‘Stranger Things’: Why Dr. Brenner Could Be Eleven’s Biological Father

Netflix finally announced a release date for Stranger Things Season 4, and fans have never been more excited. With a three-year break after season 3, viewers are more than ready to jump back into the story of Hawkins, Indiana, and the Upside Down. One mystery that’s plagued the series since its beginning revolves around the identity of Eleven’s biological father. While we have no confirmation from the show’s creators, we think it might be none other than Dr. Brenner. Here’s why.

'Stranger Things' Dr. Brenner and Eleven sitting at a table while Eleven wears electrodes on her head.
Dr. Brenner and Eleven | Netflix

Dr. Brenner and Terry Ives’s relationship in ‘Stranger Things’ is unclear

When we first meet Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in Stranger Things Season 1, Mike (Finn Wolfhard,) Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo,) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) stumble upon her in the middle of the woods as they search for their best friend, Will (Noah Schnapp.) Eleven spent her entire life up until that point in the lab run by Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine).

As the mystery surrounding Will’s disappearance deepens, Jim (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder) search for clues about Will’s location. A local newspaper clipping about strange experiments performed by the government leads them to a woman named Terry Ives. They learn more about Eleven and her connection to the Upside Down. Terry’s in a comatose state, but her sister Becky offers up a little information.

Becky tells Hopper and Joyce that Terry joined a study in college known as MKUltra just as it was supposedly ramping down. Becky also mentions that Terry discovered she was pregnant but miscarried her baby in the third trimester. We know it’s not true as an audience because we see Terry deliver the baby. Plus, a doctor pulls his face mask down to reveal he’s Dr. Brenner.

If Terry joined the study before she became pregnant, it doesn’t seem likely Dr. Brenner would allow her to go out on dates while she was a part of this group. We also see a photo of Terry and Dr. Brenner walking outside together in a photo Eleven finds, implying the two had at least some sort of relationship.

RELATED: ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4: Which Couples We Think Are Endgame in the Series

Eleven refers to Dr. Brenner as ‘Papa’

Out of all of the evidence that Dr. Brenner fathered Eleven, this might be the most flimsy. Eleven only refers to Dr. Brenner as “Papa,” which hints that their relationship is closer than his average patient. However, Eleven seems to be the only one who uses that name for him.

Dr. Brenner is obsessed with getting Eleven back in ‘Stranger Things’

Out of all his patients, Brenner focuses on Eleven the most. Sure, the series implies Eleven’s powers are the strongest of any of Brenner’s patients, but we think there’s more to it. In Stranger Things Season 2, audiences learn that more than one child escaped Hawkins National Laboratory. 

Kali’s (number 008) power allows her to manipulate what those around her see. In the opening of Stranger Things Season 2, Kali makes it look like a bridge collapses and allows her and her friends to escape. It’s not the same as Eleven’s telekinetic ability, but it’s certainly impressive. Why isn’t Dr. Brenner trying to capture Kali again? His hunt for Eleven seems much more driven, and we think there’s more to it than just his desire to harness her powers.

As for now, fans have to wait to discover the origin of Eleven’s biological father, if it’s ever even revealed at all. Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 heads to Netflix on May 27, 2022.

RELATED: ‘Stranger Things’: Why a Time Jump Would Be Perfect for Season 5