In Stephen King’s The Stand, a clever Lovecraft reference says a lot about the true nature of Randall Flagg. Also called The Dark Man and The Walkin’ Dude, the depth of Flagg’s powers and his origin are somewhat mysterious, at least in The Stand. Although King continued to explore this character in much greater detail in his work following his 1978 novel, a clever nickname mentioned in The Stand hints at King’s intentions with Randall Flagg.

In The Stand, Randall Flagg is depicted as an average-looking man seeking to gather followers and spread chaos. He has supernatural powers, but how he has them and where they come from are never revealed. At the beginning of the novel, he has memories of some of his past misdeeds. He recalls having been a Marine, a Klansman, and of being involved in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. However, by the end of the novel, he begins to forget these things until his earliest memory is of him walking down the interstate at the beginning of the novel.

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Randall Flagg in The Stand seems to have demonic origins. At one point in the novel, a hypnotized Tom Cullen, who claims to be “God’s Tom,” says that Flagg was once cast into a herd of pigs by Jesus, referring to Legion, a demon of many personalities. From this, it would seem that Flagg is a demon (or many demons). However, Glen Bateman’s description in the novel is likely more accurate. Glen Bateman, a former college professor and one of Mother Abigail’s chosen five in The Stand, compares Flagg to Nyarlathotep, one of H.P. Lovecraft’s most frequently featured evil entities.

Randall Flagg As A Lovecraftian God

The similarities between Randall Flagg and Nyarlathotep are legion. In the Cthulhu Mythos, Nyarlathotep is different from the Outer Gods. He often takes human form to collect followers, build cults, and corrupt humanity. He is manipulative and deceptive. What’s more, he even uses propaganda to achieve his goals, much like Flagg spreads misinformation and distrust by handing out leaflets of all kinds of fanatical information.

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In The Stand, Randall Flagg manipulates people and collects followers, expecting them to be blindly devoted to his cause (like The Trashcan Man). He uses his supernatural abilities to intimidate and manipulate the people around him. He is ruthlessly evil and seems to serve no other purpose than to sow discord. King later describes Flagg, who appears in various human forms and aliases in other parts of his work include The Dark Tower, as “an accomplished sorcerer and a devoted servant of the Outer Dark.” Given this information, it’s easy to see Flagg as one of the many forms of Nyarlathotep. After all, Flagg is not the only entity in the Stephen King universe with Elder-God-like tendencies.

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