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The Scariest Moments In The Entire IT Franchise, Ranked

Be it literary, televised, or cinematic, in the world of horror fiction, "IT" stands as an all-time classic for many. The story of Pennywise the Dancing Clown and the Losers Club originally hit bookstore shelves in 1986, following Stephen King's multi-year writing process. The story first came to King in the late-1970s, with inspiration striking him during a brisk walk through Boulder, Colorado.

The sizable 1000-plus page novel tells the tale of the Losers Club — Bill Denbrough, Eddie Kaspbrak, Ben Hanscom, Richie Tozier, Stan Uris, Beverly Marsh, and Mike Hanlon — a gang of outcasts just looking to survive everyday life in Derry, Maine. One by one, each member of the group is menaced by a sinister shapeshifting clown known as Pennywise, who lurks in the town's sewers. The narrative is set in two timelines at once, as the story constantly flips back and forth between the '50s and the '80s.

The book was such a hit that it was quickly turned into a two-part television miniseries released in 1990 with Tim Curry in the lead role. Over 20 years later, the story was adapted into two R-rated theatrical movies released in 2017 and 2019, with Bill Skarsgård stepping into the role of Pennywise. From print to prime time to Hollywood, pop culture has seen no shortage of "IT." Here are the scariest moments in the entire "IT" franchise, ranked.

13. The kids escape the tunnel

Those well-versed in the novel version of "IT" know there's a specific scene with a bit of a reputation. Stephen King has never been one to shy away from scribing some legitimately uncomfortable moments, and this is a prime example. It's definitely a scary sequence, but we're not exactly sure that was what King intended when he wrote it.

With Pennywise temporarily defeated, the Losers Club looks to escape from his lair in the sewers of Derry. However, despite their victory, the group is hopelessly lost and cannot find their way out of the sewers. To unify the group and ensure their escape, Beverly then proceeds to have sex with each member of the club. Once you consider that all the characters involved in this needlessly long 10-page scene are adolescents, it becomes more than a little stomach-churning to read. If there was ever a time for King not to flex his descriptive prose, this was most certainly it. 

This sequence has attained such notoriety that when the 2017 film was being promoted, an article from Vulture questioned if it would be included or even alluded to. This controversial moment is most definitely one of the most horrifying and traumatic events in the book — but for all the wrong reasons.

12. The bridge scene

Given the comparatively lower critical and audience responses, "IT: Chapter Two" doesn't quite live up to the first film. However, the follow-up chapter is not without any effective sequences, as the very first sequence gets things started in a horrific — if extremely unpleasant — fashion.

The scene is set 27 years after the events of "Chapter One," back in the town of Derry, with a big community carnival already in progress. We see a gay couple, Adrian Mellon (Xavier Dolan)and Don Hagarty (Taylor Frey), enjoying themselves before being harassed by a gang of homophobic punks. Upon leaving the carnival, the two are approached again by the gang and subsequently beaten. The sequence is nearly unwatchable simply because it's not supernatural horror — it's an all too real horror from the world we all live in.

The punks then send Adrian toppling over the bridge to the waters below, where he struggles to swim to safety. While thrashing in the water, Adrian notices a figure reaching out to help. Unfortunately for him, it turns out to be a returning Pennywise. A bloodied Don rushes down just in time to see a smiling Pennywise take a meaty chunk out of Adrian's armpit. The bridge then floods with red "I Love Derry" balloons, allowing Pennywise to vanish into the night with his latest victim.

11. Stan leaves a haunting final message

Throughout part one of the "IT" miniseries, we see Mike (Tim Reid) calling up each member of the Losers Club to inform all of the return of Pennywise. The last on his list is a grownup Stan Uris (Richard Masur), the most neurotic member of the group and the most skeptical of Pennywise for most of the movie. Following his talk with Mike, we see Stan draw a bath for himself — although he looks visibly concerned the entire time.

It's here that we're shown the ending of the kids' battle with Pennywise in the sewers and their subsequent promise to come back should it ever return. Everyone else, despite immense fear and trepidation, returns to Derry to defeat the evil presence once again. Everyone, that is, except for Stan, whose fate serves to close out part one of the TV miniseries.

Stan's wife Patti (Caitlin Hicks) enters the bathroom with a beer for her bathing husband, thinking that all is well. However, what she finds is the horrifying sight of Stan with his wrists slashed in the tub. The shot pans from Stan's pale and lifeless face to the world "IT" smeared on the wall in his own blood. Part one fades to black on the unnerving final image of Stan's wife screaming over the sight of her deceased husband.

10. Mike's book comes to live

Partway through part one of the TV mini-series, the Losers Club receive their final member in the form of Mike Hanlon, a Black boy. After being saved from Henry Bowers (Michael Cole) and his goons by the other kids, Mike shows the club a scrapbook he has filled with old pictures. While thumbing through it, the kids notice a tattered old sketch depicting a figure known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. All the kids recognize him as the sinister presence they've all been dealing with but are confused as to how he could still be alive, given the drawing's age.

As if on cue, the book's pages begin moving on their own, leading the kids to a picture of an old carnival. The picture begins moving and Pennywise taunts the kids through the drawing, threatening to kill each and every one of them. He then caps off his threat by reaching out through the image and attempting to grab the kids before the book is slammed shut. 

While the special effects that bring the picture to life are a bit outdated, the music and the performances definitely elevate the moment. Curry is especially on fire in this scene, imbuing Pennywise with as much menace as possible.

9. The ghost of Georgie

The events of the 2017 theatrical version of "IT" are set in motion when Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), Bill's (Jaeden Lieberher) little brother, is gruesomely killed by Pennywise. We see how guilty Bill feels about his demise, especially considering he's the one who sent him outside to play with the boat. Given how Georgie's body is never recovered, Bill grows obsessed with finding him, even charting out Derry's sewers — much to his parent's disapproval.

Late one night, Bill is awoken by some leakage from his ceiling and, while retrieving a bucket, heads into Georgie's room. He sits on his brother's bed looking devastated and even holds a Lego turtle that Georgie had made. However, his quiet contemplation is interrupted by a loud noise which leads Bill downstairs just in time to see someone wearing a raincoat run into the basement.

He goes into the basement, which seems to be flooded, and is met with a ghostly vision of Georgie. His brother, who has grown progressively more decayed, begins taunting Bill with increasing cries of "You'll float too!" This horrific moment is punctuated by Pennywise puppeteering Georgie like a ventriloquist dummy before slamming him back into the water and charging at Bill. It's an expertly handled scene that serves as a perfect example of how Pennywise loves to weaponize the traumas of his victims.

8. Beverly's bloody bathroom

When we first meet Beverly (Sophia Lillis) in "IT" we're immediately thrust into the nightmarish existence of her adolescence. She's subject to verbal abuse from the other girls at school and even has garbage thrown on her in a bathroom stall. Compounding matters is her father, a belligerent and perverted drunk who seems to have an unhealthy level of affection for Bev. She finally receives some form of respite when she meets the rest of the Losers Club and forms a fast friendship with them. However, around the same time, Bev has her first encounter with Pennywise – much like the rest of the club.

One night, while lounging in the bathroom, Bev hears what sounds like her name being whispered from, of all places, her sink's drain. She investigates further as the voices identify themselves as the missing kids and tell her that they "all float down here." Bev then extends a tape measure down the drain to see how far down it'll go, and the tape eventually reaches the end of the roll. 

When Bev retracts the tape measure, she sees that the end is caked in blood and human hair — right before hair tendrils shoot up from the drain to grab her. A geyser of blood erupts from the drain, covering the entire bathroom and Bev from head to toe! Compared to the '90s mini-series, this interpretation of Bev's bathroom terrors is a far more gruesome onscreen spectacle.

7. Eddie meets a leper

Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer) is the skittish germaphobe of the Losers Club, a mentality not helped by his overly domineering mother. Almost every fear, anxiety, and form of self-doubt has been crammed into Eddie, mostly so his mother can keep him isolated. It's these fears that make poor him a perfect target for Pennywise, as we see on full display during Eddie's walk home. During his trek, Eddie walks past the Neibolt Street house, an abandoned property later revealed to be the entrance to Pennywise's lair. After hearing a voice calling his name from inside, Eddie nervously drops his various pills all over the ground.

As Eddie picks them up, a man whose face is hidden suddenly approaches him and picks up one of the pills. He asks Eddie, "Do you think this will help me?" Then the man reveals himself as a hideous leper, complete with haggard limbs and open sores. The leper gives chase as Eddie runs through the yard of the Neibolt house and into the backyard. However, right before escaping through the fence, Eddie turns back to see that the leper is now Pennywise. The sinister clown raises up a triangle arrangement of balloons and taunts Eddie, telling him to "Come join the clown" before disappearing.

6. Beverly visiting her childhood home

In part two of the TV mini-series, the members of the Losers Club return to Derry for the first time in 20 years. For many of them, it immediately triggers unpleasant memories of their tumultuous childhoods, some a bit more disturbing than others. The one that takes the cake, however, is when Beverly Marsh aka Bev (Annette O'Toole), visits the home where she and her father once lived. In part one, it is established that Bev's father was a belligerent and physically aggressive drunk, so this brings up many unpleasant memories for her. However, when Bev knocks on the door, she's met with Mrs. Kersh (Florence Paterson), an old woman who informs her that her father is long dead.

As Mrs. Kersh goes to make some tea, Bev heads into the bathroom, recalling her run-in with Pennywise in her youth. Following a brief panic attack, she returns to Mrs. Kersh, who has the tea ready — though things feel off.

Mrs. Kersh's teeth now look noticeably more rotten, a detail quickly one-upped by Bev's tea cup being full of human blood. After dropping the cup, Mrs. Kersh leans over to clean it, but upon looking back up at Bev, reveals her true form — a rotting corpse with slimy skin complete with oozing black eyes. Bev runs out of her old home, but upon looking back, she sees that the house is completely boarded up and a yellow balloon is nudging up against her leg.

5. The slideshow goes wrong

Once the Losers Club realize they've all been dealing with the same nightmare clown in "IT," the group convenes for a meeting. Bill sets up a slideshow for the group, detailing the sewer system in Derry and how it all connects to the Neibolt house. Eddie begins having an asthma attack and proceeds to go on a rant about how they shouldn't even be involving themselves in this. 

The heated moment is then interrupted by the slide projector which begins switching images all on its own. The images flashed on screen are now old pictures of Bill and his family, eventually landing on a group shot including Georgie. An image of Bill's mother, whose hair is covering her face, begins morphing into Pennywise, which quickly envelopes the entire screen while glitching out the whole time. The kids eventually kick over the projector, which seemingly quells the horror, before a giant Pennywise erupts from the screen.

Complete with his new, sharper teeth, Pennywise crawls out of the screen and begins menacing the kids as the lights strobe. It's only once they're able to thrust open the garage door and flood the room with natural light that the nightmarish incident ends. As far as jumpscares go, this is a very effective moment and a great showcase of just how intense Pennywise's mind games can be.

4. Pennywise emerges from the fridge

The Club's visit to the Neibolt house goes about as well as you expect. Almost immediately upon entering the decrepit house, Pennywise gets to work isolating the kids and preying on their fears. He even locks Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) in a room filled to the brim with dolls, puppets, and mannequins — all of which are dressed up like circus clowns – and jumps out of a coffin in an attempt to grab Richie before Bill makes the save.

As the two of them are distracted by another scare, Eddie falls through a hole into the kitchen and is stuck downstairs with a broken arm. Eddie soon realizes that he is not alone, as Pennywise is slowly creeping out of the refrigerator by contorting his body like a twisted marionette dummy before telling Eddie that "It's time to float!"

Pennywise then struts towards Eddie like Ric Flair before a wrestling match, even taunting him by fake crying and mocking his asthma. We see Pennywise drooling at the mouth as fear makes his victims taste all the sweeter for him. This scene shows without a doubt how much sick and twisted pleasure Pennywise gets from dragging out his victim's prolonged agony.

3. Patrick Hockstetter's death

Something that has always made Stephen King's writing so bone-chilling is his ability to immerse readers in the world and characters he's building. Even the most minor characters are imbued with a personality or some noteworthy trait that helps them stand out to the reader.

If you've seen the '90s mini-series or the theatrical version of "IT," you might be vaguely aware of Patrick Hockstetter, one of Eddie's adolescent cronies. In both live-action adaptations, Patrick is presented as little more than a bit-player and another body for Pennywise's rampage. In the film, we see Patrick meet his end at the hands of Pennywise while chasing Mike into a sewer pipe. However, Patrick's death is much different in the novel, as it is far more prolonged and gruesome.

Following an argument with Eddie, Patrick heads to a fridge where he stores dead animals. However, what he finds is Pennywise, who takes the form of a swarm of ravenous bloodsucking leeches that immediately attack him. Readers are then treated to a sickening description of the blood being drained from Patrick's body as he writhes in agony. Back in clown form, Pennywise proceeds to drag Patrick back to his subterranean lair for consumption.

2. Pennywise corrupts Henry

Aside from Pennywise, the greatest threat to the Losers Club is Derry's resident bully, the deranged Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). Throughout the film, Henry and his gang make life utter hell for Bill and his friends, even cutting Mike with a knife. However, Henry gets taken down a notch when the Losers Club belt him and his cronies into submission during a rock fight.

The movie makes it very clear that Henry is far more sadistic than the average bully and even skeeves out his own buddies. Following the rock fight, we see Eddie emasculated again, this time by his cop father, who unloads some rounds into the ground by his son's feet. While sulking, Eddie is drawn to his mailbox, marked by a lone red balloon, and finds his lost knife gift wrapped for him.

After heading inside, Henry looms over his father, who is passed out in front of a television playing a daytime children's show. However, the program turns sinister when the cheery female host tells Henry to "make it a wonderful day" by killing his father. After some coercion from the kids chanting onscreen, Henry finally stabs his father in the neck as Pennywise watches from inside the TV. It's one of the more gruesome scenes in "IT" — and it's not even Pennywise holding the knife.

1. Georgie meets Pennywise

Whatever you think of the 1990 television adaptation of "IT," there's no denying the effectiveness of its most famous scene. Early on in part one, we are shown a flashback of Bill Denbrough (Jonathan Brandis) and his little brother Georgie (Tony Dakota). Bill, who is sick in bed, takes the time to make and waterproof a paper boat for Georgie before sending him out to play. Georgie rushes out into the rain with his new boat and runs along the street before it slips into the sewer. Here, Georgie comes face-to-face with Tim Curry's terrifying Pennywise, telling the out-of-place clown that he isn't supposed to talk to strangers.

Despite this, Pennywise is able to prey on Georgie's naivety and even baits him with his recovered paper boat. Pennywise adds to his ruse by saying there's an entire carnival down in the sewer, which Georgie wholeheartedly believes. However, upon reaching his hand to reclaim his boat, Pennywise grabs him and we're treated to the first taste of the clown's monstrous side. We then cut to Georgie's funeral, sparing us the horrific visual of Georgie having his arm munched off and being dragged into the sewer. 

While the gore in this version may be toned down from what is presented in the theatrical release of "IT" and the original book, Curry's iconic performance has stuck with audiences and helps cement this as the most terrifying moment in the entire franchise.