Ruth Nolan is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. She is David Nolan's mother, and is portrayed by Gabrielle Rose, with her younger self portrayed by Tara Wilson.



After she gives birth to twin boys, David and James, Ruth and her husband have no choice but to give one away, not affording to have both of them. James is given to the King and raised as a prince, while David is raised on the poor farm as a shepherd. Ruth keeps trying to convince David into marrying into reasonably wealthy families, but David persists that he wants to marry for love. When James is killed, Rumplestiltskin is sent to get David to take James' place in slaying a dragon, otherwise Midas' neighbouring kingdom will not give them any gold. David agrees to do this, but after the dragon is killed, Midas expresses his desire to unite the kingdoms by having David - who he thinks is James - marry his daughter, Abigail. David nearly refuses until King George threatens to kill Ruth and burn the farm down.

When David eventually runs away from the royal life and destroys the business transaction between Midas and George's kingdoms, Ruth goes into hiding, as David had told Ruth about the King's threat. When David falls in love with someone, Snow White, he takes her to meet Ruth. However, they are found by some of George's knights, and one fatally harms Ruth. Sir Lancelot, who defected from George's faction, decides to help them and David suggests that they go to Lake Nostos to heal Ruth. When they finally get there, there is no water in the lake. Except when a small amount is found in a shell. However, unknown to David, Snow had been cursed by King George to not have any children. When Ruth finds out, she pretends to drink the water and has Lancelot trick Snow into consuming it when Ruth says that she wants to see David and Snow married. Ruth does manage to watch her son and Snow get married by Lancelot, before she dies.

Season 1

It is revealed that the green peridot ring that was stolen and sold to trolls by Snow, and the one that David was going to use for Abigail, belonged to Ruth.

Season 2

David reveals that even in the Enchanted Forest, his mother and father called him David, and it wasn't just a Storybrooke alias, much to Leroy's confusion.

Season 4

David reveals that he and his mother knew Anna, who is being searched for by her sister Elsa.


Status: Deceased


  • Ruth is the mother of the prince from Snow White.
  • One of the stories in the Bible was about a former shepherd turned monarch named David, who had a great-grandmother named Ruth.


  • S1, E06: "The Shepherd" (flashback)

  • S2, E03: "Lady of the Lake" (flashback)

  • S4, E02: "White Out" (flashback)

  • S6, E07: "Heartless" (flashback)
  • S6, E12: "Murder Most Foul" (flashback)