Literature: The Shining

A 1977 novel by Stephen King. King's third published novel, The Shining became a bestseller, and established King as a preeminent author in the horror genre.

In 1980, it was loosely adapted into a feature film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson. Though quite different from the original, the film has become a classic in its own right. Still, Stephen King was irritated at the changes (while remaining lukewarm-to-positive about the film overall), and it was more faithfully remade as a 1997 miniseries starring Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay. It didn't fare as well with the critics.

A sequel titled Doctor Sleep was released in late 2013.

As of 2014, a prequel film called The Overlook Hotel is in the early stages of development, with Glenn Mazzara attached.

Contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Jack's father was a violent Domestic Abuser, who also beat up his kids regularly.
    • Wendy's mother abused her emotionally.
    • Jack also accidentally broke Danny's arm - while trying to spank him for misbehaving. Later Defied, as Jack is horrified by what he does to Danny.
  • Adult Fear: Jack is soaking in it.
  • The Alcoholic Domestic Abuser: Jack is/was trying very hard not to be this, because he doesn't want to be like his dad.
  • The Alleged Car: The Torrance's beat up old Volkswagen, which is basically fallng apart by the time Jack gets the caretaker job. They plan to retire it once they reach the Overlook, and uses the hotel truck for trips to Sidewinder until the snow comes.
  • Anti-Villain: Jack Torrance could be considered one.
  • Animal Motifs: Wasps.
  • Arc Words: "Unmask! Unmask!"; "REDRUM"; "Come down here and take your medicine!", "The Red Death held sway over all!"
  • Asshole Victim: The ghosts of the hotel were generally unpleasant even when they were alive. Justified as its revealed in Doctor Sleep that the only people who linger in the mortal world after death are the ones who know there's something worse waiting for them in the afterlife for their crimes.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: The hotel's powers animate the topiary animals outside the hotel, as well as an old-fashioned fire extinguisher that menaces Danny.
  • Ax-Crazy: DUH!
    • Though, the ax was only in the movie. In the book, it's more like Mallet Crazy.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jack is well educated and an excellent author, but has some serious brawling ability behind it.
  • Bigger Bad: The malevolent force behind Overlook Hotel.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Hallorann.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jack dies, but Wendy, Danny, and Hallorann escape and the Overlook is destroyed. An epilogue shows them with Hallorann at his new job in less-threatening mountains. Wendy is recovering from the back injuries Jack gave her with the roque club (while possessed) and Danny is still traumatized, though they are getting better.
  • Break the Cutie: The entire plot is pretty much an extended Trauma Conga Line to Danny.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Danny wets his pants during several instances of extreme stress or terror, most notably when confronted with the thing in the bathtub of Room 217.
  • Canon Welding: Several of King's later works have entities very similar to the Hotel itself. To say nothing of the occasional references to the events of the book in other works.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: A rescue party from Sidewinder comes to Hallorann, Wendy and Danny's aid, too late to help with Possesed!Jack, but in time to get them safely back to civilization, and with medical aid for the injured Hallorann and Wendy.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The handyman's spiel about the old, dangerous boiler.
  • Children Are Innocent: Danny is intelligent for his age, but is too young to understand a lot of the thoughts and feelings he picks up from people around him, such as a wealthy guest at the Overlook lusting after a bellboy. At one point, he admits to Hallorann how much this frustrates him.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: It's done by, surprisingly the Hotel itself. It's not uncommon in King's works to find the inhuman monster being so humanly vulgar.
  • Cool Old Guy: Hallorann, and Watson for a lesser extent.
  • Country Matters: At one point, Jack is described as having "a cunt of a headache".
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of the original novel shows the Overlook with a tower. The buildings highest point is actually the attic, which is only accessible through a door in the ceiling on the third floor. Otherwise the highest point is the Presidential suite.
  • Creator Cameo: Stephen King appears in the 1997 adaptation as a bandleader.
  • Daddy's Girl: Wendy was like this.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Horace Derwent, to some extent. In the party scene in the book, Jack spots Derwent sadistically humiliating his lover Roger in front of the other ghostly guests.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Horace's lover Roger.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: Danny "hears" a female hotel guest thinking that she'd like to get into a bellhop's pants...which leads to him wondering why she didn't just put on some pants of her own.
  • Door Stopper: Not quite as huge as The Stand or It, but still pretty hefty.
  • Drop the Hammer: Jack's Weapon of Choice in the novel and miniseries is a roque mallet.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Something is seen coming out of the Hotel as it burns up, before it dissolves into nothingness.
  • Exposition Dump: The scrapbook Jack finds in the basement, which is full of newspaper clippings and articles on the hotel's history.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Jack Torrance, Grady, and probably a lot of other caretakers who got too comfortable with the Overlook over the years. However, there are no mentions of any of the caretakers besides Grady.
  • Faux Shadow: A character mentions a large picture window, how expensive it was to install, and to take care that it doesn't get broken. Rather disappointingly, it doesn't get broken until the hotel explodes.
  • Foreshadowing: References to the old, rather dangerous boiler that requires steam pressure to be manually relieved.
    • The wasps in the nest that Jack finds suddenly come alive and sting Danny just before the ghost activity kicks off in the hotel.
    • If you go through the first chapter with a highlighter, almost everything that later becomes a plot point is casually introduced through Jack's interview with Ullman and his tour with Watson.
  • For the Evulz: While they need Jack to kill Danny and Wendy, the ghosts of the Overlook have no qualms against messing with his mind for little more than kicks.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The lady in Room 217.
  • Game Face: "All right. No more masks."
  • Genius Loci: Yes, the hotel is infested with ghosts, but it seems that it's less the ghosts and more the hotel itself, which is implied to be both alive and VERY sadistic.
  • "Good Luck" Gesture: When the Torrances are driving up the mountain in their unreliable VW Bug. Danny is confident that the car will make it. Wendy isn't and keeps her fingers crossed, Danny glances down and sees through her sandals that she crossed her toes as well.
  • Gorn: While the movie and miniseries avert this, the novel contains some quite horrific examples, especially in the climax. Special mention goes to the bit where Danny tries to break his father from the hotel's influence, only to have Jack become completely possessed and forced to slam his own face with the roque mallet several times until he is finally dead and the ghosts can take full control of his body.
  • The Heartless: The Overlook itself is hinted at being an example. See Hive Mind below.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Jack is temporarily returned to normal by his psychic son, Danny. Realizing what the hotel has done to him, Jack tells Danny that he loves him and tells him to escape while he still can. In the minseries Jack regains control one last time to ensure the hotel goes boom.
  • Hell Hotel: The modern Trope Codifier.
  • Hive Mind: The hotel's ghosts/psychic echo supposedly comprise one.
    • At one point it is compared to the collective group intelligence of a hive of pissed off wasps Hallorann saw in his youth. There is also a hive of wasps in the storyline itself, furthering the symbolism.
    • When Danny enters room 217 in the novel, he tries to read the mind of the infamous bathtub lady. The experience is compared to sticking your hand inside a wasps' nest.
  • Hope Spot: The first few months at the hotel seems like a new beginning for the Torranc's. Jack's play is coming along, the rift between Jack and Wendy is mending, and the difficulties of the past three years seem to be fading. Then the snow comes...
  • Ignored Epiphany: In one chapter, Jack realizes he's being manipulated by the hotel, but changes his mind and blames things on his son. He understood quite well what was happening. He also realized at that point it was too late, and just how deep the hotel's claws had sunk into his mind. Kind of like a self loathing alcoholic who knows he's fallen off the wagon, but feels he's too far gone to even try anymore. Blaming his son was just his way of shifting the blame for his own failure from himself.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Danny to Jack. Jack manages to come through long enough to tell Danny that he loves him very much and begs him to run away, before the hotel, in a very brutal fashion, erases what little there was left of Jack's soul.
  • Innocent Swearing: When Danny and Wendy talk about the family car:
    Danny: Do you think the bug will break down?
    Wendy: No, I don't think so.
    Danny: Dad said it might. He said the fuel pump was all shot to shit.
    Wendy: Don't say that, Danny.
    Danny: (surprised) Fuel pump?
  • Ironic Echo: In the miniseries, "That's what I've been missing".
  • I See Dead People: Numerous and varied.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mr. Ullman, the hotel manager, may be an "officious little prick," but he is quite right that hiring Jack Torrance, an abusive alcoholic, as the winter caretaker is a bad idea.
    • For all Jack's loathing of him, Ullman is very good at his job, including cleaning up the messes and keeping the hotel in the black.
  • Kill It with Fire: Jack and Hallorann recall burning wasps' nests and how "fire destroys everything" and later, good!Jack delays possessed!Jack just long enough so that he fails to dump the steam in the hotel boilers and blows up the Overlook in a glorious fireball.
    • Grady tells Jack that his girls attempted this, which is why he "corrected" them.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Horace Derwent is a thinly veiled Howard Hughes. In the 1980 movie, he's the guy in the bedroom not wearing the dog costume.
  • Legacy Character: In-universe. "You've always been the caretaker."
  • Let the Past Burn: The haunted hotel burns up and dissolves into nothingness.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the novel and the Kubrick film, the miniseries is much less scary.
  • Living Bodysuit: Jack ultimately becomes this for the Overlook's Hive Mind
  • Locked in a Freezer: Happens to Jack in the storeroom. Sometimes this is not as effective as you might think.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Possesed!Jack smashes Hallorann across the face with a roque mallet, breaking his jaw and destroying his dentures. Hallorann's reaction once he regains consciousness?
    Hallorann: Summbitch broke m' jaw...
  • May-December Romance: Played for Squick with The Woman In Room 217 when she was alive, and her boytoy. He cant have been more than 18, and she must have been at least 60 by Watson's estimate. It's clear to absolutely everyone (except the woman) that it's just a matter of money. He eventually takes her car and ditches her, leading to her suicide which Ullman covers up.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Two events in Jacks past had this reaction, him breaking Danny's arm, and him mocking George Hatfield's stutter and later beating him for slashing his tires in revenge.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: The book usually doesn't censor profanity, but the trope is used once for comic effect. Hallorann gets Danny's message, when he's driving, and he swerves across the lane, almost crashing into a workman's Pinto. The workman's reaction is described thus:
    "He invited the driver of the limo to perform an illegal sex act on himself. To engage in oral congress with various rodents and birds. He articulated his own proposal that all persons of Negro blood return to their native continent. He expressed his sincere belief in the position the limo-driver's soul would occupy in the afterlife. He finished by saying that he believed he had met the limo-driver's mother in a New Orleans house of prostitution."
  • Magical Negro: Hallorann could count as one.
    • Lampshaded when Hallorann briefly wonders why he should risk his life to help three white people who he barely knows. (The answer is that because of their telepathic abilities, he and Danny formed a very close bond, despite meeting only once).
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Jack wrote several short stories, and he's working on a play.
  • The Napoleon: Overlook manager Stuart Ullman, a short man who acts like a smarmy bully with Jack and lords over his employees with an iron fist.
  • New House New Problems: The hotel, though the Torrances are only planning a temporary stay.
  • Nice Guy: Hallorann.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Horace Derwent, an eccentric millionaire recluse, aviator, and director who bought the Overlook in the '30s, is clearly patterned after Howard Hughes.
  • No Party Like The Donner Party: Doesn't happen in-story but Wendy thinks of the Donner Party several times throughout the story when she considers the isolation the three of them will be dealing with during the winter. One is especially nightmarish, as she imagines them getting stuck in the elevators at the same time, and not being found until spring, dead, with pieces missing.
  • Noble Bigot: Watson has shades of this, being a hardworking, honest man with some level of homophobia if his dialogue with Jack in the boiler room is to be believed. Not that this attitude towards homosexuality was rare in the 70's.
  • Nostalgia Heaven: This is the plot. Dead people stay in the hotel forever as ghosts at a 1945 party.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Danny knows from the beginning that the Overlook Hotel is bad news. But he can't tell this to his parents, not just because he's a kid but also because they're in denial about Danny's psychic powers. He also knows how important this job is to the family, so he hopes that he's wrong (sometimes, his precognition does fail).
  • Not What It Looks Like: Wendy is understandably alarmed when she sees Danny climb into Hallorann's car, but a confrontation doesn't happen once she notices that they only seem to be talking, and Danny has the same expression he has when he hears something unusually engaging on TV. Keep in mind, this was prior to the child-abduction scares of The '80s and beyond.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Almost nothing supernatural happens for the first part of the book, aside from the blood stain Danny sees in the presidential suite. After the wasp nest incident, however...
  • Off the Wagon: Jack quit drinking after a drunken ride with his friend Al Shockley ended up with Al hitting a bike parked in the middle of the road one night while both of them were very drunk. The bike was destroyed but nobody was hurt, though the incident so spooked the two men that they both quit drinking that day. The Overlook eventually gets Jack to drink again.
  • Oracular Urchin: Part of Danny's Shining is the ability of limited precognition, which he receives through visions of his "imaginary friend" Tony who is either Danny himself from the future, or a secondary personality Danny's mind created to help him cope with his powers. Danny was even born with a caul, a thin membrane covering his face that is considered to be an omen of second sight in folk myth. Its hinted at to just be a coincidence though, if an eerie one.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts, and by extension The Overlook entity, are only visible and can only interact with people who has at least minor psychic abilities. That is why Oswell and Watson the maintenance man have never experienced any of the supernatural aspects of the hotel, despite spending huge amounts of time there. Watson has worked at the hotel far longer than any of the other characters but has never felt so much as a ghostly chill. Haloran, Danny and the unfortunate maid who was the first to encounter the woman in Room 217 are not so lucky.
  • Parental Favoritism: Jack was his father's favorite, though he still beat him regularly. Jack still loved him as best he could, even when the rest of the family began to hate him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Overlook Hotel and its minions.
  • Psychic Powers: The "shining" of the title.
  • Precision F-Strike: While there's a lot of swearing in the novel, Wendy uses profanity only once. At night, the elevator starts going by itself. Jack goes to check on it; Wendy tries to hold him back, but he shoves her away.
    Jack: It... Wendy, it's my job.
    Wendy: Fuck your job.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In the miniseries, just before Jack makes the boiler explode:
    Jack: Gentlemen...I think the party's over.
  • Red Herring: The Presidential Suite, where a mobster and his bodyguard were murdered by rivals in the 60's. Its also the place where Danny sees the first supernatural event at the hotel, a bloodstain on the wall. When Jack finds the backstory on the murders in the room, it seems like it would be the source of something really bad. Its not. In fact, the only haunting associated with the room is the bloodstain.
    • The fire extinguisher that Danny is afraid of. He keeps imagining it as a snakelike appendage, but it never does anything scary, aside from scaring the crap out of him when it falls out of its hook.
  • Redemption Equals Death: In the miniseries only, Jack returns to normal one last time and lets his family escape to deal with the hotel himself. He and the hotel were killed in the explosion of the boiler. He reappears as a ghost one last time in the ending.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Hallorann, almost. After Jack's death, the hotel's spirit nearly persuades Hallorann to finish what Jack started and murder Danny and Wendy himself.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Sort of. Danny compares the fire extinguisher hose to a snake, most notably when it apparently starts chasing after him.
  • Resigned to the Call: When Danny asks for help, Hallorann immediately goes to save him, though he knows full well that he's risking his life - but he's not happy about it.
    "But because he was human he could not help a bitter wish that the cup had never been passed his way."
  • Room 101: Room 217, and the Presidential Suite.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jack becomes more unhinged as the story progresses, due to ghostly interference.
  • Shout-Out: At one point Jack comes upon an invitation to a masked ball at the Overlook's grand opening, and is reminded of The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe (whom he dismisses as "the great American hack".)
    • A couple of lines from Poe's story are used as Arc Words here; see above.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Watson, the maintenance man. Al Shockley, when he can't remember Watson's name, refers to him as "that guy who swears all the time".
  • The Stinger: Miniseries only. A ghostly version of the Overlook is seen.
  • Snowed-In: "WE ARE SNOWED IN!" (Jack to Wendy when she keeps talking about getting Danny out of the Overlook.
  • Split Personality Takeover: Averted. This is shown when Jack destroys his face with the roque mallet to simultaneously show Danny he's gone and delay the Overlook.
  • Survival Mantra: Jack keeps mentally describing Ullman as an "officious little prick" to help keep himself from losing control of his temper during his job interview for the Overlook. However, this crosses into Brick Joke territory as Jack's train of thought is interrupted by Ullman, rather deadpan, stating that he gets the feeling that Jack doesn't like him.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: The evil spirits animating Jack Torrance think they have gotten to the boiler in time and relieved the pressure. They are wrong.
  • Truer to the Text: The 1997 miniseries is far closer to Stephen King's book than the Kubrick film, with the huge exception of the Bowdlerised ending. It's not typically seen as an improvement over the Kubrick version.
  • Unreliable Narrator: While the story is told in third person, much of it is from Jack's point of view and interior monologues. Throughout the story, he insists that breaking Danny's arm was an accident and that George Hatfield, the student who slashed his tires, falsely accused him of unfavoritism. However, as Jack dips closer to madness, there are strong hints that these actions were in fact intentional and Jack has just desperately been trying to convince himself otherwise. Specifically, when he encounters a hallucination of George in room 217, he outright admits he deliberately set George up to fail the debate class.
    "It was for your own good," Jack said, backing up. "I set it ahead for your own good."
  • The Unfavorite: Wendy harbors some resentment towards the bond between Jack and Danny, often feeling excluded when Danny prefers to open up to Jack over her.
  • You Are What You Hate: Both Wendy and Jack carry traits that their abusive parents had; Wendy shares some of the resentment and jealousy her mother had toward her father for their child favoring him, Jack has his father's drinking problem and violent mood swings. Neither is happy to realize this.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Grady is described as looking like a thug in spite of his fine clothes, but his voice sounds refined and educated. Its implied that its actually the hotel speaking through Grady to prey on Jack's intellectual sensibilities. Grady himself states that it was the "management" that helped him become more than a high school dropout.
  • Wham Line: "You've always been the caretaker."