Currently airing on Hulu, Castle Rock focuses on the fictional Maine town that has countless connections to many of Stephen King's most celebrated works. Rather than being a direct adaptation of any one story, Castle Rock borrows small bits of information from the shared King universe to heighten the all-new story, which results in multiple Easter eggs and references appearing in each episode.
Despite not being the adaptation of one specific story, co-creator Sam Shaw detailed how much the iconic author's works made their way into all facets of the series.
"Like an all-you-can-eat buffet, we've tried to cater to all tastes in this show," Shaw shared with The Hollywood Reporter. "Part of it is we were Stephen King nerds. We arrived at the material from a place of slightly OCD obsession with some of the works that had meant a lot to us as kids. We've tried to construct a story that will be engaging and surprising and a fun ride for viewers who may not even identify themselves as Stephen King fans."
Scroll down to learn which books were the biggest influences on Castle Rock and catch new episodes on Wednesdays.
[H/T The Hollywood Reporter]
Thanks to stories like Carrie, The Shining, and Misery, King is mostly known for his tales of terror. However, Shaw makes sure to remind viewers that not all of his stories involved the supernatural or violent killers.
"I think there are probably a lot of Stephen King fans who don't even realize they're Stephen King fans," Shaw pointed out. "They may not identify as fans of horror or genre storytelling but who love Stand by Me, or who love The Shawshank Redemption, and may not even realize that those are based on novellas from Stephen. So it was a little bit like a video game that has different difficulty levels, although we hope none of it's difficult. We tried to construct a series that will be welcoming and accessible to a lay audience."
Between novels like IT or The Stand, which are massive tomes that are known for their immense lengths, some fans have the preconceived notion that all of King's works are immense. However, the author has also crafted multiple short stories, with Different Seasons being comprised of four different novellas.
"I think Different Seasons speaks to the depth of Stephen King's character writing and the breadth of his imagination," Shaw noted. "It also happens that there is more than one story in that collection that touches on Castle Rock. 'The Body' is set largely around in the outskirts of Castle Rock and Red, the character played by Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption, is in prison having committed his crime in the town of Castle Rock — and obviously, Shawshank also figures prominently in the season."
"The Body" was ultimately adapted into the feature film Stand By Me.
While Shawshank Prison plays a prominent role in Castle Rock and is one of King's most iconic creations, the author also explored the prison system with The Green Mile, a narrative which was released in multiple volumes.
"It's the other iconic prison and death row book [aside from 'Shawshank']," Shaw pointed out. "And in some
Unlike other major inspirations for Castle Rock, there aren't any direct connections between the narrative of The Dead Zone and the TV series, though the story is one of the few tales in King's library that has major connections to the fictional town.
"Although the story in this season is not in any way taken from The Dead Zone directly, what it does is it's the first true Castle Rock story," co-creator Dustin Thomason. "I think that there's something really interesting about seeing the way in which King first touched on this place and the way in which he set it up.
In The Dead Zone, a man wakes up after being in a coma for four years and has gained a supernatural ability to touch an individual and see their future. After touching a politician, the man realizes that if the politician takes power, it will lead to a nuclear event. The surprising directions of these futures played a major part of Castle Rock.
Thomason added, "The other thing that's fascinating about The Dead Zone ... is that it really takes some very unexpected directions when it comes to the storytelling. It almost has an Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho kind of approach to the storytelling, in terms of the way that it follows different characters and follows different storylines, but ultimately adds up to something really fascinating and surprising."
The Dead Zone has been adapted into both a feature film and a TV series.
After years of telling stories tangentially connected to Castle Rock, King released Needful Things, which, at the time, was considered the "last Castle Rock story." With the dozens of related stories that have been released since the book's publication in 1991, this ended up not being true, though Thomason noted that one of Castle Rock's most prominent citizens was borrowed for the Hulu series.
The sheriff of Castle Rock in Needful Things is Alan Pangborn, who has appeared in other King stories, such as The Dark Half. In Castle Rock, Pangborn is played by Scott Glenn and is a key character in the narrative.
"The character of Alan Pangborn and the context that you get for him and for the town of Castle Rock and the people who live in that town and the very strange happenings when that antique store opens are all things that would provide great context for our show," Thomason noted.
Arguably the biggest selling point of Castle Rock, as given away by the name, is the fact that it finally explores one corner of King lore that is often only briefly touched upon in multiple narratives. Despite that connection, King himself has warned viewers to not focus too much on connections to his stories as it could distract you from the quality storytelling on display.
The author warned on Twitter, "Castle Rock is really good, each episode better than the last. But put all that Easter egg stuff aside and just enjoy it on its own terms. The cast is incandescent and they support a story worth telling."
With each new episode, new connections are revealed, which is plenty of reason to keep tuning in each week, in addition to the compelling story crafted by Shaw and Thomason.