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I was in my garden when a masked man rode in. His name is Vortigan. He ransacks towns, burns them to the ground.
Nimue to Merlin src

Vortigan is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. He débuts, with his only appearance, in the seventh episode of the fifth season and is portrayed by co-star Darren Moore.

Vortigan is based on Vortigern,[1] a 5th-century warlord in Britain, who ultimately became incorporated into the Arthurian Legend.[2]


Before First Curse

Searching for the Holy Grail, Vortigan arrives in the village of Oxleigh, known for its middlemist flowers, and ransacks it, killing all of its inhabitants except one girl, Nimue, and burning it to the ground. Not finding the treasure, he continues on to the next village, Camelot, and spies on Merlin and Nimue, discovering they have the Grail in the process. When they arrive in the ruins of Nimue's village, he approaches and follows them to where the first fire made by mankind is, and sees that Merlin has reforged the Grail into Excalibur. Even so, he demands the sword, and stabs Nimue in the chest when she attacks him and rips off his mask. Heartbroken, Merlin threatens him, but Nimue, having drank from the Grail while Merlin wasn't watching and become immortal, rips out Vortigan's heart. Despite Merlin's pleas, she crushes it, killing Vortigan and turning her into the first Dark One. Completely corrupted by the Darkness, Nimue adopts Vortigan's mask and cloak. ("Nimue")



Production Notes

  • Actor Guy Fauchon is credited as Vortigan in "Dreamcatcher", but it is later revealed that he portrays Nimue. ("Nimue")


  • After Nimue becomes the Dark One, a dead Vortigan can be seen breathing.

Other Notes

  • According to legend, Vortigern attempted to build a tower which would not stand. He was advised to sprinkle the site with the blood of a child with no father. In the accounts of Geoffrey of Monmouth and many others, this child was Merlin. The boy saved himself by revealing the true cause of the tower's collapse: Two dragons fighting beneath the foundation. According to the Welsh Triads, a set of medieval manuscripts, Merlin predicted Vortigern's death after this revelation.[3]



  1. 1.0 1.1 TwitterLogo @JaneEspenson (Jane Espenson) on Twitter. "Amy is right. We altered it a bit to Vortigan for its breezy easy sound." (screenshot)
  2. Sutton, John William (2001). Vortigern in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. University of Rochester. “Ultimately Vortigern became incorporated into the Arthurian legends because many tales indicate that Arthur, the national hero of the Welsh, battled against the Saxons who had seized the island from Vortigern. Writers in the High Middle Ages and afterwards explicitly linked the story of Vortigern to the rapidly-expanding Arthurian mythos; see, for instance, Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (c. 1138).”
  3. Vortigern. University of Rochester. Retrieved on January 25, 2019. “Gildas refers to a "superbus tyrannus" (proud ruler) who invites the Saxons into Britain. Bede names this figure Vortigern. Nennius tells of Vortigern's attempt to build a tower which will not stand. He is advised to sprinkle the site with the blood of a child with no father. The child—Ambrosius in Nennius's account and Merlin in the accounts of Geoffrey of Monmouth and others—saves himself by revealing the true cause of the tower's collapse: two dragons fighting beneath the foundation.”

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