"You all taste so much better when you're afraid!"
—It to the Losers' Club
It, also known as known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, is the main antagonist of the novel, television mini-series and film of the same name.
It can disguise Itself as anything its victims want - or fear - to see. It prefers to encounter Its prey alone, and will assume any form It can in order to lure or chase Its victim to a secluded location. Once there, It will assume a form which is the most terrifying to Its prey before revealing Its true form, and driving the poor unfortunate to madness. It will then feed on that human’s soul, the one thing that gives It sustenance.
It apparently originated in a void containing and surrounding 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 has one) is unknown, although at several points in the novel, It claims its true name to be Robert Gray, and is christened It by the group of children known as The Loser’s Club who later confront it. Throughout the book, It is generally referred to as male; however, late in the book, the protagonists come to believe that It may possibly be female (due to Its manifestation as a monstrous asexual spider). Despite this, Its true form is never truly comprehended, as the human mind is incapable of encompassing the entirety of it’s being.. Its final physical body is that of an enormous spider; this is, however, the closest the human mind can get to approximating its actual form. Its natural form exists in a realm beyond the physical, which It calls the "deadlights". Bill comes dangerously close to seeing the deadlights, but successfully defeats It before this happens. As such, the deadlights are never seen, and Its true form outside the physical realm is never revealed, only described as writhing, destructive orange lights. Coming face to face with the deadlights drives any living being instantly insane (a common Lovecraftian device). The only known person to face the deadlights and survive, aside from the members of the Loser’s Club, is Audra Phillips.
Its natural opposite is "The Turtle", another ancient Macroverse dweller who, eons ago, created our Universe and possibly others. The Turtle shows up again in King's series The Dark Tower. The book suggests that It, along with the Turtle, are themselves creations of a separate, omnipotent creator referred to as "the Other" (who may be the entity Gan) The Turtle and It are eternal enemies in a battle of creation against consumption. It may in fact be either a twinner of or the actual one of the six greater demon elementals mentioned by Mia in Song of Susannah, as the Spider is not one of the Beam Guardians. It arrived in our world in a massive, cataclysmic event similar to an asteroid impact, in the place that would, in time, become Derry, Maine.
Through the novel It, some events are described through Its point of view, through which It describes himself as the "superior" being, with the Turtle as someone "close to his superiority" and humans as mere "toys". It describes that it prefers to kill and devour children, not by nature, rather because children's fears are easier to interpret in a physical form and thus children are easier to fill with terror, which It says is akin to salting the meat. It is continually surprised by the children's victories over It and near the end, it begins to question if It is not as superior as It had once thought. However, It never believed that the individual children are strong enough to defeat It, only through "the Other" working through them as a group.
"This isn't real enough for you, Billy? It was real enough for Georgie."
-IT to Bill Denbrough
For millions of years, It dwelt under Derry, awaiting the arrival of mankind, which It somehow knew would occur. Once people settled over It's resting place, It adopted a cycle of hibernating for long periods and waking approximately every 27 to 30 years. It's awakening is always marked by a great act of violence, and it is another great act of violence ends It's spree and sends It back into hibernation:
- 1715 – 1716: It awoke.
- 1740 – 1743: It awoke and started a three-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.
- 1851: It awoke when a man named John Markson poisoned his family, then committed suicide by eating a white-nightshade mushroom, causing an excruciating death.
- 1876 – 1879: It awoke, then 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, killing 108 people, 88 of which being children 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 known as "The Black Spot".
- 1957 – 1958: It awoke when Dorsey Corcoran was beaten to death by his stepfather Richard Macklin; its first known victim was Georgie during one of the floods that hits the town every few years. It then met its match when the Losers' Club forced It to return to an early hibernation when wounded by the young Bill Denbrough (Georgie's older brother) in the first Ritual of Chüd.
- 1984 – 1985: It awoke when three young homophobic bullies beat up a young gay couple, Adrian Mellon and Don Hagarty, throwing Mellon off a bridge (echoing real life events in Maine). It was finally defeated in the second Ritual of Chüd by the adult Bill, Richie, Beverly, Eddie, and Ben, though this triggered the collapse of the water tower, flooding the town.
In the intervening periods between each pair of events, a series of child murders occur, which are never solved. The book's surface explanation as to why these murders are never reported on the national news is that location matters to a news story—a series of murders, no matter how gruesome, don't get reported if they happen in a small town. However, the book's implied reason for why the atrocities go unnoticed is far more sinister: It won't let them.
Powers and Abilities
-It, in form of a headless figure to Ben
- Shape-shifting. It can immediately transform itself to any kind of being, taking 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 the adult Eddie is confronted by the cadavers of Greta Bowie, Patrick Hockstetter, and Belch Huggins at the basketball court. Between shape-shifting, It is an orange amorphous goo, which is somewhat close to It's true form. Some may disagree, however, saying that the spider is the closest to It's true form. Others may dispute that the clown is It's true form. This is untrue, however, the clown is only It's most favored form.
- Partial invisibility. This was clearly stated in several cases, 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, suggesting that only those can see It, who actually believe, or have knowledge about It's existence, although It can become fully visible to anybody, when it is necessary. 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. (Again, in order for this to be partial invisibility; it would also have to not be felt, as Bev left the blood in the sink long enough for her father to have used it multiple times without noticing. It was more likely that the blood was a psychic projection, and that it either left a psychic imprint, or was perpetually maintained; the fact that "IT" was able to instantly respond when the blood was cleaned, the first time, implies that there might be at least a combination of the two (if not completely perpetually maintained).
- It can create many different illusions, which are actually real. These illusions include 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 Losers' reunion, different noises and music (including human speech), and various smells (popcorn, cotton candy, rotting). The partial invisibility fully applies on all of these illusions, as only the chosen victims can actually see and sense these. After a period of time, or when the witness actually sees through the illusion, these will cease to exist. It is imperative, however, to see through the illusion perfectly. Another illusion created by It is a huge interior of a house of building.
- Quick regeneration. While It is clearly not invulnerable, and in fact, can be wounded and damaged in smaller-bigger degrees, It can almost spontaneously regenerate. This ability of It appears 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 encounter It in its werewolf form at 29 Neibolt street, It can almost instantly regenerate itself after Bill's headshot with the Walther PPK, and chase the boys for a somewhat long period. It is unclear, how It utilizes its quick regeneration abilities, but it might be a necessarily-corporeal ability. Opinions differ about whether or not It could be killed merely with heavy firepower and weapons, or at least It's physical form.
- Telepathy. It can read minds in a close proximity, this is the ability It most exploits, usually when taking on a form, but in several cases, It can clearly read the Losers' thoughts, and use them to its own advantage.
- It can communicate telepathically, as seen in the scene of the library with the adult Richie Tozier, or the Juniper Hill scene with Henry Bowers.
- Mind control ability. It has the power of brainwashing several minds, even simultaneously. This also suggests that It has the ability to erase particular things out of a person's memory or knowledge. At the two confrontations between The Losers Club and It, Bill discovers this, and warns his friends that "Derry is It" and that "any place [they] go, they won't see, they won't hear, they won't know." massively effects the minds of the locals who live within Derry, making them indifferent about the tragic events that are taking place. Generally, it would appear that the weaker willed citizens and visitors succumb to It's powerful mind control. This mind control ability presumably has no effect on people outside Derry's boundaries.
- Teleportation. It can 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 does not seem to exploit this too often.
- With a touch, It can instantly cause plants to die. It is seen 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 (moving things with the mind). It can manipulate lifeless objects to fall, float around, and behave supernaturally. This includes locking doors, and electronic devices.
- It may have effect on the weather in Derry's region. More than one occasions, when the Losers face It, the weather changes into a thunderstorm. Most notably at the final confrontation, which actually devastates Derry's downtown region.
- Possibly also Photokinesis (light manipulation), as suggested by It's true form, the Deadlights, as well as being able to create illusions.
"Do you think this will help me, Eddie?"
—It in the form of a leper while speaking to Eddie at the on Neibolt Street.
It has many powers, one of these being able to shapeshift to scare the children of Derry. It has changed into a number of things, including:
- Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Its favorite form and primary disguise. Mainly used when hunting children. Carries balloons often)
- George Denborough, when Bill examines his brother's photo album.
- 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 her parents through a drain to taunt them.
- A giant bird, inspired both by a crow that attacked Mike Hanlon as a baby and also Rodan, a giantpteranodon featured in a Japanese horror movie from 1957, when pursuing Mike Hanlon (oddly, It also appears as a giant bird to Will Hanlon, Mike's father, thus making him one of the few adults who can see It).
- The Werewolf, when It encounters Richie & Bill (wearing a Derry High School blazer inspired by the 1957 horror film, I Was a Teenage Werewolf) while in the house on 29 Neibolt Street.
- The Leper/Diseased Homeless Man, when Eddie first encounters It at the house on 29 Neibolt Street.
- The Mummy. Ben Hanscom recalls seeing a mummy (from the original movie) in Pennywise's outfit walking along the frozen canal towards him. It carries balloons that float against the wind.
- The Eye, when encountering the Losers under the city.
- Alvin Marsh, Beverly's abusive father, as she is terrified of him.
- A swarm of winged leeches, when attacking Patrick Hockstetter.
- A swarm of piranhas, when Eddie is frightened of crossing the stream.
- 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 resembles Kurt Barlow from King's own Salem's Lot: very old and with razor blades for teeth. He asks Ben: "What did Stan see before he committed suicide?" The vampire then chomps down on his own mouth and causes his lips to split open and bleed on the floor.
- A statue of Paul Bunyan attacking Richie Tozier in 1958. In 1985, Richie sees that this statue is replaced with 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 visits an old baseball diamond near the depot in 1985.
- Frankenstein's Monster; When encountering Henry Bowers and his sidekicks, Victor Criss and Belch Huggins in the sewers under Derry.
- A Doberman Pinscher. When It appears to Henry Bowers in 1985 at Juniper Hills Mental Institution, It turns into an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) dog of this breed because it is the only animal that the guard on duty fears.
- The decomposing corpse of Patrick Hockstetter, to the Losers briefly in the sewers as a child before It becomes The Eye. Seen by Eddie at Tracker Brothers in 1985.
- The moon, while making Henry Bowers do It's dirty work
- Victor Criss, while convincing Henry Bowers to help It.
- The head of Stan Uris, full of feathers, inside Mike's fridge. Also appears again as a jack-in-the-box when Henry fights Mike in the library. Mike sees Stan's head again as Henry sees Victor's head.
- The witch from "Hansel and Gretel." Beverly Marsh visits her old home to find a woman named Mrs. Kersh living there. Mrs. Kersh then transforms into the witch, showing that she is actually It.
- Decomposing corpses of children perceived by Stan Uris, as he enters the Standpipe and remembers the tale of the kids who drowned in the water tower's reservoir.
- Reginald "Belch" Huggins - It takes this form when It gives Henry Bowers a ride to the Derry Town House (to murder the remaining Losers' Club members) in 1985. It picks Henry up in a 1958 Plymouth Fury, a direct reference to King's novel Christine.
- The Deadlights, when Henry Bowers and the Losers encounter It. This is its form in the Macroverse. People will see this form of It if they look too long in the Spider's eyes.
- Waterlogged Corpses; when perceived by Stan Uris while watching birds at the Standpipe.
- The Giant Spider, which is Its closest physical representation on Earth.
"Come to me! Come to me, children! See how we all float down here! How we all float!"
-It, in the form of Pennywise the Clown in 1958 listening to The Losers and Henry Bowers and his gang coming down into the sewers.
George Denbrough: in the opening of the book and film, George is murdered after It (appearing as Pennywise) tears his arm off and leaves him to bleed to death. He was killed on October, 1957. His death led to the chain of events of the summer.
Betty Ripsom: A female classmate of the Losers and Henry's gang. She was killed by It in the form of Pennywise. Her parents heard her voice in the sink. She was killed on December 26th, a day after Christmas.
Edward "Eddie" Corcoran: Whilst sitting on a bench to cool down, It (in the form of Dorsey's re-animated corpse) grabs Eddie on the ankle and chases after him. Afterwards, It changes into the Gill-man (Creature From the Black Lagoon) and tears his head from his carotid artery. He was killed on June 19th.
Veronica Grogan: Beverly Marsh reveals to the Losers that a friend of hers, Veronica Grogan was killed by Pennywise in late June.
Patrick Hockstetter: After Henry threatens to tell about Patrick's secret about the fact he had been trapping small vulnerable animals in a refrigerator and leaving them to die by suffocation, Patrick leaves to dispose of the corpses but is attacked by It in the form of several winged leeches which makes large holes in his body to which he falls unconscious. When he awoke, It had started eating him. He was killed in late July.
Butch Bowers: After Henry receives a switchblade from Pennywise in the mail, he goes inside his home and murders his dad by pressing the knife to his neck and then releasing the spring-loaded blade into his neck. Although Butch's death is not a death committed by It, It telepathically dispatched Henry to carry out the killing. His son was later arrested for Butch's demise. He was killed in mid-August.
Vic Criss and Belch Huggins: While searching for the losers under the sewers with Henry Bowers, Victor and Belch are both killed by It in the form of Frankenstein's Monster. In this form, It decapitates Victor. After killing Vic, It pursues Henry but Belch defends him. Despite Henry leaving so quickly and Belch's strength to overcome the creature, It easily overpowers him and multilates his face. Both were killed in mid-August, making them the final victims of the summer.
Adrian Mellon: The first victim of It in 1984. A gay man was beaten up by three homophobic youths, John "Webby" Garton", Steven Bishoff Dubay and Chris Unwin. Adrian was thrown over a bridge and killed by Pennywise while Chris and Adrian's boyfriend, Don Hagarty watch in horror. He was killed in July 1984.
Stan Uris: Even though his death has nothing to do with It, his blood is used to write "IT" on the wall. He died on May 28th.
Laurie Anne Winterberger: (The little girl on the tricycle.) She's the first person that we know is a victim in the movie. It starts the chain of movie events, which leads Mike to call the rest of the Lucky Seven due to the pact they made as children. In the novel, she is also another victim of It, although her death was never actually what started the chain of events of the novel in its present time (1984-1985). She was attacked between 7 and 14 of February 1985, seven months after the death of Adrian Mellon.
John Koontz: When helping Henry escape from Juniper Hill, Koontz intervenes in, but is killed when It turns into his worst fear a Doberman Pinscher and mauls him to death while Henry stares at him in horror.
Henry Bowers: When he finds the hotel the Losers are staying at, he finds Eddie's room and engages in a fight between him and Eddie. Eddie (and Ben in the film) then kills Henry in self-defenese. He was killed in June of 1985.
Tom Rogan: When he arrives to Derry to kill Beverly, Pennywise hypnotizes him to capture Audra Phillips and bring her to It's lair beneath the city. Upon seeing It's true form, he drops dead in shock. He was killed in June 1985.
Edward "Eddie" Kaspbrak: The last tragic victim of It. During the final fight between It and the losers, Eddie attempts to use his inhaler (which he imagines as battery acid) on It, managing to severely injure It and free Bill and Richie from "It's Void" (Deadlights). However, It manages to swallow him whole.
Despite It seeing itself as the superior being, and actually stating that its brain embraces the whole continent, It is far from being almighty. Though It does seem to have significant power above Derry and over its denizens, It displays several weaknesses, which the Losers would exploit and eventually overcome.
For instance, It clearly underestimates and scorns all of mankind, including the Losers. It is notable in many cases that It leaves an open escapeway for the victims and lets them run away. This was seen when the young Ben Hanscom encounters the mummy and when Eddie sees the leper under the porch of 29 Neibolt Street. Because of this, It constantly makes mistakes and does illogical things. When Henry Bowers and his sidekicks chase the Losers into the sewer tunnel system, It attacks Henry's gang instead and turns on the Losers only after killing Henry's two friends. It is 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 using this same method only because it doesn't believe that it needed to do such things to kill them.
It is a psychically sensitive entity, so courage and heart can overcome It, even in its most diabolical forms. Once the Losers are together, their strong will and the love for each other successfully overpower It and its fiendish machinations. Their strong faith in their various methods of fighting It eventually leads 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 states that when It transforms into a shape, It must obey the laws of that form. This clearly means that It is not invulnerable, and its physical forms can bleed and can be significantly damaged and perhaps even destroyed.
It goes to hibernation for approximately 30 years between the cycles. During that time, It may be extremely vulnerable to surprise attacks. However, despite having been defeated for good, it has been heavily implied in other books (such as the Dreamcatcher and Hearts in Atlantis) that It may be still alive. It's natural enemy, The Turtle "Maturin" is 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 this novel. So, it can be speculated that only Its physical form was destroyed.
- It (film)
- Gray Matter (mentioned)
- Dreamcatcher (mentioned)
- The Tommyknockers
- 11/22/63 (mentioned)
- Insomnia (mentioned)