One of the joys of entertainment is that it invites you to take part in pointless arguments. That’s how I came to spend the Friday before the Fourth of July aggressively slacking with my editor, Alex Zalben, about Stranger Things. It started as a simple observation: It’s weird that Season 4 spent so long casually letting us believe Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) murdered oh-so-many children. By the end of the day, it had blossomed into a question that has lurked in the back of my head ever since: Who has killed more people — Eleven or Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower)? And what the hell does that mean? Obviously, spoilers ahead.
The answer to this question is exactly who you think it is. It’s Vecna. I’m not going to hide the truth from you. It’s also an answer that has left me with a dozen more questions, many of them about Eleven as our undisputed “hero.” Is there a number of people you have to kill before you can no longer be considered the good guy? If so, what is that number? Are there exceptions? These are all questions I’ve failed to answer. All I can say is that, in the grand scope of heroes’ stories that often feature blameless children pitted against mass murdering adults, it sure is weird that I can even ask this. Let’s get into the math:
How Many People Has Eleven Killed?
By our count, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has been responsible for the deaths of 21 people. Twelve of those deaths happened in Season 1. Her escape from Hawkins Lab led to six guards being killed. Five more were killed when she telekinetically threw a van at them. Then there was Connie Frazier (Catherine Dyer), the Hawkins Lab government agent who was the main antagonist of Season 1. Eleven ended her by crushing her brain.
Season 2 was a relatively peaceful one for Eleven, which meant no deaths. But Season 3 was more chaotic. Towards the back half of the season, she killed four Russian soldiers. That brings us to Season 4. In the first half of Season 4, she killed three Project Nina guards by slamming them against the roof. The second half saw her taking out two U.S. soldiers as they were shooting at her friends from a helicopter. That’s not the biggest kill count of this show, but it is staggering considering that Eleven is a 15-year-old girl.
How Many People Has Vecna Killed?
Eleven’s count may be high, but Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) has her beat. The monster formerly known as Henry Creel has directly killed 40 people. That number jumps up to 41 if you count Max’s (Sadie Sink) brief trip to the grave.
In a move fitting for one of TV’s greatest serial killers, Vecna, aka One, aka Henry Creel started with his mom. As a child, Vecna killed two people: his mother and his sister. His next massacre as One was far deadlier. By the end of Stranger Things 4 Part 2, we learned that One, and not Eleven, was responsible for the bloodbath at Hawkins Lab. Based on the flashback in “The Hellfire Club”, he killed an estimated 21 people: 13 lab subjects, two orderlies, two guards, Ten, Alec, Dr. Ellis, and Six. A flashback during “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” later reveals that Vecna killed even more people in Hawkins Lab than we thought. This new scene shows the deaths of nine guards, three orderlies, as well as Selee and Miller. So that’s 35 for this laboratory massacre. By the way, all of those deaths happen before the main action of this season started.
Then there were the three poor teens of Season 4. Vecna’s first big credited kill was Chrissy Cunningham (Grace Van Dien). He followed that murder with canonically terrible driver Fred Benson (Logan Riley Bruner) and basketball star Patrick McKinney (Myles Truitt). But wait, there’s more. You could add Max to this list since Vecna does actually kill her. But since Eleven brings her back, the death comes with a major asterisk.
Another asterisk has to do with Vecna’s indirect death count. He has knowingly and consciously murdered many, but there are countless others who have died due to his actions. For example, we know that when Vecna’s gates came together, at least 22 Hawkins residents died, including jerky jock Jason Carver (Mason Dye). Who knows how many others have perished in the wake of his various schemes? Since he’s been the puppet master behind this entire series, it’s not insane to at least partially blame him for the deaths caused by various Demogorgons, Upside Down bats, and the Mind Flayer. Basically, if you only count direct deaths that have stood the test of time, Vecna is up to 40. But if you count indirect deaths, that number is at least 62 people, but probably more. A lot more.
Can Eleven Kill Too Many People Before She Stops Being A Hero?
Thankfully, this thought experiment has ended with our girl in the moral right. When death is on the table, it’s pretty important that your hero hasn’t killed more people than your biggest villain. But just the fact that we’re asking these questions speaks to an uncomfortable truth about this show.
Killing 21 people isn’t nothing. But Eleven has only killed people in either self-defense, or to save her friends. When it comes to brutal murder, context matters, and a shocking number of her foes have been cool with pulling a gun on a child. That objectively makes them trash.
That said, now we’re comfortably in double digits and Eleven has done absolutely none of the handwringing that typically comes with superheroes ending lives in the name of justice. We’ve been trained to think of our main characters as being morally superior to the rest of us, people who can still find compassion for their greatest enemies. Even our heroes that have rejected that route have had to grapple with the moral reckoning that comes with ending another person’s life. It’s weird to see Eleven and her friends bragging about her kill count with the same cavalier confidence you’d expect from Deadpool.
There are no good answers here. If Stranger Things addresses this problem, we’ll have to sit through hours of Eleven crying and calling herself a monster, like she did in the first two thirds of Season 4 when she thought she was responsible for the Hawkins Lab massacre. Boo. Hard pass. If the show skips over this uncomfortable truth, we’ll have to politely ignore the fact that our best girl has basically wiped out two soccer teams worth of people. Like most arguments with friends, this one is a thought experiment with no good outcomes. But thankfully, nobody died in the process.
The post ‘Stranger Things’: Who Has Killed More People, Eleven or Vecna? appeared first on Decider.