Father Callahan from Wolves of the Calla. Art by Bernie Wrightson.
Father Callahan
Gender Male
Occupation Priest
Enemies Vampires
First appearance Salem's Lot
Created by Stephen King
32x28px The Dark Tower Portal

Father Donald Frank Callahan is a fictional character created by Stephen King. He originally appeared in 'Salem's Lot and later the Dark Tower, appearing in Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah and finally The Dark Tower. He is an alcoholic with a troubled faith.


When the town of Jerusalem's Lot is overrun by vampires, Father Callahan lends his support to local writer Ben Mears, his girlfriend Susan Norton, the young Mark Petrie, teacher Matt Burke and local doctor Jimmy Cody to put an end to the nocturnal creatures. His faith falters in the presence of the leader of the vampires in Jerusalem's Lot, Kurt Barlow. After saving Mark Petrie from the vampire, his faith fails and he is dependent on his crucifix which soon loses its powers. Barlow tears open his own throat and forces the priest to drink his blood, taunting him by calling him 'shaman' and ultimately damning him.

Defeated, Callahan returns to his church, but burns his hand on the door and is refused entrance. Callahan leaves the town on a bus, bemoaning how 'unclean' he has become.

After fleeing 'Salem's Lot, Callahan arrives in New York City, and becomes a vagrant. Now able to sense vampires, he realizes that they live and hunt all around him. His alcoholism gets worse but after he starts working at a homeless shelter, he begins to recover. He befriends several people, such as Rowan Magruder and Lupe Delgado. Callahan later develops a deep fondness for Lupe and later admits to having fallen in love with him. He wonders if this means he is gay, but despite a brief kiss on the cheek, nothing physical occurs between them.

Callahan learns that there are three types of vampires. The Type Ones are the most powerful ones and are almost immortal. They can spread vampirism to others and create Type Two vampires. Kurt Barlow was a Type One. Type Twos are more common and can create other Type Twos or Type Threes. Lastly, the Type Threes cannot spread vampirism but can spread diseases that travel by blood, such as HIV. Callahan refers to them as 'mosquitoes'. After Lupe is infected by a Type Three vampire and dies from AIDS, Callahan begins to kill vampires (mostly Type Threes). This attracts the attention of the Crimson King and his soldiers, the Low Men or "can-toi". The Hitler Brothers, two hoodlums who murder Jews, black people and homosexuals and carve swastikas on their victim's foreheads, are hired to find Callahan. They torture Rowan Magruder, who later dies of his wounds, in hopes of finding him.


Father Callahan from The Dark Tower. Art by Michael Whelan.

They later find and attack Callahan, and carve a cross on his forehead, intending it to become a swastika. But before they can finish the swastika, Callahan is rescued by Calvin Tower and Aaron Deepneau, two men who figure prominently later in Roland's quest. The Hitler Brothers flee, and are later killed by the Low Men. Callahan is later lured into a building by Richard Sayre, a Low Man, and several vampires. Rather than being infected, he escapes out a window and commits suicide.

After his death, he wakes up in the Way Station, where he encounters Walter o'Dim who gives him Black Thirteen, one of the "Bends" in the Wizard's Rainbow. Walter apparently does so in the hopes that it will kill Roland Deschain later in his journey. It transports him to the Doorway Cave outside Calla Bryn Sturgis, where he leads a new life and over the next five years attempts to teach the locals his religion.

Roughly every twenty-three years, the Callas are raided by Wolves, which turn out to be robotic soldiers serving the Crimson King. These Wolves steal half of the Calla's children, who return a few months later "roont". "Roont" (ruined) children are sterile, mentally handicapped, grow to be larger and stronger than other children, and die painfully at a younger age. When Roland and his ka-tet arrive, Callahan seeks their help to defeat the Wolves. During their stay, he shares with them his story since the events of 'Salem's Lot. The Wolves are defeated with the help of the ka-tet, but Susannah becomes possessed by the demon succubus known as Mia and escapes via the Doorway Cave. There, Callahan discovers a copy of the novel 'Salem's Lot, in which he is a major character, causing him to question his reality.

Roland and Eddie plan to go to the Dixie Pig in New York while Jake and Pere Callahan plan to see Calvin Tower (the man who saved Callahan) and Stephen King in Maine. Callahan hopes to question Stephen King about his existence. But something goes wrong, and Jake and Callahan end up sucked through the door to New York, in the year 1999. After finding the hotel where Susannah/Mia left Black Thirteen, Pere Callahan and Jake move Black Thirteen to a storage locker in the World Trade Center, commenting rather aptly about how a building falling on it might destroy it. They go to the Dixie Pig, where they prepare to ambush an army of Low Men and vampires.

After they launch their attack on the Low Men and vampires, Father Callahan sends Jake on ahead while he draws the attention of their enemies. He realized that the power of his faith transcends such objects as the cross or the sigil of the turtle he was using to ward off his enemies. He was able to take down many of the creatures, but there are too many. As the vampires swarm around him, Callahan chooses death over becoming one of them and puts a gun under his chin. Right before taking his own life, he calls out to Roland and his companions across time and space. His final words are a benediction addressed to Roland: "May you find your Tower, Roland, and breach it, ...and may you climb to the top!" Subsequently, he commits suicide, pulling the trigger, as the hordes of dark soldiers close in on him.

Other Versions

Deleted Scene

The original draft of "Salem's Lot" originally depicted a different fate for Callahan. Rather than forced to drink Barlow's blood and leaving town damned, he marks the vampire with a knife before committing suicide. Furious, the vampire desecrates the priest's body, decapitating it and hanging it upside down. This scene was changed by King before he originally published the story, though it was included in a section of deleted scenes featured in the deluxe limited edition released by Centipede Press in 2005 and the later trade edition.

1979 Miniseries

In the "1979 Salems Lot" miniseries, Father Callahan is featured only as a minor character. He is played by James Gallery. Callahan is first briefly seen officiating at the funeral of Danny Glick. Later, Ben Mears and Susan Norton have a brief interview with him where they try to convince him to join them against the evil in the town. Callahan is skeptical and makes a brief comment on how the Church's view of evil has changed. Soon afterwards, Callahan is at the Petrie house to talk to Mark and his parents about Mark's nocturnal experiences. Abruptly, with a surge of electricity and a tremor, the vampire Barlow enters, kills the Petrie parents, seizes Mark and challenges Callahan. The exchange, although shortened, is much the same as in the original novel, only with Straker, now also present, interpreting for the more monstrous and less articulate Barlow. Barlow lets Mark go in order to confront Callahan, who falteringly hold on to his Crucifix while facing the vampire. Barlow plucks the Crucifix from the priest's hand, and Callahan is not seen again, presumably killed.

1995 radio drama

In the (1995) BBC radio-dramatization of the 'Salem's Lot novel, Callahan was voiced and played by Nigel Anthony.

2004 Miniseries


James Cromwell as Father Callahan.

In the "2004 'Salems Lot" miniseries, the priest was portrayed by actor James Cromwell. The beginning of the film shows an event taking place after most of the story; the protagonist Ben Mears enter a homeless shelter and see Father Callahan giving out food.

Mears confronts Callahan and chases him up some stairs where they struggle. This ends as Mears pushes Callahan out the window; the two of them landing on a police car. The rest of the film is told in flashback as Ben explains to a hospital orderly why he did what he did.

Callahan is more or less portrayed the same way that he did in the original novel (although there is a scene with him browsing what could be a Satanic porn site) but with a significant difference. After Barlow forces him to drink his blood, Callahan does not leave town in shame. Instead, he takes Straker's place as Barlow's slave after Straker's death. Callahan later visits Matt Burke in the hospital and impales him with his cane.

As Ben Mears is telling his story to the orderly, Callahan is suffocated with a pillow by Mark Petrie in the hospital.

Although Cromwell's acting ability was well favored among both fans and critics, the change to his character upset many fans as they represented a stark departure from the canon established by Stephen King. The last three Dark Tower books feature not only the return of Callahan, but his redemption, making his turn to evil seem out of character and even blasphemous to them. Template:DarkTower