The sci-fi horror gem returned to Netflix in May 2022, so here’s everything we know about the Stranger Things Season 4 monster, Vecna. Previous entries in the series have had their links with the Dungeons and Dragons game, and that’s the same again this time around, so here’s what we’ve been able to uncover from the dark lore of D&D.
Where series 1 had the Demogorgon and both 2 & 3 focused on the nefarious efforts of the Mind Flayer, everything was stacked to introduce a new monster for Season 4. Not only would this give the series more clout and novelty, but it also seemed necessary, because the Mind Flayer was destroyed in the explosion at the end of Season 3.Advertisement If that wasn’t enough to point towards a new super-powered creature arriving in Hawkins, series creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, also hinted this with the announcement statement. In it they said, “Meanwhile, back in the states, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long buried, something that connects everything.”
Clearly, we were getting a new monster for Season 4, so that led to the question, what’s it going to be? To start with, we’ll give you the low down on the full reveal of Vecna in the trailer, along with how his story came together in Stranger Things 4.Advertisement You can also read more about our pre-trailer theory options that were available from Dungeons and Dragons. After that, you can also read our initial primary theory on it, including how it might have connected everything, and as it turns out it was kind of right and also wide of the mark for the origin of the monster.
Who is the Stranger Things Season 4 monster, Vecna
The creepy looking human figure of the Stranger Things Season 4 monster was initially revealed in the arrival of the trailer. It didn’t take more than a few seconds after it dropped for images of the beast to run rot around the internet and you can check him out in all his creepy glory in the image above.Advertisement He makes his first appearance in the Netflix show in Episode 1: The Hellfire Club when he harrasses and strikes for his first victim, school cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham. When the gang finally peace together the initial clues they liken the monster to a character called Vecna from Dungeons and Dragons.
Vecna was a mortal man who used the darkest powers of wizardry to become an immortal being called a Lich in D&D. The comparison turns out to be pretty much bang on the money and Vecna continues to target troubled kids at Hawkins High.
Monster options from the Dungeons and Dragons game
To start with, it was easy to discount a lot of the monsters from D&D, just because they don’t all fit in with the style and nature of Stranger Things and it’s Upside Down dark dimension. This includes any of the giants or dragons, which just don’t tie in at all, as well as other creatures like an Owlbears or Rust Monster.
There are plenty more that match the style of the series, like Kua Toa, Displacer Beast, Yuan-Ti, Kobold and Slaad, but they don’t work well with the details from the Duffer Brothers. We’re looking for something “long buried” that has the potential to connect everything, and these just don’t fit in whatsoever even with a significant skew adaptation from their Dungeons and Dragons origins.
That leaves the list below and while some of them are more outside bets than dead certs, we’ve included all possibilities just to cover all of the bases. However, we’ll make a call in the next section about which are more likely and why (you might be able to piece it together for yourself, though, from their descriptions), and don’t be too thrown by the physical descriptions of the monsters, because Stranger Things has never been faithful to these anyway:
Mammon – this horned snake beast is obsessed with material possessions and pursues its target relentlessly. It hails from a stinking realm that is apparently built upon the bodies of the dead.Advertisement Lich – these are creatures that form when a wizard turns to the dark power of the underworld to be able to live for longer. They become power-hungry maniacs in the process, with a gaunt human appearance and an unending thirst for even more dark power.
Umber Hulk – this man-eating beast digs under ground to find its quarry. It has a mind-wiping power whenever anyone gazes into its eyes. They look like a cross between John Cena and a beetle, but then the Mind Flayer in Dungeons and Dragons looks nothing like the one in Stranger Things Season 2 & 3, so don’t read too much into this.
Gelatinous Cube – the name should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about this monster. The main point is that they patrol the deepest recesses of dungeons and are filled with the skeletal remains of their previously devoured prey.
Bulette – these beauties are essentially shark-like quadrupeds that swim underground using their powerful claws. They were thought to be extinct for years.
Asmodeus – this king of devils’ original form is that of a miles long serpent located at the very bottom of a rift. However, it is able to send out humanoid shadows of itself to do its bidding. It’s incredibly old, powerful and reclusive, so no one has ever stumbled upon it without stumbling to their death.
Beholder – this unholy blob of eyes and teeth is incredibly powerful. It can also cancel out the power of its enemies, and lives in a lair. It engenders bad will in its minions and is able to enslave anyone it meets.
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The most likely monster candidates
So that’s the list of possible culprits, but it’s easy to dismiss Bulette from being a contender. It may well swim underground, but that isn’t enough to make it “long buried” and connected to everything. The main reason for this is that we think the Duffer brothers’ statement has a double meaning. The term “long buries” is both underground and a reference to death in some way and the Bulette doesn’t quite fit the bill.
There’s a slightly more tenuous link with the Gelatinous Cube with its floating deceased inside it’s square jelly belly, but no matter how you contrive it, you’ll be hard pressed to easily say it could connect everything somehow.
At this point, it’s probably worth laying out all of our cards. Essentially, we think that the reference is to El’s papa, Doctor Brenner, who looked set for instant death at the end of Season 1. However, in Season 2, Eleven finds out that Matthew Modine’s character is still alive somehow. This would be both the long buried reference and the connection to everything. The question now is how it could tie in with the Season 4 monster.Advertisement That leads on to the lower ranked possibilities like the Umber Hulk. If this creature managed to stumble on Brenner just before he was about to bite the big one and wiped his mind clean then it could have left him alive, but with zero memory of anything. The problem with this option is that is doesn’t really leave us with that much of a terrifying prospect in terms of the monster, but maybe it’s getting supersized for the 2022 return to Hawkins.
We’re also unconvinced of Mammon’s potential, because its material obsession doesn’t really tie in with Dr Brenner’s character at all, or with the style of Stranger Things to-date. However, the remaining three monsters all fit the bill a little better.
Brenner could have survived by becoming one of the Beholder’s slaves and the ability to take away other people’s powers would definitely make it a good monster to go up against Eleven. The production would have to do a similar thing with the Mind Flayer to make the Beholder more in keeping with the show, but that’s definitely doable.
It’s a similar story with Asmodeus, which could have made Brenner its avatar if he discovered it after somehow cheating death and fleeing from the Demogorgon at the end of Season 1. However, our favourite option is the Lich. Maybe Brenner had an ace up his sleeve, which he played right at the death, turning him into a dark sorcerer. Again, it’ll need a D&G to Stranger Things transformation to make it work, but its definitely got merit.