The series is a smorgasbord for King fans, chock full of both thematic and literal references to his work, and set in a world where his fictional worlds are reality. The show isn’t a direct sequel or adaptation of one specific piece, but rather tells a new story in an old setting: Castle Rock, Maine, the town where some of King’s most famous tales take place.
The first three episodes alone have enough King-shaped Easter Eggs to fill a basket. But the biggest source of references comes from the opening credits, which offer some curious insights about the show we’re watching. Who is telling the story of Castle Rock? What does it all mean? Are the credits merely a stylish flourish, or do they hint at something more?
Let’s go frame-by-frame and pick out the references to King’s books, and what those references might mean in this context.
1. The credits open on a book. Given the context clues – like the names “Derry, Main Street, and Canal” – we can tell that this from It.
2. Next we see a table of contents page for a different novel. From the chapter titles – “The Two Dead Girls,” “The Mouse on the Mike,” “Coffey’s Hands” – we can surmise that the novel in question is The Green Mile. What’s curious is the annotations. Someone has circled choice words like “hands” and is questioning ties to the Bible.
3. The next shot is another book page. Chapter 19. “Jimmy ran back to Matt’s room.” This is from ‘Salem’s Lot, King’s 1975 novel about a sleepy down and the vampires that dwell there. Like Castle Rock, the story is set in Maine.
4. Then comes the title page for Dolores Claiborne. This is another Maine-set King novel, about a mother and daughter who reconnect after the mother is accused of murder.
5. Next, we see a map of Maine, which is loaded with clues. We see several of King’s fictional towns, like Derry, Castle Rock, and Little Tall Island. We also see that someone has added notes and other locations with a red pen. On the far left, under the town of Bridgton, the word “Arrowhead” is written. This is a reference to the Arrowhead Project, a top-secret government facility that appears in the novel Firestarter and the short story “The Mist.” We also see the words “crash site” near the town of Haven, a reference to The Tommyknockers, and “Storm of the Century,” referring to the novel of the same name.
6. The next is a page of text that’s hard to see and is gone in a flash, but, given some of the visible sentences and names—like “Jack” and “Momma”—we’ve discovered that it’s from The Shining.
7. We then see a shot of upside down words spelling “Misery’s Return.” This is the name of a fictional novel the main character writes in Misery.
8. Another flash of flipping pages, and then we land on the title Cujo and a brief, handwritten sentence from that book, about a rabid St. Bernard.
9. The next flash is of blueprints for Shawshank Prison, from the novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.” The prison is also the main setting for Castle Rock. To the left of the Shawshank blueprint, we see the words “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” This is an obvious reference to The Shining, but—and here’s where the meta factor comes in—those typewritten words only show up in Stanley Kubrick‘s movie, not King’s novel. Does that mean we consider King adaptations to be canon in Castle Rock, too? Or is there something else going on?
10. Adding to that speculation, we next see a torn page with the number “217” on it. That is the number for the “haunted room” in The Shining, but that’s straight from the novel; in the movie, that number was changed to “237.”
11. Next, we see the words, “they float, Georgie,” an obvious reference to It. Annotated in pen: “who are ‘they?'”
12. The next shot is another reference to The Shining, and here’s where it gets even more interesting. On the left, we see the words “MURDER” and “REDRUM,” which appear in both the film and novel. On the right, we see two handwritten numbers: “237” and “217.” Both of the haunted room numbers. Hmmm.
There are probably even more little nuggets hidden in the credits, but those are the ones we spotted. From the looks of things, someone is reading King works and annotating them with their own curiosities and observations. Is the annotator a character from the show? Terry O’Quinn’s Dale Lacy, perhaps? He narrates the second episode and has a fixation on faith and religion. Or is it more meta than that? Perhaps we’re the annotators, and watching Castle Rock is an exercise in our relationship to King’s vast, macabre library.
Whatever the case, we’re excited to see where this all goes, and to see how these referenced writings might work their way into the text of the show.