The Unsung Hero Of Stephen King's It Was A Giant Turtle Named Maturin

Pennywise the Dancing Clown is one of the most iconic horror villains of all time. This child-killing shapeshifter represents all that is evil in Stephen King's "It," but did you know that he had an equally powerful supernatural adversary? His name was Maturin, he was wise and compassionate, and he stepped in to help humanity from time to time, including the brave band of children that dared to stand up to Pennywise. 

Also, he just happens to be a turtle. Yes, a turtle.

It's easy to see why Maturin was cut out of both the TV mini-series and the more recent big-screen adaptation. An evil clown is one thing, but a giant mystical turtle god that appears once or twice to help the Losers Club figure out a way to defeat this ancient evil is maybe a bridge too far for audiences.

Still, Maturin is a fascinating cornerstone of Stephen King's writing and his importance goes beyond "It."

It's time for a deep dive into some Stephen King lore

To fully understand Maturin, you'll have to learn a little bit about Stephen King's version of the beyond. It all starts with "The Prim," which is a place of chaos and disorder. Since this is Stephen King we're talking about, The Prim was filled with demons and monsters and all sorts of nasty things. The Prim was also home to a benevolent being known as Gan who found a way out and established the Macroverse, which encapsulates our reality and all the infinite parallel realities that mirror our own.

Gan's job is to keep the monsters from The Prim contained all while holding all existing realities together.

All this lore is mostly saved for King's magnum opus, the "Dark Tower" series, which is a genre-bending sci-fi/fantasy/horror tale that follows a lone gunslinger as he attempts to save all universes by protecting the titular Dark Tower. However, everything King has ever written is connected to "The Dark Tower" in some way, shape, or form. "Cujo," "Christine," Jack Torrance, and Annie Wilkes all exist in the same world as Pennywise and Maturin the Turtle.

The inspirations for Maturin

That brings us back to Maturin. We know he's a turtle, but what is he really? Well, Maturin is a cosmic being that exists in the Macroverse and is said to have created us all when it got a bellyache one day and vomited up our universe. The entity behind Pennywise was another cosmic being from the Macroverse, but this one isn't so nice. Maturin might be a bit grumpy and distant, but he's ultimately an agent of the light side. "It" is an agent of pain, darkness, and grief.

King likely based the idea of Maturin behind the common mythological figure of the World Turtle, which carries our world on its back. This figure appears in Hindu, Chinese, and even Native American legends. The very nature of the image of a large turtle carrying Earth on its back indicates a supportive being, one that would definitely side with a bunch of scrappy kids over a murderous clown.

In the book "It," Maturin appears to Bill Denbrough, the leader of The Losers Club, to explain how to fight the being he considers a kind of dark brother, which is something more complicated than just shooting a clown with a slingshot or bullying it to death. In the book, it's a mental battle of willpower that is known as The Ritual of Chüd, which is kind of like a telepathic blinking contest. The first being to flinch loses.

Crazily enough, Maturin dies in the book. Bill Denbrough is told by Pennywise that Maturin died choking on a new universe and to his dismay he actually sees the corpse of the giant turtle while mentally projecting himself through the Macroverse to once again meet Pennywise in battle with The Ritual of Chüd.

The adaptations have skipped the Macroverse stuff, but still found room for some sly hints.

As you can see, that's a little tough to pull off in a film, but that doesn't mean director Andy Muschietti totally ignored the weird cosmic stuff when he set out to make 2017's "It." While Maturin isn't explicitly involved, there are many nods to the character as a kind of totem for the good guys.

For instance, Georgie has a Lego Turtle figure at his bedside, Beverly has a turtle sticker on one of her school books, and then there's the scene at the quarry where the Losers go for a swim and feel something is in the water with them. It turns out to be a turtle, which symbolizes the group being complete.

Muschietti went a step further in "It: Chapter 2." Mike Hanlon discovers how to ultimately beat Pennywise by going on a psychedelic journey and how does he go on this journey? By taking a psychedelic root called Maturin. 

So even though the gentle giant with a bit of a tummy ache has never made it into any adaptation of Stephen King's book, his presence has been felt in some small, clever ways.