“She helped just enough so she could get what she wants: food and a bed. She’s like a stray dog.” —Lucas
Since its introduction in 2016, Stranger Things has become a modern pop culture phenomenon. It has been one of the most watched, and most talked about, Netflix originals created so far. Its classic 1980s setting, its amazing characters and its skin-crawling story all combined to create something that audiences came out to watch in droves. While the entire cast is amazing, it’s hard to deny that the mysterious Eleven is a stand out, and one of the most beloved characters in the show. Who doesn’t love the quiet girl with a frightening past and even more frightening abilities? But what do we really know about her? Her mysterious powers and mysterious past make her fascinating, but there is a lot to learn about this powerful girl. Read on to discover 42 surprising facts about Eleven.
“Does that excuse that man’s sins? Were we not also children? I remember the day I came to the rainbow room, and you were… gone. So, when my gifts were strong enough, I used them to escape, and I ran. I ran away as far as I could. And it was there, far away, that I… I found a place to hide. A family. A home. Just like you and your policeman. But… they couldn’t help me. So, eventually, I lost them, too. So, I decided to play the part; to stop hiding. To use my gifts against those who hurt us. You’re now faced with the same choice, Jane: go back into hiding and hope they don’t find you, or fight, and face them again.” —Kali
42. Twisted Symmetry
There’s a popular fan theory that believes the demogorgon and Eleven are connected; a sort of split personality. This theory is fueled by events such as Eleven’s opening of the interdimensional portal, and the fact that the demogorgon’s namesake from Dungeons and Dragons is a monster with split personalities. Could it be true? Eleven’s mind has some darkness in it, after all.
41. Brace Yourself
Sheriff Hopper and Eleven develop a father-daughter relationship in the second season, but a small detail from the very end of the season shows just how close the two actually got. Hopper’s daughter wore a blue hair tie before she passed away, and Hopper wore a bracelet made from the tie throughout the first two seasons. You can see Eleven wearing the same bracelet when she attends the school dance in the season two finale. Absolutely heartbreaking.
Eleven takes up most of the screen time in season two’s seventh episode as she travels to meet another survivor of Hawkin’s Lab, Eight, later known as Kali Prasad. This episode, “Lost Sister,” quickly became by far the most divisive episode of the series, with some fans loving the trip away from Hawkins, while others not so much.
39. Trick or Treat
Stranger Things’ 1980s setting has, unsurprisingly, inspired a huge range of halloween costumes, from Dustin with his trucker hat to Barb with her wide-brimmed glasses, but Eleven’s signature pink dress rose to the top as one of the most popular costumes of 2017.
Eleven’s birth name is Jane Ives, but she later becomes Jane Hopper thanks to a fake birth certificate that she got from Dr. Owens of the Hawkins Lab. I still don’t want to stop calling her Eleven though. You can’t make me.
Eleven was stolen from her mother by Dr. Brenner of the Hawkins Lab shortly after she was born. Although Brenner pretended to be a father figure to the young girl, his treatment of her amounted to years of torture as he attempted to discover the true extent of her telekinetic powers.
36. Across the Pond
Eleven is played by up-and-coming star Millie Bobby Brown, who was born on February 19, 2004. Brown was born in Spain, but she moved to Bournemouth, England when she was four years old, then to Orlando, Florida four years after that. We all look forward to her future projects. She’s extremely talented.
Eleven’s distinctive low-cut hairstyle from season one was a style choice by the doctors of Hawkins Lab. With less hair, it made it easier to connect scanners to her head to read her brain activity. So it wasn’t just because it made her look creepy! Still extremely sad to think about.
Aside from coming back from the Upside Down, Eleven has also helped to resurrect Kellogg Co. After four years of declining sales, Kellogg saw a boost after the release of Stranger Things. The uptick in sales has been partly attributed to an increase in the sales of Eggo Waffles, Eleven’s favorite food, which are owned by Kellogg. Eleven has powers that extend beyond the screen.
33. Girl Power?
Stranger Things’ male characters outnumber the ladies two to one, which is a relatively good ratio compared to most TV shows. However, while the ratio might look alright, it doesn’t mean a whole lot when the female characters don’t actually share much screen time. In the second season, Eleven actually interacts with other female characters in about one-and-a-half episodes, out of nine total.
32. Hard Knock Life
The first season ended with (what seemed like) a tragedy, as Eleven sacrificed herself to kill the demogorgon and save her friends. But, as we learn in season two, she actually managed to escape the Upside Down yet again. In order to stay off the radar, she ended up spending nearly a year locked up in Hopper’s shed. Hope she brought a book.
31. Strong, Silent Type
Due to her upbringing as an experiment in Hawkin’s Lab, Eleven has a limited vocabulary. It’s actually been calculated that Eleven uses a total of 246 words, amounting to 42 lines, in the first season. That’s less than three minutes of her screentime. Well, as they say, actions speak louder than words. It’s almost more impressive that the actress could express so much emotion with so few words.
30. Perfect Timing
Actor Millie Bobby Brown was eleven when she was cast as Eleven. It was meant to be! This is destiny! Considering how young she was, she absolutely killed it.
29. From the Ashes
Eleven’s telekinetic powers and her tortured past have drawn some comparisons to Jean Grey, or more specifically The Phoenix, from the X-Men franchise. Perhaps the Duffer Brothers were aware of this, because during season one, the main characters are racing to win a copy of Uncanny X:Men #134, which is the issue where Jean transforms into the Phoenix. To take it one step further, the scene where Eleven kills the demogorgon actually mirrors imagery from the comic.
A UK company called Firebox has actually created an Eleven candle holder, which is made in the character’s likeness. Maybe it doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but that’s before you see that they’ve put a hole in the likeness’s nose, so if you stick a red candle in the holder, it will leak red wax and look like a nose bleed. I’m sold!
27. Slow and Steady
Throughout the first season, Eleven’s powers are slowly revealed, gradually escalating as the story progresses. However, the original script had Eleven using her powers to blow a door off its hinges in the very first episode. The original script was also closer to R-Rated territory, due to the acts of violence Hawkins Lab forces Eleven to commit. I’m sure all the kiddies who watched are grateful, but I for one would have liked to see that.
When Eleven has her first kiss with Mike Wheeler, it was actually Brown’s first kiss at the same time. I guess that makes acting a little easier. I wonder if it was awkward. And I wonder how their parents felt about it…?
25. Phone Home
Stranger Things is a blend of numerous 80s properties, ranging from The Goonies to Stephen King books. However, one particularly important comparison is ET. Aside from ET and Eleven both being “alien” to many facets of social interaction and daily life, Eleven finds herself in some of the specific situations that ET was in, like dressing up in a wig and dress and being hidden among toys and blankets. Millie Bobby Brown was also advised to draw inspiration from the beloved alien character for her performance, though the two characters weren’t completely the same:“It’s a lot different because ET doesn’t know what physical things are, but Eleven doesn’t know emotionally what things are.”
While Stranger Things is pretty kid friendly, some of its inspirations are far from it. One R-rated influence is the manga series Elfen Lied, which is about a mutated, female being with supernatural powers who escapes confinement. Another is Akira, about a teen who acquires telekinetic powers.
22. Fast and Furious
The online TV community was quick to draw comparisons between Eleven’s look andur Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road. The Duffer Brothers actually used images of Furiosa to convince Brown to cut her hair for the role. They showed her a picture of Furiosa, saying “she looks badass right?” So in a way, we can thank Charlize Theron for Eleven’s season one look.
21. Give Me An E
Time writer Ashley Hoffman actually recommended Eleven as the mascot for National Waffle Day. I, for one, second that motion. Eleven has already made me buy 200% more Eggos a year.
20. Lonely Heart
Between season one and two, Eleven and Will were separated for exactly 353 days. Some fans also can’t help but notice that 3+5+3=11. Like, wooooah. Coincidence? Or clever writing?
19. Set Sail
Many fans of the show are supportive of the Eleven and Mike love story, with some segments of the fandom referring to it as “Mileven.” Not quite Brangelina, but it’ll do. Please let it work out.
Many people have been quick to point out that Eleven (or, I suppose more accurately, Millie Bobby Brown) looks a lot like a young Natalie Portman. A new series starring Portman, taking place 25 years after the original? Kind of like the second half of It? It’ll probably never happen, but I can dream can’t I?
17. Hard to Get
The Duffer Brothers said Eleven was the hardest role to cast. The character presented a particular challenge since the role required a child who could act well with limited dialogue. I think they ended up doing alright.
While Brown actually shaved her head for season one, she wore a bald cap for the the flashbacks to Hawkins Lab in season two, since she had grown out her hair for the rest of the action in the season.
Eleven’s hairstyle in season two is Millie Bobby Brown’s natural hair. Lead hairstylist Sarah Hindsgaul said she wanted Brown to have less styling and “fussing” to worry about on set: “I want her to be free. Her character has such an arc this season and so many emotional scenes, you don’t want anyone standing around fussing with you. I want to give her that peace.” That was nice of her.
Eleven may have returned at the beginning of season two, but co-creator Ross Duffer has admitted they originally intended for the character to remain dead. The Duffer Brothers initially only planned for Stranger Things to be a limited, one-off series, so Eleven’s death was the end. Eventually, when they started making plans for the show to continue, they were going to leave her dead, but they ended up changing their minds. You’ve got to give the public what it wants!
13. Thanks Mom and Dad
Due to her limited lines, especially in season one, Eleven’s body language is key to her performance. Millie Bobby Brown has said that most of Eleven’s distinctive body language was a result of her parent’s tutelage.
Since Stranger Things’ and Eleven’s debut, there have been some instances of parents actually naming their kids Eleven. Now every elementary school class in a few years is going to be filled with Elevens and Khaleesis.
11. Hail the King
There are a plethora of Stephen King references, influences and homages in Stranger Things. A specific connection is the nose bleeds that Eleven gets when she’s using her powers. Like Eleven, the protagonist of Stephen King’s Firestarter experienced the same thing when using his telepathic and mind control abilities. Firestarter also has other similarities, since it revolves around a clandestine branch of the government hunting down a little girl with powers.
Eleven’s creation was likely influenced by the video game Silent Hill: Homecoming. The 2008 game features a character named Elle who’s telekinetic and has lived in a hospital most of her life. I think I can connect those dots.
9. Earth to Eleven
Eleven’s distinctive disguise, a pink dress and blonde wig with ponytails, actually has a striking resemblance to Paula from the 1994 videogame Earthbound, most famous as the origin of Ness from the Super Smash Brothers series. To keep the connections going, Paula is also telekinetic.
8. Ellie and Eleven
Amidst all the 80s references, Stranger Things also has more contemporary influences, including the 2013 video game The Last of Us. One of the most acclaimed games of all time, it tells a post-apocalyptic tale that focuses on the main character Joel, whose daughter died years earlier, transporting a preteen girl named Ellie across the US. Eventually, Joel and Ellie form a strong father-daughter relationship, and the Duffer Brothers used the story as inspiration for Sheriff Hopper and Eleven’s unlikely bond.
7. Come Out and Play
The divisive episode seven of season two had an extremely different visual style, and so it shouldn’t be surprising that the Duffer Brothers drew from different influences when creating it. One of the main cultural touchstones that they drew from was the 1979 movie The Warriors.
The end of season two shows that the Mind Flayer is still out there, and the Duffer Brothers have confirmed that while it is aware of all of the kids, it’s especially conscious of Eleven, as it saw her display of power when she closed the portal to the Upside Down.
5. Growing Up
Season three will take place a year after season two, and executive producer Shawn Levy has confirmed that Eleven will be “going strong” with Mike as the season starts. So you can sleep soundly all you Mileven-heads.
One of Eleven’s tasks at Hawkins Lab was to spy on communists by using the Upside Down. Once that mission proved successful, she was also tasked with trying to communicate with inter-dimensional beings. This second mission didn’t work as well; she makes contact, but what she found was so terrifying—the demogorgon—that she ended up creating the portal between our world and the Upside Down in her distress.
3. What Is Love?
In the first season, Eleven was supposed to have a scene where she reads Nancy Wheeler’s diary, finding a passage that says “I love Steve.” This scene was cut since Brown read the line incorrectly, and because she forgot to use an American accent, using her natural British inflection instead. Probably for the best, because we all know how Nancy and Steve’s relationship goes…
Throughout season one Will, Eleven and Sara Hopper—Sheriff Hooper’s deceased daughter—all have a stuffed lion toy at some point. Eleven has hers while at Hawkins Lab. If you noticed that, kudos, ‘cus I sure missed it.
1. Stranger Than Fiction
The story of Stranger Things seems like it has almost no tie to reality, but part of the horrifying secret lab that Eleven grew up in is actually loosely based on a real CIA program: Eleven’s mom, Terry Ives, was a participant in MKUltra, a real CIA program that attempted to use LSD for the purposes of torture and even mind control! It was Terry’s exposure to these experiments while she was pregnant that led to Eleven’s powers. Sadly, in the actual MKUltra program, no psychic powers were discovered. That we know of…
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