WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for StrangerThings season 4, vol. 2!
With the final episodes of season 4 now streaming on Netflix, speculation is running rampant on how StrangerThings season 5 will bring the beloved series to an end. StrangerThings premiered in 2016 as an unprecedented success for Netflix, with the sci-fi show quickly becoming one of, if not the streaming service’s most popular original series. As it has progressed, the scope and stakes of the series—including its massive budget—have increased exponentially. With StrangerThings season 4’s ending turning Hawkins into ground zero for the Upside Down’s incursion, season 5 will see the entire expanded crew team up to face their biggest challenge yet.
StrangerThings season 1 began with 12-year-old Will Byers being abducted by a mysterious creature after a Dungeons & Dragons game with his friends, with superpowered 12-year-old Eleven escaping Hawkins National Lab at the same time. As the events unfolded, StrangerThings‘ Characters entered a battle with beings from another dimension, the Upside Down, in which the alternate world seeks a complete takeover of Hawkins. The stakes of the Hawkins’ fights with the Upside Down have grown more dire over the course of the series, which has included the deaths of many beloved StrangerThings characters. With the Upside Down increasing the upper hand over Hawkins, StrangerThings has been building to a massive, world-ending battle for the season 5 ending.
the StrangerThings season 4 ending left things on a compelling cliffhanger that signaled the doom of Hawkins, with the series’ overarching villain, Vecna/One/Henry Creel, officially breaking the barrier between the two worlds. While Vecna’s physical body was presumably killed, StrangerThings‘ Season 4 ending teased that he may find a host in Will Byers and/or Max Mayfield to carry out his unyielding plan to destroy humanity. However, StrangerThings‘ co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer have revealed that the series will end in a satisfying manner for the characters, suggesting Hawkins will prevail by the series finale. As viewers now speculate how such a victory will be achieved, here’s a breakdown of the biggest theories on how StrangerThings season 5 will end.
Eleven Will Sacrifice Herself To Destroy The Upside Down
Perhaps the biggest theory for StrangerThings‘ Season 5 ending claims that Eleven will sacrifice herself in order to destroy the Upside Down and save the world. Eleven opened the gate that allowed Vecna to reach back into the world, with her powers looking to be the only way to close the barrier for good. Since Eleven closing single gates in previous StrangerThings seasons caused incredible strain on her, using her powers to completely close the barrier could end up killing her. had StrangerThings season 1 was a miniseries like it had originally been pitched, it would have ended with Eleven dying, so season 5 may be reusing this idea in its finale to save Hawkins.
Stranger Things’ Entire Series Is Revealed As The Kids’ D&D Campaign
One of the more controversial (and far less likely) fan theories about StrangerThings‘ Season 5 ending suggests that the finale will reveal the entire series was just an elaborate Dungeons & Dragons campaign by Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas. This theory falls in line with the stereotypical “it was all a dream” or “imagined” twist ending—and would actually be similar to Wes Craven’s original plan for Nightmare on Elm Street‘s ending—but wouldn’t be faithful to how StrangerThings’emotional storylines have progressed. However, rather than making the entire plot of StrangerThings fake, the ending could still feature the grown-up or teenage versions of the characters playing another round of D&D after defeating the Upside Down.
Kali Will Return To Help Eleven Finally Defeat Vecna
While Kali, AKA Eight, didn’t return in StrangerThings season 4, one popular theory suggests she’ll come back for the final fight against Vecna in season 5’s ending. Aside from Eleven, Kali was the only kid from Hawkins Lab to survive One’s massacre, as she had already escaped the location before his attack. While Eleven wasn’t able to defeat Vecna’s control with just her own powers in StrangerThings‘ season 4 finale, she may be able to do so by working together with Kali in season 5. Since Kali exhibits one of Vecna’s powers that none of the other “siblings” shared, her abilities being paired with Elevens could finally be the way that One/Henry Creel is destroyed.
Stranger Things’ Characters Travel Back In Time To Undo Their Mistakes
One of the most plausible theories for StrangerThings‘season 5 ending takes a page from the MCU’s Avengers: Endgame plan to save the world. In this theory StrangerThings‘ Characters, particularly Eleven, travel back in time to undo their mistakes in failing to destroy Vecna and the Upside Down. StrangerThings season 4 revealed that the Upside Down is stuck on November 6, 1983, the date that Eleven opened the gate and Will Byers was abducted by a Demogorgon, making it the perfect day to travel back to for a “full circle” end.
StrangerThings Season 4 already introduced the concept of time travel to be used by the characters (sort of), so Eleven may be able to use Vecna’s time-traveling abilities in order to go back to the fateful day that the Upside Down is stuck in 1983. If so, Eleven may be able to stop herself from touching the Demogorgon in the void and opening a gate between Hawkins and the Upside Down, which would also keep Will Byers from being captured and Vecna from ever reaching the normal world again. This would inevitably create a new timeline for StrangerThings that would undo many of the series’ more beautiful moments, but it also may be the only way to destroy the upside down and save the world.
The Hawkins Characters Will Defeat The Upside Down (With Minimal Deaths)
StrangerThings‘ Season 4 ending featured the deaths of some notable characters like Eddie Munson, but many are expecting a bigger bloodbath for the series finale. In the ultimate fight against the Upside Down, StrangerThings is predicted to kill off a few major characters such as Eleven, Hopper, Steve, Jonathan, Will, and others as they sacrifice themselves to save the world. However, StrangerThings season 4’s bleak finale sets up a happier ending, with death not being necessary to have an impactful conclusion.
Eleven has been building toward a happy and normal life and realizing that she was never a “monster,” so killing her off in StrangerThings‘ ending would undo her progression into someone beyond just a superhero capable of mass destruction. Similarly, a satisfying ending for StrangerThings‘ Series wouldn’t require the deaths of many characters, as they could all still work together to stop Vecna’s Upside Down plan without the mission being widely fatal. As such, a major theory for StrangerThings‘ Season 5 ending suggests Eleven and Hawkins’ characters will finally defeat the Upside Down/Vecna for good, but it won’t require the mass casualties that many are dreading.
Will’s Death Kills Vecna & Closes The Portal To The Upside Down
Just like Eleven, StrangerThings season 1 began with Will’s connection to the Upside Down, and is set to end with it. In the final moments of StrangerThings season 4, Will felt a tingle in his neck while revealing that Vecna wasn’t defeated, and wouldn’t stop until he had taken down everything and everyone. Vecna had already possessed Will back in StrangerThings season 2, with many theories speculating that Will is apt to be used as another host in StrangerThings season 5, especially since Henry Creel’s physical body was presumably destroyed.
If Will sacrifices himself at the end of StrangerThings season 5 while Vecna is inhabiting him, it could destroy the series’ villain for good. Just as several deaths were required to open the gates between the Upside Down and Hawkins, certain deaths may be needed to close the barrier forever. Since Vecna and Will’s connection is teased to be a major plot point in StrangerThings season 5, it’s predicted that the series’ ending will feature a fatal battle between the two in order to finally cease Henry Creel’s powers over him.
Next: Erm, About That Stranger Things Season 5 Time Jump…?!
StrangerThings season 4 is available to watch on Netflix.
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