This post contains massive spoilers for Stranger Things Season 1.

Stranger Things, 2016's most talked-about Netflix series, blends elements from the works of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and other 1980s genre masters, which is why the eight episodes of Season 1 play out like a self-contained movie. In exploring a paranormal universe through the eyes of a small-town cop, a frantic mother, and a bunch of kids, the show is content to leave the theorizing to the audience, instead of inserting scientists and government conspiracy theorists into the story.

The internet heard the call to action. Since Stranger Things' debut in July, fans have tried to answer some of the unanswered questions of the series with wild guesses about what happened, why, and, occasionally, to whom. Now that Netflix has officially announced Season 2, let's sift through the soup of internet crackpotitude, weighed against the events of the first eight episodes.

Netflix

Theory: The Demogorgon is Eleven's subconscious

[Spoilers] Stranger Things finale discussion from television
reddit/GhostriderFlyBy

Legit or nonsense?
There's no doubt that Eleven and the monster shared a thematic connection, though the rules of our psychic heroine's abilities call this prevailing theory into question. If the Upside Down and Eleven's astral-projection world are the same, and Eleven manifested the creature from her subconscious, why can she spy on a Russian who exists outside of both planes of existence? The Russian's appearance means Eleven projects to a place in the corporeal world, suggesting she may not be as tethered to the Upside Down as "Eleven IS the monster" believers would hope.

Theory: Eleven's mom is the monster

[Monster Theory](/spoiler) from StrangerThings
reddit/wektek

Legit or nonsense?
Considering we don't know much about poor Terry and the experiments Doctor Brenner conducted on her during the MKUltra program, it's tough to prove this theory wrong. Assuming Will's predicament at the end of the series means that the Upside Down has negative effects on human presences trapped in it, it's plausible that Terry projected her consciousness into the Upside Down and was trapped there until her daughter set her free. But if Terry really was trapped in the Upside Down, then freed by her own daughter, one would think she'd attempt to return to her own body or reunite with her child.

Netflix

Theory: Eleven helped Hopper, Joyce, and Will out of the Upside Down

[SPOILERS] Theory on Chapter 8 ending from StrangerThings
reddit/gilford22

Legit or nonsense?
If true, this would explain why all the boys are so cool with the fact that Eleven disappeared after defeating the Demogorgon. What this theory presupposes is that Eleven is ported into the Upside Down when she destroys the monster, which isn't that much of a stretch given how Will was spirited away in the first episode. The Duffer brothers have been intentionally vague about if Hopper knows someone is going to eat those Eggos at the end or if he's just being hopeful, but they also admit that a Hopper-Eleven team-up in Season 2 would be pretty satisfying.

Theory: A government agency in a parallel universe is coming for the kids

Legit or nonsense?
This is a common theory supported by little evidence. If the Upside Down is another dimension, it has totally different rules than our world. There are no people in the Upside Down. The lights on Joyce's wall don't appear in the Upside Down. Camp Byers does exist. While it's not out of the realm of possibility for the show to explore other dimensions in the future, the Season 1 episodes do not suggest there is a parallel world with a bountiful supply of psychic children.

Netflix

Theory: The larvae inside Will are keeping him alive

[MASSIVE SPOILERS S1E8] Theory about the events of the finale, and the state of certain things. from StrangerThings
reddit/just_give_me_a_login

Legit or nonsense?
This theory requires a few real-world rules holding true in the Upside Down. A key point to this argument is, that when Hopper sees Barb's body in the Upside Down, he does not see a slug crawl out of her mouth; only Eleven sees that in her astral-projection space. What purpose do the slugs serve? They could very well be keeping Will alive or developing some Trill symbiosis (Star Trek reference alert) with Will. Or, maybe something is special about Will because he spent so much time in the Upside Down. Barb was mauled, but maybe she died where Will had been changed enough to be used as a host. We won't know for sure until Season 2.

Theory: Will is turning into a monster

[Spoiler] Far fetched theory's so far from StrangerThings
reddit/danger_youse

Legit or nonsense?
First, there's ample circumstantial evidence suggesting the slugs aren't the larvae version of the Demogorgon. The slugs/tentacle/egg creatures appear to be different creatures altogether. Second, if characteristics are passed back from host to monster, would the Eleven-Demogorgon connection imply that she spawned the beast at some point? The idea of a friendly monster fighting on the side of the kids is certainly fun, but evidence of it being foreshadowed in Season 1 is sorely lacking.

Netflix

Theory: The Upside Down is a future version of our world

reddit/thedalekkid

Legit or nonsense?
This would explain why certain events and objects from the real world aren't mirrored into the Upside Down (like Christmas lights), and would explain how the slug/tentacle and egg creature(s) arrived in the Byers household separate from the Demogorgon. The connection to how Eleven makes first contact with the Demogorgon and the future can be found in the history of the Montauk Project conspiracy, one of the inspirations for Stranger Things. One of the psychic children used in that experiment was able to conjure a monster and open portals through spacetime. There's not a lot of evidence of time travel in Season 1, but it's not entirely off the table for future revelations.

Theory: Hopper's daughter didn't die of cancer

Spoilers After watching a second time. hoppers daughter from StrangerThings
reddit/arames

Legit or nonsense?
We don't know if the spooking caused the disease, but it seems likely that Hopper's daughter didn't die for the reasons we think she did. In a Reddit AMA after the series, David Harbour was asked if he knew what his character's daughter died of and his response was: "yes, but its a secret we may explore in s2, so don't wanna say right now."

Netflix

Theory: G-Men control Hopper with cigarettes?

reddit/fate008

Legit or nonsense?
Mind control through cigarette smoking is, strangely, an actual conspiracy that has now blended into Stranger Things. But our guess is that Hopper smokes cigarettes because the show takes place in the 1980s, not because MKUltra needed a shadowy mind-control technique.

Theory: A prairie dog statue moved in-between shots so something something Demogorgon

Continuity error- that darned prairie dog from StrangerThings
reddit/scout72

Legit or nonsense?
One minute it was on the table, the next it was on the floor! Holy crap, we solved the whole thing. The monster's spirit was obviously inside that prairie dog statue the whole time. We expect an entire episode dedicated to this mystery when Stranger Things returns in 2017.

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Dave Gonzales is a pop-culture writer and podcaster who is fully invested in the prairie dog statue theory. Follow him @da7e.

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