For the episode, see Nimue.

Voiced by
First seen
Seen in
First mentioned
Episode count
Centric episodes
Centric episode
Shared centric episodes
Shared centric episode
Notable backstory episodes
Notable backstory episode
Other notable backstory episodes
Other notable backstory episode
The Darkness
Date of birth
Manner of death
Killed by the second Dark One
Episode of death
After "Nimue"
Merlin - Ex-Fiancé
S1 - S2 - S3 - OW - S4 - S5 - S6 - S7
Yes, I'm Nimue. And you are Emma. How pretty. The first Dark One and the newest Dark One standing as sisters!

Nimue is a minor supporting character on Once Upon a Time. Once a kind and caring woman, Nimue let her thirst for vengeance cloud her judgment after a masked annihilator known as Vortigan burned down her village and she ended up ripping out his heart and crushing it upon the reception of her magical powers. Before that, however, she entered a romantic relationship with Merlin, a great Sorcerer with whom she planned to spend the rest of her life; but the holy grail made it so she was immortal like him, and, when she used her magic to kill, it turned her powers and her soul dark, thus she became the first Dark One, donning Vortigan's mask and starting a reign of terror. Her spirit became tethered to a dagger, but she was able to immortalize it in the form of The Darkness and make it so that it passed onto whoever used the enchanted weapon to kill her. As such, Dark Ones have existed for generations, with the darkness currently residing within Rumplestiltskin.


Before the Curse

Long before your stories began, the Sorcerer battled the Darkness. He was able to keep it from consuming the realms; he tethered it to a human soul who could be controlled with a dagger.
Sorcerer's Apprentice
507 27
Nimue becomes the first Dark One. ("Nimue")

A masked man named Vortigan burns Nimue's village to the ground, killing her friends and family and leaving her with nothing but a handful of middlemist succeeds that she managed to escape with, bringing them to the great Sorcerer Merlin so that he may begin growing the flowers anew because she believes that her best revenge would be to let the flowers prosper in spite of the man who burned them away. He speeds up the process with his magic, intrigued by Nimue because he cannot see her future, and the two of them soon enter a relationship. He wants to propose but is fearful because he is immortal and she isn't, meaning he would leave her behind. When he tells her that he received his magic from the holy grail, she suggests that she drink from it too and be immortal like him, but he doesn't wish that upon her, explaining how immortality makes life less meaningful. Instead, the two of them quest to the Flame of Prometheus so that Merlin can remold the holy grail into a sword that is capable of cutting away his magic. On the way, Nimue walks through her ruined village and wishes death upon Vortigan, who's following them. When the sword is finally created from the grail, Vortigan arrives and attacks Nimue, causing her to bleed out in Merlin's arms. Vortigan then takes the sword and tries attacking Merlin with it, only for Nimue to rip his heart out. She explains that she earlier drank from the grail behind Merlin's back and gained her own magic, and she proceeds to use it for proper revenge by crushing Vortigan's heart and killing him. This turns her magic dark, and thus she becomes the first Dark One. She takes the sword and breaks it against the Promethean flame's stand, with the flame itself having gone out, to avoid her magic and immortality being cut away. Merlin hides the sword - Excalibur - in a stone while fashioning its tip into a dagger and tethering it to Nimue's spirit so that she may remain under control. She, meanwhile, adopts Vortigan's mask and begins a reign of terror. ("Nimue")

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Nimue turns Merlin into a tree using his tear. ("Dreamcatcher")

Nimue goes on to create a vault which she uses to emerge to the public from as the Dark One. She turns her dark soul into a curse that allows her to live on beyond the death of her physical body, inhabiting the soul of whoever kills the current Dark One with the dagger, thus making them the new Dark One. ("Quiet Minds") Merlin eventually takes the other half of Excalibur and enchants it to be able to control Nimue, thus becoming known as the Dark One's dagger. ("Nimue") A magical hat is also created, one of which has the ability to absorb and accumulate magic; this goes on to be protected by the Apprentice, for it can also be used in a ritual to free a Dark One from the dagger, thus making it a targeted object. ("The Apprentice") Merlin is wandering through the nighttime forests of Camelot with the Dark One's dagger in tow, while the Dark One herself - Nimue - travels in swift, fleeting movements all around the powerful Sorcerer. Using the dagger, the latter is able to command the evil magical being - his former true love - to stop, and she stands to face him - a cloaked figure swathed all in black save for the golden mask that adorns her face. She stands there, staring at him, and Merlin is in tears; he tells the darkness that it destroyed the only woman he ever loved... and so now he shall destroy it. He raises the dagger, ready to kill the Dark One, but he hesitates. She continues to stare at him while he continues to weep. Finally, he utters that he can't do it, proceeding to drop to the floor. The Dark One sees that her dagger has been dropped also and promptly picks it up, then holding Merlin's head up by the hood as he professes that he misses his lost love and collecting one of his heartbroken tears with the blade. It glows purple for a moment, and the Dark One is then able to wield this power to turn Merlin into a tree. He stays in this state for a long passage of time. ("Dreamcatcher")


For more detail regarding individual Dark Ones that Nimue has lived on through, see Gorgon the Invincible, Zoso, Rumplestiltskin, Emma Swan and Captain Hook.

Before the Curse

Papa? What happened to you?
108 22
Rumplestiltskin reveals himself as the new Dark One. ("Desperate Souls")

Nimue is eventually killed, and numerous other Dark Ones succeed her, but has time goes on, the power grows more as it corrupts the souls the power is passed on to, and due to this, the darkness has the ability to manifest itself as every prior Dark One, whether it be one, or all at the same time. ("Nimue") Years pass, and more Dark Ones come and go, all of which try to steal the hat guarded by the Apprentice, but still fail. ("The Apprentice") Gorgon the Invincible ends up becoming the Dark One at one point, but his undoing is the result of Zoso, who takes his place. ("The Dark Swan"/"Desperate Souls") Zoso himself soon grows tired of the burden of being the Dark One, eventually being enslaved by a Duke during the Ogre Wars. He decides to trick village coward, Rumplestiltskin into breaking into the Duke's castle and stealing the dagger, and then torments him until Rumple stabs his, becoming the new Dark One himself. ("Desperate Souls")

After the Curse

Season 2
I have to become the Dark One.
Darkness 216
Cora tries to kill Rumple and become the new Dark One before time runs out. ("The Miller's Daughter")

When Rumplestiltskin travels outside of Storybrooke in the Land Without Magic to reunite with his long lost son, Baelfire, Captain Hook is tipped off by Regina and Cora, and once obtaining a poison known as dreamshade, he heads for New York City where he stabs the Dark One in the stomach with his now poisoned hook. The effects are deemed fatal, but Emma, Henry, and Rumple's son, Bae (now known as Neal Cassidy) rush the Dark One back to Storybrooke so they can cure him. Meanwhile, however, Regina and Cora have worked to obtain Rumple's dagger, and it's revealed that as Rumple slowly dies, the Darkness will die with him. Wanting to obtain Rumple's powers for herself and become the new Dark One, Cora decides to stab her former lover with the dagger so she may absorb the Darkness before time runs out. This does not come to pass though, for Mary Margaret uses a magic candle and sacrifices Cora's life for Rumple's, saving the Dark One. ("The Miller's Daughter")

Season 3
Ah, but I'm a villain, and villains don't get happy endings.
311 27
Rumplestiltskin sacrifices himself to defeat Peter Pan. ("Going Home")

A new threat poses to those of Storybrooke, Maine, for Peter Pan has reenacted the Dark Curse so he may rule over the small, seaside town himself. The heroes are determined to stop him though, and that they do. One final battle ensues, this time between Pan and his very own son, the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin. When all the heroes but him are frozen in their place, and Pan has decided to firstly take the lives of those Rumplestiltskin cares for most - Neal and Belle - he is stabbed by the Dark One with the cursed dagger, killing him. However, due to all the magic built up inside him, Rumple dies as well, unable to handle such energy. Because of this, the line of succession of the Dark One ends, and Rumple ends as a hero. ("Going Home")

Before the Second Curse

It's a key to the Vault of the Dark One, where the first Dark One was made, born out of, well, darkness. If you wish to bring back Rumplestiltskin to life it is where you must go.
Rumple 315
Rumplestiltskin is resurrected. ("Quiet Minds")

Now being faced with the villainous Wicked Witch of the West, the heroes (now back in the Enchanted Forest) must work together once more to defeat the villain they're up against. Meanwhile, Belle and Neal leave Queen Regina's Dark Palace to search for a way of possibly resurrecting Rumplestiltskin. They head for his former home, the Dark Castle, where they are met by an enchanted candlestick known as Lumière. Said candlestick reveals the Dark One can be resurrected via a special vault, and so Belle and Neal set out to find it. With a magical key, Neal is able to unlock the vault, but in return for resurrecting his father, he must give up his own life. In order to save his son though, a resurrected Rumple absorbs him, but due to weakness, he loses control of the dagger to Zelena. Meanwhile, Belle escapes with Lumière's help to warn the heroes. ("Quiet Minds")

After the Second Curse

Season 4
Go far away. When the man is gone only the Dark One remains, and that is more... more dangerous than you can ever imagine.
418 09
Rumple shows Belle the toll the Darkness has taken on his heart. ("Sympathy for the De Vil")

Having reverted to his evil ways, but ultimately being banished from Storybrooke by Belle, Rumple makes his way to his son's old apartment in New York, only to see that Robin Hood and his family have taken up residence in it. He tries to force them to leave, but ends up suffering from a heart attack, thus alerting him that all the terrible deeds he has committed are finally catching up on him, and the Darkness is slowly taking over his heart. Once obtaining an elixir from Zelena that can temporarily cure him, he begins working on his new plan of finding the storybook Author and making him re-write his ending. ("Heart of Gold") Having arrived back in Storybrooke, and progressed his plans further, Rumple is eventually called by Belle, who wishes to know what it is he is up to. Once showing her his darkened heart, and explaining his predicament, Regina makes herself known, having been controlling the Dark One's love, and now using her as leverage. ("Sympathy for the De Vil") Time begins to run out for Rumple, but he manages to gain the ingredients needed for the magic ink, thus allowing the Author to re-write his story. ("Mother"/"Operation Mongoose, Part 1")

Emma 422
Emma Swan becomes the Dark One. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 2")

Rumple's new story is soon reverted though, once Henry becomes the new Author and writes everything back to the way it was before. The dying Dark One is returned to the pawn shop floor where Isaac abandons him, but Belle soon arrives to make sure he doesn't harm anyone else. Seeing the condition he is in, she immediately joins her estranged husband by his side in his final moments. Rumple warns her to leave though, for once the man is gone, only the Darkness will remain. He soon collapses, and so Belle rushes to get the Apprentice's help. He removes all the darkness using the Sorcerer's hat, but the hat can't contain it all and the darkness escapes, attacking the old wizard. Emma is able to repel it with her light magic but the Apprentice is fatally weakened. He is made comfortable and explains to Emma the origins of the Darkness, and tasks her with finding the sorcerer, Merlin. The savior and other heroes soon make their way out to find the Darkness, but once it begins to tether itself to Regina, Emma uses the dagger to attract it to herself, and ultimately take over as the new Dark One. Upon receiving this new role, she disappears, thus leaving the dagger behind now reading her name. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 2")

Season 5
I'm the voice in your head. The Dark One's powers inside you. Inside all the Dark Ones.
Rumple 501
The Darkness tempts its newest disciple. ("The Dark Swan")

In the Enchanted Forest, Emma finds herself forming at the Vault of the Dark One. Rumplestiltskin appears to her as a figment of her subconscious, representing the darkness that now corrupts her. He wants to teach her how to wield her new dark magic, but she is reluctant to learn; he makes it so that she strangles a peddler and later transports herself to a lakeside, while all she wants to do is find Merlin so that he can reverse what's been done to her. Rumple explains that she needs to follow the wisp that flies through the woods, but the warrior princess Merida catches it first. Emma decides not to use magic to fight her, as Rumple suggests, or even fight her at all. Instead, she opts to go with her to the stone circle where the wisp will answer their questions... only it can only respond to one person, so Rumple keeps trying to convince Emma to kill Merida and take the wisp from her. Merida hears Emma talking to "herself" and runs away, fearing her life. Emma transports herself to the stone circle and ends up ripping out Merida's heart. Just as she's about to crush it, her loved ones arrive and convince her not to. She is given the Dark One's dagger by her mother, and she gives it to Regina for safekeeping. ("The Dark Swan")

Before the Third Curse

Even when you love someone, you have to say 'no, this is mine, you can't take it away from me.' And if they don't listen, if they try to stop you from being you, then you have no choice: you have to kill them. Oh, and you're doing this, because we are one in the same now, all Dark Ones. And we must destroy the threat. We must destroy Merlin.
Rumple 502
The Darkness continues to goad the new Dark One. ("The Price")

With Emma and the others being welcomed into Camelot, King Arthur has a ball held in their honor, believing that the one and only savior - whom Regina impersonates to stop Emma from having to use dark magic - will be able to free Merlin from the magic tree he's trapped in. That night, however, with Belle lamenting over the number of petals that have fallen from her magic rose, Sir Percival tries killing Regina with an enchanted sword due a personal vendetta he has against her or, more specifically, the Evil Queen. Robin Hood tackles him to the ground but is injured with the sword, at which point Charming steps in and stabs Percival dead. Robin is dying and Regina can't heal him due to the sword's enchantment, and so she begs Emma to heal him with her dark powers. She is hesitant, not wanting to succumb to evil, and the vision of Rumple reappears, telling her to do it. She assures that she won't turn dark, and he explains to her that a price needs to be paid for the life she's about to save. She decides to pay it herself, but Rumple tells her that since Regina is asking for the magic then she has to pay it. Emma continues to defy him while everyone else wonders who she's talking to, and eventually she heals the thief. Rumple points out afterward that she liked how it felt and she denies it; however, he points out that her skin is changing like his did when he became the Dark One, and she tries to conceal it. ("The Price")

Darkness 504
The Darkness haunts Emma's mind. ("The Broken Kingdom")

With the darkness continuing to tempt Emma, in the middle of the night, she is guided to the location of the Dark One's dagger that Regina kept locked away in her room. Due to a protection spell though, Emma is unable to get a hold of it, and though the vision of Rumplestiltskin guides her to break it, she resists, especially when Hook finds her, and she accidentally fires magic in his direction. He comforts her, and everyone else is called, all of which worry for the new Dark One's safety. Henry knows of a location for Emma to go so she can be alone, and so he and Hook set out to take her there. This turns out to be the stables of Henry's new friend, Violet, which are owned by her family. When arriving, Henry has Emma and Hook hide when Violet hears them coming, for he does not want his new friend to know they are there. Henry meets with her, however, and the two of them head for horseback riding while Hook is left with Emma. Hook wishes to distract his love though, and gets one of Violet's horses for the two of them to go out with. Emma's remains reluctant, unable to shake the vision of Rumple, or even get the horse to trust her, for it understands what she is. Hook continues to pursue his lover though, insisting she must not listen to the voices in her head, but to trust him. He convinces Emma to get onto the horse, and the two of them ride to a pasture of flowers; Emma realizes that Hook succeeded, and that she no longer sees Rumplestiltskin. ("The Broken Kingdom")

507 24
The first Dark One reveals herself. ("Nimue")

Merlin explains that he and Emma will be questing to the Flame of Prometheus to receive a spark capable of reforging both halves of Excalibur, later telling her that in order to gain the spark, she's going to have to pull the ember from the first Dark One, who shall appear to her through vision and give her the toughest test yet in terms of battling the darkness. They soon make it to Oxleigh and beyond where the Promethean flame used to burn, and Emma holds up the Dark One's dagger and uses it to summon the first Dark One. To her shock, it isn't a man like she expected, but rather Merlin's first true love Nimue. She tries convincing Emma to kill Merlin, forcing her to strangle the Sorcerer with a single hand, yelling in her ear the entire time. She encourages Emma not to go back to being nothing, at which the darkened savior exclaims that she is not nothing and was never nothing and that the power the darkness offers is unneeded by her. She backs off of Merlin and forces the ember from Nimue, who assures her that she's not dead yet and shall remain in her head before disappearing. ("Nimue")

Rumple 508
The Darkness suggests that Emma isn't ready to give it up. ("Birth")

Emma is unable to light the ember of the Flame of Prometheus, and Merlin, upon the revelation that he's now tethered to the broken Excalibur and under Arthur's control, tells her that she won't be able to accomplish this feat until she's fully ready to let go of the darkness; he also reveals that Arthur and Zelena are keeping her family hostage, and tells her to bring the ember and the dagger if she ever wants to see them again. Outside the diner, Emma is trying to light the spark when the vision of Rumplestiltskin appears, reminding her of what Merlin said and suggesting that maybe she's not ready to let go of being dark. She insists that she is, but the darkness says otherwise, saying that if she was then it would be lit by now. It commands her to light it and she exclaims that she's trying, to the notice of Henry. Emma soon realizes that the voice in her head is right and that she doesn't want to let go of the darkness - she needs to use it one last time to save her loved ones. She is successful, but Hook is cut by Excalibur when he takes it from Arthur, and cuts from Excalibur never heal. The wound reopens just as Emma is about to reunite the sword and she chooses instead to use the Promethean spark to tether Hook to the broken weapon instead of Merlin. Merlin's power is therefore transferred into Hook, who becomes a new Dark One, rising from the Vault of the Dark One. ("Birth")

510 30
Nimue confesses her love for Merlin... but still allows his heart to be crushed. ("Broken Heart")

The vision of Rumple is there to greet Hook as soon as he rises from the vault, easily convincing him to accept the darkness so that he can fulfill his deep-seeded need for revenge against Mr. Gold for killing Milah. After a wardrobe change, Hook is found by Emma, who lies in saying that Excalibur disappeared when he did. In actuality, she is hiding it from him, which the vision of Rumple points out when its whispers are heard. Emma then has to use the sword to summon the new Dark One when he abandons her, to his chagrin. She apologizes for controlling him and promises to never do it again, giving him the sword so that he has control over his own actions. However, he still plans on gaining his revenge on Mr. Gold, and so he enacts a Dark Curse by crushing Merlin's heart, for Nimue still lives on inside of him and Merlin is the thing she loves most, as Rumple originally explained to him. The vision of Nimue tells Merlin before he's killed how romantic it is that he's still what she loves most. Emma uses one of her dreamcatchers to wipe his memories of the last six weeks so that he forgets becoming a Dark One, and wipes everyone else's minds too, adding the memory-wipe feature to the curse itself to make it so that anyone swept up in it forgets the same amount of time. The vision of Rumple cites her as smart, convincing her to isolate herself from the others as she carries out a new plan upon the return to Storybrooke. ("Broken Heart")

After the Third Curse

Season 5
We're here, all of us, in the flesh. And now it's time to get to work, to do what Dark Ones do best: snuff out the light.
Dark Swan 502
The Darkness watches Emma try to pull the sword from the stone. ("The Price")

In her new home in Storybrooke, the fully dark Emma is re-approached by the vision of Rumplestiltskin, who appears in her house. She wonders why he's there since she already gave in to the darkness and he points out that she's still being held back by the things that hold back every Dark One - friends, family and love. He opens a locked door and the two of them head down to a cave-like room in the basement, where Excalibur is being kept in its stone. Rumple tells Emma that she could be the first Dark One to snuff out the light in herself completely, but in order to do so she's going to have to make Excalibur whole again, by reattaching the Dark One's dagger to its tip. She tries pulling Excalibur from its stone so that she can do this, but she's unable, and the vision of Rumple is amused by her failed attempt, promising that it's going to take a lot more than that. ("The Price")

503 09
The Darkness convinces Emma of what she must do. ("Siege Perilous")

Emma steals a dwarf pickaxe from Happy and tries using it against the rock which houses Excalibur; however, it breaks, and the vision of Rumple points out that nothing can break through magic... except maybe a kiss; he jokingly suggests that she kiss it out but she demands that he be serious, leading him to tell her that Excalibur needs a hero to pull it from the stone and they both know it's not going to be her. The real Rumple, meanwhile, remains in his coma as the magic rose wilts away. Belle says that she's close to perfecting a healing potion that should wake him up, but to complete it she needs to include something that touched him before he became the Dark One, which she's unable to find. Later, at Granny's Diner, Belle realizes that the rose's petals are actually going back onto the rose, meaning that her husband is waking up. She rushes to be with him when he does, only to discover that he's not longer resting in the back of the shop. Instead, he is in the lair beneath Emma's house; she uses Hook's old cutlass to heal him and explains that, because his heart has been made into a blank slate, she will mold him into the greatest hero of all and he can remove Excalibur from the stone. ("Siege Perilous")

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Nimue and the other Dark Ones witness the reforging of Excalibur. ("Nimue")

In Storybrooke, Emma now has both halves of Excalibur, as well as the means to unite them. Her vision of Rumplestiltskin points out that it's a thing of magnificence and asks her if she knows what the sword as a whole represents. She assumes power, but he tells her that it's history, adding that Excalibur's promise was forged long ago and that now it's finally going to come to fruition. He tells her that it's time and she wonders why he won't leave her alone, at which a new vision of Nimue appears and tells her that they couldn't; she says that Rumplestiltskin's eyes are fine to look through most days, but that she wanted to see this for herself. Soon enough, every single past Dark One appears to Emma via vision, encouraging her to repair the sword. Emma soon takes the ember from the Flame of Prometheus and retrieves the spark from within, compressing it into a ball of light which hangs in midair as she forces the two ends of Excalibur into it. Soon enough, the sword is complete, but Emma hesitates before going to pluck it from the air. She tells a confused Nimue that Merlin told her not to do exactly this when she was a little girl, at which the first Dark One points out that she's a woman now, and the Dark Swan is convinced the take the power when all the others chant for her to do so. She stands there, holding the complete Excalibur, her plan ready to unfold. ("Nimue")

510 42
Nimue and the Dark Ones return. ("Broken Heart")

After dueling Rumplestiltskin, Hook, having remembered that he is a Dark One, now has what he needs in order to open a portal to the Underworld: the blood of a man who's been to hell and back. He dips his hook, which is doused in Gold's blood, into a pond in Storybrooke, causing a lot of mist to appear. A boat soon emerges from this mist, led by the Charon, and a myriad of cloaked figures are his passengers. Every single past Dark One, returning to the land of the living. Nimue, in her mask, is the first to exit the boat and approach land. Hook greets her as she reveals her green and scaly face, and she tells him that they're all there as promised, in the flesh. She adds that now it's time for them to get to work and do what Dark Ones do best, which is snuff out the light. Hook welcomes her to town, excited for this prospect. ("Broken Heart")

511 34
Nimue and the other Dark Ones are drawn into Excalibur. ("Swan Song")

Emma and Henry search the pawnshop, and Nimue approaches Henry and walks through him. Emma runs to him as the others join them, and Gold has them check their wrists. They all have a glowing mark on them, and Gold explains that it's the Mark of Charon. The Dark Ones only have a temporary pass into the real world, and the only way they can stay is to trade places with living souls. Later, as she leaves after she wrote a letter for her family, Emma is watched by Hook from the shadows. Nimue tells him that he knows what he needs to do. Eventually, Mary Margaret finds Emma's letter and reads it. She shows it to David and they head out to stop her. Nimue and two Dark Ones arrive and says that Hook has stopped Emma so there's no way they can stop the enchantment. She gestures and the Marks glow white, and Henry, Mary Margaret, and David find themselves at the pond with Robin and Regina, as the Dark Ones surround them. Nimue tells Hook that it's time. When Emma tries to stop them, Nimue chokes her with a gesture to keep her from interfering. Emma looks up at Hook, who finally says that it's enough. He tells Nimue that he's being the man he wants to be, and promises to stop them. He uses Excalibur to pull the Darkness out of Nimue and the other Dark Ones and into himself. However, due to his tampering, this just means that all the darkness is circumvented back into Rumplestiltskin. ("Swan Song")


Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the character.

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