The Shepherd
Season 1, Episode 6
Airdate December 4, 2011
Written by Ian B. Goldberg
Andrew Chambliss
Directed by Victor Nelli
Episode Guide
That Still Small Voice
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
The Shepherd is the sixth episode of the American Fairy Tale/Drama television series Once Upon a Time. The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales that were transported to the "real world" town by a powerful curse. This episode revolves around David's (Josh Dallas) increasing attraction to Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), the back story behind Prince Charming's (Dallas) past, and Sheriff Graham (Jamie Dornan) getting caught lying.

It was co-written by Ian B. Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss, while being directed by Victor Nelli. The episode first aired in the United States on ABC on December 4, 2011.

View the The Shepherd Gallery.


Opening sequence

A dragon breathing fire is shown in the forest.

Event chronology

The Enchanted Forest scenes appear after "White Out" and directly before the events in "Snow Falls", "Snow Drifts" and "There's No Place Like Home". The Storybrooke events occur after "That Still Small Voice"

In Storybrooke

In Storybrooke, Kathryn (Anastasia Griffith) brings David (Josh Dallas) home for a party in an attempt to bring back his memory. Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) tells Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) that his amnesia is keeping the curse out, which is why the fake memories have not set in. Later that evening, David tells Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) he did not choose Kathryn, and tells Mary Margaret that he loves her instead. That night, Emma tells Mary to do what she feels is right and let David "figure out his life."

Later at the café, Regina (Lana Parrilla) tells Mary Margaret to stay away from David, who has left Kathryn. Hours later at the school, David shows up to see Mary Margaret, but before she can tell him to leave, David tells her that he has made up his mind and to meet him at the toll bridge where she found him the night he awoke. While en route later that evening, David becomes lost and is given false directions from Regina, leading him to Mr. Gold's (Robert Carlyle) Pawn Shop. David becomes fixated on a small windmill that he claims once belonged to him and regains his memories. Moments later at the toll bridge, David tells Mary Margaret that he remembers his life with Kathryn and wants to try again with his wife. A heartbroken Mary Margaret leaves and takes solace at the café, where Dr. Whale (David Anders) joins her and offers a drink. David, on the other hand, returns home to work things out with Kathryn.

Between these events, Emma agrees to cover the night shift at the Sheriff's department so Sheriff Graham can volunteer at the animal shelter. While on patrol, Emma sees a person climbing out of the Mayor's home. As she stops to capture the individual, she is shocked to see that it is none other than Sheriff Graham himself and realizes he is having an affair with Regina. Disgusted, Emma storms off and tells the Sheriff he can finish her shift.

In the Characters' Past

Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest, Prince James (Dallas) competes in a battle against a challenger, preparing for his acceptance from King Midas (Alex Zahara) to slay a dragon as part of a deal between him and James' father, King George (Alan Dale). However, after celebrating the deal, James is stabbed to death by the nearly dead challenger. This makes King George worried about his future and his kingdom, until Rumpelstiltskin (Carlyle) shows up to pay him a visit. Rumpelstiltskin tells him that James has a twin brother, as it appears that the king adopted James through Rumpelstiltskin in order to save the kingdom. He then tells the King that he can bring the twin to the castle to have him pose as James.

At a nearby valley, a young goat herder (despite the episode's title), James' twin brother, is tending his flock. As his mother (Gabrielle Rose) arrives home from the market, she mentions the prospect of an arranged marriage, but the shepherd is not prepared to marry for the sake of a dowry, even though the farm is in trouble. Rumpelstiltskin appears and tells the shepherd the truth about his twin brother being traded to save the farm, and George's offer. The shepherd reluctantly accepts, even as he forgives his mother.

While on their mission, the dragon kills the leading guards, prompting the shepherd to jump into action and kill the dragon. After returning the dragon's head to King Midas, King George and the shepherd, who now takes his late brother James' name, receive a more surprising offer that will unite the two kingdoms: the hand of Midas's daughter Abigail (Griffith) in marriage. But just as the shepherd is about to turn down the offer, King George pulls him aside and whispers in his ear that he is to accept the deal or he will kill him and his mother and take away their land. The shepherd has no choice but to go along with the deal.

As the shepherd returns to his home, he tells his mother that he will not be staying and he can never see her again. However, she gives him a ring that she hopes will be worn by the one that he'll fall in love with. The shepherd returns to the kingdom to thank King George and King Midas, then takes his new bride-to-be Abigail to their destined location, where along the way they're about to encounter a road block that was put in place by a hooded vagabond named Snow White (Goodwin).


The episode was co-written by co-producers Andrew Chambliss and Ian B. Goldberg, while being directed by Ugly Betty veteran Victor Nelli. Co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz wanted to make the series' version of Prince Charming different from traditional interpretations, and decided to mirror the story of The Prince and the Pauper. "What if he was a regular person like us?," Kitsis recalled. As a result, Joshua Dallas tried to bring a "rural" feel to the character and make him accessible to viewers.

In August 2011, TVLine reported that Lost actor Alan Dale would be playing the father of Prince Charming for one episode, with the potential for him to return for more. Series co-creator Adam Horowitz called it "a really pivotal role, and a pivotal part of the Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming story that we don’t think has been told yet." In addition to Dale, the episode featured guest actors David Anders as Dr. Whale, Anastasia Griffith as Abigail/Kathryn Nolan, Gabrielle Rose as Ruth, and Alex Zahara as King Midas.

"The Shepherd" was included in Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale – a novelization of the first season – which was published by Hyperion Books in 2013.


  • The mobile that David is first looking at in the pawn shop is the mobile that was hanging above Emma's crib in the pilot.
  • Emma pours Mary Margaret a glass of McCutcheon's scotch. In the television series, Lost (2004), Charles Widmore (played by Alan Dale, who is also King George in this episode) refuses to pour one for Desmond saying it is worth too much money. The bottle frequently turned up on Lost and will frequently turn up in later episodes of this series, as well.
  • Mary Margaret is seen cleaning a white plate whilst talking to Emma, on the back of this plate can be seen the Disney trademark sticker
  • In this episode, you get to see the origins of David Nolan's fairytale counterpart. You learn that Prince James had a twin brother who was a shepherd but you never find out the shepherd's name. His name is actually David before he starts pretending that he's James. So, David's curse name is actually his fairytale counterpart's real name. He and Regina are the only people in Storybrooke that maintain their real names as their curse names.
  • The obect/animal/person in the forest in the opening credits is a dragon. This is because Prince James/David encounters and kills a dragon in this episode.
  • When David cuts off the dragons head, there is no blood on the sword.
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...
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