Sympathy for the De Vil
Season 4, Episode 19
MV5BMTY4MzUzMzgxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzAzMTczNTE@. V1
Airdate April 19, 2015
Written by David H. Goodman & Jerome Schwartz
Directed by Romeo Tirone
Episode Guide
Heart of Gold
Sympathy for the De Vil is the nineteenth episode of the fourth season of the American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time, which aired on April 19, 2015.

In this episode, a young Cruella de Vil is tortured by her mother's evil use of her Dalmatians, resulting in her eventual confinement to her attic until a strange visitor tells her she should stand up to her mother. In Storybrooke, Regina's plan to save Robin are put on hold when Henry is taken by Cruella, teaming her up with Emma Swan to save their son.

View the Sympathy for the De Vil Gallery.


Opening Sequence

Dalmatian puppies run through the forest.

Event chronology

  • The 1920s England events takes place a few years after Isaac became the Author in "Operation Mongoose".
  • The Storybrooke events takes place after "Heart of Gold".

In the Characters' Past

In 1920s England, a young Cruella De Vil is being mistreated by her mother Madeline as she instructs her Dalmatians to chase her daughter, and is locked in the attic in the same setting that resembles the novel Flowers in the Attic. Fast forward to several years later, and that a reporter, who is revealed to the Author but is using an alias by the name of Isaac, is paying a visit to the home pretending to seek out a story after having seen Cruella from the attic, only to have Madeline warning him to stay away. Unfortunately, Isaac returns and helps Cruella escape from the attic. He then takes Cruella out for a date that includes dinner and dancing. Cruella reveals to Isaac that the reason she was kept in the attic was that she witnessed her mother kill her father and her succeeding husbands; Isaac then reveals to Cruella that he was more than just a reporter and has the ability to use his pen and ink to create magical stories. Isaac proposes that they run away together, and uses his quill and ink to give Cruella her persuasion powers to control animals.

However, for Isaac, his future with Cruella would later take a unique twist that will put his future in danger. When Madeline pays a visit to see him, she tells him that Cruella had lied to him about what actually happened to her husbands: Cruella was a disturbed child psychopath who killed them, not Madeline, and was trying to prevent her from killing others by locking her away. When Madeline returns home, Cruella was ready for her, and eventually kills her mother by controlling her Dalmatians and commanding them to attack her. Afterwards, Isaac realized his quill was missing, so he pays a visit to see Cruella and is stunned that she used him as a means to an end, and Cruella used the skin from her mother's dogs as fur for her signature coat. The confrontation lead the two to fight over the ink, which is then spilled on Cruella, transforming her into the infamous black & white infused-hair character. As Cruella is about to kill him, Issac uses his powers as the Author to make it so that Cruella can never kill anyone ever again by writing it down on a piece of paper. As he leaves, Cruella tells him she's not done.

In Storybrooke

As Cruella races off into the forest, she is stopped in her tracks by Maleficent, who now knows that she was the one who knew where Lily went after they were sucked into the portal back in the Enchanted Forest. As Maleficent transforms into a dragon, Cruella uses her breath to exhale green smoke and puts her frenemy to sleep, then comes up with a plan to go after the Author. Meanwhile, Emma Swan is still arguing with Mary Margaret and David when Regina informs them about Zelena, prompting her to see Belle, who in turn interrupts Gold's plan to make the Author write stories, which in turn prompts Gold to come to the well to see her, and he reveals that his heart is darkening and he will die, only to discover that Belle is being controlled by Regina, who is using Belle's heart to make sure that Gold does not contact Zelena as Regina schemes to go to New York to confront her half-sister.

Cruella then pays a visit to Isaac to make up for lost time and to offer him a deal, as Gold does not know that they knew each other as Isaac catches on to her deception. And since Isaac knows that Cruella has no power to kill anyone, Cruella, who tells Isaac that there are other ways to "skin a author," finds a way to make it happen by kidnapping Henry by using a controlled Pongo, which she uses to force both Emma and Regina to do her bidding by making the mothers kill Isaac or else Cruella will kill Henry. Unfortunately, as Gold returns to the cabin, he tells Isaac that he knew about his past with Cruella and informs Isaac about the kidnapping, which Gold knows will lead to Emma's darkness. Isaac then hands Gold a note he kept from the club.

At the apartment, Emma, Regina, Hook, Mary Margaret and David discuss their plan of action but even this has Emma concerned. Regina, Emma and Hook search the woods just in time for Henry to escape from Cruella (while she is playing Angry Birds), but as the three split up and only Regina and Hook are tricked by seashells planted by Gold, its Emma who finds Henry, but Cruella is threatening to throw Henry off of the cliff, then tempts Emma's patience to see if she will do it, reminding her that heroes never kill. At the same time Mary Margaret and David confront Isaac, who reveals that a chapter in Emma's future will involve her turning dark and they race to stop her upon reading the note that revealed that Cruella is incapable of killing anyone. Unfortunately, they arrive just in time to see Emma use her powers and kill Cruella by knocking her off the cliff. As a terrified Henry cries in his mother's arms, Emma's face has changed to a sinister look, implying that her heart is going dark.

Cultural references

  • The episode's title is a reference to the Rolling Stones song "Sympathy for the Devil".
  • This episode is a rendition of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, with Cruella De Vil and Pongo.
  • The song that Cruella hears on the radio is a jazz instrumental version of "Cruella de Vil", from the 1961 Disney animated movie One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
  • Madeline's car is similar in design and color to Cruella's car in 1961 Disney animated movie One Hundred and One Dalmatians.


  • The song that Cruella heard from the radio that she stole is a jazz instrumental version of "Cruella De Vil" which was played from the 1961 disney animated movie "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" which was written by Roger Radcliffe.
  • The episode title is a reference to the Rolling Stones song "Sympathy for the Devil".
  • The title of this episode is a play on Cruella's last name De Vil, and the Rolling Stones song Sympathy for the Devil.
  • Henry calls the dalmatian dog Pongo which is the name of the male dog in the live action version of 101 Dalmatians and Dr. Archie Hopper's (Jiminy Cricket) dog in Storybrooke.
  • Milli Wilkinson, the actress that plays the child version of Cruella also played Alice's daughter in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
  • The outfit younger Cruella wears in the Murray's Club was actually used in the movie The Artist.
  • The object/animal/person in this episode is a pack of dalmatians running through the forest.
  • This episode will contain Cruella's back story.
  • Cruella is the only villain naturally born evil.
  • After Emma kills Cruella, her eyes change.
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...
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.