Major spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4 ahead. Mentally exhausted and emotionally devastated are just two of the feelings that come to mind when fans think of Stranger Things Season 4. The finale ended somberly with Max (Sadie Sink) in a coma and Eddie’s (Joseph Quinn) death. Sure, the rest of the Hawkins gang reunited in the final moments of Volume 2, but the ominous Upside Down has now emerged into their small town. The two-and-half-hour final episode undoubtedly set the stage for a climactic and horrifying Season 5.
Season 5 is a year and a half away — the series is expected to return in 2024 — and what better way to wait for the final season than to speculate on what could happen next to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and her friends. Here are six intriguing fan theories that tease how Stranger Things could end.
6. Will Could Become A Host Body For Vecna
The final episode of Season 4 calls back to Season 3 when Will (Noah Schnapp) felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. His senses were correct; the Upside Down was making its way into Hawkins. And his connection to the alternate dimension — and Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) — may grow stronger in Season 5.
Reddit user Accomplished_Win9704 shared a theory connecting Will’s revelation with his Dungeons & Dragons character, a wizard much like Vecna. Like Eleven, Will is also fettered to two worlds, not to mention his connection with the Mind Flayer and his feelings of alienation similar to a young Henry Creel. The Duffers may be setting up a link between Will and Vecna, and because Will is especially vulnerable to the effects of the Upside Down, he makes the perfect candidate to host Vecna.
5. The Hawkins Gang May Have To Kill Vecna To Save Max
Season 4 leaves Max in a coma. Despite surviving, her heart did stop while she was in Vecna’s clutches, and her momentary death was enough for the villain to open a massive gate between worlds. Brenner (Matthew Modine) told Eleven that Vecna/Henry doesn’t kill his victims; he consumes them, which would lead us to believe that he’s consumed — but not killed — Max. A theory from Reddit user StrangerWill suggests that when Eleven entered Max’s mind in the hospital, it was nothing but a black abyss. That likely means our heroes will have to kill Vecna for good if they want their friend back.
However, it’s also possible they could rescue Max another way. In Episode 7, when El discovers all the dead children in the Rainbow Room, Henry tells her, "They aren't gone, Eleven, they are right here with me," before tapping his head. We know Max is in peril, but we also know that she’s not dead. Her mind and soul may reside in Vecna’s mind, and it could be up to Eleven to go into his head to save her friend.
4. Nancy’s Vision Might Come True
One popular belief about Vecna’s abilities has to do with his clock. Stranger Things fan StrangerWill speculates that the clock is a tool Vecna uses to see into the past and the future. His ability to manipulate time explains why he can dive deeply into people’s memories. It’s also why the Upside Down mastermind always seems so certain and assured. He says, “You can’t stop this now,” “You have already lost,” "This is the beginning of the end," and "There is nothing, nothing you can do to stop this now." It all implies that Vecna knows what’s coming, which is exactly what he shows Nancy (Natalia Dyer).
"He showed me things that haven't happened yet. The most awful things. I saw a dark cloud spreading over Hawkins. Downtown on fire. Dead soldiers. And this... this giant creature with... a gaping mouth,” Nancy says. “And this creature wasn't alone. There were so many monsters. An army. And they were coming into Hawkins. Into our neighborhoods. Our homes. And then... he showed me my mom. And Holly. Mike. And they... they were all..."
But why would Vecna show Nancy his entire plan? It’s likely because he believes there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. At the end of Season 4, the characters see the dark cloud, downtown getting swallowed up by fire, and the soldiers that may die. They have yet to see the creature with the gaping mouth or armies of monsters, but thus far, Vecna has been right on the money.
3. Vecna May Get A Redemption Arc & 008 Could Return
As we saw in the finale of Season 4, it was Vecna who created the Mind Flayer’s image, and despite the best efforts of our heroes, it still seems like the Mind Flayer may still be at large in some way. One fan theorizes that Vecna will be redeemed, and the villain will help destroy the Upside Down. There are two schools of thought, both posed by Reddit user theArcticHawk, the first of which ties right back to Dungeons & Dragons. A perfect roll in D&D is a 20, and El (011) plus Vecna/Henry (001) is twelve, which leaves room for the return of Linnea Berthelsen as Eight (008) from Season 2. All three may unite to take down the interdimensional beasts once and for all.
However, if Stranger Things sticks to paying homage to the ‘80s, fans may see something far more similar to Star Wars. In Episode 7 of Season 4, Vecna (as Henry) tries to convince El to join him, just as Darth Vader did to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. Vecna, like Vader, is the vastly overpowered and infamous predecessor to a coming-of-age hero. This would position the Mind Flayer as an Emperor Palpatine figure that Vecna would defeat by sacrificing himself as Vader did in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, which came out the same year Will went missing.
2. Eddie Might Become A Vessel Of The Upside Down
In a direct homage to Michael Myers at the end of Halloween, we know Vecna isn’t dead. We also know he needs reinforcements. The finale included some soft resurrection, courtesy of El more-or-less restarting Max’s heart. Vecna may do the same to Eddie, turning the beloved metalhead into a D&D character known as Kas. For reference, Kas serves as a lieutenant to Vecna and uses undead powers similar to vampires, which would certainly make sense for someone killed by demobats. Kas has already been referenced in Season 4, during the D&D session from Episode 1, where Mike exclaims that Vecna — then fictional and miniature — had been “killed by Kas!”
1. The Thessalhydra Might Be The Next Big Monster
Stranger Things fans will likely remember the ending of Season 1 when the main characters convened in Mike’s basement for another round of D&D after saving the world for the first time. Just as an earlier game in Season 1 foreshadowed the Demogorgon, the game in the finale saw our heroes encounter a Thessalhydra. Stranger Things 2 opted for the Mind Flayer, but fans could expect the Thessalhydra to appear in Season 5 finally. It would align with Nancy’s vision of monsters descending on Hawkins. The Thessalhydra is a dragon-like beast with multiple heads, eerily similar to the monster that Will painted in his artwork for Mike, depicting them in battle. It seems like all signs point to this new monster becoming Stranger Things’ most formidable foe yet.