''Desperation'' is a 1996 novel by Creator/StephenKing turned into a movie in 2006. It begins on Highway 50 in Nevada, a place some refer to as the loneliest place on Earth. A couple, Mary and Peter Jackson, are on their way back from a visit with friends when they are stopped by a sheriff who behaves strangely and discovers pot in their trunk, (accidentally left in there by Peter's stoner sister) and takes them to jail in the seemingly abandoned mining town of Desperation.

On the way there, he recites the Miranda warning, only mixing "I'm going to kill you" in with it, which unnerves the couple.

The cop proceeds to abduct more people as they pass through the lonely Nevada road, using one excuse or another. He repeatedly speaks in a strange, guttural language and seems to have literal control over the local animals, such as coyotes, insects, and birds.

Soon he gets Johnny Marinville, a recovering alcoholic writer. He beats Johnny up and takes him to Desperation, but not before he gets in a call on his cell phone to his editor Steve Ames, who later arrives with a girl named Cynthia Smith. A family of four, the Carvers, is also stopped and hauled into the Desperation jail.

Several of them are killed by the cop, whose bizarre statements and mannerisms escalate into violence and murder sprees. The dead appearance of the town is no coincidence. Among the survivors is a boy named David, who seems to have a special connection and communication with God. With little time and little choice, the group must establish a chain and fight to survive against the growing evil. The miners DugTooDeep, and Tak, an Ancient Evil driving this nightmare, wants to play.

!!This work contains examples of:

* TheAlcoholic: Johnny Marinville used to be one, and Tom Billingsley is one.
* AlternateUniverse: ''Literature/TheRegulators'', another book by Creator/StephenKing (and treated as a [[LostEpisode lost manuscript]] of King's alter-ego Richard Bachmann), is an alternate universe version of ''Desperation''. It has the same characters, but in different roles (a brother and sister become a married couple for example, with their parents in one book becoming their children in the other).
* AllMythsAreTrue: Averted in-universe; the legend about the origins of the ancient evil is not quite true.
* AnimalEyeSpy: The body-snatching Eldritch Abomination Tak can enter and control animals, seeing through their eyes and feeling their thoughts, but only for short periods. Its presence inside living things causes them to wither and die and it has to hop from one to the other fairly quickly. It prefers humans because they last the longest.
* AnyoneCanDie: Well, it's a Creator/StephenKing book. Out of the group of 8 people that Johnny nicknames the "Collie Entragian Survivors Society", [[spoiler:only four survive until the end.]]
* ArcWords: "God is Cruel."
* ArtifactOfDoom: The ''can tahs'', which transform anybody who touches it into a [[AxCrazy homicidal maniac]] controlled by Tak.
* BlackSpeech: The language spoken by Tak [[spoiler:and those he possesses/brainwashes]].
-->"Mi him, can de lach, mi him, min en tow. Tak!"
* BloodFromEveryOrifice: This happens to the bodies of the humans Tax inhabits when they start to disintegrate.
* BodyHorror: The ancient spirit Tak is so powerful that it causes any body it possesses to expand and fall apart (animals will '''explode''' if it possesses them).
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: The sheriff casually inserts the words "I'm going to kill you" into the middle of the Miranda rights.
* CellPhonesAreUseless: Desperation has very poor cellular reception, if it has any at all. With the story being set in the 90's. and in a small, backwater town in the middle of the Nevada dessert, this was to be expected. Notably averted twice. First, Marinville is able to get a phone call through to his editor Steve Ames, alerting him to the danger. And later, thanks to God temporarily boosting the phone's reception, David is able to call Steve to tell him and Cynthia to meet them at the movie theatre.
* ChekhovsGun: The shotgun shell David puts in his pocket in the sheriff's office [[spoiler:is later used to destroy the gate to Tak's dimension]].
* ChineseLaborer: Chinese workers accidentally discovered the gate to Tak's dimension when they DugTooDeep.
* ConditionedToAcceptHorror: Entragian tries to scare Johnny Marinville by showing him his blood-dripping penis, but it doesn't work because he saw far more disturbing things in Vietnam.
* CruelMercy: See GodIsEvil.
* DemonicPossession
* DontEatAndSwim: While visiting the land of the dead in a trance, David learns that reverend Martin drowned two days after the Carver family left on their holiday because he went swimming too soon after lunch and went too far out into the sea.
* DugTooDeep
* EldritchAbomination: Tak, a sadistic, incorporeal monstrosity heavily implied to have no true form, it has no apparent motive other than causing chaos and killing everything it comes across. The effects it has on those it possesses are... [[BodyHorror disconcerting]], to say the least.
* ExtremelyShortTimespan: The events of novel take place over a single day.
* FeatheredFiend: Buzzards are among the animals Tak uses for his schemes. As Entragian, he sicks one onto Marinville. Near the end of the story, Tak himself becomes one of these by possessing a golden eagle.
* TheFilmOfTheBook: The 2006 movie with Creator/RonPerlman as the sheriff.
* FlatEarthAtheist: Johnny refuses to believe in God, even after he sees David performing miracles.
* GhostTown: Desperation.
* GodIsEvil: Well, not exactly evil, but very cruel. [[spoiler:He sends David Carver, an eleven-year-old boy against the BigBad; his family is killed one by one; when he wishes to die, and the BigBad needs to be defeated with a suicidal mission, God sends not him, but Johnny, who says to David:]]
-->"You said 'God is cruel' the way a person who's lived his whole life on Tahiti might say 'Snow is cold.' You knew, but you didn't understand. Do you know how cruel your God can be, [[spoiler:David]]? How fantastically cruel? Sometimes he makes us live."
* GreatEscape: David Carver escapes from his prison cell by undressing, covering his whole body with green soap, and slipping between the bars of the cell, while Marinville distracts the coyote with his motorcycle jacket. David then proceeds to get the gun and keys of another, killed, cop, kill the coyote, and free the others.
* HappyFunBall: A hand-held statuette of a poorly-carved coyote, touched by the BigBad, has the adverse effect of causing those in contact with it to give into their savage, normally restrained instincts. While turning the savage Up to Eleven, from the account of several characters.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Johnny Marinville]]
* HollywoodAtheist: When David prays after his sister's death, his mother angrily yells at him to stop because a good God wouldn't have let her die and because of all the people who were murdered in His name.
* IDontLikeTheSoundOfThatPlace: Desperation? Sounds like a great place to live.
* IdiosyncraticCoverArt: ''Desperation'' and ''Literature/TheRegulators'' had covers which formed a complete picture when laid next to each other. This tied in with the fact that the characters in each book were alternate-universe versions of each other.
* InfantImmortality: [[spoiler:Averted. Poor Pie.]]
* {{Irony}}: Cynthia Smith survived an assault by a villainous policeman in ''[[Literature/RoseMadder Rose Madder]]''... and now she is threatened by another villainous cop. Collie Entragian is being possessed by an EldritchAbomination though, whereas Norman Daniels didn't need any possession to be thoroughly evil and insane.
* TheLegendOfChekhov: Someone tells the legend of why an old mine was abandoned (a trapped ChineseLaborer summoned a bad spirit). There really is a monster, though its origin is quite different; it's an EldritchAbomination set loose when miners DugTooDeep.
* MirandaRights: One of the first signs something is ''very'' wrong is when the cop mixes "I am going to kill you" into the Miranda rights.
* MisplacedWildlife: The story takes place in the Nevada desert during the summer and includes a few scenes with hordes of fiddleback spiders. Said spiders do not live this far to the west, and they prefer a temperate climate.
* MissionFromGod: David Carter is forced by God to destroy the evil entity Tak with the help of a group of strangers. Other characters point out how needlessly cruel it is for God to drag David out into the desert [[spoiler:and get his family killed]] before asking him to do that.
* MonochromePast: The flashback showing the first time people encountered Tak is depicted in sepia tones. Johnny's flashback to Vietnam isn't, though.
* MostWritersAreWriters: One of the main characters, Johnny Marinville, is a writer.
* MythologyGag: ''Desperation'' and ''Literature/TheRegulators'' were published simultaneously (by King and his alter ego, Richard Bachman), and thus the characters, settings and plot are connected and have a lot of overlap. However, both novels also feature a character called Cynthia Smith, who mentions briefly in Desperation that her nose was broken by a bad man. Cynthia was a secondary character in King's previous novel Rose Madder, in which she was assaulted by Norman Daniels, the villain of that story.
* NonSequitur: Entragian makes many of these, sometimes making strange movie references, other times saying words in his BlackSpeech, and once saying "I am going to kill you" in the middle of a sentence.
* PossessionBurnout: This happens to everyone possessed by Tak during the course of the novel.
* RabidCop: Sheriff Collie Entragian.
* RealAwardFictionalCharacter: Johnny Marinville, a burnt-out writer in the present had once won the National Book Award.
* ReligiousHorror
* ShellShockedVeteran: Although Johnny is not technically a veteran because he only went to the UsefulNotes/VietnamWar as a journalist, the trope still applies to him. It's eventually revealed that his experiences [[spoiler:basically killed his soul.]]
* ShootOutTheLock: Ralph does this to the padlock on the door of a powder magazine in the China Pit. He even lampshades how this always works great in the movies, but he's not sure if it will work in real life. It takes him two shots to get the job done. Once inside the magazine, they are confronted with another padlock, this one located on a chest filled with blasting agents, but Ralph wisely decides not to try and shoot this one since it would risk setting off an explosion. They search for the key instead.
* SiblingSwitchSquick: Thanks to the alternate universe, the Carver family from one version of the story reverses who are siblings and who is married. In other words, David and Kirsten/Pie would be brother and sister in ''Desperation'', and their parents Ellen and Ralph, but in ''The Regulators'', they're married, and Ellen and Ralph are their children.
* SignificantAnagram: The very tall sheriff is called Collie Entragian. Entragian is an anagram for "near giant".
* StupidEvil: Discussed. One character wonders why, if Tak regularly needs new humans to use as hosts, did he slaughter everybody in a city in the middle of a desert. He mostly gets this trope as an answer.
--> "Evil is both fragile and stupid, dying soon after the ecosystem it's poisoned."
* TakingYouWithMe: [[spoiler:Johnny in the end.]]
* TookALevelInBadass: Johnny after [[spoiler:his "resurrection"]].
* TraumaButton: The song "Good Lovin'" from The Young Rascals triggers Johnny's Vietnam War flashbacks.
* SpeaksFluentAnimal: Tak can not only talk to animals but also give them orders in BlackSpeech.
* VehicularSabotage: Entragian captures the Carver family by using roadspikes to flatten the tires of their RV. Later, when escaping from the China Pit, Mary stops long enough to sabotage Entragian's police car and two other cars so Tak can't use them to chase her.
* VerbalTic: Sheriff Collie Entragian has a habit of adding "TAK!" to the end of random sentences. He was [[spoiler: possessed by the eponymous UltimateEvil at the time]].