Popular Stranger Things Fan Theories Debunked

Spoiler warning: This article contains major spoilers for "Stranger Things" Season 4, Volume 2, now streaming on Netflix.

When "Stranger Things" Season 4 dropped its final two episodes on Netflix, the streaming platform crashed due to an overwhelming amount of fans tuning in to see if the Hawkins kids would conquer the seemingly unstoppable Vecna. Over this past weekend, "Stranger Things" gained over one billion hours viewed, being the second-ever Netflix series to hit that benchmark within its first 28 days on the platform, as reported by IndieWire.

The Duffer Brothers ended "Stranger Things" Season 4, Volume 2 with a gut-punch of a finale. For once, the ragtag group of heroes lost: Max ended up in a coma; Will revealed he's still connected to Vecna; El felt crushed by the weight that maybe every Upside Down-connected death they've dealt with thus far is her fault; Hellfire clouds engulfed Hawkins as ash fell from the sky. After Season 4 ended on an apocalyptic note, "Stranger Things" fans crafted several theories about Season 5's plot. While no one knows what will happen in the final season of "Stranger Things," here are some in-canon facts from the franchise's novels, comics, and D&D's second edition book that debunk some of the most compelling fan theories.

Vecna/Henry/One is the father of all of Brenner's children

One fascinating fan theory about "Stranger Things" Season 5 is that the hit series' last season will reveal the identity of Eleven's father. Some Reddit fans argued that Henry/One is the biological father of El, and all of Dr. Brenner's "children" (read: test subjects). But the series has already disproved a portion of that idea. In Season 2, Eight/Kali revealed that Dr. Brenner abducted her as a young girl. Henry isn't her father, which debunked the idea that Dr. Brenner only tested on children birthed at the Hawkins National Laboratory.

However, some fans still argue that — based on the timeline for when Henry and Terry Ives (El's mom) arrived at the MKUltra program — El's dad could still be Henry. Fans surmised that Dr. Brenner used Henry's DNA to impregnate Terry Ives in the early '70s. While that plot reveal would bring in some fascinating possibilities, a "Stranger Things" novel proved that theory incorrect, too. "Suspicious Minds," a "Stranger Things" in-canon novel written by Gwenda Bond, already uncovered the identity of Eleven's father. Tragically, Dr. Brenner sent Terry Ives' boyfriend to Vietnam and concealed the fact that Terry was pregnant from both her and her boyfriend. Dr. Brenner kept Terry's pregnancy a secret from her because he was fascinated by what could happen if he raised a child up in the program.

Vecna will return as D&D character Borys as foreshadowed by Will's painting

Whether or not Will is conscious of it, his paintings always unveil doom for Hawkins. Through his artwork, the heroes of "Stranger Things" first caught a look at the Mindflayer. Of course, this put a lot of pressure on what Will was painting in Season 4. In the final episodes of Season 4, fans caught a glimpse of a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired painting that already led some fans to guess what it means for the show's final season. One Twitter fan suggested it foreshadowed Vecna returning to Hawkins as a classic D&D monster, Borys. Known as a powerfully vicious dragon that rides on a cloudy storm of fire and magma, Borys visually matches a lot of what fans saw on-screen in the final shot of Season 4. 

That D&D character didn't appear in the RPG game until 1989's D&D 2nd Edition manual, though. Season 4 is set in 1986. However, the Duffer Brothers seemingly confirmed there'll be a time jump for "Stranger Things" Season 5. In that case, Borys could appear in Season 5, but it seems more likely that the creators will craft a version of Dzalmus, a three-headed dragon that also debuted in D&D's 2nd Edition book, that'd better match the creature in Will's painting — or, why not a remix of both?

Eleven and Vecna created the Upside Down

In "Stranger Things" Season 4, Volume 2, Eleven learned that she sent Henry/One into the Upside Down. Once there, Henry reformed as Vecna and spent his time crafting the world around him to better suit his sinister schemes, including building the Mindflayer and his gothic throne. This reveal led many "Stranger Things" fans to assume that the two superpowered beings, El and Vecna, co-created the realm. Or, at the very least, crafted it through their time and connections to that space. However, this creepy place always existed, which is explained in depth in Gwenda Bond's "Suspicious Minds" tie-in novel.

The "Stranger Things" story revealed that this strange plane — filled with Alien-like creatures — existed before either El or Henry made contact with the alternate dimension during their first face-off in 1979. In fact, one of El's mom's closest friends in the MKUltra program, Alice Johnson, foresaw the realm, thanks to her LSD-fueled powers. A bulk of the novel is spent with Terry, Alice, and Eight, doing all they can to not have Dr. Brenner discover the Upside Down, as they fear what would be unleashed by his scientific curiosity. (Boy, were they right!)

Eleven got her powers from Vecna

Most "Stranger Things" fans who follow the theory that Eleven's dad is Vecna, do so because they believe that's how El received powers. Compared to the other MKUltra-tested children that audiences have seen in "Stranger Things," it's true that none were as strong as El. The theory goes something like this: Dr. Brenner saw One's immense power and then secretly created El with his and Terry's DNA. Fans further argued that gives more motivation to why Vecna is so interested in El, and why he seemed to mentor her Darth Vader style when he was still known as Henry at the Hawkins National Laboratory.

As the show hinted at, and as the "Suspicious minds" novel revealed, Terry Ives was already pregnant with Andrew Rich's baby when she began her MKUltra tests. The way that Jane/El received her superpowers was through Dr. Brenner injecting her mom with a highly potent and unique brand of LSD, meant to connect patients to unaccessed portions of their brain. As Jane grew inside Terry, and as the treatments continued, so did El's power. While it's unclear still what Dr. Brenner might have done with One's DNA in some sort of in vitro way, the reasoning behind why El is so powerful has nothing to do with Henry. It's due to her being exposed to a powerful drug as a fetus, which no other test subject experienced.

Whatever parts of Vecna that might remain in Russia can't come to Hawkins

Following Season 4's finale, some "Stranger Things" fans and entertainment news outlets (like TV Guide) predicted that a portion of the Mindflayer remains in Russia. While that part of the theory could be true — as it's unclear even if particles can be destroyed by Murray's flame-throwing attack on them while inside of the demogorgons — the focus on them only being able to travel through a Russia-Hawkins gate isn't. That is, at least, if a "Stranger Things" tie-in graphic novel is still considered canon by the Duffer Brothers.

In "Kamchatka," the "Stranger Things" universe follows a Dr. Brenner-like Russian doctor who is obsessed with the potential of using telekinetic powers to unlock a multiverse. Recently, the Duffer Brothers confirmed that the show's final season will mainly take place in Hawkins. They want to harken back to Season 1 vibes, but, in their words, on an "epic scale." The plot potentials for either El or Vecna leveling up to use their powers to open up multiversal are endless, including opening the possibility that time travel could happen. Objects, people, and entities could cross into other timelines (including the Mindflayer or any of its particles), which means nothing is off the table for Season 5.

Hopper is secretly Will and Jonathan's dad

While, admittedly, the "Stranger Things" fan theory around Will and Jonathan being Hopper's children has quieted over the past few years, it's still a fun one to revisit. Especially since we saw Hopper and Joyce rekindle their romance at the end of Season 4, Volume 2.

"Stranger Things" fans learned more about Hopper's past in Adam Christopher's novel, "Darkness on the Edge of Town." Following high school, Hopper enlisted in the military to fight in the Vietnam war. After he returned to the states, he moved to New York. There, he married his girlfriend Bonnie and they had their daughter, Sarah. While in New York, Hopper worked as a homicide detective for the NYPD. All of this happens as Joyce is raising her boys with her then-husband Lonnie Byers in Hawkins, Indiana. Timeline-wise, this means Hopper can't be Will or Jonathan's father. But, that still doesn't take away from the joy of seeing the two high-school lovebirds start something anew.

Eleven, Vecna, and Eight are the last of Brenner's children with powers

While "Stranger Things" fans don't agree on whether or not Kali's plotline worked within the show overall, most guess Kali/Eight will return for the final season. In part, this is because in 2017 the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter that it'd only make sense to finish her arc at some point. After the devastating end of Season 4, fans assumed that Kali's return might tie into an Avengers: Endgame-like approach to defeating Vecna. Since these theories refer only to the Netflix series (omitting the tie-in properties), they only mention Kali, El, and Vecna's powers. However, the "Suspicious Minds" novel introduced another key player (and incredible new superpower) to the scene. 

Although Alice Johnson has not appeared yet on the television show, her link to Season 5 is vital. Unlike Dr. Brenner's other patients, Alice can astral project herself into the future, giving her premonition capabilities. In the '70s, she sees the future events of Hawkins in 1983 and the hellfire to come. In the novel, Eight and Terry fake Alice's death so she can move to Canada and escape Dr. Brenner's grasp. If Eight returns, it's possible she could find and bring Alice to Hawkins, especially if the show delves into multiversal possibilities in its final season.