‘Once Upon a Time’ Creators, Stars Tell Us About Latest Character Exit: ‘I Was Crying Like a Baby’

ABC drama featured an emotional goodbye on Friday

(Warning: Spoilers ahead for Friday’s “Once Upon a Time”)

“Once Upon a Time” delivered a heartfelt sendoff to a core character on Friday’s episode.

The ABC drama’s latest installment focused on the end of the love story for Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin), with the pair living out their happy family life, including a montage of her gradually aging, before they said their final goodbyes as she passed away.

De Ravin told TheWrap that this episode marked the first time she had shed tears while reading a script for the show.

“I’ve never been torn up — I’ve been reading these scripts for this show for nearly seven years, and loved a lot of them — some more than others, some for different reasons,” the actress said. “I was crying like a baby! [Later, I was] sort of like, ‘Maybe I was having a bad day or something.’ Then I go to read it the next time — Nope, I still cry!”

De Ravin praised the “beautifully written episode” and said she was “really happy that they gave us this time and this space as characters and actors to explore their journey together.”

Series co-creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis told TheWrap that Rumple and Belle deserved the happy life that the episode gave them, but that Belle’s death was a necessity for the show.

“We can’t forget that Rumple is The Dark One, and that ‘The Dark One’ means he’s immortal,” Kitsis said. “For us, what we loved was Belle was always this North Star for Rumple, always keeping him in the light instead of letting him fully retreat into darkness, and now we realize that Belle taught him the last lesson. Someone who only has one life understands that each day is precious.”

The co-creators pointed out that it’s always possible for Belle to return, and de Ravin concurred that the show never really closes the door tightly on any character.

“Everything happens for a reason,” the “Lost” alum said. “The show’s gone in a completely different direction that seems really cool, and I’ve been able to enjoy time — that maybe I wouldn’t have given myself if it hadn’t been prompted — to spend with my daughter as a new mom. And then [I got] to be able to come back for this incredible episode.”

Meanwhile, Carlyle said in a statement to TheWrap that working with de Ravin “has been an absolute delight.”

“Once Upon a Time” airs Fridays at 8/7c on ABC.