Stranger Things 4's Finale Broke The Show's Tired Eleven Tradition

Stranger Things season 4 breaks the show's tradition of having Eleven save the day or do just enough to save others, season after season. In the Stranger Things 4 finale, Netflix seemed to tire of this constant plot trend, and broke it in a dramatic turn of events. Although Eleven seemingly resurrected Max and stopped Vecna, she was still very injured, alluding to the fact that her efforts may have been in vain. So, there seems to be no end in sight for the Vecna torment since Eleven failed to defeat the monster.

Losing her powers in season 3 - after going head-to-head with the Mind Flayer at Hopper’s cabin - caused a shift in Eleven, as much of her personality was tied to her superhuman abilities. So, much of season 4 revolved around her attempts to restore her power, which was believed to be the only hope against Stranger Things' season 4 villain, Vecna. In season 4, Eleven elected to return to the sensory deprivation tank in an attempt to revive her powers. This journey took her back to September 1979, forcing her to relive some painful memories. However, the experience seemingly boosted her telekinetic powers, giving her new ones, including an ability to bring people back from the dead. With this set up, it seemed Eleven was set up perfectly to once again arrive just in time to save the day.


Related: Stranger Things’ Biggest Death Trend Hints At Major Season 4 Ending Twist

Throughout Stranger Things’ run, Eleven has been on a winning streak, escaping the Hawkins Lab and saving the town from a Demogorgon in season 1. In season 2, she learned how to use her powers better and saved the town again. Even after losing her powers, Eleven managed to convince former antagonist Billy Hargrove to join the forces of good in season 3. But in Stranger Things season 4, the show took a different dimension, ridding Eleven of her savior role, completely taking away her agency, and framing her as a monster in season 4, part 1.

Why Eleven Couldn’t Kill Vecna in Stranger Things 4’s Finale

Stranger Things Season 5 Eleven Millie Bobby Brown

Vecna is unlike the other monsters Eleven encountered throughout the show and will take much more effort to kill. He doesn’t just leave his victims to die, but enters their minds, twists their reality, makes them see terrible visions, and finally takes everything from them, which is what happened with Max. Max’s death, even for a few minutes, proved that Vecna’s defeat in Stranger Things season 4 temporarily succeeded. While she was (technically) still alive at the end of season 4’s finale, nothing was left inside her, which explains why Eleven did not find her in the balance.

Eleven’s failure to kill Vecna in season 4 may be the Duffer Brothers’ attempt to rid the show of its tired Eleven tradition, where she defeats Upside Down villains at the end of every season, and life seemingly returns temporarily to normal. Stranger Things season 4 appears to be an exception to the regular storyline, as things don’t go in favor of the show’s protagonist for the first time. This sets up nicely for season 5, where Eleven is expected to fully take on Vecna and the Upside Down, by extension, in a final climactic fight.

Eleven’s inability to kill Vecna could also be because her powers have only just returned and are not mature enough for such a kill. Keeping Vecna alive for another season gives the show a final purpose in the buildup to the destruction of the Upside Down in season 5. Since Vecna has been in the Upside Down for over the past seven years, it only makes sense for Vecna to die when the Upside Down is demolished in Stranger Things season 5, as they appear to be a package deal.