Stephen King’s Comeback: Fascinating Reasons For The Author’s New Popularity

Stephen King and his works, both his films and his books, have really been making a comeback lately. But what has caused this? There are a few fascinating possibilities.

It is true that Stephen King has been more or less present in popular culture since the release of his extremely popular debut novel Carrie in 1974. The Fiscal Times points out that his presence in the mainstream had really faded over most of the past decade until recently. Although Stephen King’s writing career has been just as prolific as ever (usually two to three books per year), only five movies have been made from his work and he has garnered less exposure overall. Now, King is back on top, with more and more people reading his novels and plowing through his extensive back-catalogue of movies.


Not only that, but there are a lot of very high-profile film and TV projects based on Stephen King’s books. Probably the most notable of them is the upcoming movie adaptation of King’s 1986 novel It, which features the seven-member Losers’ Club and Pennywise, the iconic cannibalistic clown, but also in development are movies for The Dark Tower, Gerald’s Game, 1922, and Drunken Fireworks along with TV adaptations of The Mist and Mr. Mercedes, as well as a Stephen King anthology series with J.J. Abrams, Castle Rock.

So why the sudden upsurge in all things Stephen King? Those who address the issue have some very interesting ideas on the topic.

Maybe the most straightforward reason has to do with the recent popularity of Stranger Things, the Netflix show that frequently paid homage to Stephen King’s coming-of-age tales (see It and The Body) and even featured easter eggs pointing to King’s work. The theory goes that the public obsession with Stranger Things, which released last July, combined with the rash of real-life creepy clown sightings that occurred around the same time, led to a fantastic public reception of the It re-adaptation. That led to many people picking up Stephen King’s It in book form, and, because the book is really, really good, it hooked a large percentage of those readers. The ones who had been hooked ended up reading more Stephen King and, after discovering he has a whole arsenal of greatness that has not been captured on screen, they became fans. Finally, this led to more multimedia Stephen King projects.


One new King reader, HidallyDidally123, affirms this theory is at least partially accurate.

“Can confirm! I am completely new to Stephen King and ordered about 10 of his books a few weeks ago after watching Stranger Things back in November. I’m about halfway through IT at the moment and I’m loving it so far. Not sure why it took me so long to check out Stephen King but I’m certainly glad I did.”

Another even more fascinating theory posits that the increased public demand for the author many call the “King of Horror” is thanks in large part to the generally tumultuous nature of American culture over the past year or two. A large increase in acts of domestic terrorism, a sharp incline in racial tensions, and especially the induction of a President many people absolutely detest have caused many pop cultural news sources to label 2016 and what we have seen of 2017 as disastrous years, and Stephen King might be getting more attention because of it.


“The horror genre tends to increase in popularity during times of mass uncertainty,” writes King fan Apollo151 on the official Stephen King subreddit.

“People want a more specific reason to be scared, so they take some measure of comfort being able to be afraid of a fictional clown demon [rather] than the real world.”

Another user, Jasons, Machete, poses yet another very viable possibility.

“With the way that all the studios these days are focusing on cinematic universes, it’s utterly surprising that one [has] wanted to do one for SK. Almost all the stories are interconnected in some way, shape, or form.”

As horror news authority Bloody Disgusting suggests, the aforementioned Dark Tower film, which will adapt the Stephen King series that acts as an umbrella for King’s entire bibliography, may be aiming to kick-start that cinematic universe. Now, with the sudden Stephen King reawakening in mainstream culture, that seems even more likely.

Stephen King's Pennywise
Pennywise the Clown, the main antagonist of the upcoming 'It' film. [Image by Irishimo/Deviant Art]

All this is not to say Stephen King-mania is a totally new thing. King is one of the most successful authors of all time in every sense of the word. His books have been immensely popular since he published his debut novel Carrie back in 1974. Over four decades later, Stephen King’s works have been the subject of 52 movies and he has an approximated net worth of $400 million. It might have seemed that his career popularity was winding down during the earlier years of the 21st century, but now King is back in a big way.

Although only time will tell what new Stephen King projects the following years will bring, let us know in the comments section what you would like to see make the leap from King’s pages to the screen! Stephen King fan or not, make yourself heard!

And in the meantime, check out the trailer released just yesterday for The Mist, a Spike TV series based on a Stephen King story.

[Featured Image by Larry French/Getty Images]