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Stranger Things Season 4’s Confirmed Returning Villains (& Who’s New)

Many major villains are coming back for Stranger Things season 4 — here’s everything we know about the new and returning villains in the Netflix series’ latest season, as well as information on the new Big Bad. Since the show debuted in mid-2016, Stranger Things has boasted an array of antagonists ranging from redeemable human characters, like reformed bully Steve, to inhuman monsters, like the dimension-hopping DemogorgonStranger Things season 4 features some new villains too, that have to be seen to be believed.

As the scope of Stranger Things changed from seasons 1—3, the series also made room for more villains, both human and supernatural. By Stranger Things season 2, the gang had to contend with the shady scientist of Hawkins Lab, the unhinged bully Billy, the Mind Flayer, and the Demogorgon. By season 3, Stranger Things had introduced Cary Elwes’ corrupt Hawkins mayor, secret Soviet scientists and their unstoppable assassin, a body-snatching Spider Monster, and the misogynistic staff of the Hawkins Post.

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Related: Stranger Things Season 4 Already Wasted Its Biggest Twist

There’s no denying that Stranger Things has had plenty of memorable villains from seasons 1–3, but some of them are well and truly dead and unlikely to be seen again onscreen. However, for every villain who is definitively dead, a few more (like Stranger Things season 1’s villain Dr. Brenner) make a comeback in season 4. Here’s a full breakdown of the characters most likely to return to Stranger Things in season 4.

Dr. Brenner

Stranger Things season 1’s big bad, Dr. Brenner, was the amoral scientist responsible for Eleven’s telekinetic powers. A creepy father figure to the show’s heroine, Dr. Brenner experimented on Eleven in Hawkins Lab, and either created or discovered her psychic abilities. Despite being attacked and seemingly killed by the Demogorgon at the close of season 1, Dr. Brenner will return, judging by Stranger Things season 4’s clips so far. In addition, the episode titles have been leaked. Dr. Brenner will presumably make his reappearance towards the end of Stranger Things season 4, Part 1 in an episode titled “Papa.” As the man responsible for Eleven’s supernatural abilities, Brenner is one of the most important villains in the show so far. Not only that, but Dr. Brenner’s experiments also unleashed the Demogorgon, meaning his return could tie together some enigmatic elements of both the heroine’s backstory and the broader lore of Stranger Things.


Hawkins Lab

The shady institution run by Dr. Brenner was still in operation after he (seemingly) died at the close of Stranger Things season 1, but was pretty much obsolete by season 3. Once taken over by Dr. Owens in season 2, Hawkins Lab operated more transparently and legitimately, with its scientists even helping Will Byers with his Mind Flayer possession. The end of the season saw Hopper adopt Eleven, and the Lab seemingly shut down, but this was not the whole story. Stranger Things season 4 clips make it likely that Hawkins Lab test subjects will escape in the upcoming season, meaning the lab must still be operating, and its scientists are likely to return. Concurrently, Eleven is being recruited by a government organization to regain her lost powers, and Hawkins Lab could be a part of that. While the scene seen in the footage could be a flashback to Eleven’s past, it is more likely that the mass breakout occurs during the action of Stranger Things season 4, since it seems impossible for numerous test subjects to have escaped alongside Eleven and not kept in touch.


Related: Stranger Things Season 4 Is Already Fixing Season 3’s Worst Mistake

The Russians (& Grigori)

The Soviet scientists who set up and operate the interdimensional portal under the Starcourt Mall are guaranteed to return in Stranger Things season 4, if only because Hopper is stuck in Siberia with them. There’s also a Demogorgon in the prison, presumably being used against the Russian prisoners. However, the odds of Girgori, the Terminator-style assassin who Hopper personally offed at the end of season 3, coming back are a lot lower. For one thing, Grigori’s entire subplot was one of Stranger Things season 3’s less critically-acclaimed elements, as it mostly consisted of numerous chase scenes, punctuated by obvious nods to iconic ‘80s movies. For another, the shockingly resilient Grigori fulfilled his plot purpose by giving Hopper a fake-out death in the Stranger Things season 3 finale, meaning his return would be deeply redundant in a series already overburdened with a vast cast.


Billy

Judging by the Stranger Things season 4 episode title “Dear Billy,” it seems likely that Dacre Montgomery’s unhinged, scene-stealing bully will be back. However, he was definitively dead at the end of Stranger Things season 3, meaning these appearances may be limited to flashbacks from his sister Max. It is not inconceivable that Billy could have survived his apparent death at the hands of the Mind Flayer, since the rules followed by the interdimensional monsters of Stranger Things have never been clearly outlined, and Eleven did make it through her season 1 confrontation with the Demogorgon. However, Billy was skewered through the torso and doesn’t have any of Eleven’s superpowers to fall back on, making it likely that the Stephen King-inspired Stranger Things villain is likely gone for good (save for flashback cameos).


Related: Why Stranger Things 4’s Monster Villain Could Be Bigger Than Mind Flayer

Stranger Things Season 4’s Main Villain

stranger things vecna

Stranger Things season 4’s big bad will be the new villain, Vecna, named after a D&D villain (as per usual), according to footage from the upcoming installment. Vecna’s history is interesting, as he may have been the first victim of Hawkins Laboratory. When Vecna was sent into the Upside Down, he reportedly didn’t come out. Instead, he turned into the giant spider-like being he is today, and over time, became the penultimate leader of the alternate dimension. Vecna declares an all-out war on the town and may use the Creel House as a portal into the human world. Not much is known about Vecna’s abilities, but the series will likely afford the Upside Down’s ruler an absurd level of power.

What Will Season 4’s Story Be?

Sadie Sink as Max in Stranger Things season 4

Stranger Things season 4 footage shows a variety of plot details of the upcoming 2-part installment. Coupled with the leaked episode titles, much can be ascertained from speculation alone. The Byers and Eleven moved away at the end of season 3, and they are trying to find their place in California. Eleven and Will will form a deeper partnership as they navigate their new school together, supporting each other while trying to fit in. In Hawkins, the teens are shown exploring the new location of the Creel House, which is surrounded by giant pterodactyl-like creatures from The Upside Down. Friendships will be tested between Mike and the gang, as Lucas finds new popularity as a member of the jocks. Max may receive some powers of her own, and she’s finally given time to mourn Billy’s death. The most exciting prospects of Stranger Things season 4 are Vecna and the war he’s waging on Hawkins.


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