Warning: This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 3.
The adventures of Eleven and the gang could have played out quite differently, so let's reflect over some of the abandoned storylines and little tweaks that might have changed everything in Hawkins, Indiana.
Eleven was nearly killed off in season one
Stranger Things without Eleven might seem implausible, but at one point her role was set to end in the very first season. WE KNOW.
Co-creator Ross Duffer said that Eleven was initially meant to die before, thankfully, realising what utter nonsense that would have been.
"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," he outlined (via CinemaBlend) in 2017.
According to Heroic Hollywood, the Duffer brothers' original plan soon changed. "Deep down we knew the show just wouldn’t really work without Eleven. And at that point, we knew how special Millie was. If there was going to be more Stranger Things, Eleven had to come back."
As we all now know, El's season-one finale sacrifice was short-lived and she came back from the Upside Down in season two to help defeat the new Big Bad.
Steve almost stayed a douchebag forever
While we're on the topic of untimely deaths, it turns out that another beloved Stranger Things character was almost thrown onto the scrapheap. Yes, Ross Duffer also admitted (via Screenrant) that Steve Harrington was nearly killed off in the first instalment too.
Apparently "this Steve character" was "just supposed to be this giant douchebag" that nobody would shed a tear over.
Of course his character arc has more or less come full circle over the three seasons so far from douchebag to baby-sitter to loveable hero.
This popular Will Byers fan theory almost had no basis
There's one line in episode three of the third season that's got lots of people questioning Will Byers' sexuality. However it has now been revealed that this particular piece of dialogue was originally going to be different.
In a heated exchange between Mike Wheeler and Will, the former shouts: "It's not my fault you don't like girls."
Actor Finn Wolfhard, who plays the role of Mike, has since revealed that a fair few versions of that exchange were filmed.
"There were a lot of different versions of that scene," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "We tried, 'It’s not my fault you don’t like girls yet.' I don’t even know if it had to do with Will’s sexuality; I think Mike was just mad and listing off a genuine fact that he’s not interested."
This adds another layer of ambiguity to the 'Will Byers is gay' fan theory.
"I guess we’ll see what it really meant, but it’s all up to the Duffers and what they want to do," Wolfhard later added.
The song that almost wasn't
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Of all the brilliant moments in Stranger Things' three, a favourite has to be that sing-along between Dustin Henderson and his long-distance thought-to-be-fictional girlfriend 'Suzie Pooh'.
They burst into an impressive rendition of 'The NeverEnding Story' theme song during the feature-length season finale. This wasn't always going to be the case.
"We went through all the various songs they could sing," Matt Duffer told EW recently. "At one point they were going to sing the Ent song from Lord of the Rings. Then we were like, 'Oh, well, Amazon is making Lord of the Rings, that’s probably not going to go over well with Netflix.'
"Then we came up, I think it was Curtis, our writer, who came up with I think a better idea, which was The NeverEnding Story theme song." Ross Duffer added, "Certainly filming that sequence, that was some of the most fun we had on this season. It was just so great."
That controversial episode could have been cut
It's fair to say that Stranger Things' season two episode seven was a divisive chapter for the Netflix franchise.
Many have argued that it felt rushed and unnecessary, particularly when deep-diving into Eleven's character development.
But during a chat with EW, co-creator Matt Duffer defended its inclusion by arguing that the second season just didn't work when it was cut.
"Our test of the episode was we tried to pull it out of the show just to make sure that we needed it because I didn't want it in there as filler — even though some critics are accusing us of doing that," he said.
"But Eleven's journey kind of fell apart, like the ending didn't work, without it. So I was like, whether this works or not, we need this building block in here or the whole show is going to collapse. It's not going to end well."
Stranger Things seasons 1-3 are available to stream on Netflix now.
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