In Once Upon a Time, Baelfire/Neal came to the new world through a portal when he was trying to convince his dad to give up magic. Many years later, Regina cast the curse that caused everyone to venture to this new world. Now, we find out in season 2 that Pinochio/Austin convinced Neal to leave Emma. Emma was then arrested, and had Henry (Neal's son).

Now, to fight Pan's incoming curse, it's revealed Regina would have to destroy her own curse that brought everyone to Storybrooke to begin with. Regina even says "It will be as if the curse never existed. So, if Neal didn't arrive because of the curse, why is he affected by it's destruction?


Note: This is speculation based on what we know of the curse and the character histories within the show. The exact circumstances of Baelfire's escape from Neverland haven't really been shown (and may shed more light on his relationship to the curse - remember, it was made just for finding him), and we're currently on the midseason break immediately after the curse was broken - so a definitive answer is likely to come along once the season resumes in March.

That said: He may or may not have been sent back to the Enchanted Forest - we don't actually know yet, but I expect he was sent somewhere else in our world.

Regina said that she could give Emma memories of not having given up Henry - so we know that Neal still left Emma in her memories. He left her because of Pinocchio's message, and Pinocchio, like Emma, was unaffected by the curse due to having come through at the same time as she did.

So all three of them could easily retain their true memories up until the point where Emma gave up Henry, without conflicting with the conditions of breaking the curse.

Part of breaking the curse is erasing everyone's memory of it - including Emma's, who was never affected in the first place. So this would include Pinocchio and Neal, who would now live in our world without remembering Storybrooke at all. And since Mr. Gold effectively didn't exist, Neal's memory of meeting Henry and Emma again was likely also erased.

All the above holding true, he would now still live in New York City and have no idea what happened to the woman he left all those years ago.

UPDATE: As of 3x12, parts of this answer have been invalidated, but the "why" part of the question still isn't completely clear:

Neil/Baelfire did get sent back to the Enchanted Forest. We don't yet know about Pinocchio/Austin. Neil's apartment in New York City was not only untouched, but Henry's camera was still there, too, after he left it behind the first time.

So at the moment, breaking the curse appears to have directly affected only things within the Storybrooke town limits, with the exception of Henry and Emma. Neil/Baelfire was within town limits, and so he was affected, but it's not clear why he couldn't have just left with Emma and Henry.

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    Very good points. However, after reading your answer, and re-reading my question, why did Emma end up in the new world to begin with? As Regina said, "It would be as if the curse never existed." If the curse didn't exist, she wouldn't have been transported, and neither would Pinochio, right? They only did it so she could be the savior. – PiousVenom Jan 3 '14 at 4:44
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    because.. magic? – KutuluMike Jan 3 '14 at 10:35
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    @MyCodeSucks My best guess, it can't actually change anyone who it didn't directly affect in the first place. So it would have transported everyone from the Enchanted Forest and Baelfire, who the curse was created for. Others it could only affect up until they interacted with a cursed person, but couldn't actually change the past. One side-effect, for example, might be that Peter Pan is still dead, but everyone except Rumpelstiltskin (whose memories were never affected) thinks he's still alive. However, no, this doesn't really explain why Emma wasn't transported elsewhere on Earth. – Izkata Jan 3 '14 at 12:00
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    @MyCodeSucks ...Perhaps she and Henry were on a road trip? =P (and I don't think we actually know where Pinocchio was when the curse ended) – Izkata Jan 3 '14 at 12:01

We don't actually know that Neal or August ended up back in the Enchanted Forest, although Regina didn't say anything to indicate that anyone but Emma would stay behind. (If they did go back it will be interesting to see if they reverted to the age they were when the curse hit; unlike the people in Storybrooke, they've been aging naturally the whole time.) We'll obviously find out when the show goes back on-air.

Assuming that they did, the explanation that is given in the mid-season finale centers around the fact that Emma is special not because she came to Storybrooke through a portal, but because she's "immune" to the curse effects. Rumple engineered the curse such that Emma was a built-in safeguard to eventually break the curse. Baelfire, on the other hand, is the entire reason the curse exists in the first place. Rumple put the whole thing together specifically to get himself to Earth to get his son back. And Pinnochio was sent to Earth because of the curse, so he avoided being trapped in Storybrooke, but otherwise has no special immunity to its effects if he were caught in the spell.

Presumably, the spell Regina uses to stop Pan's curse is closely related to the curse itself, so it will likely have many of the same "features" of the original. So, by the vague and convoluted laws of Enchanted Forest magic, it does make sense that rolling back all of the effects of the curse might also affect Balefire. Indeed, it should also effect Emma, since she was born in the Enchanted Forest. But her special relationship to the curse-spell gives her unique protection from any of its effects.

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  • This answer actually makes sense to me. Thanks. Now, I wonder why the Wicked Witch's curse didn't erase Hood's memory of his past in the Enchanted Forest. – AturSams Feb 15 '15 at 11:18
  • @zehelvion Wicked Witch had a curse? – BCLC Dec 21 '16 at 15:47

So I know this is a bit late to reply since OUAT is on season 7 now I ended up here wanting to read fanfics and this is way too interesting not to say anything....now while I believe Emma may have some immunity to the curse...I believe the reason why Bae/Neal was affected, is because he was in storybrooke while the reset happened. While Regina did say the reset would be as if the curse never existed, the reset only affects those within the reach of the town. We see that Henry's camera was still in New York. Henry was worried that he would be alone when the reset happened as it would take back everyone who was born in Storybrooke. Emma escaped because she drove across the town line, creating a barrier between the purple cloud which held the curse and her. The only person that wouldn't have been affected was Henry. If Emma was in the town when it happened, she would have been taken back too. Similarly, if Neal left with Emma and Henry he would have been safe. Regina could have given them fake memories of she and Neal raising Henry(in Boston) and that camera would still be in NY. There was no real reason other than that's the plot they were going for why Neal had to stay behind. Gold was already dead, so it's not like he would never have let Neal go. He should have gone with them...only Regina needed to let go of Henry. Probably they already knew they were going to kill him off. Henry didn't even get to see his father after they came back from the year away. The writers just knew Emma and Bae wouldn't be endgame and the fake memories plus the memories the three would make together in that one year after would only develop Neal and Emma's relationship. And this in turn would make it harder to accept her with Hook. So that could be why. Neal staying back is in no way connected to the terms of the curse...just plot reasons you know.

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I very much agree with user98705. Rumple created the curse so that he could come to our world and find Baelfire/Neal, but the actual curse itself had nothing to do with Bae. It was merely a tool for Rumple to find his son. So it doesn't make any sense that Neil wouldn't have been sent across the town line with Emma and Henry with his own fake memories of them raising their son together.

Other than the fact that, that's not where the story was headed. I believe that the writers already knew that Neal was not going to survive season 3, and that Emma and Hook would be starting their love story. For that matter, Hook also shouldn't have been affected had he also crossed the town line before the curse hit, because he was protected from the original curse and only came to Storybrooke many years later with Cora. But, again, the story needed Hook to be sent back with the others so he could go and get Emma's memories back to her so she could come back to Storybrooke.

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