Stranger Things Season 4’s Subtitles Have Dungeons & Dragons Easter Eggs

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things season 4!

There are Dungeon & Dragons easter eggs hidden in Stranger Things season 4's subtitles that viewers may have missed. The Duffer Brothers' smash-hit Netflix original series released the last two episodes of season 4 last week, and the Stranger Things season 4 finale saw its heroes face their deadliest threat yet. As Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Max (Sadie Sink) confronted Vecna/001/Henry Creel (Jamie Campbell Bower) in Max's mind, the other party members fight off enemies both in and out of the Upside Down.

Stranger Things' tense season 4 finale was packed with emotional twists and turns, and all of that emotion had to be conveyed through the subtitles. Many viewers have noticed that the subtitles for Stranger Things season 4 were more vivid than in the past seasons, sometimes describing sound effects with appropriately unsettling detail. This increase in descriptive language was a result of Netflix's urge to improve the viewing experience for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by adding more emotive subtitles. This way all viewers could experience the true horror of Vecna's tentacles "squelching wetly."


Related: Vecna's Nancy Twist Creates A Stranger Things Screenwriting Problem

Vulture spoke with Stranger Things season 4's subtitle author Jeff T. and his editor Karli Witkowska about this season's creative descriptions. They revealed that there are unfound Dungeon & Dragons easter eggs hidden in the subtitles as well. Jeff shared two references to the table-top RPG that he said no one had caught yet. One compared Eleven's powers to a warlock's forbidden spell, and the other combined two separate references to describe Vecna's creation of the Mind Flayer. Check out Jeff T.'s full explanation of the easter eggs below:

A creation like Vecna really allows me to get as florid and over the top as I want to because it’s a perfect mix of marriage of the material. “Eldritch” is a good word for [his powers], but also because it’s a reference to Dungeon & Dragons. There’s this warlock … I’m trying to figure out how nerdy I should get here. The warlock class, which is one of the classes you can play in D&D, their signature spell is “Eldritch blast,” and they are a class that has made a deal with an alien in power, whether it’s a demon or an Archfey, or whatever it is. I also thought it was a great word for the tactile sensation of it. The reference to making bargains with forbidden powers was a great nod too. I added a couple of Dungeons & Dragons references, actually. There was a two-fer! Nobody’s caught it yet, and I am extremely online, so if people have tweeted or posted about this on Reddit, chances are I’ve seen it. I was hoping somebody would pick it up.

In the “Henry/Vecna/001 creating the Mind Flayer” scene, I also used the tag “[dissonant gibbering]”, which is a reference to two Dungeons & Dragons spells. The first is “dissonant whispers,” which is a bard spell. It’s supposed to be — God, I am irredeemably nerdy. So, “dissonant whispers” is a bard sliding into your mind to break down your defenses. Then there is “gibbering.” There’s a monster called the Gibbering Mouther, which is basically a pile of goo with mouths and teeth meant to drive people crazy, so I thought, Let me put this here, because that’s exactly what this giant swirling particle monster is.

Stranger Things 4 Subtitles Vecna

Stranger Things has paid homage to many science fiction, horror, and fantasy properties from the past and often includes other pop culture references and easter eggs from the time. Dungeons & Dragons debuted on Stranger Things way back in season 1 as Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas' (Caleb McLaughlin) favorite game. It would be used in seasons 1-3 to explain how the Upside Down and its monster interacted with Hawkins, but in season 4 it was also central to the secondary plot when Jason (Mason Dye) blamed Chrissy's (Grace Van Dien) death on the Hellfire Club. As shown in Jeff T.'s reveal, the game's influence has even reached the subtitles.

Hearing how Jeff T. integrated Dungeons & Dragons into the subtitles proves how the accessibility feature can also be used to add to a show's entertainment value. Scores have long been used to increase tension or inform the audience of a character's presence, but deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers won't be able to experience those moments unless the subtitles reliably translate them. Still, Stranger Things season 4's subtitles aren't just a necessary secondary means to convey what's happening; they also enhance the show with the added easter eggs. Hopefully, after Stranger Things' success, more shows and movies will follow suit.