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I won’t force you.
~ Ish's catchphrase, foreshadowing that the people he brainwashed were easily manipulated without him having to force them.
Don't rock the boat.
~ Ishmael
What do your parents know, about surviving?
~ Ishmael taunting the Baudelaires and their deceased parents by saying because they are dead, they are not worth listening to.

Ishmael is the main antagonist of The End, the thirteenth and final novel of the A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket, and the final antagonist of its 2017 Netflix adaptation.

He was portrayed by Peter MacNicol in the TV series.



Ishmael loved to be called "Ish" but for some reason no one had the courage to call him that. He was a member of V.F.D in his youth and he is much older than Count Olaf or the Snicket family, suggesting he was an earlier part of V.F.D before the Schism. Apparently, he was a science teacher when he lived a normal life in the city the Baudelaires came from, and he knew Josephine Anwhistle's mother-in-law. She got afraid of being poisoned and feared the Medusoid Mycelium fungus so she poured her "poisoned" tea into a pot plant, from the Bistro Smelt restaurant, and then realized her error when the plant died and its owner was whisked away to Peru about The Prospero.

Also, Ishmael had a history with Count Olaf. When Olaf resolved to be a master criminal during the Schism, Ishmael did the opposite and vowed for peace, abandoning all weapons. Olaf said this was stupid and set fire to Ishmael's home (although, as Olaf claims he didn't start the fire, it's more likely the Man With a Beard But No Hair burned down his home instead.)

Olaf apparently nonetheless put Ishmael in a cage, and Ishmael was reduced to humiliation. Maybe Olaf put Ishmael in a cage in front of all of V.F.D. or something to make Ishmael hate him so much. But Ishmael escaped and vowed to get vengeance on Olaf and maybe do the same thing to him.

Role in the book

When the three Baudelaire children Violet, Klaus, and Sunny arrive to the Island along with the main antagonist of the series Count Olaf, arrive on the Island, they are welcomed by the inhabitants of the island and are taken by the young girl Friday and they meet Ishmael.

When they meet him, he has clay around his ankles, because he claimed he couldn't walk. He also manipulated the inhabitants into getting rid of certain objects that were washed up on the shelf, and wear white garments and drink cordial. In an entry in his book, it revealed that he used to work for the Baudelaire's parents and took over when they left.

Ishmael is alerted of Count Olaf's presence on the Island by the Baudelaires and Islanders, and Ishmael finally gets vengeance on him by imprisoning Olaf in a large bird cage. Olaf protests that this isn't fair but Ishmael has had enough of his treachery so he rightly ignores him.

When the Baudelaires venture to the far side of the Island and enter the mysterious Arboretum to find weapons, they find the Mamba du Mal snake has been there before. It leads them to the hiding place in the Arboretum where Ishmael stores all the technology and hidden debris the storms washed up. Ishmael himself appears, just when the Baudelaires find the Island's diary, appropriately entitled A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Because the Baudelaires see Ishmael can actually walk, his truth is blown and he invites the Baudelaires to live peacefully with him on the Island. After a long discussion about secrets the orphans agree, having no other home, and Ishmael rides back with them on his sheep driven sleigh. However, they find a massive argument occurring back at the colony, and everyone either wants to return to Winnipeg or to kill Ishmael for dishonesty. Eventually, when Olaf arrives, Ishmael mortally wounds Olaf with a harpoon and stands up to do so. It was then revealed that he was a member of V.F.D. The shattering of the helmet results and releases the spores of the Medusoid Myselium fungus and despite the Baudelaires saving themselves by eating apples covered in horseradish (as horseradish is one of the cures of the mycelium) and offering apples to the Islanders, Ishmael stubbornly refuses to listen, and he takes his followers off the Island. Since he ate an apple that had the antidote he was saved. It is unknown if any other person survived.


  • Peter Macnicol also portrayed Gary Granger from 1993 film, Addams Family Values.


           Lemony Snicket signature.png Villains

Count Olaf's Theater Troupe
Count Olaf (2017) | Esmé Squalor | Hook-Handed Man | Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender | White-Faced Women | Bald Man | Carmelita Spats | Hugo, Colette & Kevin | Wart-Faced Man | The Man With a Beard But No Hair | The Woman With Hair But No Beard

Inhumane Society
Hangfire | Ellington Feint | Dr. Flammarion | Nurse Dander | Stew Mitchum | Sharon Haines

Dr. Georgina Orwell | Sir | Vice Principal Nero | Ernest Denouement | Ishmael | Bombinating Beast