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The Regulators is a 1996 novel written by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

In the town of Wentworth Ohio, an autistic boy named Seth has gained power to control the reality around him thanks to the machinations of the sinister Tak into a caricature of The Wild West based off the shows that Seth watches. Creatures from Seth's imagination begin to attack the town and the residents are forced to work together to stop Tak.


This work contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Gary Soderson.
  • Alternate Universe - Desperation, another book by Stephen King, is an alternate universe version of The Regulators. It has the same characters, but in different roles (a brother and sister become a married couple for example, with their parents in one book becoming their children in the other).
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Bang Bang BANG - Gunshots are incredibly loud; a sound of a shotgun is described as the sound of "a detonating backpack missile". Justified, because the shooters are actually figments of Seth's imagination, made real by Tak.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind - Between Seth and Tak.
  • Body Horror - Less so than Desperation in which Tak's possession of the body would cause the host to expand and eventually fall apart; here, his possession of Seth is more of the psychic variety. That being said, Tak is unable to possess anyone else but Seth because their minds are too strong. When he tries, their heads explode.
  • Captain Ersatz - The characters of Seth's favorite cartoon MotoKops 2200 are a take on the Power Rangers.
  • Darker and Edgier - To Desperation given that it's written by Bachman.
  • Demonic Possession - Tak's possession of Seth.
  • Eldritch Abomination - Tak.
  • Enemy Mine - In Seth's favorite show, the heroes team up with their enemy to stop a something from destroying Earth. Tak channels this as the final assault on the protagonists.
  • Evil Phone - The Tak-Phone.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You - Various television characters from Seth's imagination wreck havoc on the town.
  • Gorn - It's definitely of King's goriest works.
  • Happy Place - Seth manages to create such a refuge for his aunt/guardian Audrey (using a vacation she took in her college days as source material) to give her a way to get away from Tak's various torments.
  • Hypothetical Casting - After Johnny Marinville and his black neighbor, Brad Josephson have a hard time climbing a fence to escape from monsters, Johnny jokingly suggests that they should make a movie called Black Men Can't Clmb Fences, where Brad would be played by Laurence Fishburne.
  • Kitsch Collection - Kirstie Carver collects Hummel figurines. Her goal in life is to design one that looks like her son.
  • Mauve Shirt - A character is introduced and given a rather full backstory, such as the fact that she's on her way back from cheating on her husband, and how she realizes she's not wearing any underwear, while she's in the act of dying.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book - Seth draws pictures of the drive-by shooting in which his entire family was killed. The pictures are actually included in the text.
  • Open-Heart Dentistry: Subverted. Marielle Soderson's arm is torn off by a gunshot. Tom Billingsley, a vet, tries to treat her, but she soon dies. Billingsley remarks that she needed a trauma unit, not "an old veterinarian with shaky hands".
  • The Rainman - Seth.
  • Reality Warper - Tak.
  • Scrapbook Story - Interweaved within the narrative are diary entries from Audrey detailing her life with Seth and Tak's growing influence.
  • Sibling Switch Squick - Thanks to the alternate universe, the Carver family from one version of the story reverts who are siblings and who is married. In other words, David and Pie would be brother and sister in Desperation, and their parents Ellen and Ralph, but in The Regulators, they're married, with Ellen and Ralph as their children.
  • Stepford Suburbia - Stephen King spends the first 5 or 6 pages of the novel practically gushing over Poplar Street's all-American normalness with narration so upbeat it's almost manic. And then everything goes straight to hell, in typical King style.
  • Trash of the Titans - The Wyler/Garin household; Seth/Tak doesn't care what the place is like, and his aunt/guardian Audrey, the only surviving adult in the household, has much bigger problems occupying her time and energy. As a result, the place is a huge mess.
  • What Could Have Been - Was originally a script that King wrote for Sam Peckinpah.
  • Your Head Asplode - The result of Tak's failed attempt to possess Cammie.
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