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Series / The Stand (1994)

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I thought I could outrun him... you can't outrun the dark man.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

A 1994 four-part Mini Series version of Stephen King's book The Stand, starring Molly Ringwald, Gary Sinise and Rob Lowe, among many other character actors.

Not to be confused with the 2020 TV adaptation.

As an adaptation of the original novel, expect many of the tropes from that book to apply to the miniseries as well.

The miniseries contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: The Monster Shouter, to a certain extent. In the novel he was an older, immune, homeless crazy person who simply ran around Central Park screaming about monsters before getting murdered. In the miniseries he is shown as a devoutly religious person who spends his days wandering around New York City, calling on people to "bring out their dead" because he knows the superflu is coming, and he also shouts warnings about Randall Flagg, referring to him as the "monster," the "dark man" and the "hardcase." He also directly warns Larry about Flagg, addressing him by name (even though the two had never met before), thereby implying that the Monster Shouter may have had a similar power as Mother Abagail and was able to recognize other immune people. In the novel he is stabbed to death by some random thug, whereas in the miniseries he is killed by none other than Randall Flagg himself, from thousands of miles away, after the latter had heard him in Arizona. Presumably Flagg considered him a large enough threat to merit silencing him permanently.
    • In the novel, among the things Gen. Starkey orders is for the release of the virus in other parts of the world (and the killing billions) so it can't be solely traced back to an outbreak in the U.S. We don't see this happen in the mini series.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • While the military rounding up Stu and the other residents in Arnette is only given a cursory mention in the book, it is expanded into a full-blown scene here, with Stu criticizing the soldiers for thinking he's an idiot and other residents crying when they're loaded into trucks.
    • The scene where Glen talks to the cockroach in the jail cells in Las Vegas was added for the miniseries.
    • A small one, but the series shows the moment where Tom finally learns Nick's name when Ralph picks them up on the road.
  • Animal Motifs: One of the forms Randall Flagg assumes is a creepy crow.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: One scene in the first episode shows New York City burning in the midst of the pandemic, people rioting, looting, and crying. The next scene featuring New York shows the city completely empty and still burning, the only person still on the streets being the monster shouter.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The intro setpiece pans over the dead researchers as "Don't Fear The Reaper" plays. Many of them appear to have simply dropped dead where they sat, something no virus can accomplish and which Captain Trips doesn't do to its later victims once escaped. This is given a brief handwave, when it's discussed that the pure strain is what did them in.
  • Bland-Name Product: The lookouts waiting for the Judge are drinking beer in cans marked "Beer," but with a font (and brand logo) that looks suspiciously like "Coors."
  • The Cameo: Several in the miniseries, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (as the "Monster Shouter"), Joe Bob Briggs, Sam Raimi, and John Landis. Also included uncredited appearances by Ed Harris and Kathy Bates.
  • Composite Character:
    • Nadine and Rita's stories are merged in the series. Though Nadine doesn't commit suicide when Rita does, she just abandons Larry.
    • Some of Nadine's sub-plots were transferred to Lucy, most notably being the one who found and cared for Joe/Leo Rockway.
    • Doctors Dietz and Elder.
    • Stephen King's character encompasses a couple of minor characters. Also, Dayna Jurgens is merged with Perion, another character who was traveling with a man whose appendix Stu tried to remove. Sue Stern arrives at Hemingford Home with Nick, Ralph, and Tom in the film; in the book, two women named June and Olivia were their traveling companions. Sue was part of the "traveling zoo" saved by Stu and Fran's party.
  • Compressed Adaptation: To a point. The Boulder section is truncated, as well as Stu and Tom's return home. Stu and the other townspeople are flown straight to Stovington, Vermont, rather than the CDC in Atlanta, as happened in the book. On the other hand, the miniseries depicts the military occupying Arnette and rounding up Stu and all the other people who came into contact with Campion, as well as their friends and relatives, which only got a flashback mention in the book.
  • Creator Cameo: King appears in the last two episodes as Teddy Weizak, one of the Boulder residents who gives Nadine a ride to Boulder, and later discovers Stu in the final chapter.
  • Death by Adaptation: Major Len Creighton's eventual fate is deliberately left vague in the book, raising the possibility he survived. In the series, it is heavily implied he will die from the superflu, as one of his subordinates is shown to be infected while a disconsolate Creighton is cradling Starkey's corpse.
  • Desolation Shot: A variation occurs during the opening credits where the camera pans over the corpses of all the dead scientists working at the Project Blue facility, showing how many of them died so quickly that they apparently just dropped dead in the middle of work.
  • Dies Differently In The Adaptation: Invoked with Gen. Starkey. While he shoots himself in the book as well, in that, he goes down into the underground lab, picks up and cleans the face of a man who died and face planted into the bowl of soup he was eating, then settles himself in among the corpses of the dead lab scientists before he pulls the trigger.
  • Dramatic High Perching: How Flagg sometimes appears to people who see him outside of his crow form.
  • Driven to Suicide: General Starkey, once it is clear that the virus (developed by Project Blue, of which he was in charge) is out of control and billions are going to die. Small wonder that before his suicide he pins a piece of paper to his full dress uniform, with one word written on it: "GUILTY". In the novel, he waits to kill himself until after he's removed from command.
  • Dutch Angle: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar plays the "monster shouter" and because he is so tall, the production was able to shoot scenes with him angled so they could catch familiar backgrounds without having to alter the nearby objects.
  • Empathy Doll Shot:
    • In the opening credits, as the doll dropped by Campion's daughter lays on the ground... and is being pecked at by a crow.
    • A Callback to this happens in the second part: while "Don't Dream It's Over" plays on the soundtrack, we see many shots of abandoned places. One of these is a teddy bear washing back and forth with the tide near the boardwalk (presumably in Ogunquit).
  • The End of the World as We Know It: In one episode, Larry Underwood actually plays guitar and sings Barry Mcguire's "Eve of Destruction," a song about the End Of The World, on the outskirts of Des Moines. Which was on fire.
  • Epigraph: See the page quote.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • One notable sequence has Laura San Giacomo's (Nadine) cleavage on full display and taking up half the frame... except this occurs just before a rape scene when Flagg has his way with her.
    • A similar event occurs soon after, when Nadine pulls herself up onto a ledge and inadvertently reveals her underwear. This is in the middle of her "The Reason You Suck" Speech (directed towards Flagg) before she jumps off the hotel terrace and commits suicide.
  • Fanservice: Several panty shots over the course of the series. Also Nadine in a little nightie just before she leaves Larry.
  • Foreshadowing: After he's pulled out of his car, Campion foreshadows the presence of Randall Flagg as the "dark man." The news broadcast that Larry hears over the radio in New York, which states that the army has massacred at least 60 people and wounded hundreds who tried to flee the city through the Lincoln Tunnel, foreshadows his and Nadine's later journey through that same tunnel, and all the bodies they encounter there. Larry's mother also warns him, through her sickness-induced delirium, to watch out for the Dark Man, who's coming for him.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Flagg is handing the key to Lloyd, he lays it on the back of his hand (fingernails visible), then his hand closes around it as though it were laying on his palm. It's a really unsettling blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment.
  • Gender Flip:
    • Fran's child, Peter, is Abagail in the miniseries.
    • The one-scene character of Ray Flowers becomes Rae Flowers to accommodate the casting of Kathy Bates.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Rae Flowers' death at the hands of the military is only heard by Fran and her father over the radio.
    • Nadine committing suicide by jumping from the terrace of Flagg's apartment. We don't see the impact, but instead are shown one of the workers cleaning up a very large bloodstain on the pavement after the fact.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Stu's frustration with the military and government doctors makes sense, given how they callously push the residents of Arnette, Texas, and himself around, and how they ultimately were responsible for the whole thing. Still, when you put that in perspective to the existential threat to humanity that the government scientists were trying to solve, it's hard to see his refusal to go along with their testing as anything other than petty obstinance.
    • Stu is mainly fighting the scientists because they won't tell him anything about what's going on. Once Dietz shares details of what's going on, he's reluctant, but agrees to more testing.
  • Jump Scare:
    • One pops up near the end of Stuart's dream in the first episode.
    • Another follows shortly when the doctor who tried to kill Stu turns out not to be dead, after all, and attacks him from behind. And then there's the dead doctor who falls out of the elevator after Stu investigates what's inside.
  • Large Ham: A few in the miniseries, notably Matt Frewer as Trashcan Man and Laura San Giacomo as Nadine.
  • Lighter and Softer: The darker aspects of the novel, such as the "female zoo" and the sequence with Trashcan Man and The Kid, were culled for the mini-series. The behavior of the US military is also less immoral compared to the novel: while the military still resorts to extreme measures in the face of Captain Trips, the implication is that they are doing all they can to contain the virus and prevent mass panic from setting in (which would only further spread the virus and make any chance of containment impossible), rather than engaging in a political coverup. In the TV series the soldiers first try to confiscate an incriminating video tape from a media crew by peaceful means, whereas in the novel a two-man death squad is dispatched to simply kill the journalists. Unlike in the novel, in the TV series there is no indication that General Starkey orders the release of the virus around the world in an effort to conceal the American origins of the virus. Finally, the context of Elder/Dietz trying to kill Stu is changed in the mini-series: whereas in the novel Elder had been ordered by his superiors to terminate Stu as part of the military coverup, in the series Dietz has been clearly driven insane by all his friends and loved ones dying from the virus and only wants to kill Stu before he himself succumbs to the virus.
  • The Mountains of Illinois:
    • Trashcan Man's arson incidents in Gary, Indiana and Des Moines, Iowa, are both shown with rugged mountains in the background, because they were filmed in New Mexico.
    • Particularly amusing are the shots of huge mountains in the background as Arnette, TX is quarantined and evacuated. These scenes were shot in Salt Lake City, UT, which is far closer to Las Vegas, NV and Boulder, CO, the two central locations in the story, than eastern Texas.
  • National Anthem: At the end of part 3, "The Betrayal," the group in Boulder stand and sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" as a moment of solidarity with one another and of quiet defiance against the evil forces trying to take over what's left of America.
  • The Power of Rock: At the end of the third episode, Larry is shown taking his guitar (and nothing else) to Las Vegas. A loaded six-string may not help with the forces of darkness...
    Rat-Man: (smashes guitar) Disco is dead!!
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In order to get the mini-series greenlit, King had to cull the darker aspects of the novel for network TV, which in turn led to some decent revisions of the story: removing the "female zoo" sequence and expanding upon Nadine and Larry's relationship as far as the two hooking up in the city rather than once Larry's former companion died.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: When the Judge is shot. You can see the bullet holes, but it's nothing like the book description where there was nothing left of his face. Considering the whole reason Flagg was angry at his men was that he wanted the face to be recognizable, this made the scene make a lot less sense.
    • Averted in the comic adaptation, in which the Judge's face is destroyed.
  • Race Lift: Joe/Leo Rockway is a white kid in the miniseries version.
  • Real Men Eat Meat: In the miniseries version, when Larry asks Nadine how she wants her steak cooked, she says "just run it through a warm room".
  • Repressive, but Efficient: Las Vegas under Flagg. Things run smoothly in Vegas because of the inhabitants fear of Flagg's crucifixion punishments if disobeyed and follow his orders accordingly. However, this all falls apart when Flagg repeatedly shows his shortcomings, causing his people to lose fear of him, act on their own, and eventually plan a mass desertion to South America just to escape his repressive rule.
  • Revealing Reflection: While Nick is focused on covering the face of the deceased Dr. Soames with the man's suit jacket, a sick Ray Booth, armed with a Smith & Wesson Model 15 revolver, creeps up to him, thinking that Nick's distraction and deafness will keep him from discovering him until it's too late. However, Nick happens to glance at the chassis of Soames' car and see the reflection of Ray pointing at his back with the revolver, which helps foil Ray's attempt on his life.
  • Scary Black Man: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played the "Monster Shouter" in the mini-series.
  • Shout-Out: When Flagg finds Lloyd, he smirks “Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.” When Lloyd looks blank at the line from Sympathy For the Devil, he says “Just a classical reference.”
  • Smells of Death: This becomes a major problem for cities after the Plague hits. Larry immediately decides to avoid any cities, especially New York, at the risk of being pelted by the smell of millions of rotting corpses baking in the summer sun.
  • Sound-Only Death: Rae Flowers is killed offscreen when a group of soldiers break into her studio and gun her down, while Fran and her dying father listen to the broadcast in horror.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the novel, Teddy Weizak was one of the victims of Harold's pipebomb. In the 1994 miniseries, he survives and was the one who tells Stu about Fran's baby. He is also played by Stephen King
  • A Storm Is Coming. ...His storm!" And "the rats are his."
  • Taking You with Me: There are two incidents of this in the series. The first occurs when a sick and dying Ray Booth tries to kill Nick in a deserted Shoyo while the latter is distracted by the body of Dr. Soames. The second occurs at Stovington, where a likewise sick and dying Dr. Dietz tries to kill Stu. Both men fail in their attempts and end up getting shot to death themselves, which arguably was a more merciful way for them to go than dying from the superflu.
  • Tempting Fate: "Piece of cake!". In the miniseries, he says it three times while climbing the washout.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Ray Booth. Unlike his novel counterpart, Ray wound up getting arrested by his brother-in-law, Sheriff John Baker, along with his three buddies after they beat up and robbed Nick. When the superflu hits Shoyo and proceeds to wipe out the town's population, Nick lets his surviving attackers go so they have a chance of survival instead of potentially starving to death behind bars. Ray, visibly ill with the superflu, rewards Nick's humanitarian gesture by spitting in his face in a clear attempt at infecting him. This is later on followed by Ray attempting to kill Nick out of spite for being healthy while Ray and everyone else in town is dead or dying from Captain Trips.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: In the miniseries, Abagail helpfully informs the heroes: "The Beast is loose in the fields of Bethlehem. The rats are in the corn!"
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Harold walks out of the Vermont Center for Disease Control, he noticeably vomits on the ground before running to a nearby bush to continue.


Video Example(s):


Trashcan Man

A schizophrenic pyromaniac, Trashcan Man zeros in on anything he can blow up following the apocalypse and - though still hampered by hearing voices - rejoices wildly with every explosion.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / MadBomber

Media sources: