How Dungeons & Dragons History Could Hint At Vecna's Return In Stranger Things 5

Contains spoilers for "Stranger Things" Season 4, Episode 9

For fans of the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, it was immediately apparent in the very first episode of "Stranger Things" that the popular game would be referenced quite heavily. The campaign the boys are playing has them up against a creature known as the Demogorgon, a two-headed demon prince with whip-like appendages and a powerful muscular build who makes its home in the Abyss. Once it became clear that Dungeons & Dragons would be used as inspiration for the demons from the Upside-Down they would be facing in Hawkins, it was obvious that the boys were in for a fight.

In Seasons 2 and 3 of "Stranger Things," the primary antagonist from the Upside Down is referred to as the Mind Flayer, a name that is also lifted directly from Dungeons & Dragons. Although the Demogorgon is a singular villain in the game, mind flayers are actually a race of extra-planar humanoid abominations who are also known as illithids. These creatures feast on brains with their prehensile tentacles that sprout from the bottom half of their heads, and they reproduce through a process called Ceremorphosis, which involves inserting a mind flayer tadpole into somebody's head, usually through the nose or ear (via Tabletop Joab). The tadpole then consumes the victim's brain and changes its body to that of an illithid.

The latest villain in "Stranger Things," Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), is also directly inspired by the Dungeons & Dragons enemy of the same name, which may allude to some unforeseen consequences for the next season. But how?

Vecna has multiple avenues of resurrection in Dungeons & Dragons

Vecna aka One aka Henry Creel terrorizes the town of Hawkins with his ability to peer into an individual's thoughts and harness their dark memories to kill them in an incredibly gruesome fashion. Every time Vecna kills somebody, a fracture is created between this world and the Upside Down. Vecna believes that human existence is utterly pointless, and he murders without a shred of remorse or sorrow, often asking his victims before the moment of their death to "join him."

Vecna in Dungeons & Dragons follows somewhat of a similar path, in the sense that he started off as a mortal mage before undergoing a process to transform himself into a lich (via Dump Stat), an undead being who has used magical means to make themselves immortal. Vecna's ambitions lead him to attempt the ascension into godhood — because simply beating death isn't enough — and he is considered a minor deity.

Vecna is often defeated but always returns

In Dungeons & Dragons lore, Vecna is far more than just a simple lich, as fearsome as they may be. His power and legend attract many followers, including his right-hand man, Kas. However, Kas eventually betrays him, culminating in a cataclysmic battle that sees Vecna lose both a hand and an eye before the rest of his physical body is destroyed.

Both body parts become legendary artifacts that grant tremendous abilities, but Vecna was not truly defeated. His soul survives the ordeal, and after several years, he returns and attempts to conquer the city of Sigil, an extra-planar city located at the center of Dungeons & Dragons cosmology, in order to take control of the multiverse. However, he is defeated by a group of adventurers. This strips him of some of his power, but he still lives.

Considering Vecna's status as a recurring villain in Dungeons & Dragons, his "Stranger Things" namesake could also share some of that very same resilience. Viewers have already seen Henry Creel destroyed on what appears to be a molecular level, yet he survived and reconstituted himself within the Upside Down. Could this mean that we may see the villain return even after the events of Season 4? Perhaps, if he takes a page from his Dungeons & Dragons counterpart.