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Season 1

     Why did Barb have to die? 
  • According to the official guide for the series, it is noted that while bar participated in the lot of volunteer and academic extracurriculars, she was also a varsity softball player. Softball can involve running fasted hitting things with a bat things I could have helped her survive the upside down and even be indispensable to the Party as the series goes on. so why did Barb have to die after she was barely into the Upside Down?
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    Where is Hawkins? 
  • Has it ever been established where in Indiana the little town of Hawkins is supposed to be located?
    • One possibility: it's taking the place of Bloomington (keep in mind Bloomington wasn’t nearly as developed back in the 80s as it is today). Hawkins seems like it’s about an hour out from Indianapolis, just like Bloomington is. They both share the hilly landscape as well. There is both a rural/suburban feel to each place also. Both have a downtown square that are weirdly similar.
    • Another possibility: while Hawkins obviously doesn't exist, and neither does Roane County, there is a town called Roann (different spelling, same pronunciation) in Wabash County, in north central Indiana, and it is in a very wooded area. In Episode 5 in Season 2, when Bob is describing landmarks associated with the "vines", he mentions both the Eel River and Tippecanoe. The northern edge of Roann's downtown area is the Eel River, and Tippecanoe is a small town less than 20 miles away (it's also a river, a lake and a county, all less than 50 miles away). Roann is a very small town, nowhere near the size of Hawkins, but intended to be in Wabash County. The towns of North Manchester (also on the Eel River and only a couple of miles from Roann) and Wabash (home of an Air Force Base in the 80's) are the closest matches.
    • When it comes to the actual size of Hawkins, it's harder to make an exact estimate. We're told that it's basically supposed to be Smalltown, USA, so somewhere in the low tens of thousands is a pretty reasonable estimate. But we do get a few context clues:
      • Hawkins appears to be the seat of the fictional Roane County, Indiana (it's the location of the county coroner's office, anyways). That makes it one of the larger towns, if not the largest, in the county. The county itself appears to be relatively rural, though.
      • The sign on the police station describes Hawkins as the "City of Hawkins". For most people, "City" usually implies a larger population. However, the technical definition under Indiana law is that there are separate legislative and executive branches (basically mayor and city council). We also know from season 3 that Hawkins is big enough to have a Mayor who makes executive decisions, as Larry Klein is proof of. Very small towns are often run by just a council, and if there is a mayor, he's often just a ceremonial job. Under Indiana law, cities may not have less than 2000 people. So being a "city" probably implies a large population, although it's definitely not a big city (like nearby Indianapolis, for example).
      • In some of the newspaper clippings at the end of the series, the hospital Will was taken to was described as "Hawkins General Hospital". If it's correct, having the regional hospital would make Hawkins one of the biggest places in the area (and is consistent with its status as a county seat).
      • The depiction of Hawkins' downtown square, which looks a lot like Bloomington, suggests a smaller town, although obviously there are probably other commercial areas and strip malls (consider the arcade, for example) in the city, and the whole season 3 plot point about Starcourt. Most of what we see is suburban.
      • We see Jonathan examine a map of Hawkins at one point, which suggests it's pretty small. However, this map probably isn't totally accurate. It's missing several streets named in the series, like Maple Street, where Mike lives.
      • In Season 2, we're shown that there are farms and farmers within Hawkins' city limits, which makes it at least semi-rural.
      • In conclusion, the City of Hawkins probably has somewhere in the low tens of thousands of people. It's almost entirely suburban, but includes small business districts, enough amenities, and at least some rural area. It's probably the biggest town in the county, but still small. A couple hours' drive to Indianapolis, it is probably outside the greater Indianapolis area, but still close enough.
        When the Duffers created Stranger Things, they switched the location from Montauk, New York (a real place) to Hawkins, Indiana (a fictional one). This shift, the Duffers said, was freeing because it allows them to do anything with Hawkins without the need to stick to the facts of a real place. The result is that like most fictional towns, Hawkins shapeshifts a bit to meet the creators' needs—a small suburban city when the occasion calls for hospitals and businesses and such—but otherwise a small, surburban town way out in the country, where it's dark at night and a million stars dot the night sky.
      • A counterpoint to this would be Columbia City, which resembles Hawkins in many ways. It's the county seat and largest city in Whitley County. It's dwarfed by Fort Wayne to the east, Warsaw to the west, and Huntington to the south. It's had a fairly major hospital since the '50s, and had an arcade well into the '90s (though, to be fair, never anything on the scale of Starcourt,). Its mid-'80s population? About 5,500. And it's not really atypical of a smaller Indiana county seat - in fact, the next county seat to the north, Albion, is only the third-largest town in Noble County, with a population of less than 2,500.

    Will's communication from the other side 
  • When Will was in the Upside Down world, how exactly was he able to control the lights his mom put on the wall to such a degree that he could flash them individually with each alphabet? When others go to Upside Down, it seems the lights just automatically turn on when someone enters the room, so no such finesse seems possible. Also, how was Will able to hear everything her mom said while he was in the other dimension? When Nancy and Jonathan were there, they could just hear some faint echoes of what people were speaking on the other side, but somehow Will was able to have proper communication with Joyce?
    • What sets Will apart is that he's "good at hiding," and we see that he's spent days of real-world time hiding in his fort. He's apparently spent that time either consciously or instinctively learning how to reach across the divide and hear/manipulate things. If others had spent enough time in the Vale of Shadows, they might have figured out how to do that as well. Or perhaps as a roleplayer of a wizard, Will is specially suited to figuring out how to control a magic-like ability.
    • In episode 3, when Michael's little sister sees the lights at Joyce's house being lit and follows them, we later learns this means Will was walking through the hallway in the other dimension before going into his room, as the little girl does. She then sees all the lights inside rapidly flickering. This could be interpreted as Will testing how to manipulate the lights, before suddenly having to run as the demogorgon arrived. By the next time he returned, he figured out how to do it.
    • Also, considering we've been told the air in The Upside Down is full of spores and his slug coughing perhaps Will effects the lights like the Demogorgon but on a smaller and more intelligent scale.
    • I thought that the time Joyce and Hooper went into The Upside Down, the Christmas lights lightened up in our world because they pointed their flashlights at where the light were supposed to be? (And, by extension, any instance of lights flickering/lighting up/dimming was because of the interference with electronical devices, e.g. Will's walkie-talkie.)
    • The walls between different realities seems particularly weaker around Will's house, perhaps because it's so close to the lab and the portal. Remember, when Joyce is there, she can hear Jonathan faintly, but he can't hear her. So when Will was first trapped in the Upside Down, he could probably hear his family but they couldn't hear him, and his initial attempts at communication were just him frantically trying things to try and reach them. First thing to try, naturally, is the phone; he tries and gets through, but the connection is unstable and keeps shorting out of the phone. No good. But knowing he can have some limited interaction with the real world via electronics from this, he tries things like switching the light sockets on and off, his handheld radio, his stereo, and so on. When he hears his mother respond to this, he knows he's found a way of communicating with her. Initially it's a matter of "blink once for yes, twice for no" — or, in this case, switch the light switch on and off as needed. Then, he tries more complex things; maybe unscrewing or screwing the lights in, or just keeping the switch on and tapping the lights as needed, all the while listening out for reactions from his mother so he knows what probably works and what doesn't.

    No repercussions for assaulting a cop? 
  • When Hopper goes to the morgue to investigate Will's body, he attacks a fellow police officer and punches him unconscious... Yet the next day no one appears to know this has happened, and Hopper isn't reprimanded in any way. The implication seems to be the government conspiracy somehow silenced the cop, but why would they do that? If Hopper was suspended from his duties and everyone would think he's gone crazy, that would be beneficial to the bad guys, as he would have fewer chances to investigate the case.
    • The bad guys were clearly holding the Idiot Ball when they didn't just kill Hopper in their basement, even though they had no qualms with killing poor Benny earlier. After that, any further Hopper-related idiocy should probably just be put down to Plot Armour.
    • It makes certain sense not to kill Hopper, since the bad guys don't want to draw too much attention to them. Faking the suicide of a random diner owner is one thing, but a cop dying while investigating a mysterious disappearance is bound to raise some questions. So it's justified that they don't shoot Hopper, but it doesn't make sense why they wouldn't let the assailed cop file a report and get Hopper suspended.
    • Who with? Hopper's the chief, they'd have to go to the town council or something.
    • Hopper's a heavy drinker on what are apparently psychiatric meds, depressed after his daughter died and his wife left him. The mysterious disappearance of Will had already been "solved". It would be very easy for the bad guys to kill Hopper and make it look like a suicide.
    • I'm not sure if it's that easy... One suicide can be explained away, but two suicides (plus a dead kid) in a very small town in less than a week would probably start to look quite suspicious, especially if the second person to kill himself was the sheriff who investigated the other two cases. Also, the bad guys don't know how much Hopper knows and who he has spoken to. As far as they know, he might've told people, "If I die all of sudden and it looks like a suicide, it isn't, the guys at Hawkins Laboratory are responsible." So it makes certain sense not to kill him.
    • It looked like they might have actually hoped to kill him by what would look from outside like a depression-sparked substance-abuse binge. Except, they might have misjudged Hopper's tolerance to their mix of chemicals, partly thanks to his very history of steady, prolonged, not-so-under-the-table abuse. And, if it hadn't killed him, his deputies were miraculously in position to find him hungover/drugged out of his skull, and may have been easily nudged to start proceedings to get him suspended or being outright canned for crazy (whichever). See also that whole "recovering quicker from the overdose than they might have expected" thing. Hopper barely escaped being labelled totally nuts, like Joyce had been... until the Conspiracy bollixed that up, too.
    • That's exactly why they shouldn't have killed Benny in the first place. There was no reason for that. Benny bought their cover and was cooperative. They could have questioned him thoroughly and let him go before making up an appropriate story. When Hopper started investigating the case, they could kill him, make it look like a suicide and fake a note (they faked a dead body for crying out loud, so they could fake a note) that a missing kid made him think of his daughter and drove to a suicide.
    • Perhaps they were letting him go on purpose, hoping that, by investigating the case, he could lead them to Eleven, which was eventually what happened.
    • When they killed Benny they just wanted to erase their and Eleven's trace and erase the potential threat of a big man aiding the girl. But then, when Will's disappearing, everything went bigger.
    • Actually, all they had to do was watch the Byers, you know, the people whose kid's body they faked. They had a man watching Lucas's house (for some reason), but not Will's?
    • Since they were brought in "from the outside" and no one in town would know them, it makes more sense for the conspiracy to use its own security in costume (for presumably all but the initial reporting cop, who had clearly been scared to silence). Using their own people (as they did with the repair/surveillance trucks) would be much safer than relying on actual, unknowing officers to do their jobs so blindly that they don't notice a fake body or become curious about odd jurisdictional irregularities—to basically be as much of a problem as Hopper was. In that case filing any report concerning a fake/nonexistent officer would have caused all sorts of unnecessary headaches for them.
    • The DOE (and NSA, etc.) are all federal, not state institutions anyway; it makes no sense for state police to have been involved in the first place.
    • Hopper also tried to bluff the guard with the name of the actual reporting state trooper he'd tracked down earlier. Significant in that the guard—supposedly also a state trooper involved in this case—claims not to know any "O'Bannon".
    • Assuming the state trooper is an actual state trooper, he might not even know who Hopper even is; he's likely an out-of-towner brought in for guard duty, and Hopper isn't wearing his uniform and doesn't ID himself. As far as the trooper knows, some guy walked up to him, tried to bluff his way in, and then slugged him. Although a certain amount of Fridge Horror presents itself; the people covering up the events of the series are clearly ruthless, on learning that Hopper got into the morgue discover the "body" they're unlikely to be happy, and this guy might find himself on the wrong end of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.

    No surveillance on Persons of Interest 
  • After Hopper broke into the morgue, discovered the fake cadaver, broke into the *facility*, discovered hints of Eleven's existence, and then saw the portal with his own eyes, the government spooks not only chose not to kill him (despite executing Benny for simply having made contact with Eleven), but their only form of followup on him (until he later breaks into the facility AGAIN) is by way of a single bug left in his home. The man knows about your coverup surrounding a young boy's disappearance and has seen the results of an experiment which were certainly classified up the wazoo — why on earth would you let him walk away from that without so much as a tail?
    • Joyce's situation prompts the same question — she clearly wasn't buying into the narrative that Will was dead, and it could be assumed that she was going to continue to dig into the circumstances surrounding his disappearance until she got what she wanted. Why not send just one person to keep an eye on her in order to be sure she doesn't get in the way of Brenner's search or otherwise cause problems for him?
    • As far as Joyce is concerned, they probably figured that no one would take her seriously, since she sounded like a crazy person. (Stringing up Christmas lights out of season to make a Ouija-board-like display, chopping holes in the wall of her house with a hatchet, and claiming that her son is communicating with her through a tangled-up bundle of lights). Also, alone, she didn't exactly have the kind of resources to pursue a determined investigation, being a single mother on a fixed income.
    • It's important to remember that this this agency is not all powerful with unlimited resources. They had a number of agents and men on call and are shown obtaining more men, first in the repair trucks and later with soldiers in trucks later on. They called in reinforcements and additional resources as the situation progressed and things got worse, but it took time. They are shown to have access to quite a number of resources before then such as the communications spying but they are still a group of people trying to do their best focusing on the most obvious paths without the insight the audience has.
    • They have enough resources to quickly create a fake corpse, convincing enough for Jonathan to believe it's his brother, and for Hopper to believe it's a real body before he cuts it open. Perhaps they didn't call for reinforcements because they believed they could handle the situation themselves.
      • Although it's worth noting that the corpse's effectiveness is literally only skin deep; Jonathan only sees it at a distance and only for a moment (he's quickly overwhelmed and runs off to vomit), Joyce rejects it utterly, and when Hopper cuts into it it's filled with cotton fluff. It might look relatively convincing at a distance in a darkened room (and even then it fails to convince the person who it's arguably primarily set up to convince), but up closer it's pretty clearly a little bit of a rush job.
      • Also, remember that the corpse has been dredged from a lake and the cover story is that he fell in from a height. Bodies which have been found floating in water can look quite unrecognisable due to both decomposition and bloating, and the body would have sustained damage from the fall, which would (in theory) explain why it's not a perfect match. They don't have to fake Will as he is in the prime of health, but what he would look like after falling off a clifftop into a quarry and floating in the water for a couple of days.
    • The conspiracy appears to be incompetent in general, constantly losing men to Eleven and the Demogorgon long after they should have realized how dangerous they are, and behaving in a heavy-handed and conspicuous fashion which regularly backfires on them.
    • There's something here that I think is important to remember: the events of the season, if looked at from the point of view of the villains, are incredibly chaotic and frustrating, because so much is being thrown at them at once. They've got cops investigating them, a raving mother running around refusing to buy any of their cover-ups, an interdimensional demon is on the loose and attacking people, including their own staff, other agencies and higher-ups are breathing down their necks and demanding answers, and on top of it all, they have to find a superpowered girl who escaped from them and is now being harbored by some annoyingly resourceful kids. It's actually a lot of extremely hectic stuff happening in a very short time frame, and their operation, while not tiny, doesn't seem huge, either. It's understandable that a lot of stuff slipped the net.
    • The short frame of time point seems particularly worthy of note; by the time Hopper's at the point where he's breaking into morgues and beating up state troopers, it appears likely that only two, maybe three days have passed at most.
    • Also remember that Hopper and Joyce are for better or worse more high-profile than Benny was. Benny was just the owner and operator of a low-end diner who happened to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. His suicide might come as a bit of a shock to his friends and loved ones, but these things happen. Hopper, however, is the sheriff of a town who is investigating a fairly high-profile missing child case, and Joyce is the missing child's mother. Whacking those two might end up bringing more unwanted attention on themselves; Benny's suicide can be handwaved away, but two missing children, the death of the lead investigator and the mother of one of the kids on top of Benny's death might start to look more suspicious and cause more questions to be raised. In short, trope name aside, even for sinister government conspiracies Murder Is Not Always The Best Solution.
    • As for surveillance, when you put someone under surveillance, you have to accept the risk that the tail will get spotted. Joyce and Hopper are both already highly suspicious (bordering on paranoid), so suddenly noticing someone following them would only increase that and draw attention to the organization instead of deflecting it (and, in Hopper's case, put someone else in his crosshairs he can beat some answers out of). Joyce was pretty easy to write off as crazy, and the attempt was made to start discrediting Hop, but he turns out to be a lot better at his job than anyone gave him credit for. They thought they were dealing with Sheriff Andy Incompetent of Nowhere, Flyover, and didn't realize they had a competent, tenacious, and inventive lawman on their hands until it was too late. Putting Hop under electronic surveillance was the best compromise. . . the bug can't tell him anything he doesn't already know (the lab's up to no good and they want him to stay the hell out of it, please and thank you) if he discovers it, and if he doesn't, they can keep tabs on his actions. Though that does raise the question why the bug itself was never brought up as evidence of shady dealings. But at the end of the day, the bad guys have bigger fish to fry. . . a tear in fabric of reality, an extradimensional monster running around killing people, and an escaped psychic living weapon. Joyce, on her own, can't really influence any of those events for better or worse, so they can just leave her be. Hop's a bit more of a problem, but in the grand scheme of things, little more than a distraction from the real problems they're trying to solve.

     The Upside-Down 

  • So what exactly IS the Upside-Down? Is it a hellish version of our world, an alternate dimension of some kind? Is it an alien dimension that lies parallel to ours?
    • Yes.
  • What did Will eat in the Upside-Down? Sure, it's possible to survive for a week without food, but... how hungry would a kid have to get before he'd start eating Meat Moss?
    • More urgently, what did Will drink in the Upside-Down? You can survive a week without food (by the end of which, Will is looking quite realistically debilitated) but not without water.
      • At the end of the season when Will sees a brief flash of the Upside-Down, the tap that he turned on in the regular world is also running in the Upside-Down. Between apparently functional plumbing and the multiple bodies of water in and around Hawkins, it probably wasn't too hard for Will to find water.
    • It's gross to think about, but those spore-things seem to go straight for the mouth. Maybe he ingested enough water and protein, or close enough facsimiles, to keep him alive. Also, does time work the same way in The Upside Down? Is a week in our dimension the same amount of time there? If his processes slowed down or ran in a way they don't here, then his need for food and water might be diminished, at least a little.
    • Maybe a case of Year Inside, Hour Outside but backwards? Will was just a couple of hours there but a week in our world (and psychologically still felt like days for him). Or alternatively the atmosphere there provides some kind of nurture as it is Another Dimension with different physical laws after all.
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    Upside-Down cars 

  • The Upside Down has cars in it, parked in the streets, which are presumably shadow versions of cars in our world. But no people. So if a person in our world is driving a car down the street, is there a car in the Upside-Down driving down the same street by itself?!
    • Perhaps the Upside Down only reflects static objects. An unmoving car sits in one place, but if someone in our dimension drives it, then parks it somewhere else, it will change places in the Upside Down once its counterpart is stopped. Alternately, perhaps the Upside Down only reflects our dimension at the point that the gate was opened, so at that point they were identical but after that point things on either side can be changed without affecting the other too much. Personally I think that some version of the first is more likely.
    • Evidence suggests that the world created is a snapshot from the moment the portal opened. The biggest evidence of this is when we see the Byers house in the Upside-Down, because there's no signs of the damage, or lights, or other drastic changes that Mrs. Byers did.
    • But then how does Will know where the Christmas lights are and what letters are painted under them? If it is a snapshot at the time of gate opening, it wouldn't include those. And as another piece of confusing evidence, at the end, Joyce and Hopper don't see bear traps on the floor as they walk through the Upside-Down version of her house.
    • Sometimes you can perceive one world from the other. There must have been a time when Will was able to see the Christmas lights, and he used the opportunity to signal his mom. Obviously it was a short-term opportunity, or else he probably would've come back the next day and sent a bunch more messages.
    • Or if it's a snapshot, perhaps the Upside-Down "updates", for lack of a better phrase, every time the Demogorgon or someone else opens a portal. Then all it takes is for the creature to enter our world sometime after Joyce puts up the lights, and the Upside-Down suddenly has lights in the same spot, which Will sees as he's hiding in/moving through the house.
      • Billy's car from his original world suddenly appearing in the Upside-Down along with him seems to support this.

    Demogorgon and Upside-Down 
  • Did the Demogorgon live in the Upside-Down before the events of the series, or did it just come there in search of prey? Is that its home, or is it from someplace else entirely?
    • Eleven, when encountering it in the bathtub, sees it eating the same fungus that we later see is very common in the Upside-Down, so, presumably, it has been there for some time. That would appear to be the creature's home.

     Two different Upside-Downs? 

  • When Eleven goes to the Upside-Down it's a complete black, infinite plane, with some sort of flat, wet floor, and people she is looking for appear within walking distance. When anyone else goes to the Upside-Down it is a perfect recreation of our world, only dead and covered in Meat Moss. So are these different aspects of the Upside-Down, or is there more than one Upside-Down?
    • The black plane seems to be more like a liminal space between the Upside-Down and our reality. After all, she can also see parts of our reality in there, like the Russian spy.
    • The black plane isn't even a physical place (while the upside-down definitely is). It's implied to be a purely psychic space where Eleven can "tune out" all objects and people except for the one subject she's focusing on. Eleven's body remains in the "bath"; she doesn't physically travel anywhere.
    • Remember the flea? It can stand on more than just the top or bottom of the rope - it can go on the side.

     What was the Demogorgon eating? 

  • In flashbacks when Eleven encounters the Demogorgon in the Upside-Down for the very first time, it is eating something we can't see. Considering at this point the Demogorgon wasn't aware of our world, and the Upside-Down is a completely dead world, what could it have been eating?
    • The Upside-Down isn't necessarily a dead world, just devoid of human life. It's possible there are other creatures in the Upside-Down we just haven't seen—the egg Hopper finds, the tendril that was down Will's throat, and the slug-like things that come out of Will and Barbara's mouths all suggest that the Demogorgon reproduces in some way.
    • Alternately, since the Demogorgon can travel freely between the Upside-Down and our world, it's possible it used to travel to other planes of reality to feed.
    • Based on the color and shape, I'm strongly convinced that the Demogorgon was eating the egg-shaped thing Hopper later finds in the Upside-Down. If it wasn't the egg, there was no reason to show it in the Upside-Down. This of course poses the question of what it is. First, I had the impression that it is Demogorgon's literal egg, and it was eating the remnants of it because it had no other sustenance, but now I'm not so sure. The timeline is unclear enough that it's possible that in the scene in which Eleven spies on the Russian, she accidentally "comes across" the Demogorgon being born and Brenner has her make contact relatively soon. This in turn, however, would beg the question of what was the Demogorgon doing with the slugs if they are not its means of reproduction. Maybe the "egg" is just a rare Upside-Down fungus - after all, the only things in Upside-Down besides the slugs and Demogorgon are spores in the air.
    • We don't actually know that it ate any of its catches at all. The last two episodes show that the Demogorgon wasn't actually consuming its prey, but rather turning them into nurseries for its (presumed) offspring. One possibility is that the Demogorgon in its home ecosystem, when not being interfered with by our world, has a much slower life cycle — say, it only needs to hunt once every hundred years or so when it would normally reproduce. The sudden access to our world and its ready supply of prey triggered a hyperactive reproductive cycle, comparable to a sudden algae bloom.

     The gun in the Byers' shed 

  • In the first episode, Will goes to the shed and grabs a shotgun while being chased by the Demogorgon. Later, however, Jonathan steals a revolver from one of the cars at Will's funeral. He also tells Nancy that he's only shot a gun once before, when Lonnie took him hunting as a kid. So... if the Byers keep a loaded gun in the shed behind their house, why has Jonathan never used it since the hunting trip, and why didn't he take that instead of the revolver? Even though he doesn't like guns, it seems like he should at least know how to use them if his family has one, and while he doesn't want to let Joyce know about his and Nancy's plan, taking his parents' shotgun from the shed still seems less risky than stealing a revolver out of the locked glove compartment of someone's car.
    • Even if Jonathan tried to find the rifle, he wouldn't be able to, because it disappeared along with Will. Notice that when Hopper searches the shed while looking for Will, he finds ammo but not the gun.
    • The rifle also wasn't kept loaded, since we clearly see Will remove, load, and reinsert the cartridge.
    • Given Jonathan knew right where to find it, it was almost certainly his father's car he broke into. Along with the hunting trip, the guns seem to have been their father's hobby, and the rifle probably lay there unused after Lonnie left. Will saw it and remembered enough to be able to load it, but Jonathan may simply have forgotten it was there, while remembering that his father habitually kept a revolver in his glove box.
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     Why Will? 

  • Later on in the show, they mention the Demogorgon hunts by sensing blood. When it first chases Will from the D&D campaign until when it catches him, he is uninjured. Maybe they cut a scene where he got hurt looking for his lost die?
    • Will's disappearance coincides with Eleven opening the first portal and letting the Demogorgon loose. It didn't seek him out to hunt him, it just came across him while running amok outside Hawkins Lab and went after him due to (basically) being Chaotic Evil. Based on how it chases other characters later in the series, we know it can still perceive people who aren't bleeding, just much less precisely—hence why the uninjured Will was able to survive so long.
    • Assuming he didn't skin up his knee when he fell off his bike, it could be possible that the it took Will not because he was bleeding, but as a potential snack for later. But due to Will managing to avoid being caught by the creature again while in the Upside Down, it wasn't able to eat him, thus leading it into our world, got Barb and attacked her right away.
    • The Demogorgan mainly centres in on its prey by focussing on spilled blood, but it's probably more than happy to chow down on something it comes across which isn't bleeding. It probably wasn't hunting Will especially, but just decided to go after him because he thought it'd make a nice snack.

    The name "Eleven" 
  • How did she get that name? Obviously the implication is there were 10 others before her. But 10 other of what, exactly? 10 other psychic children born of former MKUltra test subjects?
    • Possibly. According to the show's Twitter, Eleven "is not the first experiment", which is later expanded upon in season 2 when we're introduced to Eight.
    • It could also be binary, meaning "011" is only Three.
    • Jossed in Season 2, as we are introduced to Eight, with a corresponding "008" tattoo.
    • Brenner calls her Eleven, making that unlikely.

    Why does Dr. Brenner treat Eleven so poorly? 

  • He doesn't appear to bear any particular animus toward her, and it's obvious even before she escapes that the sterile and deprived environment are making her dangerous herself to and everyone around her. Did he just toss her a teddy bear and some crayons, say "Eh, good enough", and call it a day?
    • While he doesn't seem to bear any hostility towards Eleven, he doesn't exactly care about her feelings either. He might have underestimated her and thought they could easily contain a little girl if she did try something. It's also possible he didn't want to risk any outside stimuli affecting the development of her powers.
    • Dr. Brenner seems to have a sociopath's understanding of child rearing: If the child disobeys you, apply punishment. If the child obeys you, apply compassion. He's clearly trying, just doing a rather terrible job of it. And let's note that in the end, Eleven didn't run away from him, she ran from the monster, and later from Connie for killing Benny. His horrible parenting was mostly working until the rift broke open.
    • The act of having tattooed a serial number on a human test subject in the exact same manner and location infamously used by the Nazis demonstrates a wall-banging lack of self-awareness.
    • Adding to all of the above: Dr. Brenner thinks of Eleven as a sort of machine, and not a real person. (In fact, I think he treats everyone this way.) All his interactions with her are based on making her obey. So no, he doesn't hate Eleven. He just doesn't give a damn about her feelings. All he wants is obedience. If he thinks he can get that obedience by acting nice, he'll act nice. If he thinks he can get obedience with harsh punishment, he'll do that. He switches tactics based on whatever he expects will be most effective.
    • Also, let's be blunt here; Brenner's clearly a bit warped. His cold and cruel treatment of Eleven is simply an extension of his maladjusted personality.
    • There's also the purely pragmatic situation of her psychic abilities to consider. Are her abilities more powerful and easier to tap when she's calm and happy, or when she's discomforted, frightened, and angry? If one emotional state provides superior results to another, invoking that mental state is just another aspect of "turning his machine on," as it were.

     Closing the gate to the Upside-Down? 
  • It seems that while Will has been saved, there has been no indication that the initial gate to the Upside-Down has been sealed, meaning things can still come out from there. And the tear has opened the way for other beings, like the Demogorgon, to open smaller tears to slip through, so I'm wondering how such a rip in reality can be fixed. Is it going to heal itself with some time, like the smaller tears do, or will it take something else to close it?
    • We can only assume that they'll tackle this in the second season.
    • Tackled.

     Why not frame Joyce? 
  • It's kind of puzzling that the government people wouldn't bother trying to pin Will's disappearance on his mentally and emotionally unstable mother murdering him over something that could be easily fabricated for them. Why bother going to the trouble to make a stuffed fake body?
    • Finding a body and a plausible cause of death (should have) neatly wrapped up the mystery. Joyce was known to people in town as relatively normal before this, and this was long before decades of tragic news stories forced people to accept that some unremarkable neighbor could secretly be capable of horrific crimes. Trying to persuade the town in 1983 that any mother could have done something terrible to her own child, with inexplicable lack of motive or a body, would have been been very difficult and only dragged out the investigation.
    • At that, it might've been doable *with the local cops' cooperation*, but that was very quickly out of the question.
    • Also, they're kind of flying by the seat of their pants and trying to manage everything in a rapid timeframe, so might not have the time and luxury to convincingly set up Joyce as a fall-person. On the other hand, having a bunch of fake stuffed bodies lying around that, with a bit of quick cosmetic alteration, could be dummied up to look like a missing kid who's been floating in a lake for a few days in order to fake his death sounds like the sort of thing that a Government Conspiracy might have more quickly on hand. Setting up a mother to have convincingly murdered her son requires time and effort that they might not have, whereas faking Will's death ended up requiring them to throw a dummy into a quarry. Quicker and easier, basically.

     How did Joyce afford the Atari? 
  • Joyce's family is tight on money at the beginning of the series. By the end, Joyce has missed at least a week of work, and their house clearly will need lots of expensive repairs. Yet, somehow she manages to get an Atari for Will for Christmas a month later. Could this actually be a case of Fridge Brilliance—did the Feds pay her off for her silence or something like that? We know the Men in Black were in touch with Hopper after everything that happened...
    • She may have gotten help from the town- after all her son was revealed to be alive, so everyone, her boss, maybe the neighbors, got together and raised some money so the family would be okay. Further support for this is that the house is clearly in better condition at Christmas, with fresh paint, the lights taken down and the wallpaper replaced to get rid of the Ouija alphabet, and overall looking not so poor and ratty. Perhaps the town held a charity drive to create a memorial fund initially? And/or some sort of celebratory donations after Will was found alive?
    • Given the fact that the state police became the scapegoat for Will's "death", I assumed the government just paid her a large compensation for everything that happened in exchange for her not suing them.
    • Between the middle of 1983 towards the middle of 1985, the price of Ataris took a dip into the ground. For some unknown reason... The expensively hot Christmas present of 1982 wasn't so pricey for under the tree in '83. And, depending on whether it was a January gift, it might even have been a "I don't want it anymore" second-hand reject from somebody else with their finger on the pulse. That, or a year's worth of trying to get ET to work without getting pit-looped quickly turned them off consoles for life; one of the two. Interesting side-note: for Africa, 1983-1984 was big for Atari console sales... mainly because they were trying to sell anything they could, anywhere they could and at any price they could manage, since the US market was busy crashing. It didn't work.
  • For those of you young whippersnappers who don't remember, back in the early 80s there was still a thing called LAYAWAY. You could take an item to the back of the store, usually a department store like Sears, and put it on layaway. You'd then pay a small amount of money each week until it was paid off, and then pick it up and take it home.

     D&D naming 
  • Now I'm no D&D fan, but I've seen Demogorgan, and it looks nothing like the what they are calling the thing (faceless actually works a ton better) especially as they show a figurine, and it looks bugger all like the creature, anyone from D&D know of a more approp name for it? cuz demongorgan isn't stupid its just wrong, damn kids
    • As you said it, they're just "damn kids" so mixed things up (IE calling it "The" Demogorgon, even though Demogorgon is a name, not a type).
    • They refer to it as the "Demogorgon" because that is the miniature Eleven used to represent the creature in her attempt to explain the "Upside Down". Due to the last game they played, that miniature had represented the "very scary monster" which was the idea that Eleven wanted to communicate. Whether she could sense the significance of the mini or it was lucky dramatic coincidence is unclear, but she did manage to communicate a lot while saying very little.
    • As pointed out in Season 2, the use of D&D terminology is meant to help the kids, and in some cases the adults, in interpreting the situation by relating it to something they know. Another example of this is when Dustin brings up Lando from The Empire Strikes Back when it's suspected that Nancy is a turn coat while trying to reach them via walking-talkie and why they relate Eleven's powers to the Force and question if she got her abilities, using both X-Men and Green Lantern as examples of if she was born or given the abilities.
    • Also, they... kinda gotta name it something if they want to be able to clearly refer to it. They're D&D nerds and "Demogorgan" is as good a name as anything for an otherwise nameless interdimensional plant-demon-thing.
    • It got worse in the next seasons, they named the big bad the "Mind Flayer" despite it seeming to match more with something like the Otyugh creature from D&D in terms of at least appearance, also the Demogorgan looks more like a messed up Displacer Beast (not as cool name true but more accurate), if these kids were big fans they would of picked something more appropriate.
      • This is already covered above: The Mind Flayer was named based on what it does not what it looks like (at the time they didn't know what it really looked like except for Will's drawings, which pretty much just show a black tentacly shadow. In fact initially the Mind Flayer was simply called "The Shadow Monster," and didn't receive its name until the second to last episode of the season, once its behavior was better understood). The Demogorgon stuck because that was the figure El used when she tried to explain what happened to Will in the first season. No, it doesn't look like Demogorgon. No, it doesn't account for the fact that Demogorgon is a specific individual (which is forgiveable because they're kids and may have just glossed over the Lore). What matters is context. In the first season El was unable to properly express herself, so had to resort to using the D&D miniatures to depict Will in the Upside Down. She picked Demogorgon's figure because the boys had recently used it in their campaign, and would comprehend the threat it represented despite it being a creature so far beyond their experience. The naming is a blending of Poor Communication Kills, You Cannot Grasp the True Form, and a A Form You Are Comfortable With.

    Eleven's disguise 
  • Why did the boys pretty much dress Eleven up as a girl when she had to go to school with them, when it would have been way easier for her to just borrow a slightly more school-appropriate outfit from Mike and pretend to be a boy? Not that her wig and dress weren't cute, but it definitely looked like a wig, none of the other girls at school were wearing frilly dresses with athletic socks, and at her age no one would be able to tell she's not a boy when she dresses like one. Would her haircut just be weird even for a boy? Or does it just not occur to the boys that to a stranger she just looks like a boy when she's wearing boys' clothes and her wig-and-dress outfit is way more conspicuous? Or did they just realize she'd like to dress up?
    • First off, the boys probably didn't put much thought into this beyond "Make her look normal." Secondly, if they dressed her up as a boy and then accidentally used female pronouns to refer to her, it would raise suspicion. Third, Eleven may have shown a preference for wearing feminine clothing, and they just went with that.
    • In-universe, anyone who meets Eleven instantly knows she's a girl. The only people who assume she's a boy are the ones who see her from far away. So it might be even more suspicious if they pretend she's a boy and people note how feminine she looks - as well as her voice sounding like a girl's. The really distinctive thing about her is the shaved head - which would be odd on a boy too. In the 80s buzzcuts weren't part of the fashion. Today sure you might see a preteen boy with a buzz, but it would be unusual in the 80s. Maybe they might have considered pretending she's a boy, but they found plenty of things in Nancy's dress-up box for her - the wig and the make-up - so they didn't need to.
    • Also, they're kids. She's a girl, they just automatically default to dressing her in girl's stuff.
    • Also, The '80s. Conforming to traditional gender roles was a much bigger deal. So girls have to dress like girls. To the boys, anything else just would not compute, or be seen as deeply, deeply wrong.

    Murder 

  • Why kill Benny in the diner?
    • See above. It was early in their pursuit , and they wanted to erase all possibility of anyone talking about a girl in a hospital gown running around by herself. Like many things, they botched it, since the fellows in the diner when Benny found Eleven saw her.
    • The out of universe example is that there is a little bit of doubt on the protagonists' side that Eleven could have just been Will with a haircut. If Benny is alive then he can confirm the child was a girl, the children could go see him and find out more information much sooner. Killing Benny also serves as a cue for the audience that these are our villains and what they're about. Because they kill Benny, it gives the audience a sense of tension as to what they'll do to Eleven if they get her back. We eventually find out they were experimenting on her, but this tells the audience that they might kill her - or the children helping her.
    • Just simple covering their tracks, basically. Benny's seen the girl, no one can know the girl exists, Benny has to die.

    Phone 

  • Why did no one notice the phone off the hook the night Will disappeared?
    • They probably did, they just didn't think anything of it at the time. Since Jonathan and Joyce were both working late that night, when one or the other came home they were probably quite tired and just thought someone hadn't replaced it correctly, so hung it back up and went to bed without giving it another moment's thought. They had no real reason to suspect it might suggest something sinister had happened until they realised Will wasn't home.

    Tank 

  • If it's a sensory deprivation tank, why were they touching Eleven a lot?
    • It would be rough on Joyce to see someone lose touch with reality, she'd already lost Will.
    • In season two, we see that Eleven doesn't need full sensory deprivation to do her thing. It's just what she's used to. She wants Joyce to stay in contact, so it works.
    • It's so that they can reassure Eleven that she's not alone and that she's safe, no matter what she encounters. It's also a bit of a safety value; even leaving aside reasons of simple kindness and support, consider that the last time Eleven was completely immersed in sensory deprivation and encountered something terrifying without anyone to 'ground' her and remind her that she was safe, she freaked out so much she literally broke the universe. Putting Eleven in a state of complete sensory deprivation is, frankly, not a good idea.

    Finding her mother 

  • Is it an ethical issue that the adults did not immediately tell Eleven they may have found her mother before using her powers?
    • Hopper explicitly regrets doing so.
    • More pragmatically, maybe if she knew about her mother, that would distract her. Time is of the essence here, and Eleven needs to use her powers to find Will. If she suddenly knows her mother is alive, it could be harder for her to focus. They just assumed they'd be able to tell her after everything was over.
    • Even leaving this aside, priority-wise there are at least two missing people that they know off trapped in a toxic otherworldly under-dimension being hunted by a monster who need to be rescued, stat, and they come first. Ethical or not, saving Will and Barbara's lives takes precedence over telling Eleven about Terry Ives. As noted, as far as Hopper and Joyce are concerned they can fill her in on her family history when, well, they've saved the people they need to save from possible death.
    • They also don't really have an opportune moment to tell her, really; from the point where Hopper and Joyce leave Terry Ives, events move quite rapidly. They're bouncing from bailing out Jonathan, to having to rescue Eleven, Mike and his friends from government agents, to building a rudimentary sensory deprivation tank, to being captured by said government agents and being shoved into a toxic under-dimension to try and find Will. There's not really much time for a heart-to-heart about Eleven's mother, sadly.

    The main trio's actions in the first season 

  • In season one of the show, did Mike and Lucas come off as designated heroes? Mike and Lucas treat Eleven pretty badly, with Lucas outright picking on her the most and calling her a freak (even when its suggested that she's mentally handicapped, he still thinks of her as a freak) and Mike lashing out at her whenever they misinterpret her and make no real effort to really accommodate her, only using her as a way to find their friend. Really, the way they treat Eleven is no different from how the bullies treat them and especially Dustin, the member of the group with a physical handicap.
    • There's no comparison at all with how Troy and James treat the Party. It starts by the fact that none of the Party are malicious, cruel, and psychotic Jerk Asses. They're ultimately acting like kids without a lot of life experience informing them how to react to her. At worst there's a healthy dose of Values Dissonance because it's the early-80s, and the setting is quite a ways off from the wider understanding of PTSD and other mental and emotional disorders that exists in the late-2010s. To break it down by character:
      • Although Lucas is hostile and insulting from the start, he's also called out on it almost from the start, and later admits he was wrong to treat her badly. His treatment of Eleven is deliberately set up as a plot point and part of his character arc, so the series doesn't ignore his negative behavior at all.
      • At the same time, Lucas isn't necessarily wrong in his distrust. While he could have been more sensitive, it's not like he knows anything about her past like the audience does and Eleven isn't exactly forthcoming (which makes sense given her lack of social skills). As far as he knows, this strange girl appears out of nowhere while his best friend is missing, so he's understandably more concerned about his friend than this girl he doesn't know. He's not around her as much as Mike and, due to her lack of speaking skills, she just comes off as a danger and liar to him. It speaks much more to Lucas' character in that he does apologize for his behavior after she almost (accidentally) kills him and lies to them about the compasses.
      • Mike defends El from everything Lucas says about her, and the only time he really gets angry with her is justifiable: the fake corpse of Will has just been pulled from the quarry, and he rightfully believes she lied about him being alive (it's not until after this incident that El channels him in the Upside Down for the first time as proof he's alive). He doesn't even really get angry with her when he finds out she was fouling their compasses, because he accepts her reasoning that she was only trying to protect them right away. He even gets into a fight with Lucas because Lucas refuses to accept that explanation. And while he does rely on her powers to help find Will, he also takes care of El, protects her, and tries to help her in turn throughout the season. As for why he momentarily snaps at her after she uses her powers against Lucas, for all that they're having a tiff at that point Lucas is still one of his best friends, he cares deeply about him and is worried that he could be seriously hurt or even dead; he's panicking and lashing out, basically. Notice how as soon as he's assured that Lucas is okay and realises that Eleven is missing, he immediately defaults to "find Eleven and make sure she's okay".
      • Mike's reaction was also a bit of What the Hell, Hero? over Disproportionate Retribution. Mike and Lucas were having a fight, which degenerated into a physical brawl, and Eleven broke it up by hurling Lucas through the air and into a solid object so hard he got a concussion. That was not a reasonable use of force for that situation, and Lucas is absolutely in the right to be upset that he "could have been killed!" El might not have meant to "push" him so hard, but that doesn't change the fact that what she did was dangerous and an excessive use of force. Now, these being preteen boys, they explain this reasoning by screaming "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?" instead of discussing the finer points equivalent force response.
      • Dustin is at worst Innocently Insensitive mixed with No Social Skills. Yeah, some of the things he says and does are rude, (IE trying to get her to perform tricks with her powers) but the series establishes he doesn't really mean anything by it. While he thinks she's weird, he also finds it cool and doesn't seem to realize some of what he does around her is a bit demeaning.
    • Also... these are kids. If we're expecting them to respond to a very stressful and confusing situation with perfect rational maturity, comprehension, wokeness and understanding, we're expecting too much of them.
    • And yes. . . it should be reiterated that it's The '80s: this kind of Values Dissonance leading to Innocently Insensitive was depressingly common.

     Giving up the chase 

  • So after Eleven flipped the incoming van, the vans behind them stopped and gave up chasing them? Can they really not drive around a van?
    • Probably an Oh, Crap! moment at the amount of power she just demonstrated. I mean how would you react if someone just flipped a van about thirty or forty feet through the air with their mind. I'm sure it was also Brenner cutting his losses and realizing that pushing the pursuit further at that stage wasn't going to go well.
    • The van was blocking the street, and there wasn't a lot of room on either side for the other vans to go around. If you re-watch, everyone did an Oh, Crap! take and then the kids took off again. By that point, it was probably better for the people from Hawkins Lab to try and find another way—they're 12 year old kids, after all, and have to go home eventually.

     Magnetic field? 

  • It's established in Season One that the magnetic field thrown off by the Gate is strong enough to mess up the kids' compasses. Why, then, doesn't it erase the audio cassette Jonathan and Nancy make or the mag locks on the doors, or any of the computers, etc.?
    • The same reason the earth's magnetic field doesn't.

    Giving up Eleven's location 
  • When the entire season 2 is about how much Hopper cares for Eleven, why would he compromise her safety and location in Season 1 by telling Brenner that she is hiding in the school gym?? It seems out of character for him, or am I missing something?
    • Because it's down to saving Will or saving Eleven. Will is who Hopper has been searching for the entire season, and he knows Joyce very well so there's an emotional aspect there too. Hopper only just met Eleven and knows very little about her at the end of Season 1. Something had to give, he had to pick between Will and Eleven, and it was a very tough decision that he no doubt feels immense guilt about. After he finds Eleven again in the time prior to Season 2, he gives her a good home and hides her for a year, as a way to apologize for what he did, but he's really just using her again to fill the void left by his daughter's death, the difference being that she is a much healthier alternative than drugs and booze. It's also possible that Hopper figured that Eleven had a good chance of defending herself with her powers.
      Will had zero chance of surviving the Upside Down unless someone went in and saved him, so as tough of a decision as it was for Hopper, it makes perfect sense why he would go in there to save him. The lab also wouldn't have let them go unless Hopper gave up Eleven's location. Brenner only allowed them to go into the Upside Down to save Will because he assumed it'd be a suicide mission and they'd die and be out of his business.
    • Also, we may be putting the cart before the horse a little here. It's highly likely that Season 2 is about how much Hopper cares for Eleven because he sold her out in Season 1; the man's got some atonin' to do.

    Erica at Will's funeral 
  • Why wasn't Erica at Will's funeral? Lucas' parents were.
    • They might have decided she was too young to go to a funeral and left her with a babysitter. When my grandfather died, my brother and I would have been approximately Lucas and Erica's ages (perhaps a little younger), and my parents left me and my brother at home with a family friend or relative (on the other side of the family) to watch over us. Lucas is there because he's a close friend of Will, his parents are there to support Lucas and Will's family, but since there's no real relation to Erica beyond Lucas's friendship (and later seasons make clear that she's not particularly close to her brother's friends), there's no real reason for her to attend.

    The Mind Flayer 
  • Why didn't Will encounter the Mind Flayer while he was trapped in the Upside Down?
    • Who says he didn't? When Joyce and Hopper find Will in the Upside Down, he's hooked up to... something in the Upside Down version of the library, and remember we don't actually see the unpleasant details of what the Demogorgon actually does to the people it hunts and captures. Everyone assumes it just eats them, but what if it was actually harvesting at least some of them for the Mind Flayer?

     Time to escape!... after I've changed my clothes. 
  • There appears to be an inconsistency with regards to the clothes that Eleven was wearing when she would have escaped, and the clothes she was first found in by Benny. When Eleven opens up the Gate, the events of which are implied to be (and presumably have to be) when she also escaped the Lab, she was in the sensory deprivation "bath" and was wearing what appears to be a specialised bathing suit for this purpose (as well as the helmet). When we first see her in the series, however, which is implied to be (and presumably has to be) not long after she's actually escaped, she's wearing nothing but a hospital gown. So either Eleven took time out of escaping from the Lab and the horrible interdimensional beast rampaging through it to change into a much less convenient hospital gown, or the guards and scientists took time out of recovering Eleven and transferring her back into custody to make her change out of her bathing suit back into a hospital gown, while presumably also dealing with said horrible interdimensional beast on a rampage through the lab at the same time, and Eleven escaped at a different point. Neither seems entirely practical under the circumstances.

Season 2

    Mike's jerkass behavior 
Why Mike is much more of a jerkass in season 2? Why does he disapprove of Max so much? Sure, he's still kind to his friends, but he's noticeably rougher around the edges, prone to emotional outbursts and was very hostile to Max. His parents explicitly bring this up, listing off his behavior changes over the last year, eg: getting in fights at school, stealing from Nancy, etc. Fortunately, there may be some answers for him to behave this way:
  • He seems to be deeply depressed and traumatized by Eleven's disappearance. He simply hates the mere idea of another girl taking her place. In Real Life, it is very common that people with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder tend to behave hostile and aggressive towards others.
  • Mike being horribly bullied by Troy in season 1, both physically and mentally. Truth in Television: In Real Life, sadly, many victims of bullying have ended up being bullies themselves.
  • Perhaps both things contributed to his behavior?
  • In complete fairness, "bullying" seems a bit of a harsh way to describe Mike's behaviour here. He's definitely unwelcoming towards Max, but he doesn't exactly go out of his way to make her feel uncomfortable, hurt or belittled either; he just doesn't particularly want anything to do with her. And even he starts to warm to her gradually; in episode three, he can clearly be seen starting to relax around her when she is showing off her skateboard skills, and when she's knocked off the board by Eleven his first instinct is to rush to her and make sure she's okay. He is a bit unnecessarily curt later when excluding her from the group's meeting about what's happening with Will ("Party members only!"), but that can perhaps be explained by stress over worrying about what's happening to Will coupled with the fact that at that point they legitimately do have to keep things secret from Max (lest she spill the beans to the wrong person and get them all in trouble) keeping him from being as polite as he perhaps could or should be.
  • Also, notice how his voice is a bit deeper than the previous season (which, admittedly, might have more to do with the actor than being a conscious acting choice, but even so). He's probably heading into the early stages of puberty, which means "hormonal imbalances", which — as I can testify from memory — can equal "being a stroppy little fucker".
  • Also, while it's not really brought up or dwelt upon, remember that Max's step-brother was perfectly willing to run them over at one point while she was in the car. While that's not exactly her fault and Dustin and Lucas are willing to shrug it off, it's not entirely unsurprising or unreasonable that Mike (or anyone else) might initially be less willing to do so or a little wary towards her as a result.
  • He probably doesn't even realize why he doesn't like Max, but it's precisely because he's still mourning El. He's afraid that letting another girl in the party is disrespectful to El's memory, and afraid that if he lets in another girl and happens to like her (even if he doesn't "like" like her) that it means what he felt with El wasn't as "special." Also, if he lets himself move on from thinking about El, missing El, wanting to get El back, then he's forgetting her, treating her like she doesn't matter anymore. All logically illogical emotions to be running through the brain of a thirteen-year-old kid, and without anyone to really help him process those emotions in a healthy manner, he resorts to lashing out at what he perceives as the source of all this pain: Max. As for pre-Max informed behavior: the kid's got a heaping pile of PTSD served up to him. His best friend went missing in an alien dimension and nearly died, his party was fractured with turmoil surrounding that loss, he watched his first crush vaporize herself (so it seems) to save them all (and kill a lot of other people along the way), and found his own life in danger on several occasions. Frankly, it's kind of amazing he's as functional as he is this season.
  • In addition to everything else raised, Mike simply appears to be the kind of person who doesn't like sudden change and having new circumstances forced on him, and reacts by stubbornly digging his heels in and objecting to them even if it turns out he likes the change more than he lets on. When Max is just the new girl, he's just as curious as the others about her and displays no particular animus towards her. It's when Dustin and Lucas unilaterally decide that she's now in the group without discussing it with him that his nose starts to get put out of joint. Had events been allowed to occur a bit more slowly and naturally, and keeping in mind the rich cocktail of other issues surrounding Eleven and letting others into the group that he's also having to work through, he might have ended up being a bit more welcoming to her.

    Will, survival expert? 
  • It's already been asked how Will survived a week in the Upside-Down without anything to eat or drink...but how did he even survive in the first place? The Demogorgan took him there personally, and when the same thing happened to Barb, it killed her right afterwards. Are we supposed to believe that the Demogorgon took Will, somehow completely lost him despite being an apex predator two feet away from its prey, then spent the next week being outwitted on its own turf by a ten-year-old? It's not like he was huddled in a cave for the entire time, either; Will has at least one more extremely close encounter with the Demogorgon while talking to his mother, and it somehow dropped the ball that time as well.
    • First of all, the Demogorgon isn't an "apex predator," it's a telepathically controlled foot soldier of the Mind Flayer. Second of all, the Mind Flayer wants to use Will as a host rather than as food for its pets. Last of all, the Demogorgons seem to have an odd form of sense where they can't see, just hear. Will was never bleeding, an independent Demogrgon's way of easily tracking down enemies, and otherwise it has to rely on sound.
    • Wasn't the Mind Flayer described as an infection that had taken over the Demodogs? I don't recall them ever confirming whether the first season's Demogorgon was infected by the Mind Flayer.
    • Context clues make it very clear that Season One's Demogorgon was a servant of the Mind Flayer, with its collection of humans to "breed" with being a means for the Mind Flayer to create an army and conquer this world the same as it did the Upside Down. The Mind Flayer is never shown to have the need to "fill" the Demodogs with itself like it did for Will, suggesting their connection to it is innate, and there's the noises of several them at its side in the Upside Down, where presumably most of them were "hatched," and yet the ones who were in our world from the get-go already serve it. Therefore, S1's Demogorgon was an advance scout of the Mind Flayer and tasked with helping incubate its army, the first stage in its invasion plan, and one that presumably would have went on longer had the Demogorgon not been destroyed.
    • Sorry but, as the previous troper I was also under the impression that the Mind Flayer just took over the Demogorgons' dimension in a similar way how it wanted to take over ours, thus the Demogorgon in the first season wasn't under the Mind Flayer control yet IMO. In any case, we don't know how its senses works, it could be that there was something about Will that make him harder to sense for the Demogorgon (that has no eyes), maybe the size or some other factor. And we don't know how smart the Demogorgon is, might be smart enough to know that Will will lure others into proximity thus keeping him alive on purpose to have further prey.

    The Hot Bath 
  • Why did Joyce not insist on Will taking a hot bath and in fact let him suffer hypothermia? Will would not wanted it and struggled against it due to the Mind Flayer's influence but Joyce shows shockingly little concern for his physical well-being at that time.
    • I think she felt that if Will was comfortable, the Mind Flayer wouldn't harm him. It ended up not being the case, but it seems that was her line of thinking.
    • Despite the fact that his temperature is low, he's not showing any of the symptoms of hypothermia. He's not freezing to death; he seems fine. So Joyce was willing to let it slide. Remember that Will has been through hell already, and Joyce doesn't want to make him uncomfortable if she doesn't have to. Will seems uncomfortable with the idea of taking a hot bath, so Joyce doesn't press him. It's only later that she realized that heat is the only way to save him from the Mind Flayer.
    • Also, she's probably just trying to adjust to what's going on and trying to work around it as best she can. In her mind, if he doesn't want to take a bath, after everything the kid's been through she's not going to force him to take a bath.

    Dustin and D'Artagnan/Dart 
  • It's understandable that Dustin would want to keep a stray pet, especially for the "cool/gross" factor for a boy his age. But as Dart grows and becomes the first "Demodog" introduced in Season 2, why does he insist on keeping it, and then has the rest of the crew searching for it when he knows where it is the whole time?
    • Steve mentioned he did it to impress Max and Dustin didn't deny it. It's a poor decision, but kids can be that way at times, even if it's a smart kid like Dustin.
    • Once it reveals itself as a carnivorous Demi-something, Dustin's plan seemed to be to try and contain it until he can get help with it. He does send Steve in after it with the spiked baseball bat as soon as he can get him.
    • As for why he keeps Dart hidden when the others are searching for him, he fears — not entirely unjustifiably — that the others will squish Dart as soon as they find him, and Dustin initially wants to nurture him. It turns out to be ill-advised, but it's out of naivete more than anything else.

    How did Dr. Owens survive? 
  • The demogorgons eat human flesh, as we saw with poor Bob Newby, and the first season established they have an excellent sense of smell and can smell blood from far away. So how is it possible they just left Dr. Owens bleeding in the stairwell and didn't finish him off, like they did with Bob?
    • It's possible they had just started attacking him when the party set fire to the hub in the tunnels, or when El started closing the gate, and were called away to assist, leaving Owens wounded but not finished off. Judging by the blood on the handrails, it looked like he was already wounded and trying to escape when he collapsed in the stairwell.
    • The party hasn't set the fire yet when they meet Dr. Owens, so that doesn't explain it. The fire happens when El and Hopper are at the basement level near the gate, but they find Owens before that, in the staircase while they're on their way to the basement.
    • Perhaps the demogorgons had eaten their fill, and injured Owens to keep him stationary until they were hungry again. This can be seen in real wildlife as well.
    • Maybe they decided to keep him alive for later use as an "incubator", just like they used Will in the first season. (Presumably there are some features that distinguish incubator-worthy humans, like Will, from unworthy ones like Barb and Bob.)
    • He might have been able to fight it off when it attacked him, then made his way down to the staircase. Hopper manages to kill one of them with a shotgun so they aren't completely indestructible, a bullet in the mouth might have put it down.
    • Very, very few of those attacked by the demodogs were nommed. . . in fact, Bob's the only one we see getting eaten. Most of the bodies just have some wounds, enough to kill them, but no sign of having been eaten. Perhaps not all, or even the majority, of humans are palatable to demodogs? Perhaps they can only feed when the Mind Flayer commands it, and otherwise just kill? And perhaps, for whatever reason, they didn't realize they hadn't killed Dr. Owens, or realized that without assistance he was a goner anyway and were content with him dying eventually.

    What about Bob? 
  • According to the news report in the season finale, the government is now saying Barb died because of hazardous chemicals they were experimenting with in Hawkins. But the only death the news mention is Barb's. Presumably all the scientists and soldiers the demodogs killed at the Hawkins lab were working under extreme confidentiality, so no one knows they died there... But what about Bob Newby? He'd been living in Hawkins his whole life, he had a job there, and most likely friends and family too. Isn't anyone gonna wonder what happened to him?
    • He mentioned several times he wanted to move to Maine. Maybe that's the cover story. Or, on a rewatch...Barb's death was attributed to asphyxiation from a chemical leak. Maybe the rest of the deaths at the lab are explained the same way.
    • If that's the case, why is only Barb's death mentioned in the news report?
    • Probably because Nancy, Jonathan, and Murray were on a mission to find justice for Barb, so the journalists used the "human interest" angle of Barb's family as their story. No one talks about all the other people at the lab who died, or Owens or anyone else, which suggests the news report didn't get much information at all from the lab's spokespeople.

     Eleven's powers increasing? 
  • How come in the first season it was shown several times that El needed a complicated set-up of salted water and darkness to be able to see people through her supernatural vision, yet in season 2, all she has to do is wear a blindfold and listen to static from the tv to achieve the same ability? I'm assuming the implication is that she's become stronger, but it would have been nice to have it at least explained or questioned in-universe.
    • What she is creating is the Ganzfeld Effect. It's basically a discount version of sensory deprivation. She was locked in that cabin for over 300 days with nothing to do but experiment with her powers. She knew it had to do with blocking out senses, so it makes sense that she would eventually stumble on the tv static and blindfold method.
    • Show, Don't Tell. We don't need her power boost spelled out since we can SEE it happen. Also, that's part of the purpose of "The Lost Sister."
    • This specific thing is probably less an increase or expansion in her powers as it is simple practice at using this particular ability. As she gets more practice at doing it, she can do it in increasingly casual environments. (Note that by mid-Season 3 or so, she doesn't need the white noise of TV static and can even answer questions from the people around her.)

     Why does Billy hate Lucas? 
  • Billy seems to have a particular animus for Lucas which goes beyond his general Jerkass personality and disdain for Hawkins and its populace as a whole, repeatedly ordering Max to stay away from him, and this is never really explained. You almost start to suspect it might have something to do with Lucas being the only member of the core group of kids who's black. However, Billy is from California - not someplace where people stereotypically might hold on to bigoted attitudes about interracial romances like the Deep South - so while it's not impossible that Billy is just a racist it seems a little strange.
    • the Duffer brothers agree he's racist.
    • Lucas is also the member of the Party that Max has the most interactions with, and happens to be the one who's typically present when Billy arrives. So it's as much a matter of opportunity as it is anything else. Had it been Mike, Dustin, or even Will, Billy's response would likely have been the same.
    • As someone who grew up in California in the 1980s, I don't find it strange that Billy might be racist. Remember, this show takes place about halfway between the Watts riots and the Rodney King riots. There was plenty of racial hostility going on for various reasons, and since the Hargroves are apparently working-class people they may well have been living in areas most affected by it.
      • I suppose it's a moot point now with Word of Dante but this so much. You would be surprised to learn how racist California could get during the 80s.
    • That still just makes it fanon. Until it's made explicit in the show that he's a racist, that's all it is: Fanon. As it is, Billy never once makes a comment about Lucas that's contingent upon his race.
      • True, but the issue here is that he didn't just hate Lucas specifically. He didn't say "stay away from that kid"; he said something more like "stay away from that kind of person". He seems to think that Lucas belongs to some sort of group, and that the whole group is bad. Since he never has any personal interaction with Lucas, and only really sees him from a distance, the most obvious group he might be talking about is his racial group. The only other thing that comes to mind is that Lucas is a nerd, but if Billy had a problem with nerds then I doubt he'd be willing to drive Max to the arcade all the time.
      • Or he could be lumping him in with the small-town residents of a place it's clearly established he openly resents. His appearances build up that he hates being in Hawkins period and that's part of what he's taking out on Max.
      • Oh, right. That would make sense. But then apparently he thinks that Max should never make any friends at all, at least not while the family lives in Hawkins. But ok, yeah, it's obvious that Billy is being cruel and unreasonable, so that fits too.
      • Actually, I don't think he wants Max to have friends at all. It's already clear that he considers her very existence an unwelcome burden. Her having friends means the possibility of him having to play chaperone, or give her and her friends rides, and less time for him doing what HE wants to do. In short, it makes an inconvenience even more inconvenient. (And he's the kind of prick that would derive satisfaction from her being lonely and miserable... it'd drag her down to his level.)
    • I think it's pretty strongly implied that Lucas's race is the issue. Even if Billy weren't rabidly racist, he might object to his step-sister getting into an interracial relationships, which were more taboo in the 1980s than today, even in California. Plus, Billy's father is pretty bigoted, with his casual talk of "faggots" and "whores," and it's implied that that's where Billy gets most of his issues from. Billy could easily have gotten some bigoted beliefs from his father about race and interracial relationships.
      • And yet with the casual talk of "faggots" and "whores" we don't once got a racial slur. Even Troy called Lucas "Midnight" in season one, but Billy never says anything that unambiguously refers to Lucas's race.
      • This one is probably due to real-life N-Word Privileges, though.
    • Incidentally, Actor Dacre Montgomery himself outright denies racial context for Billy's behavior, and confirms he singles out Lucas simply because Lucas is the character who happens to be around.
    • This doesn't have to be mutually exclusive, fellow tropers. It can be the case that Billy has it in for Lucas especially because he interacts with Lucas more than the others, because he doesn't like nerds like Lucas and because he has some subconscious (or conscious) racist attitudes that lead him to single Lucas out more. In other words, it's all a rich tapestry of utter shitheadedness on Billy's part.
    • It's a case of Schrodinger's Racism.

     Why weren't Jonathan and Nancy searched? 
  • A major factor in the "Justice for Barb" story was that after Jonathan and Nancy were picked up by the Lab personnel for going to tell Barb's parents, they're given a tour of the Lab and exposited at... while Nancy had a tape recorder in her bag. The two were clearly antagonistic, clearly being treated like criminals and you don't even look inside their bag? What if they brought a gun? Does no one know how to do basic security anymore?
    • Owens was trying to establish that, while the Lab was still ready to take whatever measures they deemed necessary to keep a lid on what happened the previous year, they're now ultimately on the same side. So not searching them may have been his attempt to establish a degree of trust.
    • It really doesn't make any sense. The security team was completely on-point in all other respects: tracking their calls, following them to the meeting, sabotaging their car and forcibly abducting them. You don't kidnap someone and bring them into your top-secret military base without looking inside their purse. Owens might have tried to get them to trust him, but he certainly didn't trust them.
    • What would they be looking for exactly? Nancy and Jonathan aren't stupid enough to carry weapons into a government facility, and portable recording equipment were very rare among civilians. Even if recorded, Owens knows what Bauman told them after - the public wouldn't find it palatable enough for it to cause an outrage. Maybe he thought it worth the risk, or maybe it really was just a case of having an Idiot Ball.
      • If you're running a secret government lab, you're not gonna skip out on searching visitors just because "They'd be too stupid to try to bring weapons in here." The smart thing to do is actually check for weapons, and while you're at it check for anything else that seems weird. Such a protocol would have led them to discover the recording device, if they'd bothered.
      • Portable tape recorders were not that rare. As anyone who has watched Dark Shadows knows, civilian tape recorders have been around since 1968; and, in the Back to the Future novelization, (set and written in 1985) Marty has a Walkman even in the original timeline where his parents are losers. So the idea of someone using a Walkman to covertly tape someone should have occurred to anyone who was as Properly Paranoid as Owens was supposed to be.
      • Also, there's the fact that Owens seems to me much more of a scientist than a commanding officer. He doesn't seem to know that much about security, remember that when they are locked in the camera room it is Bob and not Owens who knows that the system has to be rebooted and knows how to do it. In my opinion he simply overlooked this body search matter.

     Nobody at the lab notices the tunnel network 
  • So, the gate that leads to the upside-down is in the lab, right? They have this gate under 24/7 surveillance, and they periodically send soldiers in to observe it up close and/or hit it with a flamethrower. So how the heck does a massive multi-acre tunnel network start emanating from the gate without the scientists ever noticing? Before Hopper raised a fuss, the scientists apparently had no idea that anything was happening.
    • The scientists apparently thought that the gate is a two-dimensional portal in a wall and didn't think that there's anything behind or below it. Even if they did think about excavating around the gate to investigate its dimensions, they might not want to risk making the gate wider. The tendrils were coming from below the gate, which the scientists didn't think was possible, and the tendrils can't be detected because they're behind the facility's walls and below its floors, in the solid earth. Presumably tendrils weren't making vibrations with their tunneling, and the tunnels weren't making the earth shift around the facility, so they're not giving off any clues to the scientists that something is amiss.

    Absent parents 
  • Why aren’t the parents of the other kids, except for Joyce obviously, worried for their children spending days out of their houses without contact of any kind? Dustin’s mother seem somewhat overprotective like to notice that her son is still outside late at night, same with Lucas’ parents. But the most obvious case are Mike’s parents considering that Mike spent several days in the government’ facility.
    • Did they spend multiple days in the military facility? Otherwise, it's just a case of Free-Range Children and Deliberate Values Dissonance, as the show takes place in the 1980s, when parents didn't put their kids under constant supervision as they tend to do today.

    Kali’s Powers 
  • It is established that Kali’s power is to create illusions in the minds of others with objects and occurances that aren’t really there (a crumbling bridge, an overflowing toilet). However, she apparently has the power to make herself and others completely invisible when the police raid their hideout. If she can do that, why even bother creating a distraction when they can just appear to not even be there in the first place? That whole car chase at the beginning could have been avoided if they had just parked in one spot and let the cops drive right past them while cloaked in invisibility or while they raided that convience store.
    • As an area effect, the cloaking may be harder for Kali to pull off - for sure it's easier to target one person's mind instead of affecting everyone around. Likewise, it may be simply easier to create an illusion than to erase something that's visible. And while they might be invisible, they are not immaterial, so just sitting around in an area swarming with cops harbours the danger that one of them still accidentally bumps into them (this almost happens in the scene where they are invisible).
      • If she had made them appear as hazards for the police to walk around, like the barrels that were around them, that could have avoided the problem of them running into each other. Apparently they filmed it in a manner of having the actors simply step out of the shot when the camera was off of them instead of doing something more elaborate.
    • The answer, I believe, lies in a similar answer to the question below; for all their protestations of nobility, Kali and her gang enjoy the thrill of being superpowered outlaws more than they value taking the safe, sensible option. Hence, why they lead the cops on an exciting chase instead of just pulling into a dark alley and casting Invisibility.
    • There seems to be a limit on her ability to target people. She can target someone she can see, or someone whose presence she can reasonably infer (eg "the driver of that police car") or even a group of such people. But she can't just blanket broadcast "we're just a pile of boxes" and get anyone who happens to be looking. The boxes will fool the first cop car-full she was aware of when she set it up, but then when another one comes around the corner, she has to effectively "cast the spell" again for them, meaning they'd see her for a moment before she's replaced by boxes.

    Gas Station Robbery 
  • As previously established, Kali can create illusions, and it is easier to create simple illusions for one person than complex illusions for multiple people. However, this still leads the Gas Station robbery to make no sense. Kali creates the illusion of the overflowing toilet to distract the attendant so they could rob the store. However, he is only distracted for a little while and eventually catches on to the plot. Wouldn't it have been safer and simpler to go into the station, pick what they wanted, and then check out normally, but instead of handing the attendant cash, they hand him scrap paper or something? That way they could walk out with the attendant not suspicious at all. The toilet seems needlessly complicated and prone to error.
    • The most likely explanation is that it would require handing the attendant something tangible, and there's the possibility that would spoil the illusion. Paper currency is printed on a special kind of paper, with a particular texture and feel. Kali may be able to make people see what she wants them to, but feeling is something else.
      • Theoretically, she could scam the cashier by handing over a $1 bill and making him see it as a $50 (or whatever).
She'd get you all the goods AND whatever change he thinks he owes as a bonus. So it would seem that, as suggested below, they prefer doing something more entertaining.
  • It's also rather heavily implied that, protestations of noble Punisher-esque vigilantism aside, Kali and her group like being reckless outlaws with a superpowered gang leader. Given the choice between doing things the safe way and the fun way, they'll pick the fun way.

    Bob and the Demodogs 
  • So in Episode 8, where Bob was killed by the demodogs, why did the demodogs specifically gang up on him? I mean, all the bodies we had seen before were dead, but the most of their body was completely intact. So why did all the demodogs in the lab gang up on Bob to maul him?
    • A theory is that the Mind Flayer does not have complete and utter control over the Demodogs, most likely due to the fact that it's still trying to strengthen its connection to our world. It can command the Demodogs around, but only for urgent tasks, such as clearing the building of threats. When it's doing that, the Demodogs act more methodical- they kill the soldiers and technicians, then move on without actually feeding. Notice that only one Demodog is actually attacking Bob while Joyce and the others are in the building; the rest ignore him and instead chase after the group. When they fail to catch them, the Mind Flayer eases up on the control, allowing the Demodogs to follow their natural instincts. In this case, they could finally eat, and Bob's body was closest and freshest.

    No Emergency Protocol at Hawkins Lab? 
  • Once the Gate is breached and the Demodogs start invading the lab, Dr. Owens triggers an alarm, which seems to only be building-wide. Then nearly everyone at the lab is killed off. No one outside of Hawkins seems aware of this. Hopper later even tries to call in reinforcements, but admits that whomever he talked to might not have believed him. Certainly no one shows up until long after the threat has been dealt with by our heroes.
    The problem with this is that Hawkins Lab is the site of a highly-dangerous and unpredictable threat of national-security severity, which has already claimed multiple lives. The U.S. government is well-aware of this. How is there no "panic button" in the Lab which immediately summons a full-scale military contingent to control the situation? (Something like the H.E.C.U. from Half-Life.) Even if it's not a literal button, surely a single phone call from the lab on a dedicated line should be enough. There were at least a few minutes to make that call while the Demodogs overran the facility. Dr. Owens didn't even try. Did absolutely no one from the government develop any sort of plan for an emergency situation at Hawkins?
    Keep in mind that this is all during the Cold War. Even without the Gate there, there should already be a "Hostile agents (e.g. Soviets) have infiltrated this highly-secure government facility. Send help!" protocol in place. But instead it's like Hawkins Lab is left completely self-manage with no external resources available.
    • Dr. Owens firmly believes that if the Soviet Union found out about the gate they would attempt to replicate it and end up causing another incursion that would claim more lives, his plan for protecting it was to keep as few people involved as possible and not give any indication that this one lab was any more important than any other lab. Having any kind of abnormal protocol for a full-scale military operation would be the same as putting a giant neon sign above the lab and saying "Hey there's something important here!" We also don't know what the militaries' response would have been since the time from the invasion of the lab to the closure of the gate is measured in a few hours, for all we know that phone call that tipped the Mind Flayer off was the military calling Hopper back to get more details.
      There's also complacency, as they had gone a full year without any kind of incident at all. They only find out that not all is well the day before the attack and up until their strike team was ambushed they had everything under control. They lab was prepared for the threats they were expecting, and believed that their airlock and monitoring would be enough to see anything coming from the Upside Down from far away and get ready.

    Turn on all the sprinklers. 
  • If turning on one sprinkler scared off one demodog, why not turn on all the sprinklers and scare off every demodog? Made even more egregious considering Bob was the one who first realized the tendrils were avoiding water.
    Even if the demodogs can still operate in water, causing a bunch of noise and impeding scent diffusion seems like the best possible way to hide from creatures who rely on sound and smell to hunt.
    • Actually he didn't turn on the sprinklers to scare off the demodogs, he turned them on to attract them. The demodog is in the West stairwell, and we can see on the screen that Bob turns them on somewhere at the East of the building. It's not so much about the water than the noise it makes.
    • The reason the tunnels don't run through water is. . . they're tunnels. Tunnel into a river or lake, and you get a flooded tunnel. The demodogs might be able to function in water, but they're not fully amphibious.

    Portals Portals Everywhere... 
  • My question is simple, why would closing the portal between our world and the Upside Down do anything to the Mind Flayer and it's puppet creatures? The Demogorgon in season 1 was able to freely open portals between the Upside Down and our world and vise versa whenever it wanted, so what stops the Mindflayer and it's Demodogs from doing the same thing?
    • The Demogorgon seems to be smarter than the Mind Flayer or the Demodogs. The Mind Flayer is too big to find its way through without a giant portal. And the Demodogs just seem to run around looking for stuff to eat. This is mostly WMG, but the Demogorgon seems to have a sort of reasoning/learning capability that the others don't, so maybe it understands "doorways" a little better. Or here's an even creepier thought: Notice how it's always looking to breed? Maybe it's a Demogorgon-human hybrid and the "human" genes are what make it a little smarter...
    • Like with Half-Life, it's possible the smaller temporary portals can only exist because of the larger main portal.
    • Perhaps the Demogoron wasn't making new portals, but rather the main portal was causing temporary portals to open and close, and the Demogorgon just took advantage of them.

    What was causing the pumpkin blights? 
  • Besides the portals to the Upside Down, what exactly was killing off the crops in the farms around the lab?
    • It's heavily implied to be the tendrils growing out from the Upside Down. We do know that their spores are toxic.

    What if others were there when Billy went to the Byers house? 
  • What if Jonathan was there when Billy went to Castle Byers looking for Max? Would Max still fear the situation when she hears Billy's car? Would Jonathan stop Billy from grabbing Lucas? Would Jonathan's inclusion change the scene and the episode? What if Hopper and/or Joyce hadn't yet left the house when Billy showed up? Would Billy have still lost his shit and beaten up the adults (forcing Hopper and Joyce to make a detour to the police station to have Billy booked for assault)?
    • If Jonathan was there, things would have played out much the same, only between him and Steve they would have overpowered and probably beaten Billy senseless. If Joyce was there, Billy would have still attacked, and things would have probably played out similar. If Hopper was still there, Billy would have left. He might be unstable, but he's not stupid enough to pick a fight with town's chief of police (especially if he's that much bigger than him and has a gun). Or maybe not. He might just as well pick a fight with Hopper because he's that kind of guy.

    Why wasn't Billy arrested? 
  • What Billy did was downright illegal – not only horrible and abusive and racist (in Lucas’s case) but illegal. But why didn't Hopper (who would’ve found out about it; they probably all met back up at the Byers’) have him arrested, or the boys press charges against him? Steve’s bloody and bruised face and obvious concussion was absolutely enough evidence, even if Lucas didn’t say that Steve was protecting him from Billy (which he would have because he’s Lucas). Hell, Steve very easily could have DIED from that beating from Billy. Being knocked out for ANY amount of time is A) a concussion and B) very dangerous. Even if it’s only losing consciousness for a second. The longer you’re unconscious the worse and more dangerous the injury. Steve was knocked out long enough for the kids to get him into the car AND drive halfway to the tunnels before he came to. That’s probably around 10min. That is SUPER DANGEROUS with a head injurynote , and if Billy had continued to hit him while he was already unconscious (which he would have for God knows how long if Max hadn’t stopped him) then he absolutely would have killed Steve. So at least Steve should've been pressing charges against him.

     How could Max's mother marry such a horrible person? 
  • How could someone so seemingly sweet and gentle like Susan (Max's mother) marry such a horrible man, with an equally nasty son? Is she even aware of how cruel her step-son is to her own daughter?
    • Abusers are good at hiding their behavior and usually only let it show over time in relationships. By the time Susan realized Neil's true colors, she was probably already so deeply invested in the relationship that she wouldn't or couldn't back out—financial dependence and emotional attachment are both common reasons people in real life stay in abusive situations. As for Billy, he probably limits his abuse of Max to when their parents aren't around and intimidates her into not telling her mom, or Max told her and wasn't believed.
    • Also, while I hate to defend an abuser at all, their daughter had gone missing while Billy was responsible for her safety. By '80s standards, the dad's behavior was "strict," not abusive. If Hopper had been there with the three Hargroves, for example, he probably would've said "hey, take it easy on him" or something, but not actually intervened, let alone arrested him for child abuse (is Billy actually a minor at this point?).0
    • Also, IIRC abuse victims tend to be drawn to people who turn out to be abusive in their relationships. I wouldn't be entirely surprised to learn that Susan herself was a victim of abuse at some point; a cycle keeps perpetuating.

     Why can't Eleven's aunt adopt her? 
  • The end of the second season sees Hopper adopting Eleven as his daughter. But Eleven has at least one surviving family member in the form of her aunt. While her birth mother is clearly in no shape to be raising her, her aunt seems perfectly capable of doing so, so how come Hopper is the adoptive parent? I don't remember if this was explained.
    • What would arouse more suspicion with the government? Jim Hopper — who was established in season 1 to be a bit of a philanderer — revealing he has a daughter? Or Jane Ives miraculously returning home to her mother's family? With Hop it would be possible for El to hide in plain sight. Also, it was presumably Hopper himself who pushed Owens, and since El had come to recognize him and the Party as her family he likely considered her feelings when making the arrangements.

Season 3

     Dustin's Surprise 
  • Did Dustin forget he has a friend who can move things with her mind? Why, upon seeing his toys move by themselves, does he assume he must be dreaming?
    • We really don't know the full context of the scene's setup yet. For all we know, Dustin may have believed all of his friends had gone to summer camp like he did or on vacation with their families (And Dr. Owen suggested waiting a year before allowing Eleven to go out in public, so maybe he thought Eleven was at Hopper's cabin, staying hidden until the time elapsed time was up). Or, maybe Dustin ran into his friends earlier to the scene and they acted like they didn't care so they could surprise him (Dustn himself says in the scene before the toys started to move, "At least somebody's glad to see I'm home" to his turtle, indicating that he either ran into his friends who pretended not to care he was back from camp, or that he believed they weren't in town/staying hidden a year just to be on the safe side).
    • It's also worth remembering that pretty much every time Dustin has asked Eleven to use her powers for some frivolous purposes (hello, Millennium Falcon), he's been rebuffed. He's probably just gotten used to the idea that Eleven doesn't use her powers for trivial things and so isn't expecting her to break them out as part of a "welcome home" surprise.
    • Dustin also knows there's plenty of weird shit out there unrelated to Eleven. His first thought upon seeing the toys move was probably something along the lines of "Holy shit, what if this is another Demogorgon/Mind Flayer/whatever" hence him attacking Lucas in a panic.

     How do you miss that? 
  • Episode 8 has the Mind Flayer's avatar pursuing Eleven through the town, how did nobody see that? It's the fourth of July, one night when a ton of people are guaranteed to be out and about and this thing goes into the mall which would logically be in a more urban area. Multiple people definitely should have spotted the fifty-foot meat spider!
    • Since it's the 4th of July, it's reasonable to assume that everyone in town who's out (recall that this is a small town) would be at the fair. The Mind Flayer was mostly moving through the forest and only just showed up to the Starcourt Mall when it was presumably closing, which by proxy should tell the viewer that it's probably late, thus the lack of any onlookers on and off the road. The fireworks also did a good job of masking its noisy stomping and rampaging, for the most part.
    • But it still would have needed to go through the town just to reach the mall.
    • Not if the steel mill it came from and the mall are both on the same side and more towards the edge of town. The mall was specifically built near the edge of the town, since that's where the land the Russians wanted for their Elaborate Underground Base was.
    • First of all, it's dark, making it hard to make out the Mind Flayer's features. Second, any adult who spots it is likely to shrug it off as an illusion or hallucination; that's what people do. And if by some chance someone does see it and does conclude it's some kind of supernatural or otherworldly being, who would believe that person? And what difference would it make to the story? The person wouldn't have much of an opportunity to pursue the matter further; it would just be an isolated event that would do little more than spook the person. The most extreme scenario is that multiple people see it and report it—but even there, it simply would enter the realm of urban legend and would be subject to the theories of various kooks and conspiracy nuts who would most likely misinterpret its true nature. (We got a sense of that at the end with the tabloid-ish news report speculating that the strange events in Hawkins might be demonic in origin.) So in sum, if people did see the monster, the real question is, so what? It wouldn't significantly change anything in the plot.

     The chemicals 
  • Was it ever explained why the Mind Flayer had all its victims eat all those chemicals? I think they implied that it was to help build its physical body, but I'm not sure how exactly.
    • Perhaps it was simply to poison them and make their bodies frail, so that they would deteriorate easily when it was ready to use the flesh? Most of the chemicals being sought out are fairly caustic.
    • From my understanding, it was necessary for them in order to melt and be incorporated into its flesh avatar.
    • More or less the above; keep in mind, most of what was being eaten was either fertilizer or household cleaners (stuff like Comet and Ajax), all of which tend to have warning labels indicating they're flesh irritants or corrosive. The household cleaners in particular, tend to be nasty as most note that their chemical mixtures don't react well when mixed with one another.
    • Will and Nancy hypothesize that the flayed are eating chemicals to make a "new substance." Later, the flayed all become part of the Mind Flayer. The Mind Flayer is the "new substance." Its chemical composition is apparently different from human flesh, requiring the addition of other chemicals.

     How in the world... 
  • Was an entire Detachment of the Soviet Armed Forces able to build an entire secret base under a mall, staffed by at least three squads of troops, in the middle of Indiana without anyone noticing at all??? The sheer amount of coordination to move all of that across borders, to keep it secret, it would involve a massive undertaking with huge amounts of risk. Even if they were not doing stuff like opening portals to the Upside Down, the mere existence of said base could very well provoke World War III.
    • Gets even worse once you realize...malls don’t usually have men in black, carrying assault rifles. What are they meant for exactly? If the FBI storms the place they’re screwed. If the local cops engage them in a fire fight, the feds get involved, and the spies are screwed. If a couple of kids try to steal a box, and go missing, the cops come in, and the spies are screwed. Honestly, they’d be better off hiring minimum wage locals to move stuff around.
    • What's even more egregious, is the Soviets aren't even covert about their presence. They're walking around above ground, guarding rooms with clearly Russian rifles (they couldn't source some American/European firearms to blend in? They have to use AK-type rifles?) and speak loudly in what is clearly Russian. Given that it's the Cold War, and most Americans are still paranoid about Russian infiltration, this whole ruse should have raised some suspicion very quickly.
      • Given this overtness, it's no wonder Murray was led in season 2 to think Eleven was a product of Russian spies.
      • Another troper pointed out that Alexei claiming no one could break into the base was actually him falling for Russian propaganda. Considering this, maybe the Russians are overconfident in themselves to the point that they wouldn't care about how suspicious they looked. That, or probably because they're a parody of clichéd, Obviously Evil villains that all hold a small Villain Ball at least, considering how this series is inspired by old Amblin Entertainment movies, Stephen King and 80's movies (etc.) in general.
    • Considering how Larry Klein was in kahoots with the Russians, there might have been more than one person pulling the strings to keep news about the secret base quiet, maybe against their wills...

     Why would the Mind Flayer do that 
  • Since it apparently developed a personal grudge toward Eleven and wanted to get revenge on her, why the Melted Flesh Abomination plan when it would have been easy to take control of the entire town of Hawkins? We saw from its little speech through Billy that the Mind Flayer does understand the concept of love and friendship, so it should have known that taking control of the kids would have been a way better way to proceed.
    • For one thing, it would have needed to catch the kids. And not for lack of effort on its part they managed to slip its grasp whenever it was close enough to even try. And at the time it was still reliant on Billy to acquire victims, who managed enough Fighting from the Inside to not take Karen when he had the chance. Who knows whether the Mind Flayer would have actually been able to force him to kidnap Max or one of her friends (to say nothing of the fact that by the time he even had the opportunity, the Party was already suspicious).

     How would there be a chance Hopper survived? 
  • The blast radius that vaporized the scientists hit the entire room, there's no way he could have escaped that.
    • Unless he got behind something able to protect him from the blast and he was nowhere to be seen when the thing actually exploded.
    • There's actually a trope for that. In almost those exact words.
    • We don't know what that explosion actually does. It might have just send him to the Upside Down much like Eleven was in the first season. She even left the same cloud of ashes afterwards.
    • General consensus is that he either jumped over the railing and attempted to reach a lower exit, or he just straight-up jumped through the gate to the Upside Down. Or the explosion itself somehow sent him there (although the scientists in the opening scene were pretty clearly just reduced to mulch). Still, the lack of any obvious remains would seem to indicate he's alive. The scientists didn't just up and disappear, they died very messily.
    • The shot of the exploding machine also made it clear that there was a ladder leading to a lower floor - perhaps he hightailed it down there somehow?

    Joyce moving out 
  • Regarding Joyce leaving and taking Will and Eleven with her, I understand her grief and there not being too many happy memories for her in Hawkins. But at the same time, is it really the best idea to uproot two traumatized children (Will and Eleven) from the only people who can relate to them? Couldn't she just leave for a year or two and leave Will and El in the care of Jonathan and Nancy?
    • Perhaps not, but it's not like Joyce is a trained psychologist or expert in trauma therapy or anything; she's just an over-stressed working class single mother who's had to deal with her own traumas over the last few years, and has likely just reached the point where as far as she's concerned everyone could just do with a complete break from the past and a fresh start somewhere without painful memories, secret government interdimensional projects or terrifying demon-monsters (FWIW, I also imagine that Will at least, much as he might miss his friends and struggle without them, probably doesn't hate the idea of being as far from Hawkins as logistically possible either). Besides which, she might not have had much of a choice; she's lost her job, there probably aren't a wealth of possible alternatives in Hawkins, and it's not like Jonathan and Nancy are earning much more to enable them to support Will and Eleven on top of themselves or are easier equipped to deal with two traumatised early-teenagers. So it's just easier if everyone moves with Joyce.
    • Basically while it was a bad idea to uproot Will and Eleven, Joyce didn't have any real alternative.
    • It's about more than just grief and painful memories- over the course of less than two years, there have been three separate incidents involving the Gate that have endangered or killed people close to Joyce. At this point, she likely figures that living anywhere near the Gate is way too dangerous, and while she can't make the choice for everyone, she's definitely getting her family out of there.
      • 30 people have died in Hawkins in really strange conditions. Including kids. So if it wasn't already sad enough for Joyce and Eleven to grieve Hopper and be reminded of him everywhere around Hawkins, imagine the mood of the town grieving together this immense tragedy for everyone else who died. Then add the pressure of the media attention with its conspiracy theories asking questions which might've ended up knowing about the kids' involvement in all of this (like Will. How did he come back from the dead? Who is this young stepsister girl and who are her parents?). Plus the government would probably also question the kids and might get interested in Eleven's powers.
      • And if you're Joyce, how do you wake up every day and walk past the living room where Bob used to snuggle with you on the couch? Past the wall where Hopper first believed you about your son being alive?
    • Sure, Joyce has bad memories of Hawkins, but is it really the best choice to just uproot her kids from their lives with the people they love so dearly (especially in the middle of Jonathan’s senior year) to move to a new place where they’ll be all alone without their support system or friends or anyone who knows what they’ve been through? I would wait a year and then reassess?
      • Again, the Gate isn't just a source of bad memories- it's an extreme, ongoing threat to anyone nearby. Every option kind of sucks, but Joyce probably figures that it's better to leave Hawkins and take her kids from their support group than stay and put their lives at risk. She's already given Hawkins a second and third chance, and it's resulted in her having to watch people she cares about die- it makes total sense that she's not willing to wait a year to see if she and her kids are put in mortal danger a fourth time.
      • And also again; Joyce is a struggling working class single mother with (now) three young people dependent on her, no job, and a generous heaping of trauma herself. We're criticising and judging her on making a choice that, in all likelihood, she didn't have a heck of a lot of choice in making for numerous reasons (lack of money, lack of space, three traumatised young people to think of as well as herself, etc.). It's easy to suggest she "wait a year" from behind a computer screen, but in Joyce's shoes that's a year having lost her job and without much prospect of finding another one in a town where most of the work she's qualified for has just disappeared, thus being without money to pay for rent/utilities/groceries/etc., in an increasingly small and cramped house with three teenage kids who need their own beds and space, etc. Moving them away might not be the best choice from a removed standpoint focussing purely on the psychological aspect, but for numerous reasons she probably didn't have the option of a "best choice"; just a whole bunch of less-than-optimal ones, of which moving away might actually have been one of the better ones. And given that, also again, she's not a qualified psychologist or trauma therapist, we can perhaps forgive her for not having the training or instincts that would help her realise that from a psychological perspective, she might be making a mistake.
      • She might have more options later. Her job in Hawkins wasn't great but it'd be easy to get a similar one in a new town, El having been formally adopted by Hopper is probably due survivor benefits as the child of an officer killed in the line of duty, presumably Jonathan has a portfolio so even if there are no non-Mind Flayer-victims left at the Hawkins Post to offer a reference it might not be too hard for him to find work as a photographer so money pressures might not be that bad.
      • They might be lessened slightly with the above, but financially the family is still probably not in that great a position. Any benefits from Hopper's job probably wouldn't stretch much beyond the basics for supporting El herself (the other two kids and Joyce herself wouldn't be entitled to anything), and Jonathan's a high school student whose portfolio at that stage probably wouldn't get him much beyond getting him a low-to-unpaid internship somewhere (assuming that other such opportunities exist in a small rural town like Hawkins) or into a photography school (which would cost more money than it would bring in). All of which might bring in a little cash but almost certainly not enough to get anywhere near to supporting a family of four. And if Joyce can only get a new job in a different town, it would almost certainly be cheaper and more convenient to move the family there rather than commuting from Hawkins on a daily basis. In any case it still means that, financially, sticking around in Hawkins for any lengthy period of time is probably not that viable an option for them under the circumstances.
      • This is probably an instance of a plot point where the writing may be skipped over a few big steps. The writers clearly wanted it to have emotional impact, which it would if Joyce was shown talking with her own children about it.note  And not only that, Eleven is losing her support system that she only got after being locked in a lab for 12 years then forced to stay in a cabin alone with Hopper for nearly another year… As it was written, there was little to no lead up when it came to Joyce’s bond with her own children, something that actually mattered in season 1. They wanted to sell this really emotional goodbye scene...without doing any of the actual work to make it matter like it should.
      • Money shouldn't have been a problem. At least, let's be realistic, the US government should have paid the Byers a ton of money for what Will has been put through and to keep them quiet. At bare minimum, enough to pay for Jonathan’s tuition to NYU. Lawsuits were definitely a thing even in the 1980s. Joyce also could have sued the state of Indiana for millions of dollars. I guess the official story with the fake body in season 1 was that they buried the wrong kid? That’s at least malpractice on the part of the coroners, and emotional distress for telling her Will was dead when he wasn’t. The funeral was a huge expense for Joyce and Jonathan, considering they barely scraped enough money together to pay for a few hundred photocopies.
    • The epilogue and Joyce booking it out of town was three months after the Fourth of July, so sometime around early October. That's faster than most house sales, but not too unrealistic, because of several factors:
      • For one, she needed to sell her house. Selling a house isn’t easy, especially not her house. For some real life information, the house that they used for filming the Byers house was built in 1900. It’s old and rickety and from what we know, it’s on the outskirts of town. Not to mention, she used to live there and she has quite the reputation. It probably took her a whole three months to sell that house and honestly, that's pretty fast.
      • Second is mortgage. As Jonathan spilled, it seems the Byers are still paying a mortgage. That means Joyce would need to go through a process after selling the home to close the mortgage. To my understanding, you usually have to get an agent for that. That’s a whole nother bureaucratic process to go through.
      • Third, she needed to find a new house. Joyce has probably been looking for new places to go. She needed to find a new place to live. It seems they might be moving out of the state, or at least to Indianapolis, making things more difficult. Remember that this was the 1980s, before the Internet. Joyce would've had to visit a location where she wanted to move and ask for local real estate listings. Whether that’s in Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, wherever she decided to move (we don't know where Hawkins is in Indiana, but arguably the closest state border to Hawkins would be Joyce's likeliest option), that's a lot of driving, scouting, bargaining, etc etc.
      • Speaking of that mortgage, once she'd settled on a new town to relocate to, she'd have to shop around for a new lender who would give her a mortgage for her new house. If the Byers financial situation isn’t great, this is probably a very difficult task.
      • And of course, the biggest time waster, closing a house. If you've read horror stories about closing a house, it takes forever. As in, you can expect to usually take about 46 days to complete, and 49 days for a mortgage refinance. FHA loans take just about the same amount of time 45-46 days on average. There’s a lot going on with closing. The realtors and all those other people come, and appraise the house to make sure repairs are done. They make sure all your payments are up to snuff. Gotta make sure all paperwork is good to go. All kinds of stuff. And if one of these things are wrong, the house closing gets delayed. So when Joyce got their new place (if she bought a house), she would have to wait for about a month and a half to actually be able to move into the new place. But, she would also have to wait for the closing on her old house too, but I assume she left before it was finished closing. She doesn’t have to live there while it’s closing after all.
      • TLDR: if Joyce bought a house, moving out of town in only 3 months is actually REALLY fast. Especially since she wasn’t even sure she was going to move prior to the events of season 3. 3 months might seem like forever, but when it comes to buying and selling a house? That is… very fast.
      • It actually seems like Joyce may have been starting the process to move to another town before the events of season 3 kicked off, based on some dialogue she has with Hopper as they're entering the lab where Bob died.
    • Bob asked Joyce to move out of Hawkins with her in season 2. In season 2 episode 2, Bob is dancing with Joyce and he asks her to move out of Hawkins with him, to get away from all the trauma that happened in Hawkins. She says no initially, but with what happened to Bob at the end of season 2, and Hopper now in season 3, it's likely that Bob's remarks there stuck with her. She may have been considering moving out as a response to Bob's death, not Hopper's "death", given again all the stuff above about what goes into the process of buying and selling a house.

     Religious parents 
  • If Suzie's parents are so religious that they won't allow her to talk to a non-Mormon on the phone, why the heck would they send her to science camp and allow her to operate a ham radio in her bedroom? Mormons are not known for being progressive about gender roles.
    • Maybe this particular family is just progressive about some things and restrictive about other things.
    • Mormons are known for enrolling their children in sports programs for extracurricular activities, especially to curb sexual activity once these kids reach adolescence, Suzie's parents were probably acting with the same intention that she'd be kept intellectually busy and not indulge any sexual curiosities.
    • Mormons may not be super progressive, but they are not completely anti-science (at least, according to this). Suzie's parents want her to marry within the Mormon faith, but that doesn't mean that they are Luddites. It's a similar thing to, say, the old stereotype about Orthodox Jewish parents wanting their daughter to marry "a nice Jewish doctor"; they just don't believe in cohabitation and mingling outside of their faith. As for the ham radio, we are presuming here that Suzie's parents know about it, or at least know that she's using it to contact her non-Mormon boyfriend.

    Erica can just roam free? 
  • Okay, I understand that the other kids are all teenagers now, so their parents probably trust them to take care of themselves. But Erica is 10 years old, and she's away from her parents for almost two days, yet they're not worried at all? Yes, Erica told Dustin her parents think she'll be staying overnight at a friend's place, but wouldn't they have gone there the following day to pick her up and to go to the 4th of July celebration? Or at least called the friend's parents to check that she's okay?
    • This (or, at least, a similar example) has been discussed before. The show takes place in the 1980s, when parents were more willing to let their kids roam around unsupervised in their free time than they are today. Granted, this may be an exaggerated case, but at this point it's just a trope that the series uses, accept it as you will.
  • Going off of what my dad has told me about his childhood, this is actually not a completely unrealistic depiction.

    She's a paranoid schizophrenic. How dare you save her life? 
  • I'm aware Tom was possessed by the Mind-Flayer, but this argument goes uncontested... Nancy thinks she did the right thing... until she is told that the old lady was a paranoid schizophrenic and that because of that, her family is considering suing. I'm... sorry? How does this revelation come close to justifying suing the paper over "calling the EMTs when she's ingested poison." And no, it can't be handwaved by going "the boss is evil and it's a lie" because Nancy buys it entirely (despite the entire point is her trying to be an investigator and look into exactly these kinds of cracks) and it goes entirely unaddressed. Is the family just upset that they still need to care for their crazy grandma?
    • I'm sorry, but you can't dismiss the handwave no matter what Nancy "buys." The only word we have is from Nancy's Flayed boss, who has a vested interested in keeping her from investigating further so as not to tip off the Mind Flayer's hand before it's ready. No one else comments on this scenario that we're privy to. Not the paramedics and hospital workers. Not the police. No one.
    • Which still doesn't track. The problem is that the nonsensical argument made by Tom goes completely unaddressed. You're right, it's entirely possible it's a lie. The Headscratcher comes in that Nancy (or the narrative at hand) never seems to realize that it's a completely nonsensical one. And since a later scene has a He’s Back scene with Nancy going full investigative journalist, the fact she fails to spot the thread is a glaring omission.
    • Why is it a glaring omission? They didn't know Tom was Flayed until after touching base with Mike, El, and the Party, and that is a part of why they return to the hospital with the full group in the first place: Because learning about Billy and the Flayed led Nancy and Jonathan to put two and two together about Tom's behavior, and now realize that they were being kept away for a reason. They returned to the hospital to find out what and why.

    Who is the American at Kamchatka? 
  • In the epilogue after the credits of the last episode we see a scene from a prison Russian complex with a guard saying "No. Not the American". Who is that? Hopper?
    • It's intentionally meant to be vague to be open to fan speculation, as to whether it's Hopper or Brenner.

    Where did the Byers' dog go? 
  • Ok, so did I miss something or where did the Byers dog go? When did he decided to move out of Hawkins, like when did he have enough? Did he move on to a more stable household?
    • Watsonian explanation: The dog died in between season 1 and 2. Doylist explanation: According to David Harbour, the dog was really difficult to work with, so the writers decided to write him out of the story. Supposedly, he has a grave that can be seen in one episode.
  • Noah Schnapp confirms the dog died between seasons 1 and 2.

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