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Villain Overview
You'll float too.
~ 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 its remastered 2017-19 film duology 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 writhing bright orange lights that comprised his own life essence 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) 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".

Portrayals

  • In the 1990 film, Pennywise/IT was portrayed by Tim Curry, who also played Hexxus in 20th Century Fox's FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Ben Ravencroft in Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost, Big Bayou in the Courage the Cowardly Dog series, Belial in The Legend of Atlantis by Golden Films, Evil Manta in Disney's The Little Mermaid animated series, Maestro Forte in Disney's Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Kilokahn in Superhuman Samurai Sybersquad, Drake in Don Bluth's The Pebble and the Penguin by MGM, Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Picture Horror Show, and Darth Sidious in Clone Wars.
  • In It: Chapter One, Pennywise is portrayed by Bill Skarsgård, while its other forms are played by Javier Botet (Leper), Tatum Lee (Judith), Carter Musselman (Headless Boy), and Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie).
    • In It: Chapter Two, Bill Skarsgård will reprise his role as Pennywise, while its true form will be played by Élodie Bouchez.

Personality

Pennywise attempting to kill Stan in front of the Losers Club

Pennywise trying to kill Stan in front of the Losers' Club.

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 the Dancing Clown, 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.

History

Background

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's exists in an inter-dimensional realm referred to as "deadlights", existing outside the physical world. 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.

The Deadlights

The Deadlights

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.

Novel

The TV miniseries 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.

Its awakening was always marked by a great act of violence, and another great act of violence ends Its spree and send It back into hibernation. It committed other crimes not mentioned in the film, such as murdering over 300 settlers some time from 1740 to 1773, as well as a group of lumberjacks between 1876 and 1879.

It also took on many more forms than in the film, such as Dracula, a homeless leper, a giant bird, Frankenstein's Monster, leeches, piranhas, the witch from the classic fairytale Hansel and Gretel, Tony Tracker, the statue of Paul Bunyan, the Gill-man, Jimmy Donlin's mother, a giant eye, Dorsey Corcoran's re-animated corpse and the shark from Jaws.

It is also responsible for deaths of Alvin Marsh, and Beverly's husband, Tom Rogan, once the later goes looking for her when she goes to Derry. Also, in the novel, he appears to the psychotic school bully Henry Bowers as Vic Criss instead of Belch.

When It appears to one of the guards at the asylum Henry Bowers is kept at, it takes on the form of an eight-foot tall Doberman Pinscher, as opposed to a cross between the clown and a rottweiler in the film.

In the novel, Pennywise appeared to Ben as the mummy, and to Stan as the rotting corpses, while in the film it was the other way around. Also, in the novel, It was only able to be stopped when Bill performed the Ritual of Chüd. The book also implies that It may be female, given it laid eggs when in it's spider form.

Another detail left out of the film is that It's spider form is not that of its official true form; it is merely the closest representation of its true form that the human mind can comprehend.

Despite being apparently killed by the Losers, there are several hints throughout King's other works that may show that It is still very much alive.

It is mentioned in Dreamcatcher, Insomnia, 11/22/63, and appears as a possible hallucination in The Tommyknockers. The 25th Anniversary Cover for the book shows "PENNYWISE LIVES" written in what appears to be blood.

1990s Miniseries

Pennywise the Dancing Clown

Pennywise in the 1990 miniseries.

It was part of the disasters that occurred every 27 years in the main town of Derry.

IT was never against killing children. In fact, it actually preferred to kill children as they were an easier target. That was probably why it chose the form of a clown, a figure that both entertained and terrified many young children. It had razor sharp teeth that it 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 its murderous reign (after he had killed the brother of one of them) and apparently succeed after they tracked him down to its lair. However, Pennywise, being a lesser-aspect of a higher being, was not going to stay dead forever and it swore revenge on the gang for it's defeat before it vanished into nothingness.

27 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 it yet again and save themselves from its wrath.

At the end of the film, the gang did manage to defeat Pennywise again, but in that final battle, it took the form of a spider-like monster that was revealed to be his true form rather than the clown disguise (which it used for most of the film). It was killed when they pulled out his heart. After they killed It, the group left its corpse to rot.

2017 Film

Itmovieibtimes

Pennywise in the 2017 film.

Like the miniseries, It was part of the disasters that occurred every 27 years in the main town of Derry. The movie deals with The Losers as youngsters confronting It. After a whole lot of mayhem It was defeated by The Losers before returning to his resting place.

1 month later after their eventual triumph against It, Beverly informs the group of a vision she had while catatonic, where she saw them fighting It as adults. The Losers form a blood oath that if this evil that is It should ever revive, they will return to Derry in 27 years and destroy him once and for all. After the other Losers depart one by one, Beverly tells Bill that she is moving to live with her aunt in Portland, Oregon the following morning.

Powers and Abilities

Deadlights

It's Deadlights as seen in the 1990s' Stephen King's IT.

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".

Quotes

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.
NONONONONONONONO!
~ 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!
~ IT
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.
~ IT bargaining with Bill's life.
Fear...
~ IT before it's first defeat.

Victims

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 made its HISHE debut 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 on Pennywise's 2017 incarnation. It also serves as the main antagonist of "How IT Should Have Ended," and as a cameo in "How Avengers: Infinity War Should Have Ended."

Trivia

  • 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, and 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).
  • 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.
    • Pennywise the Clown

      IT/Pennywise the Clown

      In some depictions/variations 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.

Navigation

The Headlined Villains
2009

January
Shadow Queen

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Lord Voldemort

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Darth Vader

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2010

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Leatherface (original)

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GLaDOS

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Edward Hyde

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Dimentio

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The Chairstealer

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Vlad the Impaler

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None

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Skynet

2011

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Thanos (Marvel)

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Lord Zedd

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Magneto

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2012

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Doctor Doom (Marvel)

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Vilgax

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Peter Stegman

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President Coriolanus Snow

2013

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Dominic Greene

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Chase Young

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Benjamin Willis

2014

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Kyuubey
Geese Howard
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James Moriarty

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Koba

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B.P. Richfield

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Judge Claude Frollo

2015

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The Grinch

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Darth Nihilus

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Darkseid (DC)

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Fallen Hana

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Dick Dastardly

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Nyarlathotep (Lovecraft)

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Frieza

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Agatha Trunchbull

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The Beldam

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Santa Clause

2016

January
Randall Flagg

February
Alex (A Clockwork Orange)

March
Yog-Sothoth

April
Esdeath

May
Count Dracula (Bram Stoker)

June
Jerome Valeska

July
Lord Shen

August
Bill Cipher

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Tate Langdon

October
Oogie Boogie

November
Dr. Venom

December
Krampus (Krampus)

2017

January
Joker (Nolanverse)

February
Lust

March
Lubdan

April
Sauron (Middle-earth)

May
Aku

June
General Grievous

July
Norman Osborn (Marvel)

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Jaws (007)

September
It (Stephen King)

October
Ridley (Metroid)

November
Venom (Marvel)

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Stripe

2018

January
Frank the Rabbit

February
Queen of Hearts (Disney)

March
Bowser

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Bebop and Rocksteady

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Ainz Ooal Gown

June
Father (Fullmetal Alchemist)

July
Thulsa Doom

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Yuuki Terumi

October
Freddy Krueger

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December
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