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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 in The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower — his most famous quote.|
Randall Flagg (real name Walter Padick), also known as Walter O'Dim, Marten Broadcloak, and the Man in Black, is the main antagonist of the Stephen King mythos.
He serves as the main antagonist of the novels The Eyes of the Dragon, The Stand, and Gwendy's Button Box, as well as a minor antagonist in the short story "Blind Willie" in the collection Hearts in Atlantis. He is also the central antagonist of The Dark Tower series, specifically as the main antagonist of The Gunslinger, a minor antagonist in The Waste Lands, a major antagonist in Wizard and Glass, a supporting antagonist in Wolves of the Calla, and a major antagonist in The Dark Tower.
He is also the main antagonist of the 1994 supernatural TV miniseries The Stand based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and in the 2020 TV miniseries based on the same book. He also appears as the main antagonist of the 2017 supernatural dark fantasy movie The Dark Tower, based on the book series of the same name.
The most recurring and without a doubt, the most important villain of the entire 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. He is also a servant of the ultimate evil of the mythos, the Crimson King.
- In the 1994 series, he was portrayed by James Sheridan.
- In the 2017 film adaption of The Dark Tower, 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.
- In the 2020 miniseries, he was portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård, who also played Charlie Venner in the 2011 remake of Straw Dogs and Perry Wright in HBO's Big Little Lies.
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.
The Eyes of the Dragon
He makes his first chronological appearance where he plans to put the medieval city of Delain into chaos.
Randall Flagg, who also can take the form of a raven, represented the concept of evilness and stood in opposition to Mother Abagail, who represented goodness. The two fought for control over the survivors of a world plagued by disease, and he 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 chose 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 series
In the days of the lead character Roland Deschain's youth, Flagg went under the guise of Marten Broadcloak, 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 found both his mother and Marten together in a room, with his mother having had love-bite marks on her neck. This angered Roland, and he ran 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 passed the test and became the youngest person ever to earn his guns. Flagg, his plan failed, seemingly vanished.
Sometime later, Roland and his friends Cuthbert Allgood and Alain Johns were 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, did not encounter Flagg, but he did pay a visit to Hambry. Three men known as the Big Coffin Hunters were stationed there under the orders of John Farson, a revolutionary who wanted to destroy Mid-World. Flagg, now going by Walter, visited the gang's leader Eldred Jonas to hold palaver about the Tet.
In the final battle that would end with Gilead’s destruction, Flagg played a small but key role. Posing as a blue-faced warrior, Flagg killed Cuthbert with an arrow to the eye.
Following the fall of Gilead, Roland pursues Flagg, now under the guise of Walter O'Dim and known to Roland as 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 devil grass-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 encounters 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.
The Waste Lands
After Roland gets a new Ka-Tet in the form of 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.
Wizard and Glass
After Roland tells 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.
Wolves of the Calla
It's 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, encountered Flagg at the station. Flagg gave him a box containing Black Thirteen, an evil magic ball, which he hoped will destroy the Tet.
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.
Hearts in Atlantis
He later appears in this collection in the short story "Blind Willie" as Raymond Fiegler, showing that he is still alive.
Gwendy's Button Box
Flagg reappears under the name Richard Farris. As Farris, he gives a high school girl named Gwendy a box with six buttons on the top, and a small dispenser on the side. Farris gives specific instructions on using the box, such as she should never press the red button under any circumstances. Farris leaves Gwendy to decide how to use the box on her own. Gwendy reserves the use of the box for eating chocolates dispensed each time she presses one button, which increases her luck and popularity in life, and pressing another button that dispenses her rare silver dollars. She gets curious and presses the red button while thinking of an isolated location in Guyana, which ends up leading to the Jonestown massacre. She reserves to never press it again, but her life changes when her best friend in high school commits suicide. Her boyfriend is later killed from being bludgeoned with the box by Frankie Stone, a local creep from high school later growing up to be a murderer and serial rapist. When he tried to rape Gwendy, she hit the red button and imagined him being sent to Hell, resulting him being burnt alive into damnation. Farris later arrives and, despite Gwendy lambasting him for creating the box, leaving it to her, and the resulting consequences, he shrugs it off by alleging she could've relented from certain courses in her life, alleging he's not guilty of collateral damage. He takes the box, ready to past it on to the next unsuspecting target.
The Dark Tower (2017 film)
Sometime before the events of the film, Randall Flagg, who goes by his aliases "Walter O'Dim" and "The Man in Black", killed all of the Gunslinger Roland's men, and then during the events of the 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 them at Roland, and as Roland ducks them and shoots some more bullets at Walter, Walter makes a trick and picks up some 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 an 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 a 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.
Walter's body is briefly shown 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)
Flagg is depicted as having more crimes under his belt than in the original novel and the 1994 miniseries, as he is the creator of the Captain Trips virus, and creates death matches for his people to see, allowing them to commit various acts of evil, including sex slavery, alcohol and drug abuse, and perverse orgies.
The Stand (1994 TV Miniseries)
The Dark Tower (2017 Film)
The Stand (2020 TV Miniseries)
- In The Dark Tower series, Randall appears under the guise of several figures, including the Man in Black, Walter O'Dim, Marten Broadcloak, and his actual name, Walter Padick.
- Randall Flagg is regarded as Stephen King's most popular villain (alongside It). 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 Skarsgård, whose brother, Bill Skarsgård, portrayed It in the 2017 film series.
- Many fans suspect that the dark form at the end of The Long Walk is an incarnation of Randall Flagg somehow.
- According to Stephen King, he created Flagg in college when he wrote a poem entitled The Dark Man. The poem follows an unnamed 'dark man' (Flagg) who has "ridden rails" and is always an outsider looking in, despising good fellowship and similar things. The man also admits to rape, and says he did it as "a sign to those who creep in fixed ways".
- 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.
- It is implied that Mrs. Carmody from The Mist was being manipulated by Flagg under the belief she was being guided by God; while praying she uses the phrase "My life for you", a phrase commonly associated with Flagg.
- Randall Flagg on the Pure Evil Wiki
- Randall Flagg at Wikipedia
- Randall Flagg on the Stephen King Wiki
- Randall Flagg on the Dark Tower Wiki
The Long Walk
The Dark Tower
Cycle of the Werewolf
Cain Rose Up
Word Processor of the Gods
Secret Window, Secret Garden
The Dark Half
Storm of the Century
Lunch at the Gotham Café
From a Buick 8
A Good Marriage
Gwendy's Button Box
In The Tall Grass
Locke & Key
The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer
The Gingerbread Girl
The Night Flier
Why We're In Vietnam