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This article focuses on Prince Charming's biological father.
For his adoptive father, see King George.
For the New Enchanted Forest character, see Robert (Greenbacks).

I thought he didn't fight for us, but he did. He fought with everything he had. He did the right thing. And it wasn't enough!
David to Hook src

Robert is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. He débuts in the twelfth episode of the sixth season and is portrayed by guest star David Cubitt.

Robert is based on the pauper's father from The Prince and the Pauper, and King Hamlet/the Ghost from the play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.


Before First Curse

Robert gets married to Ruth, with whom he has twin sons, named David and James, however, their livelihood on the farm is crushed by poverty. When the twins become sick, Robert goes to buy medicine for them, only to return home empty-handed because neither he or Ruth have enough money for it. Seeing the couple's situation as an opportunity, a wizard named Rumplestiltskin appears to them, offering to provide them with riches if they forfeit one of their children to a barren king and queen. Ruth proclaims that their sons are not for sale, but when Rumplestiltskin suggests that rejecting the deal means both children won't survive the winter, Robert reluctantly concedes. Since the parents are unable to choose which child to give up, Rumplestiltskin has Robert flip a coin: if it is heads, David will be taken away, but if it is tails, James will be chosen. James is taken away by Rumplestiltskin after the coin lands on the tails side, with both parents devastated over the loss. ("The Shepherd", "Murder Most Foul")

Some years later, Robert's drinking problems cause frequent arguments between him and Ruth, which a six-year old David often overhears. One day while Robert is at the tavern having a drink, King George arrives to ask the patrons for help finding his son James, who has been kidnapped. Robert informs his wife about his plans to track down their son and bring him back to live with them. When Ruth expresses skepticism that James would like a dying farm and a drunk for a father, Robert vows to change for David's sake in order to fix their broken family and fix himself in the process. He tells David that he is going away on a two week supply run, and by the end of it, he promises to be sober. Before Robert leaves, David wraps a coin around his father's wrist as a good-luck charm. Robert has nothing to offer Rumplestiltskin for helping to find James, although he persuades the man into aiding him by professing that he'd do anything for his son. With a crystal ball, Rumplestiltskin discovers James ran away from home and then gives Robert a ticket to the location, Pleasure Island, before taking a strand of Robert's hairs as part of the deal exchange. On the island, Robert is led to James from Pinocchio, a talking wooden puppet. He calms down James by suggesting he can return to his farm with him and grow up with a brother. Upon running into King George, Robert revealing himself as James' birth father and refusing to give the boy up again, to which King George commands his guards to execute Robert and stage the death as an accident. After gaining gold from the king as payment, the men dump alcohol over Robert to make it appear he died while drunk, but before they can kill him, they are taken out by Hook. Robert mistakenly believes Hook saved his life, however, the latter is only interested in the gold and doesn't want the risk of Robert telling the king. Despite Robert insisting that he won't say anything and just wants to go home, Hook stabs him through the chest, killing him and later dumping his body in a ravine. Somehow, the coin around his wrist ends up in Rumplestiltskin's hands later on. Ruth and David receive word of Robert's death, but they are told he got drunk at a tavern and fell into a ravine on his journey home. ("White Out", "A Bitter Draught", "The Other Shoe", "Murder Most Foul")

Years later, David shares his father's history with Joan. ("White Out")

Eventually, James dies and Rumplestiltskin persuades David to replace his twin. Surprised to learn he had a brother, the shepherd is told by his mother Ruth that his father regretted giving the baby up immediately after the decision was made. ("The Shepherd")

After First Curse
When David confronts Regina about the fate of Emma and Mary Margaret, who just fell through a portal to the Enchanted Forest, the mayor feigns ignorance and mocks David for posing as a prince while he is nothing more than the son of a shepherd. ("Broken")

Before Third Curse
In Camelot, David confides in Arthur his old dreams of changing the world, to which he was led by the will of being different from his father, who drank his life away, and brother, who accomplished nothing but evil. ("Siege Perilous")

After Third Curse

Having retrieved from Mr. Gold the coin David once had given his father Robert, the Evil Queen meets with David and suggests that his father's death might have not been an accident. ("A Bitter Draught")

Making a deal with Mr. Gold, David gains an information card about the true nature of his father's death. He later shares this revelation with Snow, in that the man did not die in an accident, but, rather, was stabbed by someone. Snow encourages her husband to leave the past behind by accepting that his father did not betray him by succumbing again to drinking. David agrees to burn the card and leave things be, but ultimately changes his mind, unbeknownst to Snow. ("The Other Shoe")

One night, Robert's spirit appears before David, who is resentful over the haunting because he doesn't feel he owes his drunk of a father anything. Robert insists his son has to know the truth about what happened, and this leads David into using magic to discover that, prior to his death, his father was actually looking for James instead of getting drunk at a tavern. Through this, David also learns King George was the one who ordered Robert's execution, and he attempts to exact revenge by killing Albert. Hook talks David out of giving in to his dark side by reminding him of Robert's sobriety and how far he went for his son's sake even though he still died in the end. Later, David tosses the coin away into the dock water, with Robert's spirit to vanishing shortly after. Upon receiving missing storybook pages from August, Hook is stunned to see a drawing of David's father, whom he recognizes as a man he killed long ago. ("Murder Most Foul")


RobertKing George
Albert Spencer
Adoptive Mother †
Prince JamesPrince Charming
David Nolan
Snow White
Mary Margaret Blanchard
Prince NealKillian Jones
Emma Swan
Neal Cassidy
Jacinda Vidrio
Henry Mills


  • Solid lines denote blood parent-child relationships
  • Dashed lines denote marriage, engagement and adoption relationships, and relationships that result in offspring
  • denotes the deceased
  • Both Prince James and Prince Charming were adopted by King George
  • Emma and Neal have never been married


Props Notes

INV. ITEM 2027

DESCRIPTION: Antique round coin with
a center hole, cast in tin.

CONDITION: Well worn

PROVENANCE: The coin was taken off
the body of a dead man, a shepherd in
the wreckage of a cart. The man had
been stabbed, and was evidently dead
before the cart went off the cliff.
("The Other Shoe")


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

See also


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