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As for the end of the universe… I say let it come as it will, in ice, fire, or darkness. What did the universe ever do for me that I should mind its welfare?
~ Randall Flagg's most famous quote.

Randall Flagg (also known as The Man in Black) is the main antagonist of the Stephen King multiverse, appearing as the main antagonist of the novels The Stand and The Eyes of the Dragon, as well as the central antagonist of the Dark Tower series.

The most recurring and without a doubt, the most important villain of the entire Stephen King mythos with countless various acts of atrocities in his name, Randall Flagg is following King's own words, the best villain he created, whom he had in mind since he began writing. Flagg has appeared in multiple works, always as a powerful and charismatic embodiment of evil.

Randall Flagg goes by many aliases including Walter O'Dim, and Marten Broadcloak, but his real name is Walter Padick.

History

Novel History

Background

Within the novels, Randall Flagg was given to a mill owner and his wife to learn the ways of man. However, at the age of 13, he grew bored, burned down his house, and sought to find his real father, Maerlyn. He was raped by a stranger the next year. Eventually, Flagg became something of a "quasi-immortal" demon upon having learned the ways of dark magic from his father once he found him.

Children of Corn

It is implied that another Stephen King villain, the unholy demon known as He Who Walks Behind the Rows in Children of the Corn, was an avatar for Flagg, who shares similarities with the biblical demon Legion which The Eyes of the Dragon novel calls him as such.

The Stand

Flagg was first introduced in The Stand, where he represented the concept of evil and stood in opposition to Mother Abagail, who represented good: the two fought for control over the survivors of a world plagued by disease.

The Eyes of the Dragon

He made a second appearance in The Eyes of the Dragon where he plans to put the medieval city of Delain into chaos.

The Dark Tower series

In The Dark Tower, Randall appears under the guise of several figures, including The Man in Black, Walter O’Dim, Marten, and his actual name, Walter Padick.

In the days of lead character Roland Deschain’s youth, Flagg went under the guise of Marten, a sorcerer who teaches Roland some magic, like a special bullet trick that could hypnotize people. During a formal gathering that Roland watched from a balcony, Flagg danced with Roland’s mother Gabrielle. Later, Roland would find both his mother and Marten together in a room, with his mother having love-bite marks on her neck. This angers Roland, and he runs out of the room and to Cort, his combat teacher, to earn the guns of a true gunslinger. Of course, this was all in the plan: Flagg baited Roland to facing his test so that he would fail it and be “sent West,” or rather, be exiled. However, Roland passes the test and becomes the youngest person ever to earn his guns. Flagg, his plan failed, seemingly vanishes.

Some time later, Roland and his friends Cuthbert Allgood and Alain Johns are sent to the town of Hambry in the Barony of Meijs to count supplies, although they are actually there because Roland’s father Steven wants to protect Roland from Flagg’s wrath. Roland and his friends, or Ka-Tet, do not encounter Flagg, but he does pay a visit to Hambry. Three men known as the Big Coffin Hunters are stationed there under the orders of John Farson, a revolutionary who wants to destroy Mid-World. Flagg, now going by Walter, visits the gang’s leader Eldred Jonas to hold palaver about the Tet.

In the final battle that would end with Gilead’s destruction, Flagg plays a small but key role. Posing as a blue-faced warrior, Flagg kills Cuthbert with an arrow to the eye.

Following the fall of Gilead, Roland pursues Flagg, now under the guise of The Man in Black, across the Mohaine Desert. While running, Flagg enters the town of Tull and practices some of his black arts there. He brings a devilgrass-addicted man back from the dead and gives a woman named Alice a letter saying that if she says the word nineteen, the man, who is named Nort, will tell her about the afterlife. He also impregnates a religious woman named Sylvia Pitterson and convinces her that Roland is “the Interloper.”

When Roland visits Tull, the effects of Flagg’s enchantments take place: Alice says the word nineteen to Nort and Sylvia pits the town against Roland, who kills everyone, including her (Alice is killed by Roland because she begged him to after hearing what Nort had to say).

Upon finding the abandoned way station, Roland meets a young boy named Jake Chambers, who says he died in our world. Jake says that, while waiting to cross the street, a priest pushed him into traffic, causing him to get run over by Enrico Balazar (later, it’s revealed that this "priest" was a man named Jack Mort, who was a representative of Flagg).

In the mountains, Roland and Jake see Flagg climbing the side of a cliff. After encountering the mysterious oracle, the duo encounter Flagg hovering over a waterfall. He tells Roland that “just the two of (them)” will hold palaver on the other side of it, frightening Jake.

Inside the mountains, after fighting a band of slow mutants, Roland and Jake cross a trestle bridge. On the other side is Flagg, who tells Roland that he’ll get answers about the tower. The bridge collapses under the duo’s feet, and Jake nearly falls into the chasm below, clinging to a beam. Seeing this, Flagg gives Roland a choice: either save Jake or abandon him for answers about the tower. Roland picks answers and lets Jake fall to his death.

After Jake dies, Flagg and Roland hold a long palaver in front of a fire. Flagg tells Roland his future with tarot cards. He also gives Roland a vision of the universe in an attempt to show him how tiny he is and scare him away from his journey; Roland refuses, and Flagg puts him to sleep, but not after revealing that he was Marten. Many years later, Roland wakes up to see a skeleton, left behind by Flagg to make him think he died.

After Roland gets a new Ka-Tet in the form Eddie Dean, his wife Susannah Dean, and Jake (who manages to return to Mid-World thanks to Roland killing Jack Mort before he pushes him in The Drawing of The Three) he travels to the city of Lud, where he encounters the Tick-Tock Man and his minions. A few moments after they leave, Flagg appears before the Tick-Tock Man, who was injured by Jake, and takes him under his wing.

After Roland his tale of sorrow and adventure in Hambry to his Tet, the Tet encounters Flagg in the false city of Oz. Roland tries to shoot Flagg but the gun misfires (“Only misfires against me, old fellow”). Flagg attempts to dissuade the Tet from their course to the Tower, but they refuse. Roland shoots Flagg with a gun Jake brought from our world, and this time it doesn’t misfire. Flagg flees, leaving behind a pink magic ball called Maeryln’s Grapefruit, which was an important aspect of Roland’s past in Mejis.

In Wolves of the Calla, its revealed that shortly after Jake and Roland left the way station, Don Pere Callahan, a character who later meets the Tet in Calla Bryn Sturgis, encounters Flagg at the station. Flagg gives him a box containing Black Thirteen, an evil magic ball, which he hopes will destroy the Tet.

In the final book of the series, The Dark Tower, Flagg meets Roland’s son Mordred Deschain in an attempt to take his leg and bring it to the Tower so he can take it over and become a god. Mordred, however, takes control of Flagg’s motor functions with his mind powers and forces Flagg to dismember himself. Then he overpowers him and eats him.

Heart of Atlantis and Gwendy's Button Box

He later appears in Heart of Atlantis and Gwendy's Button Box as the main villain of those books as well showing that in the latter book he is still alive.

The Stand (TV miniseries)

You expected Charles Manson at the very least, didn't ya?
~ Randall Flagg

Randall Flagg appears as the the main antagonist of the 1994 supernatural TV miniseries The Stand based on a Stephen King novel of the same name while his enemy Mother Abagail also appeared. He was portrayed by Jamey Sheridan.

Randall Flagg who also can take form of a raven, was present when the Captain Trips flu, a deadly virus began and swept across the United States and soon the entire Earth in a matter of weeks, eliminating 99.4% of the planet's human populace.

He later chosen and raped his new "bride", Nadine Cross, whom he has been visiting in her nightmares. She soon turned on Randall while having remaining feelings for the man named Larry she met in New York. She committed suicide by taking a jump off the balcony of Flagg's penthouse in Las Vegas, killing not only herself, but also Randall Flagg's unborn child she was pregnant with, not long she replied her final words to the monster, "your seed is cold".

The Dark Tower (2017)

Randall Flagg, who goes by his aliases "Walter O'Dim" and "The Man in Black", appears as the main antagonist of the 2017 supernatural dark fantasy movie The Dark Tower, based on the book series of the same name. He was portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, who also played Vilmer Slaughter in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Adam Meiks in Frailty, and Joe Cooper in Killer Joe.

Sometime before the events of the film, he killed all of the Gunslinger Roland's men and then during the events of film, he killed his father by telling him to stop breathing. However, Walter's powers did not work on Roland since Roland was born with a special type of power that can deflect demonic powers.

When Walter found out that Jake was psychic, he sought to find the boy and use him to destroy The Dark Tower and rule over the other worlds. In the film, O'Dim kills Jake's stepfather and mother by telling his stepfather to drop dead. He later incinerates Jake's mom Laurie. About 10 minutes into the film, Jake returns back to Earth to find his dead father on the floor and his mom's ashes on the floor and breaks down. Walter is able to abduct Jake by confusing Roland by talking to him. Walter taunts Roland by telling him about his dad and how he could have saved him. Roland is furious and tells Walter to face him.

Jake is able to use his mind to help Roland find him. Roland kills all of Walter's men before confronting Walter himself. Walter and Roland have a brief fight with Walter telling him to come on! Roland starts shooting at Walter, who blocks the bullets with telekinesis. He picks up rocks and throws it at Roland as Roland ducks it and shoots some more bullets at Walter, Walter makes a trick and picks up glass and throws it at Roland, a shard of glass becomes stuck in Roland's hand, and he hides behind a brick wall as Walter taunts him. Walter is able to throw a I-Beam on top of Roland and cover him with rocks, injuring him.

As Walter has a fireball in his hand and is going to kill Roland by burning him. Jake recites the Gunslinger's creed as Roland recovers and gets back to his feet. He shoots at bullet at Walter who is able to block it, however, he shoots another bullet that ricochets off the wall and hits Walter in the chest near the shoulder. Roland reloads his gun and shoots a confused Walter several times in the chest before shooting him in the head, finally killing him and avenging Jake's mother and Roland's father.

We briefly see Walter's body as he had a bullet hole in his head. The machine is finally destroyed along with Walter's corpse and The Dark Tower is finally saved at last.

The Stand (2020 TV miniseries)

Randall Flagg appears as the main antagonist of the 2020 TV miniseries The Stand. He is portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård, who also played Perry Wright in Big Little Lies, and Charlie Venner in the 2011 remake of Straw Dogs.

Quotes

Wait a minute, son. Wait a minute. You ain't seen nothin' yet.
~ Randell Flagg demonstrating his demonic magic to Lloyd Henreid.
Flagg: Please to meet you Lloyd, hope you guessed my name.
Lloyd: What?
Flagg: Oh. Nothing. Just a little classical reference. Actually, my name is Flagg, Randall Flagg.
~ Flagg introducing himself to Lloyd.
Death always wins. That's the deal.
~ The Man in Black to Gunslinger.
You're crawlin' your way out of the darkness. Did you ever tell the kid who walks with you dies by my hand?
~ The Man in Black to Gunslinger.
You really think you can stop me, Gunslinger?
~ The Man in Black to Gunslinger.

Gallery

Videos

Trivia

  • Randall Flagg is regarded as Stephen King's most popular villain (alongside IT/Pennywise the Dancing Clown). As such, King himself regards him as the greatest villain he ever wrote.
    • What's interesting is that he is portrayed in the miniseries by Alexander Skarsgard, whose brother, Bill Skarsgard, portrayed Pennywise in the 2017 film series.
  • Many fans suspect that the dark form at the end of The Long Walk to be an incarnation of Randall Flagg somehow.

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