The phenomenon that was Stranger Things was unlike anything we’ve seen on TV to date. It was devoured in a short period of time by everyone and fit into several different genres, so people of all shapes and sizes could enjoy it and discuss it. While the show was certainly accessible for everyone, not everyone is able to foresee what direction the show will go in or even what exactly has transpired up to this point. As always, TV and film experts and fan theorists have been discussing this show at length and many have drawn up some really interesting theories. Not all are going to come true. Maybe none of them do, but none of these theories have been debunked yet either, so the jury’s still out.
Just because a theory hasn’t been debunked, doesn’t mean it’s plausible. We started with a massive pile of theories but narrowed it down to only the best and most likely, throwing out the garbage. For every strong and well-thought out theory, we read nonsense like Eleven is Hopper’s daughter. What? Why? Because he puts out Eggos? They’re very clearly different people. We also eliminated all the “theories” that were simply pointing out the obvious, like Eleven isn’t dead. What gave it away? The fact that she’s the star of the show? Of course, she isn’t dead. The theories on this list might help explain certain elements or introduce you to potential future developments. You might even use these as the foundation on which you build your own theory. Either way welcome to your enlightenment. Here are 15 Stranger Things Theories That Haven’t Been Debunked.
15. The Thessalhydra is Coming
As seen in the Stranger Things 2 teaser, it looks like Will is going to be having visions or nightmares about some massive creature. Many fans were quick to speculate that this spider-like demon is akin to the Thessalhydra, the creature that the boys battle in their Dungeons & Dragons game at the end of the series. The Thessalhydra is a multi-headed creature that plants larvae in hosts and grows back two heads for every one that is cut off. It is only killed when all of its heads are cut off. Since this was the last fight in their D&D campaign, many believe that it was being introduced as the villain for next season, just as the Demogorgon was in the first season. Interestingly, the most common versions of the Thessalhydra have eight heads and when the boys kill the Thessalhydra in their game, they mention cutting off seven heads. Might it be that they left one head intact and didn’t quite kill it entirely?
14. Eleven is the Demogorgon
The theory that suggests Eleven is the Demogorgon is perhaps the internet’s favorite theory, but make no mistake, it’s not ours. The arguments for this theory suggests that since Eleven says, “I am the monster,” she is the monster. Case closed, right? Not really, but it is more interesting than that. The theory goes on to show that the monster represents the conflicting duality within Eleven, the bad and the fear inside of her. The Demogorgon itself is a duality, a two-headed creature battling itself for supremacy. This would also explain why the Demogorgon raises its hand as Eleven raises hers in the end, mirroring her movements. When she sacrifices herself, the monster too disappears. Some fans suggest that when Eleven was given that flower, she then projected it onto the monster, giving it a flowerlike face. This suggests that Eleven created the Demogorgon inside her mind and accidentally unleashed it on our world. This theory would work in many ways, and 20 years ago, it might have even been unique, but we’re hoping this is not the direction the show takes because it’s been done before too many times.
13. The Demogorgon and Eleven are Connected
We know what you might be thinking. But one of the most popular online theories, closely related to Eleven is the monster, is that Eleven and the monster and linked. The proof of this (which is sometimes used to prove she is the monster) suggests that whenever Eleven tries to find Will, the monster finds him. Some even point to the fact that Eleven bleeds spontaneously which attracts the monster, like she’s sending a signal to it. Many also point out that both Eleven and the Demogorgon appear to have telepathic abilities, as the Demogorgon opened the lock in the first episode. This theory may not have been debunked, but it’s not one we subscribe to either. Well, not really. More on that later.
12. The Upside Down is Our World in the Future
Some have suggested that the Upside Down world looks like it has been through a nuclear war. Presently, they say, the Upside Down world is in the midst of a nuclear winter. This fits in with the setting of Cold War America and the talk of espionage and Russians. It is argued that the Upside Down represents our world in the future, once nuclear war ends life on Earth. This would explain why no humans exist and why the air is toxic. In this world, the sun is gone or at least blocked off, and the Demogorgon is some type of nuclear mutant. If this is true, then perhaps the real-world in Stranger Things, or at least the people at Hawkins, are justified in being so interested in what the Russians are doing. It’s also possible that even if the Upside Down isn’t really the future, the people at Hawkins could use this type of story to defend their future actions.
11. Sarah Hopper Didn’t Die From Cancer
Even though we refuse to entertain the theory that Eleven is Hopper’s daughter, Sarah, we are interested in the theories about what happened to this little girl. We know that Sarah looks like she died from cancer, even though we only see her flatline. That being said, the fact that Hopper works so desperately to revive Will, it seems like this is him trying to make up for the doctor’s failure to revive his daughter. In an AMA on Reddit, the actor who plays Hopper, David Harbour, was asked if he knew what killed Sarah, he wrote, “yes, but it’s a secret we may explore in s2, so don’t wanna say right now.” The fact that there is something worth exploring means that the paranoia Sarah displayed in one of the flashbacks is significant. Perhaps she is connected with the Upside Down or the Hawkins scientific experiments. However, many cancer patients and those with other diseases suffer from hallucinations, so maybe this is just a way for Hopper to relate to Joyce when Will suffers from what are clearly hallucinations in Season two.
10. The Fermi Paradox
The Fermi Paradox asks a question about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, “if aliens exist, where is everybody?” It’s interesting because the odds suggest that, if distant space travel is possible, someone should have found us by now. This relates to Stranger Things because, in the final showdown in the science classroom, there’s a periodic table of elements on the wall. All of the elements are visible except for one, which is blocked by the head of a stuffed prairie dog. The dog is facing the Demogorgon. The element that it is blocking is Fermium, named for Enrico Fermi of the Fermi Paradox. This seems, in a very clever way, to answer the question. Where is everybody? I’m looking right at it.
9. The Tigers
Many people have wondered about the stuffed tiger. Will, Sarah Hopper and Eleven all seem to have one, or at least something similar. There was also a stuffed tiger on the ground in the Upside Down. What’s up with that? Well, some have suggested that this is nothing more than a symbolic reference to the theme of courage and bravery. Whenever a tiger is shown, the scene usually has some form of bravery or courage going on. Not only that, but the Hawkins’ mascot is a tiger as well. Tigers are also hunters that smell blood, much like the Demogorgon. This could be pointing us into the direction of a connection between the dangerous but purely animalistic nature of the Demogorgon.
8. Demogorgon is an Animal in Survival Mode
Everyone knows by now that the Duffer Brothers love 80s films. Stranger Things is chock full of references to classic 80s films and pop culture references. They expect viewers to catch, understand, and appreciate all of these references. However, one mistake many viewers seem to be making in connecting Stranger Things to these 80s films is believing that the Duffer brothers are borrowing from films without altering anything. The best use of references is to set up expectations and then change the outcome for greater effect. Take the multiple shark and Jaws references, for example. It sets up the Demogorgon as this mindless and villainous hunter, like the shark in Jaws, but what if the Demogorgon is just an animal and nothing more? We expect it to have some motive, but what if it doesn’t? Since the Upside Down is so bereft of food and energy, the Demogorgon finding an endless supply in the real world would make it seem like a heartless killer, but it could also just be trying to survive.
7. Who is Will Now?
One of the most interesting theories for us is that Will is no longer who he seems to be. Sure, we see him puke up a slug, which was super gross, but what does it mean? Some argue that Will was being used as an incubator, like in Alien, storing this slug like a vessel in order to bring and deposit it in the real-world. This seems very plausible. Other theories say that the Will is not the real Will (whether he’s dead or lost remains to be seen) and this version of Will is a spy/infiltrator, which fits in well with the Cold War theme. Both are interesting and both seem valid. The common theme here is that there is intent in letting Will go. These theories assume that Will was meant to be found and brought back. But the question remains, why wouldn’t the Upside Down forces just bring Will back themselves?
6. Alternate Dimension That Was Attacked
For us, one of the most convincing theories is that the Upside Down is an alternate dimension that was attacked by alien-type force. Who that force is remains to be seen, but the Upside Down seems like our world, except with plenty of gross plantlike organisms and spores floating around. The theory suggests that the Upside Down is parallel to the real world with the same people and places, but it was overrun. Few things now survive down there because there is little to feed off. Now that a portal has been opened to the real world, the infiltration from the parallel dimension can begin. In a way, the Upside Down is a future version, but only in a foreshadowing sense. The real world will become like this other parallel dimension if this threat isn’t contained.
5. The Energy Connection
Working on the assumption that the Upside Down is, in fact, a parallel universe, the energy connection theory is really intriguing. First of all, the Hawkins Lab is part of the U.S. Department of Energy. There is the organic matter thriving in the Upside Down without any source of light (Will also mentions the weird flowers in the cave at the end of the season). In the season two teaser, the Thessalhydra monster is shown in front of several power lines and the lights flicker whenever the two worlds interact. This theory proposes that the Upside Down has exhausted its sources of energy and needs our world to feed. This would mean that the Demogorgon is not drawn to blood as many believe but to energy. That’s why Joyce’s home becomes such a hotspot for activity because she has all the lights going. Perhaps in the Upside Down, the sun is dead and the world is cold and the creatures are dying. That’s why it seems so sparse.
The El-ectricity theory is an extension of the Energy Connection theory, one that suggests the Demogorgon is drawn to and feeds off energy, not blood. While we’ve shown that the Demogorgon is drawn to electricity, the argument goes on to say that Eleven is a pure source of energy. This would explain why the Demogorgon is so completely drawn to her. The proofs are interesting, to say the least. For instance, the boys lie and say that El is from Sweden, which might be because of her blonde wig, but the word el in Swedish means electricity. Furthermore, Eleanor, the English name the boys give Eleven means “Shining Light” or “the Bright One” in Greek. When Eleven dispatches the Demogorgon, a bright shining light is shown in its chest as if it were made of light. Considering all the references to batteries and charging and photosynthesis, this theory does seem to be on a good path.
3. Eleven is Theirs
Continuing on the thread of parallel dimensions, some theorists have suggested that maybe Eleven isn’t part of the real world after all. This leans on the fact that Eleven demonstrates an uncanny connection with the Upside Down and seems to hold herself responsible for unleashing the Demogorgon on the world. The theory here argues that maybe Eleven was taken from the Upside Down by the Hawkins Lab and now the Upside Down wants her back. When Eleven sacrifices herself, she’s not dying, she’s simply going home. This would help explain how she can travel between worlds. It doesn’t, however, explain why she looks human and was said to be born of a human. Maybe the Demogorgon is her dad? Ahh, who knows.
2. Will Wasn’t Captured. He was Saved
The idea that most have about the Demogorgon is that it used Will to incubate its larva. Fine. We don’t necessarily buy that. But let’s assume that the Demogorgon is the creature that brought Will to the Upside Down. Once Will gets there, he’s hiding from something, correct? Well, why is he hiding from the Demogorgon? Wasn’t he already caught by it? How did he get away? Later, he tries to tell his mom something through the wall, but she cuts him off and says for him to hide. The next time we see him, Will has a nasty thing down his throat and he’s barely alive. So, what went down? We propose that there’s something much worse than the Demogorgon in the Upside Down. We suggest that the Demogorgon saved Will, knowing this big bad thing was after him. Will might have been caught by this big bad thing later on, but the Demogorgon wasn’t trying to hurt him. It’s possible even that the thing down Will’s throat was actually keeping him alive, helping him live in the Upside Down in spite of the toxic air.
1. Demogorgon Isn’t Evil
When we wrote that we don’t subscribe to the theory that Eleven is the Demogorgon, we never meant we didn’t believe in something close. We think that the Demogorgon and Eleven are very similar. Different species, sure, but both seem to have abilities to pass between worlds. We never see the Demogorgon kill any innocents. It grabbed Barb, maybe because it caught the scent of her blood, but we don’t see it kill her. We know the air is toxic in the Upside Down, what if that is what killed Barb? We saw the Demogorgon eating a deer because it doesn’t have access to an endless supply of Eggos like Eleven does. We saw it defend itself against people trying to hunt it and kill it, similar to how Eleven killed people trying to harm her. Why didn’t it kill the kids? It could have done so easily. Maybe it was merely an animal looking for food and nothing more. It seems to us that while Eleven was lucky enough to have found friends who treated her as one of them, the Demogorgon wasn’t so lucky. What it found was people trying to kill it. Eventually it found someone like it, someone that it could talk to it, in a way, so it tried to reach out to her. It wasn’t mirroring her actions when it held out its hand, it was trying to hold Eleven’s hand.