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Literature / The Mist

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"There's no defense against the will of God. There's no court of appeals in hell. The end times have come; not in flames, but in mist..."

Amanda Dumfries: You don't have much faith in humanity, do you?
Dan Miller: None whatsoever.
Amanda Dumfries: I can’t accept that. People are basically good. Decent. My God, David, we’re a civilized society!
David Drayton: Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911. But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shit out of them, no more rules. You'll see how primitive they can get.

The Mist is a 1980 horror novella written by Stephen King. The story revolves around several members of a small town community who find themselves trapped in the local supermarket when, following a violent thunderstorm, a thick unnatural mist envelopes the town. While tensions arise within the group, the survivors face vicious attack from abnormal creatures prowling in the mist.

A film adaptation was released in 2007, marketed as Stephen King's The Mist. The film is written and directed by Frank Darabont, who had previously adapted Stephen King's work and had been interested in adapting The Mist for the big screen since the 1980s.

It features an ensemble cast including Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones, Andre Braugher, Alexa Davalos and Sam Witwer. Darabont began filming The Mist in Shreveport, Louisiana in February 2007. The director changed the ending of the film to be darker than the novella's ending, a change to which Stephen King was amicable. Unique creature designs were also sought to differ from creatures in past films.


A television series adaptation aired on Spike TV in 2017. The novella was published a second time in 1985 as part of the collection Skeleton Crew.

Not to be confused with Miguel de Unamuno's novella Mist.

This Novella/Film Contains Examples Of:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Frank Darabont infamously changed the ending from the novella into a Diabolus ex Machina for the film. The original left it on a more ambiguous note, with the survivors facing an uncertain fate with the whole world apparently overrun by the monsters from the mist. In the film the main character reluctantly decides to shoot his companions to save them from a more horrible death mere minutes before the mist suddenly starts to dissipitate and the army rolls in to clear the area. Stephen King has said that he actually preferred this version to the one that he wrote.
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  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The film's ending. Good God, the film's ending! The book ends with the survivors hunkering down in a Howard Johnson's, and David narrates that although things are dire, he's still holding onto hope that things will get better. The movie ends with the survivors looking between being killed by the monsters of the mist or taking their own lives—they go with the latter, but now out of bullets, David faces an incoming sound from the mist...and it turns out to be the military, meaning that if they'd just waited a few more minutes, the others (including David's son) would have been saved.
  • Actionized Adaptation: Some of the monster attacks are more action-packed in the film than in the novella. In the novella, only one bird-thing gets through the glass before David and the others kill it, whereas the book has a bird thing and several of the deadly bugs swarm in and take a few more lives. The original expedition to the pharmacy is rather short-lived, while the film's version is longer and has a few changes, such as giving Mrs. Reppler an improvised flamethrower as opposed to just a can of Raid.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Beauty certainly lies in the eye of the beholder, but Marcia Gay Harden is quite not the old hag Mrs. Carmody is portrayed as in the book.
  • Adaptational Badass: Amanda in the novella largely stays away from the action, and is reduced to a screaming mess during the escape to the car. In the film she takes part in fighting back against the bugs and birds that come through the glass and mostly keeps her cool.
  • Adaptation Expansion: There is an extra scene in which someone is killed and given to the monsters as an offering, which Stephen King said he should have thought of himself when writing the story. He has said the same regarding the film's darker ending.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Mrs. Reppler's first name is Hilda in the novella but Irene in the movie.
  • Agent Scully: Norton, for denying anything supernatural. David narrates that he thinks Norton is just incapable of accepting anything but a scientific explanation, for his own sanity's sake.
  • All Webbed Up: Done rather effectively with the spider-like monsters in the pharmacy. Made worse because the webs are coated in caustic secretions.
  • An Aesop:
    • In times of hardship, don’t give up hope that things will get better. In the movie, the main character learns this the worst way possible.
    • Faith can be good motivator, but it may not be necessarily what you need. Making decisions off of what you believe a higher power being would want you to do as opposed to making rational choices in that moment will have consequences.
  • Another Dimension: In-house rumors about the top-secret Arrowhead Project state that the military was attempting to open a portal to another universe, which explains the mist and its monsters.
  • Anyone Can Die: As the situation becomes more and more dangerous—both from the monsters within the mist and the survivors in the store—the body count climbs higher and higher. By the end of the story, Ollie, Mrs. Carmody, Dan Miller, Norm, and others are all dead. The movie has an even higher body count, due in no small part to added characters and Death by Adaptation.
  • Apocalypse How: Depending on how far the mist traveled across the world, the novella and movie both depict an awful regional catastrophe, at least, and possibly anything ranging from a biosphere extinction to the complete annihilation of the fabric of the Universe. At the end of the film, a heavily-armed military clean-up crew is moving in and clearing the mist, implying a regional rather than worldwide catastrophe. In the radio play version at the very end over the radio from the rest of the country you hear: "Death comes. Death comes for all of us." This is also the last words heard from the Arrowhead project, which is where the Mist came from in the first place. Even Darker and Edgier. The original novella ends with all of New England, at least, pulled into the mist, and the heroes left with one slender reed of hope.
  • Arc Welding: Several plot points in The Mist come across as much more meaningful if you've read the Dark Tower series, which connects multiple Stephen King works to each other. If you have, it's pretty clear that the titular mist was actually a "thinny" (a weak spot in the barrier between parallel worlds), that the creatures from the mist were creatures from "Todash" (the primordial darkness between worlds, whose denizens are commanded by the Crimson King), and that Project Arrowhead's theory about the existence of alternate universes was their first step towards realizing the true nature of the Multiverse. The movie subtly highlights the connection: the very first scene shows David painting a picture of a gunslinger standing in front of a black tower, which fans will recognize as an illustration of Roland from The Dark Tower.
  • Ascended Extra: In the novella, the cashier girl that works at the supermarket goes unnamed and disappears quickly from the plot. "Sally" gets a larger role in the film and a romance subplot with Private Jessup before she's stung to death by one of the bugs.
  • Asshole Victim
    • Mrs. Carmody takes advantage of the dire situation to preach her insane religious beliefs to other scared, desperate survivors. She takes every opportunity, including those where people's lives are on the line (or already taken), to be Holier Than Thou and look down upon the others for not believing in the truth. By the time David and a few others decide to leave, Mrs. Carmody has formed a cult that insists on a blood sacrifice for the Mist, and tries to have her followers kill Amanda and Billy. (Note that in the movie, she also throws an innocent private that just so happened to be station at the Arrowhead Project to the mist, getting him killed.) Not one tear is shed when Ollie finally guns her down.
    • To a lesser extent, Norton. While certainly condescending and stuffy (and in the book, leery towards David's wife Stephanie), he's not quite an asshole until David tries to convince him of what's in the mist. Then Norton refuses to listen to any and all reason, even denying the chance to see physical proof that there are unseen horrors outside, and dismisses anything David says because he's sure David is just trying to get back at him over the property dispute. He also convinces several other scared survivors of the same mindset. He ends up digging his own grave when he and the others decide to walk out into the mist despite David and others' pleas with him not to go.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Near the end, some of the monsters grow... big. In the novella, the heroes nearly run into the footprint of one - and it engulfs the entire road. They see it earlier, and it has some rather large bird-like things hanging from its back.
  • Alien Blood: The monsters have either yellow, black, or brown blood.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: When the men try to fix the generator they're attacked by a bunch of tentacles, overpowered and one of them is dragged into the mist. We never know what the rest of the creature looks like, at least in the book.
  • Ax-Crazy: Mrs Carmody. She gets more and more bonkers until she tries to have the entire group killed!
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The entire point of the movie is to show how most people would believe any notion, no matter how crazy it sounds on paper, and commit any atrocity when put in a sufficiently incomprehensible and dangerous situation.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In the book, David and the others escape from the store, but now have to deal with the creatures of the mist. He counts the bullets left in the gun. There's only three left, and he decides that if it comes down to it, he'll "figure something out" for himself. By the end of the book, he and the others are still holding out in a Howard Johnson's. However, the film goes through with it: when it seems that they are out of hope, David shoots all the other survivors in the car (including his son Billy) and still comes up one bullet short. The Cruel Twist Ending is that the sounds they heard approaching was actually the military coming to save them.
  • Big Bad: Despite all the alien nasties outside the store, the biggest threat turns out to be Mrs. Carmody, who soon forms a cult of terrified survivors with herself as the leader.
  • Biological Mash Up: The Gray Widows have incongruously human-like jaws in arachnid bodies. As if having too many legs to be actual spiders was not enough...
  • Bittersweet Ending
    • At the end of the book, David, Amanda, Billy, and Mrs. Reppler are hunkering down in a Howard Johnson's with an uncertain future ahead. The mist and all its horrors are still going strong. Despite their grim circumstances, David is still holding out hope that they'll make it out.
    • In the film, the mist is actually defeated, as we see the military torching it and taking down the creatures within. That said, this ending is much, much more bitter than sweet. Just before the military arrived, David had just mercy-killed the others, thinking there were more monsters approaching. The film ends with David screaming in anguish as he realizes he just killed his three friends and young son for no reason.
  • Black Blood: One trailer retouches the blood on the face of a man who enters the store for shelter.
  • Bloody Handprint: On the glass exit doors left by Private Jessup. It stays there for the rest of the film.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The film is considerably more gruesome than its book counterpart.
    • Norm in the book is still Eaten Alive by the tentacles, but the film also adds said tentacles tearing flesh from his chest and leg.
    • In the novella, when David pulls back the clothesline that was attached to one of Norton's men, all he gets is a frayed end soaked in blood. The film has him pulling back the severed lower half of the man's corpse.
    • After the novella's version of the bird-creature coming in through the store window, an unseen older woman has her leg broken after she's trampeled by the crowd. The movie replaces this by a man being set on fire when he accidentally poured charcoal fluid while trying to fend off the creatures. We see his heavily burned body later in the film.
    • When David's group goes to the pharmacy in the novella, they find a decapitated corpse. In the film, they find a man who has become a nursery for the Grey Widow's hatchlings—his back bursts open in a spray of gore and spiders when he hits the ground.
  • Body Horror: A very prominent example in the pharmacy; the reason that one of the men in that place is still alive is because he is serving as a nursery to several hundred infant Grey Widows..
  • Boom, Headshot!: In the film's climax, as David's group tries to escape from the store and the now-deranged cultists, Ollie takes out Mrs. Carmody, their leader, in this manner after also shooting her in the stomach.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted to tragic effect. Amanda only had twelve bullets for her gun, and only twelve shots are fired during the course of the movie. And then it turns out that twelve bullets were way too many.
  • Brass Balls: Said of the biker who volunteers to leave the supermarket and brave unknown peril to attempt to retrieve a rifle from a pickup in the parking lot.
  • Canon Foreigner: Private Jessup was not in the original novella, whereas in the film he's one of the soldiers who arrived at the supermarket very shortly before the mist came. He also gives a more definitive explanation that the Arrowhead Project caused the mist, whereas in the book it's just something that Ollie and David speculate.
  • Cassandra Truth: David tries to tell the others that there is something outside in the mist, and begs them not to go out to try and unblock the exhaust pipe of the generator. Jim, Norm, and Myron initially dismiss him as just scared, but fear and stress turns it into a shouting match, and David can do nothing else as Norm decides to go out anyway. This results in a tentacled monster killing him, and only then do the others believe him. Later, they try to convince the other survivors in the store, and are once again met with disbelief. Bud Brown eventually comes around when he sees physical proof, but Norton holds fast that David and the others are just trying to pull his leg. Nortan meets the same consequences as Norm when he and his group leave the store and are killed by unseen monsters in the mist.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Possibly the cruelest example in film history. In the final scene of the film, the military finally arrive, successfully taking out the mist and the monsters...after David just mercy-killed his friends and young son, thinking it was monsters coming for them and not help.
  • Coitus Ensues: In the original story, David and Amanda—who are both married to someone else—randomly have Sex for Solace. This is only minimally brought up again after the fact. This is cut in the film, where David and Amanda still have sexual tension but never sleep together.
  • Combat Tentacles: Whatever it was that drags poor Norm to his doom possesses these in spades.
  • Composite Character: Stella Hatlen in the radio drama. In addition to being a Gender Flip version of Mike Hatlen, she shares some of Jim Grondin's traits, in particular the revelation that she used to be a student of Mrs. Reppler's along with her sister Pauline (Jim himself is still in the story; he isn't Adapted Out, but rather just is never specifically identified by name).
  • Cool Old Guy
    • Dan Miller, despite his horrifying first encounter with the mist killing John Lee right in front of him, is the one who first proposes an expedition to the nearby pharmacy. He accompanies David and the others in spite of the unknown monsters lurking in the mist. In the book, he's killed during this venture, but in the film he lives long enough to make it to David's car with the others.
    • Ambrose is another older man who joins in on David's group. He has a shotgun in his truck that he would have gone to get himself if the others hadn't advised him against it. He escapes the store with the others, but whereas in the book he runs back inside after the spiders return, he's killed by them in the parking lot despite his attempt at fighting them off.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Reppler (first name Hilda in the book, Irene in the movie) may be a tiny old woman, but she proves herself to be one of the most formidable survivors of the group. In the book she uses simple Raid to take down the bugs and spiders that attack them, but in the movie, she uses a makeshift blowtorch to take down a Grey Widow. In the film she also get's Amanda's book moment of throwing a can of food at Mrs. Carmody, telling her, "Shut up, you miserable buzzard!"
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The mist is filled with bizarre, otherworldly creatures, from three-foot-long dragonflies to behemoths too large to see through the mist. It's speculated by the survivors that they come from another dimension reached by the Arrowhead Project. Despite the extreme danger they pose, they are only animals, and seemingly only attack humans when they smell them for food.
  • Creator Cameo: Averted for once, although a store window is labeled "King's Pharmacy" in a nod to the author's usual bit parts.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Several.
    • The MP webbed up in the pharmacy store is revealed to be in critical condition from spiders nesting under his skin, until he falls to the floor, and his entire torso explodes with thousands of spiders crawling out of his corpse.
    • Sally, after being stung by one of the giant insects, instantly has her throat swell up until she suffocates.
    • A couple of David's group members take acidic web strands from the giant spiders. While one is shot in the leg, the other is shot square in the face.
    • After accidentally setting himself on fire whilst attempting to drive the ptero-buzzards out of the market, Joe Eagleton lingers for at least a day in unbearable agony before finally succumbing to his burns. Made even worse because the other characters denied his request for a Mercy Kill in order to mount a risky expedition to the adjacent pharmacy for painkillers and antibiotics, which wound up getting Joe's brother killed. On top of that, although they returned with the right medicine, it turned out to be too late to save him anyway.
    • While in the back storage room, Norm meets his fate when tentacles from some unseen monster reach in and take him. It's even worse in the film, where the tentacles first rip off skin from his chest and leg.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The film only. David's car runs out of gas, leaving him and the others stranded in a mist with the monsters that they can hear coming. They all silently decide that it's Better to Die than Be Killed, but with five of them in the car and only four bullets, David is left to figure something out for himself. With his mind broken from killing his friends and his young son, David leaves the car to face whatever monstrosity is coming for him. However, it turns out that what they heard was the military approaching, meaning that if they had just waited a few minutes more, they all would have been saved. The movie ends with David screaming in utter anguish as the military officers simply stare at him, unaware of what he's done.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film still manages to do so despite the original story already being pretty damn bleak. Instead of an uncertain but hopeful ending as David and the others continue their survival of the mist, the movie ends with David mistakenly mercy-killing the others and his son despite help shortly being on the way. The movie also adds a scene in which Private Jessup is sacrificed to a monster in the mist, cementing that Mrs. Carmody's followers have completely lost it.
  • Daylight Horror: Much of the movie actually takes place during the day, but since it's so foggy outside, it's hard to tell either way.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • At the end of the book, Billy, Amanda, and Mrs. Reppler are all still alive, though looking towards uncertain survival within the mist. Here, David mercy-kills them (along with Dan Miller) when it seems that they've run out of all hope.
    • Although he finally makes it back home with his car, David is ultimately unable to see if his wife Stephanie is still alive inside the house, with no way of getting there without entering the mist. He makes the tough decision of leaving her behind, dead or alive. In the film, we see her corpse outside the house, apparently killed by the Grey Widows.
    • Myron, having had his role largely swapped with Jim, dies in his place, getting eaten by a Grey Widower on the way to the car. Ambrose, who in the novella escapes back to the supermarket while making an aborted car park escape, ends up having his path to safety cut off by the same creatures, and gets pounced upon and audibly torn apart off-screen. Bud Brown takes his place of running back to the store.
    • Sally is only a minor, unnamed character in the book who is assumedly still alive in the supermarket when David and the others leave. In the film, she's stung by a bug in the throat, and suffocates from the swelling.
  • Death by Pragmatism: The film goes way past the original story with this. The pragmatic characters who try to help themselves are wrong all the time and mostly end up dead. A woman goes out into the mist at the beginning to save her kids and somehow ends up surviving with them.
  • Death Glare: David gives it to Jim once fighting off the monster that killed Norm, all while Jim did nothing to help, behaving like a deer in a headlight. Prior to that, Jim ridiculed David for being paranoid about "bogeymen" and wanted to be a tough guy. The glare quickly escalates to going physical.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The DVD includes an extra copy of the movie in black and white.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • Dan Miller. In the book, he is killed during the trip to the pharmacy alongside Mike Hatlen and Buddy Eagleton. In the movie, he survives, only to die later during the Downer Ending when David shoots everyone in the Land Cruiser.
    • Hattie also joins David's group in leaving the store in the book, but is killed by the spiders in the parking lot. In the film, she commits suicide by overdose a little over halfway through.
  • Downer Ending: After losing many of their allies to both the monsters and each other (with some dying in front of them no less), David, Amanda, Billy, Dan and Irene reach David's car and escape the supermarket. After driving home to find his wife dead, David drives on but their car eventually runs out of gas. With no sign of escaping the mist, David shoots his son and everybody in the car, but comes up one bullet short to kill himself. He then steps out into the mist to be killed. But instead of monsters, the military emerge from the mist and destroy it as he screams in anguish, because it means that help was literally seconds away and that he killed five people, including his own son for no reason, meaning that his actions that got his own group members killed were All for Nothing. You know an ending is dark when the death of the monster and humanity surviving doesn't make it much happier. Stephen King himself, who created the original short story The Mist, was shocked by the ending, and wished he had come up with it himself.
    King: "Frank wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead."
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The two soldiers trapped in the supermarket hang themselves giving credence to the idea that the mist was caused by a secret government experiment. In the film, a third is left alive to try and explain the situation. Also, several people in the supermarket commit suicide by overdose. Also in the movie, the group of survivors plan to kill themselves to avoid being eaten by the creatures in the mist. This ends very badly.
    • Heroine Amanda Dumfries, who has been looking after Billy, discovers her friend Hattie has committed suicide by overdose after almost getting Billy killed during the monster insect attack.
  • Eaten Alive: The main cause of death in the movie. The creatures of the mist all smell the humans as possible prey, so just about any encounter with them results in at least one person being eaten.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The monsters in the mist are alien and unfathomable, and their existence seems impossible, as their biology is far removed from anything on earth. The tentacles on the largest monster, the Behemoth, certainly evoke a lovecraftian imagery as well. Although at the end of the day they are biological entities that can bleed and die.
  • Evil Luddite: Carmody seems to think that any scientific advance past 1940 is an affront to God. Stem cells and abortions are surprisingly her last appeals to Science Is Bad, although she appears to be going roughly in chronological order.
    Carmody: We are being punished! For what? For going against the will of God! For going against His forbidden rules of old! Walking on the moon! Or... or splitting His atoms! Or... or... or stem cells, and abortions!
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The MP found All Webbed Up in the pharmacy. And, even more horrifiying, David's wife, whose death we do not see...but her webbed-up corpse, split open.
  • Face of a Thug: The biker, who we barely know of, says this to Ms. Carmody after listening to her rants.
    "Hey, crazy lady. I believe in God too. I just don't think he's the bloodthirsty asshole you make him out to be."
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Mrs Carmody's interpretation of how one should be a Christian.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Norton keeps believing that David and the others are trying to prank him by insisting the mist is full of monsters despite various evidence pointing otherwise. David dubs him and his supporters "Flat-Earthers."
  • Fog of Doom: It's in the title.
  • Foreshadowing: A suspicious number of soldiers from the Army are seen going into the town early in the movie, and the three in the supermarket learn that their leave has just been cancelled, indicating there's something big happening that's being kept from the general public.
  • Food Chain of Evil: The bat/bird-things prey on the fly/wasp-things.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Before the events of the film Mrs. Carmody was just another civilian who was an antiques store owner and the town's local Cloudcuckoolander for being Holier Than Thou, but once these monsters rampage through the streets, she becomes the human Big Bad with her cult made up of other survivors.
  • The Fundamentalist: Mrs. Carmody takes her religious fundamentalism to psychotic extremes. She's outright trying for Dark Messiah — she'll save as many souls of the deserving as she can, but forget actual lives... or how she goes about deciding on the "deserving": throw them to the monsters and sacrifice children.
  • Gainax Ending: The book. David, Mrs. Reppler, Amanda, and Billy hunker down in a Howard Johnson's for the night. David is still holding onto hope that they'll find safety somewhere in the mist, but acknowledges that their situation isn't looking good.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The soldiers of the US Army wear these, presumably to protect themselves from unknown pathogens or chemicals.
  • Gender Flip: In the radio play adaptation, town selectman Mike Hatlen is town selectwoman Stella Hatlen. She still shares her book counterpart's fate of winding up as spider chow.
  • Gentle Giant: The "Impossibly Tall Creature", a skyscraper-sized monster that appears at the end. Well, at least it doesn't instantly attack the humans' car.. It's so large (larger in the book, but still utterly gigantic in the film) that it probably doesn't even notice them. Which, given everything else, is probably for the best.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: What finally manages to take out Ollie the assistant manager.
  • Giant Spider: Or at least multi-legged things that spin acidic webbing..
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In the first day the survivors were logical yet fearful as they were trapped in a store. As the story progresses; everyone but David's group becomes god fearing cult zealots who believe their leader is a vessel of God with divine protection and that they are only safe by offering blood sacrifices to the monsters.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Jim, one of the members of the pharmacy expedition, is reduced to a gibbering mess upon seeing the spiders hatch from the MP's body. He joins Carmody's cult after he recovers slightly.
  • God Is Evil: Mrs Carmody believes that God can only be appeased through blood and sacrifice. She believed that the event mirrored passages from her bible and she wanted people to repeat The Binding of Isaac in order to appease him. At first people didn't believe her but when one of the insects had lost interest in her after landing on her, they started agreeing with her beliefs and believed that Carmody had divine protection by being God's vessel.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The scene at the end of the film where David shoots his son and the other three passengers. Then you hear a scream of pure anguish.
  • Government Conspiracy: Although it is never stated outright, the secretive Arrowhead Project at the Shaymore military base is believed by most of the characters to be the cause of the disaster. In the movie one of the soldiers in the store confirms this theory.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: In the film, this is the fate of the man who David asks to wear a rope around his waist just so the others can tell they made it so far. David ends up pulling back the lower half of his corpse still attached to the rope.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: While everyone in the store is curiously trying to figure out why firetrucks are going down the road and why the town siren is wailing, Dan Miller runs in, bloodied and frenzied.
    Dan: Something in the mist! Something in the mist took John Lee!
  • Hate Sink:
    • Mrs. Carmody, a Holier Than Thou nutcase who believes everything that is happening is God's punishment, and time and again scorns others for not believing in her case that a blood sacrifice must be made. The more followers that she gets, the more evident it is (especially in the film) that she's taking great smugness is being the leader of the desperate people she took advantage of. She's ultimately the Big Bad of the film, as while the monsters may be in the mist outside, Mrs. Carmody's cult inside the supermarket grows more and more bloodthirsty—to the point of killing an innocent soldier in the film and attempting to kill both Billy and Amanda in the climax. One couldn't be blamed for rejoicing when Ollie kills her.
    • Brent Norton. Primarily it is because of how stubborn and how much of a Straw Vulcan he is. Despite the fact there are monsters outside the mist, he firmly keeps saying this is all because David wants to "get back at him" for some lawsuit that occurred before the events of the book. The movie makes him way worse and he is just completely as unlikable as Mrs. Carmody, but without all the Large Ham moments.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Once the people in the store are deprived of technology and social structure, they'll start listening to anyone with a solution to their problems. Carmody's cult starts sacrificing people because they believe it's the only thing keeping the monsters at bay and because they don't want to be sacrificed next. As Ollie cynically puts it;
    Ollie: "As a species we're fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another."
  • Holier Than Thou: Mrs. Carmody believes that not only is God angrily punishing them all with the mist, but that she's the only one who can be His "vessel" and lead the others to salvation. Note she tells the others that going to the pharmacy will draw "death" to the other survivors, but she doesn't have a similar problem with throwing out Private Jessup as a sacrifice right outside the door.
  • A House Divided: The survivors are time and time again struggling with both the horrors of the mist and infighting between them. First Norton and his Flat-Earth group refuse to take part in any of the others' precautions, believing that the whole thing is a hoax. After he and his group are killed when they leave, Mrs. Carmody's cult of broken and desperate survivors grows and grows, becoming more and more of a threat to those in David's group.
  • Humanity Is Insane: As Ollie calmly illustrates when the humans start tearing each other apart: "As a species we're fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another."
  • Human Sacrifice: Mrs. Carmody persuades her cult to start doing this to appease God and the creatures outside in the mist. In the film, she actually succeeds in this once when she convinces the others to throw Private Jessup out to the monsters. In both versions, she leads her bloodthirsty followers to try and kill Billy and Amanda for another sacrifice. Ollie kills her before they succeed.
  • Humans Are Bastards: It's pretty disgusting and pathetic how quickly anarchy takes over after people took shelter in the supermarket. As Amanda disbelievingly points out, it doesn't even take two days!
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: If they get scared enough, humans become downright monsters, which is actually the point of the whole story. The "monsters" from the mist are just animals (granted, dangerous, mostly predatory alien ones) doing what comes naturally.
  • Idiot Ball: Nobody thinks that attracting creatures with light will end badly. The smart thing during the night is to keep it dark (humans have decent night vision).
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Each chapter of the novella is headed with a synopsis of that chapter.
  • Jerkass: Several characters in the store, mainly Jim and Brent. But the ultimate one has to be Mrs. Carmody, a horrid religious bitch who slowly goes from a mere annoyance to pure evil.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Despite being nothing short of unpleasant, Mrs. Carmody did advise against venturing outside the grocery store, warning anybody who did leave that they would die out in the mist. Every group that attempted to escape was attacked, with fatalities occurring each time. Justified in that most of those who followed her most likely survived, or at least were not shown to have the same grim outcome as her naysayers did in the film adaptation.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: By the end of the movie, it is openly surprising and infuriating that the main characters don't kill Jim Grondin. First, he disbelieves that there is anything in the mist and says they're cowards for not letting Norm go out - then when they open the back gate and Norm is attacked by a giant, mouthed, clawed tentacle monster, Jim doesn't help as Norm is slowly dragged outside, but simply stands there gaping in terror. Even these might be forgiven as first he had no idea there were monsters out there, and the first sight of a monster might make anyone freeze up in shock. But after that it's absurd: when all of the alien wasps and pterodactyls are attracted to the light from the lanterns they have in the windows, the main characters realize this and start turning them off - while Jim panics and for no discernible reason starts frantically running around turning on all of their battery-powered floodlights. The monsters are attracted by the extra lights and many people die. After that, when they're in the pharmacy, and the acid-spiders show up, instead of staying quiet like everyone else and hoping not to attract their attention, Jim panics yet again and starts shouting uncontrollably. Seriously, at that point, why doesn't anyone just kill Jim to ensure their own survival?
  • Kaiju: At one point near the end, the survivors encounter a colossal, tentacled beast easily as tall as a skyscraper. Their only saving grace is that it doesn't even notice them as it walks past, but it really drives home the hopelessness of the situation.
  • Karmic Death: Mrs. Carmody's very well-deserved date with two revolver bullets near the end.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire is very effective against the monsters. A torch takes down one of the pterodactyl monsters, Irene uses an aerosol flamethrower to kill a spider monster, and the military uses flamethrowers to clear away the mist at the end.
  • Knight Templar: Mrs. Carmody again. She believes that she is God's "vessel" among the survivors. When the others reject her ideas for blood sacrifice and other insane beliefs, she declares that they are the disbelievers who brought down God's wrath to begin with.
  • Large Ham: Marcia Gay Harden takes the cake for this. She takes a religious woman and makes her go from relatively sane to completely insane and it works.
  • Lawful Stupid: Every member of Mrs. Carmody's cult follows her commands, no matter how insane or reprehensible they may sound to the audience's ears.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Meek, unassuming assistant manager Ollie Weeks proves that he's actually pretty handy with a pistol, much to the surprise and unease of his boss. He makes every shot he takes with his handgun, a phenomenal feat considering how terrifying and weird the monsters are, while maintaining presence of mind enough to refuse to take shots that would endanger other people. Well, right up until he has to kill a person and has a nervous breakdown because of it... In general, he handles the crisis/subsequent nightmare better than everybody else except for David, but he is the main protagonist so it is expected.
  • Logical Weakness: As huge and dangerous they are, giant spiders and centipedes are still harmed by ordinary bug spray. The latter was cut out of the final draft however.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Unusually enough it ends up being this in the movie. At the very end, the seemingly unstoppable Mist is killed by the military. Though you can't call it a happy ending for David.
  • Mama Bear: Call her what you will, but the woman in the beginning who leaves the store alone proves she is one. Could you leave your young children alone without trying to get back to them? Oh and she survives and rescues her kids. And though the movie doesn't go into it, it's possible that she survived due to leaving early when there may have been fewer creatures about.
  • Mauve Shirt: The Eagleton’s, the biker, Cornell, Hattie, Bud and Myron, all of whom have some impact on the plot and a decent amount of scenes, but less focus than the core characters.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Did the flying scorpion not sting Mrs. Carmody simply because it was an animal that acted unpredictably (as animals do), or did Mrs. Carmody's prayer really have something to do with it? And at the end, she says that by sacrificing Billy and Amanda the monsters will be dissuaded, and Billy and Amanda are among the last characters to die before the mist is cleaned up.
  • Moral Myopia: Mrs. Carmody is shot by a good guy after commanding her flock to sacrifice an innocent young boy to the monsters that invaded before slipping even harder and screaming "KILL THEM ALL!". The response from one of the flock: "You murdered her!" The book's narration by David even notes that no one spoke up to point out that she had been planning exactly that for his son.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Both Jim and Myron talk big, projecting a tough guy persona, and treat David with contempt for having "jitters". When Norm is attacked by the tentacles, they completely freeze, unable to to anything, while it's David and Ollie who try their very best to save the kid.
  • Militaries Are Useless: The army is responsible for the disaster, and are incapable of quickly (if at all) fighting back against the horrors they unleashed upon the world. Four days into the mess, David and the other supermarket survivors are still without militial help. Averted at the end of the film version. The military eventually deploys in force, and begins to clear out the Mist ecology.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • When Mrs. Carmody's cult starts to attack the surviving military officer, you can see Mrs. Carmody's shocked expression basically saying this, possibly her one moment of true sanity in the whole film... and then it melts away as she turns around and orders him thrown to the monsters as a sacrifice.
    • Ollie has a short breakdown after gunning down Mrs. Carmody. Sure, she was a fanatic madwoman, and convinced her cult to use people as monster chow, but Ollie still felt the guilt of killing another human being.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Irene Reppler, the elderly school teacher (Frances Sternhagen), fries a giant acid-spitting spider with a lighter and a can of bug-spray, all the while having a terrifying facial expression in that way that only old ladies can. She also clocks Mrs. Carmody in the face with a can of peas, reminds her that the old testament was OK with stoning people to death, and then said there was plenty more where that came from. King has a knack for writing about capable OAPs. (In the novella, David considers her the most competent member of his group, except maybe Ollie.)
  • New England Puritan: Mrs. Carmody is primarily known around town for her rabid faith. However, she ends up getting a following after a mysterious mist envelops the town, trapping the survivors in a supermarket.
  • Nice Girl: Sally the cashier and Amanda Dumfries are both kind characters who try their best to help the other survivors and keep everyone calm.
  • No Ending: The book "ends" with David and the others taking refuge in a Howard Johnson's, uncertain of what they'll do next. David lampshades in his narraration that their story isn't really "ending," and he's just going to leave his testament of what happened on the counter in case anyone finds it.
  • No Name Given: The woman with the kids at home.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The creatures that arrive with the mist are undeniably dangerous, but they don't act out of evil or hatred for mankind, but simple animal instinct, which of course highlights the depths humans are willing to stoop to in order to survive...
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Due to the thick mist, several deaths are not actually witnessed, but based on what the people inside the store can tell, it's not pretty out there.
  • Not So Invincible After All: The creatures in the mist hold their own more than fine against frightened, trapped civilians, but they are no match against trained soldiers armed with automatic weapons and flamethrowers.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The store's manager Bud Brown comes across as sort of low-level version of this. Despite everything that's happening, he insists on writing down the name of everyone drinking beer that they did not purchase. Amoral Attorney Brent Norton can qualify too due to his vehement disbelief in the supernatural and his Upper-Class Twit attitude in regards.
  • Ominous Fog: The entire setup. An otherwordly mist rolls into town, and with it, deadly creatures that cannot be explained.
  • Ominously Cut Tether: A man who ventures out into the mist trails a line, which gets yanked upwards by something, and eventually the group in the store manage to reel the cord back covered in blood.
  • One-Woman Wail: The last ten minutes or so. Incidentally, the track used is "The Host of Seraphim" by Dead Can Dance, who provided most of the One-Woman Wail in the film that popularized it, Gladiator.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Toby Jones (Ollie Meeks) has a full-on English accent for one line near the end of the movie.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The Giant Spiders spin horribly corrosive webs and lay eggs inside corpses (and at least one still-living person), and those are the most typical creatures about. Others include the four-winged pterosaur-bats, a largely-unseen creature whose cephalopod tentacles have mouths instead of suckers, and the... err.. six-legged behemoth covered in prehensile tendrils. Another creature, seen mostly in silhouette only, vaguely resembles a praying mantis the size of a small house.
  • Papa Wolf: David. He has his young son Billy with him in the supermarket, and part of his will to survive against the monsters is getting back to his son alive.
  • Pet the Dog
    • A minor one, but the cult evidently let the manager back inside after he got separated from the others, despite the fact that his buddies killed their leader. This suggests that, without the poisonous influence of Mrs. Carmody, the cultists quickly reverted back to being ordinary, scared, more-or-less decent people.
    • In the book, Bud—who has been quite the hard-ass through the story, insisting that no one eat or drink anything from the store they didn't buy—actually gives Ollie and David good wishes before they leave.
  • Race Lift: Brent Norton is white in the book but played by the African-American Andre Braugher in the film.
  • Religion of Evil: After Mrs. Carmody is able to create a cult, she convinces them to sacrifice the soldier to the creatures to keep them at bay and nearly sacrificed Billy if she wasn't killed by Ollie.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In the film, Mrs. Carmody ends up being entirely correct in saying that everyone should stay holed up in the grocery store in order to survive. Her reasoning behind why, however, is completely skewed and ends up creating more problems than it solves given that it involves forming a tyrannical religious cult that is totally down with human sacrifices.
  • Sanity Slippage: This happens to the majority of the store patrons, but special mention goes to Jim, who grows more and more shell-shocked from the monsters and the deaths caused by them, before he finally snaps and joins Mrs. Carmody's cult.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Just as the mist rolls into town, a man decides to try and flee to his car, ignoring Stan's warnings. He fumbles with the keys just as the fog engulfs him. His fate is ambiguous, but judging by his terrified scream and what happens later on in the movie it probably wasn't pretty.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In the ending, after running out of gas in their unsuccessful attempt at escaping the mist, the lead character mercy-kills his entire party including his own son (it would've been group suicide instead of euthanasia, but he was one bullet short). About one minute later the military finally shows up with tanks and flamethrowers, along with cars and cars full of survivors, meaning the insane cult they had just left to escape likely survived. To top it all off, among the survivors, he sees the woman brave enough to leave the supermarket at the beginning of the movie, and her children are fine as well.
  • Shout-Out:
    • David is painting Roland of Gilead, from Stephen King's opus The Dark Tower, when the storm hits. The monsters, and the implications of the Arrowhead Project also seem similar to the Todash monsters in that series.
      • Furthermore, when the MC is describing how one's mind opens up after experiencing a certain amount of horror, he mentions just accepting things like the dead walking and talking, and roses singing.
    • Another design in the room is that of the poster of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Shouldn't come as a surprise that he directed a similar movie called The Fog (1980).
    • The line "My life for you," spoken by Mrs. Carmody, has been said by a number of villainous characters in the Dark Tower books. Most notably Trashcan Man in The Stand.
    • The siren that goes off as the fog comes rolling in sounds similar to one that went off every time creepy stuff was about to go down in another story about a town shrouded in mist and filled with monsters. It's likely (although not confirmed) that the original novella influenced the game. note 
    • The dead creatures liquefy in the same way as the "things" in From a Buick 8, another work by King involving otherworldly monsters.
    • The painting used on the CD cover of Pan's Labyrinth in the studio.
    • Amanda Dumfries - no relation to Andy Dufresne?
  • Skyward Scream: David makes one at the very end after he finds out the mercy kill he gave his son and surviving friends has been for nothing.
  • The Soulsaver: Let's just say that Mrs. Carmody is not the kind of person who knocks at your door asking for a few minutes of your time to talk about Jesus. Well, all right, she does offer you a chance to repent and join her. If you refuse, however, she has... a very extreme opinion about what to do with heathens when The Lord Almighty is pissed off.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: As noted in One-Woman Wail, the survivors' drive away from the supermarket across the misty, web-entangled New England landscape — and under a gigantic Eldritch Abomination — is set to Dead Can Dance's "The Host of Seraphim", making it even more haunting. And then it starts again when David sees the Army coming in through the mist after he just shot his son and companions.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The fate of the woman with the kids at home was left ambiguous after she left in the book. The film showed that she and her kids managed to survive.
    • Jim is killed in the novella, but is presumably still alive in the film.
    • Narrowly subverted by Dan Miller, who dies in both versions. In the book, he is killed during the pharmacy expedition. In the film, he is one of the few who actually makes it to the car out, almost surviving the entire movie.
  • Stern Teacher: Mrs. Reppler. David states in the novella that she had "terrified generations of third-graders".
  • Straw Vulcan: Norton and his group of skeptics who leave the store because they don't believe there are any monsters in the mist. Lets back up a step. If the skeptics are right about the mist being natural and stay in the store then the weather will blow over in a few hours to a day or someone will come by looking for the grocery store and update them on the situation. They are on their way after a short delay, at most a minor inconvenience. If the other groups are right about the mist and there are monsters outside the best bet for survival is not to go outside to be picked off by monsters. The risk analysis of the situation, however low the probability of lethal monsters, would point to staying in the well stocked grocery store and not wandering off. So of course they choose the 'rational choice' after concluding there are no monsters and immediately decide to leave. Norton tells David right before he leaves that if he's wrong the joke will be on him. Poor decision or not, he is at least willing to admit that much. In the novella, David thinks that Norton is, at some level, committing deliberate suicide.
  • Take Our Word for It: When the men that wander into the mist in spite of David's warnings, they tie a rope to one of them just to be safe. A few seconds after walking into the fog, the rope starts to rapidly shoot out into the mist and uses up the entirety of its length before rising high into the air and dropping back down. The people inside the store pull the rope back to see that in the movie, the person at the end is half the man he used to be, while in the book, there is nothing left at the end of the rope, which is covered in blood and appears to have been chewed through.
  • Talk to the Fist: In the film, when Norm is dragged out by the tentacles and killed, Jim still tries to pretend none of this was his fault and still talks smack to David, who spend last few moments fighting for the life of the kid. David shuts him up with a right hook, then starts beating him sensless. It's only Ollie's intervention that stops the beating.
  • Tamer and Chaster: In the novella, David is immediately sexually attracted to Amanda Dumfries. He tries to dismiss his lust as just a byproduct of the stress, especially because he still loves his wife Stephanie, but he still ends up having Sex for Solace with Amanda anyway. The film cuts this out and leaves it at sexual tension.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Despite Mrs Carmody's insanity, she was right that nobody should leave the store because of the creatures within the mist.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Neighbour Brent Norton disregards David's and his own common sense to prove himself by walking straight outside into the creepy fog. The result shouldn't be surprising. And before he did that, when he was given a fair warning, he agnrily dismissed everything David and every other person said to him, seeing it as an attempt to pull a prank on him and bringing up his hurt ego over an old lawsuit - and he remains unconvinced even when faced with evidence. This is further played-up in the film, where his Pride is near lethal before the mist even shows up.
    • The survivors decide to take Mrs. Carmody's advice and use Human Sacrifice as a way to appease God and the creatures in the mist. That kind of stuff will only draw more monsters to the immediate area around the store. Predators swarm at the smell of blood or the chance for an easy meal, so sacrificing people was actually the stupidest thing they could've done. The mist creatures seem to hunt by sense of smell or hearing because of low visibility, so attracting them to the store with an easy, injured meal would've also alerted them to the people hiding inside of it.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Mrs. Carmody, who turns half the people trapped in the store into religious fanatics, making it increasingly more dangerous for those in the store that still have their sanity. And most watchers are likely to be thrilled upon watching her being "disposed of".
  • Upper-Class Twit: Big city New Yorker Amoral Attorney Brent Norton.
  • Vagina Dentata: The tentacle monster's mouth.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In the "Notes" section of Skeleton Crew, King writes that the storm on Long Lake in Bridgton and the subsequent day-after trip to the grocery store for supplies went pretty much as he wrote it in the story. While he was in the store, though, he got a humorous vision of a prehistoric bird flying around and crashing into things—which image became the impetus for "The Mist."
  • Villainous Breakdown: While clearly insane, Mrs. Carmody remains rather collected for the most part, with the occasional aggressive outburst. However, it isn't until she catches David and the others trying to steal food and escape the store that she completely wigs out and screams for Billy, Amanda, and eventually the whole gang to be sacrificed to the monsters.
  • Wham Shot: A powerfully unexpected shot kicks off the infamous twist ending. After David mercy kills the other survivors on his car, he exits the car and looks into the mist, shouting for the monsters to come and kill him. David sees something large in the mist, and his expression changes from one of desperation to one of shock. The shot turns around, and looks over David's shoulder into the mist. The large object emerges from the mist. Instead of a monster like what David and the audience expects, it's a tank from the US army.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Carmody's remaining cult isn't seen again after David and his group kill her and leave the store for good. The cult was very likely saved by the army, as no one had any intention of leaving the store. Either that, or their earlier behavior wound up attracting more monsters. This is unlikely, however; as they weren't doing anything to attract any new attention, nor did they seem willing enough to sacrifice Bud Brown, who was pretty much the only unbeliever left in the store, to avenge Mrs. Carmody.
    • Frank Darabont reportedly wanted to show that the cult survived by showing them in one of the rescue trucks at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, most of the extras and actors were unavailable to do this, as their parts were finished.
    • The other children are conspicuously missing in the final scenes. Which gives off some unsettling implications.
  • Wilhelm Scream: The infamous scream can be faintly heard amidst the man's other screams as the spider monsters mutilate him in the mist during the escape attempt from the store near the movie's end.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The premise of Mrs. Carmody's sway over the townsfolk works for as long as readers and viewers ignore the fact she's a local and as such, everyone and their dog knows already she's a Cloudcuckoolander and a religious nutjob. This means nobody would ever took her serious, a well-studied phenomena when preachers are completely ineffective toward people that know them personally prior to their proselytising work. She could gain genuine sway if it was just random people crammed together in the shop with her and nobody knowing her, but they are more than familiar - and sick - of her Holier Than Thou attitude before the events of the story.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Mrs. Carmody convinces her cult to sacrifice Billy in hopes of making the creatures lose interest in the cult (however given that she was arguing with the protagonist during this time, this may have been more for personal gain rather than appeasing the creatures) however Ollie kills her before they are able to succeed
  • Wrong Name Outburst: When David has sex with Amanda, she calls out somebody else's name. He doesn't care.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Norm's behavior has shades of this. He's a teenager by David's guess, and in the novella's narration, David guesses that his determination to go outside into the mist to unblock the generator's exhaust pipe comes largely from trying to prove his "machoness."


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