The Outsider Plot Summary 📖

Using a third-person omniscient perspective, ‘The Outsider’ delivers emotions and ideas with the intent of making the reader entwined in the story.

The Outsider

Stephen King

The Outsider follows the story of a detective, Ralph Anderson, who arrests Terry Maitland, the coach of the junior boy’s football team, after a heinous crime occurs in Flint City. Though countlessly stating his innocence, Ralph falls on deaf ears and pushes through with insisting on Terry being the criminal. Soon, the entire investigation leads to tragic events that make Ralph regret not listening and noticing the hidden open details of the crime.

The Outsider Plot Summary

Spoiler-Free Summary of The Outsider

After the murder of Frank Peterson, detective Ralph Anderson interrogates many witnesses, who without a doubt place one man at the scene of the crime. The man who was the killer based on the evidential information gotten was Terry Maitland, the coach of the boys’ little league. Though shocked and in disbelief, Ralph Anderson pushes through with arresting Terry, and without further questioning, publicly leads the arrest leaving a crowd of more than 1000 people shocked.

After further questioning and interrogation, Terry maintains his stance on being innocent, and after talking about his trip to Cap city, the entire interrogation gets even stranger. Ralph blocks all reasoning and still categorizes Terry as a criminal, but after a tragic event where Terry still professed his innocence, Ralph begins to doubt everything.

Soon, Ralph decides to continue investigating Terry’s case, and secrets begin to unfold, secrets about forces that were much eviler than he had ever imagined. Teaming up with Howie, Terry’s lawyer, Alec, Holly Gibson, and fellow policeman Sablo, they uncover a trail of death left by an evil entity that thrives on death and destruction.

The Outsider Plot Summary

Warning: important details of the novel are revealed below.

A tragic day begins in Flint City as the remains of a mutilated, raped boy, Frankie Peterson is discovered by a man walking his dog. After an investigation by detective Ralph Anderson, a suspect emerges and is none other than Terry Maitland, the coach of the little boys league.

With multiple witnesses seeing Terry with Frankie, Ralph is certain that the crime was committed by the coach. After a consultation with a judge, Ralph gets permission to lead the early arrest on Terry to prevent another crime from occurring.

After publicly arresting Terry in a crowd of 1600 spectators, Ralph brings Terry in for questioning but begins doubting himself when he notices the lack of guilt or fear in Terry’s eyes. With the arrival of Howie Gold, Terry’s lawyer, Ralph and Bill Samuels, the DA of Flint City are shocked after Terry tells them of his strong alibi, which places him in Cap City, far from the crime scene. After a public access TV footage shows Terry with his colleagues in Cap City, Ralph is left in disbelief.

Meanwhile, Arlene Peterson, Frankie’s mother, dies of a heart attack because she could not handle the sadness that came with the death of her lovely boy. Terry is taken to court for his arraignment to begin. Terry refuses a bulletproof vest to the court, and on arrival, panic ensues as Ollie, Frankie’s brother, fires a gun at Terry twice, hitting him lethally. Ralph kills Ollie and rushes to Terry when he asks him for the truth, and on his dying breath, Terry confesses that he is innocent, leaving Ralph in confusion.

After the death of Terry, Ralph is given time off on administrative leave, and Terry’s case is closed. However, Ralph decides to investigate further. Meanwhile, Grace, Terry’s youngest daughter, sees a man with a play-doh face and straw for eyes. Ralph keeps investigating Terry’s case as he digs up evidence that proved Terry was indeed in Cap City. Soon, he begins to doubt as he discovers that the Terry most witnesses met seemed to be unfamiliar with them even though Terry had spent all his life in Flint City and would have recognized them instantaneously.

During his investigation, Ralph discovers that the van used to abduct Frankie was first stolen by a 12-year-old in Dayton, Ohio, around the same time as Terry and his family were in Dayton. Ralph tries to meet Marcy, Terry’s wife, to talk to her about their visit to Ohio but gets turned down by Marcy. She later agrees to Ralph’s demand but invites Howie and Alec Pelly, a retired detective working for Howie, to be present. At the meeting, Sarah, Terry’s eldest daughter, tells Ralph that her father got injured after bumping into a male nurse at the hospital when he visited his father.

Meanwhile, detective Jack Hoskins is called back from his vacation and asked to check out a barn where a call was received concerning Terry’s case. On reaching the barn, Jack encounters a strange entity who touches him and disappears. Jack wakes up to discover a burn on his neck, and while in the bathroom, he sees an entity who tells him he had infected him with cancer and had to do what he wanted.

Meanwhile, the entity Grace had seen earlier visits her and had her father’s eyes. He tells her to warn Ralph to back off to prevent anyone from getting hurt. Jeanie, Ralph’s wife, encounters the same entity Grace did and sees the inscription of “CAN’T” and “MUST” on his hands.

At the same time, Alec hires Holly Gibson to help investigate Dayton for him, and she discovers that everything that had occurred was beyond the ordinary. Holly flies over to Flint City to meet the entire group comprising Alec, Howie, Marcy, Jeanie, Ralph, and Sablo. Holly tells them of the legend of El Cuco, an ancient shape-shifting monster who derived pleasure in killing and smearing the fat of his victims all over his body.

Holly tells them of a similar incident that involved a nurse, Heath Holmes, who was arrested for killing two girls. Soon, the group deduce that a fake Heath Holmes was in the hospital, the same time as Terry. The group figures out that the Heath at the hospital was a fake and had gotten a hold of Terry’s blood by injuring him.

The group flies to Texas to prevent the next tragedy from occurring because they had deduced the next victim of The Outsider was Claude Bolton due to a similar tattoo to the one on the hands of the entity that visited both Jeanie and Grace. The Outsider, as they call him, tells Jack to travel to Texas and wait for the group so he can kill them all. On visiting Texas, the group meets Claude’s mother who tells them of the Marysville hole, which was a site of death, and soon the group heads there, knowing The Outsider loved places of death and sadness.

On their way to the cave, Jack assumes a sniper position and fires three shots killing Howie and Alec but injuring Sablo and causing their car to explode. Ralph and Holly decide to intrude into the cave after taking Sablo to safety to divert Jack from him. After a brief standoff between Jack and Ralph, Jack dies as Ralph shoots him. Soon, Ralph encounters The Outsider, who warns him to resist firing inside the cave due to its fragile nature of the cave. Holly hits The Outsider with a sock stuffed with ball bearings after he tries to attack her, and he disintegrates, dying from her attack.

On defeating The Outsider, Ralph and Holly return to living their lives, and Terry gets exonerated.


What happens in The Outsider by Stephen King?

‘The Outsider’ is about the story of the murder investigation of an 11-year-old boy, Frankie Peterson. After DNA and the questioning of witnesses, Terry Maitland, the little league’s coach is arrested as the primary suspect for Frankie’s murder. However, as the leading detective, Ralph digs deeper, he uncovers a mystery behind the crime and that leads him to encounter a great evil.

What is the Monster in The Outsider?

Referred to as The Outsider or Elcuco, the monster in ‘The Outsider’ is a shape-shifting entity that feeds on people’s pain, fear, and suffering.

Who Killed the boy in The Outsider?

Terry Maitland was arrested for the murder of Frankie Peterson. However, the culprit behind Frankie’s death was The Outsider, an evil shape-shifting entity that feeds on fear and pain.

Is The Outsider Evil?

The Outsider is an entity that kills his prey so as to feed on their pain and suffering, this makes The Outsider evil.

Is The Outsider Related to the Monster It?

Though they have similar characteristics like feeding off fear, The Outsider and It are fundamentally two different entities.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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