Eleven (Stranger Things)

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Eleven
Stranger Things character
Eleven (Stranger Things).jpg
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in the series' first season
First appearance"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers" (2016)
Created byThe Duffer Brothers
Based onProject MKUltra
Portrayed by
Voiced byCharlie Duncan (Smite)
In-universe information
Full nameJane Hopper (formerly Ives)
NicknamesEl
TitleEleven
Family
  • Terry Ives (biological mother)
  • Andrew Rich (biological father, deceased)
  • Becky Ives (biological aunt)
  • Jim Hopper (adoptive father)
  • Joyce Byers (adoptive mother)
  • Will Byers (adoptive brother)
  • Jonathan Byers (adoptive brother)
Significant otherMike Wheeler (boyfriend)
HomeHawkins, Indiana, United States

Eleven is a fictional character and one of the protagonists of the Netflix science fiction horror drama series Stranger Things, written and produced by the Duffer Brothers. She is primarily portrayed by British actress Millie Bobby Brown. Eleven has psychokinetic and telepathic abilities, and is considered the breakout character of Stranger Things.[2]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Eleven is the daughter of Teresa "Terry" Ives, and a participant in the Project MKUltra experiments conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Eleven appears to have been born a psychic with notable telekinetic and extrasensory abilities. However, when she uses these abilities to a significant degree, she becomes temporarily weakened and her nose bleeds. At birth, Eleven was taken away from her mother by Dr. Martin Brenner and was raised in a national laboratory in fictional Hawkins, Indiana, as a test subject, in order to develop her psychokinetic skills. When placed in a sensory deprivation tank, she can use remote viewing to access other dimensions, primarily for the purposes of international espionage. Eleven unknowingly opens a gate between the Hawkins National Laboratory and an alternate dimension called the Upside Down that allows creatures from either side to pass through.

Season 1[edit]

In the first season, Eleven escapes from Hawkins Laboratory and attempts to steal food from a local restaurant. The owner, Benny, takes pity on her and calls social services. The responding social worker, who turns out to be an agent sent from Hawkins National Laboratory, kills Benny. Eleven flees before being taken once again. She is encountered by Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), who are looking for their missing friend, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). The boys learn that her name is Eleven based on a "011" tattoo found on her left forearm. Mike decides to call her "El" for short. Mike allows Eleven to live in his basement in a blanket fort. Fearing recapture, Eleven convinces Mike not to tell any adults so Dr Brenner (papa) will not find her.

Eleven helps to locate Will and determines that he is trapped in the Upside Down, using a homemade sensory deprivation tank. The group sets out to find Will using their compasses, but Eleven interferes with their search when she realizes they are being led toward the Hawkins laboratory. Lucas, noticing her deception, becomes angry at her. She flees, steals boxes of frozen waffles from a store, and eats them in a forest. Mike and Dustin are threatened by bullies; Mike is forced to jump off a high cliff into a lake while Dustin is held hostage. Eleven returns and intervenes before Mike hits the water, and saves both Mike and Dustin.

Eleven, Mike, and Dustin reunite with Lucas and make amends. They travel to the town junkyard with Dr. Brenner and his associates in close pursuit. Eleven uses her powers during the chase to cause a laboratory van to flip through the air. The group is aided by Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour), Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), and Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), produce a makeshift isolation tank with a pool and bags of salt. Eleven accesses the Upside Down and confirms that Will is alive. As laboratory personnel close in on the school, Mike tells Eleven she can be a part of his family and asks her to the school dance. He then kisses her after struggling to explain his feelings towards her. Eleven helps the group escape by using her powers to kill most of the agents, leaving her drained. The monster from the Upside Down makes its way into their dimension, and Eleven seemingly sacrifices herself to destroy the creature (demogorgon) and save her friends.

One month later, after a Christmas party, Hopper leaves the police station and drives to the woods. There, he leaves waffles in a concealed box. Eleven's condition and location are left ambiguous.[3][4]

Season 2[edit]

After defeating the Demogorgon, Eleven wakes up in the Upside Down dimension. She escapes through a portal, which leads her back to the school. With the government still searching for her, she is forced to hide in the forest. Eleven eventually finds the Eggos Hopper left for her and seeks him out. The two move into a cabin in the woods where he forbids her to leave, fearing for her safety. Hopper hides Eleven indoors for almost a year, telling no one of her whereabouts, not even Mike. During this time Eleven gains better control over her powers; she is less weakened by the use of her telekinesis, and she is now able to project her mind without the use of a sensory deprivation tank. She uses the latter ability to listen to Mike's attempts to contact her, though she is increasingly frustrated at her inability to reply. Eleven also significantly expands her vocabulary during this time, learning from both Hopper and television.

Eleven becomes restless and longs to reunite with Mike, and this causes tension between her and Hopper. She runs away from home one day and travels to Hawkins Middle School. When she finds Mike, he is with Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink), a new student. Eleven mistakenly thinks Max is flirting with Mike and, out of spite, uses her powers to knock Max off her skateboard before leaving. Upon returning to the cabin, she gets into a heated argument with Hopper over her leaving the cabin, ending with her using her powers to damage the cabin out of anger. The next day, cleaning the mess she made of the cabin, she discovers by looking through records in the cabin's basement that her birth mother is alive, contradicting what Hopper and Dr. Brenner had told her. She then runs away again and meets her mother, Terry, and her aunt, Becky, and discovers what happened to Terry at Hawkins National Laboratory. While there, she realizes Terry is trying to talk with her, but she is unable to due to her catatonic state. Eleven, using her powers, views a flashback from her mother. After her daughter was taken from her, Terry attempted to force her way into Hawkins National Laboratory to save her. As a response, Brenner and his assistants capture her and subject her head to 450 volts of electricity, resulting in her current condition. She also leans that her original name was Jane.

Eleven then uses her abilities to find out she has a "sister" – another gifted girl taken by Dr. Brenner for experimentations – and sets out to find her.

Using her abilities once again, Eleven locates her sister and discovers that she is an older girl named Kali ("Eight"), with the ability to cause people to have visual hallucinations. Eleven stays with Kali and her friends – runaways who are determined to take revenge on people who have hurt them. Kali tells Eleven that she needs to think about what makes her most angry while using her powers. When they go to get revenge on Brenner's assistant who helped hurt Eleven's mother, Eleven begins to choke him to death but stops upon realizing that he has two daughters. She then stops Kali from shooting him. Back at the hideout, Eleven witnesses Hopper and Mike in danger through the void. While the gang are about to flee, Eleven realizes she needs to go back to her friends because they need her help.

Eleven goes back to Hawkins and finally reunites with Mike with a heartfelt embrace and her friends after saving them from a Demodog. The group realizes that she needs to close the gate to the Upside Down, and she and Hopper head to Hawkins Laboratory. There, Eleven uses Kali's advice and focuses her anger into her powers, closing the gate and draining her powers. Afterward, it is discovered that Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) has forged a birth certificate allowing for Hopper to become Eleven's legal adoptive father to help keep her in hiding. Eleven's new legal name is Jane Hopper. Hopper lets her attend the Snow Ball at Hawkins Middle School. She meets up with Mike, dances with him, and they share their first kiss as a couple.

Back in the Upside Down, the Mind Flayer observes El and her friends at the high school.

Season 3[edit]

At the start of season three, Eleven and Mike have been dating for seven months, much to the dismay of Hopper, who is annoyed that El and Mike are constantly together, spending all of their time alone kissing. When Hopper confesses to Joyce that he feels uncomfortable about the situation, she suggests that he sit down and calmly talk to El and Mike about how he feels. However, this backfires, and Hopper resorts to verbally threatening Mike to stay away from Eleven, or he will end their relationship. When Mike is forced to lie to Eleven about why he can no longer visit her, she becomes suspicious and seeks advice from Max, who asserts that Mike is pushing Eleven aside to spend time playing games with the boys, and suggests that they have some fun of their own by going shopping at the new Starcourt mall while also encouraging her to break up with him.

The girls spend quality time together at the mall where they encounter Lucas, Will, and Mike attempting to buy Eleven a makeup present. When Mike lies and says the present is for his sick grandmother, Eleven breaks up with him and leaves on a bus with Max, where the girls spend the night sleeping over at Hopper's house and use Eleven's telepathic powers to spy on the boys. This leads to a game they create in which they spin a bottle and spy on whoever it lands on. Eleven spies on Billy and it appears he has kidnapped someone, so the girls go to look for him and discover a fellow lifeguard has also gone missing. They discover that Billy has been taken over by the Mind Flayer and the missing lifeguard known as Heather.

They reunite with Mike, Lucas, and Will. Mike is annoyed that El would spy on him and has an argument with Max about his feelings for Eleven while she is spying on the Flayer. She holds off the Mind Flayer when the cabin is attacked, but the Flayer wounds her and leaves a piece of itself in the wound. El and Mike make up, but the Mind Flayer and Billy track them due to El's wound. Eleven loses her powers after removing the piece of the monster from her leg, but helps Billy to break free of the Mind Flayer's possession by recalling his childhood memories. The group defeat the Mind Flayer by closing the portal to the Upside Down and with Billy's sacrifice. Hopper is presumed dead in the explosion that closes the gate and Eleven is taken in by the Byers. While the Byers are packing to leave Hawkins, El reveals to Mike that she also loves him, and they share a kiss. Joyce gives her a letter written by Hopper that he intended to use when talking to her and Mike about how he felt about them dating. Eleven and the Byers then leave Hawkins where Eleven cries as they drive away.

Season 4[edit]

At the start of season four, Eleven begins going to school in California alongside Will and struggles with the loss of her powers, as well as being bullied by a girl named Angela. When Mike comes to visit, Eleven pretends she has many friends to please Mike, but she is humiliated at a roller rink and strikes Angela in the face in retaliation. She is taken into police custody, but Dr. Owens intercepts her arrest and takes her with him. He explains that Hawkins is in danger and he has been working in a program that may be able to bring back Eleven's powers. Eleven agrees to participate, risking that she may never see her friends ever again. Eleven is taken to a facility in Nevada and discovers Dr. Brenner is still alive.

Eleven is placed into a sensory deprivation tank (dubbed NINA) and relives her repressed memories of her time at Hawkins lab. Eleven attempts to escape the facility but discovers her powers are slowly returning, convincing her to stay. She discovers she was often ostracized by the other children, but a kindly orderly (Jamie Campbell Bower) watched over her and gave her advice on how to control her powers. The orderly, who is in fact subject One in Brenner's experiments, manipulated Eleven into removing an implant in his neck that suppressed his powers, then went on to massacre the rest of the children and staff in the lab. One later revealed himself to be Henry Creel, who killed his mother and sister in the 1950s and got his father arrested for it. Henry attempted to kill Eleven after she refused to help him eradicate humanity, but she overpowered him and sent him into the Upside Down, where he became Vecna. Brenner discovers Eleven at the scene of the massacre where she fell comatose and forgot the events. Brenner discovered the events through security cameras and made Eleven spy on Russians as a cover for searching for Henry.

Eleven discovers the Hawkins' groups plan to kill Henry by using Max as bait to lure him out, and convinces Owens to help her return to Hawkins. However, Brenner locks up Owens and traps Eleven, placing a shock collar on her so she is unable to leave. When the army attack the base, Brenner flees with Eleven but is shot and incapacitated, however she is able to destroy the helicopter and vehicles as Mike, Will, Jonathan, and Argyle (Eduardo Franco) arrive. Brenner unlocks the collar and tells Eleven they are family, but she refuses to forgive him and he dies. The group go to Argyle's pizza place where they create an isolation tank for her to enter Max's mind at the same time as Vecna. Vecna overwhelms Eleven and breaks Max's bones and blinds her before Mike tells Eleven he loves her which gives her the strength to break his control. Despite her efforts, Max still dies from her injuries, but Eleven manages to use her powers to restart her heart and put her into a coma. The group return to Hawkins and Eleven reunites with Hopper. Will senses the Upside Down and they all discover that the Upside Down has taken over Hawkins.

Development[edit]

Conception and writing[edit]

The Duffer Brothers based the character of Eleven on survivors of the Project MKUltra experiments, with influences from E.T. and the idea of being an outsider. They also drew inspiration from the anime Elfen Lied and Akira,[5] saying they "wanted there to be a mystery in her past, and also have her seem a little scary."[6] Originally planned as a feature film, Stranger Things was then pitched to Netflix as a limited series, and it was planned that Eleven would sacrifice herself in the last episode of the series. After Netflix was then keen for the show to be continued in a second season, the brothers decided to change the ending to keep the character alive.[7]

Casting[edit]

The brothers believed Eleven was the most difficult role to cast, as the character had few lines. They wanted a child actor who was able to convey much emotion. The Duffers were concerned they would not find someone who could stay in character when not speaking. The brothers were relieved after meeting Millie Bobby Brown, whom they described as "something special, alright, with a downright spooky preternatural talent." Brown had to shave her head for the role, something she and her parents were worried would "diminish her beauty" until shown a photo of Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.[5]

In other media[edit]

Eleven makes a silent cameo appearance in Odder Stuff, an in-universe television series in The Simpsons thirtieth season episode "I'm Dancing as Fat as I Can", released February 10, 2019. Eleven's Stranger Things role is then embodied by Lisa Simpson (voiced by Yeardley Smith) in the 31st season "Treehouse of Horror XXX" segment "Danger Things", released October 20, 2019.

A violent parody of Eleven, Cindy, is portrayed by Ess Hödlmoser in the 2020 second season of the Amazon Prime Video streaming television series The Boys and the promotional web series Vought News Network: Seven on 7 with Cameron Coleman.[8][9][10]

Reception[edit]

The performance of Millie Bobby Brown received widespread acclaim and the 13-year-old Brown received two nominations for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series and two nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, becoming one of the youngest nominees for the awards.

The character and Brown's performance have received critical acclaim; Alice Vincent of The Daily Telegraph wrote:

"Millie Bobby Brown continues to be the star of the show: she has inspired fan art and tattoos, a worldwide acknowledgment of Eggos, the waffles her character devours and given a whole new life to the phrase 'mouth breather'".[11]

Ashley Hoffman of Time magazine recommended Eleven as a mascot for National Waffle Day.[12]

However, Lenika Cruz of The Atlantic said that "despite a rich backstory, Eleven is the show's most thinly sketched protagonist".[13]

At the 69th and 70th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2017 and 2018, Brown received a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. At the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards, she was nominated for Best Hero and Best Actor in a Show, winning the latter award. She won Best Performance by a Younger Actor in a Television Series at the 43rd Saturn Awards. She was twice nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series in 2017 and 2018. She won a Kids Choice Award for Best Female Actor in 2018 and 2020.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "My baby girl in Stranger Things 2!". Charlotte and Clara Ward – Judith TWD Season 5/Eleven ST2. Facebook. April 29, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  2. ^ Chaney, Jen (July 18, 2016). "Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown on Playing Eleven, Her Love-Hate Relationship With Scary Movies, and Acting Without Speaking". Vulture. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  3. ^ Berkshire, Geoff (July 18, 2016). "'Stranger Things' Finale: Duffer Brothers Talk Cliffhangers, Death and Season 2". Variety. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  4. ^ Stephens, Emily (July 29, 2016). "On Stranger Things' season finale, promises are made to be broken". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "'Stranger Things': The Duffer Brothers explain how they found Eleven". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 19, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  6. ^ "'Stranger Things' creators explain it all about season 1". UPROXX. July 27, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  7. ^ McLevy, Alex (November 8, 2017). "Stranger Things almost killed off Eleven in season 1, but not for a stupid reason". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  8. ^ Howard, Kirsten (September 25, 2020). "Features: The Boys Season 2: Who Is Cindy?". Den of Geek. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  9. ^ Sim, Bernardo (October 5, 2020). "The Boys: 15 Strongest Super-Abled Characters, Ranked". Screen Rant. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  10. ^ Ortiz, Rachel (October 9, 2020). "Cinema and Series: 8 Important Details of 'The Boys' That You Missed in the Second Season". Univision. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  11. ^ Vincent, Alice (September 24, 2016). "Eleven out of 10: how Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown charmed the world". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  12. ^ Hoffman, Ashley (August 24, 2016). "Why Eleven From Stranger Things Is the Perfect National Waffle Day Mascot". Time. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  13. ^ Cruz, Lenika (July 26, 2016). "Where Stranger Things Loses Its Magic". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 16, 2016.

External links[edit]