Signature Line: “No one decides my fate but me.”
Belle is one of Once Upon a Time’s loveliest characters not only in terms of her outward good looks, but most especially and importantly so, through her inner beauty and strength. Belle is one of Disney’s most beloved heroines and although there are many differences between the two character depictions, many things remain the same. Belle is extremely intelligent and well read, longs for adventure and to be a hero, and has the ability to see the best in others. Although at times she has been blinded by love, her faith sometimes naive, making a few mistakes in judgment along the way, when it matters the most she displays a great amount of strength of character, showing compassion and forgiveness while also standing up for herself and others.
- “Belle banishes Rumple from Storybrooke.” (Season 4, Episode 11 “Heroes and Villains”)
Although this moment was filled with heartbreak for Belle and Rumplestilskin, she needed this moment. She needed to wake up and discover her husband had been lying to her and choosing power over honesty. Her pain is heart wrenching, but as a viewer I was so proud to see her finally stand up for herself in such a powerful way by banishing him from Storybrooke, because as much as she loves him she needs to respect herself. She said she wanted to be chosen and be enough for someone. We all deserve that from our loved ones. Perhaps Rumple will be able to do this one day, but until that happens, Belle chooses herself and it was extremely poignant to watch.
- “Belle defeats the Yaoguai and saves Prince Phillip.” (Season 2, Episode 11 “The Outsider”)
Many had tried to defeat the horrible “monster” the Yaoguai and many had failed, but our beloved bookworm was more than up for the task. Not only does she track the beast in under a day thanks to her keen reasoning, but she “defeats” him because she displays what everyone else apparently failed to show- understanding and compassion. When she approaches it, she realizes that this monster is simply trying to communicate but cannot properly do so because of its frightening form. She uses fairy dust given to her and we see that this was no monster, but rather brave and kind Prince Philip, who has been cursed in this form. Her intelligence and compassion saved him and we see one of the show’s most beautiful heroic acts in the process.
- “Belle and Killian work together and commiserate over being blinded by love.” (Season 4, Episode 12 “Darkness on the Edge of Town”)
This moment is wonderful for so many reasons. Not only does it show how far these two characters have come individually, but also in their relationship with each other. He hurt her greatly but she recognizes that he deeply regrets his actions and has been trying to be a better person and earn forgiveness. And she obviously does forgive him. The apology and absolution is not done through words but through action as shown perfectly in this scene. They work together quite aptly and show each other understanding with how easy it is to blinded by love. And the tears in her eyes when he tries to comfort her with kinds words about the man who hurt them both is a lovely way of showing the emerging friendship between them. You can only be honest and vulnerable with those you trust. I deeply hope for the two of them to become even better friends as the series goes on.
- “Belle kisses Rumplestiltskin for the first time and it appears to be True Love’s Kiss.” (Season 1, Episode 12 “Skin Deep”)
This moment of vulnerability and love between these two characters is what made so many fall in love with this couple. Though much has changed since, one cannot deny that in this brief moment Belle was able to break through the Dark One persona to the man Rumplestilskin. The kiss is gentle and sweet and looked like it may free him from his curse. The scene quickly changes toward anger and unwillingness to let that happen but seeing the power of this instance of Belle and Rumple’s true love was lovely.
- “Belle stands up to Regina but graciously accepts her apology.” (Season 3, Episode 18 “Bleeding Through”)
Regina had wronged Belle in many ways so when she finds her looking around Gold’s pawn shop with carelessness Belle understandably is angry and it was great to see her stand up to someone who could physically and magically overpower her. When Regina asks what she has, Belle answers “Some self respect!” Good for her! But she is also someone who is willing to graciously accept an apology and when Regina does so, Belle helps her find what she is looking for. This was a great scene!!
- “Belle saves Killian’s life by preventing Rumplestilskin from crushing his heart.” (Season 4, Episode 11 “Heroes and Villains”)
When Rumple took Killian’s heart, many of us thought Emma would be the one to save him. Some were even disappointed that was not the case. I will admit that the resolution was a bit too quick, but I digress. This was about an important moment for Belle. Not only was she saving the life of someone, but someone who had hurt her in the past; and in doing so she was taking a stand against her husband. Once again she got to be a hero; it caused her heartbreak in the process, but in a way that makes it even more significant. She sacrificed something in order to save another. That is true heroism.
- “Belle and Ariel work together to help get Pandora’s box to Neverland.” (Season 3, Episode 7 “Dark Hollow”)
I love when Belle teams up with other characters to achieve a common goal, especially when she makes a friend in the process. We have seen this many times, and this was is definitely a favorite. Not only did we see a true camaraderie between the two women (and two beloved Disney Princesses to boot- who doesn’t love seeing Belle and Ariel on a mission together), but once again it was Belle’s quick thinking and determination that saved the day. She stops John and Michael Darling form destroying Pandora’s box, but is willing to listen and even help them after the fact despite the horror they just put them through. What a forgiving soul she has.
- “Belle tries to save her memory stone instead of helping Anna who falls off a cliff.” (Season 4, Episode 6 “Family Business”)
I always appreciate when Once Upon a Time shows how good characters who you think could never possibly make a mistake, are actually capable of doing so- and sometimes a grave one. Belle decides to reach for a stone that would restore the memories of what caused her mother’s death, instead of quickly helping Anna from falling off a steep cliff. She acted selfishly, and even if it was just for a moment, it had huge repercussions. Anna fell and was captured by the Snow Queen. Of course Belle is wracked with guilt- but the point of this moment was not to demean Belle or make us think poorly of her. It was to show us she is human. We all makes mistakes. It is how we react and work to correct them that matters.
- “Belle sees a reflection of her deepest fears in the Snow Queen’s mirror.” (Season 4, Episode 6 “Family Business”)
In Emilie’s De Ravin’s best work to date on the show, this chilling scene depicted a reflection from the Snow Queen’s mirror that revealed Belle’s deepest fears- that she is a coward, could never be a hero, that Rumple lied to her about the dagger, and worst of all that he only married her because he needed someone weak he could manipulate. The frightening way the reflection spouts out these fears is as gripping as Belle’s entrancement and gut wrenching reaction to them. Of course one of those fears was the truth, but the most important things were not, showing something very natural and human: a strong sense of self doubt. This was just another case of adding some depth to her character that I greatly appreciate.
- “Belle convinces Dreamy to go after True Love.” (Season 1, Episode 14 “Dreamy”)
Before our favorite dwarf was “Grumpy” he was idealistic and “Dreamy” and in love with a fairy. He was not sure what he was feeling, but when he meets Belle in a tavern one night she not only recognizes how in love he is, but encouraged him to fight for it, in a truly sweet scene. Her line about True Love is one of the most beautiful of the series as well: “Love is hope. It fuels our dreams. And if you’re in it, you need to enjoy it.”
Favorite Little Moments:
– In an appropriate nod to the Beauty and the Beast film, I love the moment when Ruby is trying to help Belle think of a job to look for and asks her what she likes. Her answer of “I do love books” was simple and sweet, and led her in the right direction.
– In the first moment where Belle and Killian research together, him offering to protect her as a way of making amends, she adorably rolls her eyes at him when he says he’s dealing with a hook when trying to handle a book carefully. It was an amusing first sign that these two could actually be friends eventually.
– In the brief time Storybrooke was at peace, I loved seeing Belle’s enthusiastic smile as Killian and Emma walked up to her before Killian kissed Emma goodbye and followed Belle into the library for work. They had come so far, and the sincere and genuine smiles between them warmed my heart.
Favorite Reader Moments:
One of the things I loved most about the moments readers sent in for Belle was how in tune they were with my own picks. I think it shows a strong sense of collective love for certain aspects of her character when specific moments are so overwhelmingly loved.
The top three Belle moments for readers (incidentally the same as mine) are:
- Belle banishes Rumple from Storybrooke in “Heroes and Villains”
- Belle defeats the Yaogui in “The Outsider”
- Belle and Killian bond and work together in “Darkness on the Edge of Town”
The rest of readers favorites are as followed (In episode order):
- Belle tells her father “No One decided my fate but me” in “Skin Deep”
- Belle tells Rumple about True Love in “Skin Deep”
- Belle tells Ruby she is not a monster in “Child of the Moon”
- Belle tricks the men tracking the Yaogui and finds it on her own in “The Outsider”
- Belle casts the cloaking spell to protect Storybrooke from intruders in “Dark Hollow”
- Belle and Ariel work together to obtain Pandora’s box in “Dark Hollow”
Thank you to the following readers for sending in their favorite Belle moments: Maii, Mimi, Hagit, Melissa, Meredith, Emily, and Alyssa 🙂