Stories like this pop up all the time when it comes to major Hollywood success stories.
Jesse from Breaking Bad was supposed to die in the first season, but once Vince Gilligan saw Aaron Paul’s talented, they decided to keep him around. Jack from Lost was supposed to be killed off during the pilot for “shock value”. Hell, even Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan considered killing off Han Solo halfway through Return Of The Jedi to raise the stakes.
Point being, these creative types never really have a concrete plan — they just write shit down and hope for the best.
And as it turns out, the Duffer brothers, the dudes who created Stranger Things, are the same way, as they had zero clue their show would turn into the cultural phenomenon that it has become, evidenced by the fact that they had originally planned to kill off Eleven (AKA the main reason everyone is obsessed with the show in the first place).
Ross Duffer revealed that Eleven was originally supposed to stay dead when she sacrificed herself at the end of Season 1:
“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.”
What saved Eleven was that Netflix didn’t want Stranger Things to be a limited series. Duffer continued:
“This is where the business side comes in. When we started pitching it it was like ‘we don’t make money off of limited series.’ And I remember when we went into Netflix and we pitched this they were like ‘well, we like this but how could it keep going?’ And you’re just sort of riffing in the moment and we were like ‘well Will’s back from this other dimension and he’s not doing very well.’ And they were like ‘great!'”
So instead, Season 1 ends with a little tease about Eleven’s potential return, and Season 2 quickly reveals that Eleven didn’t stay in the Upside Down for long.
While it’s easy to understand the decision making behind killing off Eleven initially, the fact that the Duffer Brothers didn’t have an inkling that their show would be a massive hit is everything you need to know about the nature of life.