Stranger Things has introduced fans to a whole world of now-iconic villains through the Upside Down - the Demogorgans have haunted many a nightmare, as has the terrifying Mind-Flayer.
However, in season 4 the team behind the hit Netflix sci-fi series have truly outdone themselves, introducing a horrifying and intriguing new villain Vecna, who is truly unlike anything we've seen in the show before.
While previous villains may have been imposing and deadly, Vecna is more of a calculating and motivated enemy, using his telekinetic powers to possess trauma-filled teens from his lair. His subsequent kills truly earn the show its 15 age rating, graphically exposing the strength of his power.
If you've already made your way through the seasons first seven episodes then you'll understand why Vecna's also a more personal threat to Eleven and Hawkins as a whole than we've seen before. However, if you're in need of a recap or are unafraid of spoilers then we've compiled everything you need to know about the creature below.
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Whilst you wait for Stranger Things season 4 volume 2, here's everything you need to know about season 4 villain Vecna.
**Spoiler warning for Stranger Things season 4**
Who is Vecna in Stranger Things?
Vecna is the main antagonist of Stranger Things season 4.
Hailing from the Upside Down, Vecna has the ability to create illusions in people's minds and then while they're trapped in them, in the real world they stand there catatonic, start floating, then he breaks all their bones and their jaws and pops their eyes out - and then they die.
Just like the Demogorgons in seasons 1 and 2, Vecna is named after a Dungeons and Dragons antagonist, yet as is often the case with Stranger Things bears little resemblance to his namesake.
The creators have stated that they wanted Vecna to be unlike other Upside Down villains - providing a more cerebral character and one who moves slowly and is more humanoid.
Dustin Henderson star Gaten Matarazzo previously told RadioTimes.com that Nightmare on Elm Street was "a big inspiration" for the Duffer Brothers going into season 4, and that they had "wanted to really take it up a notch with everything... particularly in the horror realm".
It, therefore, makes sense that Vecna shares clear similarities with Elm Street's villain Freedy Krueger, in that he also insinuated himself into his victim's minds, and pursues them through dream sequences before enacting his gruesome will.
Appropriately, Robert Englund, who played Krueger in that franchise, appears as creepy Victor Creel in this season.
The Duffer Brothers have also noted Pinhead from the Hellraiser series as an inspiration.
Now, **major spoiler warning**
Vecna actor: What is the villain's true identity?
Vecna is actually Peter Ballard, played by actor Jamie Campell Bower.
Initially appearing to be a kindly lab orderly in flashbacks, Peter turned out to be One – or 001 – the original subject of Dr Brenner’s (Matthew Modine) telekinetic/psychic experiments, but whose psychosis was so severe that the doctors repressed his powers with the chip while trying to recreate them in other children.
After previously having tricked Eleven into destroying the chip, Peter goes on a killing spree in the lab until a confrontation with Eleven ended in her casting him into the Upside Down - where after falling through various dimensions and sustaining various injuries, Peter was transformed into Vecna.
Vecna's abilities mirror Eleven's and his years in the Upside Down have only made him more powerful, setting the stage for an almighty showdown.
How does Vecna affect our heroes in Stranger Things 4?
Vecna's abilities mean that this is the biggest danger that our characters have faced yet.
Hopper star David Harbour telling Variety that "Vecna is a psychological horror that I don’t think we’ve really seen. The Upside Down has been this wild west world where there are creatures running around, there’s violence, but we’ve never seen something as calculatedly psychologically evil as this. That’s exciting because he is a true big bad that we’ve needed in the series."
The new episodes suggest Vecna has been pulling the strings this entire time and sets him up as the central villain for the series.
With Harbour talking about Vecna as a "big bad" for the "series" does that mean he will continue on into season 5? Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Erica Sinclair actress Priah Ferguson told Variety that "Vecna is very scary. It’s something that messes with your mind. I think that’s gonna get the audience a little bit more freaked out because that freaks me out more than jumpscares."
Read more of our Stranger Things coverage:
- Stranger Things fans go wild for Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill after iconic scene
- Where did Stranger Things leave off? Recap ahead of season 4
- Meet the cast of Stranger Things season 4
- How Stranger Things 4 was inspired by real Dungeons & Dragons panic
- When is Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 released on Netflix?
- Will Eleven be the final villain of Stranger Things?
- Who is Joseph Quinn? Meet Eddie in Stranger Things season 4
- Stranger Things season 4 part 1 ending explained: What happened to Eleven?
- Who plays 001 in Stranger Things 4? Meet actor Jamie Campbell Bower
- What is the Stranger Things age rating? Fans say season 4 is 'scariest' yet
- Will Nancy and Steve get back together in Stranger Things?
- Stranger Things 4 soundtrack: every song featured in the Netflix show
- Who is Eduardo Franco? Meet Argyle in Stranger Things season 4
Stranger Things 4 part 1 is available to stream on Netflix, with more coming on July 1st. Stranger Things seasons 1-3 are now available on Netflix.
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