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Why Stephen King's Wild Theory About Two Of His Biggest Villains Has Twitter Buzzing

Prolific author Stephen King's novels are riddled with Easter eggs and references to his other stories; fans who read enough of his work will eventually realize that most of his stories take place in a larger universe. For starters, Danny Torrance and Dick Hallorann from "The Shining" aren't the only King characters who have the shine, and the fictional Maine towns Derry, Castle Rock, and Jerusalem's Lot appear in multiple books too. Derry, in particular, makes for one of King's most-visited settings. It's most famous as the setting of the 1986 horror coming-of-age novel "IT," but the town is also where characters call home in the 1994 novel "Insomnia," and "11/22/63" protagonist Jake Epping spends a significant amount of time in Derry, briefly meeting "IT" characters Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh at one point.

Two of King's biggest villains, Pennywise and Randall Flagg, are among his most notable characters who cross into other works. Pennywise is best known as the most frequent form IT takes in "IT" when terrorizing the children of Derry. Flagg is best known as the antagonist of King's 1978 novel "The Stand." Both characters either make direct appearances in other King novels or have ideas directly related to their stories, which are largely tied together by King's epic series "The Dark Tower." Flagg, in particular, appears as a villain under a number of pseudonyms throughout the series — but one recent Twitter post from King has fans reframing previous conceptions of both characters.

King's suggestion that Pennywise and Randall Flagg are the same is getting a lot of attention

Frequent Twitter user Stephen King recently posted a tweet in response to a ScreenRant piece debating whether Pennywise or Randall Flagg is King's greatest villain. King's message indicates some level of amusement by the website's interest in defining which character is a better villain, referring to the debate as "the question America cares about most (not)" before he asks whether the folks over at Screen Rant had considered that the two characters are actually the same entity.

Naturally, the beloved author's proclamation threw fans into a tizzy in response; one user immediately over-analyzed Pennywise's relation to another antagonist, the Crimson King, who is canonically not Randall Flagg (via Twitter). King's work often appears to take the stance that evil and fear take many names yet only exist as one entity, so his assertion that the two villains are the same might not be incorrect. Of course, the author could simply be having fun with some silly internet content. Who's to say?

In King's novels, Pennywise, aka "IT," is an ancient, shapeshifting being whose age predates human civilization and exists in eternal opposition to Maturin the Turtle, a near-immortal being who helps hold the entire universe together. Flagg, on the other hand, is some sort of demon-human hybrid who uses supernatural abilities to influence characters and create conflict in several King stories. Flagg serves as Roland Deschain's nemesis throughout "The Dark Tower" under several different names, but at no point is he depicted as the same kind of shapeshifting entity that is Pennywise's true nature.