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Gideon: I was in a place where time moved differently, where the Black Fairy raised me.
Mr. Gold: Did she harm you?
Gideon: Depends what you mean. She toughened me up.

"Tougher Than the Rest" is the eleventh episode of Season Six of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, and directed by Billy Gierhart. It is the one hundred and twenty-second episode of the series overall, and premiered on March 5, 2017.


With Snow still asleep in Storybrooke, David and Hook race to stop Gideon before he can confront Emma. Gideon makes a startling confession to Belle and Gold about his whereabouts while he was missing. Meanwhile, Regina struggles with the realization that everyone, perhaps even Robin, is better off in the alternate world where the Evil Queen was defeated. And when Emma inspires a familiar face to help her and Regina return home, she discovers the power to change her fate.[2]


Deleted Scenes

These scenes are included on Once Upon a Time: The Complete Sixth Season.

"Nowhere To Run" (Scene 13)

As Zelena packs up her things to leave town for good, Belle comes in and says that Zelena can't leave because Gold wants her dead and he will come after her. Zelena mocks her saying that he already tried to kill her once and he failed, to which Belle replies that it was actually the Evil Queen who failed. She also says that he has now someone much stronger: their son, and she does not want him to take advantage of him. As she tries to convince her, Zelena agrees to help her.

"Back-Up Plan" (Scene 17)

Belle and Zelena enter the sheriff's station, and David is surprised to see Zelena helping them. Belle then tells them the plan, which is breaking the protection spell on Mr. Gold's cabin, finding the shears and cutting away his son's destiny to become a Savior and to hurt anyone. Zelena listens until she's had enough and immobilizes Belle to talk to David and Hook alone, as she thinks Belle and her plan are nothing more than a fantasy. She then tells them her own back-up plan, which is throwing the dark fairy dust that is on the Evil Queen's snake form on Gideon, if anything goes wrong. Zelena then releases Belle, and David and Hook agree with Zelena's plan.

"Good People" (Scene 21-22)

David, Hook, Zelena and Belle come to Mr. Gold's cabin to put the plan they made, into motion. After Zelena breaks the protection spell on the cabin, they see both Mr. Gold and Gideon, and the shears with them. Belle then tells her son to stop what he's doing, because killing a good person to get what he wants is never the answer. Otherwise, he will turn out just like his father. Zelena then takes out the dark fairy dust that was part of her back-up plan, which surprises Belle as she didn't know about this. Mr. Gold mocks Belle, saying it appears that she trusted the wrong pirate. Zelena then throws the dust over Gideon, who easily blocks it and says that now they are cutting them down to get what they want. After Zelena teleports, Gideon tells the group that he doesn't need anyone's help and that after he kills the Savior, he will come after them.



Guest Starring



*: Only in archive footage



Production Notes

  • This episode reveals that young Emma adopted the last name "Swan" after reading the story of "The Ugly Duckling". Jennifer Morrison has previously stated that Emma got her last name from her first foster parents,[6] but this is proven apocryphal in this episode.
  • ABANDONED IDEAS: In the episode script, after Robin asks Regina to hand over her necklace, Emma says, "Give it to him. He doesn't know you."[7] This line is not in the final episode.
  • Jennifer Morrison and Eion Bailey kept bursting into laughter while shooting the scenes with Wish Realm Hook.[10]
  • REAL WORLD FACTS: Emma comments on August's typewriter and says that she wasn't sure if the sound she heard was from a typewriter or a Tommy gun. This is one of the nicknames for the Thompson submachine gun, which is also known as the "Chicago typewriter", because the sound of a Tommy gun being fired in the distance resembles the sound of typing on a typewriter, and because the weapon was in popular use in Chicago during the 1920s.

Event Chronology

Episode Connections



Fairytales and Folklore

  • PAUSE AND READ: The show's version of the story is taken from a nineteenth century translation called Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales (published sometime prior to 1889), translated by "Mrs. H. B. Paull" (link to text; note that "The Ugly Duckling" starts at the bottom of the page facsimile). It reads:[17]

The Ugly Duckling

It was lovely summer weather in the country, and the golden corn, the
green oats, and the haystacks piled up in the meadows looked beautiful.*
 The corn-fields and meadows were surrounded by large forests, in the
midst of which were deep pools. It was, indeed, delightful to walk about
in the country. In a sunny spot stood a pleasant old farm-house close by
a deep river, and from the house down to the water side grew great
burdock leaves, so high, that under the tallest of them a little child could
stand upright.

*In the original version, the opening sentence of the fairytale is followed by "The stork walking about on his long red legs chattered in the Egyptian language, which he had learnt from his mother." This sentence has been omitted from the show's version.

nodded, but a poor fisherman, who had heard the real nightingale, said,
"it sounds prettily enough, and the melodies are all alike; yet there seems
something wanting, I cannot exactly tell what."

And after this the real nightingale was banished from the empire, and
the artificial bird placed on a silk cushion close to the emperor’s bed.
The presents of gold and precious stones which had been received with
it were round the bird, and it was now advanced to the title of “Little
Imperial Toilet Singer,” and to the rank of No. 1 on the left hand; for the
emperor considered the left side, on which the heart lies, as the most
noble, and the heart of an emperor is in the same place as that of other

The music-master wrote a work, in twenty-five volumes, about the
artificial bird, which was very learned and very long, and full of the most
difficult Chinese words; yet all the people said they had read it, and
understood it, for fear of being thought stupid and having their bodies
trampled upon.

So a year passed, and the emperor, the court, and all the other Chinese
knew every little turn in the artificial bird’s song; and for that same
reason it pleased them better. They could sing with the bird, which they
often did. The street-boys sang, "Zi-zi-zi, cluck, cluck, cluck," and the
emperor himself could sing it also. It was really most amusing.

One evening, when the artificial bird was singing its best, and the
emperor lay in bed listening to it, something inside the bird sounded
"whizz." Then a spring cracked. "Whir-r-r-r" went all the wheels,
running round, and then the music stopped. The emperor immediately
sprang out of bed, and called for his physician; but what could he do?
Then they sent for a watchmaker; and, after a great deal of talking and
examination, the bird was put into something like order; but he said
that it must be used very carefully, as the barrels were worn, and it would
be impossible to put in new ones without injuring the music. Now there
was great sorrow, as the bird could only be allowed to play once a year;
and even that was dangerous for the works inside it. Then the
music-master made a little speech, full of hard words, and declared that
the bird was as good as ever; and, of course no one contradicted him.

Five years passed, and then a real grief came upon the land. The Chi-
nese really were fond of their emperor, and he now lay so ill that he was
not expected to live. Already a new emperor had been chosen and the
people who stood in the street asked the lord-in-waiting how the old
emperor was; but he only said, "Pooh!" and shook his head.

Cold and pale lay the emperor in his royal bed; the whole court thought
he was dead, and every one ran away to pay homage to his successor.
The chamberlains went out to have a talk on the matter, and the
ladies'-maids invited company to take coffee. Cloth had been laid down
on the halls and passages, so that not a footstep should

  • Pinocchio is a wood carver, a reference to The Adventures of Pinocchio, where his father Geppetto has the same profession.
  • HIDDEN DETAILS: The workbench outside Pinocchio's home is filled with hand carved marionettes,[20] another reference to the novel, where Pinocchio himself is a wooden marionette.
  • HIDDEN DETAILS: There is a hand carved dragon marionette outside Pinocchio's home.[20]

Props Notes

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: As young Emma is hiding under the bridge, she is covering up with her old baby blanket to keep warm.[21]

Costume Notes

Filming Locations


  • During the scene where Wish Henry searches for his mother and the Evil Queen along the water's edge, a horse wrangler can be seen in the lower half of the screen.[31]

International Titles



  1. Porter, Rick (March 7, 2017). ‘NCIS: LA’ and ‘Time After Time’ adjust up: Sunday final ratings. TV by the Numbers. “Once Upon a Time (ABC) (...) 3.03”
  2. 2.0 2.1 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, March 05, 2017. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#611) "Tougher Than the Rest"”
  3. File:611Title.png
  4. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (October 21, 2016). "Here's another #OnceUponATime #titlespoiler -- hope to see ya Sunday!" (screenshot)
  5. Dove, Steve. Storybrooke Secrets: Welcome to Storybrooke. ABC. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. “And while Owen is a Star Wars fan, his dad Kurt later tells Regina he's from "New Jersey, home of the Boss." Adam Horowitz is a big fan of Bruce Springsteen.”
  6. TwitterLogo.svg @jenmorrisonlive (Jennifer Morrison) on Twitter (November 17, 2013). "it has not been shown on the show but it was her first foster parents last name" (screenshot)
  7. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (February 25, 2017). "Here's another #OnceUponATime #scripttease -- hope to see ya March 5!" (screenshot)
  8. File:611ArrivingAtTheTavern.png
  9. File:303TavernExterior.png
  10. Radish, Christina (March 5, 2017). ‘Once Upon a Time’ Creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis Tease Season 6 Storylines. Collider. “What's funny is that we had lots of takes in the editing room where Jennifer [Morrison] and Eion [Bailey] would just literally laugh in the middle. They couldn't even respond to him, but he would just stay in character.”
  11. File:611EmmaBox.png
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  13. File:104WhatDoYouMean.png
  14. File:620OpeningBox.png
  15. File:611PleasureIsland.png
  16. File:611SmashTheClock.png
  17. File:611ItsBeautiful.png
  18. 18.0 18.1 File:611FairyTalesBook.png
  19. File:611TheNightingalePages1.png
  20. 20.0 20.1 File:611HeyTherePinocchio.png
  21. File:611Minneapolis.png
  22. File:IGlee j buckley-611.png
  23. File:611NotHisFault.png
  24. Wool Twill Jacket. Brooks Brothers. Retrieved on September 28, 2018.
  25. File:611ManInAllTheLands.png
  26. File:219TheSheriff2.png
  27. File:420Well.png
  28. File:504Shortly.png
  29. File:IGlee j buckley-611.png
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  30. File:IGlee j buckley-611-2.png
  31. File:611FindMyMother.png