William 'Bill' Denbrough is the leader of the Losers' Club, one of the main characters and the main protagonist of the horror novel, IT. He is the eldest son of Zack and Sharon Denbrough, as well as the older brother of the late George Denbrough.
Along with Beverly Marsh, Richie Tozier, Eddie Kaspbrak, Mike Hanlon, Stan Uris and, Ben Hanscom, Bill was a member of the Loser’s Club and one of the main protagonists of IT. Often nicknamed 'Stuttering Bill' (due to his tendency to stutter) by his associates, he stood out among the seven adherents as being the most optimistic and valiant member. As a result, Bill is generally viewed as the undisputed leader of the club. Bill has the foremost desire which his dear friends follow in defeating the ancient demonic entity IT and is driven by his brother's horrific murder to destroy Pennywise.
In the novel, Bill is described as a handsome boy with cropped red hair, blue eyes, and a small frame along with a “goofball grin” whenever he rides his bike, Silver. As an adult, Bill has gone to sea; shaving his head into a buzzcut and also sports a pair of spectacles. Bill is also described to have become quite homely when entering adulthood.
Bill's appearance is inconsistent in the two film adaptions of the novel. In the 1990 Mini-Series, Bill has ash-blonde hair as a child and long brown hair as an adult. In the 2017 remake, Bill's hair is auburn.
Also, of 2019, Bill will be played by James McAvoy, who stands at 5'7 and has a full set of brown hair.
Bill has been steadfast for most of his life, using his bravery and instinct to unite his friends in turmoil. He is also a talented writer, and even from a young age, he would write stories in his room with the typewriter his parents gave him. Though he is a brilliant wordsmith, Bill's verbal speech is nowhere near as finely tuned since Bill has a severe speech impediment for the entirety of his childhood.
Bill overcame his stutter during his teenage years due to a private speech therapist, however his stutter returned unexpectedly after receiving a call from Mike Hanlon that summoned him back to Derry. Bill's stutter noticeably gets worse when he is upset, angry, or afraid. The speech impediment will sometimes not be apparent such as he when he is reading a different language, doing an impression (e.g Henry Bowers) or when he is making a speech. It's because of his stutter that caused Henry Bowers and many others to bully Bill viciously. Although upset with being treated in this manner, Bill doesn't mind his friends poke gentle fun at his stutter.
Bill's greatest attribute is undying love for his younger brother Georgie, which only strengthened when Georgie was brutally murdered by IT. Bill uses Georgie's memory as a guiding light to destroy Pennywise. While his love for Georgie is endearing, it's also a great source of guilt, as he feels Georgie died as a direct result of him helping Georgie make the paper boat that ultimately led to his death. Though he is told by Richie that it isn't his fault, the guilt follows him throughout his childhood and adulthood and enables IT to torment him by making illusions of Georgie. After Georgie's death, Bill's parents grow distant and begin to neglect him, to the point that he wonders if they ever loved him at all. His relationship with his parents never recovers. Decades later, Bill is still convinced that he is to blame for Georgie's death and doesn't recognize that what his parents did to him was wrong and abusive. This doesn't change until IT forces him to confront his greatest fear by turning into Georgie and accusing him of being the reason Georgie died.
- ""He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts!" Bill thundered. He advanced on the George-thing. "You're no ghost! George knows I didn't mean for him to die! My folks were wrong! They took it out on me and that was wrong! Do you hear me?""
- ―Bill Denbrough to IT
Bill is shown to be reckless and impulsive on multiple occasions, especially when he is face to face with IT. But despite his headstrong demeanor, Bill is extremely intelligent and shows great maturity. He has the power to pull the Loser's Club together through the horrors that IT sets upon them.
The 2017 version shows a new take on Bill and his dynamic with Georgie (post-death), as he shown to be more delusional in thinking that Georgie must have survived and takes the majority of the movie to come to terms with his brother's death. He not only concerns himself with Georgie's disappearance, but with all children that have disappeared in Derry, and is convinced that they can be found and reunited with their families. This is, of course, proven wrong by the end of the movie.
Bill demonstrates great difficulty in coping with the possibility of Georgie being dead. He goes so far as to plead with his father that they could still find Georgie, even showing his father a diagram model of the Derry sewer system to no avail. When Bill and Richie get into an argument over the necessity of facing IT and Richie insists that Georgie is dead, salting Bill's wound, he ends up punching Richie when Richie refuses to take it back. At this time, he states that he understands that everyone is scared, which shows that he is still able to show empathy while under great duress. Later in the movie, he apologizes to Richie.
During the final fight with IT, IT seems to recognize Bill as the leader and subdues him, telling the Losers IT is willing to let them leave provided IT gets to keep Bill. Quite needlessly, Bill apologizes to them for putting them in dangers way - something all the Losers did voluntarily and out of love for Beverly and each other - and pleads with them to save themselves. Richie finds his bravery in this moment and saves Bill, attacking IT with a baseball bat.
On a more positive note, Bill demonstrates artistic ability in the film with a drawing of Beverly and has horror movie posters up on his walls, a subtle nod to Bill's future career as a horror writer. Or perhaps artist - it remains to be seen what direction the 2019 movie will go with Bill's career.
When Bill isn't hyperfocused on IT and IT's doing, he's your average teenage boy, making jokes, playing with his friends, and wanting nothing more than to be happy and secure at a time of great turmoil.
Abilities and powers
- Paper-craft. As seen in the beginning, Bill is talented at paper craft and made a paper boat out of newspaper for his brother Georgie.
- Cycling. Bill is a very adept rider on his bike, Silver which incidentally is bigger than Bill himself. Bill can also ride Silver just as fast whilst riding with someone else on the bike.
- Writing. Bill was a very talented writer from an early age and as an adult has written five horror novels. Bill has won multiple awards because of his skills. Regardless of the criticism he so often receives, Bill is an excellent wordsmith and the Losers Club are always impressed to hear Bill's speeches.
- Psychic Ability. Along with the rest of the Losers, Bill has latent psychic power and as the leader accordingly Bill has the strongest psychic capacity.
- Telepathy. Bill has also had the power to mentally communicate using thoughts alone and used the power to taunt and threaten IT while in it's spider form. Bill can also communicate with the other Loser's though telepathy such as hearing Mike's cry for help and talking to Richie while they fought IT.
- Extrasensory Perception. Bill has pronounced sixth sense which especially strong when regarding the Losers and IT. When traveling through the house on Neibolt street, Bill is able to recognize IT's illusions and separate them from reality.
- Mental Projection. Bill, similar to IT, has some level of mental projection and influence. When traveling through the sewers as an adult, Bill senses that Mike is in danger in Derry Hospital and is able to 'send his power' to him. Bill along with Ben, Beverly, Eddie, and Richie are able to give Mike the strength to call for help. Bill's mental projection is also shown subtlety in the 2017 version when using Mike's empty bolt pistol to seemly finish off IT. Mike yells that gun was out of bolts but Bill had already pulled the trigger and the nonexistent bolt punctured Pennywise's forehead anyway, likely because Bill believed the imaginary bolt would hurt the creature.
- Leadership. Bill's greatest ability is his undeniable power to unite and lead the Loser's Club though horrific hardships and lift up their often broken spirits. Bill's authority and guidance is something the others tend to rely on, as in where Bill falls into despair when Audra is captured and the others demand that he bring himself together as 'they need him.'
In late fall of 1957, Bill has developed a severe cold, inhibiting him from attending school. While home, he constructed a paper boat for his younger brother Georgie to play with outside. Bill warns him to remain cautious of the unstable weather and tells his brother to be careful after Georgie kisses his older brother on the cheek. This would be the last time the two would ever see each other again. Not long after, George was slain by IT (in the form of a circus clown).
Creating the Dam
On the afternoon of last day of school, Bill and Edward "Eddie" Kaspbrak decide to build a dam in the Barrens but are confronted by the school bully Henry Bowers and his cronies Victor Criss and Belch Huggins who are in pursuit of Ben Hanscom. Bill and Eddie tell them they haven't seen him, and believing that they're lying, Henry pushes Eddie to the ground and breaks his nose while Henry destroys down their dam. Bill then tells them to back off and Henry, Belch, and Vic leave after losing interest in finding Ben. After his inhaler runs out, Eddie flies into panic and Ben appears just in time for Bill to leave them both to run to the pharmacy for Eddie. When Bill returns, Eddie introduces him to Ben who then shows them how to build a proper dam, Bill and Eddie are impressed by Ben's architectural knowledge.
During the second day of building the Dam, Richie Tozier makes his appearance along with Stan Uris . Richie brings out some Cuban cigars which Bill smokes happily while Eddie refuses because of his asthma. A police officer, Mr. Nell comes along and is shocked to see that they've blocked up the Dam. When Ben tearfully owns up to it, Bill vouches for Ben along the rest of the boys and they destroy the Dam. Despite his anger Mr. Nell praises Ben for his talent and warns the rest of the boys not go into the Barrens alone, telling them to go as a group.
The Photo Album
Bill is amazed about hearing Ben and Eddie's stories and discusses it with Richie, where Bill expresses his deep seeded guilt over his role in Georgie's death, Richie consoles Bill, pointing out it he can hardly be blamed for trying to make his brother happy while he had the flu. This causes Bill to cry in relief and thanks Richie but warns him not to tell anyone he cried. Richie asks Bill to show him Georgie's photo album, so the two boys go inside Georgie's unnaturally cold room. Richie picks up the album and sees the dried blood from Bill's last encounter. They see one of the pictures moving, showing the old days of Derry. Bill and Richie see IT as Pennywise in the album and are terrified to see that Pennywise has Georgie's face. Bill, stricken, reaches out for the photo and Richie has to tug his hand out when Bill slices three of his fingers as they are sucked into the photograph.
The Werewolf On Neibolt Street
Feeling more resolved, Bill, armed with his father's Walther PPK .380, travels down to one of the distant houses on Neibolt Street (where Eddie had encountered It in the form of the homeless leper under the house's porch) in pursuit of his brother's killer, whom he believed still lives there. Richie accompanies him to the house, though reluctantly and armed with sneezing powder. While searching around the deserted house, the two are ambushed and attacked by It, with Bill perceiving it as Pennywise the clown and Richie as the werewolf from "I Was a Teenage Werewolf".
The creature isn't affected by Bill's gun and grabs the boy as he's to escape through the window. Richie also grabs his friend and struggles with the monster. When Richie does an impression of Mr. Nell, IT is affected by the humor and releases Bill. Richie then throws the sneezing powder at the monster and successfully damages IT. The two manage to barely escape with Bill's trustworthy bike, Silver. When they are many blocks away, Richie, who had been scratched, collapses and so does Bill, and both burst into tears and hug each other.
The Rock Fight
Weeks after the near the near-death experience on Neibolt Street, the Loser's club gets bigger by welcoming Beverly Marsh into the fold. Beverly forms some feelings for Bill, during one calm afternoon down at the Barrens. Mike Hanlon meets the Losers while fleeing from Henry Bowers and his gang, Bill orders the group to pick up stones and the Losers drive the bullies away, Bill threatens Bowers telling him to stay away from the Losers and that the Barrens is theirs. Beverly welcomes Mike and Bill realizes "the circle is complete", Mike then takes out his dad's album of Old Derry to show and then the Losers (especially Stan) are terrified to witness IT threatening to "kill them all" through the Mike's Album. Stan is hysteric and Bill calms down, Bill tells the group that IT is scared now that they are all together and that can destroy the demon when they are united.
The Smoke Hole Ceremony
Once again down at the Barrens, Ben has used his architectural prowess to build a large wooden box in the ground which the Losers hide with a trapdoor. Inspired by Native Americans the Losers decide to make a campfire inside the hole. All seven sit inside and let them breathe in the smoke from the fire; Ben, along with Eddie, Beverly, and Stan, leave the hole, but Mike and Richie stay. The two boys witness IT coming to Earth on a meteorite that falls in Derry during prehistoric times and resting there. Before they suffocate, Bill and others pull Richie and Mike from the hole and they recount what they saw.
The Losers plan to kill IT and decided to melt down sliver into slugs using Bill's dad smelter and Ben's silver coins. The Losers discuss who will use the Slingshot against IT and Beverly outperforms everyone using the weapon. Then the group travel to Neibolt Street and go to the house where Eddie, Bill, and Richie were attacked. Now united as a group, they travel the house and experience the bizarre illusions that IT sends their way, as the house bends are distorts trying to separate them. Bill states to the group that "it's not real" and they're strong united. Once they get to the bathroom, IT appears to them in its Werewolf form. The beast tries to kill Beverly and then Bill but Ben protects them but gets slashed in the chest as a result. Beverly wounds IT with the slingshot and it escapes through the drain. Bill lends Beverly his shirt when her's get ripped and Bill starts forming some feeling feelings for her which Ben recognizes and feels passive jealously.
The Ritual of Chud
By the end of the summer of 1958, Bill had led the Losers into the Derry sewers, where they intended to confront and ultimately eradicate the terrorizing creature that had murdered his younger brother the year before. Deep under the city, they eventually come across the hellish beast’s fortress. In the decisive attempt to destroy IT, Bill engaged in the “Ritual of Chud” (a tribal-based semantic that is supposedly used to repel “impure” spirits) with the demonic entity. With the help of the “Turtle” (a guardian-like supernatural being that had originated from the same universe IT came from), he ultimately succeeded, defeating the paranormal demon (although it proved to be only a brief conquest as the ancient terror would resurface twenty-seven years later). Following IT’s alleged demise, the Loser’s began to lose their sense of connectivity with one another. To ensure that their bond would remain intact, Beverly engages in preadolescence sexual intercourse with Bill and the rest of the male Loser’s. Upon leaving the sewers, Bill formed a divine blood oath with the others, where they would promise to unite again if IT was ever to return.
Returning to Derry
On May 29, 1985, Bill receives a phone call from his old friend, Mike Hanlon (who was the only loser to stay behind in Derry), telling him that the child killings are happening again. Mike asks him to return to Derry, as he fears that It may still well be alive. Upon learning of It's return, Bill becomes so frightened and worried that he begins to stutter uncontrollably, his childhood reaction to stress and trauma. After a brief dispute with his wife, Audra, Bill eventually departs to Derry to face It once more, as he had twenty-seven years ago.
Bill takes a taxi to a Chinese restaurant where Mike has gathered them together, Bill is initially nervous to see his companions and hallucinates that they've "pulled a Peter Pan" and not aged at all, but it was merely a trick of the light. Upon seeing the aged Bill, Richie quickly points out Bill's bald spot causing Bill to unconsciously bite back calling Richie "trash mouth" causing everyone to erupt in laughter. Bill notes the changes in his friends, especially how stunningly attractive Beverly and Ben (now that he's lost weight) are, even calling Ben a "magazine model" and asking how he did it. The rest of the Losers congratulate Bill on his success as a writer and Beverly asks to sign a few books she picked up at the airport, Mike informs on Stan's death and Bill laments it, greatly wishing Stan was still with them. Mike also tells them about them about all the recent child killings that have happened and he shows them a picture of Georgie that was left in one of the crime scenes, which terrifies Richie who remembers the photo album, but Bill has a more passive shocked reaction to seeing his little brother again. Mike stops taking command and gives the role of leadership back to Bill who urges the others that they must end IT once and for all even if they do die, and the rest of the remaining Losers comply, despite some reluctance from Eddie and Richie.
When dessert comes along with some Chinese Crackers, Bill "senses" danger and doesn't open his Cracker, and witnesses blood pours out of Beverly's, an eye appears in Richie's, a cricket a crawl out of Eddie's and teeth to form in Ben's. Beverly almost screams but Bill taking command for first time claps a hand over a mouth and tells the rest of the Losers to "Dummy up" as the waitress appears confused at all the commotion, making up an excuse, the waitress is fooled. While talking, a big, repulsive fly crawls out of Bill's cracker. After the terrifying experience, the Losers promptly leave the restaurant and briefly go their separate ways in Derry.
Bill Denbrough sees a ghost
While four of the Losers (Ben, Beverly, Eddie, and Richie) have a horrific run-in with Pennywise who claims they are "too old" to defeat him and warns them to flee Derry, Bill, on the other hand, doesn't meet Pennywise but finds Sliver in a store. Bill is struck dumb at the sight of his old bike and decides to buy it, Bill tests the bike out to find it's in need of repairs. Bill then returns to Losers who have another meeting and fill in nearly all the blanks leading up to their first battle with IT.
Afterward, Bill is left alone with Beverly, and she kisses him, though he showed some reluctance, he kisses her back, and the pair decide (despite respective marriages) to make love at the hotel. Bill and Beverly quickly find a room and partake in sexual intercourse and halfway through, Beverly remembers what she did for the male Losers in the sewer and questions Bill about it, before sleeping naked together. They are woken up by a call from Eddie, who just accidentally killed Henry Bowers in self-defense, Bill and Beverly go over to help Eddie and are soon joined by Ben and Richie. The five remaining Losers decide to go down into the sewers to try and kill IT.
The Devil Diminishes (Audra)
Unknown to Bill, the concerned Audra decides to head over to Derry in an attempt to uncover his long-term promise he had supposedly kept with his childhood friends. While residing at one the town's local motels, IT uses Tom Rogan (the then husband of Beverly Marsh) to capture her and use her as bait to lure Bill and the rest of his comrades into its lair. Upon viewing IT's true form (the "deadlights"), Tom instantly dies in shock while Audra succumbs into a catatonic state. Using the Ritual of Chud again (along with Richie this time), Bill finally defeats IT and rescues Audra. She survives (being the only person to survive the death-defying limbo), but remains in her catatonic state. Bill helps Audra to come out of her catatonia by taking her on a bicycle ride on his childhood bike, Silver. He is impersonating the Lone Ranger, which is something he had done years earlier to help revive a young Richie who was frozen with fear after meeting IT. Slowly she comes out of her catatonia and holds Bill, finally overcoming her fear. They kiss in the middle of a traffic stop in relief of her coming back to reality.
- "Your f-f-face and my buh-buh-butt, T-T-Tozier."
- ―Bill to Richie after Richie playfully makes fun of his stutter
- "I'm still Bill Denbrough. You killed my brother and you killed Stan the Man you tried to kill Mike. And I'm going to tell you something: this time I'm not going to stop until the job's done."
- ―Bill to IT during the final confrontation
- "I didn’t wuh-wuh-want h-him t-to g-g-get kuh-hilled!” Bill sobbed. “TH-THAT WUH-WUH-WASN’T ON MY M-M-M-MIND AT UH-UH-ALL!"
- ―Bill confiding in Richie
- "You killed my brother George! You son of a bitch! You bastard! You whoremaster! Let's see you now! Let's see you now!"
- ―Bill to IT
- "Help me. You killed my brother George, you bastard! Let's see you now. Let's see you now. It's scared of us you know? I can feel that. I swear to God I can. I... I wanna kill it. Help me. Please help me. Help me."
- ―Bill to the Losers
- "Look, you don't have to come in with me, but what happens when another Georgie goes missing, or another Betty, or another Ed Corcoran, or... one of us? Are you just gonna pretend it isn't happening like everyone else in this town? Because I can't. I go home and all I see is that Georgie isn't there. His clothes, his toys, his stupid stuffed animals... but he isn't. So, walking into this house, for me, it's easier than walking into my own."
- ―Bill to the Losers before entering Neibolt
- "Don't be a wu-wu-wuss. I'd come with you if I weren't... dying."
- ―Bill to Georgie, while fake coughing
- "Wait. Isn't that the homeschool kid's bike?"
- ―Bill asked the Losers Club about Mike's bike
- "Look. That where Ge-Ge-Georgie disappeared. There's the Ironworks and the Blackspot. Everywhere it happens is... is all connected by the sewers and they all meet up at..."
- ―Bill to the Losers the map
- "I guess you get your tunnels back."
- ―Bill to his hamster
- "Th-Th-That's where IT lives."
- ―Bill to the Losers Club about IT's location
- "What the hell! Put the map back!"
- ―Bill to Eddie after removing the map
- "I'm not mad at you."
- ―Bill to 'Georgie'
- "Not blood. I saw Ge-Ge-Georgie. It's seems so real. I mean It seems like him but there was this..."
- ―Bill to the Losers Club that he saw Georgie and IT
- "That's why you didn't kill Beverly, Cause sh-sh-she wasn't afraid of you. And we aren't either. Not anymore. Now you're the one who's afraid, because you're going to starve."
- ―Bill to IT
- "Swear, swear, if IT isn't dead, if IT ever comes back, we'll come back too."
- ―Bill to the Losers for IT's upcoming return