The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years — if it ever did end — began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.
IT is a 1986 horror novel by American author Stephen King. The story is about seven children being terrorized by a malevolent monster - known only as IT - that takes the form of their deepest fears but primarily appears in the form of a clown, calling itself "Pennywise the Dancing Clown." The novel features a nonlinear narrative which alternates between two different time periods (1958 and 1985) and shifts among the different perspectives and stories of its seven protagonists. It deals with themes which would eventually become King staples: the power of memory, childhood trauma and the ugliness lurking behind a small-town fašade.One of the most popular Stephen King novels and widely regarded as a horror classic, It is also one of the darkest and most frightening, its subject matter being a child-killing supernatural monster with Adults Are Useless in effect for at least half the story. And yet weirdly enough, there are some really uplifting moments. Along with The Stand it is one of the stories that cemented King's reputation as the premier modern horror writer.In 1990, the novel was loosely adapted into a television movie featuring John Ritter as Ben Hanscom, Harry Anderson as Richie Tozier, Tim Reid as Mike Hanlon, Annette O'Toole as Beverly Marsh, Richard Thomas as Bill Denbrough and Tim Curry as Pennywise in a career-defining role.On March 12th 2009, Warner Bros. announced that the production of a remake of IT had started. Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Doug Davison are set to produce.Not to be confused with the 1927 silent film of the same name, which introduced the phrase "It Girl" to the world. Or the Big Bad of A Wrinkle in Time. Or the guys down in the sub-basement who run the TV Tropes Server. We hope.
Alas, Poor Villain: Patrick Hockstetter's death. He's a creepy sociopath that even Henry doesn't like, but his death is so over the top and horrible that it's clear we're not supposed to be getting any satisfaction out of it.
Henry has a more prolonged one than most; the first time we see him in the present, he's locked up in a mental facility for the criminally insane after being forced, at about thirteen years old, to confess to the 1958 murders. He even muses that having to take the blame was his payment for being allowed to survive, even if only for awhile, and it's made very clear that Henry learned his abominable attitudes from his rotten, abusive father.
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In the novel, Henry's way of making Ben remember not to mess with him is to carve his name onto his stomach (he gets as a far as "H" before Ben kicks him and escapes). He does this in the miniseries as well except he never explicitly says that he's going to carve his name and it's not clear unless you've read the book that's what he intends to do.
Asshole Victim: Patrick Hockstetter, Henry, and Tom Rogan in that order.
Batman Gambit: It is vaguely implied that the so-called Other had a hand in bringing the Losers together and infusing them with the courage necessary to face the Spider. That they forget about their friendship after finally killing it seems to ratify the Other used this bond to its breaking point without having them all go mad.
Big Good: The Turtle in the book. IT has fears of another beyond the Turtle, not part of Itself who it fears might be guiding and aiding Its foes, but we never get confirmation this is true.
Bitter Sweet Ending: IT is finally defeated and vanquished, but two of the Losers' Club members are dead, most of their hometown is destroyed by a flood with IT's death and the surviving members' memories slowly fade away until they completely forget about each other, but somehow they know that they will be friends forever.
And some of King's later works imply that IT is Not Quite Dead after all. IT can never truly be destroyed.
It's more of a plain fact than an implication. IT, as explained in the book, is an extradimensional entity like the Turtle. All they did was kill its physical form. Logic suggests that, having experienced death, It grew fearful (or at least cautious) of the Losers and only projected Itself into their world again once they were gone, their bond finally used up and forgotten forever.
Even if It IS somehow truly gone, there's the implication that some of the eggs It laid were left intact, so glimpses in later works may be It's children...Really, it's only a sweet ending for the Losers' Club. Sure, It won't go after THEM anymore but it's far from dead and gone.
King's later works state that as a city, Derry bounces back from the storm and flooding.
Bloodless Carnage mixed with Getting Crap Past the Radar: Since the movie version was made for television, most of the actual deaths weren't shown in very graphic detail. Most instances in which the filmmakers were allowed to include blood took place during It's illusions, in which it bursts from balloons, erupts from a sink, and spills from containers, but never leaves a human body or is referred to as such. The idea that it even is blood is up to audience assumption.
Brown Note: The "deadlights", IT's true form, can cause whoever sees them to go insane.
Bystander Syndrome: Implied to be the doing of IT, but it can still get rather disturbing at times.
Eldritch Abomination: Makes Cthulhu look like a puppy the way King describes IT's true form. Not to mention all the shape shifting.
And that's just what human beings are capable of comprehending. In the mental wars between the Losers and It, it's suggested It's true form exists beyond the boundaries of reality as all-consuming and destroying light.
The End... Or Is It?: From the first line, it's uncertain as to whether "the terror" ever really did end. In the final chapters, the possibility is noted that Ben may have missed one of IT's eggs when he was executing her offspring.
The Fellowship Has Ended: After defeating IT for the first time, all the seven members of the Loser's Club never meet again. Eventually, they all go in their separate ways, and completely forget about each other (except for Mike but he implies that even with desperate efforts to remember, he will forget why he's even carrying out the measures. Specifically he brings up the example that he will write his friends down but the ink itself may fade, and even if he can keeps renewing the ink, he may forget why he's doing it and why these names are even relevant).
Gilligan Cut: Bill plans is to steal his father's gun and break into the haunted house where he believes IT lives in order to kill it. Richie tries to talk him out of this plan by pointing out that a gun might not kill IT. In an effort to try to convince Bill how wildly out of their depth they would be, Richie says, "After you shoot it and it keeps coming, you can try your slingshot on it. And if that doesn't work, I'll throw some of my sneezing powder at it." Cut to the next section where Bill and Richie are about to head to the haunted house, and Bill reveals that not only has he brought the gun but the slingshot too. The boys laugh about that, then Richie reveals that he brought the sneezing powder too. And on this trip, the sneezing powder proves to be the most effective weapon. On a later trip, Beverly uses Bill's slingshot to shoot the monster with a silver slug and nearly kills it.
Also used frequently to jump between the adult and child sections of the novel.
Gondor Calls for Aid: In the movie when IT returns and the now adult Mike calls the rest of his lucky 7 The Losers Club.
Growing Up Sucks: Childhood power is strongly rooted in how temporary it is, and no matter how well one might hold onto it, childlike wonder is doomed to fade in the end. Ultimately symbolized in the book by the explosion of the hallway that connects the children's library to the adults' library, never to be rebuilt, and eventually the people of Derry forget that the two buildings were ever connected.
Harsher in Hindsight: An in universe example: "Tell Stan unless he's on his way to Derry, he's a dead man!"
Mind Rape: Pennywise is very fond of messing with the Losers Club's heads.
Monster Clown: Pennywise, a literal monster in the form of a clown.
N-Word Privileges: A variant on this in that the Loser's Club all have "N-word privileges" with respect to each other. Thus, it's okay for a member of the club to make fun of Stan for being Jewish or Ben for being fat or Bill for his stutter, but God help any outsider who does the same thing.
Officer O'Hara: Mr. Nell, who provides the basis for Richie's "Irish Cop" Voice.
Offing The Mouth: Richie Tozier is a largely involuntary Deadpan Snarker who must mock others whenever he notices something he can mock people for, and this is the reason Henry Bowers is out to get him, and along with the others of the Losers, out to kill him.
Likewise, Henry Bowers is far more brutal in the book, going as far as to carve the beginning of his name into Ben's stomach, poison Mike's dog and break Eddie's arm. In the miniseries, he starts to do the first thing but Ben escapes before anything can happen and even then it's hard to tell exactly what he was going to do as he never says out loud what his intent is, just "How am I going to make you remember?" and "First comes..."
The Power of Friendship: One of the major themes in the book is of childhood friends who have long since gone their separate ways but must now come together to defeat the Big Bad.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Spider and the Turtle. One actively hunts down and eats human children while the other just sits on the edge of forever, seeing it all happen and "helping" the Losers during their first confrontation with It. The Spider berates it for just sitting there, offering seemingly useless advice. That the Spider's eyes are described as ruby-red while the Turtle's shell is some blueish-greenish color also reinforces the trope.
Real Men Wear Pink: Henry Bowers wears a pink motorcycle jacket in the book. A fourth grader who is foolish enough to laugh at it loses three of his front teeth.
Ripped from the Headlines: Adrian Mellon's murder was modelled after the murder of Charlie Howard, another Camp Gay man who was thrown off a bridge in Maine; they even landed in the same river. Howard simply drowned, though; there was no demonic clown involved. Probably. Also The Brady Gang (changed to Bradley in the text), gunned down by FBI agents in Bangor in 1937.
Slut Shaming: Many critics subject Beverly to this for having sex with the boys to keep them from freaking out after their first fight with It. The scene was only present in the book, but even movie-Bev gets hit by it.
Spanner in the Works: Pennywise's own impatience serves as this for him. In addition, he further hampers himself by breaking down and terrifying his prey, ensuring they won't go anywhere near the sewers. For example, he almost gets Bill into the sewer treatment plant by impersonating his father, but when Bill hesitates, he turns into a rotting corpse and grimly remarks on how they're all floating down here; Bill promptly freaks out and runs away.
Survival Mantra: "He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts," Bill's anti-stuttering and anti-It phrase.
Sympathy for the Devil: One of the reasons why Mike can't quite bring himself to kill Henry Bowers in self-defense. Mike pities him for having grown up under someone like Butch Bowers, who naturally heavily influenced Henry's way of thinking and was partially responsible for his son's racism and jerkassery.
Turtle Power: Hinted at throughout the book. A cosmic force, opposed to It in at least some way, is called the Turtle. It subtly guides the protagonists and, according to It, created the universe when it got sick and threw up.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: IT usually takes the form of Pennywise the Clown, but often assumes the shape of whatever the victim is most afraid of. Pennywise is something of a neutral form for either dealing with multiple victims or the same victim twice, or just getting around.
Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Once Pennywise assumes the shape of it's victims greatest fear, it has to follow all the "rules" of that shape, whether it wants to or not. And it cannot change form to something else once everyone who sees it has "agreed" on what it is. For example, when Pennywise confronts the kids in the house on Neibolt Street, Richie Tozier screams out that its "THE TEENAGE WEREWOLF!", a movie-monster that he is terrified of. The other kids, who had been seeing Pennywise as various other monsters, immediately saw it as a werewolf as well. And once it was a werewolf, it became vulnerable to the silver slugs Bev was shooting at it with the slingshot.
Wham Line : "IT was not male. IT was female. And IT was pregnant"
Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Parodied - it takes the guy running The Falcon years to realize that his place has become the town's gay bar, but everyone else is convinced there must be orgies going on nightly.
Worst News Judgment Ever: Mike discovers that despite the children's killings and incidents in which many people die, those news are rarely spoken outside the town of Derry; it's like something doesn't want those to be known outside.
Would Hurt a Child: It won't just hurt kids, but psychologically torment and eat them too. In fact, Its introduction scene, where It lures little George Denbrough to a sewer grate and rips the poor kid's arm off at the shoulder]] pretty much says everything we need to know about just what kind of a monster It truly is.
"You don't have to look back to see those children; part of your mind will see them forever, live with them forever, love with them forever. They are not necessarily the best part of you, but they were once the repository of all you could become."