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The Stand is the sixth book published by Stephen King; it is his fifth novel, and the fourth novel under his own name. The book was the last of King's novels published by Doubleday on October 3, 1978.

The novel is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy story that re-works the scenario of King's earlier short story, "Night Surf." A longer edition of the novel was later released in May 1990; King restored some text originally cut for brevity, added and revised sections, changed the timeframe of the story from 1980 to 1990, and updated several pop culture references accordingly to the time. Incidentally in 1980, when the first paperback publication of The Stand was released by Signet, the date of the story was moved from 1980 to 1985. It stayed 1985 until the release of the longer edition in 1989. The novel has been translated into at least a dozen languages.


A deadly virus called "Captain Trips", engineered as an advanced biological weapon by the government, is accidentally released across America and the world, causing 99.4% of the entire world's population to die. The 0.6% who survive struggle to find their bearings and rebuild civilization in the aftermath of the plague. They all dream about two opposing figures: Randall Flagg, the Dark Man, and Mother Abagail, who is receiving visions from God. The survivors split into two factions, one led by Flagg, and one led by Mother Abigail, and prepare for the final stand between good and evil.

Captain Trips[]

The novel's first part takes place over nineteen days, with the escape and spread of a human-made biological weapon, a superflu virus known formally as "Project Blue" but most commonly as "Captain Trips" (among other colloquialisms). The epidemic leads directly to the death of an estimated 99.4% of the world's human population.

Road to nowhere by noro8-d7q3ksv

King outlines the total breakdown and destruction of society through


widespread violence, protest, paranoia, the failure of martial law to contain the outbreak, and eventually the death of virtually the entire population. The human toll is also dealt with, as the few survivors must care for their families and friends, dealing with confusion and grief as their loved ones succumb to the flu.

The expanded edition opens with a prologue titled "The Circle Opens" that offers greater detail into the circumstances surrounding the development of the virus and the security breach that allowed its escape from the secret laboratory compound where it was created.


On the Border[]

Intertwining cross-country odysseys are undertaken by a small number of survivors, including:

  • Stu's party:
Stuart Redman, a factory worker from the fictional tiny town of Arnette, Texas
Frances Goldsmith, a pregnant college student from Ogunquit, Maine
Harold Lauder, an overweight high school outcast, also from Ogunquit
Glen Bateman, a quick-witted, pessimistic sociology professor from Woodsville, New Hampshire
Kojak (formerly "Big Steve") an Irish Setter adopted by Glen, and one of very few dogs immune to the plague
Perion McCarthy and Mark Braddock, two lovers who are already a couple when they meet Stu's group
Dayna Jurgens, a hard-headed and determined woman from Xenia, Ohio
Susan Stern, a former student from Kent State University
Patty Kroger, a beautiful young girl in her teen years
  • Nick's party:
Nick Andros, an insightful deaf-mute drifter originally from (fictional) Caslin, Nebraska
Tom Cullen, a kind-hearted mentally challenged man from May, Oklahoma
Ralph Brentner, a jolly, easy-going farmer, also from Oklahoma
Dick Ellis, a former veterinarian in his early 50s
Gina McCone, a little girl
Olivia Walker, a sympathetic older woman
June Brinkmeyer, a redhead woman in her mid-20s
  • Larry's party:
Larry Underwood, a disillusioned pop musician from New York City
Rita Blakemoor, a rich middle-aged woman also from New York City
Nadine Cross, a grade-school teacher with a dark secret from South Barnstead, New Hampshire
Leo Rockway, a traumatized, temporarily feral boy from Epsom, New Hampshire
Lucy Swann, a twenty-five year old former housewife and mother from Enfield, New Hampshire
Judge Farris, a seventy-year-old retired judge from Peoria, Illinois

They are drawn together by both circumstances and their shared dreams of a 108-year-old black woman from Hemingford Home, Nebraska, a place they see as a refuge and a representation of good in the struggle of good versus evil. This woman, Abagail Freemantle (known as "Mother Abagail"), becomes the spiritual leader of this group of survivors, directing them to Boulder, Colorado. Eventually the settlement is referred to as the "Boulder Free Zone", after the call-sign used by Ralph Brentner in his radio transmissions to guide survivors in. There they begin to reestablish a democratic society; much of this section of the book involves the struggles to create an orderly society more or less from scratch. Boulder is found to be hosting the dead bodies of considerably fewer plague victims than other cities due to a mass exodus following a false rumor in the early stages of the plague that the outbreak originated in the Boulder Air Test Center. While many corpses are present there, they number far fewer than any other major city in North America. Those who journey to Boulder set about forming a committee to govern and rebuild the city to be livable, which includes collecting the dead, checking houses and clearing them to live in, turning on utilities and setting up a democratic form of government. 


Meanwhile, another group of survivors includes:

Lloyd Henreid, a not-too-bright common thief and accused murderer
Donald Merwin Elbert, known as "the Trashcan Man", a schizophrenic pyromaniac
Whitney Horgan, an ex-Army cook and butcher
Julie Lawry, an unstable, oversexed teenager
"The Rat Man", a pirate-like hood
Barry Dorgan, a former detective of the Santa Monica Police Department
Jenny Engstrom, a nightclub dancer and later construction worker
Hector "Heck" Drogan, a civilian who is executed for drug abuse by Flagg's punishment system

They are drawn to Las Vegas, Nevada by Randall Flagg (also known as "the Dark Man", "the Hardcase", "the Tall Man", and "the Walkin’ Dude".) Although technically an agent of chaos, Flagg attracts people who like order and stability, even if it comes at the cost of fascism. But it is "not just the evil ones like him" who are receptive to Flagg's summons, according to Mother Abagail, "but the weak ones...the lonely ones...and those who have left God out of their hearts."

Like any other despotic ruler, Flagg rewards his followers with rank and creature comforts, while using cruel measures — crucifixion, torture — to punish those who violate his laws.

His group is able to quickly reorganize their society, restore power to Las Vegas, and rebuild the city as many technical professionals have migrated to the city. The book notes that at Las Vegas, Flagg's group is constantly working and has organized a strong but harsh structure while at the Free Zone, some survivors lounge idly and do not work as hard. Flagg's group also has started a schooling system and weapons program with survivor Carl Hough as a helicopter pilot and the Trashcan Man searching the local area for weapons.

The Free Zone's democratic society is not without its problems. Mother Abagail, feeling that she has become prideful and sinned due to her pleasure at being a public figure, disappears into the desert on a journey of spiritual reconciliation. Meanwhile, Harold's bitterness over his unrequited love for Fran and Nadine's secret commitment to Flagg lead the two of them to detonate a dynamite bomb at a meeting of the Free Zone committee in an attempt to assassinate their leadership. The explosion, which kills several people (most notably, Nick Andros), takes place at the same time that Mother Abagail is discovered, severely weakened by her time in the wilderness.

The Stand[]

There is no pitched battle, however. Instead, at Mother Abagail's dying behest, Stu, Larry, Ralph and Glen set off on foot towards Las Vegas on an expedition to confront Randall Flagg. Stu breaks his leg en route and drops out. He encourages the others to leave without him, telling them that God will provide for him. Glen's dog, Kojak, stays behind with Stu. Glen, Ralph, and Larry soon encounter Flagg's men, who take them prisoner. When Glen rejects an opportunity to be spared if he kneels and begs Flagg, he is shot by Lloyd Henreid, on Flagg's direct order. Flagg gathers his entire collective to witness the violent execution of the other two (they are to be viciously torn apart in the city's central plaza), but before it can take place, Trashcan Man arrives with a nuclear warhead and a giant glowing hand—"The Hand of God"—detonates the bomb, destroying Flagg's followers and the two remaining prisoners.


the hand of God

Stu, with the aid of Kojak and later Tom Cullen (who finds him while returning from Las Vegas after a brief stint as a spy) survives injury, illness, and a harsh Rocky Mountain winter. The three of them arrive back in Boulder soon after the birth of Fran’s baby. Although the baby falls ill with the superflu, he is able to fight it off. In the end, Stu and Fran decide to return to Maine, and the original edition of the novel ends with the two of them questioning whether the human race can learn from its mistakes. The answer, given in the last line, is ambiguous: "I don’t know."


The expanded edition contains brief coda called "The Circle Closes", which leaves a darker impression and fits in with King’s ongoing "wheel of ka" theme. Randall Flagg, using the alias "Russell Faraday", arrives on a beach and begins recruiting adherents among a preliterate, dark-skinned people.


...the circle closes

Links to Other Works[]

The events of the fourth Dark Tower novel, Wizard and Glass, reveal the setting of this novel to be an alternate level of the Dark Tower. The main characters of that novel spend the night on this level after defeating Blaine the Mono, and confront Flagg, who demands that they abandon their quest to reach the Dark Tower. When they refuse, he escapes.


In 1994, the novel was adapted by King into a television miniseries.

From September 2008 to January 2012, Marvel Comics adapted the novel into a series of graphic novels.

In January 2011, Warner Bros. announced plans to adapt the novel into a feature film.

In December 2014 it was confirmed that it will be split into four films with The Fault in our Stars director Josh Boone at the helm.

On March 30, 2018, it was reported that CBS All Access was redeveloping the project into a nine-hour limited series with Josh Boone still attached to serve as director. On January 30, 2019, it was announced that CBS All Access had given the production a series order consisting of ten episodes. The series was set to be written by Boone and Ben Cavell both of whom were also expected to serve as executive producers alongside Roy Lee, Jimmy Miller, and Richard P. Rubinstein with Will Weiske and Miri Yoon serving as co-executive producers and Owen King as producer. Production companies involved with the series were slated to consist of Vertigo Entertainment, Mosaic Media Group and CBS Television Studios.

The production began filming in September 2019 in British Columbia, Canada. It wrapped on March 11, 2020, just days before the Covid-19 pandemic shut everything down. The mini-series premiered on December 17, 2020. It aired for eight consecutive weeks (December 17, 2020 – February 11, 2021). The series is streaming on Paramount + in the United States. Amazon Prime is streaming the mini-series to other nations. Both mini-series are available on DVD and Blu-Ray as well.


Audiobook versions of The Stand have been read by Garrick Hagon and Grover Gardner.