- Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Stranger Things.”
- Dr. Martin Brenner, aka Eleven’s “papa,” is almost certainly still alive.
- “Stranger Things” executive producer and director Shawn Levy told Collider “it now seems clear that Brenner is alive, Brenner is out there” after the second season.
- Brenner could return to the fold through the newly introduced Russian plot.
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Despite the character’s implied death at the end of Netflix’s first season of “Stranger Things,” it has since become clear that Dr. Martin Brenner is still alive and out in the world somewhere.
Brenner once led the research team at Hawkins National Lab, where they kidnapped and experimented upon young children – including beloved “Stranger Things” hero Eleven. So how did he survive the Demogorgon attack, and where is he now?
How the creators of ‘Stranger Things’ seemingly confirmed Brenner survived
Brenner’s fate was left uncertain on the season one finale when the Demogorgon leapt onto him in the hallway of Hawkins Middle School, but we never saw his body.
Then season two brought his fate into question.
Eleven was on the verge of killing an ex-Hawkins Lab employee when he told her Brenner was still alive and he could help Eleven find him. In an interview with Collider, “Stranger Things” executive producer and director Shawn Levy confirmed that the man wasn’t just lying to save his own skin.
“Whether or not people feel [episode seven] was entirely successful, the Duffers want to take some swings, and they know that they’re not gonna please everybody,” Levy said. “But that feeling of the world getting a bit bigger especially coupled with the fact that it now seems clear that Brenner is alive, Brenner is out there.”
Levy’s confirmation is in line with what “Stranger Things” cocreator Matt Duffer said about Brenner after the first season aired.
“I would say that if we were going to kill Brenner … as an audience member watching the show, if that was his death, that would be very unsatisfying to me – when the monster jumps on him and we cut away,” Duffer said in an interview with IGN. “He would deserve much more than that as an ending. So yes, there’s a possibility of seeing him again.”
As far as we know, Eleven never tried to find Brenner, aka her “papa,” using her powers. She was clearly terrified of even the fake projection of him that appeared on the second season. And by the end of the third season, her powers were gone, removing the option of trying to locate her abuser (even if she wanted to).
Brenner may return to ‘Stranger Things’ via the newly introduced Russian government plot
At the end of “Stranger Things 3,” we saw that the Russian government was keeping an “American” in a jail cell. While we’re quite certain that American is actually Jim Hopper (meaning his “death” was another fakeout), some fans think it might also be Brenner.
Regardless of who’s behind that cell door, it’s very likely Brenner’s potential return to the story would be connected to the Upside Down and research done by government agencies to tap into its power.
There is still so much we don’t know about Brenner’s work at Hawkins National Lab, and how it could be linked to both Hopper and other children with supernatural powers. So here’s to hoping a fourth season of “Stranger Things” makes Brenner’s fate clear and resolves all the open-ended questions we have about his character.