The character first appeared in the novel The Stand as a demonic figure who wreaks havoc after a plague kills most of the population. He makes his second appearance in The Eyes of the Dragon as an evil wizard attempting to plunge the fictional medieval city of Delain into chaos. Flagg made several more appearances in King's epic series The Dark Tower as one of the main antagonists, in which he attempts to thwart protagonist Roland Deschain from reaching the Tower, the linchpin of all existence, so he can claim it for himself and become a god. The Dark Tower expanded upon Flagg's backstory and motivations, as well as connecting his previous appearances together.
Aside from King's novels, Flagg was featured in a television miniseries adaptation of The Stand, in which he was portrayed by Jamey Sheridan, as well as making appearances in Marvel Comics' adaptations of The Dark Tower and The Stand.
Stephen King initially attributed Donald DeFreeze, the lead kidnapper in the Patty Hearst case, as his inspiration for Randall Flagg. He later attributed Flagg's creation to an image of a man in cowboy boots, denim jeans and jacket always walking the roads that "came out of nowhere" when he was still in college. As King's self-described best villain, the nature of Flagg's character and evil has been the subject of much discussion by literary critics.
Flagg was born 1,500 years earlier in Delain to a man named Sam the Miller. His birth name was Walter Padick. At age thirteen, he went on to become a traveler, but was found and raped by another wanderer. Not wanting to go back home, he went on to study dark magic and eventually became a demon. After centuries of causing havoc, he gained the attention of The Crimson King.
The Eyes of the DragonEdit
In his first chronological appearance, during the middle ages, Flagg terrorized the country of Delain and schemed to kill the king and throw the country into chaos. Part of his mega plan was to frame Prince Peter, the rightful heir. Thomas, Peter's naive and resentful brother becomes king and names Flagg his advisor. Due to his inexperience, Thomas gives Flagg large amounts of power and was easilly manipulated by the demonic wizard, thus Flagg became the de-facto ruler of Delain. Flagg then plunges the kingdom into the dark ages. Years later it's revealed Thomas knew and witnessed the murder of his father, but was to scared to admit it, even to himself. Thomas fires an arrow into Flagg's eye, and he dissapears. Peter takes his rightful place as king and Thomas leaves with his butler Dennis to hunt Flagg down. They eventually found him, but Flagg aparently survived.
Over the course of Earth's history, Flagg keeps appearing, claiming that he just "became" although he has memories of being a marine, a member of the KKK and the Viet Cong. He even remembers having a role in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst.
In an apocalyptic version of our world, a great plague wipes out over 99% of Earth's population. Flagg stations himself in Las Vegas, Nevada and sends out a psychic call to all survivors of the plague, which most experience in the form of dreams. He gathers people attracted to order and stability, even if it comes at the cost of fascism. But it is "not just the evil ones like him" who are receptive to Flagg's summons, according to Mother Abagail, "but the weak ones...the lonely ones...and those who have left God out of their hearts." Like any other despot Flagg rewards his followers with rank and creature comforts, while using cruel measures — crucifixion, torture — to punish those who violate his laws.
Flagg intends to destroy another emerging post-plague society known as the Boulder Free Zone, led by the adherents of Mother Abagail. In doing so he will become the ruler of the new, dominant civilization in the former United States.
Two of Flagg's followers in Boulder, Harold Lauder and Nadine Cross, fail to wipe out the leadership of the Free Zone. In turn, four of those leaders head to Las Vegas to confront Flagg: Stu Redman, Larry Underwood, Ralph Brentner and Glen Bateman.
Three members of this expedition are captured — one of which Flagg has shot in a fit of rage because he defies and mocks him. The remaining two are taken into downtown Las Vegas, where they are scheduled to be publicly executed by dismemberment. This gruesome display of Flagg's power is interrupted when his loyal-but-unpredictable minion, the Trashcan Man, arrives hauling a nuclear warhead out of the desert.
The "hand of God" appears and detonates the warhead, destroying the city and all of Flagg's followers in it. Flagg himself dematerializes just before the blast, surviving to reappear on a remote and unnamed beach.
The Dark Tower SeriesEdit
In this series, Flagg takes the guise of several people. He first took the guise of a wizard named Marten and has an affair with Roland Deschain's mother Gabrielle and uses it to provoke him into taking the gunslinger test early, hoping he will fail and be exiled, but Roland succeds.Years later Flagg under the name Walter O'Dim turns a village named Tull agaisnt him, forcing Roland to kill them. On his quest for the Dark Tower, Roland catches up to Flagg, still posing as Walter. They have a long discussion about Roland's quest and destiny. This causes Roland to fall into a deep delirium, waking up with a pile of bones in Flagg's place.
Flagg's survival is revealed in the book Waste Lands, where he is saves the Tick Tock man Andrew Quick, who was left for dead by Roland and his ka-tet in the city of Lud. Although at the time it isn't known as Flagg was under the name Richard Fannin. Quick becomes on of Flagg's servents.
The next book, fully reveals Flagg's identity as Walter, Marten and Richard. It is learned he is the emirssary of John Farson, one of the people responsible for the destruction of Roland's village.
Throughout the series, Flagg has been pulling the strings behind the scenes, such as when he gives a man named Father Challan, the Black Thirteenth, a dangerous crystal ball, hoping to kill Roland. He also made a deal with the succubus Mia, who gave birth to Mordred Deschain, who was also mother by Susanah Walker and father by both Roland and the Crimson King.
In the last novel, Flagg also had his own plan to climb into the top of the Dark Tower and become a god. He believed the only way to do this was through Mordred, who he tries to befriend. Mordered sees through this and kills Flagg.
Due to the series being in a time loop, Flagg is resurected and Roland has to do the journey again, this time with the Horn of Eld. Flagg's status in this timeline is unknown.
Randall Flagg's NamesEdit
- The Ageless Stranger
- The Walkin' Dude
- The Dark Man
- The Hardcase
- The Man in Black
- The Tall Man
- The Midnight Rambler (by Lloyd Henreid)
- The Antagonist (by Glen Bateman)
- The Grinning Man (by Tom Cullen)
- Old Creeping Judas (by Ratty Erwins)
- He Who Walks Behind The Rows
- The Covenant Man
In The StandEdit
- Richard Fry - in Mountain City
- Robert Franq - in New York City
- Ramsey Forrest - in Georgia
- Robert Freemont
- Richard Freemantle
- Russell Faraday - "The Circle Closes"
- The Monster (by a homeless doomsayer)
- The Man with No Face (by a homeless doomsayer)
In other worksEdit
- Richard Fannin
- Raymond Fiegler
- Walter o'Dim
- Marten Broadcloak
- Walter Padick
- Walter Hodji
- Bill Hitch
- Revered Flagg
- Children Of The Corn (Possibly as "He Who Walks Behind the Rows," a sobriquet that includes all of the letters, in order, of the name Walter: "he Who wALks behind ThE Rows")
- 'Salem's Lot (mentioned)
- The Stand (miniseries)
- The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition
- The Stand: Captain Trips
- The Stand: American Nightmares
- The Eyes of the Dragon
- Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling (mentioned)
- The Gunslinger Born
- The Long Road Home
- The Gunslinger'The Dark Tower
- The Waste Lands
- Wizard and Glass
- Song of Susannah
- Wolves of the Calla
- The Dark Tower
- Haven (see Herald of Haven 1698)