|“||A lifetime of bad bosses... of people like you, who fancy themselves heroes, pushing around people like me. It was my turn to win. To be the hero.||„|
|~ Isaac Heller|
Isaac Heller, also known as The Author, is a major antagonist in the TV series Once Upon a Time and Henry Mills' arch-nemesis. He serves as the secondary antagonist of Season 4 (along with Zelena), though he was the main antagonist of the finale ("Operation Mongoose, Parts 1 & 2") and an anti-hero in Season 6.
He was portrayed by Patrick Fischler.
Before First Curse
For eons, the Sorcerer and his apprentice have chosen authors to write out people's stories accordingly. Isaac was one of those authors. Before then, he wanted to be an famous author, but had a lifetime of having horrible bosses to work for. In 1966, After the death of iconic film producer and author, Walt Disney, Isaac was working as a TV salesmen, which wasn't working out due to his way with customers. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1")
During this time, the Sorcerer Merlin's Apprentice finds Isaac and makes him the new Author, allowing him to alter reality; however, he wasn't allowed to write himself a happy ending, which would cause his powers to vanish. ("Best Laid Plans", "Operation Mongoose, Part 2")
Sometime later, Isaac traveled to a 1920s like-era in England. While there, he met Cruella De Vil while looking for a good story. He frees her from her imprisonment in her mother's attic and takes her to a party. While spending time with her, Cruella lies about her mother killing her three husbands, and keeping her locked up so she can't reveal the truth. By the night's end, Isaac is smitten with her, and he tells her about his quill and ink, which give him the power to write anything into reality. After proving it's real by granting her a necklace and diamond earrings, Issac asks her to run away with him. Since she is afraid her mother will catch her, he gives her the power to manipulate animals. Before she can leave with him, Cruella insists on facing her mother one last time. Isaac hands her his car keys and then promises to wait for her at the hotel. Sometime during this, Cruella steals his quill, returning home, where she forces her mother's dogs to kill Madeline. Later, she butchers the dogs and sews a fur coat out of them, just as Isaac walks in on her. Realizing that she used him, Isaac grabs the quill and fights with Cruella for the ink pot before Cruella accidentally spills it on herself, turning her hair black and white and changing her appearance. Before she can fire her gun at him, Issac cancels it out by writing that she can never kill another person again. As he leaves, she yells that they aren't finished yet. ("Sympathy for the De Vil")
Later, he travels to the Enchanted Forest. During this time, he started to manipulate the stories to his own will. Disguised as the Peddler, he directs Snow White and Prince Charming to the Apprentice's Cabin as his writing caused Snow White and Prince Charming kidnap the witch Maleficent's baby daughter and take her to the sorcerer's Apprentice to transfer the potential for darkness and evil from their child to Maleficent's child. Afterwards, the Apprentice banishes Maleficent's child to Earth, along with Ursula and Cruella De Vil. This angered the Apprentice, and he imprisoned Isaac in one of pages in the book as punishment. ("Best Laid Plans"). As a result of being banished into the book, he wasn't affected by the First and Second Curses and wasn't taken to Storybrooke, but rather stayed behind, powerless to escape the Enchanted Forest and return home.
After Second Curse
30 years later, Emma Swan finds the book and released the Author from it. Emma then tries to question Isaac but he flees and Emma, Captain Hook, Snow, and Charming, go out to look for him. While hiding and looking for something to write with, he runs into Rumpelstiltskin. Isaac then expresses displeasure in writing about the Dark One. Rumpelstiltskin responds by offering a deal to get villains their happy endings, to which Isaac agrees. Gold takes Isaac to his cabin. Gold says that he plans to turn the Savior dark, and then everything he needs will fall into place. However, Gold abruptly says that something has come up and teleports away. Later, Isaac is reading when Cruella comes in. She demands that he give back what she took. Isaac says that he can't, and Cruella grabs him by the throat and promises to kill him. He says that she doesn't have enough power to hurt him, and Cruella releases him. She takes a gentler approach but Isaac refuses and Cruella promises to make him suffer for his making her what she is. Isaac points out that Gold doesn't know that they know each other, and figures that Cruella lied to him. He says that Cruella should leave before Gold returns, which she does.
Later, Gold returns to the cabin and tells Isaac that he knows he lied about knowing Cruella. He says that Cruella has kidnapped the Savior's son and it's essential to his plans. Gold explains Cruella's threat, and notes that if Isaac dies then the mantle of Author would pass on to someone potentially less cooperative. He can manipulate Cruella and asks why Cruella wants Isaac dead. Isaac takes a letter from his pocket and tells Gold to read it. Once he does, Gold chuckles. Later, David and Mary Margaret arrive at the cabin and David grabs him. Isaac admits that he had no idea how Gold would end Cruella, and he didn't see the end of the story. He adds that the story ends with the Savior turning dark. He hands David a piece of paper and says that it's a truth that he wrote. Mary Margaret and David read the note, which says that Cruella can no longer take the life of another. Isaac says that Henry is in no danger, and Mary Margaret and David realize that Cruella is defenseless and Gold wants Emma to kill her. Following the death of Cruella De Vil at the hands of the savior, the chic diva is laid to rest, and Gold and Isaac watch as her coffin is lowered down into the ground. The Author, staring down at the napkin Cruella kissed all those years ago in the club they attended, comments that he'll miss her ,furs and all - for he realizes that in her own special way she cared for him. The napkin is placed onto the grave, and Rumple says that someone had to die for the progress of his plans. Isaac questions this, and they proceed to discuss the state of Emma's heart. Emma, meanwhile, watches them from nearby. Isaac and Gold are next seen in the latter's car, again discussing plans, when Rumple sees Belle and Will strolling nearby. He excuses himself from the Author, saying that he has business to attend to. Isaac is at the diner with Gold when Hook comes in to announce that Emma is returning and she didn't turn evil after all, which means that the Dark One's plans have failed. Isaac doesn't take too kindly to the news, knowing that his magic ink needs the blood of a darkened savior in order to work in this land, and Rumple teleports them back to his shop.
His heart is very weak now; he takes it out and sees that it's almost entirely black, at which point Regina walks in to take the Author for herself, pointing out that it was her idea to use him before Gold stole it. She then sees how dreadful Gold looks and realizes that his heart is catching up with him; however, she refuses to believe that the Dark One could die in such a manner, recalling that all he'd lose is his capacity to love. Mr. Gold confirms that the Dark One can't... but Rumplestiltskin can, and no one wants to face the Dark One when there's "no one else at home". Regina proceeds to leave with Isaac as Mr. Gold collapses onto the floor, and Isaac reveals what a fan of hers he is, having enjoyed her as a character. She reveals that she has a page from some of his extra works, and he is astounded, promising to write for her anything she wants. However, when the former Evil Queen refuses to let the Author write anything new for her half-sister Zelena, he returns to the Dark One, using his now-empowered (thanks to Lily's blood, taken by the Queen) ink to start writing a new story for everyone in town.
During Alternate Reality ("Operation Mongoose")
Isaac believes that it's time for a new world where up is down, and so he continues to write in the new book entitled "Heroes and Villains". After hashing out the issue of Baelfire with Rumple, agreeing to change the latter's memories of his son so that he remembers doing all he could to save him, Isaac marks the story with an ending, thus causing reality to be warped.
His book "Heroes and Villains" becomes a bestseller and he gains legions of fans. At a signing, Henry Mills approaches and threatens to trap him inside the page again using the key if he doesn't return his family from the book they're trapped in... but Isaac can't. The cardinal rule of the Authors is "don't write your own happy ending", and he broke it. As such, Henry uses the key to enter the new book and inadvertently traps Isaac inside as well. Isaac knocks the boy out and leaves him to die at the hands of an ogre, forgetting that he wrote it so that Rumplestiltskin the Ogre Slayer rides along and kills it. Wandering through the forest, Isaac becomes trapped in a net and is captured by the seven dwarfs, who take him to the Evil Queen Snow White and her huntsman Prince Charming. Not wanting Henry to change the books ending by allowing Regina to find her happiness, Isaac tells Snow the whereabouts of the bandit, requesting that she kill both her and Henry. Snow agrees to do so - gladly - but ultimately fails.
Isaac goes to Rumplestiltskin in order to convince him to preserve his happiness, telling him the truth about his son's death, and then goes to the wedding of Robin Hood and Zelena to make sure that Regina doesn't crash it and thus ruin the ending of the book and destroy Isaac's own exterior happy ending. Outside the church, Regina shows up with Henry and Emma, the latter of which has retained her memories, but Rumple shows up also in order to fend them off. Regina thinks about crashing her true love's ceremony, but is ultimately unable to do so because Henry is in danger. She steps in the way of Rumple's sword and makes it so that she receives a fatal blow to the gut, and the "Light One" proceeds to teleport away. Isaac is happy to see this, claiming it to be too late to stop anything now, and Emma punches him, making it so that the book and his quill come flying from his satchel. Henry picks up the quill and becomes the new Author, able to use Regina's sacrificial blood to write everyone back home.
Before Third Curse
Isaac attempts driving out of town after his return to the real world, but the Charmings cut him off, proceeding to arrest him. Mary Margaret wishes to know why he put them on the path (meaning through a figurative expression as in what he made them do) to hurt Maleficent and Lily all those years ago against their will just to hurt them both, and he explains that it has nothing to do with them, but what they represent. For too long he was pushed around by people who fancy themselves heroes, and he felt like punishing them. Mary Margaret points out that that makes him a villain, because he pursued his own happiness at the expense of others. She knows what it is to have her heart go dark, and it isn't something to idolize... it's something to pity. The former Author is carted away to the psychiatric ward.
After Third Curse
After Henry begins to draw strange symbols in a trance-like state, Regina brings him to the psychiatric ward to visit Isaac. He looks at the strange symbols that Henry wrote and says that he'd heard of this sort of thing happening to other Authors in the past, but he himself had never experienced it. He doesn't give context to this, asking for a sports car to drive to New York City before he can give up anything, even demanding for tickets to Hamilton. Regina and Henry are right about to leave when Isaac decides to confess that Henry's Author powers are beginning to take over, but refuses to say anything else unless his demands are met. Later, Isaac is brought to the outside of Storybrooke where Regina and Henry have procured an old truck for him; he finds himself disappointed that it wasn't a sports car, or that the Hamilton tickets were not obtained, jokingly-saying "Even your magic isn't that strong". He tells Henry to look into the Once Upon a Time book for more; Henry is shocked to look inside and see that they've at last reached the "Final Chapter" of the book. Isaac tells them that the prophesied "Final Battle", alluded to by Rumplestiltskin in the times before the First Curse, is near, and the Savior will have to take on the ultimate evil that has arrived in town to instigate it, even saying that, for their own safety, no-one will want to be in town when the battle begins. With this ominous statement out of the way, Isaac gets into the old truck and leaves town for his own safety. ("Mother's Little Helper")
- August Booth, adult version of Pinocchio, knew all about authors, and said that, along with Isaac, there was another author called "Walt". This author never appears on-screen, but this was probably a reference to screenwriter Walt Disney, whose first full-length films were based on fairy-tales (and many still are today). In the season finale two part The Apprentice tells Issac that their last Author recently passed away. It is December 1966 in our realm when the Apprentice tells Isaac this meaning he was alluding to Walt Disney who died 12/15/1966.
- Apparently, Patrick Fischler was the only person offered the role. This is presumably due to his previous role in Season 5 of Lost (Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were writers on Lost before creating Once Upon a Time).
- In "Operation Mongoose Part 1", Isaac mentions having a bar mitzvah, meaning that he is (or was) Jewish.
- Isaac's home address (968 East 14th Street, Brooklyn, NY) is a reference to the childhood home of Broadway and comedy star Woody Allen, whom Once Upon a Time creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were inspired by in their youths.