Once upon a time, Stranger Things played coy with a potential second season, leading us to wonder if the breakout Netflix drama might reboot after one year. That plan obviously fell through, but the Duffer brothers now reveal a modified Season 1 finale that was much more heartbreaking than we first realized.

You’re warned of full spoilers for Stranger Things 1 and 2 from here on out, but the Netflix drama’s sequel season wasn’t shy about confirming that Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven survived her climactic battle with the Demogorgon. Season 1 cryptically ended with Eleven disintegrating alongside the Upside Down beast, only for Season 2 to quickly reveal she’d awakened unharmed on the other side.

Had Stranger Things followed through on the Duffers’ initial vision for an anthology approach, Eleven’s disappearance might well have been permanent. As Ross reportedly explained in a Q&A session at Chapman University (h/t UPROXX), the original pitch was for Eleven to sacrifice herself altogether:

Maybe I shouldn’t say this because I like to pretend that it was all planned out, but it was originally pitched as a limited series. So it was like, Eleven was gonna sacrifice herself and save the world and then that was gonna be it, because there was a moment where limited series were a big deal.

The brothers claim that Netflix urged them to stick with the young talent they’d cultivated, rather than tell an all-new story in Season 2. Nonetheless, loose ends are something of a sore subject for the Duffers, as Season 2 was deliberately designed to avoid cliffhangers lingering over Season 3.

Time will tell if Eleven’s sacrificial streak returns to the series, but could Season 1 have provided satisfying end to her arc?

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