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This article focuses on tears used as ingredients for magic, and not on every instance of tears.
For the Season Seven episode, see "One Little Tear".

You take the most precious thing in the world: love, and turn it into a weapon.

Anna to Rumplestiltskin src

Tears are a magical ingredient featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. They first appear in the twenty-first episode of the second season.

One prominent tear, Anna's tear, is based on Gerda's tear from "The Snow Queen" fairytale, while another prominent tear, Lucy's tear, is based on Rapunzel's tears from the "Rapunzel" fairytale.


Before First Curse

At one point, Merlin tries to get rid of the Dark One, Nimue, for good by summoning her with the dagger. She heeds his call by magically flitting back and forth until Merlin orders her to stop, prompting her to materialize right in front of him. He attempts to stab her with the dagger, but cannot bring himself to do it and drops the dagger. As he is lost in grief over losing her to the Darkness, Nimue picks up the dagger, allowing one of Merlin's tears to drip onto it, causing the Sorcerer to turn into a tree. ("Dreamcatcher")

At some point, Rumplestiltskin collects one of Regina's tears. ("Second Star to the Right")

Learning of the Sorcerer's Hat with the ability to absorb magic, Rumplestiltskin decides to obtain it to be free of the dagger's will but also keep his Dark One powers. First, he poisons the Apprentice guarding the hat. Then, with good timing, Rumplestiltskin strikes a deal with Anna; sending her to douse the Apprentice's tea with a bottled substance. While it is an antidote to cure poison, Rumplestiltskin is simply testing Anna, who believes the substance is lethal, as he knows she doesn't have it in her to do it. In the end, he reveals the truth and shows her the Apprentice's reversion into a mouse. While Anna runs off to the man's cottage, Rumplestiltskin materializes there as well. Since she broke the contract, her punishment is to be locked up in his castle forever. Because of the hat's second line of defense, in which it can only be touched by one who has been tempted by darkness but hasn't succumbed to it, he goads Anna into acting against her kind-hearted nature. A desperate Anna threatens him with a sword as he insists she has to kill him in order to walk away. Following a tense moment, she collapses in tears, unable to kill him, as she begrudges him for manipulating her. One of her tears drips onto Rumplestiltskin's dagger, which he uses to breach the hat's second line of defense and gain the hat. ("The Apprentice")

After First Curse
While spending time with Lacey at the pawnshop, Mr. Gold is approached by David and Mary Margaret for help with a way to locate a missing Regina, and he helps them due to being indebted to Mary Margaret after she saved his life from Cora. Bringing out a bottle containing one of Regina's tears, Mr. Gold collects Mary Margaret's tear and mixes the two together. Afterward, he instructs her to put the liquid into her eye so she can temporarily breach a bodily connection with Regina. Later in the loft, David helps Mary Margaret tests out the concoction by dripping it into her eye, causing her to shudder in pain as she feels the agony that Regina is in as she is being physically tortured by Greg. ("Second Star to the Right")

Before Third Curse
From a dreamcatcher, Emma discovers the origins of how Merlin became a tree, with Regina helping her to realize they need to make a potion from a tear of a broken heart to free him. Although Regina provides the tear after reliving the memory of her first love's death, Emma suspects it may not be enough because Regina has moved on from her heartbreak, and Emma eventually coerces Violet into breaking Henry's heart so his fresh tear will work instead. Just as Arthur arrives to stop them from saving Merlin, Emma activates the potion and channels her Dark One powers onto the tree, reverting Merlin to human form. ("Dreamcatcher")

After Third Curse

While Gideon is disguised as a bartender named Aesop, he chats with Emma about his inability to never successfully been able to write himself a story and that he went to the Land of Untold Stories to attempt to accomplish this. He notes that his real-life story is simple but sad, in that he was an artist who loved his wife but she decided she didn't love him back. Emma relates to this, believing that Hook abandoned her as she does not know Gideon was responsible for him being taken away and begins to cry, wiping her tears on a napkin. Gideon discretely takes the tearstained napkin and later confronts Emma outside of her house as she attempts to communicate with Hook through an enchanted seashell, revealing that she cannot as long as he has her tears. ("A Wondrous Place")

As Emma storms into her house in a fury over Gideon taking Hook away from her, Gideon tells her she must help him defeat the Black Fairy or there is no coming back for Hook if she refuses. Emma then magically chokes him, but Gideon reminds her that he still has her tear and is the only one who can bring back Hook. After consulting with Mr. Gold and Belle and learning Gideon is their son who they believe is only evil because the Black Fairy made him this way, Emma agrees to give Gideon a chance. Gideon, in turn, leads Emma to the Sorcerer's Mansion where he guides her into arranging ingredients, including the tearstained napkin, on a table in order to open the portal door that will return Hook to her. Instead of Hook, the Great Spider From the Echoless Forest appears, which Gideon pretends is due to the Black Fairy's interference, however after Gideon successfully traps Emma in a spider web, Emma figures out he intended to kill her all along. ("Mother's Little Helper")

During Fifth Curse
Working towards reviving her comatose daughter Anastasia, Victoria allows Lucy to read her story in the book before bringing her to see Anastasia at the hospital. She attempts to open Lucy's eyes to the reality of this fairytale, as she once sacrificed everything for her family and did not get a happy ending, but Lucy insists people can if they work for it and stubbornly believes she and her parents will get that in the end. Victoria shatters these hopes by playing a recorded video of her mother Jacinda and Nick kissing to prove Henry means nothing to Jacinda, especially since Henry has already left town, and that no matter how hard Lucy believes, her dream of having a reunited family with her parents won't happen. As Lucy sheds tears of grief and lets go of her belief, one of her tears fall onto the storybook, which Victoria collects. Later, as a despondent Lucy returns home to Jacinda, Victoria drips the tear onto Anastasia's body, resurrecting her, while Lucy collapses in her mother's arms. ("One Little Tear")


On-Screen Notes


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