The 10 Saddest Moments On ‘Once Upon A Time’ That Oncers Still Aren’t Over

Evil isn’t born…it’s made, so blame Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis for creating such sad moments in the beloved fairytale TV series. Even though Once Upon a Time ended back in 2018, Oncers have not yet been able to process the tragedy many of the show’s characters faced. As many of them raced toward their happy endings, there were definitely a few bumps and bruises along the way. 

While some of the more famous scenes will be included in this list, I wanted to try and dig a little deeper to find other sad moments that are a bit more underrated. Because of this, you won’t find Henry’s death or Belle forcing Rumple over the town line on this list—even though those made me cry buckets, just like you. 

10. Rumple Confronts Milah

Rumple and Milah don’t get a lot of screen time, but when they do, it’s impossible not to hate Milah for abandoning Bae and wishing Rumple died in the ogre wars. While galavanting and enjoying life with Hook, Milah tries to make a deal with Rumple to give him a magic bean in exchange for their lives. However, things get heated when Rumple confronts Milah on how she was able to abandon their son. Despite all his power, his realization that he was powerless to stop Milah from doing what she did is truly heartbreaking, especially because you can see his anger toward Milah’s abandonment is really a reflection of his own decision to choose power over Bae. It’s one of the more defining moments for Rumple and shows just how much anger he has over the situation. Love him or hate him, Rumple is continually one of the most sympathetic villains in the entire series. 

9. Regina Begs David to Let Her See Daniel

All Regina wanted was to be with Daniel, so when Dr. Whale resurrects him, fans finally got what they were hoping for all year. Or so they thought. Unfortunately, Daniel is dangerous and not in control of his actions, leading David to try and lock him up in one of the stables. This prompts Regina to beg David to allow her to see him. Daniel’s death is what set Regina on the path of darkness and seeing her, who once had so much control over David, beg him to let her see her true love shows just how broken and desperate for Daniel Regina actually is. This scene shows how vulnerable she is and it’s both cathartic and heartbreaking to watch her have to lose him all over again. 

8. Belle Dies

Say what you will about Belle and Rumple’s toxic relationship, but once the final battle was over, he really did everything in his power to become the man Belle had always wanted. After living a blissful life together, watching her close her eyes while Rumple keeps trying to call out to her is hauntingly sad and beautiful, knowing that despite all their ups and downs, she is what kept him on the path of being a good man even when everyone else, including himself, didn’t think he was capable of it. 

7. Emma Leaves Hook in the Underworld

I don’t want to talk about this one, you can’t make me… ugh, fine. Hook and Emma discover they have true love and then BAM—she’s on an elevator departing the Underworld because he can’t come with her. Like, the entire Underworld storyline has a lot of emotional moments, but this is one I can only forgive because they both eventually got their happily ever after. But watching Hook desperately grab Emma’s hand before he can’t is devastating and not fair on so many levels. Plus, knowing Colin O’Donoghue improvised this scene makes it all the more impressive, considering it’s what really pulled the audience in and made the scene all the more heartbreaking. 

6. Snow and Emma Revisit Their Castle

One of the more underrated moments of the show comes early in Season 2 when Snow and Emma reach their former castle in an effort to find a way back to Storybrooke. Emma’s nursery is in ruins and it’s heartbreaking to hear Snow talk about all the things she had planned for Emma but never got to do. Up until this point, you never really got to see the pair have a Mother-Daughter relationship, so it’s sad to see both of them realize the gravity of the situation and how they both wished it could be different. Snow’s tears as she closes the door behind her are so hard to watch and it makes you realize that Snow is just as broken about missing Emma’s life as Emma is angry that it happened.

5. Emma Kills Hook

Wanting to die a hero, Emma makes the impossible decision to carry out Hook’s wishes and stab him with Excalibur. Not only is it devastating to watch Hook sacrifice himself for the people he loves, but it’s almost impossible not to cry as Emma is pulled away by Snow and Charming as the paramedics wheel Hook’s body away. What really sells this scene, though, is how everyone reacts to Hook’s death. Regina, who once caused so much death and destruction, has to look away, and even Rumple can’t believe what he’s seeing. Everyone just sells this scene so much and adds to the emotional depth of what’s happening. 

4. Robin Sacrifices Himself to Save Regina

God, I hate Hades so much for this. After the initial shock of Robin’s soul being LITERALLY OBLITERATED (again, wtf Hades), the saddest moment comes seconds after he fades from view, leaving Regina trying to process what happened. One moment he was here, and then poof, he’s gone and if there isn’t a sadder scene in Once Upon a Time than Robin reaching his hand out to touch Regina’s cheek after ALL THEY’VE BEEN THROUGH, then I don’t know what is (besides the rest of the list, of course). Her realization that she lost yet another love is heartbreaking, and I’d really like to ask Adam and Eddie why they had to do this. 

3. The Audience Learns Just How Much Regina Hates Herself

Over the course of six seasons, fans got to learn a lot about Regina that turned her into the Evil Queen. However, when she casts a spell in a flashback to gaze upon the person she hates most, the audience was surprised to find the big reveal was actually Regina herself. This scene was so heartbreaking because self-hatred is something we’ve all suffered and confronting that dark reality hit a little too close to home for so many people. 

Regina finally accepting the bad parts of herself allowed her to embrace the good, and it was a lesson that came out of nowhere that humanized her story arc so much more. 

2. Neal Dies in Front of Emma and Rumple

Neal played such an important role in Once Upon a Time, despite only being on the show for less than two seasons. So much of Emma’s and Rumple’s character arcs were built around him that, when he died, it did really feel like the end of an era. Neal was a beloved character on the show, and even though he led a life of crime for a while and let Emma take the fall for theft, he wanted to be a good father to Henry and a good person for Emma and everyone else he came in contact with, even going so far as to sacrifice himself. Neal’s history will always be a tragic one, so watching him die before he could really fulfill all the things his life deserved was super devastating to witness. 

1. Snow and Charming Give Up Emma

This scene has no choice but to be first. Everything about this scene is heartbreaking. Snow and Charming lose Emma. Charming (at least from what we suspect early on) loses his life. Snow loses Charming. And then they lose their home, future, and memories. The pure agony on Snow’s face after Charming takes Emma to the wardrobe is devastating and shows just how much they loved Emma in order to keep her safe. Would I have sent my baby through a magical wardrobe to live alone for 28 years? Probably not, but then again, I didn’t have royal duties to protect a kingdom, so who knows. Either way, it’s still a pretty depressing moment.