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It (Stephen King)

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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 ever were afraid of! RARGH!!!
~ It's famous quote.

It (sometimes capitalized as IT), more commonly known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, is the main antagonist of the Stephen King novel IT and film of the same name. It was a demonic entity who would almost always disguise himself as a clown to attract children so that he could capture and kill them as they were an easier target.

In the 1990 film, he was portrayed by Tim Curry and in the 2017 remake, Bill Skarsgard will play Pennywise.

History

Film

It was part of the disasters that occurred every 30 years in the Maine town of Derry.

Unlike many horror monsters before him, Pennywise the Dancing Clown was never against killing children. In fact, he actually preferred to kill children as they were an easier target. That was probably why he chose the form of a clown, a figure that both entertained and terrified many young children. It had razor sharp teeth that he could use to kill people.

As the film progressed, a group of children known as the Lucky Seven (also mockingly referred to as the "Losers' Club") banded together to kill Pennywise and end his murderous reign (after he had killed the brother of one of them) and apparently succeed after they tracked him down to his lair. However, Pennywise, being a lesser-aspect of a higher being, was not going to stay dead forever and he swore revenge on the gang for his defeat before he vanished into nothingness.

30 years later, Pennywise kept his promise and came after members of the gang, who were all adults in the present day, to kill them. That prompted the gang to reform and battle Pennywise again in order to kill him yet again and save themselves from his wrath. At the end of the film, the gang did manage to defeat Pennywise again, but in that final battle, he took the form of a spider-like monster that was revealed to be his true form) rather than the clown disguise (which he used for most of the film). He was killed when they pulled out his heart. After they killed it, the gang left its corpse to rot.

Novel

The film lacked many elements of It that the novel included. In the novel, It was an eternal entity that was almost as old as time itself. It was the natural enemy of Maturin (The Turtle), who both existed in the Macroverse.

After It arrived on Earth, It would sleep for approximately 28 to 30 years at a time, and then awoke to wreak chaos and feed (primarily on the fear of children). It was able to take many more forms than the film depicted, including werewolves, bats, leeches, and even Jaws. Anything that a child was afraid of, It could become.

Also in the novel, It was only able to be stopped when Bill performed the Ritual of Chüd.

It apparently originated in a void that contained and surrounded the Universe, a place referred to in the novel as the "Macroverse" (a concept similar to the later established Todash Darkness of the Dark Tower Novels). Its real name (if, indeed, It had one) was unknown—although at several points in the novel, It claimed its true name to be Robert Gray—and was christened It by the group of children who later confronted it. Throughout the book, It was generally referred to as male. However, late in the book, the protagonists came to believe that It may possibly be female (due to Its manifestation as a large female spider). Despite that, Its true form was never truly comprehended. Its final physical body was that of an enormous spider; that was, however, the closest that the human mind could get to approximating its actual form. Its natural form existed in a realm beyond the physical, which It called the "deadlights". Bill Denbrough came dangerously close to seeing the deadlights, but successfully defeated It before that happened. As such, the deadlights were never seen, and Its true form outside the physical realm was never revealed, and was only described as writhing, destroying orange lights. Coming face to face with the deadlights drove any living being instantly insane (a common H.P. Lovecraft device). The only known person to face the deadlights and survive was Bill's wife, Audra Phillips.

Its natural enemy was the "Turtle," another ancient Macroverse dweller who, eons ago, created our Universe and possibly others. The Turtle showed up again in King's series, The Dark Tower. The book suggested that It, along with the Turtle, were themselves creations of a separate, omnipotent creator referred to as "The Other". The Turtle and It were eternal enemies (creation versus consumption). It may in fact, be either a twinner of or the actual one of the 6 greater demon elementals that were mentioned by Mia in Song of Susannah, as the Spider was not one of the Beam Guardians. It arrived in our world in a massive, cataclysmic event that was similar to an asteroid impact, in the place that would, in time, become Derry, Maine.

Throughout the novel It, some events were described through Its point of view, through which It described himself as the "superior" being, with the Turtle as someone "close to his superiority" and humans as mere "toys". It described that it preferred to kill and devour children, not by nature, rather because children's fears were easier to interpret in a physical form and thus children were easier to fill with terror, which It said was akin to marinating the meat. It was continually surprised by the children's victories over It and near the end, it began to question if It was not as superior as It had once thought. However, It never believed that the individual children were strong enough to defeat It, only through "the Other" working through them as a group.

Cycle

For millions of years, It dwelt under Derry, and awaited the arrival of humans, which It somehow knew would occur. Once people settled over It's resting place, It adopted a cycle of hibernating for long periods and awoke approximately every 27 years. Its awakening was always marked by a great act of violence, and another great act of violence ends Its spree and sent It back into hibernation:

  • 1715 – 1716: It awoke.
  • 1740 – 1743: It awoke and started a 3-year reign of terror that culminated with the disappearance of over 300 settlers from Derry Township, much like the Roanoke Island mystery.
  • 1769 – 1770: It awoke again.
  • 1851: It awoke when a man named John Markson poisoned his family, and then committed suicide by eating a white-nightshade mushroom, causing an excruciating death.
  • 1876 – 1879: It awoke and went back into hibernation after a group of lumberjacks were found murdered near the Kenduskeag.
  • 1904 – 1906: It awoke when a lumberjack named Claude Heroux murdered a number of men in a bar with an axe. Heroux was promptly pursued by a mob of townsfolk and hanged. It returned to hibernation when the Kitchener Ironworks exploded, and killed 108 people, 88 of them children who were engaged in an Easter Egg Hunt.
  • 1929 – 1930: It awoke when a group of Derry citizens gunned down a group of gangsters known as the Bradley Gang. It returned to hibernation when the Maine Legion of White Decency, a Northern counterpart to the Ku Klux Klan, burned down an African-American army nightclub which was called "The Black Spot".
  • 1957 – 1958: It awoke during a great storm which flooded part of the city, and murdered George Denbrough. It then met its match when The Losers' Club forced It to return to an early hibernation when It was wounded by the young Bill Denbrough in the first Ritual of Chüd.
  • 1984 – 1985: It awoke when 3 young homophobic bullies beat up a young gay couple, Adrian Mellon and Don Hagarty, and threw Mellon off a bridge (echoing real life events in Maine). It was finally destroyed in the second Ritual of Chüd by the adult Bill Denbrough, Richie Tozier, Beverly Marsh, Eddie Kaspbrak and Ben Hanscom, though that triggered the collapse of the water tower, and flooded the town.

In the intervening periods between each pair of events, a series of child murders occurred, which were never solved. The book's surface explanation as to why those murders were never reported on the national news was that location mattered to a news story—a series of murders, no matter how gruesome, do not get reported if they happen in a small town. However, the book's implied reason for why the atrocities went unnoticed was far more sinister: It never let them.

Powers and Abilities

  • Shape-shifting. It could immediately transform itself to any kind of being, and took the frightful image directly from the victim's mind, regardless of the size or nature. It took the form of a giant plastic statue, several small life entities - flying leeches - or several human-sized entities, when Eddie was confronted by the cadavers of Greta Bowie, Patrick Hockstetter, and Belch Huggins at the baseball court. Between shape-shifting, It was an orange amorphous goo, which was somewhat close to Its true form.
  • Partial Invisibility. That was clearly stated in several cases, notably when Beverly encountered Pennywise at the house where she used to live or when Richie encountered It in the public library, which suggested that only those who could see It were those who actually believed, or had knowledge about Its existence, although It could become fully visible to anybody, when it was necessary—whenever It chose. One notable moment was when It helped Henry Bowers to escape from Juniper Hill, one of Henry's roommates and then, the guard also witnessed It next to Henry.
  • Illusions. It could create many different illusions, which were actually real. Those illusions included balloons floating against the wind, moving photographs, blood gushes and streams, small but shocking entities, such as a cricket, a mutant fly, teeth, and eyeball, which were hidden in the fortune cookies at the Lucky Seven's reunion, different noises and music (including human speech), and various smells (popcorn, cotton candy, rotting). The partial invisibility ability fully applied on all of those illusions, as only the chosen victims could actually see and sense those. After a period of time, or when the witness actually saw through the illusion, those would cease to exist. It was imperative, however, to see through the illusion perfectly.
  • Quick Regeneration. While It was clearly not invulnerable, and in fact, could be wounded and damaged in smaller-bigger degrees, It could almost spontaneously regenerate. That ability of It appeared to be untrustworthy, as seen at the young Mike Hanlon's encounter with the giant bird. After Mike hit the bird's eye and its feet with broken tiles, It quickly decided to retreat. At the other hand, when Bill and Richie encountered It in its werewolf form at 29 Neibolt Street, It could almost instantly regenerate itself after Bill's headshot with the Walther PPK, and it chased the boys for a somewhat long period. It was unclear, how It utilized its quick regeneration abilities, but it might be a necessarily-corporeal ability. Opinions differed about whether or not It could be killed merely with heavy firepower and weapons, or at least Its physical form.
  • Telepathic Perception. It could read people's mind in its close vicinity. That was the ability It exploited mostly, when it took a form, but in several cases, It could clearly read the Lucky Seven's thoughts, and used them to its own advantage.
  • Telepathic Communication. It could communicate telepathically, as seen in the scene of the library with the adult Ben Hanscom, or the Juniper Hill scene with Henry Bowers.
  • Mind Control. It had the power of controlling several people's minds, even simultaneously. That also suggested that It had the ability to erase certain things out of people's memory or knowledge. At the two confrontations between the Lucky Seven and It, Bill discovered that, and warned his friends that "Derry is It" and that "anyplace [they] go, they won't see, they won't hear, they won't know." massively effect the people's minds who were living in Derry, and made them indifferent about the tragic events that were taking place. People with weak wills seemed to succumb to Its mind control ability very often. That mind control ability presumably had no effect on people outside Derry's boundaries.
  • Teleportation. It could teleport itself to limited distances by disappearing without a trace, and re-appearing somewhere else a little bit later. Although a very useful and effective ability, It didn't seem to exploit that too often.
  • Pollution Inducement. With a touch, It could instantly cause plants to die. It was seen when Eddie (young and adult) encountered It in its leper form. It must be distinguished from the illusions mentioned earlier, as that effect persisted long after Its appearance, although it did not serve any practical purposes.
  • Telekinesis. It could manipulate lifeless objects to fall, float around, and behave supernaturally. That included locking doors, and electronic devices.
  • Atmokinesis. It may have the effect on the weather in Derry's region. On more than one occasion, when the Losers faced It, the weather changed into a thunderstorm. Most notably at the final confrontation, which actually devastated Derry's downtown region.
  • Activation and Deactivation. The power to make the television in Audra Phillips (Audra Denbrough's) hotel room switch itself on, and showed an image of Pennywise holding the severed head of her film director, Freddie Firestone.
  • Acrobatic Expertise. It also appeared to be an expert at gymnastics because after Its head was cracked open revealing the "deadlights" before being killed It escaped by somersaulting over the Lucky Seven and disappeared down the sewer drain.
  • Photokinesis. It had the ability to unleash dangerous lights from his eyes called the Deadlights.

Its Forms

It had many powers, one of those was able to shape-shift to scare the children of Derry. It had changed into a number of things that included:

  • Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Its favorite form and its main disguise. Mainly used when hunting children. Carried balloons often).
  • George "Georgie" Denborough, when Bill examined his brother's photo album and later in the sewers to accuse Bill of causing his death.
  • Curtis Willett (real life "witness" of supposed "killer clown" in a Portland Maine suburb").
  • Dorsey Corcoran's re-animated corpse and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, when pursuing Eddie Corcoran.
  • The Voice of Betty Ripsom, one of Its victims, overheard by Betty's parents through a drain to tease them.
  • A Giant Bird, inspired both by a crow that attacked Mike Hanlon as a baby and also Rodan, a giant pteranodon featured in a 1957 Japanese horror film, when pursuing Mike Hanlon (oddly, It also appeared as a giant bird to Will Hanlon, Mike's father, and thus made him one of the few adults who could see It).
  • It-werewolf

    It in the form of a werewolf.

    The Werewolf, when It encountered Richie and Bill (wearing a Derry High School blazer inspired by I Was a Teenage Werewolf).
  • The Leper/Diseased Homeless Man, when Eddie first encountered It under the porch of the house on Neibolt Street.
  • MUMMY2

    It in the form of a mummy.

    The Mummy. Ben Hanscom recalled seeing a mummy (from the original movie) in Pennywise's outfit walking along the frozen canal towards him. It carried balloons that floated against the wind. In the movie, Stan Uris saw that form in the house on Neibolt Street.
  • "The Crawling Eye", when encountering the Losers under the city.
  • Alvin Marsh, Beverly's abusive father, as she was terrified of him.
  • A swarm of winged leeches, when attacking Patrick Hockstetter.
  • A swarm of piranhas, when Eddie was frightened of crossing the stream.
  • Several disgusting items hidden in fortune cookies, including an eyeball, a bird fetus, a cockroach, and a set of teeth.
  • The Shark from Jaws, seen by a boy named Tommy Vicananza in the Derry canal in 1985.
  • Dracula, seen by Ben in the Derry library in 1985. It does not look like any of the traditional variations of Dracula, but rather looked like Kurt Barlow from King's own Salem's Lot: very old and with razor blades for teeth. He asked Ben: "What did Stan see before he committed suicide?" The vampire then chomped down on his own mouth and causeed his lips to split open and bleed on the floor.
  • A statue of Paul Bunyan attacking Richie Tozier in 1958. In 1985, Richie saw that this statue was replaced by a giant Pennywise.
  • Tony Tracker, manager of a trucking depot in Derry during the Losers' childhood. Eddie Kaspbrak sees It in this form when he visited an old baseball diamond near the depot in 1985.
  • Frankenstein's Monster, It was perceived in this form by Henry's cronies, Victor Criss and Belch Huggins.
  • A Doberman Pinscher. When It appears to Henry Bowers in 1985 at Juniper Hills Mental Institution, It turned into an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) dog of this breed because it was the only animal that the guard on duty feared.
  • A Gas Station Attendant, who turns into Pennywise and hypnotizes Audra after she pulls over to ask for directions in the movie.
  • The decomposing corpse of Patrick Hockstetter, to Eddie briefly in the sewers as a child before It became the eye. Seen by Eddie again at Tracker Brothers in 1985.
  • The Moon, while giving Its orders to Its puppet, Henry Bowers.
  • Victor Criss, while convincing Henry Bowers to help It.
  • The head of Stan Uris, full of feathers, inside Mike's fridge. Also appeared again as a jack-in-the-box when Henry fought Mike in the library. Mike saw Stan's head again as Henry saw Victor's head.
  • The Witch from the classical fairytale Hansel and Gretel, Beverly Marsh visited her old home to find a woman named Mrs. Kersh living there. Mrs. Kersh then transformed into the witch, and showed that she was actually It.
  • Decomposing corpses of children perceived by Stan Uris, as he entered the Standpipe and remembered the tale of the kids who drowned in the water tower's reservoir.
  • Reginald "Belch" Huggins - It took that form when It gave Henry Bowers a ride to the Derry Town House (to murder the remaining Lucky Seven members) in 1985. It picked Henry up in a 1958 Plymouth Fury, a direct reference to King's novel Christine.
  • Beverly "Bev" Marsh - Seduced Ben in thaty form due to Ben's crush on Beverly.
  • The Deadlights - When Henry Bowers and the Losers encountered It. That was its form in the Macroverse. People would see that form of It if they looked too long into the Spider's eyes.
Pennywise's true form

Pennywise in the true form of a giant spider

  • The Giant Spider, which was Its true and the closest physical representation on Earth.

Its Victims

Adrian Mellon: In the very beginning of the novel, IT killed a homosexual man named Adrian Mellon, as three homophobic brutes beat him and tossed him over the bridge into the Canal and then Pennywise crawled out of the water and ate Adrian.

Laurie Anne Winterbarger: In the very beginning of the film, It murdered a little girl.

George Elmer "Georgie" Denbrough: In the opening of the book and film, Georgie was murdered after It appeared as Pennywise, ripped his arm off, and murdered him.

Patrick Hockstetter (in the book): After Henry had threatened to tell about Patrick's secret about the fact that he had trapped small vulnerable animals in a refrigerator and left them to die by suffocation, Patrick left to dispose of the corpses, but was attacked by It in the form of several winged leeches which made large holes in his body and he fell unconscious. When Patrick awoke, It began to feed on him.

Peter Gordon: It was presumed in the book that after the Rockfight, Pennywise concentrated on killing all of Henry's friends, including wannabe bully Peter.

Marcia Fadden: (in the book) Marcia was Peter's romantic girlfriend and she encouraged Henry to hunt down the Losers. It was implied when on a date with Peter after the Rockfight, It also killed Marcia.

Greta Bowie: (in the book) Greta was one of the rich girls in Derry and an early love interest of Eddie Kasbprak. Greta was the local bombshell, but after school, she became addicted to drugs and became something like a hooker. One day, Greta got into a fatal car crash in Derry and it was heavily implied that It killed her by jumping in front of her car.

Barbara Starrett: (in the book) Barbara was the local chairwoman in the Derry library and all the local children loved her. Ben Hanscom especially loved her as she liked reading like him and was distraught to learn that Barbara had died when he returned in 1985. Upon leaving the library, he saw a balloon left by Pennywise that proclaimed: "I KILLED BARBARA STARRETT!"

Victor "Vic" Criss: when Henry, Victor, and Belch were looking for the Losers, It attacked them in the form of Frankenstein's Monster. In that form, It decapitated Victor. In the film, Victor was killed by It in the form of the "deadlights".

Reginald "Belch" Huggins: A few minutes after It killed Victor, It went after Belch. Despite Belch's strength, It overpowered him and ripped half his face off. In the film, when Victor was killed by It, It bursted through a sewer pipe and sucked Belch through the pipe. Eating noises were heard soon after his body disappeared.

Edward "Eddie" Corcoran: While sitting on a bench, Dorsey, his abusive father, grabbed Eddie on his ankle and chased after him. Afterwards, It changed into the Gill-Man (The Creature from the Black Lagoon) and tore his head from his cartaroid artery.

Stanley "Stan" Uris: Even though his death had nothing to do with It, his blood was used to write "IT" on the wall.

Mr. Forgarty: When helping Henry escape from Juniper Hill, Fogarty discovered that Henry had escaped, but was killed when It turned into his worst fear: a Doberman Pinscher and mauled him to death.

Thomas "Tom" Rogan: When he left to Derry to kill Beverly and Bill, Pennywise hypnotized him to capture Audra Phillips and bring her to Its lair beneath the city. Upon seeing Its true form, he dropped dead in shock and got eaten.

Edward "Eddie" Kaspbrak: During the final fight between It and the Losers remembering that his inhaler stunned It the first time, Eddie tried to stun Its giant spider form with his inhaler but to no avail. Instead It picked Eddie up, lifted him high off the ground, bit his arm off, and after It was killed, Eddie bled to death. In the film, It mortally wounded him in a less gory way.

Alvin Marsh: While in Its hibernation, It attacked Alvin Marsh in his nightmare, killed him, ate him alive, and erased Marsh from existence.

Its Weaknesses

Despite It seeing itself as the superior being and actually stating that its brain embraced the whole continent, It was far from being all-mighty. Though It did seem to have significant power above Derry and over its denizens, It displayed several weaknesses, which the Losers exploited and eventually overcame.

For instance, It clearly underestimated and scorned all the human beings, including the Losers. It was notable in many cases that It left an open escape way for the victims and let them run away. That was seen when the young Ben Hanscom encountered the mummy and when Eddie saw the leper under the porch of 29 Neibolt Street. Because of that, It constantly made mistakes and did illogical things. When Henry Bowers and his sidekicks chased the Losers into the sewer tunnel system, It attacked Henry's gang instead and turned on the Losers only It after killed Henry's two friends. It was also mentioned in the novel that It killed a child named Frederick Cowan by emerging from the toilet, and yet, It was unable to finish off the Losers one by one by using that same method only because It didn't believe that it needed to do such things to kill them.

It was a psychically sensitive entity, so courage and heart could overcome It, even in its most diabolical appearances. Once the Losers were together, their strong will and the love for each other successfully overpowered It and its fiendish machinations. Their strong faith in their various methods of fighting It eventually lead them to victory. The Losers' assault on 29 Neibolt Street made It quickly retreat after being hit by a silver slug (because of the Losers' common sense solution of using silver against supernatural entities).

The novel also stated that when It transformed into a shape, It must surrender to the laws of that shape. That clearly meant that It was not invulnerable, and its physical forms could bleed and could be significantly damaged and perhaps even destroyed.

It went to hibernation for 26–27 years between the cycles. During that time, It may have been extremely vulnerable to surprise attacks. However, despite having been defeated for good, it was heavily implied in other books (such as Dreamcatcher and Hearts in Atlantis) that It may be still alive. Its natural enemy, The Turtle "Maturin" was mentioned in The Dark Tower series and the character Father Callahan even managed to defend himself from a large group of demons using a cross and the Turtle image, in spite of the latter having "died" during that novel. So, it could be speculated that only Its physical form was destroyed.

Scariest Movie Villains- Pennywise the Clown04:56

Scariest Movie Villains- Pennywise the Clown

Appearances

  • IT (novel)
  • IT (film)
  • Dreamcatcher
  • The Tommyknockers
  • 11/22/63 (mentioned)

In Other Media

Quotes

They float, Georgie. They float... And when you're down here with me, you'll float too!
~ Pennywise (IT) before killing Georgie Denbrough.
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 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.
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.
Excuse me sir. Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do? Well, you better let the poor guy out.
~ IT to Richie Tozier.

Gallery

Videos

Trivia

  • Its favorite form, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, was designed after Bozo, Clarabell, and Ronald McDonald.
  • It shared many similarities to Freddy Krueger:
    • Both were shape-shifters.
    • Both haunted the dreams of their victims.
    • Both were child killers.
    • Both appeared to know their victim's worst fears.
    • Both were mind-breakers.
    • Both were thought-forms (though Freddy can become real if he is pulled out of dream world).
    • Both were evil from the past.
    • Both had witty, yet insane personalities.
    • Both were Complete Monsters
  • It was believed by many fans to be the world's greatest horror movie villain.
  • He was similar to the Scarecrow and Room 1408, another Stephen King villain: They intended to drive their victims mad before they killed them.
  • It was similar to The Ancient Enemy and was possibly Dean Koontz's inspiration for that villain, as both were shape-shifting monsters who lived in the sewers and believed themselves to be gods.
    • Also It shared another similarity with the Ancient Enemy when he kept sadistically saying "You'll die if you try to fight us", and spoke in plural instead of just one. That might be a possible reference to the demon spirit, Legion in the Bible.
  • It also shared a similarity to Mysterio:
    • Both were masters of illusion.
    • Both could teleport, even though Mysterio could teleport over longer distances than It.
      • Its illusions were also more realistic.
  • It was also similar to a third Stephen King villain named Carrie White, who was also telekinetic like It.
  • It was regarded as the most evil and popular of Stephen King's villains, along with Randall Flagg.
  • Along with Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Pennywise was regarded as one of Tim Curry's best known roles.
  • It may be female. As seen in the book, in its alien form, it appeared to have eggs.
  • It makes a cameo in another Stephan King's film, The Tommyknockers, where he 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, his most known form is probably Pennywise the Clown because he represents one of the known common fears, coulrophobia (the fear of clowns).

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