Baelfire, also known as Neal Cassidy or Bae, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time, portrayed by Michael Raymond-James. His younger self is portrayed by Dylan Schmid, Dean Petriw, Sebastian Wilkinson and Brandon Spink. Baelfire's gallery is available here.
Baelfire is the son of the village coward, Rumplestiltskin. When soldiers of the Duke begin collecting younger people to fight in the Ogre Wars, Rumplestiltskin realizes that they will take Baelfire away from him. So Rumplestiltskin flees with Baelfire, and they come across an old man who tells them of a mystical dagger that can be used to control the Dark One. Rumplestiltskin obtains the dagger, summoning the Dark One, Zoso. However, instead of controlling him, Rumplestiltskin kills him and becomes the new Dark One. When soldiers come to collect Baelfire because he is of age, Rumplestiltskin arrives and slaughters them all. As time passes, Rumplestiltskin becomes more murderous. So Baelfire summons the Blue Fairy, who gives Bae a magic bean which will allow Baelfire and Rumplestiltskin to travel to a land without magic, stopping Rumplestiltskin from being corrupted by all the dark magic. When Baelfire shows the bean to Rumplestiltskin, he eventually agrees, but when Bae opens a portal with the bean. Rumplestiltskin changes his mind and Baelfire goes through the portal without his father. When the portal closes, Rumplestiltskin immediately regrets abandoning his son and dedicates his life to finding Baelfire, eventually finding the Dark Curse.
Meanwhile, Baelfire arrives at a land without magic, Earth. He is in olden-day London, where he meets Wendy Darling. Wendy lets Baelfire stay at his house, and so Bae is eventually accepted into the Darling family. However, the Darling children tell Bae of a mysterious shadow that comes to their window at night. Baelfire recognizes this as magic and insists that the Darlings stay away from the shadow. However, when the Shadow does arrive, Wendy cannot stop herself and she goes with the Shadow to a place called Neverland. Wendy returns the next morning, but is upset and tells Bae that the Shadow plans on taking away one of her little brothers. Bae is determined to make sure this doesn't happen, and when the Shadow arrives, Baelfire tells the Shadow to take him away instead. The Shadow listens and takes Baelfire to Neverland. However, Baelfire escapes the Shadow's grip and falls into the ocean. Before he can be drowned by mermaids, he is saved by a group of pirates, led by a man named Captain Hook. Baelfire stays on their ship, where he and Hook bond, especially after Hook finds out that Baelfire is Rumplestiltskin's son. However, when Baelfire finds out that Hook was responsible for Bae's mother abandoning him and that Hook wants to kill Rumplestiltskin, he leaves the pirate ship with the Lost Boys. However, Baelfire is not the boy that Peter Pan is looking for. After a couple of centuries, Baelfire manages to escape Neverland and returns to Earth. He comes up with the alias Neal Cassidy, and grows up to become a thief, which is how he meets a woman named Emma Swan. Emma and Neal fall in love and plan to retire their life of crime. However, when Neal is confronted by a mysterious stranger named August Booth, he betrays Emma who is arrested and sent to jail. However, Neal does not know that Emma is pregnant with his child. Neal eventually meets Tamara, and the two become engaged.
It is revealed that all of Rumplestiltskin's actions as the Dark One was so he could travel to Earth and reunite with his son, Baelfire. When the Dark Curse is broken, Rumplestiltskin is now able to find his son.
With the unexpected help of Cora, Rumplestiltskin locates his son, who is in Manhattan. Following up a deal he made with Emma Swan a while back, Emma and Henry go with Rumplestiltskin to Manhattan, where they track down Baelfire. However, to Emma's shock, Baelfire and Neal are the same person and there is one big complicated family reunion as Rumplestiltskin finds out that Henry is his grandson, Neal finds out that he has a son, and Emma finds out that Rumplestiltskin is her father-in-law. They all return to Storybrooke, and Neal invites his fiancee Tamara to Storybrooke as well, much to Emma's hidden jealousy. Emma begins to suspect that Tamara isn't who she says she is, although nobody believes her and they conclude that Emma is simply jealous. However, it is revealed that Tamara is working with Greg Mendell to destroy Storybrooke. When Neal finds out, Tamara uses a magic bean to create a portal and shoots Neal, who falls into the portal, but not before he and Emma say "I love you" to each other. Neal travels through the portal and back in the Enchanted Forest.
Neal meets Aurora, Phillip, Mulan and later Robin Hood. When Neal finds out that Emma and Henry are in Neverland, he summons the Shadow which takes him there. He reunites with Emma, who thought Neal was dead, and they all manage to save Henry from Pan's clutches and return to Storybrooke. Neal invites Emma on a date, but Emma doesn't show up. Neal, along with everyone else in Storybrooke, is consumed by the second Dark Curse and returns to the Enchanted Forest yet again and goes with Belle to Rumplestiltskin's manor where they meet an enchanted candelabra named Lumiere who reveals the Vault of the Dark One can be used to resurrect Rumplestiltskin. Bae and Belle go there and bring Lumiere, and Bae uses the key to unlock the vault and resurrect him. However, whoever uses the key to resurrect the Dark One must die in his place, and Bae starts dying until Rumplestiltskin absorbs Baelfire. At Rumplestiltskin's castle, Bae briefly exits Rumplestiltskin's body to stop him from drinking the memory potion that Zelena gave him so that he would remember the past year in the Enchanted Forest after the third Dark Curse is unleashed, and ties the potion and a note to a messenger bird, before sending the bird to Hook and returning to his father's body. When the third Dark Curse unravels, Baelfire is missing from Storybrooke and it is speculated by the others that he may have been attacked by flying monkeys at the town border or he may not have even left the Enchanted Forest. However, he is found and sent to hospital with a strange symbol is burned into his palm. Hook is left to look after Bae, and the two talk for a bit. Bae plans on leaving the hospital to look for his father, but Hook stops him briefly and gives him a hug, saying that it is long overdue. He then lets Bae leave, telling him that he will give him ten minutes and then tell the others that he has gone. Baelfire unintentionally meets up with Emma in the woods while he is searching for Rumplestiltskin, and it is revealed that Bae and Rumplestiltskin are magically connected so that Bae is alive. Baelfire insists that Emma uses her magical abilities to seperate Rumplestiltskin and him so that Rumplestiltskin can tell them who the Wicked Witch is. Emma does this, and Baelfire eventually dies in Emma's arms, with a sad Rumplestiltskin watching over him. A funeral is eventually held for Bae where he is buried.
A manifestation of Baelfire visits Emma while she is on her way to the Underworld to rescue Hook, and warns her not to go there. Emma learns that Baelfire is not in the Underworld, but somewhere where he is happy.
- Baelfire was actually over a century old, but since he was in Neverland he still looked like a young adult.
- Baelfire was the only person that Rumplestiltskin ever broke a deal with.
Behind the Scenes
- Baelfire is the third main character to die in the entire show. The first was Sheriff Graham and the second was Rumplestiltskin, but Rumplestiltskin was resurrected, which is the reason Bae died in the first place.
- The fandom sometimes refer to him as "Nealfire", a cross between Neal and Baelfire.
- S1, E08: "Desperate Souls" (flashback)
- S1, E19: "The Return" (flashback)
- S2, E01: "Broken"
- S2, E04: "The Crocodile" (flashback)
- S2, E06: "Tallahassee" (flashback)
- S2, E14: "Manhattan"
- S2, E15: "The Queen is Dead"
- S2, E16: "The Miller's Daughter"
- S2, E17: "Welcome to Storybrooke"
- S2, E18: "Selfless, Brave and True"
- S2, E19: "Lacey"
- S2, E20: "The Evil Queen"
- S2, E21: "Second Star to the Right..."
- S2, E22: "...And Straight On 'Til Morning"
- S3, E01: "The Heart of the Truest Believer"
- S3, E03: "Quite a Common Fairy"
- S3, E04: "Nasty Habits"
- S3, E05: "Good Form"
- S3, E06: "Ariel"
- S3, E07: "Dark Hollow"
- S3, E08: "Think Lovely Thoughts"
- S3, E09: "Save Henry"
- S3, E10: "The New Neverland"
- S3, E11: "Going Home"
- S3, E12: "New York City Serenade" (flashback)
- S3, E13: "Witch Hunt" (flashback)
- S3, E15: "Quiet Minds"
- S3, E19: "A Curious Thing" (flashback)
- S3, E22: "There's No Place Like Home" (flashback)
- S5, E12: "Souls of the Departed"
- S5, E14: "Devil's Due" (flashback)
- S6, E13: "Ill-Boded Patterns" (flashback)