|Last appearance||".07%" (real-time); "Once Upon a Time in Texas" (flashback)|
|Portrayed by||Santiago Cabrera|
Comic book artist and writer
|Ability||Precognition (expressed through visual art)|
Isaac Méndez's story begins in the first episode, where he is a struggling, tortured artist living in New York City. His girlfriend and art dealer is Simone Deveaux. Mendez is addicted to heroin, and has had little success quitting permanently, putting a strain on his relationship with Simone. This strain is worsened when Isaac realizes he can see ambiguous future events and paint them—but only when high on heroin. Isaac at first assumes the paintings to be "evil" and tries to destroy them, but Simone sees them as artistically impressive. Near the end of the pilot, Isaac overdoses. Simone brings help in the form of nurse Peter Petrelli, who realizes that Isaac has painted a picture of him without having previously met him. With Peter's help, Isaac survives the overdose.
After he recovers, Isaac seems to have accepted his "destiny" to save New York from a large, nuclear-level, mushroom cloud explosion he saw in one of his precognitive trances and painted on his loft floor during his overdose. Isaac has also come to believe he needs the heroin to "paint the future". Simone doubts Isaac's powers and refuses to stand idly by while he ruins his life using heroin, so she leaves him. During their conversation, Simone also mentions that Isaac's comic book, 9th Wonders!, may be late as he continues with his precognitive painting.
In the fourth episode, Simone comes to Isaac requesting new paintings for a showing at her art gallery. Isaac offers earlier works instead, saying that he needs the newer ones to tell the future. Simone doubts she can even sell the older ones and is still unconvinced of Isaac's powers. Isaac proclaims he knew about her kiss with Peter the previous evening. Simone assumes that Isaac had followed her, but he shows her his drawing, saying he made it seven weeks prior. Isaac then said he needs money for "painting supplies," by which he means heroin, which he hopes will help him find a way to stop the nuclear explosion. Simone leaves and Isaac breaks out his "tools" to shoot up. At one point in the episode, he says "I'm gonna be a hero". After shooting up, he experiences a vision of Claire Bennet at her school around Homecoming time, being chased and cornered by a shadowy figure.
In the fifth episode, Peter visits Isaac to find images of "the cheerleader" that a future version of Hiro Nakamura told him to save. However, Isaac is distraught over the current state of his life and feels he's wasted his time. Peter disagrees and persuades Isaac to look past their differences. Peter finds the unfinished painting he is looking for, though Isaac explains he cannot finish it, as he is out of both heroin and money to buy more. Peter still believes they should keep trying and, through his ability to mimic other people's powers, manages to finish the painting himself, saying he can see the finished work in his mind. The phone rings after he finishes. Isaac explains that it's just some Japanese man that he can't understand, and Peter realizes that it's Hiro.
In "Better Halves", Isaac and Peter realize they don't know who the cheerleader was or where she lives. They notice that one of Isaac's canvases of the future is missing. Isaac realizes that Simone has taken it to sell with his other paintings. He doesn't remember what he painted since he was high at the time. After Peter leaves to try to track down the painting another way, Eden McCain visits Isaac's apartment, claiming to be a fan.
In the following episode, Isaac and Eden are in a paper plant in Odessa, Texas where Mr. Bennet works. Bennet tells Isaac that he helps people with special powers to better use them, and suggests that he teach Isaac to use his powers without heroin. Bennet explains that he desperately needs Isaac to create another painting of the cheerleader's attack, as he believes it will let him protect his daughter Claire. Isaac tries again to paint without the drugs, but after that proves unsuccessful, Mr. Bennet has Eden persuade Isaac to take heroin and paint an image.
In "Homecoming", Isaac paints a picture of a man glowing brightly, which Isaac later describes as "a man exploding", rather than anything related to Claire. Then, in "Fallout", he begins painting again, though he doesn't believe the paintings to be anything more than art since he hadn't taken any drugs since painting the previous image. After Eden tells him that Claire has been saved, he realizes that the future can be changed. Eden gives him a phone and an access card, suggesting that he do something. To that end, he calls Hiro and arranges a meeting. After meeting Hiro, seeing the future issue of 9th Wonders!, and realizing that his most recent drawings were in fact of events from the then-future, he decided to again paint without heroin. Relaxed and advised by Hiro to concentrate, he successfully activated his powers, painting a picture of Hiro, brandishing a katana, encountering a dinosaur. Hiro mentions that he found Isaac killed by Sylar in the future.
Two weeks later in "Godsend", Isaac is doing well and has returned to New York. He's maintained his friendship with Hiro and Ando, who are also in New York. At his loft, Isaac is visited by Simone and Nathan Petrelli, Peter's brother, as Nathan wants to check out the "future paintings". Simone hadn't realized Isaac is home. Now clean and able to paint without heroin, Isaac professes his continued love for Simone. She's speechless. Suddenly, Hiro returns, disappointed that he was not able to find the real Kensei sword. Hiro then excitedly greets Nathan ("flying man"), who he had met once previously. After introductions and catching up, Hiro states that Linderman has the sword he wants. Simone remembers that Linderman is an avid art collector, as she has sold him several of Isaac's paintings. To this end, Simone recommends Hiro travel to Las Vegas with one of Isaac's paintings and meet Linderman.
During the events of "Distractions", Isaac is revealed to be actively seeking Peter Petrelli via his power because he has seen that Peter explodes. Isaac is later revealed to be working with Mr. Bennet when he calls him to notify him of Peter's whereabouts.
Later, during the episode "Unexpected", Mr. Bennet visits Isaac at his apartment, where Isaac tells him about the search for Peter and how he has discovered that Peter has been invisible. Mr. Bennet then tells him about how this means that Peter has met an old friend of Mr. Bennet's, referring to Claude. He then gives Isaac a gun and tells him he expects him to be a hero. Later, after Peter escapes Bennet and the Haitian, and Claude abandons him, he appears in Isaac's apartment blaming Isaac for "turning him in". He attacks Isaac with his telekinesis, then turns invisible when Isaac pulls out the gun. As he dodges around Isaac's apartment, taunting him, Isaac tries to listen to where he is and shoot him. He finally hears a distinctive sound, but when he fires it is revealed he has shot Simone, who collapses into Peter's arms.
Isaac blames Peter for Simone's death and tries to shoot him, but Peter escapes. Isaac places Simone's body on his bed. Later, the police, having been sent by Nathan Petrelli, come to his home, saying that Simone was reported missing and neighbors heard a disturbance and gun shots. Then Mr. Bennet and Candice, disguised as Simone and hiding Simone's body, come in and the police excuse themselves. Bennet says they have created an alibi in which Simone will be in Europe for months. Isaac is clearly distraught and begs Bennet to take him with him. After they refuse and leave, Isaac decides to go back to using heroin. He paints a series of pictures, including one of himself with his head sliced open, as had been seen in the future by Hiro in the episode "Don't Look Back.
In the episode ".07%", Isaac gives a messenger that works for the publishing company, the next issue of 9th Wonders. As a gift, he also hands over his sketch book. As the man leaves, Isaac looks at the pictures of himself with his head sliced open. Later, Sylar locates and confronts Isaac, who has just finished painting another picture of his death. When Sylar comments that most people start screaming at that point, Isaac calmly states that he has accepted his fate. He also reveals that he has also painted a vision of Sylar's death. When Isaac refuses to give Sylar the drawings, Sylar flings him to the ground and impales Isaac's wrists and ankles with paint brushes. Isaac states that he sent the painting away and that all his life he has destroyed everything he has loved. He goes on to say that he can now die content and, through this final act, can "finally get to be a hero." Sylar stands over Isaac, the camera pans away, and Isaac screams as Sylar slices into his skull.
Later Isaac's body is seen, dead on the floor, the top of his skull missing as Sylar uses his ability to paint the future, albeit in a twisted, more nightmarish style.
In "Lizards", Noah Bennet reveals that Isaac Mendez has painted eight as-yet-unfulfilled prophetic paintings and had sent them out to unknown locations prior to his death. Noah Bennet is the first to receive one of the eight paintings which depicted Kaito Nakamura lying dead on the ground after falling off a building. In "Kindred", Mohinder Suresh discovers another painting in Isaac Mendez's loft which has yet to be sent out. This painting depicts Noah Bennet lying dead on the ground from a gunshot wound to the head, while Claire stands nearby with an unknown shadowed character.
In "The Line", the other six paintings in the series of eight are discovered by Noah Bennet and The Haitian. The remaining six depict a bleeding Claire Bennet lying on a staircase; a man holding a vial of clear liquid; Niki Sanders pounding on a door; Peter Petrelli and an unknown man standing together looking out of a window, with a biohazard symbol visible; Hiro Nakamura and Kensei sword fighting; and Mohinder Suresh with a broken nose after firing a pistol, possibly one issued by The Company.
When Hiro Nakamura loses his memory thanks to the interventions of Arthur Petrelli in season 3, he and Ando travel to Kansas to find the latest issue of 9th Wonders. The owners of the store uncover hidden in the first issue an image of Hiro with Claire sixteen years in the past. At the comic store, Ando laments that there are no more issues left to help guide them, but the comic book owner tells them he heard a legend about the last 9th Wonders story. He tells Ando, Matt, and Daphne that he heard that Isaac bequeathed his sketchbook to a publisher's messenger- and that sketch book contains the last 9th Wonders story. This is the same sketchbook and messenger he left his book to in the episode ".07%" from season 1. Before losing his memory, Hiro compares Usutu to Isaac, calling him "Mr African Isaac" before they meet.
Powers and abilities
Isaac has the power of precognition, which allows him to depict images of the future, usually while in a trance-like state. While in this state, his pupils and irises fade into light white color and he becomes unresponsively focused on painting the images in his mind. Very little context comes to Isaac when he sees the future. He can't tell anything about the people, places, or events involved beyond what he specifically sees at that moment. Thus, he is often surprised to find out weeks later what his work is actually depicting. Also due to the previous heroin use, Isaac was not able to clearly remember certain images after he painted them, as he stated in "Better Halves". It would seem that his precognitive abilities also augment his natural abilities as a painter, as Simone once complimented how much she appreciates the works he creates when he is high, and from the way Peter completed the unfinished portrait in "Hiros" when he first actively duplicated Isaac's power despite the latter having no innate talents whatsoever as a painter. It showed that Peter was painting an image he could partially see, so it could be suggested that Isaac's power allows one to trace an image from the future, rather than paint it from scratch
Originally, Isaac's powers were triggered by the use of heroin, and he was unable to use his powers without it. During the episode "Hiros", Peter Petrelli mimics Isaac's precognitive ability without the use of heroin to finish a picture when Isaac was out of drugs. A TV Guide article from early October, 2006, revealed that he would eventually try to find out if his power works without using heroin. In "Seven Minutes to Midnight", Isaac attempted just this, but was unsuccessful. He does so successfully in "Fallout", after relaxing and taking advice from Hiro Nakamura to concentrate. Neither Peter, nor Sylar, after acquiring Isaac's abilities, needed heroin to paint the future.
In "Distractions", it is revealed that it's possible for Isaac to paint specific people and places if he honed his powers. This honing skill is used to find Peter but Isaac thought it did not work when he drew what seemed to be random scenery when actually Peter was invisible at that location. As evidenced in the episode Isaac reveals that he can interpret his drawings far better than while on heroin.
Each piece is made for the show by comic book artist Tim Sale, who uses an ink wash paint style on paper media. Isaac is only shown painting the beginning outline or adding final coloring to the paintings. The events depicted in each painting are often straightforward and recognizable, but others can be more subjective and open to interpretation. It is common to see a painting with seemingly no significance to the story, only to see it come to fruition in a later episode. For example, a painting of a hand holding a glass of boiling water appeared in pilot episode, "Genesis". This comes to pass seven episodes later during Ted Sprague's interrogation. It was originally supposed to have happened in the 2 hour pilot episode, where a terrorist had the same powers, when he was cut, Ted Sprague was thought up.
On March 19, 2007, Clifton Mallery and Amnau Karam Eele filed suit against NBC and Tim Kring claiming that the idea for Isaac Mendez, who can paint the future was stolen from a short story, painting and short film that they had produced. The suit was dismissed. On December 11, 2007, the New York Law Journal reported on Mallery v. NBC Universal, quoting from Southern District Judge Denise Cote's opinion that "the line between mere 'ideas' and protected 'expression' is 'famously difficult to fix precisely'", and stating that Heroes was not close to infringing.
- ".07 Percent". 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
- The Eclipse Pt 2
- Zepeda, Dana Meltzer (October 2006). "Everybody's Heroes". TV Guide (October 9–14): 30–31.
- Topel, Fred (2007-02-13). "Tawny Cypress & Santiago Cabrera". Crave Online. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
- Bar, Beth (December 11, 2007). "Judge Dismisses "Absurd" Copyright Suit Over Heroes". New York Law Journal. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- Smack Talk: Heroes Accused of Thievery