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Monster / Stephen King

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"When the King comes and the Tower falls, sai, all such pretty things as yours will be broken. Then there will be darkness and nothing but the howl of Discordia and the cries of the can toi."
—On the Crimson King, The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah

Stephen King has written some pretty nasty villains, but these particularly stand out. It is not uncommon for the actual monsters of his multiverse to pale in comparison to the more human villains.

Entries after the Crimson King and Flagg are by publication date.

All spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

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    Multiple Works 
  • Los' the Red, best known as the Crimson King, is the demonic offspring of Arthur Eld and the Greater-Scope Villain of King's multiverse. A sadistic entity who proclaims the glory of chaos, or "The Red", the Crimson King presides over a court of nightmare and slaughter while sowing evil and chaos across the realms. The being behind all the evil and destruction of Randall Flagg; the rampaging armies of John Farson; and agents such as Atropos and Munshun, the Crimson King has the nation of Gilead annihilated and its people slaughtered, while having psychic children known as Breakers taken to have them sucked dry so their powers may be used to help open the path to The Dark Tower. The Crimson King's ultimate goal is to ascend to the top of the Tower and consume all the multiverse, ending everything that exists so the King may rule the primordial chaos that results. At last poisoning his own court to become undead and losing his mind and power, the Crimson King faces Roland while seeking to ascend the Tower and end all reality.
  • Randall Flagg is a demonic, quasi-immortal being who frequently appears throughout King's works as an embodiment of evil. Living through different lives in different worlds, the one constant about Flagg is that he is always working to sow the seeds of chaos and despair wherever he goes. Flagg was part of The Vietnam War, Ku Klux Klan lynchings, police murders, and race riots, and each time he was part of a violent experience it would ultimately serve to empower the evil within him.
    • The Stand: Flagg appears as a Dark Messiah in a post-apocalyptic, plague-ravaged United States. Here he builds a new civilization in Las Vegas, calling to him those with penchants for destruction, power and fascism. Flagg has people publicly crucified for opposing or failing him, murders his pregnant girlfriend for enraging him, and plans on destroying the peaceful "Free Zone" settlement just so his civilization can be the dominant one.
    • The Eyes of The Dragon: Flagg is an Evil Sorcerer in the medieval country of Delain. Here, Flagg has Queen Sasha murdered; poisons King Roland; frames Prince Peter for the crime; and then plunges Delain into a new Dark Age by manipulating the remaining heir, Thomas.
    • The Dark Tower series: Flagg, real name Walter Padick, has lived for so long and accumulated so much power that he has become the emissary for the Crimson King. Flagg earns Roland Deschain's undying hatred for beating and sleeping with Roland’s mother, and for aiding the revolutionary John Farson in causing the destruction of the city of Gilead. Flagg also forces Roland to let his preteen companion Jake Chambers die, and drives a girl insane by telling her the trigger phrase which causes a formerly dead man to recount the afterlife to her. Corruptive, treacherous and sadistic, Flagg's ultimate goal was to betray his master and climb to the top of the Dark Tower in order to become God of all.

  • 'Salem's Lot
    • Kurt Barlow is an ancient, insidious vampire. His ultimate goal is to turn Jerusalem's Lot into a nest for vampires by playing on the townspeople's desires and insecurities and offering them a chance to achieve what they want, which always ends in him turning them. After losing control of his thirst and killing a wounded Straker, blaming Mark for the incident, he turns Susan, driving Ben to seek her out and kill her, murders Mark's parents in front of him, and, after a standoff of faith with Father Callahan—which the priest lost—he forces him to drink some of his blood, barring him from holy ground for the rest of his life. One of his final acts in a last-ditch effort to stop Ben from staking him is to hypnotize Mark to kill him, all the while threatening to castrate Mark before turning him. And, even after his final demise, he still succeeded in his goal, sealing the fate of anyone who walks into the town of 'Salem's Lot.
    • Richard Throckett Straker is an antique salesman as well as Kurt Barlow's human servant who brings him into the small town of Jerusalem's Lot. During the first half of the novel, he murders a young boy, Ralphie Glick, as a sacrifice to Satan, and abducts his brother, Danny, giving him to Barlow to be turned, an act which results in Danny infecting many people over the course of the novel. Within this time frame, Straker kills Win Purinton's dog, Doc, and hangs him on a fence, then buys every rose in town, all to protect himself from his master, while everyone else in town is left vulnerable. Later, when Mark Petrie goes to investigate Straker's place of residence, the Marsten House, he finds a scrapbook bound in human flesh that has a picture of a naked man—likely Straker himself—holding the corpse of a child, implying that Ralphie was far from the first child he killed. Shortly afterwards, Straker catches Mark and ties him up and leaves him to be turned by Barlow.
  • "Jerusalem's Lot": James Boon was the "magnetic" first citizen of the titular town, a Puritan who founded a splinter group in his faith to pursue his own eldritch worship. James influenced Jerusalem's Lot into becoming a Wretched Hive of incest, sacrifice, and both mental and physical degradation of each subsequent generation. Finally, Boon had the subject of his worship—an elder god called the Worm—absorb all of his followers into eternal, mindless, undead obedience, continuing to enact his dark rituals beneath the remains of Jerusalem's Lot even a century-and-a-half beyond when he should have died.

  • Apt Pupil (or, Summer of Corruption): Todd Bowden is a budding psychopath obsessed with the war crimes committed by the Nazis in World War II, and as such, is overjoyed when he learns his elderly neighbor is in fact Kurt Dussander, a former Nazi commander in hiding. Blackmailing Dussander into regaling him with tales of his atrocities, Todd becomes aroused at the very thought of the crimes Dussander committed, even fantasizing about raping Jewish women while they scream in terror. Beginning to show his sadistic tendencies by cruelly crushing a bird to death, Todd starts butchering homeless people for his own entertainment, claiming that they are just subhuman trash that no one will miss. Regularly lusting to murder his loving parents and girlfriend for minor annoyances, staying his hand only to keep out of trouble, when Todd realizes he will be caught for his crimes, he decides to go out with a bang. Todd proceeds to murder his guidance counselor before heading to a highly-populated location and opening fire on any random citizens in the area for five hours straight before being stopped, joyful at finally getting the chance to indulge in his most wicked desires.
  • IT: IT, a.k.a. Pennywise the Dancing Clown, is a primordial being as old as time. IT awakens from its hibernation every three decades and proceeds to murder and devour the children of the town of Derry, Maine, often using the avatar of a jovial clown named Pennywise to lure children into its clutches. IT prides itself on using its shapeshifting and hallucinogenic powers to torment its victims, preying on their phobias and acquired fears and likening the cultivation of their terror to "salt[ing] the meat". From 1740 to 1743, IT was responsible for the disappearance of three hundred Derry Township settlers. In 1957, IT killed Bill Denbrough's six-year-old brother, George, and devoured Patrick Hockstetter alive while in the form of his greatest fear, leeches. IT also drove Henry Bowers to madness, then killed Bowers's friends after they succeeded in luring the Losers' Club into the sewers. After waking up in 1984, IT kills a man named Adrian Mellon before resuming its violent killing spree of children. IT proceeds to manipulate Henry Bowers into trying to kill the Losers; drives Bill's wife, Audra, catatonic by exposing her to its deadlights; and manages to kill Eddie before its final defeat.

  • The Library Policeman: The creature currently known as Ardelia Lortz is a parasitic monster that feeds on the fear and pain of children. Taking a host and enslaving those with it, Lortz hunts down children to inflict horrific nightmares on them and drain them of their fear and pain, eventually killing them and leaving those around her broken. Returning for the story's hero Sam Peebles, Lortz even manipulates him with painful visions of the man who raped him as a child to make him her newest host.
  • Needful Things: Leland Gaunt is a devilish figure appearing as a genial and well-spoken owner of a novelty shop that just happens to have his customers' greatest desire in stock, which Gaunt is willing to sell for a small sum and a little favor; as he puts it, "a prank". In actuality, it is a malevolent charm which makes his customers paranoid and obsessed, driving them into murderous insanity; the pranks are designed to fuel grudges, insecurities, and exploit the dirty secrets of Gaunt's victims. Gaunt also takes the souls of those who die because of him, while admitting to himself that he doesn't really need to anymore. Showing up in Castle Rock, Maine, Gaunt starts his business as usual, with a notable instance of his pranks causing two women to murder each other after one of the pranks ends with a dog being killed; as a result, a young boy responsible for these pranks decides to commit suicide. Gaunt also starts to sell his customers guns to "protect their property" as paranoia gets the better of them, and begins to get two criminals to work for him to cause more chaos, with the ammo of said guns being poisoned. This culminates in the town going on a riot that nearly tears the town apart before Gaunt is defeated by Sheriff Alan Pangborn. After being beaten, Gaunt leaves Castle Rock, with the implication that he will continue his work elsewhere.
  • Insomnia: Atropos is one of the three "little bald doctors" responsible for cutting the life threads of the mortals whose time has come,. Unlike the other two, Atropos absolutely despises humans for being such short-lived creatures, and takes great pleasure in ending their lives. So, in addition to doing his job, Atropos goes after people whose fate isn’t decided and causes them to die horribly, which he has done enough times to fill a cave with trophies of his victims. When his boss, the Crimson King, wants him to kill a young boy before said boy grows up to oppose his plans, Atropos uses this opportunity to harm as many people as possible, proceeding to corrupt a nice family man called Ed Deepneau into becoming a wife-beating extremist. Under Atropos's manipulation, Deepneau gets together with like-minded maniacs and assaults a woman care center, where they murder dozens of people, as a distraction for his real plan: to have Deepneau crash with a plane full of explosives onto a pro-abortion rights rally that the kid will be attending with his mother, killing them along with the other two thousand people present. Along the way, Atropos has several of the protagonist's friends killed just to piss him off, and taunts him about it. Finally, when his plans are foiled, Atropos tries to kill Deepneau's six-year old daughter, who the hero befriended, just to get back at him for humiliating him in front of his boss.
  • Rose Madder: Norman Daniels, Rose Daniels's husband, is a horrific example of a Domestic Abuser. He has been beating and sexually abusing her for fourteen years; his abuse has caused her to miscarry, threatening to kill her if she ever tells anyone about the incident. After he finds out that she left him, he is determined to hunt her down and torture her to death. His methods for locating his ex-wife are tracking down, torturing, and murdering the people who helped her. His favorite method of killing is biting his victims to death. He is also a racist, sexist, homophobic creep who thinks all feminists are lesbians and despises one of his victims as soon as he finds out he's Jewish.
  • The King-Bachman mirror novels have both incarnations of the vile Tak:
    • Desperation: Tak, a monstrous, incorporeal entity released from the Desperation mining pits, runs amok in the titular town, gruesomely slaughtering almost everyone who lives there and taking one of the local police as a host. When other people near Desperation, Tak murders one young woman's husband and the Carver family's 7-year-old daughter, before steadily slaughtering the survivors for fun. Realizing that Kirsten's 12-year-old brother David has been sent by God to stop him, Tak stops at nothing to murder the boy after killing his entire family, intending on spreading his influence throughout the world by destroying whatever stands in his path.
    • The Regulators: Tak is a sadistic entity who possesses autistic child Seth Garin with intent to rewrite reality to its whims. Orchestrating the slaughter of Seth's entire family, forcing his uncle to commit suicide, and turning his aunt Audrey into an abused slave that Tak regularly tries to rape, Tak begins terrorizing the town Wentworth with a series of mass shootings that claim several innocent lives. Slowly transforming Wentworth into a deadly pastiche of the Old West with intentions to "wipe this town off the map!", Tak further tortures and kills off various townsfolks in the name of feasting on their pain and suffering, culminating in Tak trying to wholly override Seth's willpower by torturing Audrey to death while he watches.

  • Black House: Both halves of "The Fisherman" count:
    • Mr. Munshun, aka Malshun or the Monday Man, is a demon in service to the Crimson King. Running an operation with countless child slaves who are forced to work to death, Munshun also targets "Breakers", special children to be delivered to the Crimson King and enslaved for their powers in the King's nightmarish court with the eventual goal of bringing down the Dark Tower and ending existence. Munshun possesses the most twisted killers like Charles Burnside, Albert Fish and Jeffrey Dahmer, helping them to realize their desires and to murder children as long as they send the Breakers back to the Crimson King while murdering any mundane children they encounter, with Munshun glorying in the murders.
    • The elderly Charles Burnside embraces his twisted desires when he meets Munshun. Forming a willing pact with the demon, Burnside is allowed to rape, murder and cannibalize innocent children while attempting to enslave the Breakers for the eventual overthrow of reality. In his pact with Munshun, Burnside shows himself to be as monstrous as his demon partner, even modeling himself after Albert Fish to outdo the past killer in evil, gleefully using Munshun's power to brutally kill the children he encounters with no care to the consequences as long as he is able to bring his desires into reality.
  • "The Gingerbread Girl": Jim Pickering is a wealthy man who owns a house on the Florida Keys. The psychotic Pickering lures young woman to his home to rape and murder them. When Emily discovers the latest of many victims in his car, Pickering knocks her out, intending to kill her as well. When he believes the nearby drawbridge keeper knows she's nearby, Pickering heads to murder him while Emily tries to escape. Upon getting free, Pickering pursues Emily, using scissors to brutally murder a random man who tried to protect her.
  • Under the Dome: Selectman James P. "Big Jim" Rennie is the ringmaster of a massive drug ring, apparently one of the biggest suppliers of meth in the whole country, and killed his wife—already suffering from terminal cancer—by smothering her with a pillow. To ensure that he remains absolute master of the town, he covers up the various murders and rapes committed by his son, Junior, and the gang of thugs he's commissioned as a police force. He kills several people who threatened to reveal to his subjects what kind of a monster he is; purposefully causes a riot over supplies just so he can claim a need for greater control; and frames the main protagonist, Dale Barbara, for everything that he and his gang has gotten away with. Then, because he had his gang steal huge amounts of propane—the only fuel source in tow— just so he could make more meth, he sets the stage for the massive explosion that consumes almost everything in the town, turning the atmosphere into little more than an assortment of poisonous gases, and then gets away with it, hiding away in a fallout shelter. He refuses to accept fault for anything that either he did or happened because of his decisions, even so far as to excuse his multiple murders as "sending them into the arms of Jesus", his faith allowing him to dismiss any of the multiple atrocities he does.

  • A Good Marriage: Robert "Bob" Anderson seems like a loving husband and father, but is actually a vicious Serial Killer named "Beadie" who has been killing for decades. Having planned a school shooting in his youth with a friend, Bob satisfied his urges by raping and killing women he deemed "snoots" after torturing them, often by biting them before killing them. In one instance, a victim's young son Robert stumbled upon Bob killing his mother, making him a victim as well. Despite Bob's lies that the boy didn't suffer, his wife Darcie later learns the boy was horribly tortured and mutilated before being killed. When Darcie discovers Bob's secret life, she realizes he won't stop killing and that every act of kindness or love he ever showed her was simply camouflage for the evil within.
  • Doctor Sleep: Andy Halloran, the "Black Grampa", was Dick's horrible grandfather, who gave Dick his first glimpse at evil. A child molester and sadist who enjoyed targeting his own family, Andy abused his own son before turning his attentions to Dick, subjecting the boy to molestation, cruel tricks, and genital torture. Going so far as to put out lit cigarettes on Dick's skin, Andy held the promise of his wealthy inheritance over the Halloran family to get away with his abuse, only to spitefully leave it to charity to hurt his family. Andy's spirit was so wicked that it continued to haunt Dick after Andy had died, his ghost continuing to sexually accost Dick to satisfy his hatred and lust.
  • The Outsider (2018): The Outsider itself plays at being an unknowable entity, but is in truth a deviant pervert and sexual sadist. Hunting children, the Outsider rapes and brutally murders them, devouring their flesh to feed itself while absorbing their negative emotions. The Outsider leaves behind the DNA of those it shapeshifts into for the act, resulting in them being ruined or killed as well. When the heroes begin to investigate, the Outsider tries to have them murdered by another proxy, its lies at being only a predator harshly deconstructed next to all the children it has violated and killed.