|Based on||Castle Rock|
by Stephen King
|Theme music composer||Thomas Newman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||20|
|Running time||35-60 minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||July 25, 2018 -|
Castle Rock is an American psychological horror anthology web television series, featuring and inspired by characters, settings, and themes from the stories created by Stephen King and his fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. The series premiered on July 25, 2018 on Hulu. It was created by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, and stars André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy, and Sissy Spacek in its first season. On August 14, 2018, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a second season, which premiered on October 23, 2019.
Castle Rock combines "the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King's best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland."
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||10||July 25, 2018||September 12, 2018|
|2||10||October 23, 2019||December 11, 2019|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date||Prod.|
|1||1||"Severance"||Michael Uppendahl||Sam Shaw & Dustin Thomason||July 25, 2018||T50.10001|
|In 1991 Castle Rock, Maine, Sheriff Alan Pangborn finds missing child Henry Deaver standing on the town's frozen lake. Twenty-seven years later, on his last day as warden of Shawshank State Penitentiary, Dale Lacy commits suicide. His successor, Theresa Porter, plans to reopen a long-abandoned cell block so that she can maintain the growing inmate population. While counting the beds, guard Dennis Zalewski comes across a mysterious, unaccounted-for inmate locked in an underground cage. The Kid, upon being released, whispers Henry's full name. Porter refuses to involve Henry, who is now a death-row lawyer, but Zalewski anonymously calls him. After returning to Castle Rock and reconnecting with Pangborn and his dementia-suffering mother Ruth, Henry attempts to learn more about The Kid only for Porter to stonewall him. Zalewski, meanwhile, discovers that The Kid has escaped and slaughtered several other guards. In a flashback, it is revealed that Henry's father went missing around the same time he did and was found dead. In a second flashback, Lacy tells The Kid to ask for Henry when the time comes.|
|2||2||"Habeas Corpus"||Michael Uppendahl||Sam Shaw & Dustin Thomason||July 25, 2018||T50.10009|
|Henry tries to learn more about the events at Shawshank from Lacy's widow only to be kicked out when she accuses him of killing his father. Zalewski discovers that the mass slaughter was all in his head and confronts The Kid. Pangborn meets with Porter, telling her he found a letter written by Lacy. In the letter, he states his belief that the Devil had taken on the form of a boy and that he locked him away because God told him to. Porter immediately places The Kid in a new cell only for his cellmate to die of cancer.|
|3||3||"Local Color"||Dan Attias||Gina Welch||July 25, 2018||T50.10002|
|Henry is still missing and his father is on life support. Henry asks Molly to put his mother's house on the market. Zalewski asks Henry to befriend The Kid. Molly has a flashback to the night Henry disappeared. Henry takes Molly to her meeting for a TV show.|
|4||4||"The Box"||Michael Uppendahl||Scott Brown||August 1, 2018||T50.10003|
|Henry experiences flashbacks from when he went missing and goes to the home of a suspect in his case. He finds the suspect who gives him the police file associated with his disappearance. Meanwhile, Henry's father's casket arrives at the church. Henry decides to take the prison's offer for the Kid, claiming he wants to go back to his family. Zalewski has an encounter with the Kid. When Henry tells him that he will take the settlement, Zalewski takes a gun and shoots many officers inside the prison before being gunned down himself, in front of Henry.|
|5||5||"Harvest"||Andrew Bernstein||Lila Byock||August 8, 2018||T50.10004|
|Henry's father's casket arrives at the church before it's moved to the new plot, and the pastor tells Henry that something odd is happening; the casket is dripping blood, but this shouldn't be happening because his father died a long time ago. Wildfires are raging near Castle Rock. Shawshank releases the Kid and Henry sets him up in the room above Molly's office. The Kid wanders into a family's dinner/birthday celebration and seemingly causes a violent end. Jackie finds the Kid and hangs out with him. Alan is honored at a bridge-naming ceremony, during which Ruth is spooked by a dog and jumps off the bridge and into the water. Alan and Henry speak with her at the hospital. Alan discovers the Kid in the forest. Alan states that the Kid hasn't aged a day since 1991 and the Kid offers to help Ruth.|
|6||6||"Filter"||Kevin Hooks||Vinnie Wilhelm & Marc Bernardin||August 15, 2018||T50.10005|
|The episode opens with the second funeral and burial of Matthew Deaver, Henry's adoptive father. Henry begins to hear a ringing in his ear which he also experienced as a child. The Kid tells Alan to find Warden Lacy's old car in order to save Ruth's memory. Henry brings the Kid to Juniper Hills Psychiatric Hospital. Henry's son Wendell comes to visit. Ruth describes to Wendell how she uses chess pieces to help her memory. Henry goes to Molly to discuss the flashbacks he has of his father bringing him into the woods and Molly admits to murdering his father. Henry goes into the same woods that his father brought him into as a child. He discovers two campers, Odin, a deaf man, and Willie, his interpreter. Odin claims that the ringing Henry hears is a schisma, which Henry's father believed was the Voice of God. He tricks Henry into an anechoic chamber in their camper where he begins to hallucinate his father. The Kid has escaped Juniper Hills by setting a fire and Alan finds him on the front porch of the Deaver home with a bloody hand. Alan rushes into the house to try and find Ruth.|
|7||7||"The Queen"||Greg Yaitanes||Sam Shaw||August 22, 2018||T50.10006|
|The timeline shifts between the past and present, at once recounting Ruth's life with Henry as a boy, scenes from previous episodes now through Ruth's point of view, and the Kid's mysterious intrusion into Ruth's house in the present. Ruth recalls Matthew Deaver's first time hearing "the voice of God" and her relationship with Alan Pangborn. Expanding upon a scene from a previous episode, Wendell interprets Ruth's dementia with a VR game, calling Ruth a "timewalker," who must defeat her nemesis, Matthew Deaver in the form of the Kid. Back in the present, Ruth sends Wendell away to protect him. The Kid makes dinner for Ruth, and tells her to eat a sedative. In response, Ruth distracts the Kid by asking him to draw her a bath, does not take the pill, and runs upstairs to find a revolver. While at first she does not remember where the bullets are, her memories lead her to unpack the bullets in her suitcase. Returning to the events at the beginning of the episode, Ruth hides in the shed with the loaded revolver, ready to shoot the Kid when he walks through. Instead, she shoots and kills Alan Pangborn by accident as he walks through.|
|8||8||"Past Perfect"||Ana Lily Amirpour||Mark Lafferty||August 29, 2018||T50.10007|
|Gordon and Lilith, who bought Lacy's house, turn it into a murder-story bed and breakfast. Gordon, who has trouble forgiving Lilith over her affair, murders their first booking – who are cheating on their spouses. That same night, Molly's "connection" to Henry draws her to the woods, where she frees him from the locked chamber in Odin's camper, though neither of them see Odin's murdered corpse nearby. While The Kid tells Henry about Ruth killing Alan, and that he has waited for Henry for 27 years, Henry's son Wendell calls in the state police. The Kid runs off and is suspected in Alan's murder. Henry breaks into Lacy's (now Gordon's) house and finds Lacy's 27-years of drawings of an unchanging The Kid. Gordon and Lilith find him and try to kill him, fearful he'll reveal the murder of their lodgers. In the melee, Lilith accidentally stabs herself in the jugular, while Jackie Torrance arrives and saves Henry by burying an axe in Gordon's skull. The Kid visits Molly and finally starts talking, beginning with how he has seen her die in the woods.|
|9||9||"Henry Deaver"||Julie Anne Robinson||Vinnie Wilhelm & Scott Brown||September 5, 2018||T50.10008|
|The Kid reveals to Molly that he is Henry Deaver, the biological son of Ruth and Pastor Matthew from an alternate reality. In a flashback in the Kid's universe, Ruth followed through on leaving her troubled husband in 1991, taking her child and fleeing to Boston. After they left, the Pastor was not murdered by 12-year-old Molly, but did find 12-year-old Henry who went missing in 1991 in his reality. In 2018, this Pastor Deaver commits suicide, and grown white Henry finds the adopted Henry in a cage in the basement. White adult Henry and his Molly talk to adopted Henry, who insists the voices are calling him to the woods. When Molly touches his hand, she sees the first 12 years of the Molly and Henry of his reality. Molly and white Henry take adopted Henry to the woods near Castle Lake, where they see people from centuries of multiple realities. Molly is accidentally killed, adopted Henry returns to his reality, and white Henry follows him, becoming the Kid.|
|10||10||"Romans"||Nicole Kassell||Dustin Thomason & Mark Lafferty||September 12, 2018||T50.10010|
|Molly explains to Henry what she has learned from The Kid regarding their intersecting lives and realities. Henry and The Kid are arrested as suspects in the flurry of deaths. In jail, The Kid tells Henry that bad follows him because he is an anomaly to this reality, and that they must go together to Castle Lake before the sounds, signifying the realities are touching, disappear. More strange deaths occur, leading to some Shawshank inmates slaughtering civilians and officers at the Castle Rock jail. Henry and The Kid escape in the confusion, with The Kid forcing Henry, at gunpoint, to Castle Lake. Henry starts to remember his experience with his father in 1991, including the fact that he pushed Preacher Deaver off a cliff for planning to kill his mother, Ruth. Henry overpowers The Kid, who briefly becomes a monstrous creature. One year later, Henry is living in Castle Rock as a property lawyer, Molly is a successful real estate agent in the Florida Keys and The Kid is imprisoned in the now-abandoned Shawshank. In a mid-credits scene, Jackie talks to Dean Merrill about the book she is writing and her plans to travel west to research her family history.|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date||Prod.|
|11||1||"Let the River Run"||Greg Yaitanes||Dustin Thomason||October 23, 2019||T50.10201|
|Annie Wilkes and her teenage daughter Joy have been traveling on the road since Joy was a child, and are stranded in Castle Rock following a car accident. They take a room at the Stargazer Lodge, owned by Ace Merrill. Ace has a troubled relationship with his uncle, "Pop" Merrill, who raised Ace and his brother Chris, alongside two Somalian orphan refugees, Abdi and Nadia Howlwadaag. Ace owns a mall property and is losing tenants to Abdi's new development at Salem's Lot, which worsens the friction between them. Annie gets a temp job as an RN at the local hospital where Nadia is a doctor. Short of medication to control her hallucinations, Annie breaks into Nadia's house to steal Nadia's passkey for the secured pharmaceuticals room at the hospital; she's nearly caught, but Ace firebombs the house and Annie escapes. Later, Ace enters Annie's room to threaten Joy, who he knows witnessed him preparing the Molotov cocktails, and Annie kills him.|
|12||2||"New Jerusalem"||Phil Abraham||K'naan Warsame||October 23, 2019||T50.10202|
|While trying to dispose Ace's body, Annie falls through a chasm in the newly-excavated area of Abdi's future mall and encounters dozens of coffins. Leaving the body, she escapes through underground passages and surfaces at the nearby Marsten House, which is occupied by squatters. Nadia tells Pop about Ace's attack. Pop searches the town for Ace, and follows the trail to Annie, who claims that Ace was taken into the woods with a dark-skinned man with a gun. Pop interrogates Abdi and tries to extort a confession from him, but suffers a stroke and collapses. Joy, happy to be making some friends her own age, objects when Annie says they have to leave town. Ace returns from the dead.|
|13||3||"Ties That Bind"||Anne Sewitsky||Scott Brown & Obehi Janice||October 23, 2019||T50.10203|
|Abdi takes Pop to the hospital, where he recovers but learns that his cancer treatments have failed and that he only has a few weeks left to live. Joy has a good time with Chance and the other kids (in homage to Stand By Me) at Castle Lake. When Joy returns to the lodge, Annie confesses that she murdered Ace but that he's back from the dead and is stalking them. Joy, believing that Annie is having a psychotic break, acts on an agreed-upon emergency plan and ties Annie to the bed to ensure that she takes her meds. Annie smashes a glass and uses the shards to cut her bonds. During a struggle, Annie cuts Joy with the glass, and Joy flees. The undead Ace visits Pop in the hospital, and lures other people to Marsten House, which is being cleaned up.|
|14||4||"Restore Hope"||Phil Abraham||Guy Busick & R. Christopher Murphy||October 30, 2019||T50.10204|
|Joy flees to the local church and is taken into the care of Nadia, who recognizes her as Annie's daughter. Chance goes to Annie and Joy's room to take Joy's things, including Annie's locked box. When Joy gets the box, she opens it to find a gun, several license plates, and a CD-ROM. Pop, embracing his oncoming death, throws an Irish wake for friends and family. Ace takes Chris to the church where he recounts parts of the history of Jerusalem's Lot, including the presence of a mysterious cult several hundred years prior, and then stabs him. Chris staggers out but is killed by the priest, who has also been converted to the cult. Nadia goes through Pop's papers for his VA info that she needs to get him into a trial for a new cancer treatment, and discovers that he was on tour Somalia. She confronts Pop and, realizing that he was the soldier who killed her and Abdi's mother, storms out.|
|15||5||"The Laughing Place"||Anne Sewitsky||Vince Calandra & Daria Polatin||November 6, 2019||T50.10205|
|In extended flashback, Annie as a child is removed from school after she lashes out violently at a bully. She is homeschooled by her father, who uses a novel he's writing as a teaching tool, and as a teenager is taught by Rita, a language tutor. After Annie's father leaves them, Annie's mother attempts to kill both herself and Annie by driving her car into a lake; Annie's mother drowns but Annie survives and is taken in by her father. Shortly thereafter, Rita and Annie's father reveal that they are in a relationship, and that Rita's baby daughter Evangeline, who was conceived when Annie's parents were still together, is his. When Annie's father finishes his book, Annie is enraged that he'd dedicated it to Rita, and pushes him down the stairs, killing him. Annie stabs Rita and flees with Evangeline. Annie intends to commit murder-suicide with Evangeline, but changes her mind when Evangeline laughs joyfully. In the present, Joy accesses the CD-ROM, which contains Annie's father's novel. Joy does an internet search for the name in the dedication, and her call is picked up by Rita, who survived Annie's attack and is still alive.|
|16||6||"The Mother"||Mark Tonderai-Hodges||Daria Polatin & Vince Calandra||November 13, 2019||T50.10206|
|Joy's call to Rita is dropped but Rita, who has not stopped searching for her daughter, tracks the call to Castle Rock and goes there. Rita reunites with Joy and explains the full story of her true identity; Joy is overwhelmed and asks for time to decide if she wants to go with Rita or not. Joy goes to see Annie, who gives her a letter of love and regret but lets Joy go. When Annie returns to the lodge, Rita is waiting for her with a gun, and the two go out into the woods. Joy follows them and injects Rita with a tranquilizer; Rita drops the gun, which goes off and kills her. The police arrive and Annie, to protect Joy, claims that she did it. More townspeople are killed and converted to Ace's cult, including Chris. The cult is centered at Marsten House, which is renovated and decorated with cult drawings. One of the victims temporarily escapes before the conversion is complete, due to her medication slowing the process.|
|17||7||"The Word"||Loni Peristere||Guy Busick & R. Christopher Murphy||November 20, 2019||T50.10207|
|In extended flashback to four hundred years prior, a group of French settlers in New Jerusalem are starving until one of them, Amity, has an encounter with a hooded "angel" and returns with food, land fertility, and a new religion. Those who reject the new religion are killed. Amity is eventually commanded by the angel that all of them must die in ritualistic murder and await resurrection in four hundred years. The last to be killed is Amity's lover, Pere Augustin, who is the first to be resurrected in the present day in the vessel of Ace Merrill. Augustin has decided that Annie is to be Amity's vessel, because she was the one who woke them. Pop learns that Ace/Augustin and his cultists searched for a caged man in Shawshank prison, but the cage was empty. The Castle Rock anniversary parade marches through town and stops in front of the church, where the priest reveals a wooden statue of the hooded angel. Everyone who sees it is hypnotized, except Pop who doesn't look at it and flees.|
|18||8||"Dirty"||Craig William Macneill||Michael Olsen & K. Corrine Van Vliet||November 27, 2019||T50.10208|
|The cultists hypnotize almost all the people in Castle Rock into being Amity's mindless army. Annie and Joy are brought by the cultists to Marsten House. Augustin changes out Annie's meds to "clean" her for use as a vessel, causing her to hallucinate. Augustin sees Joy's drawings, which are reminiscent of Amity's art, and decides that she is Amity's true vessel. Annie fights off the cultists and almost escapes with Joy, but Joy is hypnotized, forcing Annie to leave on her own. Chris, possessed by the cultist Bertrand, tries to kill Nadia but she fights back. Thinking that Chris is having a psychotic break, Nadia injects him with Haldol, which allows Chris to temporarily take control of his body and save Nadia from other cultists, before he dies again of his wounds.|
|19||9||"Caveat Emptor"||Greg Yaitanes||Scott Brown||December 4, 2019||T50.10209|
|Pop, Nadia, Chance, Abdi and Annie -- all still sound of mind -- find each other and arm themselves at Pop's reinforced Emporium shop. Augustin and his army surround the shop, offering to allow them to go free if Pop hands over letters written by Warden Lacy to Sheriff Pangborn about the "devil" he kept in a cage. The group of survivors share information about the threat, and Pop realizes that the cultists are searching for their "angel", which might be the man in the cage, and burns Lacy's letters. The cultists attack the Emporium. Nadia, Abdi, Annie and Chance escape, but Pop stays behind to give them more time. Aware that he will be "converted" if killed, Pop tries to blow himself up to make the process more difficult, but the bomb doesn't go off. Augustin shoots Pop in the head, killing him.|
|20||10||"Clean"||Lisa Brühlmann||Dustin Thomason & Michael Olsen||December 11, 2019||T50.10210|
|The cultists prepare for a sunset ritual, which includes Joy dressed up in Amity's likeness. Pop is awakened as "Etienne", who tells Augustin the content of Lacy's letters: there is a schisma at Castle Lake that allows their angel to cross dimensions at will. Annie, Nadia, Abdi and Chance return to Salem's Lot; Annie and Chance go to Marsten House to find Joy, while Nadia and Abdi place explosives in the underground tunnels. "Etienne" reveals himself to still be Pop, who injected himself with Haldol before he died, and he helps Nadia and Abdi set up the explosives. The bombs go off, breaking the hypnotic hold over the townsfolk. Pop is killed again in the explosion, Annie finds Joy, and the angel sees the explosion from Castle Lake and disappears. One week later, Annie and Joy leave Castle Rock. Joy remains distant, and Annie mistakenly concludes that she is still possessed by a cultist and drowns her, only to learn her error afterward. Annie frantically tries to revive Joy and seemingly succeeds; the pair reconcile and revive their loving relationship. However, Annie is merely hallucinating Joy's recovery. The final scene is of Annie and "Joy" waiting for a book-signing with "their" favorite author Paul Sheldon.|
On February 17, 2017, it was announced that Hulu, J. J. Abrams, and Stephen King were collaborating on a new series entitled Castle Rock, based on King's large canon of work. It was further reported that the series would be written by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, produced by Abrams' Bad Robot Productions, and distributed by Warner Bros. Television. Four days later, Hulu revealed that they had given the production a series order consisting of a first season of ten episodes, and executive producers would include Abrams, King, Shaw, Thomason, Ben Stephenson, and Liz Glotzer. On July 12, 2017, it was announced that Michael Uppendahl was joining the production as a co-executive producer and would direct the pilot episode.
On May 11, 2017, it was announced that André Holland had been cast in the series' lead role. In June 2017, Jane Levy, Sissy Spacek, and Melanie Lynskey had joined the main cast. On July 10, 2017, Bill Skarsgård was set to join the roster. In August 2017, it was reported that Scott Glenn and Terry O'Quinn had been added as series regulars, and on March 1, 2018, it was announced that Chosen Jacobs had joined in the recurring role of Wendell Deaver, the son of Holland's character. On June 8, 2018, it was announced during the annual ATX Television Festival that Allison Tolman will have the recurring role of Lynsky's character's sister, and five days later, it was reported that Noel Fisher was also on board.
In March 2019, it was announced that the season 2 cast would feature Lizzy Caplan, Tim Robbins, Garrett Hedlund, Elsie Fisher, Yusra Warsama, Barkhad Abdi and Matthew Alan in lead roles. Hedlund's role was later recast with Paul Sparks. On April 17, 2019, it was reported that John Hoogenakker had been cast in an undisclosed recurring role for season 2.
Principal photography for the first season was expected to take place in Massachusetts, in locations such as Orange, Massachusetts, and at New England Studios in Devens, Massachusetts. In August 2017, production began in Devens and in Orange, where the downtown area had been refitted to appear as the town of Castle Rock, and where production was expected to continue through January 2018. That month, crews also shot scenes at Vernon Hill School in Worcester, Massachusetts, and at an old Victorian house in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Filming returned to Orange during the week of August 21 for production of the series' second episode. In late September 2017, filming took place in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, at The Public Health Museum on the campus of the Tewksbury State Hospital. In October 2017, filming took place at the Central Cemetery in Orange where a funeral scene was shot. The downtown area was refitted with a more modern look in November for another phase of production. From September 4, 2017 until the end of the month, production took place at the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia, which appeared as the fictional Shawshank State Prison. On November 21, 2017, filming took place in Worcester in the lobby of the Mercantile Building, which had been refitted into a boardroom. On December 18, 2017, production for the season finale began. By January, all filming in Orange was completed, and the production proceeded to donate $3,500 dollars to the town. The Fire Department received $2,500 for helping facilitate production, and the Trustees of Soldiers' Memorial will receive another $1,000.
Visual effects were used to alter seasons, including adding snow to scenes in which there was no snow on location, as well as to create a forest fire in episode five.
In 2019, it was reported that filming for second season would take place at additional Massachusetts locations, including a former meat factory building in Clinton, and several properties in Gardner.. The nurses house was filmed in Hudson, MA
The song "Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa" is used three times during the first season, including the first song heard in the premiere (Gene Pitney's 1963 version) and the last song heard over the closing credits of the finale (Dusty Springfield's 1964 version). It captures the underlying situation of The Kid in the lyrics: "Dearest darling, I had to write to say that I won't be home anymore / 'Cause something happened to me while I was driving home / And I'm not the same anymore".
Simultaneously with the series announcement, Hulu released the first teaser trailer for the series. The teaser trailer mentions titles of and characters from a number of Stephen King novels, short stories, and collections including: It, Dolores Claiborne, Needful Things, 'Salem's Lot, Dreamcatcher, Night Shift, The Green Mile, Misery, Hearts in Atlantis, The Shining, "The Mangler", Four past Midnight, Different Seasons, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, The Dark Half, and "The Night Flier".
On October 8, 2017, a second teaser trailer was unveiled at the annual New York Comic Con and subsequently released online. On February 1, 2018, a thirty-second television commercial for the series was released online, and eventually aired three days later, during Super Bowl LII. Hulu reportedly paid $5 million to air the advertisement during the football game. On May 2, 2018, a third teaser trailer was released, alongside the announcement of the show's premiere date of July 25, 2018. On July 10, 2018, the first full trailer for the series was released.
On June 8, 2018, the series took part in the annual ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, where a "first look" at footage took place. Following the premiere of the footage, a question-and-answer panel occurred with creators and executive producers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason. On June 19, 2018, it was announced that the series would hold its world premiere during the show's panel at San Diego Comic Con in San Diego, California, where cast members including Sissy Spacek, Bill Skarsgård, and Melanie Lynskey were set to be in attendance.
On September 7, 2018, the series took part in the 12th Annual PaleyFest Fall Television Previews, which featured a screening of the first-season finale and a discussion with creator and executive producer Sam Shaw.
The first season was released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on digital platforms on October 15, 2018. It was then released on Blu-ray, 4K UHD Blu-ray and DVD on January 8, 2019. All ten episodes of the season were made available in the set along with exclusive bonus content.
The first season has been met with a generally positive response from critics. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds an approval rating of 87% based on 76 reviews, with an average rating of 7.49/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A meticulously crafted mystery brimming with allusions, Castle Rock is bound to please even the pickiest of Stephen King fans -- though mileage may vary for casual viewers."Metacritic assigned the first season a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Early reviews for the first season were generally positive. Colliders Dave Trumbore praised the series, saying, "Shaw, Thomason, Abrams & Co. really nail the core concepts of King's storytelling here. Each character gets a good amount of screen time to focus on introspection...Castle Rock is a can't-miss series for Stephen King fans and a must-watch horror show for fans of dark, thrilling, character-focused mysteries." In a similarly favorable critique, Entertainment Weeklys Kristen Baldwin gave the series a grade of "A-" and commended it, saying, "Though most characters are new (Scott Glenn's Alan Pangborn, a sheriff who appeared in Needful Things and The Dark Half, is one exception), for King fans the world of Castle Rock will be inescapably familiar. Spending time here feels, in many ways, like coming home -- with all of the excitement and dread such a visit entails." In another approving criticism, Ben Travers of Indiewire gave the series a grade of "B+" and complimented it, saying, "For a show that could've been dominated by its origins, Castle Rock sure has a good time breathing new life into them. Smart, fun scares; deeply felt, well-founded characters; layers of story to decipher, along with the references -- what more could you want in a new piece of the Stephen King library?" In a mixed review, Dan Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter criticized the series, saying, "The actors will offer the best incentive for the King-ambivalent to tune into Castle Rock, but I'm not sure even they will ultimately be enough to overcome the sluggish and vague story." In a negative review, Daniel D'Addario of Variety was even more disapproving, saying, "It's eerie-by-the-numbers, repeatedly telling us quite how scared we ought to be, without yet building characters for whom we feel sympathetic fear."
Among all first-season episodes, "The Queen" received particular acclaim from critics with praise being directed towards the writing and Spacek's performance. On Rotten Tomatoes, the episode holds a 100% approval rating with an average rating of 9.75 out of 10, based on 14 reviews.The Ringers Miles Surrey referred to the episode as "not only the best episode of the series, but one of the best episodes of television in 2018."Vultures Brian Tallerico awarded the episode a rating of five out of five stars and was similarly enthusiastic, saying, "Television doesn't get much more heartbreaking than "The Queen," a showcase for the legendary Sissy Spacek and one of the best hours of television this year." Aiming commendation at the episode's instrumental score, Birth.Movies.Death.s Jacob Knight wrote, "The music in Castle Rock - courtesy of composer Chris Westlake - has been nothing short of exemplary throughout the entire series, but in "The Queen" it practically becomes a character unto itself."
The second season has been met with a generally positive response from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season holds an approval rating of 93% based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 8.09/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Driven by an unsettlingly compelling Lizzy Caplan, Castle Rocks second chapter opens the borders of its titular town without losing any of its creeping atmosphere." Metacritic assigned the second season a weighted average score of 72 out of 100, based on 8 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
|2018||People's Choice Awards||The Drama Show of 2018||Castle Rock||Shortlisted|||
|2019||Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design for a One Hour
|Steve Arnold (for "The Box")||Nominated|||
|Golden Reel Awards||Sound Editing - Episodic Long Form - Effects / Foley||Tim Kimmel,
Jeffrey Wilhoit, Dylan Wilhoit,
Brett Voss (for "Severance")
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Television: Long Form - Original||Marc Bernardin, Scott Brown,
Lila Byock, Mark Lafferty,
Sam Shaw, Dustin Thomason,
Gina Welch, & Vinnie Wilhelm
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Series||Castle Rock||Nominated|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Television Series - Genre||Castle Rock||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Streaming Horror & Thriller Series||Castle Rock||Nominated|||
|Best Supporting Actress in Streaming Presentation||Sissy Spacek||Nominated|