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Possible spoilers for the novel/movies

We see in the novel that It can take the form of whatever It chooses to be (leper, giant bird, mummy, etc.) and yet, Its primary appearance is Pennywise the Dancing Clown throughout the book and even in the past, as seen from the pictures in Mike's book.

Why exactly would It choose to be a clown when It could've chosen a scarier appearance?

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    Maybe Stephnen King find murderous clown scary. – xrorox Nov 7 '17 at 9:18
  • Sounds reasonable that the King of Horror finds clowns scary. – sudhanva Nov 7 '17 at 9:51
  • A lot of people find clowns scary. – Paul Nov 10 '17 at 13:02
  • @Paul I’ve always suspected that many people find clowns to be scary because of It. I’ve noticed a pretty clear generational divide between those who grew up before the film came out and after with regards to whether clowns in general are scary. – Thunderforge Mar 3 '18 at 15:07
  • "To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kind of scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus, and a clown killed my dad." --- Jack Handey – TheMathemagician Apr 24 '18 at 12:51
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In universe: we never find out the exactly why It is a clown. We can only guess.

It's reasonable to assume that it chooses that form to better attract children. Children being easier targets. Also, as It feeds directly on fear, luring a child away from safety with a friendly clown, only to suddenly transform into some horrible creature, would terrify any small child.

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Also when he starts eating them, they'd probably be pretty freaked out too...


Out of universe: King just thought clowns were creepy.

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    From an OoU perspective, I believe the quote from Stephen King is "I asked myself, 'What scares children more than anything else in the world?' and I realised that the answer was clowns". This is why he decided to make Pennywise a clown. – DisturbedNeo Nov 7 '17 at 14:03
  • @DisturbedNeo there's a story about him sitting near someone in full Ronald McDonald makeup on a flight and being very freaked out, I read it before but I don't know if it's true or not. – Daft Nov 7 '17 at 15:07
  • Daft is correct, yes; Pennywise liked to take the appearance of a clown in order to lure children away from prying eyes (if necessary), and in order to lull them into a false sense of security/surprise. The quote, supporting this, from the novel is: "The fears of children could often be summoned up in a single face . . . and if bait were needed, why, what child did not love a clown?" - Pennywise It, Under the City, 3 – XeLa Dec 13 '17 at 23:50
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To bait small children.

From the novel, talking about why It prefered children to adults,

The fears of children were simpler and usually more powerful. The fears of children could often be summoned up in a single face . . . and if bait were needed, why, what child did not love a clown?

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