This article focuses on the fairytale, "Rumpelstiltskin". For the Enchanted Forest character, see Rumplestiltskin.
Background Information
Written By

The Brothers Grimm



Adaptation Information
Featured Episode

"Rumpelstiltskin", also known as "Rumpelstilzchen", is a fairytale featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by the German authors Jacob and Wilhelm of the Brothers Grimm and incorporated into the book "Grimms' Fairy Tales" in 1812.

Traditional PlotEdit

In a faraway kingdom long ago, a poor miller who wishes to become wealthy tells the King that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The girl is summoned to the Royal Palace and locked in a tower filled with straw before learning she must spin all the straw into gold by morning or face execution.

The daughter bursts into tears and is unsure of what to do when an impish creature suddenly appears, boasting that he can spin the straw into gold in exchange for her necklace. The daughter accepts and the imp accomplishes the task before disappearing into thin air. When the sun rises, the King enters the room and is shocked to see all the straw having become threads of gold.

That night, the daughter is locked in a bigger room and sees that it is filled with even more straw. The King presents her the same challenge: spin all the straw into gold by morning or face execution. The imp appears soon afterwards and promises to accomplish the task in exchange for the daughter's ring. The next evening, the King orders her to accomplish the task a third time and become his queen as a reward or face execution. When the imp appears, the daughter - who has nothing left to bargain with - promises to give him her firstborn child in exchange for his help. The imp accepts the bargain and spins the straw into threads of gold before vanishing into thin air.

The next morning, the King is so impressed with the miller's daughter that he makes her his Queen. Time passes and the Queen eventually gives birth to a child. But when the imp returns to claim his payment, she is afraid to give away her firstborn. She offers all the wealth she has only for the trickster to decline as he has no interest in riches. At last he consents to give up his claim to the child if the Queen is able to guess his name within three days.

The first two days pass and the Queen sends a messenger throughout the kingdom to gather names. Her attempts fail but then the night before the final day, the Queen learns that her messenger has found the imp's remote mountain cottage. The messenger explains as he watched from a distance, the imp sang and danced around the fire - revealing his true name in the lyrics of his song.

When the imp appears on the third day, the Queen feigns ignorance by making false attempts but then reveals his name to be Rumpelstiltskin. The imp becomes violent in an instant and stomps his right foot so hard that it's driven deep into the ground - prompting him to seize his left foot and tear himself in two.

Show AdaptationEdit

  • Rumplestiltskin is known as the "Dark One" after having earned this title by killing his predecessor with an enchanted dagger in order to save his son from being drafted into the Ogre War.
  • The Miller's Daughter, Cora, gives birth to a daughter, Regina, who later becomes the Evil Queen.
  • By the time Cora meets Rumplestiltskin, she already has birthed her first-born child and given her up. The child later ends up in Oz and grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Rumplestiltskin's contract with the Miller's Daughter is changed so that he teaches her to spin straw into gold in exchange for her first-born child. It is later changed so that Rumplestiltskin gets his first child with the Miller's Daughter. Consequentially, this deal is nullified when the Miller's Daughter decides to pursue power or love and does not keep her end of the bargain with Rumplestiltskin.
  • Instead of the Miller boasting to the King of his daughter's talent for spinning straw into gold, the Miller's daughter states this to the King herself.
  • It is not the King, but his son, Prince Henry, who marries the Miller's Daughter after she spins straw into gold.
  • Rumplestiltskin survives his encounter with the Miller's Daughter and goes on to make deals with others; such as Snow White, Prince Charming and Cinderella.

Characters FeaturedEdit


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