From the second Castle Rock was announced — using a graphic teaser that crisscrossed through multiple references from Stephen King’s novels — it was clear the show would be referencing its roots. There were many obvious references from the following trailers — Shawshank State Prison and Juniper Hill Asylum both seem to be major locations for the series, not to mention the town of Castle Rock itself — but the question was going to be how many smaller mentions to King’s stories would be peppered throughout. The answer: quite a bit.
FANDOM is rolling up its sleeves and diving into each episode of Castle Rock’s first season to pull out each and every reference for you. We start with the series premiere, “Severance.”
Episode 1: “Severance”
Most of the characters in Castle Rock are original to the series. But one — Scott Glenn’s Alan Pangborn — is all too familiar with the city. Pangborn frequents man of King’s stories set in and around the tragic town. He’s one of the main characters in both The Dark Half and Needful Things novels, and his name pops up in others like Bag of Bones and Gerald’s Game.
The casting in Castle Rock is also peppered with Easter Eggs. In the show’s pilot we meet Sissy Spacek’s Ruth Deaver, Bill Skarsgard’s mystery man, and Melanie Lynskey’s Molly Strand. Spacek starred in the classic horror film Carrie, based on King’s first novel. Skarsgaard played Pennywise the Clown in 2017’s adaptation of one of the author’s most popular stories, IT. Lynskey appeared in the TV movie Rose Red, which King wrote.
Shawshank’s Former Warden
It wasn’t a secret that the infamous Shawshank State Prison was going to factor heavily into Castle Rock’s story. Shortly after being introduced to the prison in the pilot — and immediately following the Terry O’Quinn’s Dale Larcy’s gruesome self-decapitation — the new warden is getting a tour of her office. The CO giving said tour decides to add a little color by mentioning the fate of one of it’s previous wardens. “You can still see the bullet hole where Warden Norton–” he says before getting cut off. This is a reference to the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.
In the scene where we first meet Henry Deaver, he’s speaking to a jury about lifting the death sentence of an old woman who murdered her abusive husband. During his closing argument he reveals the name of his client’s husband was Richard Chambers. Chambers was one of the main antagonists in Stand By Me, which was based on King’s short story The Body.
The Fate of Henry’s Father
It’s unclear in the first episode what happened to Henry Deaver as a kid, when Sheriff Pangborn found him alone in the middle of a frozen lake after being missing for elevn days. It is mentioned, however, that his father was found frozen solid in the wilderness. This death is very similar to Jack Torrence’s in the film adaptation of The Shining.
In the Stephen King universe, there are certain people who have an ability called “The Shine” or “The Touch.” It’s usually represented as a form of telekinesis or clairvoyance and manifests at an early age. Both Danny Torrance and Dick Hallorann from The Shining are the most famous characters with the ability. Other characters who have The Shine include Carrie’s titular Carrie White, The Stand’s Mother Abigail, and The Dark Tower’s Jake Chambers.
Bill Skarsgard’s mystery man seems to have the shine based on the scene where he compels a mouse to walk into a trap. Lynskey’s Molly also may have a bit of The Shine too. The end of the episode shows her timing herself as she looks through a box of Henry’s old things.
While locked up, Skarsgard’s mystery man watches a mouse running across the floors of the prison. The mouse, which seems to be affected in some way by the man, runs directly to a mouse trap and is killed. The poor creature is likely a reference to Mr. BoJangles — Delacroix’s pet from The Green Mile. Unfortunately, John Coffey’s not around to bring this mouse back from the dead.
Near the end of the episode, Molly Strand is rummaging through an old box of Henry Deaver’s belongings. Why she has them isn’t clear, but one of the items is an old Missing poster from when Henry was a kid. The poster looks nearly identical to the posters hung around Derry in 2017’s IT.