One of the ongoing mysteries within Stranger Things is the identity of Eleven’s father. So far, viewers have seen her biological mother, Terry Ives, as well as Dr. Brenner, whom Eleven referred to as “Papa.” However, it’s not clear if Dr. Brenner truly is her father. Interestingly, a Stranger Things tie-in novel, Suspicious Minds, suggested a different person entirely. Who is the missing piece in Eleven’s family tree?
[Spoiler alert: The following story may contain spoilers for Stranger Things Seasons 1-3 and Suspicious Minds.]
Some fans theorize that Dr. Brenner really is Eleven’s biological father
In Seasons 1 and 2, pieces of Eleven’s origin story started coming together. Viewers learned that Eleven’s (played by Millie Bobby Brown) real name was Jane and that Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) experimented on her at Hawkins Laboratory until she developed supernatural powers.
Eleven’s mother, Terry Ives (Aimee Mullins), tried to rescue her daughter from Dr. Brenner’s clutches, but he captured Terry and experimented on her until she became mentally unstable. However, she did develop similar powers to her daughter.
Stranger Things seemed to suggest that Dr. Brenner only branded himself as Eleven’s “Papa.” However, some fans believe that a biological connection between the two may actually exist. As one fan on Reddit pointed out, Stranger Things showed images of Terry and Dr. Brenner together, seemingly indicating that they knew each other before the experiments began.
Dr. Brenner could have been Terry’s love interest and the birth father of her baby. Granted, he may not be the best father, but a father nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the scientist was presumed dead in season 1, so fans never heard him share any more details about the experiments. However, it’s rumored that Dr. Brenner will return in Stranger Things Season 4, so perhaps he will shed light on the identity of Eleven’s birth father.
A ‘Stranger Things’ novel names Eleven’s father as Andrew Rich
Gwenda Bond’s 2019 Stranger Things novel Suspicious Minds acted as a prequel to season 1. Taking place in the summer of 1969, the book revealed that Terry volunteered to participate in the Hawkins Lab experiments while she was in college. At the time, she apparently had a boyfriend named Andrew Rich and became pregnant with his child. However, Andrew was drafted into the Vietnam War and died before he could meet Jane.
The book depicted Terry’s time in Hawkins Lab as she tried to uncover the government’s secrets. As Screen Rant noted, the book did create some plotholes regarding timelines and other elements revealed in Stranger Things, so it may not have been entirely canon. But, at least fans can have a version of the story where Eleven’s father is not shrouded in mystery.
Eleven’s adoptive father Hopper will return in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4
Fans may not yet know who Eleven’s biological father is, but one thing is certain: her adoptive father will return. At the end of season 3, Hopper (David Harbour) sacrificed himself to save Hawkins and was presumed dead. However, a Stranger Things Season 4 teaser, seen above, later revealed that he somehow survived and ended up at a Russian prison.
Harbour has teased a few times that the new season will showcase Hopper’s epic return to Hawkins. In a July 2021 interview with Collider, the actor revealed that fans would see a very different version of Hopper in season 4.
“He’s been, as we’ve seen, he’s in this Russian prison, so we get to reinvent him in a sense,” Harbour said. “He gets to have a rebirth from what he had become, and we’d always sort of planned this almost resurrection of you have Gandalf dies, Gandalf the [White] re-emerge, and I’m really interested in this resurgence of him.”
It’s not clear yet what will be in store for Stranger Things Season 4, but hopefully, fans will receive the answers they’ve been looking for regarding Eleven’s birth parents. Even if the truth of her father is never revealed, it will likely be comforting to know that she’ll have Hopper in her life again.