Something’s always up on Stranger Things. People get trapped in alternate dimensions, tentacled monsters possess children, telekinetic girls discover Eggo waffles—the list of supernatural drama is seemingly endless. And all these oddities have left plenty of room for wild speculation, which fans have been only too happy to share online.
As we await the fifth and final season of the Netflix hit, ponder these intriguing theories on what’s really going on with Max, and who Eleven’s true father might be. Beware (symbolic) dragons—and yes, that is a D&D reference.
SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers for all aired episodes of Stranger Things Seasons 1 through 4 follow.
1. Max will kill Vecna from inside.
Things did not end well for Max (Sadie Sink) in Season 4 of Stranger Things. When we last saw our red-headed heroine, she had just (barely) survived another attack from Vecna, the terrifying creature formerly known as Henry Creel, also known as Dr. Brenner’s first test subject, One. With Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) help, Max’s flatlining heart got a jumpstart, but she remained deep in a coma. Does that mean she’s a goner? Not necessarily.
Fans are pulling for Max to not only wake up—but to send her assailant to eternal slumber. As Reddit user nebrossa puts it, “Max will help [kill] Vecna from inside. Papa told El that Henry doesn’t just kill people, he consumes them. Max wasn’t in her head when El looked for her in the hospital because she is somewhere inside Vecna. She’s going to be the chink in his armor when they fight him again.”
2. Will turns into the Big Bad.
Poor Will ( Noah Schnapp) can’t catch a break: Kidnapped in Season 1, possessed by the Mind Flayer in Season 2, alone as all his friends coupled up in Season 3, exiled in California in Season 4—the kid is always going through something. Given his history of bad luck, it would almost be predictable if Will slipped under the hold of another evil creature—maybe the Mind Flayer again or even Vecna, with whom he seems to share a psychic connection? Stranger Things stars David Harbour and Finn Wolfhard have weighed in on this theory, and they think it’s both “cool” and “interesting.”
3. The kids are just playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons.
We know that the Stranger Things kids love D&D ... but what if their adult selves love it, too? One fan theory posits that the entire show is just a convoluted game of Dungeons & Dragons, played by the adult versions of Will, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) who are “fantasizing about their imagined childhood nightmares.” For what it’s worth, the older kids are on board with this fan-fueled conspiracy.
4. Eddie will be resurrected as Kas.
Everyone loved Eddie (Joseph Quinn), the big-haired, big-hearted head of the Hellfire Club introduced in Season 4. But just as quickly as fans fell in love, they had to say goodbye, as Eddie was pecked to death by a bunch of Demobats in the Upside Down. Or was he?
As we all know, the Upside Down is crawling with creatures who resemble Dungeons & Dragons monsters. One notable D&D monster is Kas, vampire and righthand man to Vecna. In the game, Kas eventually double crosses and defeats his old master. If Eddie came back as Kas, could he do the same? Eddie’s weapons of choice do look awfully similar to Kas’s—there’s the trash can with spikes in it (Kas’s shield is spiky, too) and the knife tied to a tree branch (kind of like Kas’s sword). We do have to ignore the fact that the Duffer Brothers confirmed Eddie’s death for this theory to work, but what’s Stranger Things without a little imagination?
5. There’s going to be a dragon (kind of).
You can’t have D&D without dragons, and yet, four seasons of Stranger Things have yielded exactly zero fanged, fire-breathing beasts. That could all change in the final season, especially if Will’s painting of a three-headed dragon from Season 4 is any indication. As Reddit notes, there’s only one D&D dragon with multiple heads, and it’s Tiamat, mother of (evil) dragons. Tiamat the shapeshifter could be a symbol for the true villain of Season 5, the particle swarm that forged Vecna. Per Will’s painting, he and his three best friends Lucas, Dustin, and Mike will play key roles in defeating the “dragon”—and Will the wizard might not make it out alive.
6. Vecna is Eleven’s father.
The official Stranger Things novel Suspicious Minds would lead you to believe that Eleven’s father was Andrew Rich, her mom Terry Ives’s boyfriend who died in the Vietnam War. But some fans (who may or may not have recently binged the Star Wars movies) think El’s pop is actually her chief nemesis, Henry Creel/Vecna. The theory goes that Dr. Brenner realized none of his lab kids were as strong as One, so rather than continue to kidnap children, he actually bred one between his star pupil and his test subject, Terry. This would explain One’s weird kinship with Eleven, and seriously complicate the final season.
7. Season 5 will line up with the fall of the Soviet Union.
In Season 3, a whole bunch of Russians showed up on Stranger Things, acting mysterious and villainous (it was the ‘80s, after all). Russia also served as the backdrop for a large chunk of season four, as Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) slipped behind enemy lines to bust Hopper (David Harbour) out of prison. This sudden focus on the Soviets has got some viewers wondering about a potential crossover with real-world events.
According to Reddit user mcm516, Season 5 will see “Russia going too deep into the unknown powers involved with everything related to the Upside Down,” leading Eleven and the rest of the gang to “save the world and topple the Soviet Union.” The Cold War didn't officially come to an end until December 31, 1991. Let’s see if they can do it.
8. Steve is infected.
Those Demobat bites looked pretty bad, didn’t they? Some fans think Steve’s (Joe Keery) encounter with those angry bats in the Upside Down during Season 4 will eventually prove fatal, or at least knock him out with a supernatural plague. They killed Eddie, after all. Stranger Things co-creator Ross Duffer has actually squashed this particular rumor, without ruling out Steve’s potential death. “I wouldn’t worry about the bat thing,” he said in an interview with Variety. “If he’s going to die, it’s not going to be from the bat bite.”
9. The Upside Down is a frozen copy of Hawkins, Indiana.
Viewers have been wondering for ages why the Upside Down appears to be stuck in the past—specifically, November 6, 1983—and why it looks exactly like Hawkins, Indiana. We already know that the date coincides with Will’s disappearance and Eleven opening the mothergate. But one theory claims the Upside Down was a virtual ghost town before that, just barren lands and creepy vibes. When Eleven opened the gate, the Upside Down created a carbon copy of Hawkins, at that exact time, and it has stayed the same even as the real Hawkins changes. “It’s like the physical form of the UD was ‘saved’ on that date and never updated,” posits Reddit user Scraw16.
10. Kali will return to defeat Vecna.
Remember Kali, a.k.a. Eight (Linnea Berthelsen), from Season 2? In her brief appearance, the fellow former Hawkins Lab brat showed Eleven she could kick some serious ass, and she shares some of the same powers as their evil (kinda) brother Vecna. Could she be the key to taking him down? Many fans believe Kali will return to help Eleven defeat Vecna, using her unique abilities of mental manipulation to finally kill him.
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