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Literature / Carrie

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Carrie White — making people afraid to pick on "that girl" since 1974.

A novel of a girl possessed of a terrifying power.

Published in 1974, Carrie is the first published novel by author Stephen King.

High school outcast Carrie White has no friends at school and is endlessly tormented by her classmates and by her own mother, a raving Christian fanatic named Margaret. After being humiliated in the school shower while having her first period, Carrie learns that she possesses potent telekinetic powers which allow her to move objects and knock people down with her mind. After one of the shower bullies, Chris Hargensen, gets suspended and barred from the upcoming prom for the shower incident involving Carrie, she comes to blame Carrie for the situation and work out a suitable revenge.

In the meantime, Sue Snell (another one of the bullies at the shower) feels bad about what she and her friends did to Carrie and asks her athlete boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the prom as a form of atonement. Chris finds out about this and sees an opening for one of the greatest pranks in school history: she and her friends will rig the ballots for prom queen so that Carrie wins, then dump a bucket of pig's blood on her head in front of the entire senior class and thus humiliate her on the best night of her life.


Considering Carrie's telekinetic powers, this goes about as well as one would expect it to.

While Carrie was a bestseller that launched Stephen King's career, today it's better known for its assorted adaptations in various mediums.

  • The 1976 film adaptation by Brian De Palma is by far the most famous of the bunch, and arguably had a greater impact than the book itself. Critics regard De Palma's adaptation as a landmark film, one of the best horror films of The '70s, and one of the best feature film adaptations of any of King's stories, to the point where King himself feels that it's better than the book. The film became a major success for United Artists, as it ended up making over $33 million at the U.S. box office on a budget of just $1.8 millionnote . The ending is notable for being perhaps the first use of a "shock" ending in a horror film, which has since become a staple of the genre. Film critics welcomed Carrie with immense acclaim (unusual for a horror film even today), which helped it gain a Hugo Award and two Academy Award nominations: one for Sissy Spacek for Best Actress, and the other a Best Supporting Actress nod for Piper Laurie.note 
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  • Lawrence D. Cohen (the writer of the 1976 movie) put together a musical adaptation in The '80s. After a limited run at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in England that got a mixed reception, it debuted on Broadway on May 12, 1988 — where it met with scathing reviews. The $7+ million production quickly became one of the biggest flops in Broadway history, as the musical closed after only sixteen previews and five shows. It became infamous enough to inspire a book written about Broadway's worst to carry the title Not Since Carrie. A number of people, however, saw a lot of potential beneath the poor production and feel that it could've worked out if it had received some polish. A heavily overhauled, off-Broadway revival eventually happened.
  • The 1999 sequel The Rage: Carrie 2 starred Emily Bergl and Jason London, and had Amy Irving reprise her role as Sue Snell. Set over twenty years after the original film, it has a new teen outcast, Rachel Lang, use her powers to get revenge on a group of Jerk Jocks who had bullied her friend Lisa into killing herself, while Sue, now a guidance counselor who remembers what had happened before, tries to stop things from getting out of control. A Dolled-Up Installment (it was originally written as a standalone film called The Curse), it met a poor reception from critics and was mostly forgotten at the box office, though it does have something of a cult fandom nowadays.
  • A made-for-TV version was made in 2002, airing on NBC. This adaptation, written by Bryan Fuller and starring Angela Bettis, Patricia Clarkson, and Emilie de Ravin, stayed closer to King's novel than the 1976 film did — with the exception of the ending, which the creators intended to lead into an NBC series that never happened. The film mirrors the novel's use of after-the-fact articles to tell its story; most of the film takes place in flashbacks while the police interview what few survivors remain after Carrie's rampage. Despite its obvious low budget, Conspicuous CG, and radically altered ending, this film has its share of fans, particularly for Bettis' performance as Carrie and for being Truer to the Text. In some way, this version could perhaps be compared to the 1997 Mini Series remake of The Shining in terms of trying to be more faithful to the source material, though King wasn't involved with this one.
  • Another film adaptation was released in 2013. This version was directed by Kimberly Peirce (of Boys Don't Cry fame), written by playwright, Marvel Comics scribe, and Glee writer/co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and starred Chloë Moretz, Julianne Moore, and Judy Greer. It largely pulled elements from both the novel and De Palma's film; opinion on it is largely divided as to whether it should've been based more on the book or the movie. The overall reaction is that it's not bad, exactly, though it's still very much in the shadow of the original.

Don't confuse this work with the country singer (though her video for "Before He Cheats" is a homage to the film), or two other well-known fictional Carries.

Carrie contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The principal seems to think that Carrie's name is Cassie, even after being told repeatedly by Miss Desjardin that he's wrong. Carrie's frustration with it eventually results in another display of her powers.
    The Principal: We're really sorry about this incident, Cassie...
    Carrie: IT'S CARRIE!
  • The Ace: Tommy Ross is a good, brilliant student who is also an outstanding athlete, cool, mature for his age, socially conscious, kind, good looking, and well respected and liked by his fellow schoolmates.
  • Adults Are Useless: In the book, the principal and vice-principal are both well-meaning and see to it that Chris is punished for her actions, but this only causes Chris to plot even worse revenge. A few days before the prom, they discuss their fear that she's going to pull something, but are ultimately powerless to stop it. The other adults in Carrie's life are either apathetic to her plight (most of her teachers) or actively making her life worse (her mom). Even Miss Desjardin, the one person who tries to help her, fails her at the last moment by laughing at the prank along with everyone else.
  • The Alleged Car: Billy drives a rusty, beat-up, jacked-in-the-back '61 Chevy Biscayne with a broken headlight.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Chris with Billy, who is frequently described as a delinquent. He is the one who kills the pigs to get the blood for the prank. And even rapes Chris and threatens her life.
  • Alpha Bitch: Chris, who plays the now infamous prank at prom.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Many characters get this treatment in-universe. The investigators suspect that Sue and Tommy were actually trying to set Carrie up for humiliation, which wasn't the case. Sue portrays Chris as the driving force behind the prank and says she manipulated Billy to do what she wanted, while the investigators put more blame on Billy, feeling that he took over the plan and did most of it himself. The truth seems to be somewhere in the middle, as Chris came up with the plan, but Billy is fully on-board with it and wants to wreck the prom for everybody.
  • Arc Symbol: Blood, as a representation of power, violence and death.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Flex", for Carrie when she practices her telekinesis.
    • "Pig's blood for a pig", for Billy, solidifying his Teens Are Monsters status.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In the '13 version, when Sue tries to justify not apologizing to Carrie since Tommy never apologized to a bully he beat up, Tommy asks her, "What did the sad silly bitch [Carrie] ever do to you?". This conversation occurs in the source novel as well.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Used deliberately. Many of the passages Margaret quotes are not found in any translation of any of the holy texts of Christianity.note 
  • Auto Erotica: Tommy and Sue have sex in the backseat of Tommy's car.
  • Ballroom Blitz: That prank played on Carrie at the prom? Not a good idea.
  • Beautiful All Along: Carrie cleans up rather nicely when she's allowed to.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Carrie. Not only does the prank at prom seriously mess her up, she remains that way for the rest of the story.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Carrie spares Miss Desjardin, her gym teacher, from her wrath in the original novelization and a few of the adaptations. Carrie can recognize, even in her madness, that Miss Desjardin was at least trying to help her, even if she indirectly made Carrie's bullying worse.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Chris and Billy.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Margaret White and the Chris/Billy couple.
  • Blessed with Suck: Margaret knows or suspects that Carrie has a special "gift", and makes her suffer for it (among other reasons). When Carrie finally unleashes her full powers, she causes so many deaths, that the whole world resents her deeply.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Carrie gets a bucket of pig's blood dumped on her after being elected prom queen in a mean-spirited prank by Chris. It turns out to be the final straw, as Carrie snaps afterwards.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Prom dress, but close enough.
  • Bloody Handprint: Carrie leaves one of these on Miss Desjardin's shorts during the shower incident, being under the impression that she is bleeding to death during her first period. (Momma never told her about "That Time of the Month", feeling that menstruation is caused by sin.)
  • Book-Ends:
    • At the start of both the book and the movies, Carrie gets her first period and promptly freaks out at the sight of her blood. At the climax, the period she had previously becomes the least of her worries.
    • In the book, the opening scene is of Carrie getting her first period. At the end of the book, Sue Snell starts menstruating right after she comforts the dying Carrie. Like Carrie's first period in the beginning, this one is significant; Sue had previously been wondering if she was pregnant due to her missing her period. This can happen due to stress, but it's implied that Carrie is responsible for whatever caused her to start menstruating again.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Seriously, not a good idea to spill blood on the girl with violent psychic powers.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Chris and the rest of Carrie's Jerkass classmates didn't know what she was capable of until it was far too late. Her mother, on the other hand, did know... and not only kept right on treating her in the same old way, but actually treated her worse, calling her a witch. In the novel, it's mentioned that Margaret's grandmother had the same talent, and Margaret knew about it.
    • In the book, there is a flashback from Margaret, involving her own grandmother (Carrie's great-grandmother). The woman would display her telekinesis and cackle madly. She'd also gone completely senile at an early age before dying of a heart attack. It's shown that she was a pretty frightening figure for Margaret to grow up with, which is probably why she ended up being a crazy religious fanatic. It's subtle but gives her a very slight Well-Intentioned Extremist view.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: An unusual in-universe example. Tommy Ross is described in one of the articles as the "Lee Harvey Oswald" who set the events in motion, by asking Carrie to prom.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Albeit one that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
  • Confessional: Margaret White has one in her house, where she locks Carrie in periodically. It is decorated with horrifically vengeful images of God and Jesus.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: In the book, Sue and Tommy are blamed by the media for having planned the prank and driven Carrie over the edge, even though they had only played an incidental and fairly unwitting role in such.
  • Corpsing: In the book, this is how everyone, even Miss Desjardin, laughs at Carrie when the pig's blood coats her because it's so bizarre and out there. Their timing couldn't have been worse, as it triggers Carrie's Rage Breaking Point.
  • Daddy's Girl: Chris is a particularly toxic example. Her father is an Amoral Attorney who has spoiled his daughter and ignores everything she's done. He tries to sue the school department, only backing off when he learns that they will counter-sue him for Chris's record of violations.
  • Creator Cameo: Carrie's 7th Grade English teacher is called Edwin King; Edwin is Stephen King's middle name.
  • Deadly Prank: It ends up being this for almost the entire high school and then Carrie not only kills her schoolmates but goes on a rampage through her town, killing hundreds of people. Not only that, but the bucket intended for Tommy doesn't turn over and instead hits him square on the head. He's already dead by the time the gym explodes. Even if Carrie hadn't had supernatural powers, the prank would have likely resulted in at least one person being killed or critically injured.
  • Death by Mocking: And how. After the students laugh at Carrie, she promptly goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that leaves several people dead.
  • Delinquents: Billy and his friends.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: A variation: instead of Carrie saying this, it's Miss Desjardin who does so for her as she punishes the class for humiliating Carrie in the shower. Subverted in that the girls (other than Sue) don't learn a thing from it — in fact, it makes Chris want to humiliate Carrie even further.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Yes, some of Carrie's classmates had been treating her unfairly, but her murderous rampage throughout the town is never justified. Instead, it is considered disproportionate.
    • This is set in motion by another example, namely Chris pulling the elaborate prank on Carrie in retaliation for getting punished for bullying her in the showers.
  • Domestic Abuse: How Margaret treats Carrie, and how Billy treats Chris.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Margaret's reaction to learning about Carrie's powers is to call her a witch, quoting the appropriate Bible verse on the subject. Carrie's reaction to this is to use those powers to essentially hold Margaret hostage until prom. Margaret doesn't learn her lesson.
  • Downer Ending: Carrie kills her mother at the end, then dies from a combination of overuse of her power and her own injuries. Also, the few survivors appear to be traumatized, especially Sue.
  • Dying Town: The town of Chamberlain becomes one of these in the aftermath of Carrie's rampage, well on its way to becoming a Ghost Town, as starkly reported in "The Legacy of TK: Scorched Earth and Scorched Hearts," one of the articles that make up the book's epilogue:
    The over-all impression is one of a town that is waiting to die. It is not enough, these days, to say that Chamberlain will never be the same. It may be closer to the truth to say that Chamberlain will simply never again be.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The novel ends with a letter written by a Tennessee woman called Amelia Jenks describing the telekinetic powers of her two-year-old daughter Annie, who can make marbles move by themselves. Fortunately she's more sensible about it, although she knows this means Annie takes after her own Grandma. The old lady pulled off some amazing stunts with her powers, but had "heart spells". The novel's final words "I bet she'll be a worldbeeter [sic] someday."]
  • Evil Matriarch: Margaret White, of course.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Carrie Vs Chris, Billy and Margaret.
  • Female Misogynist: Margaret White, in spades - the evils of women and female sexuality is one of her favorite subjects. It's implied that this comes, in part, from troubled relationships with her own mother and grandmother.
  • Fiction Isn't Fair: Yes Carrie may be sympathetic, but she doesn't get a happy ending in the novel proper or any adaptations.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Mention is made of how the "Carrie White affair" and proof of the existence of psychic powers has affected the scientific community's long-held preconceptions. While most scientists have accepted this new reality, it's mentioned that those at Duke University, among others, continue to reject it as a hoax even after the government's official report on what happened supported their existence.
  • Foil: Sue and Chris. Both initially bullied Carrie, but their reactions to the shower incident and its aftermath are opposite: Sue feels guilty, stops bullying Carrie, and tries to make amends with the help of her boyfriend, while Chris is unrepentant, blames Carrie for the withdrawal of her prom privileges, and plots a cruel revenge with the help of her boyfriend. As a result of the shower incident, Sue sacrifices her night at the prom voluntarily, while Chris has it revoked.
  • Foregone Conclusion: In the first half of the book, the narration lets us know that there will be a tragedy and that at the very least Margaret White shall be dead (but not Sue Snell).
  • For the Evulz:
    • Sue flat-out states that Chris's only motive for the prank was "the complete and total destruction of Carrie White."
    • The boys who help Billy butcher the pigs don't know about the prank. They're just doing it for this reason, and to inconvenience the farmer.
  • Freak Out: Carrie's is one that kills a lot of people and leaves the entire world dumbfounded.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: A lot of those stupid teenagers at the prom might have lived had they not found Carrie's utter humiliation so hilarious. Or tripped her as she ran out the door.
    • An interview with one of the survivors of the whole thing reveals that it was one of those situations where it was either laugh, cry or go crazy. Some people in Real Life tend to laugh in awkward situations. Combine contagious laughter and mob psychology and you get one horrible situation all around.
  • Freudian Excuse: The reason why Carrie is a Person of Mass Destruction in the first place. Having an erotophobic religious fanatic like Margaret White as a mother can excuse practically everything.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Carrie goes from a shy girl in an abusive household to a mass murderer in the course of one night.
  • The Fundamentalist: Carrie's mom is a particularly psycho version of this trope, who is extreme to the point of insanity. Margaret White makes the Westboro Baptist Church look downright progressive. She thinks sex, even within marriage, is sinful and that women develop breasts if they "weren't raised right". She didn't even tell Carrie about menstruation, because she thinks it is God's punishment for sinful thoughts.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Chris' plan. She did humiliate Carrie just as she wanted, however....
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sue Snell at the beginning of the story.
  • The Hero Dies: While it's hard to call Carrie herself a heroine, it counts as such in the sense that she's the main character. Averted in the 2002 film.
  • Heroic RRoD: Carrie herself has one of these in the end after killing her mother, from a combination of shock, blood loss, and sheer overuse of her power which caused her heart to give out, although it's not really heroic. Also, it's heavily implied that all telekinetics will eventually succumb to this because telekinesis puts great strain on the heart and lungs.
  • Hidden Depths: In universe, other students are amazed to learn Carrie made her own prom dress. This becomes more of a revelation in later adaptations when this ability becomes far less common for the average teenage girl.
  • High School: The setting of the entire novel.
  • High-School Dance: Where else would the prom scene come from?
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Tommy and Sue are given this treatment in-universe after the "Black Prom", with much of the public thinking of them as assholes who set off Carrie's rampage.
  • Hope Spot: The whole story is like one giant hope spot due to the Foregone Conclusion osmosis of the narrative. You know Carrie has powers, you know Chris is setting up a cruel prank, you know it's going to set her off and end horribly for everyone. But.. she looks so happy for the first time ever.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: It strikes on prom night instead.
  • In the Blood: One of the book's Scrapbook Story elements consists of clippings from books and scientific papers discussing the genetic and biological origins of telekinesis. Telekeninesis is something that show's up in Margaret's family every third generation.
  • I Was Quite a Looker:
    • Carrie's former next door neighbor remarks what a pretty child she was and her reaction to seeing Carrie's high school photo was "what did that woman [Margaret] do to her?".
    • This also applies to Margaret. Interviews with people from her past and records indicate that she used to be a very beautiful young woman, but her physical appearance began to degrade when her mental stability did the same.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Sue tries to defend herself by saying that she eventually stopped throwing tampons at Carrie, Chris points out that it's a pretty lame excuse.
  • Karmic Death: For Carrie's bullies themselves at the end, especially Billy and Chris.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: As Carrie is running off the stage, crying, one of her bullies trips her, and everyone laughs even harder at that.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Carrie attacking the boy on the bicycle for attempting to scare her.
  • Kill It with Fire: In all versions of the story, Carrie kills her fellow classmates by locking them in the gym and burning it down. The novel and the remake also have her flooding the gym floor and dropping live wires into it, electrocuting everybody, and causing a short circuit to start a fire.
  • Knife Nut: In Margaret's more psychotic moments, including the end, she goes after Carrie with a butcher's knife.
  • Lack of Empathy: The girls couldn't care less about how rotten they made Carrie feel, resulting in their demises.
  • List of Transgressions: After the shower incident, we're given a very long list of the many horrible things Carrie's bullies have done to her over the years.
  • Lonely at the Top: Sue and Tommy don't seem to enjoy their popularity. Sue is acutely aware of the price she's paying for it, while Tommy seems to feel that his popularity is superficial and won't last after graduation. This may be part of the appeal of befriending Carrie- she's the one person who would like him for who he is, not just because he's popular.
  • Lovable Jock: Tommy.
  • Lovecraft Country: Set in Maine, obviously. The '76 version is the only one that doesn't explicitly place the story there.
  • The Masochism Tango: Chris and Billy. Billy even tries to rape Chris, but she submits quickly after realizing that's what he wants. And that she likes it.
  • Matricide: Abusive Margaret is killed off by her daughter Carrie while she was stabbing the latter in a manic fit. Carrie's father died in a work-related accident before his daughter's birth.
  • Mind over Matter
  • Mind Rape:
    • In the book a dying Carrie tries to do this to Sue, angry about the prank that she thought Sue had pulled on her... only to find that Sue meant her no harm, and that she hadn't planned to humiliate her at the prom. Also, several people who survived Carrie's rampage had her presence and identity essentially stamped into their minds, even though most of them had never met her and many never saw her that night.
    • In the book, Sue realizes that Carrie is also mildly telepathic, and actually invites Carrie to examine her thoughts to demonstrate her innocence. She didn't realize how unpleasant the experience would be, though.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Sue Snell. Tommy also had a poem of his published in a magazine.
  • Mugging the Monster: Although they didn't know she was a monster until it was too late.
  • Mutual Kill: Margaret stabs Carrie, then Carrie kills Margaret by stopping her heart. Carrie eventually dies from shock, blood loss, and overuse of her power in finishing off her final tormentors, Billy and Chris.
  • My Beloved Smother
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The reason Sue asked Tommy to take Carrie to the prom was because she felt sorry for what she did to Carrie in the shower.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The events of the book (which was published in 1974) are said to have occurred in 1979, and most of the in-universe articles that the book uses for exposition were written in the '80s. The films, however, are all set squarely in the year that they were released in.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Sue. Granted, if she hadn't participated in humiliating Carrie in the shower, Carrie would have still been mistreated, but Sue's actions made her feel guilty enough to send Tommy to ask her to the prom, which is what set into motion everything that followed. In her memoir, she admits that she didn't consider that this could end badly.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Sue just wanted to do something nice for Carrie. We all know how that turned out.
  • No Periods, Period: Subverted.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Margaret crudely tells Carrie how she was produced via rape because Margaret considered all sex — even within marriage — to be offensive and sinful. She starts screaming about how she admits she enjoyed it.
  • Not Quite Dead: Carrie in the '02 version, where she is somehow resuscitated by Sue after spending hours submerged in a bathtub.
  • Offing the Offspring: Margaret White tries to kill Carrie when Carrie comes home from prom. Before that she nearly murders an infant Carrie after seeing her levitate a bottle.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Carrie and her prom rampage, especially with her murder of Chris and her boyfriend, Billy.
  • Person as Verb: At the end of the novel, it's said that "to rip off a Carrie" passed into teen slang, meaning "to commit large-scale mayhem". In Real Life, "pulling a Carrie" or "going Carrie on [something]" became synonymous with someone going crazy after being humiliated, especially if they'd generally been quiet or shy. This one's become so well-traveled that it even appears in the Kare Kano manga as a visual-only metaphor for someone snapping under the strain of having perfectionist, controlling parents.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Carrie herself.
  • Plot Hole: See here for some examples on the original book. (Warning: Spoilers)
  • Prank Date: Subverted. Carrie thought this was the case when Tommy asked her to the prom. However, he had benign intentions, as did his girlfriend Sue, who arranged for him to take Carrie to the prom instead of her due to her feeling sorry for joining in on Carrie's humiliation in the shower. Chris found out, though, and she wanted to make sure it went very badly. And it did.
  • Precision F-Strike: During one of their big fights, Carrie screams "You suck!" and then "YOU FUCK!" at Margaret. It gets the reaction she's hoping for.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Or at least an Anti-Villain. The story is about how a lifetime of bullying, capped off by one final Rage Breaking Point, turned Carrie into a mass murderer.
  • Protagonist Title: The story follows Carrie White.
  • Psychic Powers: After having her first period, Carrie discovers she has these.
  • Psychological Horror: While much of the book's climax is visceral, the majority of the horror comes from seeing just how badly Carrie's mind is messed up from her upbringing.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The pig-blood prank, one of the most infamous in fiction.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The principal, who stands up for Carrie and shuts down the lawsuit threat from Chris's father. He's also concerned that Chris is going to pull something at the prom, and takes responsibility for not being able to prevent it. Ms. Desjardin is also this, though she secretly finds Carrie annoying to deal with and can't help laughing at the prank.
  • Redemption Equals Life: In the book Sue, who regretted tormenting Carrie and tried to make it up to her, is spared by Carrie after Carrie reads her mind and learns that Sue had no malice towards her. In fact, most of the characters who made some effort to help her, like the gym teacher and the principal, survive here.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In the book and 2002 made-for-TV version, the entire town burns, but in other versions only the high school suffers.
  • The Scapegoat: Sue and Tommy are blamed for what happened with Carrie's prank.
  • Scrapbook Story: The original novel was partly told through a mix of newspaper and magazine articles, scholarly papers, government reports, and excerpts from Sue Snell's memoirs.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation:
    • The musical. As detailed above, it has become a byword for disastrous Broadway flops.
      ... and as the lights dim to black, boos ring out from the upper balcony while below, others begin an ovation. ... Carrie has become an instant legend.
      As the audience files out, some appear thrilled, others appalled; the word most frequently bandied about is "unbelievable". ... The ad copy, which read "There's Never Been a Musical Like Her," has proved oddly prophetic.
    • Scarrie! the musical parody.
  • Sex Is Evil: Margaret thinks all sex, even within marriage, is immoral and sinful.
  • Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Though Margaret's husband Ralph shared her beliefs, one time he got drunk and couldn't resist the temptation, and managed to pressure her into having sex (or outright raped her, it's a bit ambiguous). And so Carrie was conceived. Margaret never got over the fact that she actually enjoyed the act.
  • Sexless Marriage: Carrie's parents wanted to have a marriage like that.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: When Carrie gets dressed up for the prom, both Tommy and the narrator say she's beautiful. Miss Desjardin gets this as well when she turns up at the prom. Carrie thinks she looks as though she's attending the prom instead of just chaperoning.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Inverted. See I Was Quite a Looker above.
  • Shower of Angst: Goes without saying, both openings have this, as well as the endings.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Deconstructed.
  • Stepford Smiler: Sue is terrified of becoming this in the novel after high school, though funnily enough, the incident prevents her from becoming one.
  • Stocking Filler: Carrie wears a garter to hold up her stockings, although it's not intended to be sexy. It's because Margaret won't let her wear pantyhose. Carrie feels that it's cumbersome and uncomfortable and wishes she could wear sleek and sexy pantyhose like all the other girls instead.
  • Stock Shout-Out: It's in Tiny Toon Adventures of all things!
  • Strangled by the Red String: In-universe, this is how Sue sees her relationship with Tommy. When pondering why they're together at one point, the only thing she comes up with is that they're both popular, and their classmates ship them. She admits years later that she doesn't think it was real love. Later, when Carrie reads her mind, she's surprised to find that she did feel something genuine for him.
  • Strolling Through the Chaos: All of which is being caused, directly or otherwise, by Carrie.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: the school's fuel tank explodes, blowing up the entire school, and then a couple of gas stations close to downtown. Carrie also makes fire hydrants "explode" to prevent the fire department from putting out her fire.
  • Teens Are Monsters: All the girls in the locker room, but particularly Chris, who is the mastermind behind the pig-blood prank. (Sue, however, quickly regrets her part in the taunting of Carrie). Billy is a monster as well. And of course, there's Carrie...
  • There Are No Therapists: Justified. Margaret probably thinks that therapists would lead Carrie down the path to Hell, and she'll be damned if she'll let the "godless" government social workers take away her daughter. In the book, at least, it's established that she regards the government as a den of sin.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Carrie's mother, unlike Carrie's Jerkass classmates, has a pretty good idea of what her daughter's capable of doing if pushed sufficiently — and she keeps right on pushing.
    • It's pretty clear that if Margaret ever had any sense, it's long been swallowed by zealotry and madness. She's a poster child for 'diminished capacity'.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: The people around Carrie herself were just plain old jerks who were being jerks when they wanted to — but then again, everyone in the prom wouldn't have been killed and most of the town wouldn't have been destroyed had they stopped to think that bullying someone might eventually get them into real trouble.
  • Tranquil Fury: Averted in the book. Carrie quite gleefully enjoys the carnage she causes. Played straight in all film adaptations but especially the De Palma film.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The book is set in 1979, five years after it was published.
  • The Unmasqued World: Discussed mildly at the end of the book, the government makes zero attempt to hide the fact that what happened in Chamberlain was a powerful psychic going on a rampage, shattering science's view of the nonexistence of the paranormal (save a few universities who still believe it a hoax). In fact, the researchers want to publicize it as a warning, convinced the likelihood of more telekinetics out there is 99%; but the state investigators and the White Commission decide that "we find no reason to believe that a recurrence is possible or even likely." Cue Amelia's letter.
  • Unusual Euphemism: They're not breasts, they're "dirty pillows."
  • Unstoppable Rage:
    • Carrie finally snaps after Chris pushes her one time too many at the prom and although she spends a lot of the time in Tranquil Fury, there's no mistaking that she wants blood.
    • Margaret's death is also amped up in the film versions. In the novel (and in the musical), Carrie uses her powers to stop Margaret's heart. In the film versions, except the 2002 remake, she stabs and crucifies her with sharp kitchen utensils.
  • Villain Protagonist: Carrie. More precisely she's a Woobie Anti-Villain.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Stephen King based the character of Carrie White on two girls he knew; one while a high school student and another from when he was a teacher. Both were severely bullied outcasts with strange mothers, one of whom was a deranged religious fanatic, and both girls died just a few years after high school.
  • Villains Out Shopping: There's a scene featuring the normally monstrous Margaret happily doing some ironing and listening to one of her favorite records. It', to say the least.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: In all film versions this is how Chris gets Carrie to win by getting her sidekick to switch the ballots. In the book Chris merely does some promoting amongst her clique but Carrie and Tommy only win by one vote. It is mentioned that in the runoff vote, the stacks of ballots are much higher, suggesting that Chris's friends may have slipped in some fake ones and nobody spotted it. It's still only implied, though, while the films take it as fact.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: Carrie destroys her entire town, killing hundreds of people. It's explicitly stated that, within a few months, what was left of Chamberlain, Maine was a Dying Town, on the way to becoming a Ghost Town. The makers of the original film wanted to include this, but they didn't have the budget, and instead settled for destroying just her high school and her house.
  • With Friends Like These...: Billy deliberately leaves his friends' fingerprints on the buckets of blood, amused at the thought of them getting arrested in the aftermath of the prank.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: We really could have titled this trope "The Carrie". She may go psychotic at the end, but she shows remorse as soon as the rampage ends — and after what she endured, it's amazing she didn't snap sooner.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: In the novel we are told that Carrie is 16 years old, and an excerpt from Sue's book says Carrie was 17. But Carrie was born in September 1963 and the book takes place in May 1979, which would actually make Carrie 15, her 16th birthday still four months away. And course being a high school senior she should be at least 17.
    • Margaret also mentions that she tried to murder Carrie when she was a baby, but Ralph stopped her. That must have been quite a feat, considering he had already died before Carrie was born.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: A particularly horrifying case that goes even more horribly wrong.