Netflix's latest original program, the '80s homage sci-fi series Stranger Things is about a lot of things: coming of age, government conspiracies, teenage crushes, parallel dimensions, grief, nostalgia… of, and monsters, too. Don't forget the monster. Although we don't know much about the creature that's haunting the residents of Hawkins, Indiana (even after all eight episodes of the show's first season) there is perhaps one critical clue that's hiding in plain sight — or rather, in a game of Dungeons & Dragons. What is a demogorgon, and what exactly does it have to do with Stranger Things?
The very first scene of the show — or, rather, the very first scene of the show not including its horrifying monster-attack prologue — features a group of young boys playing a very passionate campaign in the beloved fantasy tabletop role-playing game. Suddenly, their avatars are attacked by a fearsome plastic monster, the demogorgon! Although Will rolls the dice in an effort to cast a protection spell, we later find out it didn't work… and that night, Will is snatched up by the monster and taken to the Upside Down. Later, when mysterious Eleven is trying to communicate what happened to Will, she uses the demogorgon model.
Now, the typically taciturn young girl is likely just using the plastic figurine as a shortcut to illustrate her point: "monster." I don't think she's saying that the creature that took Will is literally the fictional demogorgon come to life. For one thing, they don't look very much alike. The demogorgon is usually described as having the torso of a reptile, tentacles for arms, and two baboon-like heads. The Stranger Things monster, on the other hand, is more humanoid than reptilian, has fingers rather than tentacles, and definitely only has one (admittedly horrifying) head.
But just because the monster of Hawkins, Indiana isn't literally the demogorgon doesn't mean the D&D demon can't be a crucial clue. There is no lack of creepy-crawling villains from fictional world of the RPG, so Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer must have chosen the demogorgon for a reason — and I believe that reason is the creature's heads. Named Aameul and Hethradiah, the two heads are described as constantly at war, with the former favoring deception and the latter favoring destruction.
If the Stranger Things monster is analagous to the demogorgon, then where or what — or who — is its second head? There are a couple of compelling possibilities. The most direct comparison to the demogorgon's two warring heads is the monster vs. Eleven. With her brain-crushing telekinetic powers, Eleven is something of a monster herself, and she definitely fits the definition of "warring" against the creature from the Upside Down. But if the monster is Hethradiah, clearly hell-bent on destruction above all else, then that would make the girl Aameul… and despite her frequent silences, Eleven has never seemed deceptive.
So if Eleven isn't the second head of the demogorgon, then who is? The superpowered girl is too good — and too separate — from the monster to be considered a distinct but integral part of it. But there's another character on the show who is more closely connected to the monster than anyone realizes…
Is Will the second head of the demogorgon? He did spend quite a bit of time in the Upside Down; and even after being rescued from the alternate dimension, we realize he's not quite as free as he and his friends might have thought. He continues to see flashes of the Upside Down, and he's vomiting up alien slugs. Is Will turning into a monster himself? Even if he won't literally physically transform into a flower-headed beast, he has certainly been changed in some way by his interaction with the monster.
In this case, the analogy of Will as Aameul makes a scary amount of sense. If the monster has somehow managed to turn Will to his side — or at least made him an unwitting conduit between Earth and the Upside Down — then the boy would fit the description of the "deceptive" demogorgon head. While the monster itself is pure smash-bang destruction, Will might be able to wreak havoc in a more subtle way as its human accomplice… just as everyone thought the monster had been defeated for good.
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