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Murder Most Foul
Season 6, Episode 12
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Airdate March 12, 2017
Written by Jerome Schwartz & Jane Espenson
Directed by Morgan Beggs
Episode Guide
Tougher Than the Rest
Ill-Boding Patterns

Murder Most Foul is the twelfth episode of the sixth season of the American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time, which aired on March 12, 2017. In this episode, The origins of the mystery surrounding the death of David's father is detailed in the flashback and the present day, while Hook grapples with proposing to Emma, and Regina starts to question her decision to bring the Wish Realm Robin back.

View the Murder Most Foul Gallery.


Opening sequence

A ferris wheel from Pleasure Island is featured in the forest.

Event chronology

The Enchanted Forest events take place years before "White Out". The Storybrooke events take place after "Tougher Than the Rest".

In the characters' Past

In the decades before the first curse began, Ruth and Robert are the parents of newborn twins David and James, who require serious medical attention, or they will die. When Rumplestiltskin shows up and sees them, he offers them a deal that results in Rumplestiltskin taking James as part of a deal he made earlier with King George in exchange for giving the parents medicine for David.

Years later, King George wants to know the whereabouts of Prince James. The news has Robert, who has become an alcoholic, convinced that finding his birth son will solve their family’s problems. He is then given a coin by David (the same one that The Evil Queen returned to David in Storybrooke) as a sign of good luck in finding James. The first stop Robert makes is to see Rumplestiltskin, who asks for a hair strand from him. Rumple then looks into a crystal ball and located James to a place called Pleasure Island. As Rumplestiltskin gives Robert a ticket to the Island to find James, he takes the hair strand from Robert. When Robert arrives at the amusement park-themed Pleasure Island, he is met by Pinocchio, who already has met James. Pinocchio leads Robert to his birth son and explained everything about his real life. As they attempt to escape, the barkers go after them and they are caught. Robert and James are then handed over to King George. Robert pleads with the King to let James return with him, but King George decides to issue a order to have Robert killed.

The moments of Robert's death are later revealed. It turns out that on the night that Robert was scheduled to be executed, a group of pirates raided the carriage and stole gold and other valuables, then killed the guards. Robert begged for mercy, saying that he wouldn't tell anyone, but he ended up being killed as well. Robert's murderer was Killian "Hook" Jones, who then ordered his men to take Robert's body and the carriage to the side of the road, so it would look like an accident.

In Storybrooke

The mystery surrounding Robert's murder is starting to have a strange effect on David to the point of seeing visions, as his father starts giving David cryptic messages to find out the truth. Meanwhile, Hook scheduled a meeting with Archie on how to propose to Emma, but is worried about the reaction from David. When Hook later sees David, he noticed how obsessed David has become with finding out who murdered Robert, and now wants Hook to help him, albeit reluctantly from the pirate. Later on, David sneaks into Emma's place to look for items to help him. Hook agrees to play lookout when Emma approaches and he convinced her not to go in the place. David then finds a spell book and with Hook's help tries to follow the instructions, and it leads them to a clue which reveals that Robert may be on Pleasure Island.

David and Hook go to see August to ask about Pleasure Island, but a concerned August removed the pages that could include more information about Robert. By now, Hook is starting to worry about David seeking revenge, but David turns on Hook by handcuffing him to a bike rack and drives away. David returns to the asylum to confront the now-jailed Albert and challenges him to a fight to the death, only to have Hook intervene and place Albert back in jail. David is heartbroken to learn that Robert died because he tried to do the right thing, and after being convinced by Hook, David decides not to kill Albert, and afterwards apologized to Hook for making a terrible mistake. Hook in return asks David for Emma's hand in marriage and David gives Hook his blessing.

In between the events, the Wish Realm Robin is starting to adjust to life in Storybrooke and after a heated Zelena confronts Regina about the Wish Realm Robin not being able to have any rights to her daughter and leaves, Regina checks on Robin and finds him missing and a picture of Keith, who Robin thinks is the Sheriff of Nottingham from his realm. Regina stops Robin from killing Keith by making him disappear. Regina tells Robin about his real world counterpart having a son and daughter in this realm, and they agree to start fresh with a kiss. Later that night, Regina visits a now awake Snow, and tells her that bringing Robin back was not only a mistake, but she is now starting to question how he managed to survive coming to the portal. She even questions why her kiss with Robin felt like she was kissing paper. It turns out that the Wish Realm Robin had a real reason, and a ulterior motive, when he steals a heart from Regina's vault that he sees as powerful.

Hook is later confronted by August, who tells him about the real reason he tore the pages out of the book and gives them to Hook, and when he sees the pages, he recognizes Robert and realizes that he was the person who had killed David's father. Hook then hides the pages from Emma and after she kisses him, looks at the engagement ring and finds himself worried about how to deal with this situation, knowing that the man he killed was Emma's grandfather.


Emilie de Ravin is credited but does not appear in this episode.


The episode's title is a phrase from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, where the Ghost of Prince Hamlet's father comments about his own death, saying "Murder most foul as in the best it is: But this most foul, strange and unnatural."


  • The title is a quote from "Hamlet" upon which the episodes main story arc is based.
  • The object/animal/person in this episode is Pleasure Island's ferris wheel.
  • The coin that David has from his father is a Japanese 5 yen coin. Telltale markings include the golden brass color, hole in the middle, and the wheat grains on the reverse, much like an old penny.
  • Luke Roessler, who plays young David and young James, also plays one of Smee's children in the Disney Channel Original Movie Descendants 3
  • After seeing the visions of his father David puts together a board to get to figure out what happened to his dad before he died. In the TV show Manifest Josh Dallas character Ben Stone does the same thing to try to figure out what happened when the plane he, his son and sister were on disappeared for five years.
  • At the end of the episode, before killing Robert, Hook tells him 'Dead man tell no tales' in reference to the next Pirates of the Caribean movie.
  • When Robert goes to see Rumplestiltskin, there is a Golden Fleece behind him. That is almost certainly from the Greek Myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece.


  • When they were on the street, only Robin's first two knuckles were bloody, however when they were in Regina's vault, all four of them were injured.


Rumplestiltskin: Do your boys like bedtime stories? All right, here's one. Once upon a time, there was a king named George. He had great riches, but no son. And then there was a farmer named Robert poor as dirt yet he had two sons. Can you guess how this story ends?
Ruth: Get out! Our sons are not for sale.
Rumplestiltskin: Then, they won't survive the winter, dearie. Look, you can either have one healthy son or two dead ones.
Regina Mills: You're up.
Robin of Locksley: Hard to sleep when that demon box keeps screaming at me.
Regina Mills: Oh. That's called an alarm clock.
Robert: Family... is... everything.
David Nolan: [stunned] Why are you here?
Robert: You have forgotten your father.
David Nolan: You were barely my father. You were a drunk who died when I was six years old! I owe you nothing!
Robert: You don't truly believe that.
David Nolan: [holds up an old coin] Is this... Is this why you're here? Huh? I've spent my whole life trying to forget you. Tell me what you want!
Robert: The truth.
Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones: Well, according to the spell, this should show us where the coin was the day your father died.
David Nolan: Okay, it says, "turn counterclockwise". Do you think they mean the beaker, or do we have to turn?
Robert: Have any of the boys talked of being a prince?
Pinocchio: A prince? Do I look like I was carved yesterday?
David Nolan: Today you saved me from making a terrible mistake, and I... I don't know if I'm gonna be able to pay you back.
Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones: As luck would have it, I might have an idea. There's one way for you not to lose your family, and that's to let it grow.
[he clears his throat]
Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones: David, may I have your blessing to ask for Emma's hand in marriage?
[long and tense pause, then David smiles]
David Nolan: Of course. Of course you have my blessing.
Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones: Well, now, that is a relief.
David Nolan: Well, I mean, it's up to Emma, of course, but yes, you have my blessing.
Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones: Thank you.
David Nolan: I didn't realize you were so old-fashioned.
Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones: Well, I am over 200 years old, mate.
Season 1
PilotThe Thing You Love MostSnow FallsThe Price of GoldThat Still Small VoiceThe ShepherdThe Heart Is a Lonely HunterDesperate SoulsTrue North7:15 A.M.Fruit of the Poisonous TreeSkin DeepWhat Happened to FrederickDreamyRed-HandedHeart of DarknessHat TrickThe Stable BoyThe ReturnThe StrangerAn Apple Red as BloodA Land Without Magic
Season 2
BrokenWe Are BothLady of the LakeThe CrocodileThe DoctorTallahasseeChild of the MoonInto the DeepQueen of HeartsThe Cricket GameThe OutsiderIn the Name of the BrotherTinyManhattanThe Queen Is DeadThe Miller's DaughterWelcome to StorybrookeSelfless, Brave and TrueLaceyThe Evil QueenSecond Star to the RightAnd Straight On 'til Morning
Season 3
The Heart of the Truest BelieverLost GirlQuite a Common FairyNasty HabitsGood FormAriel (Episode)Dark HollowThink Lovely ThoughtsSave HenryThe New NeverlandGoing HomeNew York City SerenadeWitch HuntThe TowerQuiet MindsIt's Not Easy Being GreenThe Jolly RogerBleeding ThroughA Curious ThingKansasSnow DriftsThere's No Place Like Home
Season 4
A Tale of Two SistersWhite OutRocky RoadThe ApprenticeBreaking GlassFamily BusinessThe Snow QueenSmash the MirrorFallShattered SightHeroes and VillainsDarkness on the Edge of TownUnforgivenEnter the DragonPoor Unfortunate SoulBest Laid PlansHeart of GoldSympathy for the De VilLilyMotherOperation Mongoose
Season 5
The Dark SwanThe PriceSiege PerilousThe Broken KingdomDreamcatcherThe Bear and the BowNimueBirthThe Bear KingBroken HeartSwan SongSouls of the DepartedLabor of LoveDevil's DueThe Brothers JonesOur DecayHer Handsome HeroRuby SlippersSistersFirebirdLast RitesOnly YouAn Untold Story
Season 6
The SaviorA Bitter DraughtThe Other ShoeStrange CaseStreet RatsDark WatersHeartlessI'll Be Your MirrorChangelingsWish You Were HereTougher Than the RestMurder Most FoulIll-Boding PatternsPage 23A Wondrous PlaceMother's Little HelperAwakeWhere Bluebirds FlyThe Black FairyThe Song in Your HeartThe Final Battle
Season 7
Hyperion HeightsA Pirate's LifeThe Garden of Forking PathsBeautyGreenbacksWake Up CallEloise GardenerPretty in BlueOne Little TearThe Eighth WitchSecret GardenA Taste of the HeightsKnightfallThe Girl in the TowerSisterhoodBreadcrumbsChosenThe GuardianFlower ChildIs This Henry Mills?HomecomingLeaving Storybrooke
Down the Rabbit HoleTrust MeForget Me NotThe SerpentHeart of StoneWho's AliceBad BloodHomeNothing to FearDirty Little SecretsHeart of the MatterTo Catch a ThiefAnd They Lived...