Alan J. Pangborn was the sheriff of Castle Rock, Maine for a decade, between 1981 and 1991. He succeeded George Bannerman as sheriff and faced two major adversaries in his town: the first against George Stark (The Dark Half) and the second against Leland Gaunt, the owner of the 'Needful Things' shop. Recently, Alan has returned to Castle Rock where he became involved with the event surrounding a mysterious prisoner at Shawshank State Prison.
He is widower to Annie Pangborn, and father to Al and Todd Pangborn. Annie was killed in a car crash, with their younger son Todd, not long after the Beaumont affair that was the subject of The Dark Half. Following the traumatic events of The Dark Half, Pangborn suffers constant nightmares. He informs the reader of Thad Beaumont's eventual divorce, alcoholism and suicide. Thad Beaumont was the protagonist of The Dark Half. Pangborn also suffers the nightmare of losing his wife and son to a car crash. He is a gifted amateur magician and is able to produce a number of different and complex shadow puppets and sleight-of-hand tricks.
He is now married to Polly Chalmers and lives in New Hampshire.
While still sheriff in 1991, Alan Pangborn led the search for eleven-year old Henry Deaver who went missing for a number of days just after New Year. While many had given up on finding Henry still alive, Alan continued the search because he had feelings for the boy's adoptive mother, Ruth Deaver. After eleven days, Alan found Henry standing in the middle of Castle Lake and returned him home. However, during his time away, Henry's adoptive father, Reverend Matthew Deaver, was found in the snow severely injured and died three days later at home. Alan found Matthew in the snow where the Reverend told him that "Henry did it." Alan believed that Henry had pushed his adopted father off the ridge that caused his injuries but hid the fact due to his feelings for Ruth.
In the same year, Alan pulled over Warden Dale Lacy and discovered that he was transporting a young man in his trunk. Lacy convinced Alan that the boy was the cause of all of Castle Rock's troubles and the God had spoken to him and told him how to deal with it. Alan let the Warden go, and the boy was secretly imprisoned in Shawshank State Prison for the next twenty-seven years.
Alan left for New Hampshire after retiring as sheriff, but returned around 2008. Although he was no longer Sheriff, people still called him with problems. When someone heard gunshots at the Deaver household, Alan paid a visit to ensure Ruth was okay. When he arrived, Ruth embraced him and told him not to leave. Despite Ruth's mental condition, Alan became her constant companion and lover, helping her to manage her days and assist with her mental deterioration.
In 2018, Henry Deaver returned to Castle Rock. After his disappearance, many in the town blamed him for the death of Reverend Deaver. Henry left the town and became a lawyer, specializing in death row cases in Texas. After Shawshank Prison was sold to the private concern Northeast Correctional, Warden Lacy committed suicide and the existence of his secret prisoner was revealed. When questioned by prison officials, he had said Henry's name, causing him to return to his hometown. Henry was unaware of Alan's relationship with Ruth and was hostile about it, believing that he was using Ruth's condition to take advantage of her.
Despite warning the new warden, Theresa Porter, to keep the kid locked up, the prisoner was eventually released. He confronted Alan in the woods and told him that he can save Ruth, leading Alan on a mission to recover the car that Warden Lacy had committed suicide in. When he returned, he found the Kid outside the Deaver house with a bloody hand. Fearing for Ruth's safety, Alan headed into the house and was fatally shot by a confused Ruth, who thought she was defending Henry from her late husband.
- The Dark Half
- The Sun Dog
- Needful Things
- Bag of Bones (mentioned only)
- Gerald's Game (mentioned only)
- Castle Rock (portrayed by Scott Glenn).