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Top 10 Things Stephen King Ruined for Us

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Laura Keating

This guy could make a toaster oven terrifying. From cell phones, to cars, to pets, Stephen King is the master of making the ordinary scary. WatchMojo ranks the top things Stephen King ruined for us.

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It’s hard to look at these things the same way ever again. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things Stephen King Ruined for Us.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the everyday objects, places, and/or situations that have taken on a dark twist ever since the horror master got ahold of them.


#10: Cell Phones


Given the dependence some people have on their electronics, some folks might wish that he’d ruined this one a little bit more. In his 2006 novel, Cell – which was later adapted to a film of the same name – after an event known as the Pulse, using a cell phone becomes deadly, and transforms anyone who turns one on into a raging zombie. Insert throw-away joke about how smart-phone users are already zombies. However, after reading or watching this story, you’ll think twice about answering that call or text because … what if, right?


#9: Kink


Anyone who has ever engaged in a little BDSM will tell you that the most important thing is safety. However, poor Jessie Burlingame is anything but safe an attempt to spice up a problematic marriage goes horribly wrong and she is left handcuffed to a bed, her husband dead on the floor – although, given some of the terrible husbands King has created over the years, that might be for the best. If the “Fifty Shades” series got people interested in bondage play, “Gerald’s Game” does precisely the opposite, and as Jessie fights to survive you might find yourself thinking twice about real handcuffs, or other durable apparatuses, during sexy times.


#8: Other People


You think you know a guy. If there is one thing that defines the work of Stephen King, it is his ability to look down the streets of Everytown, America and make us wonder what really goes on over the garden wall. In King’s suburbia, the monsters aren’t in the woods or high up in a lonely tower; they live right next door. In works like “It,” “Salem’s Lot,” and “The Outsider” audiences are forced to question how much they really know about the people who make up their communities, even those they think they know.


#7: Cars / Trucks


Nothing like packing up the car and hitting the open road, right? Well, you might think twice about that if you’re familiar with these infamous automobiles. In “From a Buick 8”, an abandoned car turns out to be a portal to a hellish alternate dimension. Similarly, Christine, the eponymous car from the 1983 film and novel, is almost literally hell on wheels, while killer cars are taken to a whole new level in the notoriously panned “Maximum Overdrive.” The danger surrounding cars is usually reserved for bad driving, but in the King Multiverse, even empty vehicles are deadly.


#6: Children / Childhood Innocence


There are so many creepy kids throughout the SK canon it’s almost impossible to list them all. Gage Creed, Danny Torrance, Charlie McGee, Isaac Chroner; they’re all creepy for different reasons, and they’ll make you wonder if your own little kid, niece, nephew, or even the brat you babysit can start fires with their mind or talk to the dead. OR you'll wonder about your own childhood and what your coming-of-age moment was (hopefully it did not include finding a dead body). Many of Kings’ young heroes also have complicated or strained relationships with their parents. Guess if you’re going to ruin childhood, might as well bin trustworthy mentors and parental figures, too.


#5: Prom


For many students across North America, Prom is an important milestone. After all those years of hard work, it’s a decadent send off into the wider world. However, since the mid-70s, even if it is not explicitly mentioned, thanks to Carrie White no prom is complete without a joke or thoughts about pigs’ blood. With bullying and school violence a bigger problem than ever, stepping into the glitz and glam of a senior prom is not without its trepidation. Odds are your prom isn’t going to end with a telekinetic temper tantrum, but make sure the exits aren’t blocked just in case.


#4: Pets


It's pretty hard to flat out "ruin" pets, however have you ever wondered just how easily they might turn on you? What if your little furry friends weren’t so friendly anymore? In “Cujo” a big, doofy Saint Bernard goes from cuddly canine to killer simply because he chased a rabbit down the wrong hole. And in “Pet Sematary” Louis Creed’s attempt to give his cat Church a second chance at life leads to some very bleak places. You’d be forgiven if the next time you let the cat in you wondered just where they’d been, and if you really know them at all.


#3: The State of Maine


Few authors have become so tightly connected to their home state as Stephen King. While generally less emphasis is placed on location in the film adaptations, in the books Constant Readers have been regularly reminded that the Pine Tree state is the place for a scare. The fictitious towns of Derry, Castle Rock, and Jerusalem’s (aka 'Salem's) Lot are all located in King’s Maine, as is Shawshank Prison, but other real small towns are also employed, giving them extra creep factor. Now when people head to Vacationland, it's not just lobster and rocky beaches tourists have in mind, but vampires, otherwordly mists, aliens, and general spookiness.


#2: Hotels


Before “The Shining,” gothic horror was generally reserved for old mansions. However, King cleverly replaced creepy castles awash in ghosts with a more relatable location. The whole genre of haunted hotels seems to stem back to Stephen King, and it has changed the way most people view their stays. Be honest, you’ve definitely wondered once or twice, while stepping out of your hotel room into a long, empty hallway, if you’re going to be invited to play forever and ever. Thanks to King, more than one hotel-goer has thought about what lies behind the doors of those long, quiet corridors, and maybe if some patrons have never checked out …


Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Biggest Fans


Grandmothers


#1: Clowns / Balloons


There was a time when clowns were highly beloved entertainers. However, the World Clown Association has come out to say that the publication of “It” and its subsequent adaptations have ruined the reputation of clowns, effectively destroying their jolly image for good. Sadly, we have to say we agree. More often than not, when clowns are brought up in conversation these days it’s not the smiling faces of Bozo and Ronald people think of, but the maniacal grin of Pennywise. Don’t feel too badly about it, though. Here, have a balloon. They float. They all float.
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