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How Stephen King’s The Outsider Connects To If It Bleeds

How Stephen King's The Outsider Connects To If It Bleeds

Stephen King’s most recent work, If It Bleeds, shares a connection to his 2018 novel, The Outsider, which was adapted into an HBO series in 2020.

The 2018 novel, The Outsider, written by horror genre master Stephen King, shares a connection with King’s novella collection If It Bleeds, which was released earlier in 2020. The former centers on the story of the grisly murder of a young boy in the fictional town of Flint City, Oklahoma. The novel—which was adapted into an HBO series starring Jason Bateman—follows a police detective as he investigates the bizarre case which points to a local teacher and baseball coach as the apparent suspect. If It Bleeds, meanwhile, features three thrilling stories: “If It Bleeds”, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, “The Life of Chuck”, and “Rat”.

The title story, “If It Bleeds”, is the one that makes a direct connection to The Outsider. It does so by heavily featuring the character Holly Gibney. Holly is a Stephen King character who first appeared in his 2014 detective book, Mr. Mercedes, which focuses on the story of a retired detective who attempts to track down an ominous killer who drove a stolen Mercedes into a crowd. Over the years, Holly has become a favorite character among King fans.

The Outsider is part of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, which itself is part of the King’s Bill Hodges trilogy, comprising 2015’s Finders Keepers and 2016’s End of Watch. It transformed the character of Holly, turning a somewhat timid and uncertain woman into an investigative expert who ends up running Bill Hodges’ Finder’s Keepers investigative company. Holly works hard throughout the book to try to track down a supernatural shape-shifting creature. In the television adaptation of The Outsider, Holly (Cynthia Erivo, Harriet) appears in eight episodes.

How Stephen King’s The Outsider Connects To If It Bleeds

How Stephen King's The Outsider Connects To If It Bleeds

How Stephen King’s The Outsider Connects To If It Bleeds

The If It Bleeds novella ends up acting as an extension of The Outsider. The winding plot follows Holly as she tries to track down another perpetrator. It’s a modern detective story in which King refers to current events and even takes a stab at critiquing the state of the media in the United States; it also has supernatural elements. In If It Bleeds, Holly closely analyzes footage and images, trying to identify another supernatural shape-shifting creature as creepy events keep occurring. While she’s doing detective work, Holly is dealing with personal issues: an abusive mother and a sick uncle. As always, Holly is a complex, relatable character who suffers from OCD and other conditions.

It seems likely horror guru Stephen King will write the beloved character of Holly into his future novels or novellas. In the meantime, she will probably end up making an appearance in season 2 of The Outsider; that is, if a second season happens—no announcements have been made as of this writing. The season 1 finale heavily featured Holly and left viewers wondering about her well-being after she was apparently scratched by the creature and spotted the specter of Jack Hoskins in her mirror.

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