Ever since Netflix premiered the sci-fi mystery series Stranger Things in July, people couldn’t stop binging on the addictive show. The eight-hour nostalgia-thon was blessedly easy to follow for a series about another dimension, and by the end of it, the tension had certainly lessened. But the finale does purposely leave viewers with a lot of questions. In fact, the show even makes fun of itself when the A-team demands explanations for the plot holes in their own Dungeons and Dragons game.
There's no firm word on whether or not a second season will happen—though series creators the Duffer Brothers say they have some ideas if it's granted—but Netflix usually serves up a round two. And if they do, the show will have some 'splaining to do. Here are our top ten questions (spoilers ahead).
1. Where’s Eleven?
Once Eleven destroys the monster with her mind, she evaporates into 3,524,111 little pieces. But then, in the final episode, Hopper leaves a box of her favorite waffles in the woods.
It could only mean one of three simple sci-fi things: 1) Eleven only temporarily disappeared because of a convoluted (O.K., so maybe not so simple) physics explanation, and she’s still around. 2) Hopper knows exactly where she is, and it’s a hideout in the real world, and he's feeding her. 3) She’s off in another dimension making new friends because she had zero interest in going to the Snow Ball with Mike, so he's trying to lure her back to Mirkwood with treats.
Wherever she is, no one on this show is dead. Even after the funeral.
2. Where are the other super powerful kids?
Eleven was more desperate to escape that lab and meet new people than a girl in a Journey song, meaning she's the only test subject we know about. But if she has a tattoo with the number "011," there were likely at least ten other tykes who got to develop Dr. Brenner daddy issues. Seemingly, there were more pregnant mothers involved in Dr. Brenner's drug experiments. So, where’s everybody else? Will they have the power to save (and accidentally hurt) the people they love too?
3. Why did Will live if Barb died?
Obviously Barb wasn’t going to make it. When she was alive, no one even glanced at her long enough to be able to describe her face to a police sketch artist. Maybe it’s acceptable because her mom wasn’t played by Winona Ryder, and how many cute kids can viewers really care about when we’re all in on the Agenda to Find Will So Winona Ryder Can Shower?
But here’s a head-scratcher: before Barb was ever snatched from third-wheel hell to a way worse hell where slugs slide into your mouth, Will was caught first. Will survived so much longer than Barb because, as Jonathan points out, he’s great at hiding. But how do superior hide-and-seek skills come in handy in a totally twisted alternate reality where a monster's on the loose?
Wes Anderson would probably be extremely impressed by Will’s cabin, but would it really be enough to protect a sweet, innocent child from a ravenous creature for that long? Just because he wasn’t bleeding and the monster only cared about kids with blood on them? What was protecting Will? What did he have that Barb didn’t? Why is Barb's life always a sad piece of garbage?
4. Is Will Really O.K.?
It appears that Hopper and Joyce come to the rescue just in time. Do they, though? After a perilous eight hours (for us—longer for them) of “find that adorable latchkey kid,” the family is finally about to sit down to a perfect dinner with a thoroughly showered Joyce. Everything's great, and then Will coughs up a demon slug.
One thing's clear. A part of the Upside Down is still within this cute lil’ Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast because we are entitled to nothing. The slug goes down the sink drain, which could mean the evil creatures will rule the plumbing in Season 2.
Will spent some serious time in that hellhole with the weird snow. What happened over there? Does he have powers now? Or maybe he doesn't because his mom never dropped acid with Brenner? If slugs were a telltale sign that Barb was dead, is Will all right?
5. What were they really doing at Hawkins Laboratory?
What was the point of this evil lab? At first, it was spying on at least one Russian guy. But what were they doing with the Soviet Union? Boring international stuff because there weren't any monsters? Fair enough. So then, once the gate to the other world was gaping open, the scientists were after Demogorgon, the flower-faced Little Shop of Horrors-like monster? It's unclear. At any rate, now the monster's dead. Eleven saw to that.
Were they trying to weaponize Demogorgon? Now what are they up to? Who are they mad at? For that matter, why did it take everyone in sleepy Hawkins, Indiana so long to check in on the top-secret lab when there was plenty of dirt on how shady it was, easily accessible at the local library? Possible theory: no one could be bothered to look things up on microfiche unless a cute kid who wasn’t Barb went missing.
6. What other bad stuff is lurking around in the Upside Down?
The monster that made Winona twist her face in horror so much may be gone. So, that’s it? Did one slimy troublemaker have an entire dimension to itself? Unlikely. What was that egg Hopper noticed? The Duffer Brothers say they have a 30-page document about this world to explore, so it looks like viewers will have to wait and see.
Co-creator Ross Duffer only told Variety this much: “We love the idea that [the Upside Down] is an environment that is not a great place for a human being to be living in.”
7. Will Nancy and Jonathan get together?
Nice guys finish last in Pretty and Pink and in Stranger Things, too. Nancy chooses Steve over Jonathan, even though Jonathan knows her so well.
But seriously, is Nancy joking by getting cozy with Steve after everything that's gone down? Supposedly, Steve redeems himself because he wants to be like the square nice kids, and so he buys Jonathan a new camera after he purposely broke the old one. But Nancy and Jonathan just shared the most intimate of encountering-strange-things-in-the-forest-together experiences. And she sticks with the popular guy with the great hair?
Maybe the show is just delaying the obvious to mess with viewers. Maybe Nancy is a basic.
8. What’s Hopper’s deal now?
In the finale, Hopper’s getting into a shiny black government-owned vehicle. The guy’s a lone ranger who had no use for his annoying underlings, but now he has to work with suits? What are the implications of this?
Quick recap: Monster: dead; Barb: dead; Dr. Brenner: seemingly dead without a spot of blood on his perfect white hair. Still, the government’s not over it. Hopper is just one of several people who know “everything." Does Hopper have a new boss? What would represent the deterioration of trust more effectively than seeing Hopper as a government informant who is going to lure Eleven back into the wrong hands?
A look back at the events wouldn’t support the notion that he crosses to the dark side. He would probably just play the government and get to be a father to Eleven, but still, who does he work for now?
9. What about that extremely terrifying little bully?
After Eleven made him wet himself, Troy takes the natural next steps in the middle school jerkhole playbook when he threatens to knife out Dustin’s baby teeth with a switchblade unless Mike jumps to his death. Of the smorgasbord of quirky Hawkins kids, this one takes the cake.
All he does is rain down more bad news on the most noteworthy group of unpopular kids ever. They already had missing children, a real monster and a government conspiracy on their hands, and then the show drops a budding psycho on everybody? Will Troy be back with more ultimatums if there's a second season? Who knows. Ask a Christmas light or 50.
10. Who’s Eleven’s Real Daddy?
The fact that Dr. Brenner involved several people in the drug studies along with Terry Ives suggests that he could have fathered Eleven and others. Dr. Brenner did make Eleven call him “Papa,” but was he really the guy who made Eleven's mom pregnant and then lied about it so she wouldn’t mess up the experiments with her daughter? Perhaps there's a real father looking for her? If not, Hopper will do.
11. How did Eleven’s disappearance get swept under the rug?
All signs definitively pointed to Terry being Eleven’s mother. Sure, she may have officially checked out thanks to MK Ultra (understandable) but how did the Hawkins National Laboratory get away with capturing her daughter? The first season gave us an odd window into the government’s sloppy corruption cover-ups—so the fact that no one investigated Terry's claims seems odd. Was Eleven’s Aunt Becky successfully duped into believing Terry miscarried “Jane” or did someone cut a deal with her? Is Aunt Becky just more casual than Barb’s offscreen family? Maybe.
By season’s end, we’re still a few revelations away from fully understanding Eleven’s origin story.