‘Stranger Things’ Vecna First Appeared in Season 1

in Movies & TV

Jamie Campbell Bower as Henry Creel in Hawkins Lab in 'Stranger Things' Season 4

Credit: Netflix

Stranger Things Season 5 will be the fifth and final entry in the hit Netflix series. While it will likely answer many long-standing questions fans have, it turns out that some secrets have been hiding in plain sight from the beginning. The very first episode, in fact.

Following his unforgettable introduction and reign of terror in Season 4, Vecna (AKA Henry Creel/One) is now the main antagonist of the entire Stranger Things series; a sentient successor to the likes of the Demogorgon, The Shadow Monster, and The Mind Flayer (although he may be replaced by a new antagonist in Season 5).

But unlike those nightmare-dwelling monsters, Vecna isn’t originally from the Upside Down, nor was his name always Vecna. In his human life, he was known as Henry Creel and later became One during his time in the Hawkins lab with Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) and all the other young human test subjects, including Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).

Vecna feeding in the Upside Down in Stranger Things Halloween Horror Nights 2023
Credit: Netflix

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Like Eleven, One was telekinetic, but he was also the source of all the other children’s identical powers. However, once Eleven learned about One’s psychotic tendencies — that he wished to destroy all human life — she used her abilities to inadvertently create a portal to the Upside Down and send him through it, essentially banishing him from her world.

There, One became disfigured by the hellish underworld’s unnatural lighting and toxic atmosphere, which turned him into the “dark wizard” known as Vecna. Eventually, as the most powerful being in the Upside Down, he began to control all the monsters to do his bidding by becoming the “general” and “hive mind”.

While Vecna was only officially introduced in Season 4, we’re told he was the puppet master behind all the monsters throughout the first three seasons. In other words, he was there the whole time, pulling the strings, controlling the Demogorgon in Season 1, the Shadow Monster and the Demo Dogs in Season 2, the Mind-Flayer in Season 3, and probably even the bats that killed poor Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) in Season 4.

Young Henry Creel in 'Stranger Things' Season 4 flashback
Credit: Netflix

But a popular fan theory suggests that Vecna has literally been there the whole time — not just in the shadows, but sometimes boldly in plain sight. A short video from YouTuber Rob Talks is one of many which discusses the possibility that the dark wizard makes an appearance in the very first episode of Stranger Things, “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”:

When Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is riding home on his bike late at night after playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) with his best friends, Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), and Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), he encounters a mysterious dark figure in the middle of the road whose details are hidden by the dark.

But while we all assumed this was the Demogorgon that proceeds to wreak havoc and terror in Hawkins throughout the rest of the season, in hindsight, and on closer inspection, there’s no reason to believe it is. Check out the full clip from the pilot episode below, per the official Stranger Things YouTube channel:

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The first thing you’ll notice is that this shape does not resemble that of a Demogorgon in any way whatsoever. Demogorgons are very tall, perhaps six or seven feet, maybe more, are broader, and they have large heads that open up in a gruesome fashion, undoubtedly inspired by the “peel-back” nature of the Face-hugger eggs in the Alien franchise.

This figure looks far more humanoid, just like Vecna, and its left hand is elongated and clawed, just like Vecna’s.

While there are also some dissimilarities between this shape and the dark wizard of the Upside Down, such as the fact it’s leaner and less imposing than the all-powerful Season 4 antagonist, this could easily be explained by the fact that the character hadn’t been fully developed by the Duffer brothers when Season 1 was filmed.

Vecna's hand in the Upside Down from Stranger Things Halloween Horror Nights 2023
Credit: Netflix

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But there are many other clues that suggest this is indeed the disfigured Henry Creel (AKA One). Moments later, when a terrified Will hides in his garden shed, the latch on the door is opened by something that clearly possesses telekinetic abilities, and we know that Demogorgons do not have this luxury.

Vecna’s connection with Will is also revealed in Season 4, which further suggests that the dark and ominous figure in Season 1’s pilot episode is, indeed, Vecna and not a Demogorgon or any other creature from the Upside Down.

More From Stranger Things

There are new Stranger Things spinoffs in development, including an animated series and a live-action series. Meanwhile, the stage play Stranger Things: The First Shadow (2023) has been extended until December. “Stranger Things VR” (2024) is now available, and a comic book titled “Stranger Things: Deliver Me From Evil” (2024) will be released on May 4.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow is now playing at the Phoenix Theater:

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For information on tickets and showtimes, visit the official website.

Stranger Things seasons 1 — 4 are now streaming on Netflix.

Stranger Things stars Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers), David Harbour (Jim Hopper), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Bob Newby (Sean Astin), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven/Jane Hopper), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Joseph Quinn (Eddie Munson), Paul Reiser (Dr. Sam Owens), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Matthew Modine (Papa/Martin Brenner), Maya Hawke (Robin Buckley), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), and Jamie Campbell Bower (Vecna/One/Henry Creel).

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