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Stranger Things' Writers Confused Fans While Throwing Them Off Vecna's Scent

After years of steadily escalating threats from the Upside Down, "Stranger Things" Season 4 finally introduces viewers to the terrifying power behind it all: Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), the monstrous form of Henry "One" Creel, a powerful but murderous psychic who was defeated by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and banished into the Upside Down before the beginning of the show's events. 

Vecna is a worthy "Stranger Things" villain. With his movie monster appearance, visually distinctive tentacles, and extremely personal vendetta against everything Eleven holds dear, he's the perfect "ruler" for the Upside Down — and a ruler he is, seeing as even the mighty Mind Flayer bends to his will. 

"Stranger Things" loves its mysteries, and since the audience doesn't find out that Vecna and Henry are the same person until fairly late in the game, it's no surprise that the powers that be took steps to keep the real name of Bower's character secret during the casting process. In fact, Bower's role was originally announced as a good-natured man called Peter Ballard — a move the actor himself described to Entertainment Weekly as a massive misdirection. "I have no idea where the name Peter Ballard came from," Bower said. "I can only apologize to fans of the show for being part of such a massive red herring. I remember seeing it and being like, 'Okay, guys. Cheers! That's going to be a tough one if anybody asks me, but I'll just go with the party line'."

Stranger Things' writers had to weigh in on Vecna's real name

It's perfectly understandable that the show wanted to keep Vecna's human name under wraps, especially since people already knew that "A Nightmare on Elm Street" legend and massive "Stranger Things" Season 4 red herring Robert Englund was cast as a character called Creel — namely, Henry's tormented father Victor. However, this also meant that Bower's character had plenty of time to etch himself into the fandom's mind as Peter Ballard — at least, if the "Stranger Things" writer room's official Twitter account is to be believed.

"Peter Ballard was a fake name for casting. His name is Henry Creel and you should not call him Peter. You can, but it's weird," the account tweeted on June 15, 2022. The reply thread indicated that the PSA was clearly a much-needed one. "Actually thank you for clearing that up," user @dxrthvaders wrote amidst multiple replies that insisted on calling the character Peter Ballard, or expressed confusion about the name situation.  

When "Stranger Things" Season 5 arrives, Vecna's true identity obviously isn't secret anymore, so there shouldn't be any further need for fake names. Even so, there just might be a subset of fans who find themselves continuing to think of the villain as Peter Ballard.