Stranger Things is chock full of 80s references from Stephen King, Aliens, Larry Cohen, and most notably, Dungeons & Dragons. The game plays a big role in the lives of Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will, as they bond over it and find clues about the Upside Down from it. In fact, most of the Upside Down monsters are a direct reference to the game. But these monsters, although inspired by the game, are starkly different from the show’s reincarnations.
Vecna from Stranger Things season 4
The show’s season 4 teased its latest villain, Vecna in the trailer. Vecna was a mage that turned into a lich after turning to dark arts and became a god. In D&D, Vecna appears as a skeleton wearing jewels, a crown, and holding a book. He has one eye.
However, the Stranger Things incarnation takes a humanoid form that has arms shooting out its back. He isn’t missing an eye.
The Mind Flayer
The Mind Flayer terrorized the gang in season 3. In the show, it gets a more gruesome representation consisting of writhing limbs and a fanged mouth. While D&D’s Mind Flayer is a squid-faced creature. Despite the difference in their forms, they both can enslave other creatures and manipulate them to do their bidding.
The Demogorgon that attacked Will in season 1, and remained a threat throughout, doesn’t have the lamprey-like fanged mouth in D&D. In the game, the monster is bigger than humans, has a forked tail, tentacles, and two heads.
Additional D&D references in Stranger Things
As mentioned earlier, Lucas, Will, Dustin, and Mike are major fans of the game. They are seen playing the game on the show several times. In one such episode, Lucas defeats Thessalhydra in the game. But the actual game monster has eight heads instead of the seven that Lucas chopped off.
Additionally, the kids’ conversation about “weird flowers in the cave, lost knight, and the proud princess” are further references to the game. Weird flowers are the vines of the Upside Down, and it is likely, Bob Newby, Joyce’s dead love interest, is The Lost Knight. And the creators may even be referring to Max or even Eleven as The Proud Princess. Max was indeed too proud to hang out with the gang in season 2.
Did you come across any more D&D references in the series? Comment them below.