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My life was such a burden. You'll see... All magic comes with a price. And now, it's yours to pay.

—Zoso to Rumplestiltskin src

Zoso, formerly known as the Dark One and briefly as Old Beggar, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. He débuts in the eighth episode of the first season and is portrayed by guest star Brad Dourif.


Before First Curse

Long ago in the Enchanted Forest, a man named Zoso harnesses the power of darkness, succeeding Gorgon as the Dark One by killing him. He also gains a cursed dagger, which can bend his will to anyone who possesses it. Learning of a magical hat capable of absorbing and accumulating magic, he desires it for himself. He travels to its location and defeats the man guarding it. However, when he waves the dagger over the box in an attempt to open it, a powerful wave of magic from within the item blasts him away. As the Dark One lies still on the ground, the man informs him that the Sorcerer enchanted the box so that anyone who has succumbed to darkness cannot open it. Beaten, Zoso teleports away. ("Desperate Souls", "The Apprentice", "Nimue", "Broken Heart")

Later, he is enslaved by the Duke of the Frontlands, who acquires the dagger and gives it to one of his soldiers, Hordor. During an Ogre War, the Duke enlists all children aged fourteen to be trained as soldiers for his army. He dispatches Hordor to a village to pick up a girl named Morraine, who recently turned fourteen, as her parents beg for mercy. From a considerable distance, Zoso is ordered by Hordor via the dagger to magically force Morraine's parents into submission, which frightens the other villagers immensely. Unable to be freed of the curse of the Dark One, Zoso decides to goad someone else into killing him with the dagger so he can be free. He manipulates a cowardly wool spinner, Rumplestiltskin, whose only desire is to protect his son Baelfire from being forced to fight in the Ogre War. Disguised as a beggar, Zoso gains his sympathy and is offered food and shelter for the night. Zoso purposely tells Rumplestiltskin about the wonders of the dagger and encourages him to steal it from the Duke so he may gain control of the Dark One. Rumplestiltskin burns down the Duke's castle and snatches the dagger for himself. In the woods, he summons Zoso, who appears as a hooded figure. Rumplestiltskin cowers in fear of him, but quickly reacts in a blinded rage when Zoso taunts that his son was fathered by someone else. Zoso is stabbed to death by him, and reverts to human form. Rumplestiltskin is stunned at his true identity while Zoso briefly laments about life being a great burden for himself. Lastly, he affirms that Rumplestiltskin is the perfect pawn to help ensure his own death because he, like himself, is a desperate man. Upon death, Zoso's name disappears from the dagger while Rumplestiltskin's name replaces his, becoming the new Dark One. ("Desperate Souls")

After Third Curse

Years later, in the cavern beneath Emma's house in Storybrooke, Zoso is among all of the Dark Ones who appear, in spirit, to witness Emma reuniting Excalibur and the Dark One Dagger. ("Nimue")

Hook, the second Dark One at that time, enacts a portal in Storybrooke to the Underworld to bring back all the previous Dark Ones. Zoso is among the Dark Ones that come back to life to snuff out the light. ("Broken Heart")

After Hook opens a portal to the Underworld, all the souls of the deceased Dark Ones claim a living soul to replace their souls in the Underworld. When the heroes confront Hook and all the former dead Dark Ones, the spirit of Nimue magically chokes Emma. Hook realizes what kind of man he wants to be, using Excalibur, which he obtained by tricking Emma into giving it to him after she got it from Mr. Gold, to absorb the spirits of the Dark Ones. Hook begs his true love to kill him, destroying the Darkness and letting him die a hero. Emma reluctantly does this, destroying the sword, along with the Darkness's hold on her. ("Swan Song")

Magical Abilities

  • Shapeshifting - Ability to alter the appearance of oneself or others.
  • Telekinesis - Ability to control the movement of the environment.
  • Teleportation - Ability to magically teleport oneself and/or others from one location to another.



  • The Dark One's name, Zoso, refers to a nickname for Led Zeppelin guitarist and songwriter Jimmy Page,[1] who was represented on Led Zeppelin's fourth (unnamed) album by a symbol resembling the letters ZoSo. "Desperate Souls" premiered on the night before Page's sixty-eighth birthday.

Character Notes

Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  1. Dove, Steve (January 9, 2012). Storybrooke Secrets: Desperate Souls. ABC. “The Dark One’s name is Zoso, which is a reference to Led Zeppelin. Zoso is used as a moniker for Zeppelin guitarist, Jimmy Page.”

    Neumyer, Scott (September 27, 2013). Q&A: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Creators on Having a Role for Kelly Clarkson. Rolling Stone. “We called the original Dark One “Zoso” after Led Zeppelin, and those don't get picked up as easily as when the clock said 8:15 [which is a reference to Lost].”
  2. File:108Title.png
  3. Beane, Odette. Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale, p. 142. New York: Hyperion, 2013.
  4. File:505RumplestiltskinStorybook.png