Concept

Randall Flagg

Summary
Randall Flagg is a fictional character created by American author Stephen King, who has appeared in at least nine of his novels. Described as "an accomplished sorcerer and a devoted servant of the Outer Dark", he has supernatural abilities involving necromancy, prophecy, and influence over animal and human behavior. His goals typically center on bringing down civilizations through destruction and conflict. He has a variety of names, usually with the initial letters "R. F." but with occasional exceptions, such as Walter o'Dim and Marten Broadcloak in The Dark Tower series. Flagg first appeared in King's 1978 novel The Stand as a demonic figure who wreaks havoc after a plague kills most of the world population. He makes his second appearance in the 1984 novel The Eyes of the Dragon as an evil wizard trying to plunge the fictional medieval city of Delain into chaos. Flagg was a primary antagonist in King's epic series, The Dark Tower, who tries to keep protagonist Roland Deschain from reaching the Tower—the linchpin of existence—so he can claim it for himself and become a god. The Dark Tower expanded on Flagg's background and motivation, linking his previous appearances. Flagg was portrayed by Jamey Sheridan in a 1994 television miniseries adaptation of The Stand, by Matthew McConaughey in a 2017 The Dark Tower film adaptation, and by Alexander Skarsgård in a 2020–21 television miniseries adaptation of The Stand. He has additionally appeared in adaptations of The Dark Tower and The Stand by Marvel Comics. King initially cited Donald DeFreeze, primary kidnapper of Patty Hearst, as his inspiration for Flagg. Later, he attributed Flagg to an image of a man walking the roads in cowboy boots, denim jeans and a jacket, a notion which "came out of nowhere" when he was in college. Flagg's character and the nature of his evil have been the subject of considerable critical attention. King first wrote the poem "The Dark Man" in college, about an unnamed man who rides the rails and confesses to murder and rape.
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