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In the Season 3 midseason finale of Once Upon a Time,

Rumplestiltskin kills his father Peter Pan by stabbing both of their bodies together with his dagger. He does this because apparently he can only kill Peter Pan if he dies as well.

My question is, what's the reason for that? It's mentioned numerous times, but I don't remember any explanation for it. Might it have something to do with how Peter Pan got his youth by expelling Rumplestiltskin from Neverland?

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Rumplestiltskin had to die simply because he believed it was the only way to save Henry and his family. The seer told Rumplestiltskin that Henry would be his undoing, which Rumplestiltskin interpreted as his death. When Henry was kidnapped, Rumplestiltskin knew he had to save his grandson and that he might have to pay the ultimate price to do so. He thought that he could get away from this prophecy by using Pandora's box to trap Pan. However, Pan continued to elude Rumplestiltskin, and continued to put his family in harm's way. Rumplestiltskin could have simply used his shadow to stab Pan in the final scene and not die. However, Rumplestiltskin must have believed that unless he killed himself in the process, thus fulfilling the prophecy, his family might still be in danger.

Moreover, both he and Pan were extremely magical beings. When the Dark One dies without someone else killing him/her, then the power simply disintegrates into the air (Cora said this in a previous episode). Rumplestiltskin must have also had this in mind when he grasped Peter Pan closely in order to stab him. If Rumplestiltskin died with Pan, then the dark magic that would be released in the process would surely disintegrate them both (which it did).

Finally, Rumplestiltskin really cares about family, specifically about father-son bonds because he was abandoned. Rumplestiltskin may have hated his father for abandoning him, but there must have still been a connection. By dying with Pan, Rumplestiltskin was able to both be with his father and finally share some sort of loving bond with his father in those final moments denoted by the affectionate kiss on the cheek which he gave.

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I had this same question after just watching it and this is my theory:

Rumple’s father became Pan only by removing Rumple from his life, because “a child can’t have a child”.

When Rumple goes back to Neverland, Pan doesn’t turn back into his father, because Rumple is The Dark One.

When Rumple stabs himself with the dagger (through Pan), he is no longer The Dark One and Pan is transformed back into Rumple’s father, thus allowing him to die.

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Here is my theory. When Pan became young he had to give up Rumple. This is also when he got his magic. Therefore his magic was tethered to his youth and Rumple. Now when Rumple returns to Neverland, Pan is feeding off the magic of Neverland because he has already paid the price to do so. However when Pan is removed from Neverland he can no longer draw magic from the island, therefore he must draw from the thing he tethered it to: Rumple. When Rumple dies, Pan turns old again because he loses the thing that gave him his magic, the tether to his son by abandoning him. He no longer has magic to keep him young, poof away from the dagger, or save himself.

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The question is why does Rumple need to die? Well the only reason Pan has his youth was because he abandoned Rumple because “a child can’t have a child.” Therefore the only way Pan can die is if Rumple killed him self so Pan turns to his old self and dies with no magic to poof away from the dagger Rumple stabs him with. Hope this helps!

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F! This seems to be the most common explanation. Unfortunately, it has already been given twice, so in order for your answer not to be just "yeah, I think so too!" it needs to include more details of how this explanation fits with the magical rules of the world, or some quotes from the show providing background for this understanding.
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 23:00

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