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This article focuses on the character, Nimue.
For the Season Five episode, see "Nimue (Episode)".

Yes. I'm Nimue. And you... are Emma. How pretty. The first Dark One and the newest Dark One standing as sisters!

—The Darkness, under Nimue's appearance, to Emma Swan src

Nimue, also known as the Original or First Dark One, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. She débuts in the fifth episode of the fifth season and is portrayed by co-star Guy Fauchon in "Dreamcatcher", and by guest star Caroline Ford since "Nimue".

Nimue is based on the character of the same name from the Arthurian legend.


Before First Curse

Nimue lives in the village of Oxleigh, where middlemist flowers are known to grow. When Vortigan storms the village in search of the Holy Grail, Nimue escapes unscathed, taking middlemist flower seeds with her, while all the villagers are slaughtered by Vortigan. She seeks out the sorcerer Merlin, hoping he can help her get revenge. However, her revenge is to plant the seeds of the middlemist flowers, to which Merlin helps her with this, by using magic to make the flowers bloom. The two mutually fall in love, and after they have been together for some time, Nimue teases Merlin when he is unconfident about asking her to marry him. As for why he is hesitant, Merlin tells her about how he obtained both magic and immortality from drinking the Holy Grail, and thus, this would force him to remain forever young, while Nimue will age and eventually die. To become mortal again, Merlin wishes to use the the first spark of mankind's original fire, also known as the flame of Prometheus, to mold the Holy Grail into a sword so his magic and immortality will be gone. On the way to the site of the flame, they stop at Nimue's ruined village, where she secretly takes out the Holy Grail and drinks from it, without Merlin's notice, in the hopes she can be immortal and never have to part from him. She once again begs him to destroy Vortigan, but he declines because using magic to kill someone is giving into darkness. Once Merlin creates the sword, she alerts him to Vortigan's presence. Vortigan, attempting to make Merlin forfeit the sword to him, holds Nimue hostage. She breaks free and tries to kill Vortigan, but he fatally stabs her instead. Nimue collapses and seemingly dies in Merlin's arms, but a moment later, she is healed because of her immortality, and rips out Vortigan's heart. Unable to let go of her grudge against Vortigan, she crushes his heart to ash. Because she gave into darkness, Nimue undergoes a physical transformation, with her skin becoming scaly and bluish. Seized by the grip of darkness, she becomes fearful Merlin will try to take away her powers and smashes the sword, severing the tip from the blade. As for the last ember of the flame, Nimue steals it for herself. ("Nimue")

Eventually, Nimue came to don the robes and mask of the deceased Vortigan, which became the default wardrobe of the Dark Ones from that day forward. In an attempt to make her less powerful, Merlin makes the severed sword tip into a dagger to bind Nimue, the first Dark One, to it, so she will have no choice but to obey the owner of the dagger. ("Nimue")

At some point, Nimue constructs the Vault of the Dark One. She makes her first public appearance, under the title of Dark One, emerging from this vault. ("Quiet Minds")

Knowing the threat Nimue poses as the Dark One, Merlin summons her with the dagger, intending to get rid of her once and for all. While she heeds his call, Nimue toys with him, continually teleporting back and forth a short distance away, until he orders her to stop, prompting her to materialize right in front of him. Merlin openly blames her for killing the woman he loved, and he moves to stab her with the dagger, but he cannot bring himself to do it, dropping the dagger on the ground. While he is lost in his grief, Nimue picks up the dagger, catching one of the sorcerer's tears on the tip, which triggers Merlin's transformation into a tree. ("Dreamcatcher")

At some point following his transformation, Nimue tried to steal the Sorcerer's Hat created by Merlin, but she failed. ("The Apprentice")

Presumably, someone eventually stabs Nimue with the dagger and while Nimue perishes physically, her dark spirit remains tied to the dagger and inhabits the soul of her assailant, turning the person into the next Dark One. ("Nimue")

Before Third Curse

At the site of flame of the first fire, the current Dark One, Emma, uses the dagger to summon Nimue's spirit to extract the last flame ember from her. Emma, knowing the tragic love story between Nimue and Merlin, asks her why she went down the dark path. Nimue attests that while she did love Merlin, the pull of power was stronger and she grew afraid it would be taken from her. She goads Emma into strangling Merlin, insisting that he is keeping Emma from being her true self as the Dark One, but Emma fights back, choosing the side of good over evil. With this act, Emma gains the strength to take the ember from Nimue, who ominously remarks that she'll be in Emma's head if her services are required again. ("Nimue")

Later, when Hook desires to crush Merlin's heart to enact another Dark Curse so he can get his revenge on the crocodile, Nimue is channeled through him so that she can crush the heart of the thing she loves most; Merlin. While explaining this to Emma, she also reveals her true desire; for her and all the other Dark Ones to be free and live once more to snuff out the light. ("Broken Heart")

After Third Curse

When Emma is moments away from uniting Excalibur with the dagger, the darkness' manifestation of Nimue appears, congratulating her on her success, as all of the previous Dark Ones also materialize to watch the ceremony. With the flame ember, Emma combines the sword and dagger. As she contemplates whether to wield the sword or not, Emma recalls the warning Merlin gave her when she was a child about not taking Excalibur. As encouragement, Nimue reminds Emma that she is no longer a girl, but a woman. ("Nimue")

When Hook regains his memories of becoming a Dark One, he goes back to his original plan of bringing back the previous Dark Ones from the dead. Using Mr. Gold's blood, blood from a man who died and came back, Hook opens a portal from the Underworld. All the deceased Dark Ones come through the portal on a boat, with Nimue being the first to walk onto the mainland, where she's welcomed by Hook to Storybrooke. ("Broken Heart")

To keep themselves from ever having to return to the Underworld, the Dark Ones search for living souls in town, branding them with the mark of Charon, so they can take their places in the Underworld. Nimue confronts Henry, who calls for Emma's help, but before Emma can do anything to defend her son, Nimue walks right through Henry, giving him the mark of Charon. Later, when Hook spies on Emma walking out of the diner, Nimue presses him to stop her. After Hook succeeds in stealing Excalibur from Emma to prevent her from destroying the darkness, Nimue appears before Mary Margaret, David and Henry at the diner, smugly telling them Hook has already taken care of Emma's plans. She then uses magic to make the mark of Charon on their wrists glow before transporting them to the lake, where the Dark Ones are waiting for them. When Emma tries to intervene, Nimue magically grips her neck and begins suffocating her. For several beats, Hook does nothing, until he prompts Nimue to stop. Using Excalibur, he absorbs Nimue and the other Dark Ones into it, and then has Emma stab him to eliminate all the darkness, which releases everyone from the mark of Charon. ("Swan Song")

Magical Abilities

  • Enhanced Traits - Augmented strength, agility, durability and fighting skills.
  • Heart-ripping - Ability to rip someone's heart out in order to control/kill them, among other purposes.
  • Shapeshifting - Ability to alter the appearance of oneself or others.
  • Telekinesis - Ability to control the movement of the environment.
  • Teleportation - Ability to magically teleport oneself and/or others from one location to another.


Character Notes

Production Notes

  • In "Dreamcatcher", male actor Guy Fauchon is credited on the press release and in the episode credits as "Vortigan", whose face was covered by a mask in the episode. However, thanks to the flashbacks shown in the seventh episode of the fifth season, it was proven that the character billed as "Vortigan" in "Dreamcatcher" is supposed to be Nimue, a female character, disguised by a mask.
    • This is the second time in the entire series that an actor portrays a character of the opposite sex, with the first being Alexandra in "The Snow Queen".[1]


See also


  1. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (March 19, 2015). "yes, we got the wrong aged baby and wrong sex. It was a mistake, baby shoulda been around 1 1/2" (screenshot)
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