Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
7 Stranger Things 4 Plot Holes That Will Keep You Up At Night

Joyce is really out here surviving plane crashes.

by Ani Bundel
Originally Published: 

Maintaining long-term continuity in episodic series is never easy. Unless the writers come in with a fully outlined multi-season concept and the whole project is greenlit at once (looking at you, The Crown), there are bound to be errors. Something will go sideways, whether it’s an errant coffee cup in Game of Thrones or a giant gaping noticeable change to the cast (like Becky being recast in Roseanne). These plot holes in Stranger Things 4, Volume 1 are a reminder that no matter how hard the Duffer Brothers work, there will be inconsistencies for the fandom to nitpick.

Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1 follow. Some mistakes or inconsistencies are deliberate. Mad Men famously used a typewriter model from 1965, despite the show being set in 1960 —not because the props people didn’t do their homework, but because the period-accurate model would have been too loud for the soundstage. Stranger Things also has those moments throughout its seasons. For example, in Season 2, the kids refer to their Ghostbusters backpacks as “proton packs.” It’s what fans have been calling them since they were first dubbed as such... in the 1989 sequel movie. Calling them positron colliders, which they’re referred to in the original movie, would have confused viewers, even though it would have been more accurate.

But actual plot holes, especially ones that fail to honor the show’s original world build, are a bit more problematic. Game of Thrones, for instance, introduced a continent where it took weeks to go from one city to the next in Season 1. By Season 8, however, characters moved the same distance in minutes. It detracts from the work the show did previously when that happens.

So, what kind of plot holes are in Stranger Things 4? Here’s a rundown of the most confusing ones.


Eleven’s Language Abilities


When Eleven is first introduced in Season 1, she has almost zero language skills. She barely forms sentences, and she doesn’t know basic cultural etiquette. In the Season 4 premiere, the sheer amount of words she says in the opening sequence helps emphasize how much she’s changed and grown since leaving Hawkins.

But Season 4 turns back the clock, taking Eleven into her memories to uncover the secrets she’s buried due to trauma. But somehow, the show forgets she’s not really verbal at that point. The series gives the orderly the bulk of the dialogue, but Eleven responds in complete sentences — something she shouldn’t have been able to do at that point in her life. Moreover, the rest of the test subjects, especially Two, also talk in whole sentences when addressed. It’s disconcerting, and it undermines her character’s development over the seasons.


The Cops’ Inability To Find Eddie


One of Stranger Things’ main points has always been that kids are often more intelligent, observant, and capable than the adults around them. There’s an entire Upside Down unleashed in Hawkins, and Mike and Nancy’s parents don’t even notice their kids are saving the world under their noses.

But the incompetence in Season 4 takes it too far. An unobservant mom who doesn’t notice when Dustin’s pet demo-dog ate the cat is one thing. Cops being unable to locate a murder suspect in a town the size of a postage stamp is quite another. Robin can track Eddie using the video rental list from the store computer, but the police can’t find him? Please.


The Upside Down Being Frozen In Time


Some plot holes form because writers hit upon a fun idea that doesn’t work if they’d thought about it for a second. Take, for example, the reveal that the Upside Down is frozen in time from when Will Byers entered it in the Season 1 premiere, Nov. 6, 1983. That’s the last date in Nancy’s diary when she finds the Upside Down version of her room, despite Season 4 occurring in March/April 1986 in the real world.

It’s a neat idea, and it’s valuable to the plot. Nancy and company head to her room to retrieve the guns she stashed in her room after the events of Season 2, in October 1984. But since the Upside Down froze Nancy’s room in 1983, the firearms have been removed from the equation.

But if the Upside Down’s imprint of Hawkins is stuck on Nov. 6, how do characters interact with things added after that date? Season 1’s big emotional scene happens when Joyce puts a Christmas light alphabet on the wall to communicate with Will. How does he know where the letters are if he can’t see them? At least with the Lite Brite, Dustin yelled to Nancy through the gloom, so she had an idea of where it was. However, the Season 1 Christmas light interaction no longer adds up.


The Russians’ Demogorgon


The Upside Down rift is in Hawkins. It’s so tied to Hawkins as a location that the Russians have to infiltrate the local mall to access it. Having a second opening in the USSR makes no sense. Everything about Hopper finding himself in the USSR makes no sense. But what makes even less sense: How the Russians got a Demogorgon and how they have it trapped in prison along with Hopper. No explanation exists that doesn’t undermine the premise that Hawkins is the center of Upside Down activity.


Vecna’s Attack On Patrick


Lucas desperately trying to balance his time between being a cool kid jock on the basketball team and a nerd with his old friends without pissing either group off is a high school tale as old as time. Turning the jacks into a mob ready to beat down Eddie is a nice twist that ups the stakes. Moreover, having Vecna take out one of the jocks in front of lead jock Jason, showing Eddie to be innocent, and having Jason ignore that detail, makes for plenty of drama.

But there’s one small problem: Patrick, the jock who Vecna offs, doesn’t fit the profile of the previous victims. He’s not seeing Ms. Kelly, for one thing. It’s hinted his father abused him, but his backstory isn’t fleshed out, and the series doesn’t seem particularly interested in it. He’s just convenient to move the story along.


Joyce’s Ability To Survive Plane Crashes


They say characters who are essential for a series wear plot armor, and Joyce’s plane crash is proof. The whole “Joyce and Murray go to Alaska and commandeer a plane from their captor midair” is already stretching credulousness. But the lack of any sort of injury from crashing a plane? Come on.


Eleven’s Timeline


Perhaps the most challenging plot hole to contend with is Eleven’s timeline. That’s because Season 1 established Eleven as an escapee from a lab after accidentally opening the Upside Down. The big twist with Number One upends that assumption. It also throws everything fans know about Eleven’s timeline out the window, the most significant being that she opened the Upside Down on Nov. 6, 1983 (the date of the Hawkins imprint in it).

Season 1 suggests Eleven accidentally happened into the Demogorgon and the Upside Down while trying to reach through time and space to spy on USSR. Season 4 reveals it happened much earlier (Eleven looks to be about nine or so in the flashbacks) and that the Upside Down rift opened when she threw One into a wall, smashing the fabric between universes.

That the Upside Down has been open a couple of years by the time 1983 rolls around actually makes sense, considering the state of Hawkins Lab. But it no longer lines up with the series’ original premise or Season 4’s claim that the Upside Down froze Hawkins in November 1983.

With two feature-length episodes in Volume 2, fans hope the second half of Season 4 explains how Eleven went from being a bullied child with no powers to letting One loose to escaping the lab herself. But as things currently stand, there’s a massive gap in getting from A to B.

Stranger Things Seasons 1 through 3 and Season 4, Volume 1 are streaming on Netflix. Volume 2 premieres on July 1, 2022.

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