Stephen King is one of the most beloved and prolific writers of our time. His celebrity and astonishing output of work, both extremely rare for a writer in this day and age, often obscure the fact that King is nothing short of a master storyteller. Like any virtuoso of his craft, King creates multilayered tales that may not seem to have much in common on the surface but one can dig a little deeper and find a vast and interconnected universe. In fact, there are countless theories of how Stephen King books are connected.
Many of King's works have been adapted into motion pictures or television series, which give fans a whole new avenue to look in for clues, Easter eggs, and other signs that harken back to King stories. While some of them may sound like crazy theories about Stephen King and his canon of work, there is ample evidence to back up most suggestions. From clear-cut links to ideas requiring a bit more imagination, Stephen King universe fan theories are everywhere.
The fictional Shawshank Prison is mentioned in many King works besides Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Dolores Claiborne, Bag of Bones, It, and Apt Pupil all reference the correctional facility. It is also mentioned throughout 11/22/63. In the sixth Dark Tower novel, John Cullum says he used to work at the Maine State Prison. The Maine State Prison is also referred to as Shawshank.
In It, Eddie Corchoran's stepfather is sent to Shawshank for killing his youngest stepson, Dorsey.
Little Danny Torrance is not the only one with "the shine" and an aptitude for the abnormal. Actually, many of King's characters have some type of otherworldly ability, including Carrie from her self-titled book and Charlie from Firestarter. No reference to "the shine" is as clear as Mother Abagail's in The Stand; it ties her story directly back to The Shining.
"My own grandmother used to call it the shining lamp of God, sometimes just the shine," she says in reference to that special mystical talent.
Shine on, Mother Abagail.
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (filmed as The Shawshank Redemption in 1994) also ties into Apt Pupil. In the latter work, Denker says that a man named Dufresne once helped him buy stocks under a fake name. Dufresne, a banker, went on to kill his wife and was sent to prison.
How many Dufresnes worked in banking and were sent to prison for murdering their spouse in a small-town Maine locale? Likely only one: Andy Dufresne from Shawshank. If that's true then two more of King's works are connected.
Stephen King loves small towns in Maine and the vast majority of his stories are set in little hamlets of The Pine Tree State. There are a few towns that serve as settings or passing references in many of King's novels. Castle Rock, for example, is the backdrop for The Dead Zone, Cujo, Needful Things, The Dark Half, and others. Derry is a frequent setting as well, providing the locale for It, Bag of Bones, Insomnia, parts of 11/22/63, and many more.
The fact that all of these fictional works are set in the same communities is perhaps the strongest evidence of a shared King universe.