The page It (Stephen King) contains mature content that may include coarse language, sexual references, and/or graphic violent images which may be disturbing to some. Mature pages are recommended for those who are 18 years of age and older. If you are 18 years or older or are comfortable with graphic material, you are free to view this page. Otherwise, you should close this page and view another page.
~ It's most famous quote - referring to causing its victims to "float".
It (sometimes capitalized as IT), more commonly known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, is the titular main antagonist of Stephen King's 1986 coming of age horror novel It, as well as its 1990 TV miniseries and 2017 film adaptations of the same name.
It is a horrific and malevolent cosmic entity, that is billions of years old, spawned in the void of the Macroverse and came to planet Earth to feed. It lives in the sewers of Derry, awakening every 27 years to prey on the town's children, feeding on their fears and using the Deadlights to make them "float".
This demonic extra-dimensional entity had a body humans could only comprehend as a giant spider, but It would almost always disguise itself as a clown named "Pennywise" to attract children, so that it could capture and kill them as they were an easier target. It could also morph into any form it wished, generally based on its victim's fears.
Due to its shapeshifting abilities, the true identity of the creature is never established. It seems to have no real name, gender or identifiable species, thus the characters refer to the creature as "It".
Then the clown’s face changed. And what little George Denbrough saw next was terrible enough to make his worst imaginings of the things in the basement look like sweet, angelic dreams; what he saw destroyed his sanity in one clawing stroke.
~ Stephen King on It during his murder of Georgie.
No mortal knows, or can know, the true form of It. The final physical form It takes is that of an enormous spider, but this is the closest the human mind can understand. What the children actually see is not It's actual form, but its form in the physical realm. The true form of It exists in an inter-dimensional realm referred to as "deadlights", existing outside the physical realm. Any living being that sees the "deadlights" goes insane almost instantly, or dies. Bill comes dangerously close to seeing the deadlights and the shape behind the shape for a brief moment. He described it as an endless, crawling hairy creature made of orange light.
Throughout the book, It is generally referred to as male, even by itself, calling himself "Mr. Bob Gray" and taking a male form as Pennywise the Clown. However when confronting It's spider form, the characters find out that It is most likely female, due to its final form in the physical realm being that of a giant female spider which was also pregnant. This however, is not Its true form. Just the true form of the creature in the physical realm which is the closest representation of Its true form, as It's true form is genderless.
A pitiless, unreasonable and completely heartless sadist, It is a bully at its core.
Not only is It a deadly and dangerous predator who enjoys devouring its prey (even and especially children), but It enjoys toying and 'bullying' its victims, terrifying them, tormenting them and harassing them before finally slaughtering them as fear 'floods the body and salts the meat', according to It. It also bullies the Loser's Club verbally, namely Bill, mocking his stutter and, on top of that, the loss of his little brother, even using that sadness to take advantage of him. It possesses a psychopathic sense of humor and loves to taunt its victims, taking glee in terrifying them and torturing them. It absolutely delights in his monstrous cruelty and evil acts, making him a cruel monster out for death and fear and not just a predator out for survival.
It also has the character of an arrogant narcissist, allying with, caring for and loving absolutely no-one and nothing but itself. He views himself as above Maturin the turtle spirit calling the later "stupid" and looking down on him for his good-hearted and supportive nature. It, like all evil godlike figures, sees humans as inferior creatures, who exist solely to be toyed with and eaten.
It is highly intelligent, and is a clever and manipulative trickster, shown whilst in the form of Pennywise, when he is more than capable of acting in a warm and friendly manner to give the prey (most notably Georgie) a false sense of security. Pennywise is loud, jovial, cheerful, merry, sociable and charming towards children, politely offering them the chance to visit his circus and eat free food. This is the closest thing to kindness in It's soul, and it is just a façade to fool it's prey, so he can kill them and devour them.
Ironically, despite being a horrifying creature who preys on fear, It is a true coward at heart. When his victim's have overcome their fears of him, It can be pounded into a helpless and terrified pulp. Ultimately, he is pathetic and cowardly once his victims actually face him together. It is terrified of starving and dying, as shown in his final moments when he becomes a blubbering wreck.
It's greatest weakness is that it underestimates the goodness of humanity, love and friendship, leading to his eventual demise once the Loser's Club join together and fight him together. This is when his cocky arrogance works against him. Even with his powers, the Loser's Club are still able to defeat him when they work together.
Powers and Abilities
Being an interdimensional cosmic being, IT was an extremely powerful entity. Although its true form exists outside of time and space in the Macroverse, the powers demonstrated by its earthly avatar include.
Psychic Power: IT possesses an insane level of psychic power, he can steal people's souls and entrap them within the Deadlights (IT's true form). He can also create psychic hurricanes capable of destroying entire towns. When battling the Losers, IT created a psychic storm that devastated downtown Derry.
Mind Control: In addition to his immense psychic power, IT is capable of controlling the mind and actions of a person. It is implied that he controls and influences the mind of every adult in Derry or perhaps even the entire nation, as they are all ignorant of the terrible murders that take place there.
Possession: IT also has the ability to possess people, this was shown when he possessed Mr Keene in order to get Eddie to leave Derry.
Telepathy: IT can read the minds of anyone he chooses to target. He often uses this to learn a victim's fears and exploit this with his shape-shifting ability. He can also implant thoughts and projections into people's minds.
Physical Illusions: In addition to his telepathy, IT can also create physical illusions, such as balloons floating against the wind, making his face appear on the moon or the smell of popcorn and rotting corpses. He can also use this to cause a person to hallucinate.
Shapeshifting: IT can transform into any form it pleases, whether it be taking on the form of someone or taking the form of flying leeches. IT often uses this power to take the form a victim fears most.
Teleportation: IT can also teleport between locations in an instant. However, he has never been seen teleporting outside of the Derry City limits.
Partial Invisibility: This was clearly stated in several cases, most notably when the adult Beverly encounters Pennywise at the place where she used to live or when the adult Ben Hanscom encounters It in the public library. This suggests that only those who actually believe or have knowledge about It's existence are able to see It although It can become fully visible to anybody when it is necessary or wishes to do so. One notable moment was when It helps Henry Bowers to escape from Juniper Hill, one of Henry's cellmates and then the guard also witness It next to Henry.
Near-Invulnerability: IT is not a true physical entity, so it cannot be killed or harmed by conventional means. The only known way to harm Pennywise is to perform the Ritual of Chud, which involves The Turtle and Gan (two multiverse beings) lending their psychic power to the person performing it. They both lent their power to the Losers numerous times when they faced IT, giving them the power to harm it. Bill likened fighting Pennywise as "fighting smoke".
Immortality: IT's early avatar has existed on Earth since primordial times and has existed even longer in the Macroverse (a void outside of time and space that surrounds our own universe). The Ritual of Chud is the only known way to kill the earthly avatar. However, it is heavily implied that IT's true form still exists within the Macroverse and is eternal and can never truly be killed.
Regeneration: IT can also quickly regenerate when it does receive a wound. This was shown when IT instantaneously healed after being shot in the face by Bill and Richie when it chased them down Neibolt Street.
Dream Invasion: It is also implied that IT can invade dreams, as he tells Eddie that he "will see him in his dreams" when taking the form of the leper at 29 Neibolt Street.
Insanity Projection: No mortal mind can perceive IT's true form, even Bill when his psychic power was insanely boosted by Gan and The Turtle. Anyone who sees IT's true form is driven instantly insane or drops dead from shock.
Chlorokineis/Flora-cide: With a touch IT can instantly cause plants to die. This is shown when Eddie (young and adult) encounters It in its leper form. It must be distinguished from the illusions mentioned earlier as this effect persists long after It's appearance although it does not serve any practical purposes.
Telekinesis: IT can manipulate inanimate objects making them fall, float around, and behave supernaturally. This includes locking doors and electronic devices. It can also affect human bodies, as demonstrated when it sent Eddie flying against a wall merely with a glance in his direction.
Superhuman Strength: Although IT is not a physical entity, it is still capable of superhuman attributes. This was shown when IT could tear the heads and limbs off children with extreme ease.
Superhuman Speed: Bill noted that IT can move at extreme speeds, claiming that he was way faster than an "express train".
Stephen King's IT (novel)
The Turtle can't help you.
~ IT to the children (while the celestial turtle Maturin is gone now).
Float? Oh yes, indeed they do. They float! And there's cotton candy... They float. They float, they float, Georgie, and when you're down here with me, you'll float too.
~ Pennywise (IT) before killing Georgie Denbrough.
Tell your friends I am the last of a dying race. The only survivor of a dying planet. I have come to rob all the women... rape all the men... and learn to do the Peppermint Twist!
~ IT mocking Beverly.
You have no power. This is the power; feel the power, brat, and then speak again of how you come to kill the Eternal!
~ It to Bill Denbrough in the Macroverse.
How do you like it out here, Little Friend? Do you like it? Do you love it? Do you give it 98 points because it has a good beat and you can dance to it? Can you catch it on your tonsils and heave it left and right? Did you like meeting my friend the Turtle? I thought that stupid old f--k died years ago, and all for good he could do you, he might as well have, did you think he could help you?
~ IT taunting Bill Denbrough after he met the Turtle.
Let me go! Let me go and you can have everything you've ever wanted; Money, fame, fortune, power! I can give you these things. I can bring your wife back! I can do it, only I. She'll remember nothing, just like the seven of you remember nothing. I can't give you eternal life, but I can touch you and you will live long, long lives. 200 years, 300, perhaps 500! I can make you gods of the Earth if you let me go! IF YOU LET ME GO.IF YOU LET ME-
~ IT begging for it's life before the Lucky Seven deliver the final blow.
~ IT's last words.
Stephen King's IT (1990)
Say hello to your friends, Beverly! You'll die if you try to fight us, Beverly. You'll die if you try! You'll die if you try to fight us, Beverly. You'll die if you try. You'll die if you try. You'll die if you try. You'll die if you try...
~ Pennywise (IT) to young Beverly Marsh.
I'LL KILL YOU ALL! Ha-ha! I'll drive you crazy, and I'll kill you all! I'm every nightmare you've ever had! I am your worst dream come true! I'm everything you were afraid of! RARGH!
~ Pennywise (IT) to the Losers Club (the Lucky Seven).
I am eternal, child! I am the eater of worlds, and of children. And you are next!
~ Pennywise (IT) to the Losers Club (the Lucky Seven) while attempting to kill Stan Uris.
What's the matter? One balloon not enough? TRY A BUNCH!
~ Pennywise (IT) psyching out Richie at the library.
Excuse me sir. Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do? Well, you better let the poor guy out! Bwa-ha! Bwa-ha! Bwa-ha!
~ IT to Richie Tozier.
Kiss me fat boy!
~ Pennywise (in the form of Beverly Marsh) to Ben Hanscom.
Silly boy! You still think you can see "me". Ha ha. You can never see me, you can only see what your little mind can allow! Go! Now! For if you stay, you'll lose your little mind, in my dead lights. Like all the others. Like all the others.
~ Pennywise (IT) to Bill Denbrough and the Lucky Seven.
Stephen King's IT (2017)
You look like a nice boy. I bet you have a lot of friends.
~ Pennywise to Georgie.
Where ya going Eds? If you lived here you'd be home by now. Come join the clown, Eds.
~ IT to Eddie Kasprak.
You'll float down here. We all float down here! Yes We do!
Beep, beep, Richie.
~ It before attacking Richie Tozier.
Tasty, tasty, beautiful fear.
~ It before nearly devouring Eddie.
This isn't real enough for you, Billy? I'm not real enough for you? Because it was real enough for Georgie.
~ IT while chasing the Lucky Seven in the Neibolt house.
No, I'll take him. I'll take all of you! And I'll feast on your flesh as I feed on your fear. Or you just leave us be. I'll take him - only him. Then I will have my long rest, and you will all live to grow and thrive and lead happy lives. Until old age takes you back to the weeds.
In the 1990 film, Pennywise was portrayed by Tim Curry, who also played Hexxus in FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Ben Ravencroft in Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost, Evil Manta in the Little Mermaid animated series, Maestro Forte in Beauty & the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Kilokahn in Superhuman Samurai Sybersquad, Drake in The Pebble & the Penguin, Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Picture Horror Show, and Darth Sidious (in Clone Wars).
In the 2017 film, Pennywise is played by famous Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård. It's other forms are played by Javier Botet (Leper), Tatum Lee (Judith), Carter Musselman (Headless Boy), and Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie).
In Other Media
My Little Pony
It appeared in pony form in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic IDW comic book "The Return of Queen Chrysalis", in one of the doors in Queen Chrysalis' Castle. Fluttershy opened IT's door and IT appeared, and said: "Hey, George!".
How It Should Have Ended (HISHE)
It also appeared in the Villain Pub Halloween special "Penny For Your Fears" in the form of Pennywise, along with other horror icons such as Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Chucky, etc. It's design is based off the 2017 version of Pennywise. It serves as the main antagonist of "How IT Should Have Ended"; while it primarily appears as Pennywise, its appearance as Judith serves as a cameo.
IT (alongside Randall Flagg) is regarded as the most evil and popular of Stephen King's villains, and an immense icon in horror. In 2006, Wizard Magazine ranked IT the 15th greatest villain of all time.
Ironically, Bill Skarsgård was born in the same year as the original film adaptation (by Tommy Lee Wallace) of IT: 1990. The amount of years It hibernates is about 27 years. 27 years after the release of the miniseries (and Skarsgård's birth) the new movie will be released, in which Skarsgård will play Pennywise.
Its favorite form, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, was designed after real-life clowns Bozo, Clarabell, and Ronald McDonald. Ironically, they all are portrayed as heroes whereas Pennywise is a villain.
He has a pale white clown face with funny tufts of red hair on either side of his bald head, a big clown smile painted over his mouth and he usually wears big white gloves, like the kind that the classic Disney character Mickey Mouse always wore.
He always held a bunch of balloons, all colors, like gorgeous ripe fruits in one hand.
He was wearing a baggy silk suit with great big orange button-like pom poms.
In some depictions of the novel, he wore a bright electric-blue colored tie, flopped down his front where his orange pom poms are, brown leather clown shoes with yellow laces, and on his hands were big white gloves, like the kind both Disney heroes Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck always wore.
In the 1990 TV miniseries, he wears a yellow baggy silk suit (with long arm sleeves colored both dark-cyan and indigo-purple, small dark-blue wrist collars, and ruffle-like bottoms of long leg sleeves having dark-cyan and indigo stripes), a black, seemingly-glittery leather vest with magenta thread piping, a three set of neck ruffles including two white ones and one in the middle that is colored both dark-cyan and indigo, and black leather shoes.
In the 2017 live-action film adaption, he wears a gray suit with features including orange-red pompoms on its pointy shoes coming from medieval and Victorian clothing styles.
It's nickname "Pennywise" is an actual word meaning extremely careful about the way one spends even small amounts of money.
Pennywise/It is partially based on real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy, nicknamed the Killer Clown, responsible for the murders of half a dozen young men and boys, who often wore a clown costume to entertain children in hospitals.
It was believed by many fans to be the world's greatest horror movie villain.
Despite Pennywise being killed at the end of the book, it's implied that IT may still be alive in other books by King, such as Dream Catcher and Hearts in Atlantis.
It makes a cameo in another one of Stephen King's films, The Tommyknockers, where it simply sat and waved.
In the WWE games (WWE 12 and beyond), It (Pennywise the Clown) could be created.
Pennywise was often seen as the primary reason that many people have a fear of clowns.
Knowing all fears, It's most known form is probably Pennywise the Clown because it represents one of the known common fears, coulrophobia (the fear of clowns).
It's life essence is comprised of writhing bright orange lights called "Deadlights", a dangerous and eldritch form of energy, which is used as a dark magical weapon by another monstrous Stephen King villain known as the Crimson King.
The time when the 1990 movie was released for the 2017 movie is equal to the time when Pennywise (IT) tends to wake up to cause the capture and murder of its victims (being 27 years). Ironically, Bill Skarsgard, who plays Pennywise/It in the 2017 film, was also born in 1990.
Though CGI was used in some scenes, Bill Skarsgård was actually able to move his eyes in different directions in some scenes at the behest of Andy Muschietti. At first, it was uncertain if he was able to achieve this effect on his own, yet Skarsgård assures, "I can do that." The purpose of this was to add to an already unsettling and disturbing look to Pennywise.
Some fans consider Pennywise to be somewhat misunderstood instead of evil as it preys on children for survival. However this is false, as Pennywise bullies and torments his prey instead of just killing them. He also views humans and life outside of himself as inferior to him and he also serves as a cruel entity of destruction is contrast to Maturin being a kind entity of creation. This proves that Pennywise is evil.