Streaming
Jamie Campbell Bower as Henry Creel / One / Vecna

This Stranger Things TikTok Theory About Vecna Could Change Everything

The evidence may have been hiding in plain sight this whole time.

Netflix

Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things 4, Vol. 1 follow. Over the seasons, Stranger Things has had various monsters invade Hawkins (and now the USSR) from the Upside Down. There have been demogorgons, demodogs, and the Mind Flayer, all malevolent creatures with varying levels of sentience. Season 4 changed things up with Vecna, the first human-based creature who seemingly emerged out of nowhere. Or did he? According to some fans, Vecna has actually been part of Stranger Things since Season 1, and there are some clues to back this theory up.

Although Stranger Things 4 only released seven of the season’s nine episodes when it premiered on May 27, fans got a lot of answers, some to questions they didn’t even know to ask. The final episode of the first installment of the season, “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab,” explained how Eleven came to be the only subject of Brenner’s experiments and revealed how the Upside Down originally opened.

It introduced the original Number One, from whom the MKUltra project originated: Henry Creel, the son of Victor Creel. His psychic abilities and twisted mental state caused him to abuse the memories of the people around him, torturing them. His mother, Virginia, brought him to the attention of Dr. Brenner in her search for a cure. Although Henry slaughtered his mother and sister and staged it so his father would be found guilty of slaying the entire family, Brenner was onto him. Within weeks, he was the first subject of Hawkins Lab’s experiments.

When Number One got too powerful, Brenner infused his DNA into a new batch of subjects, including Eleven. One, now controlled via a chip in his neck and forced to work as a lab orderly, used Eleven’s insecurities and manipulated her into freeing him. He repaid her by taking out everyone in the lab. When she refused to bend to his will, he tried to take her life too, but Eleven was too strong and threw him through reality and into the Upside Down, causing the first rip between worlds.

That was in 1979, four years before the events of Stranger Things 1, which means Vecna, aka One, has been in the Upside Down the whole time. And watching earlier seasons back, TikToker Mark Byers discovered signs of Vecna since the show’s first season.

A major moment of note happens all the way back in Season 1, Episode 1, when Will is biking home just before he’s trapped in the Upside Down. As fans will note, the sound he hears is an old clock chiming — just like the grandfather clock from the Creel House that’s haunted Vecna’s victims in Season 4.

The clock motif has been in the show’s soundscape the whole time. Here’s a scene from Season 3 in which the clock chimes as Billy is dragged away by the Mind Flayer:

Is this proof Vecna has been Stranger Things’ main antagonist this whole time? The Duffer Brothers recently revealed in an interview with Tudum that their original 25-page treatment for the show they submitted to Netflix in Season 1 had this origin story — it just took a while to get around to telling it.

The only question now is whether Eleven is strong enough to face down One again, and this time, close the Upside Down with him in it.