Signature Line: “All magic comes with a price.”
Rumplestiltskin, known in Storybrooke as Mr. Gold, as well as The Dark One, is an intriguing and extremely complex character. Plagued with self loathing and cowardice, he always struggles with choosing power over love, and is so often the master manipulator and puppeteer of everyone’s lives. And yet you still see how much he wants to love and be loved and in some moments he can garner empathy. One moment he is vindictive and dishonest, the next he shows true vulnerability and honesty. My favorite moments with him tend to be towards the latter, although I also love his impish and flamboyant attitude, and anytime he calls someone “dearie.” No matter what is happening, Rumple is a dynamic character that is fascinating to watch.
- “Rumple sacrifices himself to save Storybrooke from Peter Pan.” (Season 3, Episode 11 “Going Home”)
In Rumple’s most heroic and selfless act he makes the ultimate sacrifice to keep the residents of Storybrooke safe, killing his own father and himself in the process. When his father begs him to stop, saying they can still have a happy ending, Rumple accepts his fate saying that villains don’t get such things. The ironic thing is Rumple may be a villain, but in this moment he was the hero. And despite everything his father had done to him, he still kisses him as they disappear in a flash of golden light. Rumple, who has always struggled with selfishness proved that it is possible for him to put others above himself in a truly powerful moment.
- “Rumple looks out his window waiting for Belle to return.” (Season 1, “Skin Deep”)
One of the sure signs that you are falling in love, is waiting and longing to see them again. In the equivalent of waiting for someone to call them back, Rumple peers out his window looking to see Belle return. The look on his face is as exposed as we have ever seen him and his expression is the kind we only have in private when we are scared. And when he rushes down the stairs and pretends as if he was not waiting for her at all, his true feelings as obvious.
- “Rumple holds his baby son Balefire for the first time.” (Season 2, Episode 14 “Manhattan”)
How can a moment be heartbreaking and sweet simultaneously? When you have a great actor and the serendipitous sweet gesture from a little baby that you can never plan, it is possible. When Rumple holds his son Baelfire for the first time, his son reaches up and touches his nose. He cries telling him “Papa is here.” The future was plagued with broken promises and attempts to make amends, but in this moment Rumple was there for his son.
- “Rumple calls a memory-less Belle thinking he is going to die.” (Season, 2 Episode 16 “The Miller’s Daughter”)
When you believe that you are not long for this world it is often the time you are completely honest with not only yourself but with others. Even though Belle had no memories of him, he knew he had to call her as he lay dying and thank her for loving him even though he felt undeserving. She is obviously touched, crying as she listens to him. If we can get back to this kind of honesty, making real and genuine efforts to do good, perhaps they can make their way back here again. Time will tell.
- “Rumple talks with Emma about choices telling her she always does the right thing.” (Season 4, Episode, 8 “Smash the Mirror”)
This scene has such a complex dichotomy that brilliantly showcases the varying aspects of both characters. Emma is so petrified of hurting someone with her magic that she takes up Rumple’s offer to help her get rid of her magic forever. What she is unaware of is that he truly wants to suck her into the sorcerer’s hat, collecting her so that he can cleave himself from the power of the dagger. What was so interesting however was that, when she asks what he would do he is completely honest about what he would do and what kind of person he is- someone who would never get rid of his power, always makes wrong and bad decisions, and that the belief Belle has that he can change is surely wrong. And then he lays down another truth- that Emma is not like him, and always does the right thing. Although this seems to be a form of psychological manipulation because we know what he truly wants, his honesty was intriguing to me, and the dynamic between the characters captivating.
- “Rumple tells Belle he is afraid when she banishes him from Storybrooke.” (Season 4, Episode 11 “Heroes and Villains”)
When Belle banished her husband from Storybrooke it was both justified and heartbreaking, most especially because of his reaction. He is so terrified and tells Belle so as he steps backwards one agonizing step at a time. And when he finally steps over the threshold of the town line, his leg giving way in a land without magic, he collapses onto the ground. and as much as he deserved this and frankly needed to fall this low if he ever is to be a better person (we are still waiting for this), in this moment I still cannot help but feel sympathy for this sad and pitying sight. Perhaps it is the performance, perhaps it’s that I hate to see others in pain, but no matter how you feel about the scene, it is undeniably powerful.
- “Rumple marries Belle.” (Season 3, Episode 22 “There’s No Place Like Home”)
As creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis revealed in the episode commentary, despite the fact that he had lied about Belle possessing the real dagger, when he marries Belle, his vows are genuine. And indeed they are beautiful. The montage during their wedding ceremony was exquisite and poignant in that their vows played over all of the other couples, mirroring the feelings and stories for each pair of lovers perfectly. It was a truly gorgeous scene. But that aside, his vows also perfectly describe the light that Belle represents in his life: “When we met, I wasn’t just unloved and unloving. I was an enemy of love. Love had only brought me pain. My walls were up, but you brought them down. You brought me home. You brought light into my life- chased away all the darkness. And I vow to you, I will never forget the distance between what I was and what I am. I owe more to you than I can ever say. How you can see the man behind the monster, I will never know.”
- “Rumple gives Robin Hood very wise advice about happiness.” (Season 4, Episode 17 “Heart of Gold”)
Similar to when he was truthful about his true nature with Emma, the motivations of Rumple in this moment he gives Robin very wise advice is unclear. Why is he doing so? Was he being sincere? Regardless, what he tells him is true and at least in this instant, a sure sign that he understands the mistakes he’d made. He’s made many selfish decisions but at least he is self aware. And motivations aside what he says is a lovely truth about life and love that we all should follow in our lives: ” If [happiness] is within your grasp, if you know where it is, and who it’s with- then you should run to it, grasp it, and never let go.”
- “Rumple is afraid and lets Baelfire go through the portal to a Land Without Magic alone.”(Season 1, Episode 19 “The Return”)
A scene so difficult to watch is the one that starts Rumple on his entire quest. He displays his all too common sign of cowardice and is afraid to go with his son through the portal and lose his power. So he let’s go of his son’s hand who falls through the portal alone. The second the portal closes he regrets the decision and his heartbreak is truly sad.
- “Mr. Gold tells Regina his real name.” (Season 1, Episode 12 “Skin Deep”)
In the beginning of the series the relationship between enigmatic Mr. Gold and cold Regina Mills was amazing to watch. There was always this push and pull between the two characters, and an underlying tension when she sensed that he knew the secret that everyone else in town was still unaware of- that they are cursed and that Emma the savior has arrived. The moment when Regina asks him as he sits in a jail cell what his real name is, and he reveals it to be “Rumplestiltskin,” the devilish look of satisfaction and the absolute fear on hers resulted in a fantastic scene.
Honorable mention: “Rumple takes Killian’s heart.” (Season 4, Episode 8 “Smash the Mirror”)
I just had to include one more moment, and one may ask why a scene where Rumple acts so horribly and hurts and tells Killian he will control him, make him do horrible things, and then kill him, is on this list. Indeed this scene was difficult to watch. But that is why it is included. Carlyle and O’Donoghue are fantastic together on screen, making you feel every beat and I vividly remember watching this moment for the first time. I could see what was coming, and shouted “No!” when he pulled Killian’s heart from his chest. The scene is intense and gripping and made me feel intensely, which is any hope for a dramatic writer. It also shows just how far Rumple is falling into darkness and the drastic difference between the two men How one has changed for the better and one is still on the wrong path, resulting in a truly captivating moment to witness.
Favorite Little Moments:
– After taking the memory potion and letting Emma go back through the time portal, he picks up his wand and asks “What the Hell am I doing in here.” It’s just so funny and classic Rumple in attitude, made perfect by Robert Carlyle’s delivery.
– When he first sees Lost boy Felix in Neverland, Rumple does his classic imp wave with so much finesse and attitude, I always laugh. He is not taking any guff from this teenager and I love it.
– After hearing that Snow and David named their son Neal to honor his son, he touches his nose, a lovely call back to the first time he held his son who touches his papa’s nose. This parallel made me cry.
– In an amusing little scene when Belle had memories of being a woman called Lacey, he asks Charming for dating advice, claiming the two of them have nothing in common. I always laugh at this moment.
-To protect Henry from the flames in the Netherworld Rumple gives Henry a magical amulet. All things comes with a price with him but this time that was not the case. It’s a rare but great gesture.
– As Rumple helps Emma and Hook on their time traveling adventure he gives them a royal makeover so they can attend King Midas’s ball inconspicuously. Considering the normal dynamics between these three characters, this scene is surprising and even sweet. Instead of harping on why he hasn’t killed Hook he gives him a Princely outfit and dresses Emma in a gorgeous red ball gown saying “The Savior can’t come all this way and not play princess for a day.” I never thought Rumple would play a hand in one the loveliest Emma and Killian Moments, but he did, and it was wonderful.
Favorite Reader Moments:
For readers there was only one scene that was a repeated favorite, and it was the scene which also happened to be mine, unsurprising as this was his best moment of the series in terms of good defeating evil. Their favorite moment was:
- Rumple sacrifices himself to save Storybrooke from Peter Pan
The rest of the reader’s picks are ones included on my list as well as some gripping scenes that are great choices. In episode order these are:
- Gold and Regina talk about things changing since Emma’s arrival under the shadow of her apple tree in “The Thing You Love Most”
- Rumple let’s Bae go through the portal in “The Return”
- Rumple gives Henry the magic necklace to protect him in the Netherworld in “Into the Deep”
- Rumple tells Emma their deal will be done if she runs after his son in “Manhattan”
- Rumple makes a heartfelt phone call to Belle as he lay dying in “The Miller’s Daughter”
- Rumple makes a sarcastic little imp wave at Felix in “The Heart of the Truest Believer”
- Rumple marks his face with war paint in “Lost Girl”
- After letting Emma go and drinking the memory potion he humorously asks “What the Hell am I doing in here?” in “There’s No Place Like Home”
- Rumple’s wedding vows to Belle in “There’s No Place Like Home”
- Rumple loses Neal in “Quiet Minds”
Thank you to the following readers for sending in their favorite Rumple moments: Mimi, Hagit, Melissa, Meredith, Emily, and Alyssa 🙂