The Stand is possibly Stephen King’s best novel. Described as Lord of the Rings set in America, this sprawling story follows a group of people who survive a “superflu” that wipes out roughly 99% of the world’s population. They then become embroiled in a biblical war between the benevolent Mother Abigail and the demonic Randall Flagg. This book could not be more timely due to the recent pandemic and that it is getting a second TV series on CBS All Access later this year. Let’s look at the Top 10 Best Characters in Stephen King’s The Stand.
10. Trashcan Man
He is the embodiment of the post-apocalyptic insanity. Donald Elbert, mainly known as the “Trashcan Man,” is a mentally unstable pyromaniac. Suffering from trauma and abuse nearly all his life, Trashcan Man’s desire for destruction only grew as his sanity declined. After the plague hits and almost everyone dies, he is free to go nuts and watch the world burn. He thus catches the attention of the villainous Randall Flagg, who promises him the chance to wreak havoc to his heart’s content. This backfires as Trash’s insanity causes some “destructive” outbursts to Flagg’s army. Not the wisest choice of people.
9. Harold Lauder
This young social outcast survives the superflu with Frannie Goldsmith and falls in love with her. Though the plague leaves him scared and alone, he pairs up with Frannie and matures as they travel the country. His intelligence and rallying of other survivors make him a respected member of their community. However, he hides a terrible darkness from everyone, as he is secretly arrogant and insecure. Combined with his unrequited love and jealousy towards Stu Redman, Harold descends into madness before he betrays his friends and becomes one of Flagg’s pawns. His tragic fall thus depicts the loss of innocence in a ruined world.
8. Stu Redman
Stu Redman is your average everyman who turns into the story’s lead protagonist. As one of the first people discovered to be immune to the superflu, he is held captive by the government and observed until they’re all wiped out. He then makes himself halfway across the country, falls in love with Frannie, and becomes a strong leader for the survivors in Boulder. As a regular blue-collar worker, Redman is one of those characters the reader can insert themselves into the story through. He’s the kind of man many people can see themselves being in the disaster that unfolds in the novel.
7. Tom Cullen
This mentally challenged man is found alone by Nick Andros, and he becomes a dear friend to him and all the good survivors he encounters. Despite his handicap, Tom’s hope and sense of wonder make him one of the strongest characters in the novel. He ends up becoming an essential protagonist, as he successfully spies on the opposing group of survivors and rescues Stu Redman from certain death.
6. Frannie Goldsmith
Though she’s one of the youngest survivors, she’s possibly the most important. A college student who is impregnated before the plague, Frannie ends up alone when her family dies from the superflu. Though she and her baby serve as humanity’s last hope of surviving, she is resistant to God’s plans for her and Stu in their battle against Flagg. As a young mother living through the apocalypse, her struggle to survive and remain hopeful in this harrowing, new world makes her one of the story’s most relatable characters.
5. Nick Andros
Deaf and mute for nearly his whole life, Nick Andros is one of the first to reach the safe haven after the plague settles. A kind and caring soul, Nick ends up becoming a capable leader of those who survived. The way Nick overcomes his limitations and reaches out to those he encounters makes him such an appealing character. His relationship with Tom is also one of the most heartwarming aspects of the novel, as he becomes a brotherly guide to the gentle giant.
4. Nadine Cross
This former schoolteacher encounters Larry Underwood as she watches over a feral child. She also struggles with hearing the call of Randall Flagg, who reached out to her through an Ouija Board when she was in college. Nadine of one of the novel’s most human and tragic characters, as she suffers an inner conflict over where her allegiance stands. Though she and Larry find safety in Boulder, she still battles with her desire to feel needed as everyone seems happy without her. Even when she betrays her friends and runs into Flagg’s hands, you can’t help but feel a little sorry for her.
3. Mother Abigail
Mother Abigail is a 108-year-old woman who serves as a prophet acting on God’s will to lead humanity in the wake of the apocalypse. She speaks to the survivors through the dreams, urging them to come to her so they can rebuild civilization. With a kind and righteous heart, Abigail is a beacon of hope for those who suffered through the end of the world. Nevertheless, she struggles under the weight put on her by God and those that look up to her.
While this character does fall under the “Magical Negro” archetype, Whoopi Goldberg’s portrayal of her in the new series will reportedly go against this trope. Goldberg’s claims that her character will be more “complicated” and defiant of God’s wishes before she starts to “figure out that there’s something bigger than her.”
2. Larry Underwood
While he isn’t the lead protagonist of the novel, his journey as a character is arguably the best of all his comrades. He starts off in the story as a musician, fresh off the success of his first hit. While he is a rebellious and charismatic figure, what makes Underwood so compelling is his character’s growth throughout the story. He starts off as a selfish and narcissistic freeloader, but the apocalypse and tragedy that follow cause him to turn a new leaf, discovering his courage and becoming a hero and a leader to those around him.
Though he has been portrayed as a “Bruce Springsteen-Esque rock star,” Underwood will be depicted as a Coachella-style singer in the upcoming series. He will also be played by black actor Jovan Adepo, who just played a young Hooded Justice in the critically-acclaimed HBO series, Watchmen. This casting choice guarantees a fresh, new spin on such a beloved character.
1. Randall Flagg
He is a man of many names: The Dark Man, The Walkin’ Dude, The Hardcase, Legion. But Randall Flagg is only one of them. As the story’s main antagonist, this demonic figure gathers the world’s survivors in Las Vegas, where he rules over them with an iron fist. With a wicked smile and dark magic, Flagg serves as the Devil’s agent in the novel’s elemental struggle between good and evil. Like the Joker, part of Flagg’s frightening appeal is that you don’t know who or what he is. Even he doesn’t know who he is, claiming that he just “became.” He has memories of being a marine, a member of the KKK and the Viet Cong, and having a role in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Flagg has been a villain in many of Stephen King’s stories, but his introduction in The Stand is arguably his best role. Randall Flagg is not just The Stand‘s best character; he is one of Stephen King’s greatest creations.