‘Stranger Things 2’: Everything You Need to Know About D&D’s Mind Flayer

Like the last season, “Stranger Things 2” is all about a monster that has a lot of similarities to a spooky “Dungeons & Dragons” creature

"Stranger Things" Season 2
"Stranger Things" Season 2

(Note: This post contains some spoilers for “Stranger Things 2.”)

Like Season One before it, “Stranger Things 2” is all about an extra-dimensional monster that sets its sights on Hawkins, Indiana. And just like in Season 1, the characters of “Stranger Things” try to understand the real monster they face by likening it to one the find in the game “Dungeons & Dragons.”

In “Stranger Things 2,” Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is contending with another monster from the Upside-Down. Will calls it the “Shadow Monster” and sees it as a massive, multi-armed creature that towers in the air.

Eventually, though, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) star to think of the Shadow Monster as a “D&D” creature known as “the Mind Flayer.” Understanding the Mind Flayer helps the kids to understand what the Shadow Monster is and what it might be up to — so what exactly is the Mind Flayer?

In “D&D,” Mind Flayers are members of a super-smart, psychically powerful race called Illithids. They sport four facial tentacles, not unlike the look of the Shadow Monster, and they eat brains for sustenance. Sucking out the minds of victims isn’t quite what the Shadow Monster does to Will, but the way the two creatures get into minds is similar.

The real similarity between the Shadow Monster and a Mind Flayer, as Dustin puts it, is in the way the two use their psychic powers to go after victims. Mind Flayers user their psychic powers to dominate the minds of other species, often turning them into slaves, used to carry out their will. They also are able to communicate psychically and use a hive mind that lets them control lots of other creatures.

In “Stranger Things 2,” the Shadow Monster does a lot of the same things. It uses monsters like the “demodogs” as slaves, and is able to force Will to carry out its orders with its own hive mind. The monster sees and knows what its slaves see and know. Mind Flayers also reproduce by implanting slugs in other creatures, and that seems to be pretty similar to the slugs Will has been puking up in the period between Season 1 and “Stranger Things 2.”