- "I'll kill you, you little fucking pansy."
- ―Henry threatening Patrick Hockstetter
Henry Bowers is the psychopathic school and neighborhood bully and the secondary antagonist of Stephen King's novel IT, the 1990 miniseries, and the 2017 film adaptation. He is also the leader of The Bowers Gang, a gang of preteen bullies who rival the Losers' Club.
Henry is described as being very big and strong for a 12-year-old with his hair into a spiked flattop spiked with a lot of Butch Wax that he keeps in his jeans and he wears a pink motorcycle jacket with an eagle on the back and engineer boots. In the 1990 miniseries, he sports a greaser pompadour and wears a brown motorcycle jacket. In the film adaptation, Henry is a 16-year-old teenager with a brown mullet and wears sleeveless T-shirts and torn jeans.
Raised in a poor, violent environment by his mentally ill father, Butch Bowers (an ex-marine who reputedly went insane and psychotic after being relieved of his war activities), Henry rapidly developed into a hateful, loathing individual who would often display immediate negative and stereotypical feelings towards those around him (particularly his classmates). In particular, Butch's deep racism leads to Henry choosing the African-American Mike Hanlon as his favorite bullying target.
Despite his hostile nature however, during his childhood (beginning in first grade of 1952) Henry would go on to make friends among other bullies of his age, with his closest being the more intelligent Victor "Vic" Criss and the unusually large and clumsy yet rather muscular Reginald "Belch" Huggins and the rest being the psychologically-disturbing Patrick Hockstetter, well-off Peter Gordon, the slightly retarded Steve "Moose" Sadler, and dim-witted Gard Jagermeyer. All six of these boys he would assort into a gang of his own: The aptly-named Bowers Gang.
While the same age as the kids of the Losers’ Club in the novel and miniseries, according to the book Henry and his friends are one grade older than them and that Henry was in the 5th grade with Ben, instead of being in 6th grade, as a repeat. "Henry was in Ben’s fifth-grade class instead of in the sixth grade with his friends Belch Huggins and Victor Criss because he had been kept back the year before. Ben had an idea that Bowers was going to stay back again. His name had not been called when Mrs. Douglas handed out the rank-cards, and that meant trouble. Ben was uneasy about this, because if Henry did stay back again, Ben himself would be partly responsible[...]" "Henry was a big boy even for twelve."
After Henry's mother leaves the family from the constant physical abuse of Butch Bowers, Butch gains a girlfriend in Rena Davenport. Rena is "fair, fat, and forty" and makes baked beans for the family every single weekend.
Erosion to Insanity (1958)
During and prior to the summer of 1958, Bowers torments the Losers with several acts of violence, such as partially carving his name onto Ben Hanscom's belly, killing Mike Hanlon's dog with raw meat laced with insect poisoning, breaking Eddie Kaspbrak's arm, and white washing Stan Uris' face in the snow until it bleeds. Following the apocalyptic rock fight with the Losers in July, Henry becomes more and more sadistic and even goes as far as to swear revenge to the Losers after the fight. His deteriorating sanity becomes apparent during subsequent violent attacks on Eddie and Beverly.
In late August, It provides Henry with a switchblade which he uses to kill his crazy abusive father. Under the influence of It, Henry alongside his friends, Victor "Vic" Criss and Reginald "Belch" Huggins, chase the Losers down through the sewers. Under Derry, It then takes the form of Frankenstein's Monster, and kills Vic and Belch in front of him. Henry still manages to escape while his friends were busy being killed by It. Part of him feels guilty that he lived and they died and wonders sometimes if they blamed him (as they're dying and possibly in the afterlife).
Henry was eventually framed by It and convicted for most of the murders that occurred throughout the summer. Due to the horrors he had observed, Henry put up no protest to the charges. However, when doctors chalked up Henry's decaying mental state as a reason for the murders, Henry is ultimately deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Return and Death (1985)
In 1985, It is unable beat the Loser's Club alone - so It takes the form of one of Henry's deceased friends Vic, and makes him do It's dirty work (though in the first film adaptation, it is Belch who appears to Henry and persuades him to go after the grownup Losers). It also kills Koontz (one of the guards of the mental hospital) in the form of a tall doberman to stop him from preventing Henry's escape. Bowers encounters Mike at the Derry Public Library and engages in a violent brawl with him. Using his old switchblade provided by It, Henry stabs Mike's thigh, cutting his femoral artery (although Hanlon manages to wound him with a letter opener in self defense). With the guidance of It (this time in the form of Belch Huggin's reanimated corpse), the severely injured Bowers then moves on to the Derry Town House, where he plans to kill the remaining Losers, one by one. He begins by knocking on Eddie Kaspbrak's door and attacking him, breaking Eddie's arm in the same place he did in 1958, before Eddie is able to get the better of Henry and finish him with a broken water bottle. It is unknown what was the inspiration behind his name although it was most likely Henry Francis Bowers who was an American politician, or he could have been named after Henry Robertson Bowers who was the lieutenant of the ill fated Terra Nova Expedition.
- Mr. Chips (Novel)
- Oscar "Butch" Bowers (Novel and movie)
- Reginald "Belch" Huggins (Deleted scene from movie)
- Victor "Vic" Criss (Deleted scene from movie)
- ―Henry after bullying the Losers' club
- "You s-s-say something, B-B-B-B-Billy? Dumb Stuttering freak."
- ―Henry to Billy, mimicking his voice
- "Summer’s gonna be hurt a train. For you and your fucking faggot f-f-friends."
- ―Henry to Bill before he licks his hand and slaps bill's face
- "Where you off to, Tits?"
- ―Henry to Ben
- "Shut up! I'm gonna carve my whole name out of this cottage cheese!"
- ―Henry to Belch before Ben escape from him
- "My knife! My old man will kill me!"
- ―Henry to his friends about Butch after losing his knife
- "Motherfucker! Whatcha gonna do, huh? Get up!"
- ―Henry to Mike
- "You didn't listen to what I told you, did you? You should have stayed out of Derry. Your parents didn't, and look what happened to them. I still get sad everytime I pass by that pile of ashes, sad that I couldn't have done it myself."
- ―Henry's last words to Mike before he fell to well
- "You got a free ride this year cuz of your little brother. Ride's over, Denbrough."
- ―Henry to Bill before he attempts to bully him
- He is extremely similar to Ace Merrill, as they both lead their friends in a gang and confront their victims outside of school.
- Henry is mentioned in the novel 11/22/63 by Beverly and Richie while talking to Jake Epping about the whereabouts of the Dunning family.
- Uses a nightlight of "Donald Duck doffing his little sailor hat" while staying at Juniper Hill to keep away nightmares and memories of IT