mother kidnapping the child instead.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Or not so much 'amnesia' as recognizing an addiction (to magical power) and being unable to kick it.
    • By the end of the Season 1, he seems to have completely forgotten why he lost his son, i.e. wanting dark magic power.
    • Season 2 has him admit as much to Belle, in that he at least openly says that his reliance of magic as a crutch has hindered... well, everything.
    • Season 3 has him finally learn his lesson by sacrificing himself to save everyone from Pan. But then he's brought back to life at the expense of Bae's life and becomes a slave to Zelena, which clearly does a number on him.
    • Season 4, he vows on Bae's grave to start a new leaf, and he does by secretly giving Belle the real dagger. But then he sees a small circular box, which turns out to be the iconic Sorcerer's Hat from Fantasia, at which point he switches the daggers. After that, he's willing to let the Snow Queen kill everyone in Storybrooke if it enables him to gain the hat's power, free himself of the dagger, and leave Storybrooke with Belle without anyone (including her) finding out what he's up to.
    • Season 7 finally has him learn the error of his ways; all he wants is to be reunited with his now deceased wife and true love, Belle. Super spoiler: he gets his wish.
  • Affably Evil: He may play your deal for his own gain or just abuse the heck out of you, but he will generally do it with a laugh and smile. When he doesn't have one on, it generally means things will go even worse for you.
  • The Ageless: As Rumpelstiltskin. Notice that he doesn't age a day between "That Still Small Voice" and the pilot, even though Geppetto has aged from a young boy to an elderly man in the interim. He also tells Mr. Smee only the Dark One has immortality (which is proven to be a lie later on in the series, although he may not know that it is a lie).
  • All for Nothing: All his attempts to reunite with Bae, and repent for his misdeeds end up meaningless when Bae sacrifices himself to bring Rumple back to life.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Almost the entire long-term strategy of Rumpelstiltskin/Gold boils down to first keeping his son safe and then finding him. With all the bad things he's doing based on such a motivation it's no wonder he's a complex character. His most deplorable actions are often aimed at people who insulted or injured him when he was weak.
  • And Show It to You: To his estranged wife. He taught it to Regina and Cora. And in the webisode "Good Morning Storybrooke", some of Dr. Whale's "advice" on love relationships suggests that if you are having a troubled relationship, you should go to Mr. Gold's shop, have him cut out your heart and put it in a box, and show it to your significant other. They should notice you a little more.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Admits to Regina that he actually deeply regrets orchestrating Cora's death, as he once held strong feelings towards her, but it was necessary as she was trying to kill him and steal his power, which would have been bad for everyone. That, and as much as he may once have loved her, he prefers living a hell of a lot more.
  • Anti-Villain: He has an honorable side and has been a great asset to the heroes many times, and his whole background and motivation for doing evil is based around his love for his son.
  • Apologetic Attacker: While he's under Zelena's control, he repeatedly apologizes while threatening Robin Hood's son.
  • At Least I Admit It: A key difference between him and Regina is that Rumple acknowledges he's no saint and even in those moments where his more noble qualities are absent he fully concedes that he is largely motivated by self-interest. At one point it drives him up the wall that Regina blames Snow for her problems when they are actually due to her own actions.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: He and Regina, weirdly enough - he truly does want her to be happy and tells Zelena that if he had to choose (again) between her and Regina to cast his curse, he'd choose Regina every time.
  • Badass Boast: Gives one to The Blue Fairy when she tells him that creating the Dark Curse is beyond his abilities:
    Rumpelstiltskin: I have all the time in the world. I will do nothing else! I will love nothing else!
  • Badass Bookworm: He's the one who wrote the curse in the first place, after all. Despite the huge amount of power he has, the most dangerous talent Rumple has is his mind.
  • Badass Grandpa: He’s the oldest of the main cast and he’s also a very powerful sorcerer who’s not to be messed with. It becomes literal in “Manhattan” after it’s discovered that he’s Henry’s grandfather.
  • Badass in Distress: He's spent the last half of season three as Zelena's prisoner. Armed with his dagger, she's kept him locked in a cage in a storm cellar.
  • Bad Samaritan: His whole shtick. If you need help, he'll be there for you. And at some future point, you'll wish he hadn't been.
  • Bait the Dog: Rumple is a master at this trope. Just when you think that maybe he's turning over a new leaf, he does something horrible again.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Between this and his information dealing.
    • His actions to get Emma elected as sheriff. First, he sets up Emma so she would see his sheep skin-tanning supplies. Then he starts a fire at Regina's office when it was just Emma and Regina, so Emma would save Regina's life and discover circumstantial evidence that he was involved. He informed Emma of this fact when she found the evidence and told her she had no choice but to keep it silent. Instead she speaks up about this in a public debate for the election of sheriff. Seeing her stand up against Mr. Gold won her the election. Just as he planned it would. And then there's still the matter of the favor Emma owes him...
    • Emma guesses he had one set up since before the Curse was activated as he foresaw her as the Savior and could have gotten out of his jail anytime he wished with the Anti-Magic Squid Ink he had in his cell. She believes that he set everything up to get to the point that keeps Cora trapped in the Enchanted Forest and her own immunity to Cora's heart-removal attack. He denies it as he didn't create Emma, but bet on her, in most cases, because she was born of True Love.
    • Pulls a major one over on Hook in the fourth season. Hook tries to blackmail him for his hand back, and Gold gives it to him, while warning him that the hand came from a time when Hook was a much worse man than he is now, but Hook doesn't believe him. When seems like the hand is influencing Hook badly, he demands to have it removed again, willing to do whatever Gold asks of him. Only after the deal is struck does Gold inform him that it was never the hand, just the suggestion Gold put in his head that any bad behavior after its reattachment wouldn't "really" be Hook's fault, screwing with his subconscious. Gold then caps with off with using the payment he extracts from Hook as blackmail to keep the man in his service.
    • He gets another in Series 4 as well. When his original plan to use the hat to gain ABSOLUTE POWER fails and he is banished by Belle, he uses Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella De Vil to get back to Storybrooke and unleash chaos. Way to turn a miserable failure into revenge.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Rumpelstiltskin began his life as a kind, meek and fearful man, and turned into the ruthless and hyperconfident puppetmaster we all know.
    • It gets worse: he was originally supposed to be a Savior, but his mother changed his destiny to protect him, resulting in him becoming the Dark One instead. Ouch.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Rumpelstiltskin's deals sometimes turn out this way for the people willing to pay the price. Sometimes they realise what they asked for isn't what they needed or wanted, or they misinterpret what Rumpel is offering. One thing Rumpel never does is lie about what he offers or his price.
    • "Manhattan" reveals that he despised being labeled as "the coward's son", and yet he decided to desert out of both fear for his own life, and so as not to miss the birth of his son. Chronologically, this is hammered home when Bae angrily calls him a coward as he refuses to join him through a portal to another realm.
  • Been There, Shaped History:
    • Rumpelstiltskin seems to be an in-universe version of this; his deals have been a crucial factor in at least half of the fairy tale plots so far and he's occasionally usurped the roles of certain characters altogether, like Cinderella's fairy godmother, the Beast, and the crocodile that took Hook's hand.
    • He also claims to have given Don Juan his talent for seducing women.
  • Being Good Sucks: His attempt to sacrifce himself to save his loved ones and Storybrooke from Pan ended up being negated when Zelena tricked Bae into sacrificing himself so the Dark One could be resurrected. It put him off heroics for the time being.
  • Berserk Button: He values his possessions and there are a lot of things that piss him off, but above all else do not touch his chipped cup, do not even think about harming Belle, and don't mess with his son. Just don't.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • His Love Redeems (well, at least somewhat) relationship with sweet, good-natured Belle vs. his Love Makes You Evil (well eviler) relationship with Cora.
    • And then the Betty became the Veronica when Belle became Lacey.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Rumpelstiltskin is an Affably Evil Giggling Villain who generally behaves as though everything is a big joke...but piss him off and it may just be the last thing you ever do. (And that's if he doesn't decide to put you through a couple rounds of Cold-Blooded Torture before killing you.)
    • The Sheriff of Nottingham is clearly fooled by Rumpel's act and regards him as someone not to be taken seriously when he tells Rumpel that the price of giving him information is a night with Belle. The horrified expression on Belle's face when the Sheriff says this visibly affects Rumpel. While Rumpel doesn't rip his face off, the way both his expression and body language changed should have made it clear to the Sheriff that he'd just stepped way over the line...if he hadn't of been too drunk to notice. Rumpel does give him a chance to change his mind, the Sheriff keeps pushing for Rumpel to give him Belle, and finally Rumpel proposes a new deal...that the Sheriff does not like but has no choice but to accept.
  • Big Bad: For Season 4 (albeit sharing the role), after he slips back into his old habits and decides to free himself from the Dagger. When that fails, he reforms a team of villains (known as the Queens of Darkness) to find villains a happy ending after his heart is consumed with darkness. However, the role eventually goes to Isaac in the season finale.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: In Season 4 with Maleficent, Ursula, and Cruella. He recruits the three villainesses to aid him in his plan. He's the director of the operation but these three witches are just as manipulative as he is (especially Cruella and Ursula when he first recruits them, and Maleficent even alters a deal with Gold - twice). Gold and Maleficent are the main Big Bad Duumvirate of the season, with Maleficent being the de facto head of the Queens. Eventually the witches are picked off one by one with Ursula finding her happy ending, Cruella being killed and Maleficent just plain out leaving and forming an Enemy Mine with Emma and Regina, and Gold forms a new duumvirate with Isaac, the Author.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: With the Evil Queen/Regina in Season 1 with his deals and manipulations making him more behind the plot than Regina (whom he helped for his own purposes). As a result, a power struggle occurs between him and Regina.
    • He shares another ensemble role alongside Snow Queen/Ingrid in the first half of Season 4, once again working with her and against her in turns.
    • His alliance with the Queens of Darkness, Isaac, and Zelena in the second half can also be considered this, seeing as Maleficent, Cruella, and Ursula have their own separate agendas and reasons for working with him and each other, and the same holds for Isaac and Zelena.
  • Big Damn Heroes: While it's not shown on screen and regardless of his recently becoming a super-powered, virtually indestructible immortal, you have to admit that marching onto a battlefield and making the humans and ogres sign a peace treaty and bringing all the children home was a pretty awesome and impressive move on his part (also, he apparently saved Belle's whole village from ogres which even if he wanted payment for it is still awesome).
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: When he becomes the Dark One, he kills the soldiers who made him bow and kiss their boots. These are the first of many deaths by his hand.
  • Book-Ends: At least from Episode 1 to 12 - he's in a jail in either world. And again in Season 2. Storybrooke is now his prison.
    • Similar, he lost his son because he couldn't hold on to the dagger and Neal/Bael at the same time and choose the dagger. He regained his son, if only for a little, because of that same choice, only choosing his son this time.
  • Break the Haughty: After avoiding it for the most part in the first two seasons he's getting hit with it hard in Season 3, now that's he chosen to be a good guy, for starters his Daddy Issues pop up again, and his relationship with Bae gets even worse after Pan lets it slip about the Seer's prophecy about Henry. The poor guy ends up in tears.
    • When Zelena brings him back from the dead, she has the dagger, meaning he was under her control. It had the unfortunate effect of un-doing all his previous character development he got in the first half of Season 3.
  • Brought Down to Badass: He managed to defeat Dark Hook, while powerless, despite the fact that Dark Hook was infinitely more powerful than he was and could have destroyed him hundreds of times over.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In the fairy tale, his magical powers were taken from him by Snow White, Prince Charming and Cinderella. Taken further in Storybrooke where holding the Knife of the Dark One has no power over him anymore. Even more so now given the end of season 4 - Rumple is no longer the Dark One thanks to life-saving (or at least heart and ability to love-saving) magical intervention by the Sorcerer's Apprentice.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Rumpelstiltskin can't remember turning a butcher into a pig, but apparently that guy's son does.
  • Came Back Wrong: After being resurrected by the Wicked Witch, he seems even more loopy than in the Enchanted Forest. "Quiet Minds" reveals his insanity was due to a desperate attempt to save his son from the sacrifice he made to revive Rumple.
  • Camp Straight: In the Enchanted Forest.
  • Cane Fu:
    • In "Skin Deep" he uses it to deliver a particularly vicious beating upon the man who stole his teacup. (Incidentally, the same man is also Belle's father in the Enchanted Forest.) Seriously, bones are broken.
    • The beating he gives to Hook in "The Outsider" is even more brutal.
    • He surpasses himself once again in "Lacey", beating down the Sheriff of Nottingham in Storybrooke.
  • Cardboard Prison: His cell in the Enchanted Forest turns out to have been this. Upon examining his cell, it's revealed that he could have easily escaped at any time, but chose not to, preferring to make everyonethink he was helpless.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "All magic comes with a price", in a singsong voice. Except the one time when he opens up to Belle and he says it with a very sad voice because he's still trapped by the magic of his own doing.
    • To Regina: "Please".
  • The Chessmaster: He has his hand in every plot that's going on in the show. We're not kidding. You try and find a plot that he isn't involved in!
    Regina: I assume this was all your doing.
    Rumpelstiltskin: Most things are.
  • The Chosen One: Originally, as he was meant to be the Savior. His mother severed his destiny in order to save his life while keeping her power, as they were destined to clash against one another.
  • Clingy MacGuffin:
    • In season 3, Peter Pan gives him a doll that was the last gift his father gave him before leaving him. Gold threw it off a cliff and it fell in front of him a short time later. Burned it and it just popped up a head of him. He decides to just take it along after that. The true significance of the doll is later revealed, specifically the name which Rumple gave it as a child: Peter Pan.
    • The Dark One Dagger. When Rumple tries to get rid of it by throwing it in a mystical river, it just pops back in his clothes.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: Before he became the Dark One and again in season one as. Mr. Gold, Rumpelstilskin's clothes seem two sizes too big for him. It makes him look more vulnerable than he actually is. The only time his clothes actually fit is whenever he has magic.
  • Cold Ham: While in his Dark One form he acts like a normal Large Ham. But in his human form he's a lot more restraint but his words have no less emphasis.
  • Combat Pragmatist: With all his power, he tends to either talk his way out of fights or just dispose of a nuisance with a wave of the finger. Because of this it's pretty obvious when he's fighting with Charming that he's just playing with him long enough to make Charming re-consider his offer.
  • Composite Character: In addition to being Rumpelstiltskin, he's also the Beast from Beauty and the Beast and the "crocodile" that took Captain Hook's hand, from Peter Pan. He also played the role of Cinderella's fairy godmother, but only after killing her actual fairy godmother. Season 7 adds Carl Fredrickson.
  • Corrupt Hick: As Mr. Gold, to an extent, since he does not fit the part of the trope that requires the character be uneducated or a bumpkin. He is an extremely intelligent, cultured character who holds on near-monopoly on power, information, and fear in town.
  • The Corrupter: He teaches Regina, Cora and Zelena magic. That ended well.
    • He tries to be this to Emma in Season 4B seeing that his Evil Plan is to darken Emma’s heart.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: All things said and done, life in the Enchanted Forest didn't exactly conspire to make his a particularly nice path. He's drafted into a war fighting awful creatures with perhaps even more awful fellow soldiers. His wife leaves him for another man. The war lasts long enough that his son becomes at risk of being drafted. Ends up in his current situation thanks to the previous Dark One pulling a gambit on him. Loses his son as a result. Loses his true love for over three decades thanks to his archrival. It's like the Enchanted Forest needed a villain and picked him.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Seeing how just miserable Rumpelstiltskin's life is, before and after becoming the Dark One, all because of a Seer and later learning that his grandson is supposed to be his downfall? Poor Rumple is just this; the Enchanted Forest keeps picking on him.
  • Cowboy Cop: Weaver in Season 7.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Doesn't even begin to describe him in regards to the events of Season 1.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Rumpelstiltskin had a hand in the creation of every single villain we've seen. And also apparently all the heroes as well. So far the only people we've seen who he hasn't manipulated into their current positions are those who are from our world. Even then, he did create the curse that brought Storybrooke into existence, as well as revive magic, which heralded in Greg and Tamara's crusade on Storybrooke's magical creatures.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Rumpelstiltskin is cursed to be the most powerful sorcerer in the land and to have sparkly grey skin—which he may or may not be able to conceal with magic. That this is a curse is established in the Season 1 episode "Skin Deep", wherein Belle almost ends it with True Love's Kiss. In a slight departure, while the show clearly wants us to see him as cursed, Rumpelstiltskin himself never complains about his powers, and is quite sensibly freaked out at the prospect of losing them and being at the mercy of the Evil Queen, not to mention losing any chance of finding his son. In Season 4, he tries to circumvent this by getting hold of the Sorcerer's Hat, an artifact that absorbs magical powers. He wants to use it to collect enough power to break the dagger's connection, so he can have power and be totally free.
  • Daddy Issues: His father was called a coward, and abandoned Rumpel at an early age. Even as an immortal adult, his dad's legacy still haunts him. Rumpel's determination not to be his dad led to the mess his life is in now. Turns out when he was a child, he and his dad went to Neverland together. But his dad was an adult and could no longer access Neverland's magic. In order to do so he gave Rumpel up and turned back into the boy who would call himself Peter Pan.
  • Dangerous Deserter:
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Seemingly the case at first by the time he meets Belle. Subverted, a short time later, when we learn he remembers quite well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As Mr. Gold. Sometimes as Rumpelstiltskin, too:
    Regina: When Snow is dead, then they will see my kindness.
    Rumpelstiltskin: Through the charred remains of their homes, yes, I'm sure that will be perfectly clear.
  • Deal with the Devil: His stock in trade. Everything from knowledge to babies to magic potions can be had... for a price. His price also varies from extremely valuable things like jewelry, family heirlooms, magical artifacts and lifetimes of Indentured Servitude to seemingly worthless trifles like a lock of hair, an item of clothing, or even just a name. Subverted in that he is always up front and unambiguous about his price to whomever accepts his deals, and he always delivers exactly what they ask for. There are many times where people have profited from his deals as much as he does. The danger in accepting a deal from Rumpelstiltskin as many other characters realize is that while they may not have to give up much at all, he always wants something that will further his plans that may end up causing problems for them later.
  • Death Seeker: After thinking that his son has been killed, Rumpelstiltskin thinks of the quest to rescue Henry as this, according to Robert Carlyle.
    • As of "Nasty Habits", his discovery that his son is alive might have led him to change his mind about to whether he's alright with dying or not. He ends up going through with it anyway to protect his loved ones. As good for him as it would be to live for them, dying for them was the more selfless option. In his own words: "I'm a villain. And villains... don't get happy endings."
    • Season 7 brings this side of Rumple back - specifically, he wants to become mortal again in order to rejoin Belle in the afterlife.
  • Determinator: This Papa Wolf will do anything for his son. He's spent centuries plotting and gathering power, all for the purpose of creating the Dark Curse and getting someone to cast it so he could enter our world and attempt to find Baelfire.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: At one point Rumpelstiltskin is talking about the power of True Love (of which he happens to be holding a bottle). Prince Charming, rather dismissively, asks what he could possibly know about true love. Rumpel is not amused: "Well, not so much as you, perhaps, but not so little as you might think."
  • Dirty Coward: His Fatal Flaw, and the reason why he refuses to give up his power. He finally overcomes it once and for all in the series finale, when he declares that his Wish Realm counterpart is the real coward, and he no longer is. Then, in full knowledge that it'll likely cost him his chance at reuniting with Belle, he sacrifices himself to save everyone, while his Wish Realm counterpart whimpers in fear as he disintegrates.
  • Didn't Think This Through: His plan to have Emma sucked into the Sorcerer's Hat. Although thankfully it didn't work, he seemed to overlook the fact that Emma would be missed by almost the whole town.
  • Disappeared Dad: Neal is rather bitter about being abandoned by his father (even if Rumpel did spend all the intervening time attempting to find him). Apparently, his own father abandoned him, as well.
  • The Don: As Rumpelstiltskin, he would make offers people "couldn't refuse" and asked for payment that left them with what could be very generously described as "buyer's remorse", and would kill and/or torture anyone that tried to steal from him or try to go back on their deals. As Mr. Gold the allusion as a Godfather-esq figure in Storybrooke was more apparent; his expensive suit, giving out loans that he expected to be repaid with no concern for others, his under-the-table deals and being fully willing to get his hands dirty when the need arises. Add in his Thicker Than Water mentality when it came to Baelfire/Neal, Gideon, Belle and (sometimes) Henry’s presence in his life and he has the makings of a Don Vito Corleone Expy.
  • Doting Parent: To his son.
  • Do Wrong, Right: In "Child Of The Moon", he scolds Regina for enacting a sleeping curse without fully understanding how it works, hinting that he holds this viewpoint.
  • The Dragon: In the second half of Season 3, the Wicked Witch possessed his dagger. In Season 5B, he had been Demoted to Dragon by Hades.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Regina may rule over Storybrooke with an iron first, but Mr. Gold has everyone in his back pocket, mayor included.
    • Rumple's alternate reality counterpart in the Season 4 finale, "The Light One", served this role to Isaac Heller, being more powerful than him but still being manipulated into doing his bidding.
  • Dramatic Irony: Since stealing the Blind Seer's precognitive powers, many throwaway comments from various characters take on a different significance to him (and usually the audience). He even lampshades it in "The Miller's Daughter":
    Cora: Brides have to be snow-white.
    Rumplestiltskin: (giggles) When you can see the future, there is irony everywhere.
    • From "Quite a Common Fairy", when he stumbles upon Regina having a solitary dinner:
    Rumpelstiltskin: Roast swan. That's amusing! You'll get that later.
  • The Dreaded: Mr. Gold makes everyone uneasy around Storybrooke, and Rumpelstiltskin is also rather intimidating once he gets his powers.
  • Driven to Villainy: Rumpelstiltskin's origins. To save his son, he took on dark powers, getting corrupted in the process.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Rumpelstiltskin ends up progressively worse as days pass in the wake of the end of the Ogre Wars.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: When Mr. Gold is poisoned by Hook's poisoned hook, he calls the amnesiac Belle and, without going into the the history of the Enchanted Forest, tells her that she may not remember who she is but he knows her to be a wonderful, beautiful, wise, and heroic woman. To him she will always be that. And at the time, he honestly thought he was going to die, either by poison or Cora stabbing him with his dagger.
    • And once again in the season 4 finale, when he and Belle talk about why he wanted their happy ending in the book - because he loves her, but still doesn't understand how anyone could ever love him.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: The prophecy that Henry would be his undoing turns out to mean he's the catalyst for Rumpel accepting that he's a villain, and he has to pay the price for that, by pulling a Taking You with Me with Peter Pan.
    "I'm a villain. And villains... don't get happy endings."
    • Happens again in the series finale, this time when he pulls a Taking You with Me with his own Wish Realm counterpart.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A rare case in which the happy ending is death. After sacrificing himself to save Rogers and stop Wish!Rumple, he reunites with Belle in the afterlife and is able to travel to Mount Olympus with her.
  • Easily Forgiven: Only in the sense that as long as you aren't actively working against him, he really doesn't care what you do even if you've screwed him over in the past (though he'll still remember the score). In the season 2 finale, he outright asks Hook if he's done trying to kill him. Hook replies to the affirmative. Gold remarks that that means he won't have to kill Hook first. However defied with his son, who has not forgotten that Rumpel chose magic over him, and all the years he spent alone because of it. Although Bae still loves his dad, he is still justifiably angry at what happened.
  • Evil Brit: Mr. Gold sports Robert Carlyle's Scottish accent.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Loves Belle and Baelfire even more than his power, but...
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Does not approve of hurting children, using magic to make someone love you, keeping someone alive for the express purpose of killing them at a convenient time (granted he had a rather personal reason to be upset about that) or apparently of cheating (see the conversation he had with David in "Skin Deep"). He also considers Peter Pan more evil than him, and he's the Dark One. Also, he appears to have a Lannister-caliber tendency to repay his debts (granted he usually does it in a way that makes everyone wish he'd just backstabbed them straight-out instead). By the time of Season 6, sacrificing family for power is also not something he will do and he murders his own mother to make sure it doesn't happen. Another thing that he won't do is doom someone to be without the one they love, thus his refusal to allow Alice to become the Dark One as she'd lose her love.
    • In the Season 3 finale, we learn that his castle contains an entire vault of magical items that he stashed away simply because he considered them too dangerous and unpredictable to use. When The Dark One, who fucks up shit on a regular basis, considers something too dangerous and unpredictable to use, that's saying something. They're basically Names to Run Away From...
    • Defies this trope midway through Season 4. While attempting to trick Emma, the mother of his grandson, into getting absorbed by the Sorcerer's Hat and called out on it by Hook, Rumple casually brushes the notion aside.
    • Given how Gold speaks with Zelena in Bleeding Through, its implied that he considered using the Time Travel spell himself, then decided that too much shit could be fucked up and decided against it.
  • Evil Is Hammy: As Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Evil Laugh: As Rumpelstiltskin, more like evil giggle.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Upon becoming the new Dark One.
  • Evil Mentor: As the Dark One, he trained Cora and Regina to become powerful sorceresses for his own personal long game plan. Later, after the curse is broken, he seems interested in teaching Emma a bit about her innate magical powers.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Depowered shortly before the series began, but before that apparently quite a powerful one. And now that the curse is broken it looks like he will be again.
    • Later reveals in 2x09 that he was not without his powers and was remaining in the cell because it put him exactly where he wanted to be when the curse was enacted. And, yes, it was only to make everyone think he was powerless... while he was still fucking up all the shit. Without even doing anything.
  • Evil Costume Switch: As a dogged nice-guy he dressed in white clothes and looked pretty normal, as a sorcerer/demon/whatever he looks like what would happen if Tim Burton had directed Twilight.
    • It's even lampshaded in his choice of clothing before joining the quest to Neverland. He claims it's a reminder of what he needs to become in order to succeed.
  • Exact Words:
    • Anyone, good or bad, making a deal with him had better pay real close attention.
    • Belle calls him out on this at one point, and Charming points out that it's a bad idea in a real relationship.
      Gold: I don't lie.
      Charming: No, but there's more to the truth than just not lying.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Nearly every single new fictional character is introduced with a backstory which involved Rumpelstiltskin dealing with or using them for some purpose or other. The Dark One had his fingers in practically every single pie in the Enchanted Forest and beyond.
  • Extreme Doormat: Rumpelstiltskin in his first incarnation as a simple, kind, handicapped family father on the edge of poverty with gods and the world walking all over him. He gets better - that is, if upgrading himself to a cruel sorcerer, wife murderer and expert puppeteer counts as "better".
  • Fatal Flaw: Cowardice. Even after becoming one of the most powerful creatures in the world.
    • His addiction to power, which it's heavily implied is related to his cowardice-he doesn't want to go back to being helpless. Every time he comes close to a Heel–Face Turn or earning a happy ending, he finds something powerful enough to slide him back into villainy, most notably Season 4A.
  • Final Boss: Rumpelstiltskin ends up being the final villain to be faced in the series, but with a catch - it's the Wish Realm's version of him, who never developed the redeeming qualities that Rumple did through further exposure to Belle and the presence of his sons (see his own section in the Magical Lands page for more details). The main reality's Rumple ultimately has to make a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy him after Wish!Rumple claims the Darkness in its entirety and becomes the only Dark One.
  • Flanderization: In Season 4, all of his negative traits become amplified and his positive ones diminished. He also plans to take over the world, once he cleaves himself from the dagger. Toward the end, this was explained as due to the darkness in his heart that had grown from his centuries of evil deeds consuming it, causing him to lose all of his positive traits and might ultimately kill his entire personality, leaving only the Dark One.
  • Forgot About His Powers: He hasn't used the ability to see the future he took from the Seer since Season 2, and it hasn't been mentioned since early Season 3. There are many times it would have come in handy.
  • Freudian Excuse: He has a multitude of them, for a variety of aspects of his character.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: In "The Return", it is revealed that the reason he refused to be with Belle as she was his True Love was because he could lose his chance to see his son in another world.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: "Desperate Souls" from Season 1 reveals Rumpelstiltskin's origins as a poor sheep farmer.
  • Gambit Roulette: Subverted. His long convoluted plan would be one of these, since it depends on Emma, who doesn't even exist at the time of the plan's inception, taking some very specific actions. (Coming to Storybrooke, deciding to stay there, etc.) However, it isn't one because he knows everything that's going to happen for the next 28 years or so. There's no luck involved when you can see that far ahead.
  • Generation Xerox: "Think Lovely Thoughts" reveals that Rumpelstiltskin's father also traded away his son for magic powers, not to mention was just as manipulative and possessed similar mannerisms.
  • Genre Savvy: Incredibly so when it comes to time travel. When he encounters Emma and Hook after they've gone back in time, he very quickly explains how dangerous it is for them to change anything, firmly tells them not to tell him anything because foreknowledge could be dangerous, has a severe Oh, Crap! reaction when he realizes that they have changed events from the way they originally played out, and quickly works out a plan to fix the problem. He even puts back the clothes they stole to make certain that minor event won't somehow screw anything up down the line. Lastly, he drinks the amnesia potion in order to forget everything about them.
  • Giggling Villain: As the Dark One, a good part of his speech will either be outright giggling or doing so while talking. As Mr. Gold, he just smirks.
  • Gold Tooth: Appropriately as Mr. Gold.
  • Grandpa, What Massive Hotness You Have: As Gold he does have a certain charismatic appeal.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: He was the mastermind behind all the evil that transpired during Season 1, and during much of the series afterwards for that matter.
  • Handicapped Badass: Mr. Gold walks with a limp as a result of a self-inflicted injury during the Ogre Wars. Doesn't stop him from intimidating and manipulating everyone in town, as well as delivering beatings with his cane.
  • Healing Hands: Part of his power is incredible healing magic, including repairing an arm ripped off Dr. Whale with a wave of his hand. Surprisingly, he does not heal his own injured, limping leg.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: He really wants to be the good man Belle and Bae want him to be, and he succeeds... until something tempts him to go back to his old habits.
    • In Season 4, he claims that all of his efforts to do good have come to naught... his son is dead, Storybrooke is in peril, and Belle is completely wrong about him. Rumple declares that he will always be a selfish, power hungry man, going as far as to try and kill the love of his son's life and mother of his grandson just to be free of the dagger.
    • In Season 5, Gold spends the majority of the first half of the season trying to be a better man after becoming mortal and powerless, again, before secretly enchanting Excalibur to transfer the darkness to back to himself upon Hook's death, becoming not just the Dark One (again), but the most powerful Dark One to have ever lived.
    • In Season 6, he starts off bad, then tries to be good in order to help his son Gideon, then goes bad again by teaming up with his mother, only to go good again in the season finale. As seen in the next season, it's this last Heel–Face Turn that finally sticks.
    • In Season 7, his cursed persona appears to be a Dirty Cop in the pocket of Victoria Belfrey. He is actually a Cowboy Cop who really does not tolerate Victoria's influence. He stays this way throughout the rest of the season, in both flashbacks and the present being unwilling to quite cross the line into villainy again in fear of jeopardizing his chances of reuniting with Belle in death.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Granted, in this show, a wardrobe consisting mostly of tight-fitting leather outfits appears to be a prerequisite for joining the dark side.
  • Hellish Pupils: As Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: After much build-up, he finally performs one in "Going Home". It happens again in the series finale, and this time it sticks.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Rumpelstiltskin's overarching goal is to get his son back and he manipulates everyone and everything to work towards that goal, specifically to find a magic bean that can open a portal between worlds. Only a precious few characters discover this.
  • Hidden Depths: Within depths within depths.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: A lot of Rumpel's personal problems stem from his inability to choose love and just be happy. In Season 4, if he had just been content with Belle he would still be with her.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Season 2 has him trapped in Storybrooke because he brought magic to the place. That allowed the memory-wiping spell on the town line to function. However, he later finds a way to let him leave.
  • Hot for Student: During his time teaching Cora, and she returns his feelings. He doesn't, however, fall for her daughter, Zelena, though she falls for him in the third season.
  • Humanity Ensues: What almost happens when Belle kisses him and what (technically) happens after the curse is cast.
  • Hypocrite: While Cora started Regina down the road to darkness, Rumple made damn sure she continued down it.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: As Rumpelstiltskin, he is the next avatar of the Dark One and thus is bound by the same problem. However, when Belle tries to break his curse with True Love's Kiss, he rejects her, believing it to be a trick.
    • Subverted in "Going Home".
  • I Did What I Had to Do: 'The end justifies the means' pretty much describes his entire character. He's a MASSIVE victim of Heel–Face Revolving Door for this reason. His intentions are pretty much always selfish-yet-noble, but he can never stay on the straight-and-narrow for very long.
  • I Know Your True Name: Knowing people's names gives him power over them.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • For as wise and learned as he is, he does hold this in "The Outsider", as he failed to collect the gun Hook stole from Belle. This caused Hook to keep it and be in an opportunity to shoot Belle, making her fall over the Town Line, forgetting her life as Belle. Though in his defense, he's had centuries imbued with overwhelming power with no real weakness - it's entirely possible he never even considered that to be a threat or that someone would attack his loved ones.
    • In Season 3, he fails to identify the illusory Belle as a trick by Pan, even though he knows it's not real. Regina lampshades this, pointing out that he, of all people, really should have known better.
    • Grabs it firmly in Season 4, where he becomes a villain again, even though he has good shot at a happy ending. He gets banished from Storybrooke by Belle.
  • In-Series Nickname: Hook constantly calls him "Crocodile", because of the scaly skin of his imp form.
  • Informed Ability:
    • In the pilot, a guard warns Snow and Charming that Rumpelstiltskin has power over everyone he knows the name and face of. This is never mentioned again, apart from Emma's name being the trigger to wake him up from the Dark Curse. Perhaps in this case, it's justified/handwaved if you assume that the guard's statement is meant to be taken at metaphorical value rather than literally - if Rumpelstiltskin knows who you are, it means he knows how you relate to everyone else and thus can tailor his deals appropriately. It could also just be an example of his reputation taking on a life of its own.
    • He claims to be able to recognize a lie because he can recognize the burden. Like Henry and Emma, his Living Lie Detector fails whenever emotions cloud his judgement.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: There are several hints that he yearns for the days when he was just a simple weaver.
  • I Own This Town:
    • In Storybrooke, he does. We're not kidding. He owns all the land; the citizens are just his tenants.
    • In a sense, also true in the Enchanted Forest. Despite not having any thrones or land, as the most powerful being in the world, he pretty much calls the shots wherever he goes.
  • I Will Find You: To Baelfire. He manipulates decades' worth of fairy tale history to make it happen, including the rise of the Evil Queen and the relationship between Snow White and Prince Charming, culminating in the Enchanted Forest being ripped apart!
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: Several of his deals involve having someone's child turned over to him.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Rumpelstiltskin/Gold never does anything that doesn't serve his own ends somehow. Even trying to reconnect with Bae after they are reunited and trying to restore Belle's lost memories are all so that Gold can fill the empty void in his soul. He doesn't even help those he loves for the sake of helping them, but purely so that they will love him back. Not once does it occur to him that selflessness is the one thing that could save him and give him his happy ending.
    • Starts to become averted with the end of season two. He comes to realise that while Lacey makes things easy and killing Henry would solve his problem (something Lacey even suggests), it's Belle and Henry that he needs and wants (and he says as much). He uses the Blue Fairy's antidote to restore Belle's memories and embarks on a quest with the rest expressly for the purpose of honouring Bae, who everyone thinks is dead. (A quest he doesn't expect that he'll come back from, no less.)
    • Subverted in Season 3, where he realises the only way to protect his girlfriend, son and grandson is through his own death, after which he commits a Heroic Sacrifice. The aftermath of that sacrifice, though, doesn't exactly give him reason to believe that doing the right thing is worth the cost as he ends up being enslaved by Zelena and loses his beloved son anyway.
    • Played painfully straight in Season 4, where he's willing to kill the mother of his grandson for power and later chooses to condemn the entire town (sans Belle and Henry) to destruction simply because it's convenient for his plans. He outright says to Hook that he will value his own needs above everyone else's, every single time.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his jerkish qualities, he genuinely loves his son and Belle. In season two, he gave Henry a protective charm to help with the after effects of the slapping curse and didn't ask for anything in return. This was before he knew that Henry was his grandson. In season three, he sacrificed his life to save Henry from Peter Pan. When he was resurrected, he was willing to trade his freedom in an attempt to save Neal and Belle.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Mr. Gold has some positive qualities and genuinely loves Belle and his son (yet is shown to break promises and/or behave cruelly toward them because of his obsession with power), and in addition to his gambits with positive outcomes, likes to make deals to screw people over and has killed for poorly justified reasons.
    • In the season 3 finale, not only does he trick Belle into believing she has the Dark One's dagger when it's actually a fake and use the real deal to kill a powerless and imprisoned Zelena out of revenge, he also has the nerve to act offended when he's accused of having something to do with her death and use Belle (who utterly believes that he's changed his ways and is innocent) as an unknowing alibi. He keeps the act in season 4.
  • Joker Immunity: Dies. Multiple times. Keeps barely surviving. Until the series finale, when, de-powered except for a bit of magic he stole from his Wish Realm counterpart, he sacrifices himself and saves them all.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • His only retribution for his crimes so far is being separated from his son which he finds in Season 2 and being separated from his girlfriend, Belle (who still has not regained her memories). Also, the curse of losing memories once crossing the town line was a direct consequence of him bringing magic to Storybrooke.
    • Karma catches up to him in Season 3, but he is able to accept it, endure it, and redeem himself... even though it costs him his life.
    • Played straight in the Season 6 finale, where he decides to do the right thing for once after literally just having helped create the horrible situation everyone is currently in, and is Easily Forgiven by everyone, including Belle who takes him back.
  • Kavorka Man: Despite his rather grotesque appearance, Rumpelstiltskin seems to be able to seduce practically any woman, including Cora (who sees power as an attractive trait), Regina (same as Cora, though to a lesser extent), Zelena (he was the first person that ever gave her a chance, in spite of how slim that chance was) and Belle (who saw the man beneath the monster after spending so much time with him). Understandable, considering his charisma, being the "Beast" in the "True Beauty Is on the Inside" Beauty and the Beast story, and being played by Robert frickin' Carlyle.
    Rumpelstiltskin: (Talking to Zelena) It's okay. I have that effect on women. You love me.
  • Kill It with Fire: Cinderella's poor fairy godmother never even got a chance to scream.
  • Kiss of Distraction: Tries this on Zelena in an attempt to retrieve his dagger. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.
  • Knight Templar Parent: He is willing to destroy worlds to see his son again.
  • Knowledge Broker: Even in a jail cell, he knows a frightening amount about everything—but getting the information has insanely steep price tags attached.
  • Lack of Empathy: Unless it connects to him or he can relate to it due to similarities to his own issues, never expect him to give a damn about other people's problems. As he once tells Hook, "when it comes to concerning myself with me versus everyone else, me wins every time!"
  • Large Ham: Robert Carlyle plays both ends of the spectrum. He takes this up to eleven as Rumplestiltskin, and masterfully subverts it as Mr. Gold. As Rumplestiltskin he leaves no scenery unchewed. Oozing menace, climbing the walls, theatrically gesturing, hissing his lines with malice or howling in rage, he owns every minute he's onscreen. In his Mr. Gold getup, Carlyle depicts him as a subtle, calculating, always-in-control schemer who is as smooth as the expensive silk suits he wears. He is always unruffled and subtly takes control of every situation he's in. It's notable that he always speaks in a low voice, which helps him manipulate others because they have to stop whatever they're doing and listen carefully to him in order to hear what he's saying. And as Mr. Gold, he also owns every minute he's onscreen.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After being a Karma Houdini for a long time, he gets it hard' in Season 4 where after half a season lying to Belle, she banishes him from Storybooke and ends their relationship.
  • Laughing Mad: As Rumpelstiltskin. Taken Up to Eleven in the second half of season 3, after the Wicked Witch revives him from his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Lighter and Softer: You wouldn't think it would be possible but, despite being much more powerful, clever and dangerous in this version than in his original fairy tale, he somehow manages to come off as this. In this version, he's a baby broker who Would Not Hurt A Child. Also, as the beast, agreeing to rescue a village in exchange for the princess being his maid (and giving his assurance that he wouldn't expect her to take care of anything other than as a housekeeper) is a lot less evil than kidnapping and threatening to kill an old man if his daughter didn't take his place.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Despite his insistence that I Am Not My Father, and his going into the Ogre Wars determined to prove that he wasn't a coward like his father, things only went to hell after a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • Living Lie Detector: It runs in the family. He easily gets that Wendy was lying because he was used to lies in his life.
  • Loan Shark: In addition to being a pawn broker and the landlord for pretty much the entire town, frequently operates as a particularly inflexible loan shark.
  • Loners Are Freaks: And as Rumpelstiltskin, he's freakier than most.
  • Lovable Coward: Temporarily in "Desperate Souls," before he kills The Dark One and takes his power. And even afterwards, he has moments of this.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Even Evil Has Loved Ones. Unfortunately that same love drives him to want to acquire more power.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: "Manhattan" reveals that Rumpelstiltskin is Henry's paternal grandfather.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: He reveals to the Black Fairy that he's her son.
  • Madness Mantra: Emma guesses he had one when he was trapped in his jail cell as he wrote her name over and over and over and over again on one single page. Subverted because the ink her name was written in was Anti-Magic ink that would help them escape from his cell.
    • From "Witch Hunt": "You feed the madness, and it feeds on you!"
  • Magic Knight: He prefers magic or manipulation, but he's no slouch with a sword either.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Mr. Gold. His name says it all!
  • Manipulative Bastard: Rarely is forced into doing something he doesn't want to do. He's also another kind of bastard all together.
  • May–December Romance: With Belle, as he's easily centuries older than her due to being the Dark One.
  • Meaningful Name: His Storybrooke name, Mr. Gold, is a reference to both the original and Enchanted Forest fairy tales, in which he spun gold from straw. Likewise his Seattle name, Weaver.
  • Memory Jar: He can apparently use a dreamcatcher to capture and hold memories.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: From his cell, he arranged for the Evil Queen to unleash the Dark Curse on the Enchanted Forest. He had the ink of a squid which is actually Anti-Magic ink and could get him his freedom anytime he wanted.
    "I'm exactly where I wanna be!"
  • Motive Decay: His driving motivation was to find his son and earn his forgiveness and become a good man, but after Neal is killed by Zelena, Gold's goals are less than noble. He tries to cleave himself from the dagger by ways of a complicated ritual that involves killing Hook. Belle banishes him when she finds out. So he teams up with Cruella, Ursula, Maleficent and Zelena, his son's murderer, to plot his vengeance.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: The Reveal of "The Miller's Daughter" that he had a budding romance with Cora before she went off with Prince Henry certainly puts a new spin on his arranging things so that Regina would have to kill Henry in order to enact the Dark Curse.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • The one promise he ever broke: he was given a chance to live with his son in another world that was without magic, freeing him from the mantle of the Dark One, but couldn't let go of his power and lost his son. He set out making the Dark Curse as a means of fixing this.
    • Perhaps replaced as of Season 2, as he considers himself indirectly responsible for Baelfire's (apparent) death. This event (plus Lacey suggesting he should just kill the boy who will be his downfall) clearly mark the points at which he seriously starts to reconsider his stance on who he should be blaming. Both events hit right at home at the two things we know he holds sacred at any and all times of his life: his son and children.
      Mr Gold: They didn't kill him. I did.
  • Neutral No Longer: He probably would have become relatively harmless (if unhelpful) after Bae's death. But then Greg and Tamara just had to try and destroy the town (even if it was a distraction) which made him realize that he needed Belle and needed Bae and by proxy, Henry which kicks him out of his funk and re-energizes him to change his mind.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: He's an odd version of this in that while he has killed a number of innocent people for poorly justified reasons, he's just never killed anyone whom he actually believes is innocent. From his perspective his victims were a man who is basically the devil, evil child-kidnapping soldiers, a man who nearly killed his son with a horse and cart and then yelled at Bae for being in the way, spies trying to steal his dagger and control him, the man who ran off with his wife and then later kidnapped his girlfriend, the emotionally abusive ex-wife who abandoned their child and a bunch of people who wanted to kill him. His scary outburst at Belle was brought on by the fact that he honestly thought she was trying to turn him human so she could 'be the hero and kill the beast'. He even defends his pursuit of Robin Hood (who in all fairness did break into his house, rob him and try to kill him) by saying that anyone who'd steal magic is obviously evil. After finding out Robin just wanted to save his pregnant wife, Rumpel not only gives up trying to kill him but lets him keep the wand.
    • He eventually drops this in Season 4. In an attempt to be free of his dagger, Rumple attempts to trick Emma, someone who he acknowledges as a hero, into being absorbed into his magic hat. He freely admits to Ingrid and Hook that he is betraying her for purely selfish reasons.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: After the battle with Zelena with Zelena being put in prison, Belle gives him the Dark One's Dagger, and then he proceeds to stab Zelena with said dagger, destroying her body but bringing back the time portal which led to Hook and Emma changing the past...
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: He spares Hook's life in "The Outsider", and in return, Hook shoots Belle, which causes her to cross over the town line and lose her memories. Ouch.
  • No Social Skills: He can more or less get by when dealing with people from the Enchanted Forest. However, when it comes to dealing with people from the real world, his lack of social skills becomes blatantly obvious. It's especially highlighted when Emma took him to the airport in their quest to find Baelfire. Him snapping at the airport staff and the other people waiting in line, which quite possibly could have landed him on a no-fly-list in real life, showed just how little he knew about dealing with people in modern times. He does, however, overcome this weakness by the latter part of the fourth season after Belle banishes him from the town and he's forced to adapt to modern times all on his own. Though we're not shown how exactly he's acclimated himself into the modern world, we do know that he's gained some sort of credentials for himself as a professor and even learned to use the internet. And in order to survive in the modern world as a handicapped man with no more magic to fend for himself, Gold presumably had to improve his social skills on some level.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: Calling him a coward will result in him beating the shit out of you with a cane.
  • Not Me This Time: Despite his past penchant for revenge and frame-jobs, he tells Emma, Charming, and Snow he was not involved in Archie's "death" to hurt Regina.
  • Nouveau Riche: He's a former peasant who grows rich after learning how to turn straw into gold. He even once called Belle "the help". He told Regina in "The Evil Queen" that his maid had a lot of potential.
  • Obviously Evil: In his fairy-tale form. Just look at that scaly bastard!
  • Oh, Crap!: Tends to have composed versions of this when certain parts of his plan don't go quite the way they're supposed to, but he has a spectacular escalating series of these in "Manhattan". In the past, a Seer tells him his actions on the battlefield will leave his son fatherless. At this, he is shaken, but doesn't believe all of her words. He's then scared out of his wits when he finds out the Seer's prophecy that they would ride cows into battle came true, in a figurative sense. In the present, he has the silent, genuinely stunned version when he connects the dots of why Emma knows Baelfire already - Henry is Baelfire's son, making Rumpel Henry's paternal grandfather. If that wasn't enough, he then realizes that Henry is the boy in the Seer's last prophecy that would bring about his "undoing".
  • Only One Name:
    • Both his Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke personas. "Mr. Gold" has no known first name.
    • When he first meets Dr. Frankenstein, however, he introduces himself as Rumpel von Stiltskin. Given that almost everyone calls him Rumpel it's possible that is his first name and Stiltskin was his last. But given who he is, it's rather more likely that he's putting on airs; claiming a "von" in one's name is stating that one is a noble, and Victor von Frankenstein is far more likely to hear out a fellow member of the aristocracy than some strange commoner.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Bae's apparent death pretty much made him indifferent and almost a Death Seeker.
  • Our Demons Are Different: While only ever called a demon on one or two occasions, it's probably what he is. However, he got that way via a curse as opposed to dying, falling from grace, being born/created that way or any of the other ways one generally goes about becoming a demon. Also, while it would originally appear that he is bound by some sort of demon rules that prohibit him from breaking deals or telling a direct lie. It turns out no, he's just got some sort of standards and can break or refuse to make deals without spontaneously combusting or having some horrific thing happen to him (granted given that the one deal he broke cost him his son, it might explain why he's reluctant to break his promises). Also, while he can't actually be summoned (you're allowed to call for him, he just may choose not to answer), he can be controlled via magical artefact (providing he doesn't stab you to death with it first) in a similar way to genies.
  • Overarching Villain: The longest-lasting villain in the series who has not made a stable Heel–Face Turn, plus the catalyst for many of the bad events and other villains in the show.
  • Papa Wolf: He is willing to kill the Dark One to try and save his son from serving in the army. Shame this ended up in turning him From Nobody to Nightmare. After becoming the Dark One, he becomes an evil version, turning a man into a snail and stepping on him just for accidentally injuring Baelfire with a cart. He goes to great lengths to protect his and Belle's unborn child as well, up to and including letting Hades use him, selling out Storybrooke, and going to the land of untold stories to wake Belle up. As Belle puts it, "no one will fight for this child like its father."
  • Parental Abandonment: When he was a young child, his father left him. It's shown he was abandoned by his mother, the Black Fairy, in exchange for power as well. He didn't learn from this and did the same to his own son as well. At least he was more remorseful for his actions than his father.
  • Parents as People: Before and after becoming the Dark One, Rumpelstiltskin shows himself to be a loving, if very flawed father.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Once he's freed from Zelena's control, he immediately plots to exact his revenge against her, since he promised his son he would do so.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In Season 2, when Regina calls him about Henry receiving burns from his dreams, Rumpel makes a house call, explains the situation calmly and even provides a means of controlling the situation. The Price: As it was for Henry, he charged nothing.
    • When the Sheriff of Nottingham has something Rumpel needs and states that his price is a night with Belle, Rumpel (who is fresh off skinning someone alive repeatedly mind you) is... not amused with those terms and politely allows the Sheriff to adjust his offer.
    • In "The New Neverland", after Charming returns to Storybrooke still poisoned by dreamshade, Rumple simply hands him the cure and accepts nothing in return.
    • In the season 3 finale, he helps Emma and Hook from the future reconstruct Snow and Charming's relationship. Later, back in the present, he and Belle are married.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: In the Season 2 episode "Queen of Hearts", it is revealed he had the key to his escape from the Fairy Tale prison all along. He just didn't use it because it would be detrimental to his long-term plans.
  • Physical God: As The Dark One, Rumpelstiltskin has access to incredible levels of magical power, immortality from any weapon save for True Love's Kiss destroying his curse and turning him normal or his cursed dagger outright killing him, and bouts of super strength (though that could be magic as well). In the Enchanted Forest people ran in fear of the Dark One for good reason.
  • Powerful and Helpless: When he initially loses Baelfire through a dimensional portal, getting back to him is ironically beyond Rumpel's vast powers which he had become addicted to. He does discover another way to reach the other realm, but it requires centuries of planning, manipulation and dirty deals. This is how he evolves into The Chessmaster of the series, and his greatest power becomes his mastery of the Xanatos Gambit.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: To Zelena: "I promised my son I would avenge his death. Rumpelstiltskin never breaks a deal."
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Very quickly went crazy with his dark powers once he got them, like a kid with a new toy. However that underneath that all power he has a lot of issues, most notably the fact his father abandoning him, and that he unwillingly recreated the same cycle with his son. It's probably why he can hear Pan's magic flute as an adult.
  • Poisonous Friend: Does terrible things in the name of his loved ones, even when they beg him not to.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Rarely does he act on his emotions and approaches situations in a calm, calculated manner hidden beneath his smile and, for Rumpel, laugh. Only when his Berserk Button is pressed does he sometimes step away from this.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: When he needs help looking for Belle his sad look even works on Charming.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: He lets fly with this in "The Stranger", though it's actually aimed at the departing Blue Fairy, one of the closest things the Enchanted Forest has to an actual deity, by all appearances.
    Rumpelstiltskin: "I WILL FIND HIM!"
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Due to his manipulative nature, nearly every apprentice he has ever had has tried to kill him (or at least tried backstabbing him to some extent) at one point or another.
  • Read the Fine Print: As Rumpelstiltskin he does not advocate those who make deals with him to look further than the simple wording of his promise. As Mr. Gold, he is amazed at how few people actually read the Town charter, which points out some holes in Regina's power.
  • “The Reason You Suck” Speech:
    • Given one by Belle about his cowardice and his inability to let himself be happy.
    • Gives more than his fair share. Notably to Emma in season 3 for her inability to take a leap of faith and how she can only accept that which is before her.
  • Redemption Equals Death: In "Going Home", he sacrifices his life to kill his father and save everyone he loves from him.
    • It happens again in "Leaving Storybrooke", where he sacrifices his life to save the life of his friend Wish!Hook and kill Wish!Rumple. This time around, he doesn't come back to life.
  • Redemption Rejection:
    • As Rumpel pushes away Belle lest True Love's Kiss turns him back to normal. He later regrets the decision.
    • He also had a chance to travel to another world with his son and start over. However, since this meant giving up his powers, he hesitated and lost his son instead.
    • Once again when he chooses to give into his desire for revenge and kills Zelena, despite Belle having absolute trust in him not to do so.
    • After spending most of season 5 a normal human again and trying to be a hero it's revealed to be an act as the moment he had a chance to obtain the powers of the Dark One again he happily takes it. He then gains the power of every single Dark One that has existed including Emma.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: He pleads this to his son telling him that he's changed from his old ways, but his son isn't entirely convinced until he sees proof that Rumpel removed his shadow like he claimed. Ultimately subverted as he'll always crave the powers of the Dark One even as a normal human.
  • Sanity Slippage: After Belle loses all her memories after being shot by Hook Mr. Gold loses it, even threatening to kill everyone if any harm befalls Belle.
  • Secret Keeper: In "Skin Deep", we learn he's retained at least some of his memories; he knows his real identity and remembers Belle and what happened to her.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: is part of one spanning centuries.
    • First, he loses Bae to the world without magic, who by actions outside of Rumple's control, manages to become mature by the 20th century.
    • Then, to get to Bae, he manipulates history to get not only people to enact the curse, but also sets up the counter for the curse to be born just in time for its activation. Said counter (Emma) grew up in the 20th century world without magic, maturing to adulthood.
    • Next, by sheer coincidence, without Rumples direct input or influence, Bae and Emma meet up and conceive Henry. Once Henry is put up for adoption, Rumple arranges for Regina to adopt him, knowing he is the son of the savior, but unaware that he is his grandson, and effectively, his own undoing.
    • Which means, Henry only exists due to Rumples actions, and therefore fulfills the prophecy.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Twice. First he kills his father Malcolm/Peter Pan with the Dark One's Dagger, and then finishes him off during the trip to the Underworld in season 5 by using water from the Acheron river to send Pan's soul to the Worse Place. Later, he kills his mother Fiona/the Black Fairy with her own wand.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Well, according to one particular student:
    Regina: Rumpel was a bully. He didn't suffer fools and he certainly didn't coddle his students. And if he tried to teach you how to swim and you couldn't learn... you drowned.
  • Snake Talk: As Rumpelstiltskin. You have to listen for it but it's there. Not as Mr. Gold. He also didn't have it initially as the Dark One but as we see him slowly slip into his singsong snake voice the less he has Baelfire around as a Morality Pet.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Neither of his cursed personas use "dearie" until the show reveals that he has his memories back.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The show consistently spells Rumpelstiltskin's name as "Rumplestiltskin".
  • Spoiler Opening: Not many were surprised to see Rumplestiltskin alive and well during the second half of Season 3, due to Robert Carlyle's name not disappearing from the main cast credits.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: He enjoys surprising those who summon him by showing up immediately behind them.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • In a way. Most of the time he likes to act as flamboyant as possible when he knows people are looking. But in Episode 6, he's shown as being quite subdued when he's off to the side drinking as David and his mother have their own conversation.
    • In Episode 12 we learn he has serious self esteem issues and thinks of himself as a monster.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Why Rumpel is permanently stuck in the Heel–Face Revolving Door. If he did permanently turn good, he could defeat every foe that showed up and there'd be no real conflict anymore. Justified since Emma spent some time as a Dark One and succumbed to the lure of its power a little bit; there's something about evil magic that still steers even the purest-hearted person in the direction of manipulation and deceit.
  • Straw Character: Mr. Gold is a man of many professions and he plays to the worst stereotypes about all of them: he's a pawnbroker who often shades into being a Loan Shark, a heartless landlord who evicts his tenants at the slightest opportunity, and an Amoral Attorney who conspires against his own clients.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: As Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Super Strength: Or at least enhanced strength, which as Rumbelstiltskin he demonstrates several times. One notable instance is when Belle falls from a height of at least ten feet and he catches her effortlessly.
  • The Svengali: Rumpelstiltskin appears to have been this to Regina in the past since he was the one who taught her magic and manipulated her into using it to kill in "The Doctor".
  • Taking You with Me: To his father Malcolm (aka Peter Pan) in "Going Home".
  • Teacher/Student Romance: His relationship with Cora had a tendency to include deals sealed with a kiss, Squick to the agonized cries of some viewers.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Stated by Baelfire to be one of the few things they agree on.
  • Terms of Endangerment:
    • Likes to refer to everyone, male and female, as "dearie." Including his fans in real life.
    • Used for character purposes on Earth: he doesn't do it there until it's revealed to the audience that he can remember the Enchanted Forest.
    • However, he seems to reserve 'sweetheart' for Belle, as seen in one episode.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Shares it with Regina in Season 2 and season 3.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: He was never particularly nice to begin with, but he's really taken his villainy up a notch in Season 4, which ends up becoming an almost fatal plot-point for him toward the end.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The chipped cup Belle broke. As Rumpel he moved aside a golden goblet to put it on a pedestal and as Mr. Gold he was willing to beat a man and give up on a secret of his just to get it back. His knife also qualifies as it always reminds him of his son and his inability to let go of his new-found power.
  • Tragic Villain: Fate and circumstance made him a monster. His cowardly, selfish choices only made things worse for him.
  • Tranquil Fury: As Mr. Gold. He rarely yells and goes on a rampage when angry. He speaks in a calm voice. Even after Belle loses her memory, and he tells everyone he will kill all of them if any harm comes to Belle, he still speaks in a calm voice, taking it up to eleven.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Season 3 puts him through a particularly vicious one at the hands of Zelena. She tricks his son into bringing him back from the dead, eventually killing Neal - but not before Rumpel absorbs his son for a year in an effort to keep him alive, driving the Dark One insane once again. Once Neal dies - in front of Rumpel, no less - Zelena asserts control with his dagger to make him her puppet and force him to break all of his morals, including threatening to harm Belle and a child, all the while gloating that it was his fault for not picking her to enact the curse (which would have required her to kill him, driving it further that all of this was pointless). Oh, and he's kept in a cage in her storm cellar the entire time, not even allowed to attend his own son's funeral or wake. By the end, it's no wonder that he wants her dead.
    • Even before that, his life as a whole is one. His father is a manipulative sociopath who abandoned him, his wife hated him and abandoned him and his son for Hook, he keeps reuniting with and losing Belle and his son...
  • The Trickster: As Rumpelstiltskin; a classic example.
  • Übermensch: For the most part, his idea of morality is entirely based around Belle, Bae, and deals. Outside of that, anything is fair game.
  • The Unfettered: Played Straight with Rumpelstiltskin when he tries finding his son. He clearly Would Hit a Girl in "Manhattan".
  • Verbal Tic: "Dearie" as Rumpelstiltskin. It's worth noting that as both of his cursed personas, he doesn't use it until he is revealed to have his memories back.
  • Villain Ball Magnet: For Baelfire's and Belle's sake, he does at least try to be good... but he's also aware he honestly can't help himself from invariably slipping back into his old ways.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Has an epic one in Episode 12, after Belle kisses him and he believes she's been working for the Queen (or trying to kill him) all along. In the present day, he's having another one as he batters Moe French with his cane.
    • And then when he learns about the line outside of town removing the Storybrooke residents' memories if they cross it, meaning that after all his years of planning to get to this point, he's still no closer to being able to find his son.
  • Villainous BSoD:
    • Has one after he thinks his son has died in Episode 44...and after his son really does die in Episode 59.
    • He has another one after he kills his mother, the Black Fairy, in "The Final Battle: Part 2", his arm shaking and him staring silently at the pile of dust that was his mother until Belle comes in to snap him out of it.
  • Villains Never Lie:
    • So far, both of his incarnations have never actually told a lie. Granted, either one may have said something that is "technically" true, for certain values of "true", but not once has either one told an outright lie. He even tried to work his way out of a deal with Regina by technically not lying with each response until she closed every loophole with follow up questions leaving him with the final choice of lying or speaking the truth. He picked the truth. See Secret Keeper for more on what was said.
    • He admits as much to Charming, who notes that there's a difference between not lying and being honest.
    • He does lie right to Belle's face in that same episode, when he tells her that he doesn't care about her before sending her away.
    • Also, when he's so close to fulfilling his master plan in the first season finale, he finally decides to flat-out lie and tell Emma that Regina abandoned her and sabotaged the elevator, so she'd better toss up that potion to him before he helps her up. She does so, he leaves, and then it's revealed he'd actually bound and gagged Regina while he sabotaged the elevator.
    • Also, he gave Belle a fake dagger when they married. When she finds out, she's not happy.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Charming. To date, Rumpel has gone to Charming for dating advice twice. On one occasion, Rumpel was willing to go as far as to willing leave himself in Charming's debt, which has never happened before. On all occasions, however, Rumpel goes back to being his usual self as soon as Charming's done helping him.
  • Wealth's in a Name: His Storybrooke alias, "Mr. Gold," is a nod to his real identity as Rumpelstiltskin, but also serves as this considering he's a wealthy pawnbroker.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: All the people who have wronged Rumpelstiltskin end up regretting it. Or dead.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: By Season 7, he's come to see immortality as a burden.
  • Wild Card: Given the multiple times he's gone through the Heel–Face Revolving Door and his tempestuous relationship with Belle and every major character in Storybrooke, it's safe to say that the only side he's really on is his own.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: With his son as his Morality Pet he was still somewhat stable. However, once Bae was gone he dove into full-blown insanity. More or less happened again after Bae died, after which he turned from occassional ally into full-blown villain, from the heroes' perspective. Without his purpose of protecting/finding his son, he seems to lose both his sense of morality and his grip on reality.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: He "destroy[s] this world for the next." Probably one of the few instances where the Destroyer of Worlds actually succeeds!
  • Would Hit a Girl: He knocks out Red because she was trying to stop him and Regina from cursing a well out of which Mary Margaret and Emma were going to come out. He is also shown to be very willing to beat Emma with a cane and threaten Wendy Darling with a sword before being stopped both times.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child:
    • For all his evil doings, he has never been seen harming, manipulating, or even raising a hand at a child. See Pet the Dog for further details.
    • In "Lacey", upon discovering that the reason Robin Hood stole a wand from him was to heal Marian, who was deathly ill and pregnant, Rumpelstiltskin intentionally misses with the arrow he was aiming at them. Made more telling that the bow used was enchanted to ensure the arrow always find the archer's intended target.
    • Averted when under Zelena's control he threatens Roland to get Robin to give up Regina's heart. He doesn't want to, but since Zelena has his dagger he really has no choice.
    • Almost subverted with Henry when he tries to kill him at the end of Season 2. He is stopped and comes to regret his actions shortly afterward. While he tries to kill Henry again in the Season 4 finale, he has different memories at this point that leave out his Freudian Excuse for not harming children.
  • You Are What You Hate: He's essentially a watered-downed version of his deadbeat father, Peter Pan.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Centuries of evil deeds have essentially turned his heart into a black lump, with only a little bit of love left. If the darkness truly consumes his heart, he'll die, hence why he wants to find the Author.
  • Younger Than They Look: Looks exactly the same before Bae was born as he does when Bae is fourteen. Presumably life in the crapsack part of a Crapsaccharine World aged him prematurely.

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