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 1500 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 cronological appearance, during the middle ages, Flagg terrorized the country of Delain, with and schemed to kill the king and throw the country into chaos. Part of his 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 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 remebers having a role in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst.
In an apocolyptic future, after a plauge wipes out much of the population, Flagg stations himself in Las Vegas, and gathers people attracted destructive brand of fascism. He uses crucifixion and torture and other cruel measures to punish those disloyal to him. He has a plot to destroy another emerging society called the "Freezone", led by Mother Abigail, and become the ruler of the new, dominant civilization in the former United States.
Two of Flagg's followers fail to kill the leaders of the Freezone, so in turn, several members of the Freezone head to Vegas to stop Flagg, but are captured. They are taken into Vegas and are about to be executed, when one of Flagg's most loyal henchmen, the Trashcan man, arrives with a nuclear warhead. Trashcan succumbs to radiation poisoning, however. The Hand of God appears and detonates the Warhead, destroying the city and Flagg's followers. Flagg himself survives and reappears on a remote beach.
The Dark Tower SeriesEdit
In this series, Flagg takes the disguise of several people. He first took the guise of a wizard named Marten and has an affair with Ronald Deschain's mother Gaberille and uses it to provoke him into taking the gunslinger test early, hoping he will fail and be exiled, but Ronald succeds.Years later Flagg under the name Walter O'Dim turns Ronald's village agaisnt him, forcing Ronald to kill them. On his quest for the Dark Tower, Ronald catches up Flagg, still posing as Walter. They have a long discussion about Ronald's quest and destiny. This causes Ronald 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 Ronald 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 Ronald's village.
Throughout the seires, 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 Ronald. 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 Ronald 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 see's through this and kills Flagg.
Due to the series being in a time loop, Flagg is resurected and Ronald has to do the journey again, this time with the Horn of Eld. Flagg's status in this timeline is unkown.
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
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
- 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