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Literature / Under the Dome

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Under the Dome is a 2009 novel written by Stephen King.

After a rural Maine town finds itself suddenly enclosed inside a mysterious and almost impenetrable barrier, a power-hungry selectman launches plans to take over the town while others try to avoid his wrath and find out what created the barrier. Looked at as an allegory, it comes off as unsubtle, with hints of Does This Remind You of Anything?, but taken as a straight story, is surprisingly fast-paced and touching given the Loads and Loads of Characters it has to handle.

The book got adapted into a TV series for CBS by King and Brian K. Vaughan.

Please add series tropes to that page.


Under the Dome contains examples of:

  • Academic Athlete: Scarecrow Joe is a Teen Genius but also a good basketball player thanks to his 6'2 height at age 13.
  • Action Survivor: Almost everyone still alive at the end of the story earns this to some degree, but particularly Ollie Dinsmore. Minutes from being consumed by an advancing wall of fire he improvises a life support system from an old oxygen tank and some potatoes.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: After everything else failed, Julia goes to the box generating the Dome, and begs one of the aliens to let them live. It works.
  • The Alcoholic: "Sloppy" Sam Verdreaux, the town drunk ridiculed by almost everyone. He ends up saving the last survivors at the end, to the surprise of all.
  • Alliterative Family: The Killian's and the Appleton's.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: The giant fire that consumes Chester's Mill leaves little over a hundred survivors, but many die from the smoke inhalation alone. The last survivors huddle at the edge, where military officials set up industrial fans to pump more oxygen in, but time begins to run out for them.
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  • Anyone Can Die: On the cusp of baring Big Jim's machinations to the town, the dearly-departed police chief's wife is summarily choked to death by Big Jim himself. Andrea Grinnell is gunned down in a town meeting. Most jarring, perhaps, is the gradual erosion of the Dinsmore family due to various and sundry Dome-related maladies. The remaining son survives. Barely. King throws some final punches at the end when he kills young'uns Benny Drake and Aidan Appleton, old man Ernie Calvert and out-of-towner Thurston. To put it in perspective: Chester's Mill had a population around two thousand when the dome dropped. There are 26 survivors all in all.
  • Anticlimax: The build-up of the conflict between Big Jim Rennie and the heroes doesn't lead to a final battle. Instead, Big Jim is brought down by an explosion that destroys the town, so he has nothing to rule over anymore, and eventually dies of a heart attack.
  • Arc Words
    • "Stop the Great Pumpkin! Stop Halloween!"
    • "We all support the team."
  • Ascended Extra: Carter Thibodeau is at first just another one of the lackeys Big Jim Rennie wrangles in as an "officer", but as Randolph continues to be of little help and Junior becomes steadily more reckless, he starts to become Big Jim's right-hand man.
  • The Atoner
    • Sam Verdreaux, the town drunk, was paid by Rennie (in booze) to initiate the riot at Food City. Later on he makes up for it by helping Barbie and Julia make their way through the poisonous air to the alien "box" generating the Dome.
    • Barbie himself has shades of this, as it's revealed in flashbacks that he participated in the brutal beating and killing of a random innocent Iraqi in retaliation for a squadmate's death by IED.
  • Ax-Crazy: Junior Rennie, by his first introductory chapter. He kills Angie in her home and then Dodee Sanders when she comes to seek her comfort. His later help in Coggins' death is more fueled by helping out Big Jim, but he finally sets out on a gun-loaded rampage to hunt down Barbie, with every intent to mow down everyone in his path. His behavior ends up being fueled by a brain tumor.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Chief Perkins and Officer Randolph are introduced as such. Chief Perkins is respected by all, both in and out of the job, while Randolph is rather hopeless by himself and needs leadership. After Perkins' death at the Dome, Big Jim Rennie fills the role, albeit without being a cop and with much more sinister intent.
  • Big Bad: Big Jim Rennie. Almost the second that the Dome goes down, he's already conspiring on how to use the panic of the people to become a dictator in the town. He starts by getting a special police force of knowingly violent individuals and gives them pretty much free reign to do whatever they please, including gangraping Sammy Bushey. And even before the Dome, he's been taking part in a townwide meth operation that he blackmails people into keeping quiet about. When Coggins and Brenda threaten to spill the secret, he kills the both of them. When Barbie is promoted to Colonel and told to take control over the town, Rennie conspires to frame him for murder just to do so. A good chunk of Chester Mill's citizens are fully aware of what a crook he is but are powerless to stop him.
  • Big Dumb Object: The Dome is a toy for spiritual alien kids, who are playing with Chester Mill's citizens like humans play with ants.
  • Biggus Dickus: Mel Searles has a huge penis, so when he rapes Sammy, it's more painful for her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: An explosion set off by Chef sets of an apocalyptic fire that rages through the trapped town, killing thousands of people within a few minutes. Survivors head to safety, but even a few of them die from the poisonous air. In one last ditch effort, Julia, Barbie, and Sam go to beg the alien children to spare them, and it works. Julia, Barbie, and several other characters finally escape the Dome to safety, but at the cost of thousands of human lives, including men, women, and children.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: At the end in the Town Hall's bomb shelter, Carter turns on Big Jim in order to preserve oxygen. It doesn't work, as Big Jim gets the better of him and kills him instead.
  • Berserk Button: Reverend Piper Libby has anger issues that she has managed to keep under control for most of her life. This, however, goes down the drain when she finds out that Georgia, a woman, was present at Sammy Bushey's gang rape and encouraged it instead of helping her.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: When Ollie throws rocks at the Dome, one of the soldiers from the other side starts a conversation with him:
    Soldier: Why don't y'all quit on the rocks and do somethin' about those cows? Herd em into the barn and milk em or rub soothin' shit on their udders; somethin' like that.
    Ollie: We don't need to herd them. They know where to go. Only now they don't need to be milked, and they don't need any Bag Balm, either. Their udders are dry.
    Soldier: Yeah?
    Ollie: Yeah. My dad says something's wrong with the grass. He says the grass is wrong because the air's wrong. It doesn't smell good in here, you know. It smells like crap.
    Soldier: Yeah?
    Ollie: Yeah. My mother killed herself this morning.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In one particularly creepy piece of narration King describes the reader as being present among the town's inhabitants but invisible to them, perceptible as only a light breeze. This can become Fridge Horror, if you view the entire book as being from the readers perspective and then consider the cause of the dome.
  • Break the Cutie
    • Julia after her newspaper and apartment are destroyed. Later, there's a traumatic incident from her childhood which she's forced to re-live.
    • During the events of the book Ollie loses his brother, then his mother and finally his father. He decides to stay at their farm. Soon after, it's destroyed and Ollie spends the rest of the book being very close to death.
    • Sammy Bushey being gangraped after so long of being disrespected and ridiculed by members of the "special police" leads her to kill two of them and commit suicide.
    • Dodee Sanders finds out that her mother died on Dome Day, has a pretty bad breakdown as a result, then when going to a friends to try and find comfort, walks in on Junior having just committed a murder, and becomes his second victim.
  • Candy Striper: The hospital has two teenage volunteer nurses, Gina Buffelino and Harriet Bigelow.
  • Celebrity Crush: Rose Twitchell has a crush on Wolf Blitzer whom she calls "Wolfie".
  • Censorship by Spelling: Carolyn does it with the word "dope" in front of Alice and Aidan, but it doesn't work:
    Carolyn: Before we go making any charges, Thurse, you want to remember that we had D-O-P-E.
    Alice: Dope! Our mom smokes marijuana some­times, because it helps when she's having her P-E-R-I-O-D.
  • The Cheerleader: Although a lot of what we hear about her personality is secondhand, Angie Mc Cain was a cheerleader (with the balancing skills it taught briefly giving her an edge when Junior comes to kill her and she slips while running) and was the girlfriend of Junior's crony Frank De Lesseps. She also made a False Rape Accusation against Barbie after he rejected a pass she made.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Sam Verdreaux, the town drunk. At the end of the story, Sam comes up with the plan to get Barbie and Julia to the dome-generating box, sacrificing his life to do so.
  • Chemical Messiah: There's a character known as the "Chef" who cooks meth for the Big Bad. He regular uses his own product and spends the majority of his time in a meth-induced hyper-religious haze, wherein he believes he's doing God's work.
  • Closed Circle: The main problem faced by the people of Chester's Mill. The entire town becomes a closed circle the moment that the dome comes down, and remains so until the Eldritch Abomination children controlling it are convinced to let the people inside go.
  • Cool Old Lady: Henrietta Clavard, who manages to laugh at having hurt her rear end during the Food City riot, admits she'd been in the wrong, and later has a powerful Face Death with Dignity moment during Visitor's Day while trying to comfort a younger woman.
  • Corrupt Politician: Big Jim Rennie is only one of the town's selectmen, but he quickly establishes himself as the number-one authority with a violent police force and much behind-the-scenes scamming.
  • Covers Always Lie: The hardcover cover art depicts a much smaller Dome than what is described in the novel. Not to mention the fact that the dome is actually invisible (the cover art shows a glassy, reflecting dome) and isn't even round (the cover art shows it to be neatly spherical).
  • Death of a Child: After the firestorm, many children are killed, including an infant crushed under a car and even little Aiden Appleton, due to smoke inhalation.
  • Decoy Antagonist: Junior Rennie is built up as a dangerous wild card, and the unspecified source of his migraines is hinted to have some kind of alien/supernatural origin. Ultimately it turns out to just be a brain tumor, and Junior is unceremoniously shot in the back about two thirds of the way through the book.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Rory Dinsmore, after being humiliated and grounded from the impromptu fair by his family, gets it into his head that he'll become a world-famous hero if he uses a rifle to pop the dome around Chester's Mill. The narration itself says that Rory was so high on this fantasy that he never thought to use logic—i.e., "If a plane and a pulp truck couldn't destroy the dome, why would a single rifle fire?"
  • The Dog Bites Back: After being gangraped Sammy Bushey kills two of her tormentors. Then herself.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Chef dislikes being called by his real name, Phil.
  • Doorstopper: The hardcover clocks in at about 1074 pages.
  • The Dragon: Junior, and later Carter Thibodeau both serve this role to Big Jim, carrying out much of his dirty work..
  • Driven to Suicide
    • Jack Evans is the first suicide under the Dome, after the death of his wife, who had her arm cut off by the Dome's fall.
    • After her gang-rape and other torment, not to mention being left by her husband to be a single parent, Sammy Bushey kills herself after taking out two of the "special deputies".
    • Both of Ollie Dinsmore's parents kill themselves following the death of their youngest son, Rory.
    • Out of the thousands of people who are scorched alive following the utter firestorm that wrecks the town, resident dentist Boxer is one of the few who kills himself rather than burn alive.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Many of the town's questionable or outright villainous citizens are all involved in a meth operation that they are willing to lie, cheat, and even kill to cover for. Andrea Grinnell's addiction is a huge pain for her to overcome, and Sammy Bushey is criticized several times for her drug use. To top it all of, Chef Bushey, the man who's making the meth for said operation, is completely addicted out of his mind, to the point of starting off a Dome-trapped apocalypse in the name of God.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Carolyn Sturge. King spent a decent amount of time developing her character, what with her coming to grips with taking care of Aidan and Alice, and even deciding that she'd give them up to their original parents, if they were still alive. On paper, this isn't as bad until you take into account that she only went to the town meeting because Aidan and Alice begged her to take them to it, resulting in them getting a front-row seat for her death. The worst part about it is that it came out of nowhere, as she's murdered for absolutely no good reason.
    • Junior as well. He's set up as one of the three main villain threats along Chef and Big Jim, but during the operation to break Barbie out of jail, he's gunned down with little fanfare.
  • Due to the Dead: Even though Chef left his wife, Sammy, became a meth addict and went completely insane, he still considered his duty to bury her body.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The alien children. Those who hallucinate them can only describe them as "leatherheads", vaguely human but far and deep into the uncanny valley. They view humans the way we see ants, and put up the Dome to begin with just to watch Chester Mill's citizens suffer.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: While it doesn't rack up the body-count of some of King's apocalyptic stories, the book wipes out almost the entire town's population, plus all the passengers on a jumbo jet. This includes some of the book's major characters, who make it to the relative safety of the north end of town but die of smoke inhalation and oxygen deprivation.
  • Evil Cripple:
    • Junior has a brain tumor, which is the cause of his violent behaviors. By the time Rusty diagnoses it, Junior is far beyond saving.
    • Also his father, Big Jim, who has a heart condition that he only worsens by his unhealthy habits. It ends up killing him in the end.
  • Evil vs. Evil: For given values of 'evil', but neither side is really good: Big Jim Rennie sends eleven of his cops over to the Holy Redeemer church to take out Chef and Andy Sanders, and take possession of the propane stored there. Chef and Andy, who knew Big Jim would send men after them eventually, were lying in wait, and they kill every last one of the cops, except the one who really deserved it, Melvin Searles, who raped Sammy Bushey, who was Chef's wife back when he was still Phil Bushey and relatively sane. However, Melvin does buy it when Andy and Chef blow the stored propane and pull a Taking You with Me on the entire town.
  • Expy
    • "Big Jim" Rennie seems to be a Large Ham combination of Dick Cheney, Saddam Hussein, and every Corrupt Hick imagined.
    • Likewise, the first selectman Andy Sanders is one for George W. Bush.
    • In a way, Junior Rennie could be one for Uday Hussein.
    • Phil "Chef" Bushey is a human version of Gollum. Meth is his One Ring.
    • The scary thing for Torontonian readers is how prescient the book seems when comparing Big Jim Rennie to Rob Ford. Likewise, American readers could easily compare him to Donald Trump.
  • Extreme Doormat: Andy Sanders. While he's the town's first selectmen, technically outranking Big Jim Rennie, he's actually completely under Rennie's control. After reaching his Despair Event Horizon, he meets Chef, and starts blindly following him, even to death.
  • Eye Scream: Rory Dinsmore's attempt to "pop" the dome ends with the rifle blast ricocheting off of it and destroying his eye so badly its remains are described as dribbling to the ground. The accompanying brain damage ends up killing him.
  • * Face–Heel Turn: Downplayed. Rommie Burpee’s employee Calvin Moggin, Barbie's friend and coworker Anson Twitchell, assistant librarian Pamela Chen, and Dinsmore farmhand Manuel Ortega join Big Jim’s new police force, although Anson and Calvin are Villainy-Free Villain's, and Calvin seems Obliviously Evil as he talks about it to Rommie, while Pamela is considered the Only Sane Man of the new officers, and handles herself well during visitors day. Manuel really grabs the Jerkass Ball though, and seems fully committed to Big Jim and his cause.
  • Family Values Villain: Big Jim Rennie. The guy's practically pure evil and selfishness down to his core, but he still refuses to swear, drink, or take the Lord's name in vain. His so-called "refusal to swear" is more than a little hypocritical, considering all he does is swap swear words with less offensive varieties; such as calling a woman he doesn't like a "rhymes-with-witch." The only difference between what he does and swearing is letter substitution.
  • Fat Bastard: Big Jim Rennie, the conniving selectman who wants nothing more than to establish a dictatorship over the town. His unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise have left him quite obese, which causes a heart condition the ultimately kills him.
  • Fox News Liberal: Reversed. Julia Shumway is described as a Republican, although she drives a hybrid car, attends the liberal church, and never expresses any sort of conservative opinion. Dale Barbara often says things like, "Are you sure you're a Republican?", usually after she says something implying that she doesn't blindly follow Big Jim's authority, which seems to be the book's main qualification for a Republican. Which would just be a sign of Barbie's own personal biases, except that she never once responds to him with a coherent reason why she is one. This has more to do with the distinction between conservative and Republican. Julia Shumway is portrayed as conservative in a number of ways (one humorous example is her thought on what her historical hero's reaction would be to a world where civilians were required by law to pick up after their pet's poo), and she admits to having voted for Rennie when he was "saner" because she liked what he campaigned on. It's only when he shows his true colors as a power-hungry sociopath that she starts expressing more "liberal" misgivings about the abuses of power going on.
  • Friend to Psychos: Big Jim is this to his son Junior. He's well aware that his son is losing his sanity, but he only "notices" it at best and keeps up fatherly affection—or at least, his excuse for it.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: most of Alice Appleton's dialogue falls under this, particularly when talking about the kinds of cigarettes her mother smoked.
  • Fun T-Shirt: Volunteer nurse Harriet has one that says "U.S. Olympic Kissing Team."
  • The Fundamentalist: Lester Coggins, pastor of the Christ the Holy Redeemer church. When you consider other characters like this in Stephen King novels (like Mrs. Carmody of The Mist or Margaret White of Carrie), you might think he'd end up being a problem for the more reasonable inhabitants of Chester's Mill. He turns out to be a Red Herring, though, as he gets killed by Big Jim less than a third of the way through the book, when he tells Jim he feels that he must confess to the congregation that they've been running a meth lab.
  • Get a Room!: When Mel Searles sees Chef and Andy kiss, he yells: "Hey, fags! Get a room! No, wait, I got a better idea! Get a room in hell!" Those turn out to be his last words.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Andrea Grinnell beats her painkiller addiction that way. Rusty advises her against that, telling her that she'll suffer greatly and will have seizures, which does happen.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The government does everything in its power to free the town of Chester's Mill from its predicament. This includes firing a cruise missile at the invisible dome surrounding the town, then a second missile when the first one fails, using specially modified acid which can melt through two miles of bedrock, despite the possibility that it could set the dome on fire, and then attempting to use a 'pencil nuke', only to have it melt down and kill fifteen people before it could be used. The government continues trying to build a second pencil nuke, but by that point, things are so bad they finally decide they don't have time.
  • Good Feels Good: Junior of all people experiences this, when he rescues the Appleton children. As a consequence, protecting them even becomes his final goal in life (after killing Barbie and his dad, that is)—although by the time he decides on this, he's gone completely mad and the safest place for the children would be as far away from Junior as possible.
  • Goodnight Sweet Prince: When Andy is about to poison himself, he thinks that he will "just lie down on the bed, close his eyes, and then good night, sweet pharmacist, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Big Jim Rennie all the cotton-pickin' way. Subverted; when things get really bad, he does rattle off a couple swears, although only one or two serious ones.
  • Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: Lester quickly becomes this to Big Jim's meth ring, especially after interpreting the Dome as divine punishment.
  • Hallucinations
    • Junior has these whenever his migraines are particularly bad; this is the first clue that his "migraines" may be something more.
    • Big Jim Rennie (presumably) hallucinates that the various people he's killed over the course of the novel have come back to haunt him.
    • Possibly with Lester Coggins who hears the voice of God. However since what the voice prophesies actually happens possibly it's the real thing.
  • Happily Married
    • Rusty and Linda Everett, a town doctor and police officer respectfully, have a loving marriage and two young daughters. Their disagreement over Barbie's guilt is apparently their only real fight in years.
    • Also the police chief and his wife. Busy though Howie was, he and Brenda sincerely adored each other, and Brenda is not only struck with grief when he dies, but when Big Jim kills her, her last living moments are spent thinking of her husband.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Brenda and Coggins both confront Big Jim over the meth operation in Chester's Mill, and both end up killed for the trouble. Big Jim openly mocks Brenda for it, pointing out that she came to taunt him about the secret on an empty street where no one saw her.
  • Hidden Depths: Who would have guessed the "old hippy" English professor, Thurston, would turn out to be the most capable medic in town?
    • Rupe Libby, while considered one of the most useless members of the police force, is the only one present who attempts to draw his gun and stop Junior. when he arrives to try and kill Barbie and Rusty.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Big Jim Rennie. After Phil/Chef blows the stored propane, Jim and Carter Thibodeau retreat to the fallout shelter to avoid the ensuing firestorm. Carter eventually decides to kill Rennie because of Rennie's ungrateful behavior (and because he feels that he'll live longer if Big Jim isn't alive to breathe his share of the air in the shelter), but he makes the mistake of turning off the lights and Rennie kills him. However, this leaves Big Jim alone in the shelter, and he's unable to get the propane tank changed on his own. Alone in the dark with the body of his former bodyguard and suffering from heart flutter, he's haunted by visions of his victims claiming revenge against him. In blind panic, he makes his way to the exit of the fallout shelter, opens the door, and promptly chokes on the smoky, oxygen-starved air. And of course, it's only through Big Jim Rennie's actions that the town is in its current state in the first place.
  • Hope Spot
    • An arguing married couple crash into the Dome, and while the husband is killed instantly, a car driven by two nurse friends comes not long after. The friends load the living but incredibly hurt wife into their car and book it to the hospital...right into the Dome, which they hadn't noticed. The wife and one of the friends are killed in the ensuing crash.
    • The "rebelling" group—including Julia, Barbie, the Everetts, and others—end up a safe enough distance from the firestorm to make it to high ground and the edge of the Dome, where the military pumps oxygen in through the side. Unfortunately, the trapped smoke kills several of them, including Audrey, Ernie, Thurston, Benny, and Aiden.
    • Andrea confronting Jim during his rally almost turns the tide and brings him down in time to salvage the situation, before she gets shot.
    • During visitors day, Mauve Shirt deputies Pamela Chen and Henry Morrison, along many others, including children, try to make it through the fireball on a school bus, with the audience really rooting for them to make it, but in the end the fireball just extends too far.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Though the Dome itself is caused by alien children, much of the suffering that follows comes none other than the town's residents, from Junior's murderous tendencies to Big Jim's attempt at dictatorship to the special deputies' torment of the citizens. Indeed the explosion that kills thousands in a matter of minutes is only caused by Chef Bushey. The aliens are only watching.
  • Hypocrite: Big Jim, big time. He constantly brags about being a godly man and the only hope for the town, but almost all of the town's problems are single-handedly caused by his mechanizations.
  • I Call It "Vera": Chef Bushey names his AK-47 "God's Warrior". When Andy Sanders ends up joining him at Holy Redeemer and becoming his meth-smoking buddy, he takes another AK that Chef had stored, and names it "Claudette", after his dead wife.
  • I Love the Dead: Junior and his "girlfriends", Angie and Dodee, the two girls he kills early in the book. While sitting with their hidden bodies, he actually thinks to himself how he's not going to be necrophiliac with them, as if Even Evil Has Standards...but though readers are spared any details, the later autopsies on their bodies confirms that he did.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Piper Libby confronts the "Special Deputies" almost in a rage after she discovers that they gang-raped Sammy. Georgia Roux immediately denies anything and says that Sammy Bushey is a "lying lesbo cunt."
    Piper: How did you know the lying lesbo cunt's name? I didn't say it.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: While several children die in the book, Little Walter Bushey, the youngest, ends up surviving to the end.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Andy Sanders is about to kill himself, when he's interrupted by a phone call.
  • Invisible President: The President's name is never mentioned, even as he gives the order for Barbie to take over. When Big Jim reads the confirming letter, he gets all the way down to the signature...and ignores it, because he doesn't care who the "terrorist" is. (All that said, it's still pretty clear who he is.)
  • Invisible to Normals: In a few short sections set from the viewpoint of Julia Shumway's corgi, it's stated that dogs are able to hear the voices of the dead due to their extra-sensitive hearing. A ghost (implied to be Brenda's) points the dog to the VADER file (which had fallen behind a couch, unbeknownst to anyone), which leads to Andrea Ginnell finding the file and finally finding out about Rennie's corrupt side businesses.
  • I Want My Mommy!: Frankie DeLesseps cries out for his mother right before he's killed by Sammy Bushey. She mocks him for it.
  • Jerkass: The youths who have been recruited as temporary police officers—Frankie, Junior, Georgia, Mel, and Carter. They're hardly more than immature kids who are ecstatic to have free reign to torment the citizens with no repercussions.
  • Kids Are Cruel
    • As a child, Julia was followed by bullies who were tired of her being a teacher's pet who snitched on one of their brothers. They beat her, spat on her, and pantsed her before leaving her alone. One of them lingered behind to give her a sweater to cover up with, but even then, Julia notes she probably only did it because she pitied her, not because she was sorry.
    • The Dome itself is the result of alien children using it to torment the citizens the way a child might to do ants with a magnifying glass. That is, they are aware that humans are social creatures who have families and colonies...they just don't care. When Julia pleads for one of them to spare the survivors, it actually takes the form of the girl who gave her the sweater, to deliver a message: they pity them, but they're not sorry.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: A comprehensive list of them is provided at the beginning of the book, after the map of the town. Even with the list, names keep popping out of nowhere and several people on the list die within the first ten chapters.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: The town's leaders make the decision to deputize some young adults in order to beef up the police force. These young adults? The town selectman's sociopathic son and his delinquent friends.
  • Mauve Shirt: -quite a few given how there’s a couple hundred characters with multiple lines of dialogue inside the dome and less than thirty. survive.
  • May–December Romance: Carolyn and Thurston—the former a twenty-three-year-old graduate and the latter a sixty-plus professor—are trapped in Chester's Mill when the Dome comes down during a romantic getaway. Several people mistake them for father and daughter.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Big Jim. If you're not getting the pattern yet, he is not a nice guy. About five days into the Dome ordeal he has instigated a riot, framed one of the few men who could save the town for murder, burnt down the newspaper offices and effectively turned the whole town into a police state.
  • Meaningful Rename: Chef calls himself such because other than being the maker of the meth used in the operation, he's hardly even a man anymore, let alone a man named Phil.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Aubrey Towle, who stacks the shelves at his brothers bookstore, persisting the attack that blows up the propane tanks and kills nearly everyone in town, when he was just doing his job and trying to avenge the fallen officers.
    • To some
  • Murder-Suicide: Sammy kills Frankie and Georgia before turning the gun on herself.
  • Mythology Gag
    • The symbol on the box emitting the Dome vaguely resembles the symbol on the door to IT's lair in the sewers beneath Derry, Maine—another King haunt.
    • One character gives a name to some of the creepy stuff happening inside the Dome—"the dead zone". He doesn't like the sound of it.
    • Junior fears being caught because he doesn't want to go to the Shawshank prison.
    • Henry Morrison has a relative who lives close to the Derry area.
    • The town next door is Tarker's Mill.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Subverted by Rennie when Junior dies. When Carter says that he was a good guy, Rennie responds: "No he wasn't. But he was my son and I loved him".
  • Next Sunday A.D.: A specific date is never given, but it probably takes place during President Obama's second term as one car is described as having a faded Yes we STILL can bumper sticker on it, and Big Jim notes that a letter from the President appointing Barbie as the town's leader has all three of the President's names, including "the terrorist middle one." At one time, Carter reads about the 2012 BMW in Car and Driver. Also, there's free long-range Wi-Fi (WiMAX?) in rural Maine. There's also a sequel to Lost (which is very clever).
  • No Dead Body Poops: Almost every character who dies in the book that aren't blazed alive is mentioned to defecate their pants after the fact.
  • Nonindicative Name: Despite the title of the novel, and the cover art for the hardcover, the "Dome" isn't particularly round. You know, like the word "dome" would imply. Rather, it follows the town's borders exactly (and the town is constantly referred to as being shaped like a boot) and then extends up to five miles into the air.
  • Not So Above It All: Lissa Jamison is a decent, trustworthy member of Barbie's group for the most part, but did take part in the Food City Riot.
  • Obviously Evil
    • Though he is deceitful and manipulative to an unforeseeable degree, it is amazing how often people who have known "Big Jim" their whole lives can watch him sneer and laugh at the misfortunes of others and the chaos surrounding them and not be more than quietly disgusted for the most part.
    • Likewise, the people of Chester's Mill seem to feel that they must put up with the town's delinquents being elected to the police force, even while many are sure that they are Jim Rennie, Sr.'s personal gestapo.
  • Oh, Crap!: Rusty has a truly magnificent one when he realizes that the Propane Supply is about to explode and flash-fry the town.
  • Pet the Dog
    • Junior has exactly one decent moment, when he rescues two children separated from their mother. It's especially jarring as it happens mere moments after he and one of his cronies physically and verbally assault two people they practically dragged naked out of bed.
    • Frank De Lesseps, who was also present for Juniors Pet the Dog moment, has a second one when he's the only member of the group to visit Georgia in the hospital which gets him killed along with her.
    • Big Jim Rennie has one of his own, after Junior dies.
    • Mel Searles has two- when he decries the death of minor character Wardlaw, and when he suggests to Denton that they accept Sanders' and Bushey's surrender.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Well, not everyone, but all of the children in town and anyone who passes through the radiation belt near the orchard experience unnerving dreams of something bad going down in Chester's Mill.
  • Police Are Useless: Following Chief Perkins' death, Linda and Jackie are the only two "good" remaining policemen left, and though they are good at their jobs, Big Jim quickly squashes any power they have. Outside from the point-blank villainous "special deputies", Morrison and Randolph are the only remaining real cops, and they're subservient to Big Jim and incapable of keeping the others in line.
  • Precision F-Strike: While other characters swear throughout the book, Jim Rennie utters a legitimate curse word exactly once.
  • Prefers Rocks to Pillows: Roger Killian has made millions from Big Jim’s meth racket, but continues living in a crummy chicken farm and obsessing diligently over its workings.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Graphically and horrifically averted multiple times. Often when somebody is shot in the head, they still live for several moments or even hours before dying. One man gets shot in the face twice, screams for mercy from his attacker, and then only dies after being shot a third time in the heart.
  • Rape as Drama: Sammy Bushey is gang-raped by the new "cops" of Chester's Mill.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Rather amazingly for anyone who has read The Stand, Colonel Cox and the rest of the military and federal government. There's some habitual, knee-jerk secrecy, but despite some dark, early intimations of government involvement with the dome, everyone on the outside really is trying their damndest to save Chester's Mill. They fail, of course, but not for lack of effort or even intellect.
  • Redemption Equals Death
    • 'Sloppy' Sam Verdeaux makes up for his part in starting the Food City riot by driving Barbie and Julia through toxic air to the box generating the Dome. He lets them have the tires to breathe from, and dies shortly after of a punctured lung.
    • Andrea Grinnell who has been aiding Big Jim for years in exchange for drugs. She gets clean the hard way, choosing to suffer through horrible withdrawal pains to speed up the process, then publicly confronts Rennie. She gets gunned down for her trouble.
    • Lester. being killed after trying to stand up too Big Jim and suggest they turn themselves in.
  • Refusal of the Call: Dale Barbara is in the midst of this as the story opens but the woman who's about to give him a ride out of town changes her mind and drives on at the last second. From then on, whenever he's in trouble he thinks of the woman and wonders what would have happened had she stopped for him.
  • Remembered Too Late: Getting body armor for raiding a meth lab slips many officers' minds and gets them killed.
  • Sanity Slippage: Junior Rennie is quickly becoming more and more unhinged due to his brain tumor.
  • Screaming Warrior: [[spoiler: Chef. "SELAH, MOTHERFUCKERS!"
  • Self-Deprecation: Carolyn Sturges thinks about what her career future would have been and she dismissed novelist as too risky. Why? "What if you wrote a thousand-pager, and it sucked?" Guess how many pages Under the Dome is.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog
    • The entire winding saga of the VADER file. Chief Perkins' findings about the meth operation are carefully printed by Brenda and kept a secret between her and Barbie. They set up a plan to give it to Julia for safety, but a matter of timing has it ending up with Andrea instead. Not only does Brenda get killed by Big Jim shortly after, but Andrea's seizure makes her forget about it completely. The file is not found for a long time, and when Andrea finally finds it again, she bravely takes it to face Big Jim herself...and is shot down and killed in front of a crowd. Big Jim just burns the papers after.
    • Sammy Bushey starts off the story as a single parent left behind by her husband, and often sells sexual favors and drugs just to get by. Her only friend, Dodee, is murdered early on, and once the "special deputies" take over, she's repeatedly tormented and humiliated by them. They gangrape her later, with the only girl, Georgia Roux, cheering them on with "Do that bitch!" Afterwards, a severely-bleeding Sammy gets lucky and is taken by Piper to the hospital, but not only does Piper's anger take over her sympathy, but Sammy fears being tortured further once the word gets out. A completely broken woman, she kills two of the special deputies and then herself.
  • Shout-Out
    • Cox mentions a couple of times that one of the female police officers comes highly recommended by Jack Reacher.
    • Scarecrow Joe looks online to see conspiracy theories about the dome, with the most popular being that it's a government experiment gone wrong—"Just like that movie, The Mist."
  • Shown Their Work: King revealed in the afterword that he asked his friend to do research for him and it show the results, such as ecological effects, smoke pattern of jet plane, and medical matters. King thinks any inaccuracy in the book is on his part, i.e. not understanding the matter enough.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: the Appleton’s, Thurston and Caro don’t know what’s happening for a while, as they remain in their summer cottages.
  • Stout Strength: Big Jim Rennie may look like a Fat Bastard, but that's probably what he wants you to think.
  • Strawman Political: Big Jim Rennie is powerfully conservative in many ways, and also the main villain.
  • Take That!: Georgia Roux snarks on Sammy for being an avid reader of Nora Roberts and Stephenie Meyer (authors that King really hates) and says that Harry Potter rules (King loves the series). However, this is halfway to Take That Me, because Georgia Roux is clearly not a nice person.
  • Teen Genius: Joe Mc Clatchey is only thirteen, but he's such a quick-witted and tech-savvy kid that the adults have no problem trusting him to help them out. His brains helps out with the recording of the bomb strike and the eventual discover of the Dome-generating box. He actually lampshades that if they were in a Steven Spielberg movie, he'd come up with a genius idea to save them all from oxygen deprivation...but he doesn't.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Most of the teenage (or close-to-teenage) characters in the book are sociopaths. The worst ones are Frankie DeLesseps, Melvin Searles, Carter Thibodeau, Junior Rennie, and Georgia Roux. Junior kills Angie McCain and Dodee Sanders, and makes the corpses his "girlfriends". Frankie, Melvin, and Carter take turns having their way with Sammy Bushey, and Georgia is essentially their rape cheerleader. Carter also molests Linda Everett late in the book, and threatens to rape her in front of her daughters.Exceptions are the younger teen trio of Joe, Benny and Norrie.
  • Too Dumb to Live
    • Carter Thibodeau, at the very end of the book, when he decides to kill Big Jim Rennie so the air in the fallout shelter will last longer, gives Big Jim a chance to pray before he dies. Jim asks Carter to turn the lights off while he prays; Carter actually does it and realizes immediately afterwards that letting Big Jim out of his sight was a big mistake.
    • Brenda Perkins is an otherwise smart woman, but decides that she'll be perfectly safe confronting Big Jim about the meth operation just because they're outside. Big Jim points out that it's on an empty street just before he snaps her neck.
    • Peter Randolph and the other police officers during the assault on the meth lab. They somehow forget to bring the body armor and helmets, and then don't bother to go back for them, because Randolph doesn't think they'll need them. Most of the cops end up getting immediately and easily shot to death because of this.
  • Took a Level in Badass: an unusual non-action example in that Rusty, Twitch, Ginnie and especially teenage candy stripers Gina and Harriet all have to do a lot more than their training details when they end up the only medical personal left at the hospital for a good part of the book, with Rusty having to do the operations, and Gina and Harriet filling in as nurses and they have a surprisingly good success rate.
  • Totally Radical: Subverted. A early scene shows a teenager using some bizarre slang, at one point even saying "totally rad". The adult in the scene tries to reciprocate. The scene's end shows that the teen was mocking the adult's attempts to imitate him, and the teens speak normally for the book's remainder.
  • The Unfavorite: Poor Ollie Dinsmore, whose parents feel they have nothing to live for after his brother dies. Apparently caring for Ollie isn't a reason to go on. Even his father's suicide note is a half-assed apology and instructions to just go somewhere else.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Ollie Dinsmore goes through hell and back in the book, starting from when his younger brother accidentally kills himself trying to break the Dome. His mother kills herself as a result, which leads to his father killing himself. Then he just narrowly survives the firestorm that erupts in Chester's Mill and spends hours on end just barely breathing through the Dome, on the brink of death...and then the Dome goes up, and Ollie is carried to safety by a kindly soldier. His last narration in the book is him getting kissed on the cheek.
  • True Companions: there's a few groups of these Barbie's group, especially the hospital staff, and the three skateboarders and their mothers.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Big Jim Rennie refuses to curse, so he uses such phrases as "rhymes-with-witch" and "cotton-picking."
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Aubrey Towle, as mentioned unde Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds. Thurston Marshall and Ginnie Tomlinson calling Andy Sanders right before he would have killed himself, causing him to come over to the hospital, go to tell Phil Bushey his wife died and then contribute to the shootout that causes the explosion also count.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: The Big Bad's first reaction to an unprecedented crisis is to consolidate his political power and amass a private army. The main protagonist's is to take a walk, go to work, cook dinner, and suggest that his boss make a trip to the grocery store. On learning about the Big Bad's private army and knowing that he is likely to be a target, he... plays around with a webcam. If he was this proactive in Iraq, it's a wonder he's still alive.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: One of the cops think so about their attack on the radio station. Naturally it went horribly wrong.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • We know Piper Libby’s family died before the dome but not how. Tony Guay’s family is briefly said to have been under the dome but they aren't in Barbie's group and he never mentions them after Visitors Day so they probably die but this gets no mention.
    • Of the four named Killian brothers, while two are definitely under the dome -and Richie dies onscreen- and one is definitely outside, we never find out if Ronnie was inside or not.
  • White Sheep: Possibly Petra Searles, Barbie's landlord who is implied to be a relative of Melvin, but is one of the more positively portrayed Red Shirts.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Little Walter Bushey, named after a blues musician. Yes, "Little" is officially the part of his name. Ginny Tomlinson (a nurse in the town's hospital) attributes this to his parents being potheads.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Andy Sanders, who at the beginning of the book is regarded as Jim Rennie's stupid, easily manipulated figurehead. His wife is one of the first people killed when she, and a man whom she may or may not have been in an affair with, crash a plane into the side of the Dome. Very soon after this, Andy's daughter, Dodee, is murdered and raped by Junior Rennie simply because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After her body is discovered, Andy nearly commits suicide, then chooses instead to confront Chef, an insane tweeker, and probably get killed in the process. Instead of this, Chef gets Andy hooked on meth and gives him an AK-47, recruiting him into his "holy army". The pair then proceed to massacre a squadron of policemen and blow up the meth lab, all but wiping out the town's population in the process.


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