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Series / Golden Years

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Golden Years (also known as Stephen King's Golden Years) is a 1991 television miniseries created and written by Stephen King.

Harlan Williams is an elderly janitor at Falco Plains, a government research laboratory in New York State. One day he finds himself caught in a particle accelerator experiment gone awry, exposing him to a mysterious, luminescent dust. Harlan survives, but his ordeal is far from over — not only are his wounds mysteriously healing, but he has begun to age in reverse. Soon Harlan finds himself the focus of a cross-country manhunt as certain elements of the government try to stop at nothing to learn the secrets of his condition.

Golden Years contains examples of:

  • Almighty Janitor: Harlan starts as a janitor at a secret government laboratory and starts aging in reverse after an accident. The "almighty" part comes later as he begins developing near-godlike powers on top of that.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Harlan and Gina at the end.
  • The Atoner: Terri was already this at the start of the story after falling out with Jude Andrews.
  • Bad Boss: Dr. Todhunter, who bullies and berates his underlings in the lab over the slightest inconvenience. And Andrews, who at one point outright threatens a subordinate from the Defense Department over a setback. Also Major Moreland, Harlan's direct superior, who is closer to an Obstructive Bureaucrat.
  • Blessed with Suck: Sure he's aging in reverse, but the fact he's getting younger while his wife is getting older causes the poor woman emotional distress. There's also the fact that the Government Agency of Fiction is now after him and he's developing destructive superpowers that he can't control.
  • The Cameo: Stephen King appears as a bus driver in the fifth episode.
  • Continuity Nod: Terri states at one point that Andrews is more dangerous than John Rainbird.
  • Death By De Aging: Discussed. Harlan wonders if he will end up dying as a child, as primordial ooze or worse.
  • Dirty Coward: Todhunter flees the lab and knocks over Harlan (clearly not caring whether he lives or dies) before the explosion.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Dr. Todhunter. Full. Stop.
  • Fanservice: Terri gets a scene late in the story where she sleeps on a couch wearing nothing but lingerie.
  • For Science!: Dr. Todhunter's rationale for behaving the way he does.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Andrews blows cigarette smoke from his nostrils in a rather demonic fashion.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Shop, the government agency which was the collective antagonist of Firestarter, are the people hunting Harlan.
    • There is also another agency mentioned called the DSA, which is presumably a stand-in for the NSA.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Dr. Todhunter, wanting absolutely nothing to get in the way of carrying out his experiment, coerces one of his underlings into assuming that a red light indicating a systems malfunction is really an error. It results in the accident which affects Harlan.
  • Inspector Javert: Andrews becomes this to Harlan once the manhunt is underway.
  • Merlin Sickness: The effects of the explosion cause Harlan to begin aging in reverse. And it doesn't stop there.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Doctor Todhunter, when you realize "Tod" is German for "death".
  • No OSHA Compliance: On the part of Dr. Todhunter when he forces his subordinates to activate the particle accelerator despite a warning signal flashing red, which causes the explosion that kick-starts the plot. Later enforced by Andrews (acting in the interests of The Shop) when he allows Todhunter to continue his experiments despite every indication that he hasn't learned from the accident and is as reckless as ever.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: When he needs to get information out of a mentally-handicapped man, Andrews patiently converses with him, obviously recognizing that engaging in his more usual methods would be useless.
  • Professional Killer: Andrews is this for The Shop, being perfectly willing to kill anybody he regards as a loose end.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Terri Spann and General Crewes work for the government, and are willing to go rogue to keep Harlan and his family from falling victim to The Shop.
    • Also the state cops in Ohio who refuse to wound the "fugitives" despite Andrews' demands.
  • Retired Monster: Before becoming head of security at Falco Plains, Terri was part of a two-person black ops unit with Andrews and admits that they "killed people together." Then Terri realized that Andrews started enjoying his job and ended their partnership.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Dr. Todhunter is implied to be this when he visits his father's grave.