It is part of the disasters that occur every 30 years in the Maine town of Derry.
Unlike many horror monsters before him, Pennywise the Dancing Clown is not against killing children; in fact, the scary monster actually prefers to kill children as they are an easier target, and this is probably why he chooses the form of a clown, a figure that both entertains and terrifies many young children. The clown has razor sharp teeth.
As the film progressed, a group of children known as "The Losers' Club" forms together to kill Pennywise and end his murderous reign--after he had killed the brother of one of them--and apparently succeed after tracking him down to his lair--however, Pennywise, being a lesser-aspect of a higher being, is not going to stay dead forever, and he swears revenge on the gang for his defeat before he vanishes into nothingness.
Years later, Pennywise keeps his promise and comes after members of the gang, who are all adults in the present day, to kill them. This prompts 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 movie, the gang does manage to defeat Pennywise again, but in that final battle, he takes the form of a spider-like monster rather than the clown disguise (which he uses for most of the film). He is killed when Bill pulled out his heart.
The film lacks many elements of It that the novel includes. In the novel, It is an eternal entity that is almost as old as time itself. It is the natural enemy of Maturin (The Turtle), who both exist in the Macroverse.
After arriving to Earth, It would sleep for approximently 28 to 30 years at a time, then awaken to wreak chaos and feed (primarily on the fear of children). It is able to take many more forms then the film depicts, including werewolves, bats, leeches, and even Jaws. Anything a child is afraid of, It could become.
Also in the novel, It is only able to be stopped when Bill performs the Ritual of Chüd.
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 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 large female spider). Despite this, Its true form is never truly comprehended. 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 Denbrough 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, destroying orange lights. Coming face to face with the deadlights drives any living being instantly insane (a common H. P. Lovecraft device). The only known person to face the deadlights and survive is Bill's wife Audra Phillips.
It's natural enemy 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". The Turtle and It are eternal enemies (creation versus 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.
Throughout 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 marinating 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 believes that the individual children are strong enough to defeat It, only through "the Other" working through them as a group.
For millions of years, It dwelt under Derry, awaiting the arrival of humans, which It somehow knew would occur. Once people settled over Its resting place, It adopted a cycle of hibernating for long periods and waking approximately every 27 years. Its awakening is always marked by a great act of violence, and another great act of violence ends Its 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 them 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 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 wounded by the young Bill Denbrough 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 destroyed in the second Ritual of Chüd by the adult Bill Denbrough, Richie Tozier, Beverly Marsh, Eddie Kaspbrak and Ben Hanscom , 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
- 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 baseball court. Between shape-shifting, It is an orange amorphous goo, which is somewhat close to It's true 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 roommates and then, the guard also witness It next to Henry.
- Illusions. 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 ability 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.
- 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.
- Telepathic Perception. It can read people's mind in its close vicinity, this is the ability It exploits mostly, when taking a form, but in several cases, It can clearly read the Losers' thoughts, and use them to its own advantage.
- Telepathic Communication. It can 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 has the power of controlling several people's mind, even simultaneously. This also suggests that It has the ability to erase certain things out of people's memory or knowledge. At the two confrontations between the Losers and It, Bill discovers this, and warns 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 mind who are living in Derry, making them indifferent about the tragic events that are taking place. People with weak will seem to succumb to It's mind control ability very often. 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 doesn't seem to exploit this too often.
- Pollution Inducement. 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. It can manipulate lifeless objects to fall, float around, and behave supernaturally. This includes locking doors, and electronic devices.
- Weather Manipulation. 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.
- Activation & Deactivation. The power to make the television in Audra Phillips (Audra Denbrough's) hotel room switch itself on, showing an image of Pennywise holding the severed head of her film director, Freddie Firestone.
- Acrobatic Expertise. It also appears to be an expert at gymnastics because after It's head is cracked open revealing the "deadlights" before being killed It escapes by somersaulting over the losers and disappears down the drain.
It has many powers one of these being able to shape shift to scare the children of Derry. It has changed into a number of things including:
- Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Its favorite form and its primary disguise. Mainly used when hunting children. Carries balloons often).
- George "Georgie" 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 Betty's 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 giant pteranodon 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 and Bill (wearing a Derry High School blazer inspired by the 1957 horror film, I Was a Teenage Werewolf)
- The Leper/Diseased Homeless Man, when Eddie first encounters It under the porch of the house on 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 looks 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 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 visits an old baseball diamond near the depot in 1985.
- Frankenstein's Monster; It is 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 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 Eddie briefly in the sewers as a child before It becomes The Eye. Seen by Eddie again at Tracker Brothers in 1985.
- The moon, while giving Its orders to It's 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 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.
- Beverly "Bev" Marsh - Seduces Ben in this form, due to Ben's crush on Beverly
- 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.
- The Giant Spider, which is Its closest physical representation on Earth.
Laurie Anne Winterbarger: in the very beginning of the film, It murders a little girl.
George "Georgie" Denbrough: in the opening of the book and film George is murdered after It appearing as Pennywise rips his arm off and murders him.
Patrick Hockstetter (in the book): 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 and he falls unconscious. when he awakes It has begun feeding on him. In the movie, he is killed by It in the form of the "deadlights".
Victor "Vic" Criss: when Henry, Victor and Belch are looking for the losers It attacks them in the form of Frankenstein's Monster. In this form It decapitates him.
Reginald "Belch" Huggins: A few minutes after It kills Victor It goes after Belch. Despite Belch's strength It overpowers him and rips half his face off. In the film when Patrick is killed by It It bursts through a sewer pipe and sucks belch through the pipe. Eating noises are heard soon after his body disappears
Edward "Eddie" Corcoran: Whilst sitting on a bench Dorsey his abusive father grabs eddie on the ankle and chases after him. afterwards It changes into the Gill-man (the creature from the black lagoon) and tears his head from his caratoid artery.
Stanley "Stan" Uris: Even though his death has nothing to do with It his blood is used to write "IT" on the wall
Mr. Forgarty: when helping henry escape from juniper hill fogarty discovers henry has escaped but is killed when It turns into his worst fear a Doberman Pinscher and mauls him to death.
Thomas "Tom" Rogan: When he leaves to Derry to kill Beverly and Bill, 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 and gets eaten.
Edward "Eddie" Kaspbrak: During the final fight between It and the losers remembering that his inhaler stunned It the first time he and It met tries to stun It's giant spider form with his inhaler but to no avail. Instead It picks his up, lifts him high off the ground, bites his arm off and after It is killed Eddie bleeds to death. In the film It mortally wounds him in a less gory way.
Alvin Marsh: When IT awakes from it's 30 year sleep, It went to Alvin's house, killed him and ate him alive.
Despite It seeing itself as the superior being and actually stating that its brain embraces the whole continent, he is far from being all-mighty. Though It does seem to have significant power above Derry and over its denizens, It displays several weaknesses, which the Losers exploit and eventually overcome.
For instance, It clearly underestimates and scorns all the human beings, including the Losers. It is notable in many cases that It leaves an open escape way 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 appearances. 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 surrender to the laws of that shape. 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 26–27 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 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 (novel)
- IT (film)
- The Tommyknockers
- 11/22/63 (mentioned)
In other media
- It appears in pony form in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic The Return of Queen Chrysalis, in one of the doors in Queen Chrysalis's castle. Fluttershy opens his door and he appears, saying "Hello Georgie!"
- It's favorite form, "Pennywise the Clown" was designed after Bozo, Clarabell and Ronald McDonald.
- It shares a few similarities to Freddy Krueger as they are both shape shifters, they haunt children's dreams, they both appear to know their victim's worst fears, and they both have witty personalities.
- It and Freddy Krueger are believed by many fans to be the world's greatest horror movie villains.
- It shares a similarity to the Bogart: They both appear as their victim's worst fears and no one knows what their true forms are.
- It is similar to the Scarecrow and Room 1408, another Stephen King villain: They intend to drive their victims mad before killing them.
- It also shares a similarity to Mysterio as they're masters of illusion and can teleport, although Mysterio can teleport over longer distances than It.
- It's illusions are also more realistic.
- It is also similar to a third Stephen King villain named Carrie White, who is also telekinetic like It.