‘Stranger Things’: Why Did Eleven Lose Her Powers in Season 3?

It’s been over two years since the showdown between the kids of Hawkins, Indiana, and the Mind Flayer at the Starcourt Mall in Netflix’s Stranger Things 3. But that hasn’t stopped fans from wondering what caused Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, to lose her powers in the season finale. Has our favorite telekinetic kid been zapped of her powers for good, or is there a chance for her to regain them?

Millie Bobby Brown at the 'Stranger Things 3' premiere wearing a blue dress with flowers in front of the 'Stranger Things 3' promo poster.
Millie Bobby Brown at a ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 event in November 2019. | Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

Eleven and the root of her telekinesis

The audience never receives a full explanation as to how Eleven possesses the power of telekinesis. According to the Stranger Things Wiki, it seems as though Eleven was born with her powers. However, other audience members believe experiments performed on her by a secret government agency are a connection. 

In flashbacks throughout season 1, we see Eleven testing her abilities in various ways. From crushing a coke can to refusing to kill a small cat, she is asked to complete these tasks with her mind. While she performs these tasks, the person always by her side is Dr. Brenner, a character portrayed by Matthew Modine. However, the audience is never sure if she was born with these talents. They could be a result of Brenner’s experiments.

After Eleven escapes the lab, she begins to successfully harness her powers to kill the Demogorgon in season 1. She also closes the gate to the Upside Down in season 2.

What caused Eleven to lose her powers?

Numerous fan theories always surround Stranger Things, and season 3 is no different. Before the battle at Starcourt, the kids are busy fighting off the Mind Flayer at Chief Jim Hopper’s (David Harbour) house in the woods. 

At one point, Eleven is snatched up by the monster and subsequently bitten on the leg. After Eleven is pulled away, Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) yanks the remaining bit of Mind Flayer flesh from her leg. Unfortunately, a wound remains. During the battle at Starcourt, Eleven pulls a piece of the Mind Flayer out of her leg. Afterward, her powers take a hit. 

Many fans believe the Mind Flayer somehow absorbed Eleven’s powers while it was inside her body, and with it out, her powers have disappeared. According to Express, “One theory goes that by entering her body, the Mind Flayer absorbed her powers. As such, when the force behind the Mind Flayer was trapped in the Upside Down following the second closing of The Gate, her powers were trapped with it.”  

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She struggles to destroy the monster, and it’s only with the help of Billy Hargrove that they defeat it. One Reddit user even believes biokinesis is behind El losing her powers. In the last few minutes of the finale, we see her three months after the incident. She still hasn’t regained her abilities.

Others don’t believe it’s nearly that simple. So far in the series, Eleven’s powers have only gotten stronger over time. How could she successfully close the gate to the entire Upside Down while fighting off countless Demodogs with no issues? That seems like a much more challenging task than killing a single entity like the Mind Flayer.

Was Eleven losing her powers a convenient plot point for ‘Stranger Things 4’?

With Jim Hopper sacrificing himself to save Joyce (Winona Ryder) and the kids, a significant portion of the Stranger Things fan base thinks Eleven losing her powers might be a little too convenient for the storyline. While the town of Hawkins might believe Chief Hopper died in the melee, the audience never saw his body to confirm his death.

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With that little bit of information, many fans concluded without her powers, she couldn’t use her abilities to search and see if her adopted dad was still alive somewhere. Eleven used this skill throughout season 3 by locating Billy and others infected by the Mind Flayer through their minds. At the end of the season finale, Eleven’s lack of powers meant she couldn’t search for Hopper in her mind.

What does ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 hold?

With a two-year gap between seasons due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, fans are clamoring to find out what’s in store for our favorite folks of Hawkins. No definitive release date has dropped yet. However, the Duffer Brothers promise that we’ll reunite with the cast of Stranger Things in 2022. Hopefully, Eleven has had a chance to recharge some of that battery. Without her telekinetic powers, the odds of her and her friends defeating yet another monster are pretty slim.