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This article focuses on the Author's Pen.
For the Wish Realm version, see Author's Pen (Wish Realm).

This pen and ink are enchanted with magic. They're so powerful, I can do more than just write people's stories... I can change them.

Isaac Heller to Cruella De Vil src

The Author's Pen, also known as the Author's Quill, is a magical item featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the sixteenth episode of the fourth season.


The Author's Pen is made of enchanted wood and is a magical energy, making it a "living, breathing entity". It can be used to change the past, but only a past it has created. If an Author uses the pen to write their own happy ending, they will lose the position as Author, and can no longer use the pen. ("Heart of Gold", "Operation Mongoose Part 1", "Labor of Love")


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Reason: S6

Before First Curse

Chosen to be the next Author by the Sorcerer and his Apprentice, Isaac begins recording stories, and at some point after this, he travels to 1920s England looking for a good story. Using his enchanted pen, which is made from an enchanted tree, he can write anything into existence, as long as it is recorded using a bottle of magic ink. He falls in love with a charming girl, Cruella, and uses the pen's writing ability to gift her a necklace and earrings. Issac asks her to run away with him, however, she still fears her controlling mother, so he gifts her the ability to control animals. Insisting that she confront her mother one last time, Cruella decides to go home, as Isaac waits for her return. Sometime during this, Cruella secretly steals Isaac's pen, something he discovers only after Cruella's mother, Madeline, reveals her daughter's murderous persona to him. After Cruella kills Madeline, Isaac retrieves his pen, managing to dip it into the ink bottle, before all the ink spills on Cruella, whose hair turns black and white from it. She corners him at gunpoint, but a fast-acting Isaac writes on paper that she can never kill again. ("Best Laid Plans", "Sympathy for the De Vil")

Sometime after this, Isaac abuses his role as Author by manipulating the Apprentice into infusing Maleficent's child with darkness and banishing the baby to another realm. While Isaac is in the midst of writing in a storybook, the Apprentice confronts him about his meddling, to which the Author casually remarks that it made for a better story. Deeming him corrupt and unworthy of being an Author, the Apprentice formally asks Isaac to forfeit the pen, before banishing him into the book. ("Best Laid Plans")

After Second Curse

When Emma releases Isaac from the book, he escapes into the woods. There, he attempts to carve a new writing pen from a branch, until Mr. Gold tells him that it won't have magic unless it's made from an enchanted tree. Mr. Gold insists he come with him, a suggestion Isaac spits on, as he regards the latter as the most troublesome person he's written about in the book. However, upon seeing that Mr. Gold has an actual magic pen, Isaac questions what he wants. Mr. Gold proposes he write him as well as other people happy endings, which Isaac eventually agrees to. ("Heart of Gold")

Harboring a grudge against the Author for what he stole from her, Cruella kidnaps Henry, threatening to kill him, unless Emma or Regina kills Isaac. Once Mr. Gold learns of this, he interrogates Isaac about what he did to Cruella. From his pocket, Isaac gives him the paper which he wrote on long ago to cancel Cruella's ability to kill. Mr. Gold then deliberately separates Emma from her allies so she will be forced to harm Cruella in order to protect Henry as a means to turn her towards darkness. David and Mary Margaret discover the truth from Isaac, but they are too late to stop Emma, who magically shoves Cruella off a cliff to save Henry. ("Sympathy for the De Vil")

Once Emma reunites Maleficent with her daughter Lily, Regina locks up a pregnant Zelena in the hospital's psychiatric ward. Intending to get rid of Zelena, Regina takes the Author's penfrom a frail Mr. Gold, before magically whisking herself and Isaac to her vault. There, he explains the ink must be infused with the savior's darkness in order to rewrite a story. When she shows him the image of herself and Robin Hood, he recognizes it as a storyline he was doing for another book. Realizing the darkness meant for Emma is already in Lily, Regina steals some of her blood for the pen so Isaac can write Zelena out of existence. After learning exactly what will happen to her, Zelena accuses her sister of being exactly as their mother, who once threw her away without a second thought. Coming to see that her own behavior is self-destructive, Regina backs out of the plan, deciding to stop standing in the way of her own happiness. Isaac then betrays her by using the pen to send himself to the pawnshop, where Mr. Gold conjures another book for him to write new happy endings. ("Mother")

After the tolling of the wedding bells, signalling the end of the Heroes and Villains story, Henry unexpectedly harnesses the power of the pen becoming the next Author. By using an injured Regina's blood as the ink, he undoes all of Isaac's villainous work and reverts everything back to normal. Back in Regina's office, Henry is tempted to revive his dead father, Neal. The Apprentice consoles Henry and tells him that his father died in the real world, and no magic no matter how powerful, can bring back the dead. Realizing the pen's ability to alter reality is too much power for anyone to have, Henry snaps the pen in half. ("Operation Mongoose Part 2")

With the pen's purpose left unfulfilled, it journeys to the Underworld and re-manifests in the Underbrooke version of the Sorcerer's mansion, where it remains hidden on the inside of a table lamp. ("Labor of Love", "The Brothers Jones")

After Third Curse

When Henry arrives to search the Underworld's mayoral office for maps, Cruella is already waiting for him inside. After questioning him about Emma, who she begrudges for killing her, she talks about the two ways someone can leave the Underworld, whether for a better or worse place ever. Knowing she is likely destined for the latter, she orders Henry to use the Author's pen to bring her back to the land of the living. She explains that news travels fast in the Underworld, as everyone heard about Henry becoming the new Author, including the fact he broke the pen. Cruella reveals one thing Henry doesn't know, that the pen is a magical, living entity, and by breaking it, he sent it to the Underworld because the pen's purpose is left unfulfilled. As such, she wants him to retrieve the pen and give her what she desires. Henry doesn't see what he gets out of it, but Cruella reasons if he brings her back to life, Emma will no longer be a murderer. Once Henry returns to Robin Hood, he claims he found nothing in the office. ("Labor of Love")

Cruella takes Henry on a search for the pen, and she tells him to sense its presence, as he should be able to since he's the Author. When Henry spots something in the woods, he investigates alone and runs into the Apprentice. The elderly man disapproves of him helping Cruella, but Henry insists he wants the pen to protect his family. The Apprentice reveals the pen is hidden in the Sorcerer's mansion, but the key for getting in is in James' hands. After learning his family are looking for Underbrooke's copy of the storybook, Henry tells them about the key to the mansion, without mentioning the pen is there as well. Upon gaining access into the mansion, Henry wanders off to look for the pen, despite being told by both his moms to stand watch. He finds the pen hidden on the inside of a lamp and later comes clean to his family about it. While he originally wanted the pen to revive Cruella and absolve Emma of her guilt over the latter's death, Henry declares that he'll use the pen to reveal Hades' story. ("The Brothers Jones")

Without being conscious of when or how it happens, Henry records a new story with the pen's power, which tells of Snow and David's plans to contact their son Neal in Storybrooke. Later, he records another story under the same mysterious circumstances, with this story revealing baby Neal received his parents' message to him. ("Our Decay")

Sometime later, Henry masters the pen and is able to write new stories, without having it happen without his knowledge. After Ruby finds true love with Dorothy and Snow returns home to her son, he records both stories. ("Ruby Slippers")

Before leaving the Underworld for home, Henry helps Underbrooke's residents move on by using the pen to reveal their unfinished businesses. He later leaves behind many of these written stories in the storybook. ("Firebird")

Fed up with how magic has ruined his family's lives, Henry enlists Violet to join him on a mission to erase magic for good. With the pen's power, he steals a piece of the Olympian Crystal, with the intention of destroying it because it contains all of Storybrooke's magic. ("Only You")

Known Owners


Other Notes

  • Once Upon a Time's portrayal of a rogue author tasked with telling people's stories and who has with a pen capable of changing reality is similar to Kevin Thorn from the comics Fables and its spin-off Jack of Fables, which are also about fairytale characters living in the modern world.


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


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