The worlds of Stephen King often go far deeper than the surface detail presented in the stories, with fan theories regularly cropping up to delve into prominent details that go without an official explanation. One is now being offered for It, explaining why the titular entity is often seen with red balloons.
The demonic shapeshifting creature is most frequently seen as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and since clowns and balloons traditionally have a close association with one another, their appearance often heralds the arrival of the giggling menace. However, this theory states that they’re actually tied to the true form of It.
It originates in the macroverse, a gargantuan void surrounding our own universe, in which are the deadlights, a form of deadly energy from which the creature is comprised. Such is their unfathomably eldritch nature that humans are incapable of seeing them and returning unscathed, any witnesses being rendered catatonic or insane. In the story’s climax, It was only perceived as a giant spider due to that being as close as the human mind is capable of perceiving an entity of primordial fear. They were briefly represented on screen as a series of swirling orange balls of sinister radiance, and it’s here that the balloons come in.
The theory states that the balloons are not specifically a visual affectation related to the guise of Pennywise, but rather a lo-fi representation of the deadlights themselves, the floating red ovoids taking the place of the glowing spheres of raw terror. The conjecture also gives an alternative meaning to the clown’s famous line “we all float down here,” suggesting that rather than being a collective statement describing the ultimate fate of half-devoured corpses floating in rancid sewer water, the promise instead refers to the stolen souls of countless dead children holding the balloons aloft.
It’s an interesting interpretation of a simple visual detail, and is certainly plausible given the lack of definitive answers provided about the nature of It. If nothing else, the theory adds another layer of cosmic malevolence to an already highly sinister tale.