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The truth about NOS4A2's shared universe

Joe Hill has worked hard to distance himself from his dad, but the mind behind Locke & Key and NOS4A2 can't help but share some essential fascinations with his famous father. For one, both Joe Hill and Stephen King write horror fiction. For another, both men are obsessed with the idea of connected fictional universes.

That carries over to Hill's recent hit TV adaptations. The small-screen editions of Locke & Key and NOS4A2 make direct references not just to each other, but to the rest of Joe Hill's work and the fictional Maine of Stephen King's most-famous stories.

As Bloody Disgusting points out, the very first episode of NOS4A2 connects the show to King's It and Hill's award-winning comic book series Locke & Key. The episode contains a reference to the Pennywise Circus, bringing the most common disguised form of King's child-killing monster into the haunted world of Vic McQueen. A reference to Lovecraft Keyhold proves that the paranormally-powered Locke family exist on the periphery of the show.

Further connections to expect in the new season of NOS4A2

CBR searched the source material for other references and struck gold. In Hill's original story, he draws lines to his earlier novels Horns and Heart-Shaped Box. The setting of Locke & Key is also referenced in passing while FBI agents look at a map.

Hill goes on to keep the connections in the family, bringing in Shawshank Prison and the villains from the book Doctor Sleep. While any connection to Stephen King's work inevitably connects it to all other Stephen King stories via his own tendency for winking and nodding at his own past, Hill explicitly ties NOS4A2 into a particularly significant corner of King's landscape with a reference to the gates to Mid-World.

Not to get all Tommy Westphall, but it's worth stressing that even the smallest connection to King's work would set the story of NOS4A2 in King's greater multiverse: the world of The Dark Tower.

There are other worlds than this

In short, all of King's fictional universes (if they aren't physically on the same plane like Castle Rock and Derry) exist within the universe of The Dark Tower. All worlds are different realities centering around the hub of the one true reality, the world that contains the titular tower. Mystical gunslinger Roland Deschain and his nemesis, the Man In Black, travel throughout the worlds, with the former hoping to reach the tower and the latter looking to thwart him. The meta-story written around all of King's work took the legendary author decades to finish — he began work on the series in 1970 and only wrapped up the core books in 2004.

It's very likely that we'll see more references to the King-Hill shared universe as the series goes on, though these Easter eggs will be far from the focus. In an interview with Den of Geek, Hill teased that season 2 of NOS4A2 will complicate the universe and explore the idea of motherhood in a dangerous world, much like Terminator 2 did before it.

While he said that the second season leaves room for more stories, Hill could not confirm that a third season was guaranteed, and said that the season could serve as a nice resolution if it were to be the last. "Whether or not there will be more story, I mean, I don't know. No one can say that," he explained. "If there seems to be demand for it, I think that we'll return and spend more time in that world. If there isn't, we can satisfy ourselves with two really great seasons of something that tells a complete story."

NOS4A2 airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC, and is streaming now.