Stranger Things 2 explained: Everything we know about the mind flayer from Dungeons & Dragons

And what it can tell us about the big bad Stranger Things monster (SPOILERS)

Stranger Things 2 (Netflix, BA)

A year on from Stranger Things season one, Will and the gang seem to have temporarily departed Mike’s basement for a more modern form of nerdy fun at the arcade, playing old school gaming favourites Dig Dug and Dragon Quest.

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But Dungeons & Dragons evidently remains prevalent in their minds, as Dustin once again turns to the board game to help the gang understand a terrifying new monster…

Towards the end of this article we discuss Stranger Things 2 in full, so if you’re still working through the season, be warned: there be spoilers ahead.

Find out everything we know about the mind flayer from Dungeons and Dragons below.


What is the Mind Flayer in Dungeons and Dragons?

A humanoid monster that looks pretty much like a person except it’s got an octopus for a head, reminiscent of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulu. It’s pretty terrifying.

Mind flayers roam a vast network of underground tunnels known as the Underdark, feeding upon the brains of sentient creatures.

But here’s where it gets interesting: they have telepathic abilities, which they uses to ‘enslave’ others. It is respected as the dominant species in the Underdark, but is notably NOT totally dominant in its realm.

Mind flayers live in societies of up to 2,000, with several slaves each. The community is controlled by something called an “elder brain”, the last stage of the mind flayer life cycle: essentially a massive brain with tentacles.

How does it compare with the Demogorgon?

Not very favourably. Dungeons and Dragons’ Demogorgon is an 18 foot tall behemoth with a bulky, reptilian torso, two baboon heads and long snake-like tentacles for arms. However, Mind flayer has the psychic abilities to force demogorgon to do its bidding, so size may not matter in this scenario.

Why is the mind flayer important in Stranger Things 2?

Ready for spoilers? OK.

That last life cycle, the “elder brain”, seems to be the closest thing to our Stranger Things monster; Dustin himself references the mind flayer.

Also, remember the bit we said about the mind flayer’s telepathic abilities? That’s exactly what happens to Will, turning him into a vessel and forcing him to do his bidding, as it does to the subterranean “Demo-Dogs”.

While the Dungeons and Dragons characters are predominantly used as reference points, it’s possible that the mind flayer mythology may give us some clues as to what is in store next season…

What could this mean for Stranger Things 3?

The Upside Down monster in the show didn’t look as if it was finished with our Hawkins heroes in the closing moments of season two. As the kids slow danced to Time After Time like any self respecting pre-teens in the 1980s, the camera began to turn upside down, revealing the monster looming large over the school in the hellish dimension, seemingly focused on the group who had banished him from their world.

For one, there are absolutely LOADS of mind flayers: is it possible that the biggest and scariest monster we’ve seen from the Upside Down is just one of a massive fleet?

But even more worrying: they reproduce by placing tadpoles inside humanoid hosts, which then devour the host’s brain, transforming it into a mind flayer. Could the monster have planted its seed in its short spell in the real world?

We may have a long wait ahead.

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Stranger Things 2 is available on Netflix NOW.