Vecna, the Villain From 'Stranger Things' Season 4 Volume 1, Explained (2022)

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Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things season 4, volume 2. The terrifying fourth season of Stranger Things premiered May 27, introducing fans to the Upside Down's ultimate villain, Vecna. In the nine episodes of volumes 1 and 2, the skeletal, gravelly-voiced monster definitely met the advanced hype, with David Harbour describing the villain as "a a psychological horror that I don’t think we’ve really seen," in a Variety (opens in new tab) interview.

As you've probably seen on Twitter, episode 7 drop ends with a twist that shakes up the entire trajectory of the series so far. Following the big reveal, episode 9 gave fans answers to long-running questions about the creatures of the Upside Down, evoking details going all the way back to season 1! Read on for our breakdown of who Vecna is and what he wants with Eleven and the unlucky town of Hawkins, Indiana.

Who is Vecna?

The big bad of Stranger Things season 4 is a humanoid monster with black skin and movable vines that protrude from his entire body. While he lives in the Upside Down, Vecna can psychically reach into the human world, kind of like the Mind Flayer's connection with Will. He makes his presence known in Hawkins by murdering the town's teenagers in a truly gruesome fashion, all through mental connections (which is especially terrifying).

Like many other Upside Down monsters, Vecna gets his name (and some of his inspiration) from Dungeons & Dragons. In game lore, the monster is a lich (a.k.a. an undead wizard) who forms an army to help him ascend to godhood, per Digital Spy (opens in new tab). The D&D monster also believes that secrets are the true source of power, and would acquire characters' secrets to gain power over them, similar to the Stranger Things villain's manner of feeding off people's trauma.

(Video) STRANGER THINGS Season 4 Volume 1 Vecna Explained

While the season 4 marks Vecna's first murder streak in Hawkins, it turns out the monster first emerged in the '50s. Super-sleuth Nancy finds out that the monster previously targeted the Creel family, led by patriarch Victor Creel. Shortly after moving to Hawkins, the family was haunted, with dead animals appearing around their house and terrible visions plaguing them. Eventually the mother, son, and daughter all died, leaving Victor to be falsely imprisoned for their murders. Nancy and Robin even visit the man in a mental asylum, where he tells them that the murders were actually done by a "demon," who also got him too, but he broke its trance (more on that later).

Vecna, the Villain From 'Stranger Things' Season 4 Volume 1, Explained (1)

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

What is Vecna's Curse?

In episode 1, we see the full brunt of Vecna's powers as they affect cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham (opens in new tab). Chrissy, who suffers from an eating disorder prompted by her emotionally abusive mother, becomes affected by headaches, nausea, nightmares, and eventually waking hallucinations related to her personal trauma. The whole curse about a week, and 24 hours after the visions start, Chrissy enters a drawn-out trance and Vecna gruesomely kills her: she levitates, all her bones break, and her eyes are gouged out.

In addition to a student newspaper reporter whose friend died in a car accident and a jock who seemed to have issues with his father, Vecna also targets Max, who is still grieving and feels guilty after her brother Billy's death. Luckily, Nancy gets to Creel before Max enters the final trance, and she learns that it was a song that broke his connection with Vecna, in a sort of music therapy. When Max is on the brink of death, Lucas plays her favorite song (in an excellent use of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill") and she's able to escape, as the music shows a hole through the vision back into the real world.

Beyond killing people, the deaths also have a grave effect on the barrier between the human dimension and the Upside Down. Every time Vecna kills a person, it opens a new gate to the Upside Down where ever the victim stood. As he keeps going, there will soon be openings to the monster-filled dimension all over Hawkins, and the barrier itself may come in danger of breaking.

Vecna, the Villain From 'Stranger Things' Season 4 Volume 1, Explained (2)

(Video) Vecna Explained | Stranger Things 4 Volume 1 Explained

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

How did Vecna come to be?

While the still-in-Hawkins branch of the Hawkins gang is investigating Vecna's origins, Eleven teams up with Dr. Owens to undergo a mysterious experiment to regain her powers. Turns out her "Papa," Dr. Brenner, has hooked up a sensory depravation tank to a computer so he can control what she sees, and makes her relive her training in Hawkins Lab to re-learn how to access her powers (she had suffered something akin to a stroke during the season 3 battle, which made her unlearn them).

During the trips, she befriends an orderly at the lab who secretly supports her while she's being bullied by older kids (a sort-of mirror to her being bullied in California). He befriended her because he recognized that she's the most powerful among the kids, and he eventually tricks her into removing a "tracker" from his skin. He immediately goes on the rampage we saw in the season's very first scene, which Eleven had thought she had caused herself, revealing that he has had powers all along. In fact, he is Number One, Brenner's very first experimental subject for enhancing telekinetic powers.

Vecna, the Villain From 'Stranger Things' Season 4 Volume 1, Explained (3)

(Image credit: Netflix)

At this point, all the floating backstories we've learned throughout the season all come together. Number One is actually Henry Creel, Victor Creel's son and assumed victim of Vecna. Henry had psychic powers as a child—we don't learn their origin—and could see into the minds of living things. After practicing on animals (hence all the dead ones around the Creel house), he could see into the minds of humans, including his parents, who had traumatic pasts. He developed a hatred for humanity, believing humans are "a unique type of pest, multiplying and poisoning our world, all while enforcing a [cruel, oppressive] structure of their own." He also found a connection with black widow spiders, who prey on weaker species and keep them from overpopulating.

While Victor thought that the strange things going on in the house were caused by a demon, his wife Virginia knew somehow that it was Henry, and wanted to get him professional help. Henry rebelled, killing her and his sister and attempting to kill his father. After using too much of his power, the boy fell into a coma and woke up under the care of Brenner, whose experiments on Eleven and the kids were actually attempts at recreating him. Eventually, unable to control the child, the scientist implanted a chip to subdue his powers.

(Video) Who Is Vecna? STRANGER THINGS Season 4 Villain Explained | Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, Charlie Heaton

How did Vecna get to the Upside Down?

One/Henry Creel asks Eleven to join him after explaining his point of view and his goal to restore balance to the world by wiping out humanity. However, El would never go for that, as she has lived as a human and wants to protect the world. So the two most powerful telekinetic humans face off, and Eleven wins. She subdues One and, in a huge twist, sends him to the Upside Down herself, opening the first ever Gate in Hawkins.

Vecna, the Villain From 'Stranger Things' Season 4 Volume 1, Explained (4)

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

While falling into the dark dimension, One/Henry is struck by lightning, disfiguring him. He's also weakened, and it takes him a while to fully recover. Sometime between being banished ahead of the events of Stranger Things around 1983, and reemerging in Hawkins in January 1986, he also grows extra appendages à la the spiders he respects. The final scene of Volume 1 shows a shot of Vecna, and a close up of the 001 tattoo on his arm, confirming that Henry Creel, a.k.a. Number One, became Vecna.

What were the inspirations for Vecna?

The Duffer Brothers (opens in new tab) and Friendly Orderly/Henry Creel/Number One/Vecna actor Jamie Campbell Bower (opens in new tab) have shared some of their inspirations for the Big Bad, which include iconic '80s villains like Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Pinhead from Hellraiser, and Pennywise from the original It film.

Also, if Game of Thrones fans saw some inklings of the Night King in Vecna's warped form, that was by design. For the prosthetic look, the Duffers tapped GoT makeup artist Barrie Gower and his prosthetic makeup company BGFX (he's also recently worked on The Witcher, The Green Knight, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). Gower told Variety (opens in new tab) that he was approached to make Stranger Things' own version of the Night King, and that the burned look of Freddy Krueger was a major inspiration.

Vecna, the Villain From 'Stranger Things' Season 4 Volume 1, Explained (5)

(Video) Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 Vecna Explained

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

What does Vecna want with El?

In his twisted mind, Vecna believes that he his helping the world by wiping out humans, as a "predator, but for good." When Vecna asks for El to join him, it's because he also sees her as a predator, "better" than humans. He offers her his path as a sort of freedom, as they reshaped the world in their image. When she refuses and casts him away, she becomes not only his enemy, but his only real threat. That's why he didn't begin his mission in Hawkins until she was powerless and gone. And why there's going to be a truly epic showdown when she gets back.

What happens with Vecna in Volume 2?

While Vecna was on offense killing kids and opening portals in Volume 1, his scenes in Volume 2 are reacting to the crew's four-phase plan to kill him. He takes Max's bait in the Creel attic, bringing her into a trance (revealed through a horrifying scene where Lucas digs into Max's worst fears before we realize he's an imitation). Max is able to get away from the villain through her memory of season 2's dance, but eventually he finds her, turning the glitzy high school gym upside down.

Eleven piggybacks into Max's trance and holds Vecna off for a few minutes before he takes control, bringing the girls to his mind palace and restraining them. He also takes the time to launch into a classic villain monologue, where we learn more about what happened to him after landing in the Upside Down. Just when he starts to break Max's bones and it looks like all is lost, Eleven taps into her power to make him stop, while the factions of the Hawkins crew attack the hive mind and Steve, Nancy, and Robin ignite his physical body.

In Vecna's monologue, we see that he wandered the Upside Down after crash-landing, learning more about the dimension, a "realm unspoiled by mankind" (where the demogorgons already existed). We also learn the "huge, great, cool thing" that Bower previously teased to The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), as the flashback confirms that Vecna created the Mind Flayer, to become the predator he always imagined. The hive mind is his mind, and he's been sending his puppets out to Hawkins since season 1.

[Also, here's a super-cool Easter egg: Eddie played the Metallica song "Master of Puppets" in an effort to take down a literal master of puppets.]

We also see flashes of his actions throughout the seasons. The gate Eleven accidentally opened while projecting her consciousness pre-season 1 was how Vecna made it back to the surface. When she kept closing his gates, first in season 1's finale then season 2's, he sought a way to get her power for himself. When El was grabbed by the Mind Flayer in season 3, he somehow took part of her power and figured out how to open the gates through the trances.

Though the Hawkins crew's plan does work, Vecna still wins in the end. He jumps out of the window of the Creel house and disappears, à la Mike Myers. When Max dies for a minute, before Eleven pulls her consciousness back, his four gates are complete, and the portals extend throughout Hawkins, killing dozens and tearing down the boundaries between the Upside Down and the surface.

Will Vecna return in season 5?

Definitely. Now that we know it was Vecna all along, he has to come back and try to finish his plan. As he tells Eleven in his mind palace, he wants Hawkins and the rest of the world "to burn and fall. I will be there to pick up the pieces when it does, and remake it into something beautiful."

(Video) Vecna Explained Part 2 | Stranger Things 4 Volume 1 Explained

Of course, the show's big finale still needs to be mysterious, and the cast and crew are tight-lipped when it comes to next season. In a Variety (opens in new tab) interview, Jamie Campbell Bower said that he "couldn't possibly say" whether he'll be back next season.

"I don’t know. Matt and Ross have their own thing going there. When they want to bring forward it, I’m sure they will. So we’ll see. We’ll wait and see what they’ve got planned for sure," he told the outlet.

FAQs

Is 001 Vecna in Stranger Things 4? ›

Who plays Vecna/Henry/001? Jamie Campbell Bower is playing the Stranger Things 4 big, bad villain.

What is Vecna trying to do? ›

The Mind Flayer as seen terrorizing Hawkins in 'Stranger Things' season 2. We learn from the first episode of Vol. 2 that Vecna just needed to kill four individuals in his Freddy Krueger-like way in order to completely break the barrier between the world of Hawkins and the world of the Upside Down.

How did Vecna become Vecna Stranger Things? ›

In a fit of rage, Henry used his restored powers to brutally murder the other test subjects, and attempted to do the same to Eleven. However, Eleven stood her ground and ultimately overpowered him, sending him through a gate to the Upside Down; there, he gradually transformed into the being known as Vecna.

Are Vecna and 001 the same? ›

Not only is Vecna the new alter-ego of 001 after being banished to the Upside Down, but he is also the son of Victor Creel.

How old was 001 when he became Vecna? ›

001 is is 32-years-old in 1979

Given the fact he was born in 1947, around the time of the Hawkins lab massacre he was 32. A lot of people think the Upside Down has been a thing for absolute years but that doesn't necessarily mean Vecna has too.

Why did Vecna become monster? ›

Vecna, unlike the other creatures, is a human who has mutated into a monster from overexposure to the Upside Down. He's been subjected to the toxic environment for around 20 years and has become a part of it.

Why is Vecna evil in stranger? ›

Before coming to the Hawkins National Lab, Venca had a classic villain origin story — he became obsessed with black widows, tortured his family, and brutally killed his mother and sister pinning it on his father.

Who is playing Vecna in Stranger Things Season 4? ›

From vocals to make-up, here's everything Jamie Campbell Bower did to become Vecna in Stranger Things season 4. The penultimate season of Netflix's original Stranger Things has finally wrapped up with the introduction of the prime antagonist from The Upside Down, Vecna.

How is the Mind Flayer connected to Vecna? ›

How is Vecna and the Mind Flayer connected? Vecna revealed in season four, he was the one who created the Mind Flayer after Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) banished him to the Upside Down. All this time, the Mind Flayer was Vecna, who was using the entity to carry out his orders and speaking through the creature.

Did 11 create upside down? ›

There's been debate as to whether or not this scene implies that Eleven created the Upside Down or merely opened the first gate to it. But according to Millie Bobby Brown, the Upside Down existed before El ever meddled with it. “I don't think that she created the Upside Down,” Brown told Variety in June.

Why did Vecna take Max? ›

Of course, the real reason Max became Vecna's victim was because creators the Duffer brothers and producer/director Shawn Levy wanted to showcase Sink's talent and really allow her to get some meaty material to work with this season.

Did the Mind Flayer create Vecna? ›

In so many words, yes, Vecna created the Mind Flayer. As we learn, though, the Mind Flayer is just a tool. When Vecna landed in the Upside Down and stumbled upon the Hive Mind he bent the particles to his will, effectively making himself the master of the Upside Down.

Why is Vecna killing kids? ›

Ultimately, it is revealed in Stranger Things season 4's finale that the reason why Vecna was killing Hawkins teenagers was to create a massive gate that merges the Right Side Up with the Upside Down - and he specifically needed four bodies to do so.

Why did Vecna need 4 gates? ›

With the reveal of his plan, the kids learn there's a reason Vecna's clock chimes four times: he needs to open four gates to make a huge rip through the barrier between dimensions.

Is Vecna responsible for everything Stranger Things? ›

"A Five-star general with the power to open gates." That theory is somewhat blown out of the water in Volume 2, though, as Vecna admits to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) that he was behind everything bad that has happened in Hawkins over the last few years, including Will's abduction and the Mind Flayer's possession of ...

Why did Vecna show Nancy his past? ›

Dow also added that as a narcissist, Vecna is deeply impacted by Eleven's rejection of him years prior. Due to this, he is determined to make her regret refusing to join him. He releases Nancy so she can relay the news to Eleven that everyone will suffer because of her.

Is Vecna a number 1? ›

He immediately goes on the rampage we saw in the season's very first scene, which Eleven had thought she had caused herself, revealing that he has had powers all along. In fact, he is Number One, Brenner's very first experimental subject for enhancing telekinetic powers.

How did Vecna choose his victims? ›

Vecna chooses which memories he would like to have in his subconscious, and it's only by chance that the victims he wishes to absorb are all Hawkins High students. It's odd that all of his victims are teenagers, but there could be a deeper purpose for them going into Stranger Things season 5.

Did Vecna create the demogorgon? ›

It's revealed in the final episode of Stranger Things 4 Vecna was responsible for the creation of the Mind Flayer. Fans may remember this as the deadly monster the gang faced in seasons 2 and 3.

Who is stronger Mind Flayer or Vecna? ›

The many-legged creature can manipulate people's minds and control them in its attempts to reach the human world. The Mind Flayer causes irreparable damage to Hawkins in the process, but Vecna is even deadlier than his predecessor.

Was Vecna a human in Stranger Things? ›

The villain, who operates from the Upside Down, was revealed to have started as a human with psychic powers. After murdering his family, he became the first child in Martin Brenner's Hawkins National Laboratory experiments — the ones that eventually led to Eleven honing her powers.

What happened to Vecna in Stranger Things? ›

After falling out of the window at Creel House, Vecna's burned body had been considerably harmed but was able to disappear. Vecna is confirmed to be alive, with his consciousness still being used to control the Upside Down's beings that are preparing to take over Hawkins in Stranger Things season 5.

Why did Vecna help Eleven escape? ›

The reason Vecna, like Eleven, can open gates is because Vecna was once Eleven's “sibling.” In a sensory deprivation tank hallucination, Eleven learns Vecna's entire story—how he moved to Hawkins with his family, the Creels; how he developed psychic powers and hatred for his sinning parents; how he killed his family, ...

Is the Mind Flayer 001? ›

The Mind Flayer could be 001 and have been trapped in the Upside Down for several years or created the entire dimension itself. Most fans consider the other “numbers”, or the other lab experiments from Hawkins National Lab to be deceased. Brenner even hinted at this himself.

How did Vecna get into Hawkins? ›

Clearly, Vecna's evil plot worked, because in Season 4 he was able to open his own gates from inside the Upside Down. He started terrorizing the Hawkins teens, and whenever he killed one of them, a gate would open between the two realms of reality.

How did Jamie Bower become Vecna? ›

To help bring Vecna to life, the Stranger Things special effects team created a full-body lifecast of Jamie Campbell Bower which was based on a 3D body scan. Using these two tools, the effects team created a whopping 18 prosthetics which were applied each day of shooting to transform Bower into season 4's Big Bad.

Who made Vecna cry on set? ›

Jamie Campbell Bower was such a convincing villain in his Vecna suit — which took seven hours to put on in the makeup chair — that he actually made Millie Bobby Brown cry real tears of fright while filming one of the scenes in Season 4 of Stranger Things.

Why did Vecna create the Mind Flayer? ›

To transcend my human form. To become the predator I was always born to be. Creating the Mind Flayer allows Henry Creel to stretch his mind in seemingly limitless directions, “transcending his human form” and possessing other beings.

Who is in control Vecna or the Mind Flayer? ›

Whenever Vecna kills someone, he "consumes" them, according to Dr. Brenner; that means he acquires their consciousness and power. By using his own powers, Henry/One took control of the Mind Flayer and obtained all of his powers, thus becoming stronger and in control of the Upside Down.

Did the Mind Flayer exist before Vecna? ›

For the entirety of Stranger Things thus far, The Mind Flayer was our big villain (pre Vecna). An omnipresent entity that ruled over the Upside Down and spent its time trying desperately to bleed into the Hawkins where our heroes live.

Who is the Vecna in Stranger Things 4? ›

From vocals to make-up, here's everything Jamie Campbell Bower did to become Vecna in Stranger Things season 4.

Who is No 1 in Stranger Things season 4? ›

Who Plays 001 on 'Stranger Things'? Dr. Martin Brenner, played by actor Matthew Modine, conducted experiments on a number of children at Hawkins Lab.

Is 1 11s father Stranger Things? ›

Who is Eleven's dad in Stranger Things? A new season 4 theory suggests 001/Henry Creel/Vecna is actually Eleven's real father – and it low-key makes sense.

Is Vecna Billy in Stranger Things? ›

Billy Hargrove may have had a short run on Stranger Things, but it was definitely memorable. With his mullet and mustache, he made the perfect vessel for Season 3's villain. But during Season 4 and the rise of Vecna, his role was limited to his grave being the setting of Vecna's first encounter with Max.

Why is Vecna evil in stranger? ›

Before coming to the Hawkins National Lab, Venca had a classic villain origin story — he became obsessed with black widows, tortured his family, and brutally killed his mother and sister pinning it on his father.

Why does Vecna have one big stranger? ›

This is a reference to the D&D character Vecna, for whom this Vecna is named; the D&D Vecna has a monstrous hand infused with dark magic. The design of Vecna's hand is also a nod to Freddy Krueger, the Nightmare on Elm Street villain who had a huge influence on this season in general.

Who was Vecna as a human? ›

In episode 7, Vecna is revealed to be Henry Creel (played as a youngster by Raphael Luce), the son of Victor Creel (Robert Englund) and his wife Virginia (Tyner Rushing) shown in the 1950s flashbacks.

Why did Vecna show Nancy his past? ›

Dow also added that as a narcissist, Vecna is deeply impacted by Eleven's rejection of him years prior. Due to this, he is determined to make her regret refusing to join him. He releases Nancy so she can relay the news to Eleven that everyone will suffer because of her.

Is Vecna a number 1? ›

He immediately goes on the rampage we saw in the season's very first scene, which Eleven had thought she had caused herself, revealing that he has had powers all along. In fact, he is Number One, Brenner's very first experimental subject for enhancing telekinetic powers.

Did Vecna create the upside down? ›

In so many words, yes, Vecna created the Mind Flayer. As we learn, though, the Mind Flayer is just a tool. When Vecna landed in the Upside Down and stumbled upon the Hive Mind he bent the particles to his will, effectively making himself the master of the Upside Down.

Is the upside down Vecna's mind? ›

Their memories, their abilities." Knowing that changes everything. Brenner's words make it seem like Vecna subjugated the entire Upside Down and, thereby, created the realm's hive mind. In other words, the Upside Down's hive mind is actually Vecna's mind because everything that he dominates becomes a part of him.

Is Vecna a Dr. Brenner? ›

Let's Break Down the Signs. The fourth season of "Stranger Things" seemingly introduces the most powerful villain we've met so far: Vecna, a deadly monster from the Upside Down. But Vecna isn't just any interdimensional baddie — he used to be One, another test subject like Eleven in the lab run by Dr. Brenner.

Is Vecna Pennywise? ›

Stranger Things creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, broke down the trailer's biggest moments for IGN, explaining that Vecna was inspired by some of the greatest boogeymen to come out of the 1980s like Pennywise (Stephen King's IT), Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Pinhead (Hellraiser).

What is Vecna Stranger Things? ›

The fourth season of Stranger Things introduced us to Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), the hideous creature who terrorised the kids of Hawkins by appearing in visions before taking possession of their bodies and killing them.

What happened to Vecna Stranger Things? ›

After falling out of the window at Creel House, Vecna's burned body had been considerably harmed but was able to disappear. Vecna is confirmed to be alive, with his consciousness still being used to control the Upside Down's beings that are preparing to take over Hawkins in Stranger Things season 5.

Videos

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