Robert is a minor character on Once Upon a Time.
Before the Curse
Robert finally does the right thing for his sons... and it leads to his demise. ("Murder Most Foul")
Robert, a shepherd, has a pair of twin boys with his wife, Ruth. Unfortunately, both David and James fall ill right before winter and, since their sheep farm is failing, the married couple can't afford to medicate them. Then, one stormy night, the Dark One Rumplestiltskin appears in their home, offering them a sack of gold with which they'd be able to save their sons, but Robert makes clear that they have nothing to give him for it. It's then that Rumple tells them a story, about how the rich King George and his wife can't conceive a child - and yet here a pair of poor shepherds are with two. He wants to take one for George, making clear that Robert and Ruth can either have one child who survives the winter, or two who don't. Knowing they won't want to have to decide, he has Robert flip a coin, and it comes up tails, meaning James is taken to become the King's son and the two shepherds devote themselves to raising David. However, six years later and Robert is the local drunk, blowing his money on tavern ale. One day, King George comes into the tavern to reveal that his son, James, has been abducted, and something about that taps into Robert's paternal instincts. He knows he must save James, even though his wife thinks he's crazy, and he tells David he's going on a supply run. David gives him is lucky coin - the same one which decided his fate as a baby - to keep him safe, and Robert goes to Rumplestiltskin for help, trading one hair from his head in exchange for a ticket to Pleasure Island, where the Dark One unveils James in fact ran away to. Upon making it to the island, Robert meets Pinocchio, who reveals where James is. Robert then successfully convinces the young prince, who doesn't want to become a knight like George wants, to come home with him... but George is waiting for them at the docks. He learns who Robert is and tries to bribe him, but the shepherd can't be bought this time, and so the King simply orders his death instead. James watches as his father is dragged away, and George's men tie him to a cart and pour alcohol over him so people will think he died in a drunken accident. It is then that Captain Hook shows up and rescues him, killing the King's men and taking the reward money for finding James for himself... only, he can't have a witness, so he murders Robert by stabbing him too and his his pirate crew hide him down in a nearby ravine. All the while his son's lucky coin remains fastened to his wrist. ("Murder Most Foul")
David is haunted by his father's ghost. ("Murder Most Foul")
Years later and Robert's son David is stressed and sleep-deprived, already having learned that apparently someone murdered his father as opposed to his death having been an accident. As he goes outside, he starts hallucinating his father's ghost, and then he collapses. But the idea of it being just a hallucination is called into question when he rediscovers his old "lucky" coin. After actually getting some sleep, David is visited once again by his father's ghost, who utters that family is everything. Robert asks if David has given up on his father already, but David exclaims that he was barely his father, with him having died when he was six. He owes him nothing. Robert hopes he doesn't believe that and, when David demands to know why he's there, Robert confesses that he wants the truth. David then begins obsessing over who truly killed his father, ironically working alongside Captain Hook - his daughter's boyfriend - to figure it out. After confronting King George and making the active decision not to kill him out of vengeance, David throws his old coin away, and his father's ghost is last seen vanishing from his side in a dying cloud of gray mist. ("Murder Most Foul")
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the character.