Stranger Things’ adversaries have varied from Demogorgons to the Mind Flayer, but Season 4 introduces the show’s most terrifying creature yet: Vecna. “Vecna is a psychological nightmare that I don’t believe we’ve seen before,” Hopper actor David Harbour told Variety. While the Upside Down is home to a variety of mysterious monsters, he claims that none are as “calculatedly, psychologically evil” as Vecna is. “He’s a true big bad that we’ve needed in the series.”
Vecna, like the other Stranger Things creatures, is named after a legendary Dungeons & Dragons beast. Vecna was a once-human monarch turned wicked zombie wizard who ascended to godhood and became the scourge of civilization in the game’s world, earning titles such as The Whispered One and Lord of the Rotted Tower. Vecna’s strength, according to legend, came from discovering people’s darkest secrets and exploiting them to slay his foes. He was continuously pursuing greater power, and according to the Black Citadel RPG, he was considered dead at one point, leaving only a destroyed tower and the withered bones of one hand and eye behind. He was exiled to a nightmare realm with a stone gate at its entry, a detail borrowed from Stranger Things. Vecna, like any other heinous villain, always found a way to punish everyone.
In the stories, he is defeated by the Sword of Kas (a weapon used by his servant to betray him), but according to Black Citadel RPG, defeating him is “less a matter of rolling dice” and more a matter of devising a “very, very cunning plan… Being sneaky, charming, and smart will get you closer to victory against Vecna than charging in swords swinging.”
When the Hawkins team is divided up throughout the country and Eleven is still helpless when Vecna appears onscreen, there are clearly traces of this narrative in the episode. “Part of the drive and intensity of this season is that we have this enormous new villain arise in Hawkins, and Eleven is not there for the first time ever,” said co-creator Ross Duffer to Entertainment Weekly.
As a result, the children are compelled to think outside the box in order to overcome Vecna. One of the leads they follow is Victor Creel, who Nancy begins to investigate after the town is rocked by an attack.
The Duffer brothers teased the appearance of the Creel House during a 2021 Netflix fan event, which was the site of horrible events when Victor Creel and his family lived there in the 1950s.
The house appeared to be normal until the lights began to flicker and animals began to appear dead in their yard. Then, one night, Victor Creel allegedly murdered his entire family and was committed to a psychiatric facility. When Nancy and Robin go to look into the crime, they notice that it has Vecna’s insignia all over it.