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This article focuses on the fairytale, "Rumpelstiltskin".
For the Enchanted Forest character, see Rumplestiltskin.

"Rumpelstiltskin", also known as "Rumpelstilzchen", is a fairytale featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by the German authors Jacob and Wilhelm of the Brothers Grimm and incorporated into the book Grimms' Fairy Tales in 1812.

Traditional Plot

An impoverished miller goes before the reigning monarch and boasts that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The King asks the miller's daughter to come to the castle and promptly locks her in a room filled with straw and a spinning wheel, threatening to kill her the next morning unless she follows through on her father's boast.

The daughter, unsure of what to do, bursts into tears when an imp suddenly appears and boasts that he can help her on the condition that she give him something of hers. The daughter agrees, surrendering her necklace, and the imp spins the straw into gold before disappearing as day breaks.

Upon seeing the innumerable amount of gold, the King's greed increases. That night, he takes the daughter to an even larger room filled with even more straw, presenting her with the same threat: spin it into gold by morning or face execution. The imp appears and spins all the straw into gold after the daughter agrees to give up her ring.

The next evening, the King, whose greed has increased yet again, locks the daughter into yet another room filled with straw and promises to make her his Queen should she spin all it into gold. The imp appears soon afterward and promises to help if she promises to give up her firstborn child.

Convinced she will not have a child anytime soon, the daughter agrees, and the imp spins the straw into gold before disappearing as day breaks. That morning, the King enters the room and, upon seeing the gold, keeps his promise and makes the daughter his Queen. 

The following year, sometime after the Queen bears a child, the imp returns to the castle to claim the infant. The horrified Queen, afraid to do so, offers all the wealth she has only for the imp to demand what is his. Eventually, the imp consents to give up his claim on the condition that the Queen guesses his name within three days.

Throughout the kingdom, the Queen sends a messenger to gather names and presents them to the imp on both the first and second day only to be told her deductions are wrong. On the night before the third day, the Queen learns that her messenger came across the imp's mountain cottage and overheard him reveal his name to be Rumpelstiltskin.

On the third day, the imp approaches the Queen and demands she either guess his name or surrender the baby. The Queen initially feigns ignorance but eventually states that the imp's true name is Rumpelstiltskin. Enraged, the imp drives his right foot into the ground before seizing his left foot and tearing himself in two.

Show Adaptation

  • The miller's daughter is the one to tell the king that she has the ability to spin straw into gold and is promised to his son if she follows through with her boast.
  • Rumpelstiltskin changes his contract with the miller's daughter on two separate occasions, the first being when he agrees to teach her to spin straw into gold and the second being when he changes the deal so that, instead of owing him her first-born child, she owes him their child.
    • The miller's daughter later nullifies the deal when she decides to pursue power over love and rips her heart out of her chest.
  • By the time Rumpelstiltskin meets the miller's daughter, she has already given birth to her first-born child, whom she abandoned in order to pursue her ambition of a better life.
  • Rumpelstiltskin survives his first meeting with the miller's daughter and makes deals with people ranging from Snow White and Prince Charming to Cinderella.

Characters Featured

Original Character Adapted as First Featured in
Rumpelstiltskin Rumplestiltskin "Pilot"
The miller's daughter Cinderella (allusion) "The Price of Gold"
Cora "The Miller's Daughter"
The baby Alexandra (allusion) "The Price of Gold"
Evil Queen "The Miller's Daughter"
The King Prince Henry (allusion) "The Miller's Daughter"
King Xavier
The miller The miller "The Miller's Daughter"

Locations Featured

Original Location Adapted as First Featured in
Rumpelstiltskin's hut Rumplestiltskin's farm "Desperate Souls"
The palace King Xavier's castle "The Miller's Daughter"
The tower room The tower room "The Miller's Daughter"

Items Featured

Original Item Adapted as First Featured in
Spinning wheels Spinning wheels "That Still Small Voice"
Straw/gold Straw/gold "That Still Small Voice"
The miller's daughter's ring Ruth's engagement ring (allusion) "A Land Without Magic"
The miller's daughter's necklace Snow White's necklace "Lost Girl"

Other Elements Featured

Original Elelment Adapted as First Featured in
Rumpelstiltskin's deals Dark One's deals "Pilot"
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