'Stranger Things' Season 4: Importance of the Grandfather Clock Explained

Stranger Things has been teasing a grandfather clock since 2020, and when it did turn up it did not disappoint.

The Netflix show has been scaring viewers so much that they have been pledging to destroy their grandfather clocks, with many posts featuring the timepieces going viral on social media.

Why has everyone become so terrified of grandfather clocks? Because nearly everyone who sees one in Stranger Things goes on to die. Here's why.

What the Grandfather Clocks in Stranger Things Mean

stranger things grandfather clock
Sadie Sink and a grandfather clock in "Stranger Things." The clock could provide a link between normal life and the Upside Down. Netflix

Grandfather clocks are one of the many visuals that Season 4 villain Vecna uses to toy with his prey.

After the first seven episodes of Stranger Things Season 4, we know that Vecna's victims get intense headaches and nosebleeds, followed by visions of past trauma. Max (played by Sadie Sink), for example, gets visions related to her stepbrother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) after visiting his grave.

Vecna comes to take them, but before he does he gives them a warning. His victims have a vision of a grandfather clock, at which point they usually have one more day to live. Among the people who we know this happened to are Chrissy Cunningham (Grace Van Dien) and Fred Benson (Logan Riley Bruner).

Or, at least, that is how it seems. However, Stranger Things creators The Duffer Brothers have suggested a different reading. In a trailer breakdown for IGN, they say: "She shouldn't have looked at the clock but she unfortunately did." This suggests that Vecna does not send the clock as a vision—he can simply manifest it into the world, and whoever sees it becomes his prey.

Clocks, of course, are ripe with meaning as a symbol. They represent here the fact that Vecna's victims' time has nearly run out—it is no coincidence that many of the clocks are set to midnight. It has also been pointed out that in dream theory, clocks represent your past catching up to you—something that happens to the characters when Vecna reveals their hidden trauma back to them.

The symbol of the grandfather clock also links to the true identity of Vecna. It is an object from the home of the Creels, which is linked to Henry Creel's hatred of time and the way humans have used it to control nature.

Though the grandfather clock could just be acting as a spooky symbol in Stranger Things, there are some theories that its true nature will be revealed in the final two episodes of the season, coming in July.

This is thanks to a Season 4 trailer, which first showed the clock in the Creel House, then in the Upside Down. This suggests a link between them—perhaps Vecna is using the clock as a bridge to unleash the hell of the upside down onto Earth. Writing on Reddit, one fan claims you can hear a grandfather clock chime when Hopper (David Harbour) enters the Upside Down in Season 2, which might lend credence to the theory.

In the series, we learn that Vecna is a human who found himself trapped in the Upside Down for decades. Notably, the Upside Down is a place without time, and we see Vecna wind the clock back in front of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), symbolizing his desire to control and move beyond time. Though we have to wait until the new episodes come for more answers, the fact that a clock represents the passage of time, but its ticking can be stopped by human interference, may be a massive hint as to Vecna's ultimate plan.

Stranger Things Season 4, Part 1 is streaming now. Part 2 comes on July 1 to Netflix.