Top Five Villains in Stephen King Novels
Stephen King's Five Best Villains
The works of Stephen King have scarred many a childhood--even when his plots run in a completely absurd direction, he still has a way with a scene that can startle and chill you, leaving you afraid to turn off the light or leave a foot hanging off of the bed.
Part of what makes King's books so scary is his portrayal of evil, and his propensity to contrast it against good so that the evil becomes even more unsettling. If your heart starts to race and you feel those flutters of fear in your stomach when reading mere words on a page, that moment (and the character who's involved in it) will stay with you for days, weeks, or even years.
Read on for the the top five villains in Stephen King's novels.
"It" Film Trailer
Pennywise the Clown
In "It," Stephen King created one of his most enduring villains--Pennywise the Clown, also known as It, who can take many forms but uses all of them to torment and terrorize children (usually right before killing said child). It takes a band of dedicated, brave friends to banish It, but like all baddies he eventually returns--and the friends, now adults, must return to their childhood town to defeat him again.
What makes Pennywise so scary? It's not just the creature's brutality and ability to take the form that will most terrify you--it's the creature's glee in doing so. While the evil clown has become a cliché, Pennywise is anything but--a truly scary villain no matter what form it takes, but made even more so when it chooses the shape of a beloved children's entertainer.
"The Stand" Film Trailer
Randall Flagg, the Walking Man, makes an appearance in more than one Stephen King novel, but he's hands down scariest in Stephen King's epic American novel "The Stand." In "The Stand," a plague devastates America, leaving few survivors. Those who do prove immune gather into two camps: the good, with Mother Abigail in Boulder, and the evil, with Randall Flagg (who of course picks Las Vegas as his home base). Flagg's goal? His own empire in America, as well as enjoying general carnage, murder, and mayhem unchecked by any sort of moral order.
What makes Randall Flagg such a scary Stephen King villain? His timelessness and ruthlessness. He takes such immense pleasure in chaos and pain, and has potentially been doing so for quite a long time--he weaves in and out of eight other Stephen King novels. If he's not the actual devil, then he's very close to it.
"Pet Sematary" Gage Clips
In Stephen King's "Pet Sematary," Louis Creed learns that whatever you bury in a small cemetery by his house may come back--and it will come back changed. When his son Gage is struck by a truck and dies, the grief-stricken Louis buries the boy in the cemetery. When Gage claws his way out of the dirt, he's no longer their sweet little boy--he's a monster, delighting in murder and pain.
What makes Gage Creed such a good villain? There are few things scarier than an evil child. Since we picture childhood as a time of gentle goodness and innocence, when a child's body is filled with evil it seems even more threatening and more of a perversion.
"Desperation" Film Trailer
Stephen King's "Desperation" takes place in a dusty, mostly abandoned mining town, where something very sinister and supernatural has been set free. The evil takes over the town's deputy, Collie Entragian, who starts doing traffic stops on the main road and imprisoning those he stops. His prisoners come together and work to free themselves and escape from the evil, and the novel is a tense and gory read right up until the end (there's also quite a bit of exploration of the themes of God and faith in this one, due to one of the main character's abilities to actually hear messages from God).
What makes Collie Entragian such a great villain? Ancient evil is somehow always scarier than evil that springs naturally from the human heart, and Collie Entragian is possessed by an almost unstoppable evil force. Even when his body is battered and maimed, he moves relentlessly forward to carry out the will of the entity Tak. (He's even more unsettling if you read "The Regulators" first, in which his character is not evil.)
Who is your favorite Stephen King villain?
Blaine the Mono
This one might take you aback, but bear with me. Blaine the Mono appears in the third installment of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, "The Waste Lands." The Dark Tower series follows a group of gunslingers, led by a mysterious man named Roland, as they seek the Dark Tower to save the world. Their journey fills eight novels to date.
On a part of their journey, the group must take a ride on Blaine the Mono through the dangerous, radioactive waste lands--there's no other way through. Blaine enjoys riddles and games, and he makes a deal with Roland's ka-tet (as the group is called): if they can ask him a riddle he cannot answer, he will let them off at their destination. If they cannot, then he will derail and destroy himself and them.
What makes Blaine so scary? It's not just that artificial intelligence can go awry and turn to evil. No, it's the complete lack of control the ka-tet has in the face of Blaine--with almost any other villain, the heroes can fight back, escape, or in some way try to save themselves. With Blaine, they can only use their wits and must take Blaine's word that he will keep his end of the bargain.
Stephen King's Great Villains: A Conclusion
Almost every Stephen King book (and even many of his short stories or novellas) has a memorable and chilling villain, though some make more of an impression than others (it all depends on what scares you personally).
Who are a few of your favorite Stephen King villains?