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How Will Stranger Things End?

Eventually, fans will have to say goodbye to the Upside Down.

Stranger Things might be one of Netflix's most successful series ever, but even the best things have to end at some point. The sci-fi show, about a group of small-town kids who wage war against the supernatural forces of the Upside Down, has been a huge hit — with its third season bringing in over 40 million viewers in its first four days on the platform. You'd think that with numbers like those, Stranger Things would go on forever. But that's not so, according to series creators Matt and Ross Duffer, who once told Vulture that they'd planned for only four seasons of the show. "We're thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out," Ross said. 

If you ask Stranger Things executive producer Shawn Levy, however, that estimate is a little off. He told Entertainment Weekly in 2017, "Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors' agents ... The truth is we're definitely going four seasons and there's very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely."

Knowing we've got at least one or two more seasons left to explore '80s nostalgia, let's break down the possibilities for how Stranger Things might end. 

Obviously, if you aren't caught up on seasons 1 through 3, it's time to do so, as we'll be getting into heavy spoilers from here on out.

Eleven gets her powers back before Stranger Things is over

During the battle at Starcourt Mall during Stranger Things season 3, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) was forced to use every bit of power she had within her to pull a piece of the Mind Flayer from her leg. The incident left her powerless, and at the very end of the season 3 finale, Eleven is still without her psychokinetic abilities. But Stranger Things wouldn't be Stranger Things without its fully-functional superhero, so before the series bows out, you can bet Eleven will get back to normal.

According to one fan theory on Reddit, Eleven may actually be possessed by the Mind Flayer — evidenced by the similarities between her leg wound and Billy's (Dacre Montgomery) arm earlier in the season, as well as the appearance of a Mind Flayer-like shadow in her final scene. If the rest of the group has to fight a possessed Eleven on upcoming seasons of Stranger Things, it might be a good thing that she's currently powered-down.

The end of the Soviets

Though it seemed that the Russians-are-the-enemies storyline of Stranger Things season 3 had wrapped when Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) blew up their research lab under the Starcourt Mall, the final scene showed us that the Soviets are still very much around — and still very much working on opening gates to the Upside Down. The post-credits scene of the third season that took audiences to the Soviets' home base made it clear that they aren't giving up their grand plans to access the alternate dimension, and that whatever they plan to do once the gate is opened, it certainly won't be pleasant. 

Now that we've seen a flash of what's happening on their turf — at which people are imprisoned, men are fed to Demogorgons, and an unnamed American is held captive – it's clear that Stranger Things is setting up for a showdown on a much larger scale.

Some Stranger Things characters might return

That final season 3 scene in Kamchatka, Russia made it very clear that someone we presume to be dead may still be alive, currently held in a secret prison cell. There are a couple of options as to who it could be. Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), the man behind Eleven's abilities, was last seen being attacked by a Demogorgon at the end of season 1, but we didn't actually see him die, which leaves the door open for his possible return to the series. More likely, though, "the American" that the Russians refer to in the post-credits scene is Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour), whom we were led to believe was a casualty of the facility explosion. There's a chance that he could have survived and was taken captive by the Russians at the very end, which would open the door for a wild storyline in which Hopper escapes, makes his way back to his adopted daughter Eleven (last seen leaving Hawkins with the Byers family as she has no other family to take care of her), and attempts to start his life over again. That would certainly make for an incredible ending to Stranger Things.

There are also Brenner's other test subjects who could return to Stranger Things for the ensuing season(s). Season 2 briefly introduced us to Kali Prasad (Linnea Berthelsen) – a.k.a. Eight – but there are plenty more super-powered people out there we've yet to encounter. It seems unlikely that Stranger Things will close out without offering a full resolution to that storyline.

Friends will die at the end of Stranger Things

According to the book Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down (via Heroic Hollywood), the Duffer Brothers originally intended the show to last only a single season. With that timeframe in mind, there were two characters they had planned to kill off: Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and Eleven. "Eleven was going to sacrifice herself to save the day," Ross said. "That was always the end game."

Obviously, Stranger Things has gone far beyond its initial first season, but there's a good chance that Eleven's death may still wind up being the show's "end game." After all, the gang's final threat is going to have to be something bigger than we've ever seen before, and it would only make sense that at least a few friends might have to sacrifice themselves for the ultimate win. Though it's not something we like to think about, since we love all the characters on the show, it's definitely something we have to consider when thinking about how Stranger Things will end.

We've got some time before we reach the end of Stranger Things – season 4 has yet to be officially announced – but if we're to take a guess based off prior releases, we may have to wait until 2021 for another (and possibly final) trip to the Upside Down.