Abagail is God's prophet on Earth and the guide to the main characters. She is a 108-year-old black woman who lives in Nebraska. Almost every main character dreams of her sitting on her porch, playing her guitar, usually directly after they have a disturbing dream about the Big Bad
- 108: She's 108 years old when the story sets.
- I Sense a Disturbance in the Force: Ruby Dee (in the miniseries) even looks like Yoda, and she's a prophet so it's justified.
- Magical Negro: Played with. Abagail most certainly has supernatural insight and ends up being the emotional and moral center of the BFZ, so much so that the council - which is all white - make sure to give her absolute veto power over any of their decisions, lest it look like they were trying to wrest power from her.
- Ultimately subverted by the very hero-worship outlined above. Her duty's just getting everyone together and pointing the way, but she enjoys the attention so much that she inadvertently indulges in Pride and leads the council astray from their real duty of dealing with Flagg.
- Meaningful Name: Abagail Freemantle
Stuart "Stu" Redman
Stu Redman grew up in Arnette, Texas, and was stuck working in a calculator factory to support his brother when his parents died. When the Superflu's Patient Zero crashed into the gas station in his town, Stu was transplanted to a plague control center in Vermont. A redneck with a heart of gold, Stu quickly became a leader among survivors.
- Fist of Rage: When he's talking to Franny after the explosion, and showing his anger toward Harold.
Frances "Frannie" Goldsmith
A college girl, Frannie discovered at the beginning of the book that she had become pregnant with her boyfriend, Jess. She had traveled home to Ogonquit, Maine, to tell her parents when the Superflu hit. Frannie cares most about keeping those she loves, especially her unborn child, safe.
- The Ditz: Miniseries only. She's merely hormonal in the book.
Nicholas "Nick" Andros
Nicholas Andros was born deaf-mute, or physically unable to hear or speak. To communicate, he reads lips and writes on a pad of paper. Orphaned at a young age, Nick grew up in an orphanage. He left at age 16 and hitchhiked from town to town, taking odd jobs. Nick was in Shoyo, Arkansas, when the Superflu hit. He cannot understand why people look to him as a leader.
- And I Must Scream: Nick, who is already deaf-mute, nearly has both eyes gouged out by the last surviving human plague victim within a 50-mile radius.
- Badass: instead of running from the bomb, he tries to defuse it.
Lawson "Larry" Underwood
Larry started off a career as a singer/songwriter but was unsuccessful until his single, Baby, Can You Dig Your Man? hit it big. He was taken in by people taking advantage of his fame and fortune and traveled to his childhood home in New York City for refuge. Larry is haunted by the words of a woman he slept with, "You ain't no nice guy!" and of his mother, "You're a taker, Larry." He is determined to prove them wrong and terrified that they are right.
- All Take and No Give: His mom calls him a "taker", which comes back to haunt him many times. To put it in the words of his friend Wayne Stukey, there's "something in [Larry] that's like biting on tinfoil."
- The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: Larry wasn't a bad guy before the plague but he certainly wasn't pleasant either: a selfish asshole to his friends, a drain on his mother and a short-sighted hedonist when he has his first taste of success. But his long-buried noble qualities rise to the surface after the plague, and he becomes one of the pillars of the survivor community.
- Betty and Veronica: With Lucy and Nadine. An inversion for Nadine, when he serves as the cosmic Betty to Flagg as Veronica.
- Celebrity Survivor: Sort of; his first single had become a hit right before the plague wiped out everyone, and soon after everyone has forgotten that he was kind of famous. It's lampshaded late in the book, when Fran is talking to Larry trying to remember who sang "Baby Can You Dig Your Man" and says the name's on the tip of her tongue. Larry lies that he can't remember either.
- Childhood Friends: One of Larry's bigger regrets is how his selfish attitude ruined his relationship with a childhood friend. He goes into some detail not only about how trivial the argument was, but what a good friend he had had.
- Running Gag: People are surprised that Larry is white because apparantly he "sounds black" on the song "Baby Can You Dig Your Man."
- What the Hell, Hero?: He asked Nadine to leave Joe/Leo behind because he was dangerous and unpredictable. He was also a traumatized kid.
Glendon Pequod "Glen" Bateman
Glen was a sociologist and novice painter before the Superflu. When he meets Stu, he is living on his own with an adopted dog, Kojak. He loves to speculate on the post-flu future, and gives Stu and others good advice about the new Boulder government.
- Mondegreen: In the miniseries, when we first meet him, Glen mondegreens "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?".
Formerly known as Big Steve, Kojak is one of the few dogs to survive the Superflu. He is very smart and fiercely loyal to his new owners, to the point of fighting wolves and running across half the country to be with them.
Tom was born lightly mentally retarded, only able to make certain connections normal people find easy by putting himself in a state of near-hypnosis. He never had any friends until Nick found him lying in the road in his deserted hometown. Despite acting like a child, Tom is braver and smarter than people think.
- Actual Pacifist: Is terrified at the first sign of violence, and even under hypnosis visibly starts at the suggestion he hurt someone else. It never becomes an issue.
- Catch Phrase: "M‑O‑O‑N, that spells [any word]", including illegal, ruptures, DeeDee Packalotte, tired, Stu Redman, sore feet, moon, Tom Cullen, trouble, and deafmute. He also theorizes that C-I-T-Y-L-I-M-I-T-S spells Boulder. Laws yes.
- Disability Immunity: Flagg is unable to sense him, because of his retardation.
- Disability Superpower: Tom is especially susceptible to suggestion and is able to hypnotize himself to solve problems.
- Gentle Giant: Tom is described as being both big and strong, but he wouldn't hurt a fly. (Though it is remarked in the book that once, and only once, a group of foolhardy young men from his hometown set upon him, perhaps just to harass the village idiot for a few laughs, with no real intentions of serious harm. Suffice to say the experiment did not fare well for the good ol' boys and was never repeated.)
- Hidden Depths: He manages to creep the others out with them, under hypnosis.
"I am God's Tom."
- Manchild: Tom is middle-aged but still enjoys playing with toys (he's mentally retarded).
- Mayor of a Ghost Town: He is the only surviving person in the town where Nick finds him.
- Older Than They Look: He is said to look no more than twenty-three; actually he's at least forty-five. It probably doesn't help that he acts like a kid.
- Third-Person Person: He often refers to himself as "Tom Cullen".
- Verbal Tic: Laws, yes.
Harold Emery Lauder
Harold Lauder grew up in Ogonquit, Maine, as the fat kid whom nobody liked. He always had a crush on Frannie Goldsmith but never told her. Harold is extremely bitter and sees his new situation as a chance to get Frannie once and for all.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the book, Harold is described as being an overweight dweeb with bad acne. In the mini-series he is played by the slender and handsome Corin Nemec.
- Antiquated Linguistics: Harold affects a bit of this early on. It is specifically noted as being kinda pretentious, and something he's doing because he's scared.
- Author Avatar: Harold is an unpopular, bespectacled teen from southern Maine who is a literary geek, lusts after the girl next door, and wants to write the next great American novel. Wouldn't be the first time King turned his own expy into the villain...
- Crazy Jealous Guy: At one point he tells Frannie he loves her, but she rejects him. When Frannie and Stu become a couple, Harold's jealousy causes him to slide further towards the dark side.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: At one point in the book he "masturbates bitterly" after reading Fran's diary and finding out about her affair with Stu.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Harold "Whack-Off" Lauder.
- Evil Feels Good: After Harold's heel turn, everyone comments on his newfound charisma and self-esteem.
- Geek: Possibly inspired by King's own awkward youth.
- Ignored Epiphany: Harold has a moment when the camaraderie he shares with his coworkers makes him see that all the Wangsty bullshit he's been carrying around since high school is just that: bullshit. He resolves to give up his plan to betray the Free Zone and settle down. Then Nadine seduces him on orders from Flagg, and things go downhill from there...
- In-Series Nickname: He recieves the nickname "Hawk" in Boulder. He first thinks it's a bad joke, the he realizes it's serious and people actually respect him. He signs his suicide note as Hawk.
- Stepford Smiler: Harold becomes one when he reads Frannie's diary. When he starts up the practice, many characters start to comment on how cheery he's become. Oh, if only they knew...
- It doesn't fool everybody. Nick refuses to give him a place on the council in Boulder because he thinks there's something unsettling and fake in his constant grinning and glad-handing. Mother Abagail doesn't like him, either.
- Wangst: Harold's bitterness over being picked on throughout his school years and his inability to just get over it ends up with him falling to The Dark Side. After realizing how accepted he's become in Boulder, he realizes that holding on to his old grudges is stupid and pathetic and resolves to change... but then, along comes Nadine.
- Wild Card: Harold refers to himself as this, and seems to embody the trope. This proves bad for the people of Boulder and is also hinted to be the reason why Flagg takes him down after he does his job.
- Yandere: At the beginning, to Frannie.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once he's done his job in Boulder and then escorted Nadine through the mountains, Flagg leaves a convenient oilslick in the road for him.
Nadine has had dreams of the Big Bad
, Randall Flagg, since college. She is his promised wife and mother of his child. By the time Larry finds Nadine, she is desperate to find someone to tear her away from Flagg's spell over her, whether it is Larry or Joe.
- Heel Face Door Slam: Nadine Cross spent her life believing she had to save her virginity for Dream Weaver Flagg, who is revealed to be an expy for The Antichrist. When she falls in love with Larry instead, she initially rebuffs his advances, then desperately asks him to sleep with her (after he has fallen in love with someone else) to break her commitment to Flagg. When Larry refuses, Nadine falls in with Flagg. (see Ignored Epiphany below.)
- Kirk Summation: Deliberately done to anger Flagg. Redemption Equals Death.
Leo was still a kid when the Superflu hit. When Nadine found him, he was sick from an infected rat bite. When she nursed him back to health, he was unable to speak, dressed only in his underpants and carried around a knife the way most kids carry around teddy bears. She named him Joe for lack of a better name.
- Child Prodigy: He's able to play the guitar after hearing Larry once.
- Creepy Child: He has some psychic powers which allow him to "know things".
- Morality Chain: For Nadine.
- Orphan's Ordeal: After his family's death he nearly died of infection, and was so traumatized he stopped talking and carried a knife all the time. Nadine becames his Parental Substitute but it doesn't end well. In the end, he's adopted by Larry and Lucy.
- Psychic Powers: He seems to have a little telepathy, and he instantly knows there's something wrong with Harold.
- The Voiceless: When we first meet him. He gets his voice back when he meets Mother Abagail.
- Wild Child (in the "feral child" sense)
Dayna was traveling with other survivors when they were attacked by a group of rapists. Her friends were killed and she was the group's plaything until the day she and the other girls, along with Stu and Frannie's group, were able to overthrow them. Dayna is fiercely loyal and independent.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: Dayna kills herself to prevent Flagg from torturing her for information. That he could not stop or predict this really rattles him.
- Bi the Way: Sue Stern offhandedly mentions that Dayna is bisexual; Stu is flabbergasted.
- The Dog Bites Back: When Stu's group encounters the rapists, she leads the women in a revolt against them. She later reveals they were waiting for a group, preferably one with guns, to find them before they moved.
Lucy met and fell in love with Larry offscreen. She sees the best in him and tries to help him do the same.
Rita was the wife of a rich man and never had to do anything herself until the Superflu hit. She met Larry in New York City and latched on to him. She can't deal with the horrors around her and depends on Larry heavily for support.
Richard Theodore Farris
Also known as Judge Farris.
He is a wise old man with a thirst for adventure.
- Jumped at the Call: Accepts Larry's request (to act as a spy against Flagg) even before Larry can ask him, and shoots down Larry's attempts to talk him out of it. He knows full well what the risks and potential consequences are, but dammit, he's doing what he feels is right.
- Race Lift: Is played by Ossie Davis in the miniseries. In the novel, the Judge mentions growing up as part of a wealthy family in the 1930's, almost certainly placing him as white.
Susan was with Dayna in the group of girls gathered by rapists as playthings. She later was on the Free Zone Committee.
- The Artifact: Susan seems to belong to the Boulder Free Zone committee only so that Fran Goldsmith isn't the only female member. Her only roles in the story include sharing dialogue and scenes with Dayna Jergens to display their friendship and finding a bitch for Kojak to mate with. She was one of the characters King struggled with during the hiatus whilst he was writing the book which led to...
Randall Flagg, called The Dark Man, Legion, The Walkin' Dude, is the ultimate evil. He is the servant of the Devil himself. He haunts Superflu survivors' dreams and gathers an army of insane or frightened people to him. His smile can drive a man insane and he crucifies those who oppose or fail him.
- The Antichrist or an archetype thereof
- Bad Boss: He keeps his citizens motivated and behaved by public crucifixions for people that give him any trouble or commit crimes as tame as recreational drug use.
- Creepy Crows: A crow is Flagg's preferred shapeshifted form.
- Dark Messiah: He seems to be this when he gets society back on its feet, though the Messiah part falls through when it's implied that, should his side win, everything will just...end.
- Dream Weaver. He's the opposite end to Mother Abigail, causing nightmares for those who would side with her and comforting dreams for those that would fall under his camp.
- The Drifter: They don't call him "The Walkin' Dude" for nothing.
- Expy: Of Nyarlathotep. A shapeshifter who goes by many, many, MANY names, is impossibly old, and loves to manipulate people just for the hell of it? Yep, sounds like him.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The ball of electricity.
- Hot as Hell: Subverted, as everyone who meets him is more frightened of him than attracted to him. Though Flagg seems to have developed a dark magnetism over the course of the story.
- Villainous Breakdown: A few different times, including after he learns Trash has blown up his air force, Dayna kills herself, he realizes Tom has escaped and when Trash shows up with the nuke at the end. The irony here is that, until the nuclear warhead goes off, Flagg's position is actually not significantly affected by any of these events. Losing the jets at Indian Springs is a pain in the ass, but he can go rolling into Boulder with an armored column in the spring, Dayna only knows that Tom is the other spy and Tom doesn't actually know anything. Flagg even realizes this. But he wants to destroy Boulder as soon as possible, and he should be able to get what he wants. The people of Vegas start slipping as things go wrong, because Flagg's entire appeal is his omniscience and omnipotence.
Lloyd was a small-scale criminal until he met a fellow jailbird, Poke. Together they went on a killing spree until they were eventually caught and Poke was killed. Lloyd is trapped in jail when the Superflu hits and becomes Flagg's right hand man when he is rescued.
- Anti-Villain: While he can commit some very bad crimes, he's really nothing more than a child in a man's body. He follows Flagg only because the guy saved him from starvation, and even then he begins to doubt him when his plans start to crumble.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: When Lloyd tells Flagg that Tom Cullen escaped, Flagg becomes enraged and attacks Lloyd for not telling him sooner. Lloyd then becomes angry himself and yells that he did try to tell Flagg, but Flagg wouldn't listen. Surprisingly, Flagg calms down and doesn't kill Lloyd for his insolence.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Lloyd is in prison during the Superflu, and when he doesn't get food any more because all of the guards have died, he resorts to eating from the leg of one of his fellow prisoners.
- No Party Like a Donner Party: In fairness, this was a survival-motivated event, since he was in jail when the plague hit.
- Pet the Dog: Lloyd's affection for Dinny, a four-year-old boy in the Las Vegas camp.
- Reduced to Ratburgers: Lloyd kills a rat in the prison, and hoards it in "just in case". He eventually eats it, leaving nothing but the bones and the tail (he tries to eat the latter, but it's too tough).
Donald Merwin Elbert, nicknamed Trashcan Man because of his childhood habit of burning trash cans, is a pyromaniac of the first order. All he wants is a place where he can blow things up unmolested. He fits right in with Flagg's crowd and becomes undyingly loyal to Flagg.
- Berserk Button: "Hey Trash, what' did old lady Semple say when you burned her pension check?"
- Blessed with Suck: His pyromania and hallucinations made him an outcast in pre-Virus society, but it also gave him a sixth sense for finding weaponry post-Virus.
- Determinator: You might say he never flagged in his determination.''
- Embarrassing Nickname: Originally, though the erstwhile Donald Merwin Elbert eventually comes to accept and even embrace that name as his true identity.
- Madness Mantra:
- "Ciiiii-a-bola, bumpty-bumpty-BUMP!"
- "MY LIFE FOR YOU!" in the miniseries.
- Catch Phrase: "You believe that happy crappy?" and "Don't tell me, I'll tell you."
- Cool Car: He has a tricked out Deuce Coupe.
- Domestic Abuser: To the Trashcan Man during Trashy's brief stint with him on the road.
- Last Stand: The discovery of his body reveals that he not only shot several of the wolves surrounding him, but managed to strangle the one that killed him.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Word of God is that he's Charles Starkweather.
- Psycho for Hire: He reveals that before Captain Tripps, he was a wheelman who included smuggling in his repertoire. His personality is what completes the trope.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: His pair of .45's loaded up with dum-dums.
- The Starscream: He intends to get to Las Vegas, scope out the situation, kill Flagg, and take over for himself. Too bad he never got there.
- Trademark Favorite Food: He is obsessed with Coors. It's even plot-relevant, as he chooses to drive through Colorado just to pass the Coors brewery in Golden.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Almost does this to Trash a few times. Implied that Flagg brought him into the picture so that he could rescue the much more faithful and useful Trashcan Man from the Kid, bringing this trope in as the logical conclusion.
- Adaptation Expansion: Was given a little more to do in the miniseries, even appearing for a cameo before the plague hit.
- Only Sane Man: He is the only one to see what a monster Flagg is and tries to stop him.