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Stranger Things Season 4 Ending Explained (In Detail)


Stranger Things Season 4 Ending Explained (In Detail)


Summary

  • Vecna emerges as the ultimate villain by the ending of
    Stranger Things
    season 4, a powerful threat to Hawkins with ties to the Mind-Flayer and the creation of the Upside Down.
  • Stranger Things
    season 4 ending sets up a high-stakes, apocalyptic conclusion for the series, with Vecna’s invasion of the human world.
  • Max’s fate, Will’s connection to Vecna, and Eleven’s pivotal role hint at a tragic endgame for the characters in
    Stranger Things
    season 5.



The Stranger Things season 4, episode 9 ending is an explosive finale that has a major setup for season 5. The stakes are higher than ever, with the introduction of Vecna — a terrifying monster eventually revealed to be Dr. Brenner’s Number One. Vecna possesses all Eleven’s powers, and he’s been using them to commit murders from the Upside Down. Season 4 sees all the heroes of Hawkins play their part, with Max putting herself in grave danger to draw Vecna into a trap. It would have backfired badly if not for unexpected, long-range psychic backup from Eleven, who engaged Vecna in a psychic duel.

Meanwhile, in Russia, Hopper and Joyce did their best to run interference for their families by causing yet more damage to the hive mind. Stranger Things season 4 has the darkest edge yet, but — in spite of warnings from the Duffer brothers — there actually aren’t that many fatalities. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the various heroes of Hawkins emerge triumphant. Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 ends with the revelation they won a Pyrrhic victory — and Hawkins is paying the price for it.


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Vecna Created The Mind-Flayer

The Stranger Things Season 4 Upside Down Reveal Explained

Vecna looks at the Mind Flayer in Stranger Things

The Stranger Things season 4 ending reveals Vecna has been the show’s villain all along, and also revealed some key information about the Upside Down. Vecna presents another flashback, revealing he swiftly came to realize the Upside Down was no purgatory; rather, it was a dimension untouched by human beings.

When Vecna entered the Upside Down he decided to impose his own, even stricter, order by creating an all-consuming hive mind.


At first, Vecna became an explorer, wandering the Upside Down, reveling in a realm that had been untouched by humanity. Finally, Henry stumbled upon a mysterious cloud of particles, from which Vecna formed the Mind-Flayer. These particles appear to be the basis of the hive mind, because anything that ingests them becomes caught up in it. This is clearly a retcon, but it actually fits rather well with Stranger Things season 2.


It’s amusing to note that Vecna appears ignorant of his own nature. His complaint against humanity is that people have imposed structure on the physical world; and yet, for all that’s the case, when Vecna entered the Upside Down he decided to impose his own, even stricter, order by creating an all-consuming hive mind. All the best villains have a degree of hypocrisy to them, a flaw to their philosophy that they are personally unaware of, and Vecna is no exception.

How Is Vecna Still Alive? How Can He Be Killed?

Putting An End To The Chief Stranger Things Antagonist Won’t Be Easy

Stranger Things Vecna Burning

Vecna takes a phenomenal amount of damage in the Stranger Things season 4 ending. Eleven successfully beats him back in yet another psychic duel, while Nancy, Steve, and Robin attack his body with Molotov cocktails and a sawn-off shotgun. Vecna’s badly-injured body falls through the window to the ground, a fall that should have been fatal — but, incredibly, his body had disappeared by the time the trio rushed down the stairs.


The ending of
Stranger Things
season 4 confirms Vecna is inarguably the toughest threat currently facing humanity when it comes to entities from and linked to the Upside Down.

Vecna’s body and mind are clearly resilient, but it’s reasonable to assume his escape was assisted by creatures from the Upside Down he controls. While the full extent of his abilities weren’t revealed, the ending of Stranger Things season 4 confirms Vecna is inarguably the toughest threat currently facing humanity when it comes to entities from and linked to the Upside Down.

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What Happens To Hawkins At The End Of Stranger Things 4

Hawkins Is More Connected To The Upside Down Than Ever Before

Eleven watches Hawkins burn in Stranger Things

Unfortunately, the victory in the Stranger Things season 4 finale was too late, because Vecna succeeded in killing Max, and the moment came with dire consequences for the town of Hawkins. The earthquakes in the Upside Down were clearly a result of dimensional instability, with the Upside Down — which appears to be some sort of naturally occurring pocket dimension — drawn ever closer to the real world by the creation of successive gates.

An earthquake of over 7 on the Richter scale strikes Hawkins at the moment of Max’s death, signifying the final shift, with fissures opening across the town. Plumes of Upside Down ash rise from the ground, settling across the area around Hawkins. Eleven looks out at an apocalyptic vision, as Hell really does seem to have come to town.


Curiously enough, all this is in keeping with the original series Bible for the hit Netflix show, back when Stranger Things was called Montauk. That hinted at events consuming an entire town:

“Over the course of the series, the ‘tear’ or ‘rip’ that separates their world from ours will begin to spread across Montauk like a supernatural cancer. This cancer will manifest itself in increasingly bizarre paranormal ways. Electrical fields will be disrupted. Strange fungi will grow on structures and people. A heavy fog will drift in from the Atlantic. The temperature will plummet. Food will rot. Gravity will fluctuate. People will glimpse bizarre entities in their homes and businesses. There will be an escalating number of ‘vanishings.’ The entire town will become ‘haunted’ — and in grave danger. If people can disappear… can an entire town?”


It’s telling that Stranger Things season 4 ends with grass and flowers rotting as the Upside Down expands — seemingly in fulfillment of this original concept.

Is Max Going To Die In Stranger Things?

Max in a hospital bed in Stranger Things

Max’s heart stopped for a minute, meaning she was clinically dead during the ending of Stranger Things season 4. Eleven could not accept this, however, using all her power to try to bring her friend back. She appears to have been partially successful; Max is alive but in a coma. When Eleven enters her mind, she finds Max is brain-dead.

Given that Max’s brief death brought the dimensions together, it’s possible she will somehow play a role in separating them once again.


It’s disturbing to note the Upside Down invasion was triggered shortly after, perhaps indicating Vecna is somehow tied to Max, and he sensed Eleven’s intrusion into her mind. It would be in keeping with his character to wait until Eleven is physically back in Hawkins. There must be a reason Max isn’t still dead in Stranger Things, meaning the character will serve an important role in season 5. Given that Max’s brief death brought the dimensions together, it’s possible she will somehow play a role in separating them once again.

Why Eddie Sacrificed Himself In Stranger Things’ Ending

The Fan-Favorite Character Chose A Heroic Death

Eddie dies in Stranger Things


Stranger Things seems to have a habit of introducing new characters, only to kill them off. Joseph Quinn’s Eddie Munson becomes the true hero of Stranger Things season 4, sacrificing himself at the end to continue distracting the hive mind.

Inspired by Dustin and Steve in particular, Eddie decided he’d choose to go out a hero during the
Stranger Things
season 4 finale.

Eddie had always imagined himself as a hero in his Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, and he’d been dissatisfied with his actions over the course of the season — specifically, with his running away from the supernatural rather than daring to face it. Inspired by Dustin and Steve in particular, Eddie decided he’d choose to go out a hero during the Stranger Things season 4 finale.

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Stranger Things Season 4 All But Confirms Will Byers Is Gay

Will Is Finally Coming To Terms With His Sexuality

Mike and Will look on in stranger things

Stranger Things has long been hinting Will Byers is gay. Even the Duffer brothers’ series Bible for the show hinted as such. Will was described as “a sweet, sensitive kid with sexual identity issues.” This is made all-but-official in the final episodes, with Will sharing several conversations about being gay — although avoiding saying anything too concrete.

Will clearly loves Mike, but his emotions are too turbulent for him to know how to deal with them — particularly in a society much less accepting than the modern world. Will is truly selfless in his love for Mike, even offering relationship advice so Mike can understand his importance to Eleven. Jonathan sees what is happening, and offers Will his support. Nothing is said explicitly, with the characters dancing around the truth, but the dynamic is pretty clear.


The final scenes of Stranger Things season 4 are intriguing, with Eleven standing at the front looking out at Hawkins. Three couples are stood behind her: Jonathan and Nancy, Hopper and Joyce, and Will and Mike. Two of those couples will be key to Stranger Things season 5 — Joyce and Hopper are finally an item, while Nancy and Jonathan are on the verge of a breakup. The scene may therefore symbolize that the dynamic between Will and Mike will be just as important.

Why Will Is Connected To Vecna

The kids look up outside of Hopper's cabin in Stranger Things


The ending of Stranger Things season 4 reveals that Will is still connected to Vecna. The connection between Will and the Mind-Flayer was established back in season 1, when Will was rescued too late from the Upside Down — having ingested some of the Mind-Flayer particles. While the Mind-Flayer was banished in season 2, but it seems a residual psychic connection has remained.

Will could be of real help in understanding Vecna’s actions. Alternatively, he could become Vecna’s own unwilling agent if Vecna discovers the link.

When Will arrives back in Hawkins, he finds the weakening of the dimensional barriers means he can now sense Vecna’s thoughts. It will be interesting to see how this develops in Stranger Things season 5; Will could be of real help in understanding Vecna’s actions. Alternatively, he could become Vecna’s own unwilling agent if Vecna discovers the link.


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Will Robin & Vickie Get Together In Stranger Things 5?

The Season 4 Ending Hinted At A Romantic Arc For Robin When The Show Returns

Robin and Vickie work together in Stranger Things

Stranger Things stars teenagers, which means love lives have increasingly become an important subplot. Season 4 saw Robin crush on another girl, Vickie, only to discover she has a boyfriend. The next encounter between the two is much more promising, however, with Vickie revealing she’s broken up with her boyfriend and the two discovering how alike they are.

It really does look as though Robin could find love in Stranger Things season 5 — especially given all the Hawkins residents will have to work together to survive, meaning she and Vickie will be forced to depend on one another.


What Stranger Things 4’s Ending Means For Season 5

The Scale Of The Next Season Could Be Apocalyptic

The kids look out over a field in Stranger Things

The ending of Stranger Things season 4 marks a turning point for the entire Netflix TV series, with events moving to a scale never seen before. Previous seasons had dealt with limited incursions that could be driven back, with smaller gates that can be closed. Now, though, the Upside Down has invaded Hawkins, and Vecna clearly intends to move on from there to wiping out humanity.

Fortunately, the two-day delay in Vecna’s invasion served as a rather convenient plot device to give all the characters time to assemble at Hawkins. Stranger Things is ending in season 5, and it’s easy to see why; this is the dramatic climax, the culmination of everything the Duffer brothers have been doing all along, as hinted in the series Bible itself.


What Stranger Things Season 4’s Ending Really Means

The Final Moments Of The Previous Season Turned The Show On Its Head

Eleven looks angry in Stranger Things

In thematic terms, the Stranger Things season 4 ending turns the franchise on its head. Previous seasons had always ended up in convenient cover-ups, and the government attempted to do the same in season 4, pretending there’s simply been an earthquake. But now the boundary between Hawkins and the Upside Down has been torn open in spectacular fashion, and all these secrets will come out.

This will likely be the theme of Stranger Things season 5, as hidden truths are finally revealed — perhaps explaining why the show is still avoiding explicitly confirming Will is gay to his friends, simply because that coming-out theme will fit thematically. It’s going to be thrilling to see how the people of Hawkins deal with all these truths.


Her separation from the group may hint at an ominous and tragic ending to the story of
Stranger Things
, as the girl who stumbled into their lives and transformed them risks everything to keep them alive.

The relationship dynamics and pairings lie at the heart of Stranger Things. This isn’t just because the show stars teenage protagonists; romance has also been woven into the lives of Hopper and Joyce. The final shots of Stranger Things season 4, episode 9 seem to emphasize this; Robin starts to connect with Vickie in Hawkins, and moments later Eleven stands in front of three “couples.” Her separation from the group may hint at an ominous and tragic ending to the story of Stranger Things, as the girl who stumbled into their lives and transformed them risks everything to keep them alive.


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How Stranger Things’ Season 4 Ending Sets Up The Show’s Endgame

Stranger Things has come a long way since the show’s beginnings as a Silent-Hill-esque mystery drama about a group of kids in a small town trying to unravel the location of their missing friend. Stranger Things season 5 is confirmed to be the final installment of the show, and the season 4 ending set up the conclusion of the series in several key ways. The key way that the Stranger Things season 4 ending laid the foundation for the closing chapter is with the reveal of Vecna’s plans and his triggering of the incursion of the Upside Down into the world.


The final arcs of
Stranger Things
look set to be almost unrecognizable next to the opening.

The final arcs of Stranger Things look set to be almost unrecognizable next to the opening. Humanity may not realize it yet, but it is under invasion from a powerful being that seeks to drive it to extinction. The scale of the final season of Stranger Things could be an apocalyptic sci-fi story rather than the chilling horror-inspired mystery feel of earlier installments. The main antagonist and his motives have all been revealed, and his plan was set in motion by the time Stranger Things season 4 concluded. Stranger Things will conclude with a battle against Vecna, whether it’s just Eleven and the core cast trying to stop him, or (as could well be the case) the entire town of Hawkins or even humanity as a whole.


There are, of course, many character-specific elements of the end of Stranger Things set up by the season 4 finale too. Outside of Will Byer’s sexuality and Robin possibly finally getting a girlfriend, the end of Stranger Things could be incredibly tragic for characters such as Eleven or Max. There’s no guarantee they’ll still be alive when the show concludes, and it’s entirely possible that the ending of Stranger Things may be one that’s bittersweet at best, absolutely tragic for viewers at worst.

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