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This article focuses on the former Author named Isaac.
For the group of characters who held the title of "Author", see Authors.

To be honest, I'm looking for stories with a bit more pizazz. A great story always needs just a sprinkle of magic.

—Isaac to Madeline src

Isaac Heller, formerly known as the Author and briefly known as the Peddler,[5] is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. He débuts in the sixteenth episode of the fourth season. He is portrayed by guest star Patrick Fischler.


Before First Curse

As a self-professed storyteller, Isaac becomes a television salesman, hoping to use his skill to boost consumer sales. One day, in December of 1966, he does a poor job at persuading a customer to buy a new television, so his boss must intervene to turn the situation around. After getting berated by his boss about his dismal customer skills, Isaac checks the mail pile and sees a letter from a book publishing company asking to see him. Once there, he unknowingly meets the Apprentice, who presents him with several pens on a table and asks him to pick one. Isaac chooses a quill, which glows to signify he is the next Author. Following a brief explanation about the Author's role, the Apprentice opens a door to another realm, intending to take Isaac there. ("Operation Mongoose Part 1")

Upon accepting the job of Author, Isaac's responsibility is to record tales in a storybook with the quill as the many previous Authors before him have done. However, the one taboo is he cannot use the quill to write his own happy ending, which will result in his termination as Author. ("Best Laid Plans", "Operation Mongoose Part 2")

Arriving in 1920s England, Isaac disguises himself as a newspaper reporter and interviews Madeline, a famous dog trainer, hoping to get a good story from her. Seeing three male portraits in her home, he inquiries if she is divorced or widowed by three husbands, as Madeline becomes frustrated at his callous questions and kicks him out. Before closing the door on him, she angrily suggests he should write his own story instead of prying into hers. When her daughter, Cruella, calls to him from the window and promises a story if he lets her out, Isaac uses his quill and ink to teleport a key to her windowsill. After sneaking out, Cruella asks him to take her somewhere "loud", and he brings her to a nightclub. There, Cruella reveals she's been kept captive by her mother, who poisoned her husbands. As Isaac writes, her favorite song comes on and she convinces him to dance with her. As the night draws to a close, she thanks him for the evening and kisses his cheek, which compels him to tell her about the quill and ink's powers. Isaac proposes they run away together, but when Cruella expresses fears about being caught by her mother, he gifts her with the power to manipulate animals. Before she can go with him, Cruella insists on facing her mother alone. After giving her his car keys, Isaac waits for her at the hotel, where Madeline reveals to him that Cruella murdered her husbands and she kept her daughter locked up to protect outsiders. Only when he sees his quill is missing, Isaac realizes she is right. He finds Cruella sewing, and with immense satisfaction she recounts using her power to make her mother's dogs kill Madeline before butchering the dogs to make her new coat. Realizing she used him, Isaac makes a grab for the quill and some paper. As Cruella wrestles away the ink, it spills on her face and hair, turning it black and white. Before she can fire her gun at him, Isaac cancels it out by writing, with the quill's ink, that she no longer can kill anyone ever again. As he leaves unharmed, she yells that they are not finished. ("Sympathy for the De Vil")

At some point, Isaac returns to the Enchanted Forest. After the sorceress Maleficent makes her nest inside a cave, laying an egg, and scorches all the land around her, Isaac escapes from this region and disguises himself as a peddler. When his wagon becomes stuck in the road, Snow White and Prince Charming assist him as they pass by. With plans for Maleficent's story involving the pair, Isaac redirects them to go east into the Infinite Forest to find the Apprentice so they will agree to a deal with him in order to rid their unborn child of darkness. To accomplish this, Isaac controls the Apprentice into infusing a vessel, Maleficent's child, with darkness. After completing the awful task, the Apprentice angrily confronts the Author about his scheming ways. Isaac, currently in the midst of writing in the book with the quill, casually notes that he did it to make the story better. Believing his abuse of power has to end, the Apprentice traps him inside the storybook's door illustration as punishment. ("Best Laid Plans")

While trapped in the book, Isaac loses his ability to change stories as he pleases, although he can still record tales. ("Lily")

Some time later, a mystic from Hong Kong, the Dragon, learns about the existence of the storybook and amasses research about the Author. After his death, August takes the research with him for his journey to Storybrooke. ("Poor Unfortunate Soul")

After Second Curse

After being trapped in the door illustration for an unknown time, Isaac signals using a light through the door keyhole to shine on a table drawer in the Sorcerer's mansion, where Henry discovers a key. Later, Emma unlocks the door with the key and frees Isaac. Shocked, David and Mary Margaret recognize him as the "peddler" they once helped in the Enchanted Forest. Before Emma can ask him the questions she desperately wants answers to, Isaac pulls a curtain down on her and her parents, distracting them, as he races from the room and flees out of sight. ("Best Laid Plans")

Escaping into the woods, Issac snaps a twig, attempting to fashion a magic quill out of it, until Mr. Gold unceremoniously tells him it won't work since the wood isn't from an enchanted tree. Unwilling to go with Mr. Gold, who Isaac deems the most troublesome person he has ever had to write about, he quickly changes his tune when the latter flashes him an actual magic quill. In exchange for safety, the Author agrees to write happy endings for him and others. ("Heart of Gold")

Holed up in the cabin, Isaac is met by Cruella, who threatens to kill him, although both of them know that's no longer possible given their past history. Despite this, Cruella departs, warning him that there are other ways around it. Later, Mr. Gold returns to confront him about his chat with Cruella. Isaac feigns ignorance at first, but then he cracks under pressure and begs Mr. Gold not to hurt him for lying. Conjuring his crystal ball, Mr. Gold admits Cruella is essential to his plans, as he reveals her desperation for Isaac's death has led her to kidnap Henry and force Emma to help her. Isaac is appalled he is going to allow Emma to kill him so she becomes dark, but Mr. Gold clarifies that he actually needs him alive, not dead. When questioned why he is working with Cruella, Mr. Gold explains that she is driven by vengeance and someone of that nature is easy to control. Prompted for the truth about what he did to Cruella, Isaac shows him the paper he wrote on long ago that cancelled her ability to ever kill anyone ever again. Later in the day, David and Mary Margaret storm the cabin to find out information about Emma. As he is thrown against a wall by David, Isaac blurts out he only wanted to protect the world from Cruella. After he provides the paper that proves Cruella is harmless, and the situation is Mr. Gold's ploy to make Emma dark, David and Mary Margaret rush off to stop their daughter. However, they are too late, as Emma kills Cruella to protect Henry. ("Sympathy for the De Vil")

In the aftermath, Isaac and Mr. Gold are the only ones to show up for Cruella's burial, where the Author reminisces about her and how she made him the man he is. Mr. Gold reminds him that they both have what they need to rewrite the book, but for now, they must keep Emma on the dark path if they wish to complete their mission. Later, Isaac steps into Mr. Gold's car after they learn Emma and Regina are leaving town to look for Maleficent's child. The Author is surprised Mr. Gold is letting them go, but the latter believes Emma will turn dark no matter what world she is in. ("Lily")

While trying food at the diner, Isaac and Mr. Gold are informed by a triumphant Hook that Emma is returning to town, but she has most definitely not gone dark. After the pirate leaves, Isaac considers their plans are going to fall through because the ink needs to be powered by Emma's darkness. As Mr. Gold's darkened heart affliction worsens, he and the Author return to the pawnshop, where Regina takes Isaac as well as the quill, intending to use both for her own happy ending. At Regina's vault, Isaac explains to her how the quill's ink must be taken from Emma's darkness. When she shows him the image of herself and Robin Hood, he recognizes it as an alternate story that he experimented on for another book. After much thinking, she realizes the darkness originally intended for Emma is already in Lily, leading her to steal blood from her for the ink. Regina takes Isaac to Zelena so he can write her out of existence, but she soon has a change of heart and backs out of the plan. Isaac then betrays her and uses the quill to write himself into returning to the pawnshop. Now severely weakened, Mr. Gold wastes no time and tells Isaac to start writing. As Isaac looks around for paper, Mr. Gold conjures an entirely new storybook, titled "Heroes and Villains", for him to write in. On the first page, Isaac begins the story with the line, "Once upon a time...". ("Mother")

In the pawnshop, Isaac suggests erasing Mr. Gold's memories of Baelfire, but the latter wants his memories rewritten so he remembers his son thinking of him as a hero. As soon as the words "The end" are written, everyone except Henry and Isaac are taken into the Heroes and Villains storybook to live out their new lives. ("Operation Mongoose Part 1")

During Alternate Reality
Upon changing the stories of the people of Storybrooke, who vanish from the town and become characters in the new storybook, Isaac gains fame in the Land Without Magic, where his own published book, also titled Heroes and Villains, becomes a bestseller. During a book signing event, a fan gives him a "Long Live Regina" pin, before he is confronted by Henry and later coerced into revealing what he did to everyone else. Henry demands he reverse the stories, but Isaac cannot, since writing his own happy ending is a taboo which cost him the power of the quill. When Isaac riles him up further, Henry plunges the book key into a page in the storybook, causing both of them to fall into the story. Henry attempts to defend himself with a sword, but Isaac knocks him out before tying him to an overturned carriage, telling the boy that the stories will become permanent once the bells chime at sunset. He then leaves Henry to be killed by an ogre; however, the heroic Light One, known as Rumplestiltskin in this reality, saves him. Upon realizing the boy escaped unharmed, Isaac searches the woods calling for him, where he is caught in a net set by Queen Snow White's dwarves. When the dwarves see the "Long Live Regina" pin, they haul him to the Queen, who orders his execution for going against her. Moments before Prince Charming can sever his head, Isaac reveals he knows Snow White hates Regina for causing the death of her true love, James. Snow White then lets him go just as he informs her that Regina will attempt a robbery from a royal carriage and that she is in league with Henry, who he claims is going to destroy her kingdom if she allows him to. She questions what he wants out of the situation, and Isaac asks her to kill both Regina and Henry. Paying a visit to Rumplestiltskin, Isaac mentions knowing details of his actual life before the alternate timeline, which the Light One does not remember, in which he was a coward and abandoned his firstborn son Baelfire. He threatens to reveal all this to everyone and ruin the current happiness he has with Belle unless Rumplestiltskin kills Henry and stops Regina from interrupting Robin Hood's wedding. Isaac later attends Robin Hood's wedding to Zelena, which proceeds smoothly, while Regina is prevented from intervening because she takes a fatal blow that Rumplestiltskin meant for Henry. As Regina lays dying, the church bells chime, signaling Isaac's stories are about to become permanent forever. In a stroke of luck, Henry harnesses the quill, becoming the next Author, and uses Regina's blood as ink to restore everything to normal. ("Operation Mongoose Part 1", "Operation Mongoose Part 2")

Before Third Curse
Finding himself in the pawnshop again, Isaac grabs Mr. Gold's car keys and tries to flee town, but David and Mary Margaret apprehend him. When they ask why he set them up to hurt Maleficent's child, Isaac admits his grudge wasn't against them, but the heroes they represented. Elaborating further on his hatred of heroes, he reveals they reminded him of the various "heroes" he has encountered in life who have pushed him around, and that be wanted to write them as villains to give himself a chance to be a hero for once. Despite his reasons, Mary Margaret suggests that he became a villain since being one meant making himself happy at the expense of others, but it's only made him more unhappy in the end. Eventually, Isaac is arrested and locked in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. ("Operation Mongoose Part 2", "Mother's Little Helper")

After Third Curse
After Henry blacks out and unconsciously scribbles strange symbols, Regina decides to bring him to Isaac to get answers about the strange phenomenon. As they enter the psychiatric ward, Nurse Ratched notes that she doesn't remember him ever having visitors. Isaac is surprised to see them but willingly takes a look at what Henry wrote down, noting that he has heard of it happening to Authors before but never experienced it himself. He then complains to Regina that she locked him up for no reason, though she points out that he tried to kill them all and he concedes. When she asks him to tell them more about Henry's side effects, he offers to help if they set him free and give him a sports car so he can leave for New York. Regina adamantly refuses, so Isaac raises the price by demanding tickets to the Broadway musical Hamilton. However, as Regina and Henry leave to find someone else to ask, Isaac stops them in their tracks by blurting out that Henry's Author powers are taking control of him, however, he refuses to divulge more information until they give him his request. Reluctantly, Regina procures an old truck and allows Isaac to leave, and though Isaac is disappointed that she did not grant him his sports car, he agrees that even her magic isn't strong enough to get the tickets to Hamilton. Before he leaves, he tells Henry to look in his book and Henry discovers that it's the final chapter, which Isaac explains means the story will come to a close with the Savior participating in the final battle. Eventually, Isaac gets to watch Hamilton, which he loves.[6] ("Mother's Little Helper")

Magical Abilities

Former Magical Abilities


Character Notes

Production Notes

Popular Culture

Set Dressing

Other Notes

  • Once Upon a Time's portrayal of a rogue author tasked with telling people's stories and who has 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.

See also


  1. Henry and Violet, Kingswell Teen, May 2018, ch. Forty-one, Forty-three
  2. "Operation Mongoose Part 1", Once Upon a Time, ABC
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 File:421IsaacAddress.png
  4. File:721ApprenticeVision5.png
  5. LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME: Air Date: Sunday, March 29, 2015. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#416) "Best Laid Plans".. The Futon Critic. “Guest stars include [...] Patrick Fischler as Peddler”
  6. "The Final Battle Begins".
  7. Andreeva, Nellie (January 15, 2015). Patrick Fischler To Recur On ‘Once Upon a Time’ & ‘Silicon Valley’. Deadline Hollywood. “On Once, Fischler will play a peddler (name used on the breakdowns is Gorin) who comes across as well-intentioned but is actually a quick-witted, arrogant man with reckless impulses.”
  8. Gelman, Vlada (January 15, 2015). Once Upon a Time Casts Mad Man Patrick Fischler in Key Recurring Role. TVLine. “Fischler's character comes across as well-intentioned but is actually a quick-witted, arrogant man with reckless impulses. He will appear in both the fairytale land and Storybrooke.”
  9. Alston, Joshua (May 11, 2015). Patrick Fischler on Mad Men, Lost, and the secrets of Mulholland Drive. The A.V. Club. “'Once Upon A Time (2015)—"Isaac/The Author" PF: This has been a pretty fantastic job. I didn't audition for this, I got offered this because these guys, Eddie [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz], wrote on Lost.”
  10. Williams, Keith (February 3, 2014). Midwood walking photos – 07. The Weekly Nabe.
  11. Lachonis, John (September 27, 2007). 'Lost' Writer/Producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz Talk Writing, TV, and Getting 'Lost'. BuddyTV. Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. “What television show, movie, or book inspired you to write? Annie Hall. Oddly we were both inspired by Woody Allen at young ages.”
  12. File:418BotherStudying.png
  13. File:422NotOnThatList.png
  14. 14.0 14.1 File:616NumberPlate.png
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