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D'Artagnan, commonly referred to as Dart, was a creature originating from the Upside Down that Dustin Henderson temporarily kept as a pet. Dart is from the same species as the original Demogorgon, albeit in an adolescent form, referred to as a "Demodog" by Dustin.[1]

History

1984

When returning home after trick-or-treating, Dustin heard a noise coming from the trashcan. Upon investigating, he discovered a creature and placed it in his proton pack. Dustin placed the creature in his turtle's tank and fed it a Three Musketeers bar, appropriately giving it the name D'Artagnan after the character from the novel.

The next day, Dustin brought Dart to school, showing it to Mike, Will, Lucas, and Max. After discussing what type of animal Dart could be, Dustin concluded that he had discovered a new species. However, after noticing it resembled a slug he had thrown up the year before, Will realized Dart originated from the Upside Down. Before Dustin could show Mr. Clarke, Mike took Dart and urged everyone to meet again in the AV club room, excluding Max. When Dart started to emit a screeching sound, the boys opened the proton pack to witness it grow a pair of hind legs. Mike then tried to attack Dart, which caused it to flee and run loose throughout the school. Will eventually found Dart in a bathroom; it screeched, causing Will to run away. Soon after, Dustin arrived to retrieve Dart. When the others arrived, Dustin hid Dart under his hat and lied saying he had not seen it or Will.

Dustin then brought Dart home, and continued to care for it secretly while keeping up the appearance of looking for it with the others. After returning home from school, Dustin found that it had broken out of the tank and eaten the Henderson's cat, Mews. Realizing Dart was now dangerous upon seeing how it could open its mouth like the Demogorgon, he lured it into the storm cellar and called in Steve to help exterminate it. However, Dart escaped, forcing Dustin, Steve, Lucas, and Max to lure it to the junkyard in a final bid to kill it. Dart soon arrived but was joined by several other creatures of its species, which started to attack the group until they were called to Hawkins Laboratory by the Mind Flayer.

Dart was not seen again until the group were trying to exit the tunnels underneath the pumpkin patch, when they were stopped by it blocking their way. Recognizing Dustin, Dart did not attack and was easily distracted by Dustin giving it another Three Musketeers bar, allowing the group to escape. Dart did not join the other Demo-dogs in returning to Hawkins Laboratory, and was ultimately killed when Eleven closed the Gate to the Upside Down.

Abilities

Being an adolescent Demogorgon, Dart possessed abilities that are characteristic of his species:

  • Strength: After molting to his “Demo-dog” form, Dart possessed enough strength to tackle an adult human.
  • Digging: Dart could dig tunnels in the earth, allowing him to escape the Hendersons' storm cellar.

Additionally, Dart had the ability to “block out” the Mind Flayer's influence; he was able to recognize Dustin when they reunited in the tunnels, and ignored the Mind Flayer's command of returning to the Gate. It remains to be seen if other Demogorgons are capable of this ability, or if it was somehow exclusive to Dart.

Appearance/Nature

See also: Demogorgon (species)
  • Stage One: When Dustin first discovered Dart, he was roughly the size of his hand, and was colored yellow-green. He had a lizard-like tail, small claw-like hands and a tiny mouth. In this stage, Dart was incredibly sensitive to hot light. He happily fed upon the nougat candy provided by Dustin, displaying no urges to eat meat.
  • Stage Two: Dart took on a dark green color and grew substantially. He sprouted an additional set of legs, and began to move in a quadrupedal manner. His tail also grew much longer and thicker.
  • Stage Three: Dart eventually developed into a much larger creature, becoming roughly the size of a small dog. Dart's limbs lengthened, while his skin continued to darken. Notably, his mouth began to open like a flower, revealing rows upon rows of sharp teeth. Dart grew tired of nougat at this stage, becoming attracted to meat. Dart broke out of the tank and fed upon Mews, Dustin's unlucky pet cat.
  • Stage Four: The adolescent Dart continued to grow both in size and strength. He was now roughly the size of a large dog, and had gained the ability to dig underground tunnels.

Behind the Scenes

The Duffers tasked the VFX team with creating four stages of a Demogorgon's life cycle. The first two stages were designed with the intention of not giving away the creature's species. Dart's red-green skin color was chosen to resemble something that would occur in nature, with his yellow spots to help distinguish him from other members of his species.[1]

Dart was voiced by sound designer Craig Henighan. When creating Dart's vocalizations, Henighan was inspired by the film Gremlins. Using 10-second clips of Dart in each stage as visual guides, Henighan recorded himself making various sounds. He would then distort and pitch the noises until he found the right sound, occasionally using a processor called “Dehumaniser”. As Dart aged, the sounds would be pitched lower, while Henighan's performances would become more aggressive. In order to give Dart's voice a “slimy, wet quality”, Henighan would record himself while gargling water; another processor added a tremolo to Dart's voice, resulting in it having an almost vibrating quality. Henighan also manipulated some of the Demogorgon recordings he had created for the first season.[1]

The Pollywog

Visual effects producer Paul Graff revealed that the Duffers wanted to start "with something that looked like a tadpole" before developing "in the direction of a Demogorgon", referring to the first stage as a "Tadpole/Pollywog". The pollywog had to look cute at this semi-larval stage in order to make it reasonable for Dustin to take Dart in as his pet. The crew wanted to hide its Demogorgon features to avoid revealing its species, like the petal-mouth, while also bearing a few resembles to its shape.[2]

The Frogogorgon

Implying it as the nascent Demogorgon, the team developed physical 3D models and then turned those into silicone puppets, which facilitated the kids' interactions with Dart. They knew the tadpole was maturing and becoming fairly aggressive and wanted to show its transition from a two-legged tadpole to a four-legged toad.[3] "They had eye lines and you could actually hold something and practice taping stuff around in the AV room and they could see what it looked like. So we always shot a pass with our actual, we call them, puppets. Then we shot a pass with chrome balls," Paul stated.[2]

The Catogorgon

As the creature aged, the visual-effects team slowly made him look more and more like the show’s signature monster -starting by darkening its skin and then developing its petal mouth, dubbing the stage the "Catogorgon". Paul implied they needed to expand its size because "When it eats Mews it needs to be a specific size in order to actually devour a cat like that."[2]

The Demodog

The last stage before it grows into a fully-grown Demogorgon, the team called it the "Dogogorgon" (which was later changed to "Demodog") because it had "a dog-like way of moving" while its appearance resembled a "huge-scary dog" with thicker skin. They added more Demogorgon-like abilities for this stage, such as, lunging over prey as well as digging underground. "Basically, if you take this CG model, which is supposed to be an adolescent model of the Demogorgon, if you take that model and stand it up, it’s already looking very much like a Demogorgon," Graff told.[2]

Trivia

  • The creature has various similarities to the Gremlins from the 1984 comedy horror film Gremlins. Much like Billy, the main protagonist, Dustin keeps Dart as a pet, initially seeing it as harmless until it evolves into a much more dangerous creature.
  • One of the species of frog that Dustin initially believed Dart to be is the Indirana semipalmata. However, the Indirana genus wasn't named until 1986.
  • D'Artagnan is named after one of the musketeers from 'The Three Musketeers ' by Alexandre Dumas because the first thing he fed Dart was a Three Musketeers chocolate bar.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "How Stranger Things Created Dart, the World’s Cutest, Deadliest Polliwog"Vanity Fair. November 2, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "‘Stranger Things’ VFX Team Breaks Down the Demogorgon’s Five Stages of Life" Indiewire November 10, 2017
  3. "[1]" Vanity Fair November 2, 2017


The Upside Down
Locations The Upside DownThe GateHawkinsHawkins National LaboratoryPublic LibraryPortalsHawkins Middle SchoolHawkins tunnel system
Entities D'ArtagnanThe DemogorgonDemogorgon (species)The Mind FlayerSlug-like creatureHawkins tunnel systemVines
Visitors Joyce ByersWill ByersElevenSteve HarringtonDustin HendersonBarbara HollandJim HopperMax MayfieldBob NewbyShepardLucas SinclairMike WheelerNancy Wheeler
Miscellaneous Upside Down eggThe Upside Down (episode)Dungeons & DragonsThe Void
Articles may contain spoilers.