Neal Cassidy, also known as Baelfire, or Bae, is a character appearing on the show Once Upon A Time. He is the son of Rumplestilskin, also known as the Dark One. He was also a lover of Emma Swan and the father of Henry Mills.
He is portrayed by Michael Raymond-James.
In one of the Enchanted Forest's villages, a couple, Rumplestiltskin and Milah, make their living by spinning wool. Rumplestiltskin is drafted into the ogre war, and Milah, though afraid for her husband's safety, gives her blessings for him to fight on the battlefield. In the months Rumplestiltskin spends in a camp training to be a soldier, he encounters a seer that can predict the future. She uses her abilities to proclaim Milah's impending pregnancy and birth of their son but also forewarns of a greater dark coming in Rumplestiltskin's destiny. The Seer states he will become a father, but also lose his son due to his actions on the battlefield. Rumplestiltskin takes this to mean he will die, and purposely injuries his foot so he can be sent home. When he arrives back, Rumplestiltskin is in awe to see Milah tending to their infant son in her arms. She named him Baelfire; citing that he needs a strong name for a father such as him since the rumors concerning Rumplestitskin's deliberate injury to exempt himself from the war are true. Milah thinks his excuses about the seer and prophecy are absurd. She is humiliated that her husband is such a coward to run away from the war, and firmly believes if he had fought and died, their son could have at least an immortalized image of how brave he was instead of Rumplestiltskin being alive and a deserter.
As the years go by, Milah grows to be quite disinterested in playing housewife to Rumplestiltskin, and spends her days drinking at the tavern bar. Rumplestiltskin returns home one day to find Baelfire all alone without his mother. He goes to the tavern to look for Milah, and finds her in the company of a pirate, Hook, and his men. Milah refuses to leave, however, when Baelfire comes in to calls for his mother, she gets up to leave for home. Milah is very unhappy with the life she leads, and wishes to explore and see the world. Rumplestiltskin still hopes she will try to be family for Baelfire at least, to which Milah reluctantly agrees. The next day, however, she turns up missing, and is kidnapped by Hook. Rumplestiltskin tries to get her back by pleading with Hook, but nothing comes out of it when Rumplestiltskin refuses to sword fight. Thus, Baelfire loses his mother, though his father tells him that she passed away.
As Baelfire grows up, Rumplestiltskin says his mother passed away rather than admit the truth about her disappearance. The two of them continue to make a meager living by spinning wool. One day, Baelfire and his father see the neighbor's daughter, Morraine, who recently turned fourteen, be taken away by soldiers and forcefully drafted into the Ogre War. One of the soldiers taunts Rumplestiltskin about his runaway wife, which confuses Baelfire. Later, he asks his father what the man meant, to which Rumplestiltskin sticks to his story that Baelfire's mother is dead. Soon, Rumplestiltskin fears his son will be taken away to fight in the war, too, since his son's fourteenth birthday is only days away. Even though Baelfire is willing to go to war, this is simply an option his father doesn't even want to consider. To prevent it from happening, he slays Zoso, "The Dark One", taking on his powers in an effort to be able to protect Baelfire. Rumplestiltskin relishes in brutally killing all the soldiers who attempt to recruit his son while Baelfire watches in terror.
His father grows more powerful and intimidating as the Dark One, but also begins keeping Baelfire at home from the outside world. While he is drawing, Rumplestiltskin returns home with a knife and gives it to him to use for sharpening his coal. Upset, he knocks it off the table to the floor and proclaims he wants nothing his father gains from being the Dark One. So, Rumplestiltskin his son what desires and Baelfire expresses frustration at his lack of freedom. Rumplestiltskin misunderstands and thinks he desires to live in a castle, but Baelfire, in actuality, wants to be able to go out and have friends. Rumplestiltskin forbids this as he worries it will be way for his enemies to kidnap Baelfire and hold him captive. However, Baelfire wonders if his father's protectiveness is actually a fear his own son will leave and never come back. For a moment, Rumplestiltskin looks surprised, but quickly asserts his feelings are out of concern for Baelfire's safety and admits it'd be an unthinkable thing if he lost him. Lonely, Baelfire is drawn into following the sound of the Pied Piper's musical flute to a bonfire. Once there, he befriends the Pied Piper, Peter Pan, and happily spends time among other boys his age. Pan wants to bring him back to his own world, Neverland, but plans to make a deal with Baelfire's father, Rumplestiltskin. As a choice of free will, Pan tells Baelfire that Rumplestiltskin must ask his own son whether he wishes to stay or leave for Neverland. In doing so, it will prove Rumplestiltskin trusts and cares for his son. When Pan presents his arrangement to Rumplestiltstkin, he refuses to comply and forcibly teleports Baelfire home with him. Out of parental concern for his son's safety, Rumplestiltskin briefly talks about his relationship with Pan, which ended with him being betrayed by the latter. Despite that, Baelfire calls him out about the deal Pan offered. Had Rumplestiltskin given him the choice, he declares it would have been to stay with his father. Bitterly, he contemplates the lost chance at being a family with him, though Rumplestiltskin says they still can. Rejecting the notion, Baelfire storms out.
Later, Rumplestiltskin ends the Ogre War and saves thousands of children's lives, but Baelfire wishes for things to return as they were before he became the Dark One. He is worried that magic will continue to corrupt his father and wants him to be rid of. Rumplestiltskin shows his son the dagger and explains that can't happen unless someone were to kill him with it. However, he agrees to part with magic if Baelfire can find a way to make it possible without dying. While contemplating this, Baelfire's friend Morraine tells him about the Reul Ghorm she heard of during war. He goes and finds the Reul Ghorm, which turns out to be the Blue Fairy. She gives him a magic bean so he and his father can go to a "land without magic". He rushes back home to show Rumplestiltskin the bean and they head out to the woods. After Baelfire opens a portal with it, Rumplestiltskin backs out of their deal; unwilling to give up his powers. As they argue, Baelfire nearly slips into the portal, but his father grabs and tries to pull him back up by using the dagger as an anchor. He urges Rumplestiltskin to come with him, but to no avail. Torn between magic and his son, Rumplestiltskin makes a split decision to let go of his son's hand. Baelfire falls into the portal as it closes.
Through the portal, Baelfire lands a new world. At first, he still calls for his father, but realizes he is now alone. For months, he wanders the streets searching for leftover bits of food. He uses a propped ladder against an open window to his advantage and climbs in to see a table of food. Baelfire gorges on it to satisfy his hunger until one of the residents of the house, Wendy, takes him for a thief. Once Wendy notices that he's starving, she kindly offers him as much bread as he likes. She takes pity on Baelfire and hides her new friend in the nursery room cubby-hole and sneaks up food for him for weeks until being caught by her parents. Though Wendy tries to speak up in Baelfire's favor, her mother won't hear of it, and surprises everyone by allowing him to stay as a house guest. From then on, Baelfire joins Wendy and her two brothers, John and Michael, in the nursery and gains his own bed. One night, he awakens to see Wendy sitting at the windowsill. Excitedly, she tells him about ashadow dancing outside and how it moves like magic. The mention of magic displeases Baelfire, who shares his own experience of it destroying his whole life, and will do the same to her family as well. He makes her promise never to open the window for the Shadow, but she cannot contain her curiosity. On a different night, he catches her opening the window and being whisked off into the air by the Shadow. Horrified, he can only watch, but refuses to leave the windowsill until she comes back. When morning comes, Baelfire stirs from sleep to see Wendy is brought back by the Shadow. Though Wendy had a fun time in a place called Neverland, she is frighted since the Shadow wants to take one of her brothers away permanently. Baelfire vows to help her put a stop to it. The following evening, the four children arm themselves with kitchen utensils as weapons. They wait until the Shadow breaks in before scurrying into the cubby hole to hide, but Michael gets left behind. Baelfire prevents the kidnapping by offering himself up instead, and is promptly grabbed and taken away to Neverland as Wendy and her brothers watch in fright from the window. As they approach the island of Neverland, he refuses to accept his fate and lights a match to scare off the Shadow. Startled, the creature drops him into the water as Baelfire passes out. After a brief search, the Shadow couldn't find the boy and flies back to the island. Nearby, a ship sights Baelfire in the water and brings him aboard. Sputtering and confused, Baelfire wakes up to meet the ship's captain, Hook, and one of his crew mates, William Smee.
That night, Hook and Smee are contemplating on what to do with Baelfire and decide to turn him in to the Shadow, in order to appease Peter Pan. However when Hook learns he is Milah's son, he quickly changes his mind and protects him from the Lost Ones, who come looking for him. Hook befriends Baelfire and even starts acting like a father, partially to find out more about Rumplestiltskin, but also because he is Milah's son. He teaches Baelfire to steer a ship, and the two bond over their shared experiences of both being abandoned by their fathers. Baelfire tells Hook that his father is the Dark One, and how he was always more concerned about a magic dagger that could kill him. A few days later, in one of the rooms below deck, Baelfire discovers a drawing of Milah. Angered, he demands the truth from Hook, who confesses that he and Milah ran away to be together out of love, but then Rumplestiltskin killed her. Hook pleas that Milah always wanted to go back for him so the three of them could be a family, and since she is dead, he wants to be one with Baelfire. The boy is unable to see past Hook's lies and deceit, realizing the pirate only wants to know how to kill Rumplestiltskin, and blames him for tearing apart his family as well as for Milah's death. Baelfire commands to be taken back to the Darlings, but that is impossible, so he opts for leaving the ship for Neverland's shores. As he is getting ready to depart on a boat provided by the Lost Ones, Hook, hoping Baelfire will change his mind, gives him one last chance to do so. Baelfire sticks to the plan, prompting Hook to spitefully thank the boy for helping to see that he only needs revenge and nothing else. Once he reaches the coast of Neverland, the Lost Ones pull him out where an older boy, Felix, awaits to examine Baelfire's face with a drawing of someone Pan is seeking. The drawing is not a match, and Baelfire is sent off with the other boys.
At at unknown time frame, Baelfire escapes the world of Neverland and ends up in the Land Without Magic where he grows up under the name Neal Cassidy.
Neal and Emma meet in Portland when they are both trying to steal the same car. They quickly fall in love and began travelling through the country together and running cons to make money. Planning to retire from their life of crime, they choose to build a life together in Tallahassee, but Neal gives Emma the bad news he is currently wanted for stolen watches that are now hidden in a train station. Emma retrieves the watches back and they decide to meet up at a specific location after Neal finds someone to buy the watches. While doing so, Neal is confronted by August, who claims Emma is meant to do something greater rather than live a life of a thief. He shows knowledge of Neal's past persona by opening a typewriter with the words, "I know you're Baelfire" written on them. Afterwards, August tells Neal about Emma's magical history and convinces him to turn her in to the police so she can fulfill her destiny. After Emma is arrested, he runs away to Canada where he sells the watches. He asks August to send all the money plus their car to Emma, and asks August that if she ever fulfills her duty to let him know by sending a postcard.
At an older age, Neal begins residing in New York City. August pays him another visit to inform him of his plans to help Emma break the curse. Neal dislikes the idea of his father coming to look for him when the curse is broken. Even though he and Emma can possibly reunite then, Neal doesn't think she would want to see him. Neal watches August ride off on his motorcycle and upon turning to leave, he accidentally bumps into a woman, Tamara, holding a cup of coffee, which spills all over her. He offers her his scarf to cover up the stains. They exchange numbers, start dating and then become engaged.
When Emma breaks the Dark Curse, Neal resides in New York City, where he receives a postcard delivered by a dove. One side of the postcard reads, "Broken", and the other is a photo of the Storybrooke Clock Tower with the phrase "Greetings from Storybrooke", which is sent to him byAugust.
Neal receives a call buzz for his apartment room one day. When the person on the other line says there is a UPS delivery for him, for an unknown reason, he flees out the window and down the ladder escape. He runs away from his pursuer until they both careen into each other and knock heads. Neal is stunned to see the person chasing him is Emma. She accuses him and his father, Mr. Gold, of deceiving her. Not wanting a confrontation out in the open, Neal succeeds in getting Emma to a nearby bar where he reveals that he is, in fact, Baelfire and they discuss their past. Neal makes note of the fact she is still wearing the necklace he gave her, but Emma takes it off just then and hands it back to him. He suggests that they go their separate ways and that she tell Mr. Gold she lost him. Although Emma agrees, Neal decides to go back to his apartment as he knows what his father does to people who break deals with him. He stops Mr. Gold from threatening Emma and commands him to leave, but feels confused when he sees Henry, who he does not recognize. When Emma states Henry is her son, Neal admanantly demands to know how old he is. Henry shouts back he is eleven years old, which is the exact amount of years since he and Emma were together. He realizes the boy is his son. Mr. Gold blackmails Neal into talking with him as that is the only way to fulfill Emma's bargain. Neal tells Mr. Gold that since he himself as an abandoned boy never got closure, neither will his father. Emma allows Neal to get to know Henry, but warns not to break his heart.
Some time later, Neal is building a quick relationship with Henry by introducing him to New York-style pizza and promising to take him to a museum. Neal tries to tell Emma something important, but their conversation is interrupted. Neal and Henry head back up to the apartment room to fetch a camera for the museum visit only to rush back to see Mr. Gold has been stabbed by Hook, who Emma has already knocked out. To everyone's surprise, Neal admits he is already acquainted with Hook. Mr. Gold tells Emma the wound inflicted on him by Hook contains poison and the only way to cure him is with magic in Storybrooke. Realizing that Hook's ship is the fastest way to get back, Neal offers to steer the ship and arranges to borrow someone else's car to the harbor. Emma curiously asks how he knows Hook and how to pilot a pirate ship, though he evasively says the land without magic is not the first world he arrived in, because if it had been, he would been over three-hundred years old by now. When they arrive next to a large car, Neal prepares to use the keys when the owner of the vehicle, his fiancée, Tamara, walks up to greet him, and he introduces Emma to his future wife.
With Henry's help, Neal pilots the Jolly Roger from New York to Storybrooke. While en route, Emma telephones David and Mary Margaret, to fill them in on what has happened. David explains to them Cora and Regina have possession of the dagger which can be used to control Mr. Gold. They arrive at the pawnshop, and once inside, Mr. Gold gives a piece of magic invisible chalk to Emma and tells her to draw a magic barrier across the door with the chalk. Neal jokes that he did not know she could use magic, and Emma chides at him for not telling her about Tamara or who his father is. When Cora and Regina reach the shop, they use magic to break the barrier, and end up battling Neal, Mary Margaret, David and Emma. Regina ejects David by throwing him out of the shop. After distracting Cora and Regina, Emma proceeds to draw another barrier outside the shop's back room to protect herself, Neal and Mr. Gold for a little longer. After hearing Mr. Gold's emotional phone conversation with his girlfriend Belle, Neal realizes that his father has changed. As father and son share a close moment, Cora breaks through the barrier. Though Neal and Emma rise to defend Mr. Gold, she teleports the them to the town forest.
After Cora's death, Mr. Gold visits the apartment to warn Emma and David about what Regina has planned for Mary Margaret. Henry is horrified about his family's possible intent to kill Regina to end the feud. Emma takes an upset Henry to the diner where Neal hangs out with him. He orders him a nice dessert, but Henry knows Neal is in on trying to sweeten him up so he does not try to get involved with Regina. Neal asks Henry to move to New York with him where he will be safer. Henry agrees, and then goes to the bathroom. Emma comes back to check up on them, and is incredulous that Neal fell for the "I'm going to the bathroom" trick; especially since Henry took his backpack with him. They try to catch up with him, and get to the mines with help from Ruby and realize Henry took dynamite to blow up the wishing well to get rid of magic. They hurry off to the well, and nearly have a heated battle with Regina, but Henry manages to get everyone to stop. Henry convinces Regina to not use the spell on him, and she willingly burns the paper.
Deciding he wants to stay in town for Henry's sake, Neal phones Tamara and asks her to come as well. At some point, he returns to New York alone and discovers Hook missing from the storeroom. While he is staying at Storybrooke's inn, Emma and Henry visit him. Sending Henry to grab three hot cocoas from the diner, Neal tells Emma about Hook's disappearance, and then reveals Tamara will be arriving shortly. She dislikes the idea of another outsider in town, and pushes Neal to tell Tamara about his true identity. The foursome have an awkward breakfast in silence, but the conversation picks up when Henry asks how the two of them met, to which Tamara briefly relates the story. Once Henry and Emma head out, Neal shows Tamara the book and tells her about his life in the Enchanted Forest; stating all the fairytales in the book are real. Perceiving this is a ploy to drive her away so he can be with Emma, Tamara angrily berates his story, and storms out. Later, in front of the sheriff department building, he witnesses a wooden August die with his last words warning Emma about "her". After Mother Superior arrives and transforms August back into Pinocchio, Tamara arrives to see the workings of magic. Unknown to Neal and the others, moments earlier, she was the one who killed August since he was trying to expose her to Emma. Feigning surprise at witnessing actual magic, Tamara decides to stay in Storybooke for Neal.
In the park, Neal and Henry have fun playing with wooden swords. At the end of the day, he brings home a worn out and asleep Henry. Emma tucks him into bed and then the two sit down to talk. She casually asks him if he would go back to the Enchanted Forest if there was a way, but Neal states he spent his whole life running from it.
On a rainy day, he and Tamara huddle under an umbrella as they are leaving the bed and breakfast. He returns to the guest room to find Henry waiting outside. As Henry struggles for a reason for his appearance, Neal notices that he is kicking the door. Recognizing the door tactic as his own, he bursts into the room to find Emma prying open a loose floorboard. Emma explains her suspicion of Tamara as possibly being the person August was warning them about. She also harbors doubts since Tamara has a list of everyone in town and their fairytale names, though Neal replies he gave that list to her so his fiancée can come to grips with Storybrooke and his identity. Neal goes out on a limb and allows Emma to open the floorboard, but nothing incriminating is found in it. He asks Emma whether her reluctant behavior is due to Tamara being in Storybrooke. She strongly denies it and leaves with Henry.
Awakening in bed, Neal sees Tamara is preparing to go out on a marathon training run. Later, Emma informs him Regina is missing, and she strongly believes Tamara is responsible. While he continues to be skeptical, Emma notices sand on the floor left by Tamara's shoes, which indicates his girlfriend has not recently been running in the woods as she claimed, but near the beach. As they comb the beach, Tamara casually jogs up, explaining her reasons for changing her jogging spot, before heading off again. Believing Emma's behavior is influenced by Tamara's presence, he expresses sympathy for her difficulty, but she denies being jealous. When Emma tries to walk away, he admits wanting to go back for her when she went to jail in his place. Neal admits he truly wanted to, but was too scared to face Emma; thinking she might never forgive him as he never forgave himself for leaving her. After learning Regina is trapped in the cannery, the pair head inside the building. David, who rushed ahead to find Regina, warn Emma via phone to be on the lookout for Greg as he is trying to escape the building. Overhearing the exchange, Neal is relieved to hear Tamara is not involved, but his ease turns to horror when Emma is knocked out unconscious by her. To his shock, Tamara confesses to lying about everything since the day they met, and though she thinks he is a good man, her job is more important. Tamara then shoots him in the abdomen and apologizes before Emma kicks the pistol of her hands. To distract them further, Tamara opens a portal, almost causing Emma to fall in until Neal grabs hold of her, while she herself flees the cannery. After Emma is pulled up, he ends up clinging to her to keep from falling into the portal. Neal urges her to let him go, but Emma fears he'll die from the gun shot wound no matter what world he lands in. Terrified of losing him, she confesses her genuine love for Neal. He reciprocates his love for her and then disappears into the portal.
Through the portal, Neal focuses his thoughts on the Enchanted Forest, to which he is transported there. Unconscious, he washes ashore at a beach where three strangers, Aurora, Mulan and Prince Phillip, tend to his injuries at a palace. He wakes up to the watchful stare of Mulan as Aurora and Phillip rush to check on him. Aurora thinks he as a native of this land, but Mulan dutifully notices his clothes are foreign and similar to Emma and Mary Margaret's. At the mention of Emma's name, Neal urgently mentions he must save her and Henry. Aurora, having previously met Henry in the Netherworld, promises to look for him there again. Aurora's attempt at contacting Henry is unsuccessful, so Neal goes to his father's old castle to find an item for locating Emma and Henry. Mulan, accompanying Neal there, asks about his relationship with Emma as the blonde never mentioned him. He confesses to breaking Emma's heart by letting her go so she could break the curse, and after this, fear of rejection kept him from going back to her. At their destination, a man, Robin Hood, has already claimed the fortress for himself. However, when Neal explains that the castle once belonged to the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin, and he is his son, Baelfire. Robin Hood decides to trust Neal's words and mentions being indebted to Rumplestiltskin for sparing his life in the past. After looking around for a bit, Neal picks up his father's old walking stick, which is enchanted with blood magic, and swings it around to activate a hidden door. From within, Neal discovers a crystal ball and attempts to activate it by touch, which causes no change. Mulan suggests thinking about how he feels about Emma as a guide. Neal follows her instructions, and the crystal ball shows him an image of Emma in Neverland.
Panicking over finding another pathway to Neverland, Neal searches all over for something that could be of use, but to no avail. Just then, four of Robin Hood's allies from their group, the Merry Men, enter into the castle. From beneath the leading man, Little John, a four-year old boy, Roland, crawls out and runs into Robin Hood's arms. He finds out the child is Robin Hood's son, to which he suddenly comes up with the idea of how to traverse worlds. Neal suggests Roland can use a summoning incantation to call the Shadow so he himself can gain a pathway to Neverland. Once Robin Hood learns the Shadow is notorious for snatching away young boys and whisking them away, he is extremely resistant to the idea. However, Neal reminds him how his father saved Robin Hood's wife, which allowed her to give birth to Roland, and as such, this makes him in Rumplestiltskin's debt. Robin Hood finally relents in his decision. Roland summons the Shadow, who attempts to pull him away, but Mulan severs one of its arms. Neal quickly latches onto the Shadow and is flown back to Neverland. After a rough landing, he is greeted by Felix. The Lost Boy welcomes him home, and promises Pan will be very happy to see him.
With his wrists bound, Neal is forced to trail behind Felix through a trek in the jungle, but begins to undo his restraints without the Lost Boy noticing. At the right time, Neal ambushes Felix, rendering him unconscious, and then makes a run for it. He sprints straight into a stranger wielding a spear. Upon stopping, he realizes, in bewilderment, it's his father, Mr. Gold, who begins accusing him of being a mirage. Neal tries to explain that he's not dead, but Mr. Gold believes he is an illusion to reminder of his failures and make him question the decision to save Henry. As Mr. Gold prepares to kill him, Neal chokes out a plea by calling him Papa. This causes Mr. Gold to loosen his grip. Neal is brought up to speed about the last time his father saw Emma when they were heading to the island on Hook's ship. Mr. Gold doesn't believe Emma has the stomach to do what must be done and thinks Neal is the same. He begs to differ and learns his father is actually serious about giving up his own life for Henry. Neal has a better idea, however, and kills a colossal squid by the lake so Mr. Gold can extract squid ink from it. They storm into Pan's camp after Mr. Gold puts all the Lost Boys as well as Henry to sleep. Neal shoots an arrow at Pan, which is coated at the shaft with squid ink. As suspected, Pan catches it in his fist; paralyzing him. As they make off with a slumbering Henry, Pan tells Neal of a prophecy that Mr. Gold wants to keep from happening by murdering Henry. Neal later demands an explanation from his father. With much reluctance, Mr. Gold acknowledges that the prophecy spoke of a boy, presumably Henry, who will help him find Neal, but ultimately is his own undoing. Despite his father's insistence this was before he discovered Henry is his grandson, Neal begins to lose trust in him. As proof Mr. Gold changed from the past, Neal asks for the Dark One’s dagger. Though he swears the dagger is hidden in a place not even he knows where, it sounds like another empty excuse to Neal. Too afraid his father will go back to his old ways, Neal purposely presses a leaf coated in squid ink into Mr. Gold's palm. While doing so, he brings up a childhood wish of his father coming to save him from Neverland, but realized it was never going to happen since the dagger is more important to him than his own son. While Mr. Gold is paralyzed, Neal leaves with Henry, despite his father's warning that he won't he safe without the protection of magic. On his own, Neal comes to a deserted campsite he believes was recently inhabited by Emma. Pan and the Lost Boys take him by surprise to steal Henry back. When reminded by Pan that no one walks off the island without his leave, Neal boasts he already did once. Pan attests that everyone is exactly where he wants them to be. At the sound of Henry groggily waking up, Pan ushers some of the Lost Boys to take Neal away to an unknown holding location.
Drugged and placed in a cage, Neal slowly drifts into unconsciousness when Pan arrives to check up on him. On his orders, the Lost Boys hang the cage up next to another confined prisoner.
At another time, Neal, while still in the enclosure, is brought into an Echo Cave as bait for rescue on a platform. He awakens to see David, Emma, Hook and Mary Margaret standing at the other platform end of the cave. Separated by a gaping space between the two sections, Hook, Mary Margaret and David all satisfy the requirements of the cave by revealing a guarded secret about themselves, causing a bridge to form, allowing Emma to cross over to Neal. Emma attempts to cut Neal free, which is all in vain, when he implies that she, too, must also follow the cave's requirement. With reassurance from Neal, Emma tearfully acknowledges that she still loves him since the day they met again, but had hopes he wasn't alive because their relationship has given her a lot of pain and she just wanted to move on. The cage bars melt away as she and Neal embrace each other. When they reach the outside, they decide to regroup with Tinker Bell first and then continue the mission. Left alone with Neal, Emma is sorry about what she said to him earlier, though her feelings cannot be changed. Neal doesn't believe she has anything to apologize for, but affirms he won't stop fighting for her.
Neal familiarizes the group on a tactic for flying off the island using Pan's shadow. Since the Shadow is mostly solitary, they can capture it without going near Pan. Emma steps up on "shadow duty" with Neal as Hook enlists himself as well. They all agree to meet back at Tinker Bell's tree house once the Shadow is nabbed. Neal, Emma and Hook revisit the Lost Boy cavern. While Emma goes off to fetch the star map, Hook accidentally discloses the kiss he shared with her, which Neal was unaware of until now. This causes some uneasiness in Neal, but he excuses it as something Emma must've forgotten to bring up. Next, they go in search of Dark Hollow, which is home to all captured shadows. On the way there, Emma lends Neal a weapon to cut through tall grass. Neal recognizes it as his old cutlass, and after learning Hook gave it to her as a memento, he angrily snips at the pirate before walking away. After heading into Dark Hollow, Neal briefs on drawing the Shadow in by lighting the candle and trapping it by putting the lid on. He and Hook end up fighting over the lighter when three shadows show up to attack just as Emma grabs the coconut halves. Both men are thrown against trees and begin having their shadows ripped out. Emma saves the day by using magic to light a flame on the candle and entrap the Shadow inside. On the journey back to Tinker Bell's tree house, Emma settles the competition between Hook and Neal by stating the only person she is choosing is Henry. After showing Tinker Bell proof of the Shadow as their ticket off the island, she agrees to do her part in taking down Pan. Emma stays behind with Neal, who calmly accepts what she said earlier and thinks of Henry as the best thing that came out of them being together. She agrees.
While moving ahead to Pan's camp, a rustle from the jungle causes the entire group to assemble for battle, but it turns out to be only Regina and Mr. Gold. Regina tells them about the power of Pandora's Box while Neal's distrust reaches a pinnacle. He blurts out Mr. Gold's objective to kill Henry and prevent a seer's prophecy from coming true. Subsequently, Emma and everyone else turns against Mr. Gold by drawing their weapons. To keep him at bay, Neal forces his father to hand over the box and warns him against using magic. As they all file past to continue on, Neal cautioned by him about underestimating Pan's power. He tries for an answer concerning his father and Pan's history together, but Mr. Gold remains silent. Later, Mr. Gold offers his services to make an elixir so David can be out of Neverland's waters without dying. The catch is, as usual, his father wants a favor out of the deal, which Emma is willing to partake, but Neal can't stomach it. He strikes down the asking price by pushing Mr. Gold to help for the right reasons rather than for his own personal gain.
After Tinker Bell gains access into the perimeter of the encampment and the Lost Boys are put to sleep by Regina, neither Henry or Pan are found there. Instead, Neal frees an old friend, Wendy, and brings her back to camp to inquire about Henry. Forced to act on Pan's wishes, Wendy lies to them. Mr. Gold calls her out for not telling the truth. With some encouragement from Neal, Wendy opens up about Pan's real reason for needing Henry's heart, which is to save himself from dying and then become immortal. As a trade, Pan lives, but Henry will die. By rowboat, Neal, Emma, Mr. Gold and Regina ascend onto Skull Rock to stop Pan. Instead, they are stopped by a barrier, enacted to keep out anyone with a shadow, blocking their path up the stairs. As Mr. Gold is the only one without a shadow, he is able to enter through. This fact surprises Neal, who had previously thought he was lying about ripping away his shadow. The box is handed over to Mr. Gold, but while he is gone, Emma and Regina use magic to block out the moon as well as their shadows. The trio rush up to the upper level to witness Henry pulling out his own heart. All three attempt to dissuade him from the sacrifice, but through Pan's manipulations, Henry chooses to give up his heart. They cry out in horror as he plunges the heart into Pan's chest, causing all of them to be thrown back from the impact, and Henry collapses. As they rush over to check up on his unmoving body, Pan rises into the air.
Before Pan flies off, he reveals Mr. Gold is now powerless and trapped in the box. Neal proposes they look for Pan at the Lost Boy camp, though Regina lashes out over the ridiculous idea since their nemesis wouldn't risk going back there. Unable to come up with a plan, they bring Henry's body back with them to the Lost Boy camp where Regina casts a preservation spell on him to last one hour until they track down Pan. Emma manages to get some of the Lost Boys to open up about Pan's current location at his "thinking tree" in Pixie Woods after promising to bring them off the island. While Emma, Mary Margaret and Regina go to find Pan, Neal and the rest of their party plan to regroup aboard the Jolly Roger. The three women come back in time to place the heart back in Henry as he gasps to life. Additionally, the box has also been retrieved and given to Neal. He is astonished by find out Pan is actually Mr. Gold's father. After releasing his father from the box, the two make up over their past differences and problems. Neal sees his father truly cares about the well-being of Henry, and feels badly for not believing in him. Mr. Gold expresses fears that he turned out just like Pan by leaving his own son and being selfish. Though Neal has always held a grudge against his father for that abandoning him, he now recognizes Mr. Gold has changed for the better. Home bound, Neal releases the Shadow over a lit cannon, firing the creature into the air, to which Regina projects it into a sail to fly everyone home.
Following a safe journey out of Neverland to Storybrooke, Neal is given a shot to court Emma after Hook resigns himself to step back for Henry's sake. Immediately, he uses the opportunity to ask Emma out for a low-key lunch at the diner. The following morning, Emma doesn't show up, to Neal's disappointment. Trouble once again arises in town when the Shadow kills Mother Superior. After regrouping with the others, it is suspected Pan is behind the attack. Neal, Hook and Tinker Bell go to fetch the lighter and coconut halves from the ship in case they need to catch the Shadow again. They attempt to enter the vault where Regina took Henry to keep him safe, but the door is locked. Belle, Emma, David, Mary Margaret and Mr. Gold bring back Pan, who is actually Henry, since the two switched bodies. When Mr. Gold breaks open the vault, they discover Pan took the spell for the Dark Curse.
Mr. Gold shares with everyone of the only viable way to stop Pan's curse is for Regina, as the original caster of the Dark Curse, to undo it by destroying the scroll, though there will be a steep price for this. They plan to switch Henry back to his own body so he will be in possession of the scroll and bring it to Regina. Mr. Gold can perform the spell, but needs a strong outlet in order for it to work. Tinker Bell has knowledge of a powerful Black Fairy wand that Mother Superior kept. Neal, David, Hook and Tinker Bell ask the convent nuns for the item just as the Shadow attacks. On Neal's urging, Tinker Bell uses her vial of pixie dust to light a flame on the coconut half and flies into the air to trap the Shadow; disposing the being for good by burning it in a fire. With the Shadow gone, Mother Superior returns alive and hands the Black Fairy's wand to them. The three men arrive at the pawnshop with the wand. Once Henry's spirit returns to his own body, everyone except Mr. Gold runs off to find the boy. With Granny's tracking skills, they reunite with him. Regina passes out after taking the scroll and awakens with knowledge of the price for stopping the curse. They are accosted by Pan as he steals back the scroll and freezes them in place. Pan chooses Neal as his first kill when Mr. Gold shows up. Mr. Gold summons the dagger and stabs Pan as well as himself with it, killing both of them, while Neal watches in shock. After learning the price of stopping Pan's curse is all former Enchanted Forest inhabitants must return to their old world, Emma and Henry will leave town together while Regina crafts new memories for both so they forget everything. Before this, Neal says goodbye to them with the promise they will see each other again. As the two cross out of Storybrooke, Regina stops the curse from taking over as everyone inside the town is sent back to the Enchanted Forest.
After Regina takes magical preventive measures to undo Pan's casting of the Dark Curse, all the inhabitants of Storybrooke pay the price by returning to the Enchanted Forest, and reverting to their prior personas. In a group, they manifest in the land of Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip. A plan quickly assembles for everyone to make their way to the Queen's old palace. Before they set out, Neal mentions to Prince Charming that he wants to go to his father's castle to find a way to reach Emma and Henry. Snow White persuades Neal that there is no way to cross the realm again without another curse while Prince Charming believes even if a way is breached, Emma and Henry will not remember anyone. During the trek to the palace, Belle expresses hopes to Neal that he will see his family again. She also thinks Rumplestiltskin is not truly gone since they did not see where his dagger went. Later, Friar Tuck, Little John, and Robin Hood of the Merry Men join their party. Baelfire has a cheerful reunion with Robin Hood as does Belle. Upon arriving at the outskirts of the palace, Regina discovers a protection spell, cast by whoeveris currently residing inside, is keeping them from going in. For the time being, Robin Hood suggests everyone can take shelter at Sherwood Forest.
As they depart for Sherwood Forest, a flying monkey attacks, nearly knocking into Neal, but he manages to dodge in time. The creature is quickly dispensed of when Regina turns it into a stuffed animal. In a group discussion, Belle shares knowledge about the flying monkey's origins in the land of Oz, so Regina determines the person in the palace is the Wicked Witch. A plan is set up to wait for Regina to bring the shield down and then mobilize the whole group into the palace. Once night falls, Grumpy gives the signal when he spots the dissipating barrier, meaning Regina was able to lower it, so everyone begins assembling towards their destination.
Hoping to defeat the Wicked Witch, Neal scours Rumplestiltskin's old castle with Belle for a way to resurrect his father. In his possession, he reveals the swan necklace that once belonged to Emma and represented their life together. While Neal is unsure how it is still intact since leaving Storybrooke, Belle believes it's because the necklace was born out of true love. Intending to gloss over books for information, Belle lights candles, accidentally summoning a person trapped inside, who calls himself Lumiere. He claims to be imprisoned due to a broken deal with Rumplestiltskin and only helps them when Belle promises they can free him. After being directed to a book, Neal and Belle obtain a key hidden inside that can lead them to the vault of the Dark One where they can revive Rumplestiltskin. On the walk to the vault, guided by Lumiere, Neal talks to Belle about relating to Rumplestiltskin since they are both willing to do anything to be reunited with their sons. Arriving in a clearing, Neal, with Lumiere's instruction, brushes away the snow on the ground's center to reveal a vault seal. Before Neal fits the key in, Belle figures out Lumiere is lying, after he states having lived in Rumplestiltskin's library for two-hundred years, though the room wasn't built until prior to the Dark Curse. Caught in a lie, Lumiere admits he is confined due to the Wicked Witch, who had him manipulate them into bringing back the Dark One so she can control Rumplestiltskin with the dagger. Though Belle warns Neal about the consequences should this happen, he ignores her and places the key into the seal. The key burns a triangle tattoo in his palm, resurrecting Rumplestiltskin, but at the cost of his own life. On the brink of death, Neal is saved, temporarily, when absorbed into Rumplestiltskin's body.
As affirmed by the banished Good Witch of the South, Glinda, only Emma is capable of defeating Zelena. Thus, Snow White, armed with this knowledge, secretly casts another Dark Curse, but Zelena interferes by adding a potion to erase everyone's memories of the last year in the Enchanted Forest. After taking a potion to retain her memories, she passes the vial to Rumplestiltskin. Left alone, he prepares to ingest the liquid, but suddenly passes out after Neal temporarily breaks free from his father's body. Using his last bit of strength, he writes a note, without disclosing himself as the sender, to Hook asking him to give the potion to Emma, and he then attaches it to a messenger bird. Afterwards, Neal returns to his father's body.
During the new curse, Mr. Gold escapes the confines of Zelena's prison. Within Mr. Gold's body, Neal helps him resist Zelena's orders, which she uses via the dagger. Neal later regains control, though unaware he and his father are in the same body. He passes out after breaking into thepawnshop and is taken to the hospital where his palm is discovered to have a strange marking. Neal also learns his father may be alive. In a talk with Emma, he is saddened to know that Henry doesn't remember him. Afterwards, Neal attempts to leave the hospital, only to be blocked by Hook, who hugs him. The pirate recounts, with a sentimental affection, of his memories of Neal as the boy he cared for. In turn, Neal recalls the same about him. Hook is apologetic for the mess they got caught in because of Emma, and allows Neal to go. While in the forest, Mr. Gold returns in his body while Neal becomes dormant. Emma chases after a fleeing Mr. Gold, but doesn't see when he reverts into Neal, who then runs into her. As they comb the woods together, Neal admits to still caring about Emma, but wants her to be happy, even if it's not with him. In a phone call, Emma is notified by Belle that Neal's palm marking is a symbol from a key which opens the vault of the Dark One; meaning he must have used it at some point to bring Mr. Gold back. However, only the Dark One can be restored while the latter will perish. Soon, Neal collapses in agony while hearing his father's voice in his own head. He persuades Emma to use her magic to separate them, despite that it will cause his inevitable death. Emma cradles Neal during his last moments, in which he returns the swan necklace and implores her and Henry to find happiness without him. He thanks his father for teaching him what it means to sacrifice for his loved ones and passes away shortly after. Neal's body is later put to rest in a funeral ceremony, in which the townspeople pay their respects to his passing.