The 10 Greatest Supernatural Stephen King Villains

The Lists Marc Buxton 10/22/2013 at 9:01AM

Here are the 10 greatest supernatural Stephen King Villains...

The name Stephen King conjures up images of horrific creatures, monsters, places, and stories, and some of the most enduring villains in fiction. Beings of unimaginable evil that test the limits of his protagonist’s will to survive, some of these villains have gone on to become almost as famous, or infamous, as the writer himself. Many of these villains are monsters of the human variety, serial killers, power hungry despots, or nihilists of the vilest order, but his most memorable villains are supernatural beings that use their dark powers to twist the orderly world around them into a special place of chaos and pain. Here are just a few of King’s best supernatural madmen and monsters.

Gage Creed

10. Gage Creed and the Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary (1983)

“Don’t go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to, Doctor. The barrier was not made to be broken. Remember this: there is more power here than you know. It is old and always restless. Remember.”

When Louis, Rachel, Eileen and Gage Creed moved to Ludlow, Maine from Chicago, their cat Winston Churchill in tow, they wanted a peaceful new life in the more rural locale. What they got was a descent into death and madness almost unmatched in modern horror fiction. In the novel, the Creed cat is killed; Louis fears telling his daughter and buries the beloved pet at a nearby “Pet Sematary” an old Micmac Indian burial ground. The cat returns home, much to Louis’ shock and delight, but it’s not the same friendly animal, it’s a listless, mean, half-alive creature that did not seem to have a fondness for life.

When Gage is killed by a truck, overcome with despair, Louis buries his son in the Sematary. What comes back is a true horror of epic proportions. Gage is such a disturbing villain because he once existed as an object of the purest affection. The once totally innocent soul is now corrupt and ridden with supernatural darkness. The Pet Sematary itself was rumored to be a burial place once for cannibals and the spirit of a Wendigo dwelled in the soil. Now, Gage was back with the most ancient of curses coursing where blood once flowed.  Every father’s nightmare turned even darker. King felt the book was too dark even for him, and shelved it until his wife, Tabitha and his friend, the author Peter Straub, encouraged him to share his bleak vision of paternal loyalty with the world.

Crimson King

9. The Crimson King aka Los'Ram Abbalah, The Kingfish, The Red King, Lord of Discordia, Lord of Spiders, Satan

Insomnia (1994)
Black House (2001)
The Dark Tower series

“I am the Eater of Worlds.”

The Crimson King is often mistaken for It, and it is not completely clear if they are the same monster, but the regality and level of reverence the King’s minions hold for him seem to suggest that he is different than the sewer dwelling eater of children. The Crimson King is the embodiment of evil in King’s shared fictional universe, he is first introduced in Insomnia where he tries to kill a child prophesied in toppling the rule of the King forever, then, the King is revealed as the monster behind the events of the novel Black House, and he is the overarching villain of the Dark Tower series, the monster responsible for trying to bring down the structure of reality. Stephen King suggests that all his villains, supernatural or otherwise, are pawns of the Crimson King. The name itself carries some great metatextual flavor as, of course, Stephen King himself is the one truly responsible for the evil in his worlds, and the half of the writer that creates and is responsible for these horrific monsters is also named King. Stephen King is the writer, father, husband, and Red Sox fan. The Crimson King is the dark overlord of the fictional universe and the monster maker.

Overlook Hotel

8. The Overlook Hotel

The Shining (1977)

“This inhuman place makes human monsters.”

If there is one thing King’s constant readers have learned after decades of nightmares is that places can be as evil as people, an idea that is personified in the Overlook Hotel, the setting of The Shining. On the surface, The Shining is a classic haunted house tale, but beneath the surface, it is so much more. It is a deep look into the fragility of fatherhood, the bond of trust between father and son. As Danny Torrance, the psychic child who journeys to a secluded Colorado hotel with his caretaker father and loving mother discovers when the father he trusted is transformed in a raging madman by the power within the Overlook. The novel’s most riveting sections feature past accounts of other times that the Overlook weaved its dark magics, transforming good men into monsters. The walls of the Overlook can barely contain the rage within the heart of the hotel, and as The Shining plays out, readers discover just how corrupt the place is. Make no mistake, it may not have arms to swing an ax, or legs to chase down its victims, but the Overlook is a hungry sort of evil that demands to be fed. Just try staying at a Motel 6 after reading King’s classic, I dare you.

[Related Article: Iconic Set Designs - The Overlook Hotel]

The Raggedy Man

7. The Raggedy Man

The Cell (2006)

“What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle.”

Fans of the Walking Dead need to recognize, King does zombies too, and they are sphincter-tighteningly scary.  In The Cell, a pulse travels into cell phones all over the world. Anyone on their phone at the fateful moment is turned into a zombie. These villains are a different breed than the popular Romero clones, as the pulse also unlocks latent powers of the human mind like telepathy and levitation. The Raggedy Man is the leader of the zombies, he thinks, organizes, and commands. He has all the nihilistic hunger of a zombie but he has planning skills and foresight which makes him a truly frightening antagonist. His goal is to spread his people around the globe and take the planet for his horde. He sees humanity as a threat to his people and seeks to destroy them to protect his new race, which could make him literature’s first sympathetic zombie villain. He is often seen wearing a crimson Harvard hoodie giving the creature an atypical zombie air of intelligence and capability. The name of Harvard’s sports teams by the way? The Harvard Crimson.  Well played Mr. King, well played.

Kurt Barlow

6. Kurt Barlow

‘Salems Lot (1975)

“That above all else. They did not look out their windows. No matter what noises or dreadful possibilities, no matter how awful the unknown, there was an even worse thing: to look the Gorgon in the face.”

King’s only foray into vampires, Barlow was the writer’s way of getting the whole mythos right the first time. ‘Salems Lot was King’s second published novel and his first of many novels centering on the idea of a preternatural creature releasing the beast inside of regular people. It was also his first small town novel, a setting King would return to many times over the decades. Barlow’s story mirrors that of Dracula, from the shipment of his coffin and native soil from overseas to his arrival and reign of terror in a contemporary setting. Barlow had his own personal Renfield, Richard Straker, his own gothic mansion, his own legion of dark minions, and a twisted grip on the residents of ‘Salems Lot. Barlow was more of a catalyst, using embraced residents as pawns to tighten his grip on the town, but his very presence on the page was accompanied with a sense of urgency and dread. In a 1995 BBC radio drama of ‘Salems Lot (that is well worth seeking out) Barlow is played by Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley which automatically gives the vampire tons of villain cred.

5. George Stark

The Dark Half (1989)

“Cut him. Cut him while I stand here and watch. I want to see the blood flow. Don't make me tell you twice.”

Stephen King once wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman and published some of his more experimental works like The Running ManThe Long Walk, and Thinner. His experience as somewhat existing as another person inspired King to write the Dark Half, and inspired the creation of one of his most cold blooded killers, George Stark.  In the novel, Thad Beaumont was a successful author who wrote violent crime novels under the pen name of George Stark. After revealing to the world he was actually Stark, Thad and his wife stage a mock funeral for the author, to symbolically cut ties ties with the violent crime fiction Beaumont wanted to leave behind. This is where King brings the terror. The novel started with a flashback that dealt with the removal of an eye from the brain of a young Thad. It was the eye of a twin that was conjoined in the womb to the writer, an incident Thad had all but forgotten about.  It was actually the eye of George Stark, who would rise from the mock grave the Beaumonts planted him in to go on a killing spree that will leave even the most seasoned reader with PTSD.  Stark was the embodiment of the darkness in the hearts of all men. The most frightening part of the book is that even though Beaumont is desperate to rid the world of Stark, part of him is attracted to the freedom evil gives Stark, and the realization that the evil was once a part of him.

Blaine the Mono

4. Blaine the Mono

The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands (1991)

“Choo-Choo, thought Jake, and shuddered.”

You will never look at Thomas the Tank Engine the same way again. Blaine was a sentient train in the Dark Tower series, a machine driven insane by underuse. Blaine once housed a powerful computer mind but the network had since broken down, making the train deranged, cruel, and suicidal. Roland and his band of followers, called his ka-tet, need the train to travel out of the Wasteland so Roland can finish his quest for the Dark Tower. They board Blaine. They are soon horrified to find out the Blaine has gone completely insane and forces them into a game of riddles. The situation gets worse as the ka-tet realizes Blaine will kill himself by derailing at great speeds with them aboard. A crazy, sentient, thundering locomotive with a face is scary enough, but couple that with the fact that the train suffers from crippling mental health issues and you have one of the most unique monsters in literature. There is a second voice inside Blaine, Little Blaine, who begs the ka-tet to help him, adding even another layer to the tragic nightmare that is Blaine. So essentially, Blaine is Gollum if Gollum was a runaway train: a riddle loving, murderous, schizophrenic machine who has been ruined from what he once was by pain and emptiness.

[related article: 5 Stephen King Novels That Should be TV Shows]

3. Spoiler….

Seriously, stop reading if you are watching Under the Dome

I mean it…

The Leatherheads

Under the Dome (2009)

“God turned out to be a bunch of bad little kids playing interstellar Xbox. Isn't that funny?”

Much more frightening than typical villains, the Leatherheads are an alien race responsible for the construction of the Dome that covers Chester’s Mill. They are in the same vein as H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors, beings much older and more powerful than humanity. The mere sight of them could drive a man mad; beings with the power of gods but no connection to or feelings for humanity. Just cold observers that exist on a different layer of reality. The Leatherheads construct the Dome the same way a child makes an ant farm, out of a morbid curiosity on watching how lesser creatures exist. Their casual disregard of humanity makes them truly terrifying, because unlike some of King’s other antagonists, there is really no way to fight them. The Leatherheads are mentioned in King’s chilling short story N., but it is in Under the Dome where readers get to experience the sheer paralytic terror that would occur if an alien species of ancient intelligence turned their attentions towards our little backwater planet.

Stephen King's It

2. It aka Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Robert Gray, Bob Grapes

It (1986)

"Float?" The clown’s grin widened. "Oh yes, indeed they do. They float! And there’s cotton candy..."
George reached.
The clown seized his arm.
And George saw the clown’s face change.

Every twenty-seven years It rises to devour the children of Derry. It awoke when a homosexual couple was beaten by a gang of thugs in 1984 to again reign terror on the children of Derry. It was put to rest by the Losers Club, a group of misfit teens, in 1958 only to rise again, decades later. It killed the leader of the Losers’ (Bill Denbrough) little brother in one of the most hair-raising prologues in horror history.  It is another of King’s manipulator villains, as It controls the darker residents of Derry, such as bully Henry Bowers to do It’s bidding. It is a cannibalistic clown that lives in the sewers, a leprous mummy, a giant spider, or a series of orange lights called the Dead Lights that drive people mad when gazed upon. Unlike the similar creature, the Crimson King, It does not commit evil for glory or power, It devours because It hungers. The lives of innocents exist only to fill the void of It's being. And let’s face it, nothing, NOTHING is freakin’ scarier than a hungry clown in a sewer.

Randall Flagg

1. Randall Flagg

aka The Ageless Stranger, The Walkin' Dude, The Dark Man, The Hardcase, The Man in Black, The Tall Man, The Midnight Rambler, The Antagonist, The Grinning Man, Old Creeping Judas, He Who Walks Behind The Rows, The Covenant Man, Richard Fry, Robert Franq, Ramsey Forrest, Robert Freemont, Richard Freemantle, Russell Faraday, The Monster, The Man with No Face,  Richard Fannin, Raymond Fiegler, Walter o'Dim, Marten Broadcloak, Walter Padick, Walter Hodji, and Bill Hitch

The Stand (1978), Eyes of the Dragon (1986), Hearts in Atlantis (1999), The Dark Tower series

“My life for you.”

Not so much a single villain, but the archetype of all villains, Randall Flagg is King’s greatest singular creation of evil. Flagg first appeared in The Stand, the Dark Man who gathers the worst of humanity to rebuild a new civilization in his own dark image. The Walkin’ Dude had a propensity for crucifying any whose beliefs ran contrary to his. Flagg is the greatest of King’s manipulators, able to inspire loyalty in those with dark hearts, as seen by the Trashcan Man in The Stand and even Mother Carmody in The Mist.  All they have to do is say “My life for you,” and mean it, and Flagg will be there to inspire their dark deeds. He was revealed to be the antagonists to Roland in the Dark Tower series and popped up in many of King’s works. He is the ever present evil in all men and is walking the back roads of reality just waiting for a chance to whisper in humanity’s ear and stir up some good, old fashioned chaos.

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Disqus - noscript

Honorary mention for the novella Cycle of the Werewolf or the movie adaptation Silver Bullet. Simply because I love werewolves.

(Edited to remove name for spoiler reasons)

I would have switched 1 and 2 since I think Pennywise is scarier than Randall Flagg.

Blaine the Mono ROCKS AND ROLLS !!!

Under The Dome wasn't scary,neither was the Red King in Insomnia. Randall Flagg has staying power, but Pennywise is scarier. When I think of Flagg, I am reminded of the nutjob Flag in "M*A*S*H"

Spoiler on it's way here if ypu have not read the dark tower please stop reading...

It is revealed in the dark tower series that Flagg is just a servant for the crimson king, which in my opinion puts him at a way lower position

THE DOME SPOILER!!!!!!! "It" is the same species as the leatherhead alien children. "It" crash landed on our planet before there were humans. The symbol above the door to "It's" lair is the same as the one on the box that generates the dome. They are a race of alien shape changers.

The author posits that Pennywise is the same sort of being as The Crimson King, but I find the clown much more similar to the guardian at the King's door. In the last book of the Dark Tower series they meet a being called the Dandelo, who changes shape and tries to trick them into a trap....I believe this creature and Pennywise are one and the same.

This list is missing Leland Gaunt.

Rose the Hat of the True Knot, "Dr. Sleep"
She is scary.

I agree with the #1 selection on this list.

Same species, different creature. Speculation is that Dandelo is one of Pennywise's children. She lays eggs at the end of It and Ben smashes the all in the dark - it's possible he missed one (or two!). Additionally, we know that Derry is a soft spot between worlds (as evidenced through 11/22/63) so the creature could have found it's way into Roland's universe.

Pennywise and Dandelo were both sort of Vampires and pretty much independent of the Crimson King. They are not his minions.

Quick correction to the article above: Kurt Barlow was not Stephen King's only foray into the world of vampires. Vampires are very prevalent throughout the Dark Tower series.

Sorry. The Leatherheads are not terrifying. Leland Gaunt was scary as hell.

And Patrick Danville is from...*drum roll*...Derry! I agree with Zack, I think Dandelo is a product of one of the "eggs" that Ben failed to smash.

Also, in "Dreamcatcher", there is a statue dedicated to the lost children. Someone scrawled "Pennywise lives" on it. This, along with the fact that characters in "Tommyknockers" see Pennywise after he is supposedly killed, makes me believe that we have not heard the last from and he is alive and well...somewhere in the SK, universe.

André Linoge????

The book is called "Cell," not "The Cell."

I guess I misspoke...I didn't mean to say that Pennywise literally WAS the Dandelo, merely that I felt they were the same type of creature, as evidenced by the way it behaved. I certainly hope they aren't the same, since the Dandelo couldn't take a single shot from the Gunslinger's pistol, and Pennywise is the thing nightmares are woven from.

For someone who took the number one spot, Flagg sure did go out like a punk in The Dark Tower.

I'm a little annoyed with this article. The phone-crazies in Cell are NOT zombies! This would imply that they died and were reanimated in some way, and that's not what happens at all. The devolve to their basic evolutionary state of mind, which is violence: simple, unquenchable violence. Biologically and anatomically, they're still alive and they function normally (regular brain and heart functions), meaning they can be killed as easily as a regular person (they may not go down as easy as their adrenaline is through the roof, but still). And as time goes on, they start evolving n the right direction, although maintaining their violent tendencies.

But they are not zombies in any sense of the word. The only true similarity is their lack of thought process.

I agree that they are prevalent, but wasn't Salem's Lot the only book specifically dedicated to "vampire mythology"? I loved how he incorporated vampires into the Dark Tower, especially bringing in Callahan and explaining how vampires were helping/a part of the breakers and such.

who ever wrote this is a moron. the crimson king is randall flag and some of the other characters he listed. He needs to read the books before writing about them. I've read them all multiple times. King himself has said that the two are the same and intertwine while the story of the dark tower came to him.

The Space Cowboy (Gerald's Game)

the Long boy AKA the thing with the endless piebald side, from Lisey's story

Not supernatural though still terrifying : )

Actually- it's confirmed in the Dark Tower series that RF and the CK are two different beings. In fact, RF was working for the CK. You might wanna go brush up on your King dearie. You should probably go reread the last Dark Tower book cause it's blatantly obvious.

Randall Flagg and George Stark. George is the coolest villain of all time.

It's also missing Linoge from Storm of the Century

I'm confused on the Walter o'dim character actually being Flagg. Since King rewrote the first dark tower book, I was left believing Walter wasn't Flagg.

I've been saying that exact same thing for years. Out with a whimper.

Crimson King should be #1 on this list. It is revealed in the Dark Tower he is the one that is trying to bring ALL world's to an end. He is definitely the worst!

You are absolutely right. It never says Flagg is the same as the Crimson King. He is the same as Martin and Merlin in the DT, if memory serves me. Flagg is only the CK's minion.

Randal Flagg & the Crimson King are NOT the same character. Pennywise & Dandelo ARE the same character. After Pennywise is defeated in IT, he finds the "soft" spot in Derry & makes his way to another level of the Tower, kidnaps the "Artist" because he needs fear to heal himself & eventually crosses paths with Roland. I'm telling you Pennywise is Dandelo.

Dandelo is much like the 'Little Doctors' (The Bugs) He is a kind of vampire himself. The Author does compare Pennywise to the Crimson King but he also shows where they differ.

King said in the Dark Tower series that Flagg was Walter. Walter dies at the hands of Mordred, The Crimson King was still alive at the Tower. They are not one & the same.

yeah, but i wouldn't say a LOYAL servant, which makes Flagg more of a wild card villain than the Crimson King

yeah, but he was pretty effed up in the head by the time we actually got to see him.

that booked sucked. and i'm a huge Stephen King fan. but that book was the worse ever written by him.

thank you! i was saying the same thing when i read that! King hasn't written an entire novel on zombies yet. only short stories.

What about "Popsy" and "The Night Flier"? Both are vampire stories.

Is it just me or do the endless names for Flagg and the description given here not remind one of Nyarlathotep, messenger of the Elder Gods?

And, unfortunately, his kill was pretty lame.

Same here.
And where does Farson fit into all of this? He works with Marten, but iirc, they're not one & the same. I seem to recall Walter = The Man in Black = Flagg. And the Crimson King is just the boss who hangs out in the Tower causing trouble.

I agree. That was one of the few true disappointments with the series, extremely anticlimactic.

I believe Linoge (Storm of the Century) and Randal Flagg are the same being.

Hell Ia...

You are forgetting Flagg from The Eyes of the Dragon...

WOOOT, I was reading the whole thing thinking Flagg better not be skipped over, because he is in so many of his books.

Flagg is the same throughout all of the books he appears in. That's why he only gets one category. It's somewhat explained by Glenn in The Stand and I think in the DT series it's also explained.

I think SK was much inspired by Lovecraft. Pennywise is described as the "eater of world", which sounds very Lovecraft And the whole "todash" bit is very Lovecraft as well. And its obvious that "From a Buick 8" was a dedication to the Lovecraft mythos.

Yes, exactly. It took a nuclear bomb to take him out in The Stand. It took a baby spider to do it at the end of a seven novel epic.

did you ever see the underworld?

That and, you know, the Crimson King (EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE).

That's one of the many complaints on the DT book; it didn't help that the "bigger evil" ended up in my mind as a 4 year old kid throwing a tantrum. Most of the danger during that confrontation is mostly from the bombs he's throwing. Takes away from a truly creepy Crimson King...

Technically, the vampires in DT *are* the vampires from Salem's Lot. They kinda spill over into the multiple levels of the Tower.

Not even Maerlyn; Wind through the Keyhole actually separates RF and Maerlyn as separate entities there.

If you don't think Leland Gaunt was supernatural then you clearly didn't read a single word of Needful Things . . .

Yes! I love Flagg.