Stranger Things Theory: Eleven Will Become The Monster

The ending of Netflix's first season of Stranger Things was satisfying enough, but left a few major holes open for deeper exploration in its now-confirmed second run. One of the biggest question marks looming after the finale is the status of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), whose fate is unknown. Given her importance on the show, it seems like a given she'll be back in some form or fashion for the next round, but even if she does return to Hawkins, Indiana, she might not be the same sweet girl we once knew. In fact, she may just become the new big bad, and here's why.

Follow the trail of waffles

The biggest clue that El is still out there came at the tail end of the show, when Chief Jim Hopper (David Horbour) delivered some holiday leftovers and a couple of Eggos, her power treat of choice, to a storage box tucked away in the woods. The obvious takeaway from that moment would be that she'd holed herself up in some treehouse only he knew about, but that seems too easy. (And besides, why wouldn't she want her friends to know she's okay?) Instead, Hooper may have chosen that spot to drop off the goodies because of its proximity to the gateway to the Upside Down previously discovered by Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton).

Hopper's got some intel that no one else does courtesy of whatever unknown agreement he and the Hawkins lab suits came to in the interrogation room. It's very possible, then, that he knows more about how the Upside Down works than just about anyone on the outside ... hence why he might believe El is lurking in or near the tree trunk portal we saw before. Maybe El even telekinetically touched base with him; that's also totally on the table, too, 'cause she can do spooky things like that. If Will could find a way to communicate with his mom by way of Christmas lights, there's no telling what El is capable of on the same front.

Should I stay or should I go?

Even if you assume Hopper's little delivery was just an act of wishful thinking, we still didn't see Eleven die when she took down the monster (although, to be fair, we didn't see the monster die either). Instead, she unleashed every ounce of mental energy she had left on the faceless beast until they both evaporated into nothing ... or perhaps just teleported somewhere else?

This is where you have to abandon any lingering sense of skepticism—which should've already happened by now anyway, given the show's multitude of supernatural elements. When El destroyed the monster, she may have known she wasn't killing it, but instead taking it away from the physical plane of earthly existence, and thus removing the threat for her pals. She said "goodbye" to Mike and the rest of her new crew with an obvious sense of knowing she was sacrificing herself, so did she choose to take herself and the monster down under? Very possibly. She has shown a gift for bodily manipulation before, after all, so the act could certainly be within her powers.

Visual cues

Another clue to Eleven's continued existence comes by way of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). The kiddo has been returned safe, but not exactly sound. In one of the final moments, he's shown vomiting up slugs and experiencing flickers of the Upside Down. This could be a mere case of trauma-induced hysteria with physical manifestations, which, considering all he's been through, is very plausible. Or it might be that some dismal piece of the place has lodged itself into his very soul somehow—hey, the Upside Down is weird like that. Door number three, though, could lead right back to Eleven's whereabouts.

See, El's been pretty psychologically tuned in to Will by this point, since she used her Professor X-like gift for location to find him when he was trapped in the Upside Down. It's entirely possible that Elle's still connected to Will's brain somehow and, by inducing a vision of the Upside Down version of the room in which he stood (the bathroom), she was signaling him with some sort of status update he simply did not understand.

Monstrous absorption

Since we don't know for sure what happened to her, we also have to entertain the possibility that when she vaporized the child-murdering baddie, she sucked him into herself. Maybe the monster couldn't be killed by traditional means, and she somehow intuited that in order to take it out, she'd have to take it in. Her emotional sendoff would certainly support that theory, if she knew in that moment that she was about to become someone—or something—else. It's the less likely scenario, given Hopper's hopeful waffle donation, that she'd be a murderous extra-dimensional being at that point, but, hey, you never know.

Time marches on

Accepting the idea that Eleven is alive somehow at the end of the first season, and even holding out hope that she's still one of the good guys and didn't go and absorb the monster in their big showdown, some serious time is going to pass before we pick things back up for the second season, so a lot could change before then.

The Duffer Brothers have already shared their plans to skip ahead a year in the new round, which could be a clue that El's gonna be breaking bad in the meantime. Sure, there's a practicality element involved with the timing decision—the child stars involved are growing up fast and can't exactly pull off picking right up where they left off with another Dungeons & Dragons match—but having Eleven spend an entire year festering in the Upside Down could be bad news for her and everybody else.

Eleven is as tough as nails and all, but too much time drinking in all the toxicity of that world could very well transform her mind and body. (If Will's visions aren't some sly communication from El, that would only prove that the place can totally get under your skin and stay there.)

Great power = great responsibility

One thing we know for sure about Eleven is that we've only begun to broach the surface of her capabilities. When we met her, she'd just gotten to the brink of figuring her material and mind control functions, so the possibilities are truly endless as to what else she can do. If she is down there in the Upside Down growing a frown, she could become very, very dangerous.

In the first season, there was just the one monster in one town, so our scope of understanding the place remains very limited. We never found out how the monster came to be or why, so the Duffers have unlimited rein on that front if they choose to start explaining things. The faceless beast could have definitely once been one of the ten other experiment subjects gone south (which would explain why they never sent El herself down there to poke around for fear that she'd join the nefarious fold).

Eleven, for all her earthly strengths, could become a full-on force of nature if trapped below, and if she does emerge, whether to eat waffles or children, she could definitely assume a new, much less innocent identity in the process. Who'd be able to stop her from running roughshod over everything, if she's not there to protect them from herself? It's a shiver-inducing possibility, but a real one nonetheless.