Stranger Things theory suggests Vecna appeared all the way back in season 1

Vecna in Stranger Things 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

Warning: spoilers for Stranger Things season 4, part 1 ahead...

Stranger Things season 4 introduced Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) as the new big bad of the show. The terrifying wizard-like creature has been terrorizing the teenagers of Hawkins all through volume one. Focusing on those with traumatic backgrounds, he appears in visions before brutally killing them.

However, the reveal at the end of episode seven (which you can read all about in Stranger Things 4 part 1 ending explained) may suggest he’s been lurking in the background for a lot longer than this. We find out in the final episode that he was created by Eleven back when she was still in the Hawkins Laboratory – before the events of the first season took place. 

As a result, some fans think he may have been involved in the disappearance of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) back in episode one. This theory centers around the grandfather clock chimes that mark Vecna’s arrival whenever he targets a character.

Via Den of Geek, a TikTok user spotted how a very similar clock noise can be heard just before Will is taken into the Upside Down. When he is riding back from playing Dungeons and Dragons, he falls off his bike after seeing the Demogorgon in the middle of the road. As he tumbles down the hill, a loud clock chime can be heard, followed by several quieter ones.

Jamie Campbell Bower in Stranger Things

(Image credit: Netflix)

This isn’t the only time a clock has been heard in the show, either. Another TikToker noticed that in season 3, a clock is chiming when Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) first meets the Mind Flayer. At the beginning of the second episode, he sees a horde of people coming toward him in the Upside Down after being pulled into the dimension at Brimborn Steel Works. During this moment, a clock can be heard loudly chiming in the background.

What makes this theory all the more tantalizing is the reveal from Duffer Brothers that Vecna has been part of their plan all along. In an interview with Tudum, Matt Duffer shared that exploring that character was part of their initial pitch for the show. 

"We had this 25-page mythology document that Netflix made us write all the way back in season 1," he explained when asked about the Vecna twist. "Because we were like, 'We know what’s going on in the Upside Down, more or less, but we want it to be unknowable. We want it to be mysterious.' But they were like, 'Yeah, but can you write it down?' And so we wrote it all down."

Speaking about exploring the origins of the Upside Down, and in particular who One/Vecna/Henry Creel is, he added: "We’ve been waiting to get into their backstory, in terms of, obviously, the mystery of what happened to the other numbers. Specifically One, right? And, it just took us a while to get around to telling that story."

Stranger Things season 4 will be returning with two final episodes very soon - check out our release schedule to make sure you don’t miss them. In the meantime, we've been compiling some more theories ahead of the finale. Some viewers think Steve could be in danger while others have been wondering if a surprising character could be helping Vecna out.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.