Stranger Things has captured the imaginations of millions of fans, but few of them know that the Netflix hit is actually based on a real-life government conspiracy theory. Although the Duffer brothers, who created the show, won’t confirm this theory, they also won’t deny it. Given that the original title for Stranger Things included the name of the project at the center of the conspiracy theory, chances are high that this isn’t just a fan-contrived association.
There are so many things to talk about when it comes to Stranger Things. The story itself and the characters make it a great show, but add all of the references to classic ’80s movies and stories and you have a truly fascinating show. But there is one more thing about Stranger Things that you may not be aware of and that will make you even more hooked. It’s based on a real-life government conspiracy theory about experiments on humans that took place in the early ’80s. Now before you roll your eyes and click off this page, let me tell you this. The experiments at the center of the conspiracy theory were called The Montauk Project, and the original name of Stranger Things was Montauk. But wait, there’s more. So much more.
Back in April of 2015, Entertainment Weekly and others reported that Netflix would be releasing a series in 2016 that would be titled Montauk. The report from EW described the series like this.
“The show will take place in 1980 Montauk — Long Island’s most eastern point, known for its wineries and beach homes — and chronicle the search for a young boy who has mysteriously gone missing. The case involves ‘top secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one very strange little girl.'”
The title was eventually changed to Stranger Things, much to the chagrin of creators and brothers Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer. So what was the Montauk Project? There are many websites with information on what supposedly went on in this experiment. One, Crystal Links, includes this statement.
“Mind control experiments were conducted and runaway and kidnapped boys were abducted and brought out to the base where they underwent excruciating periods of both physical and mental torture in order to break their minds, then their minds were re-programmed. Many were supposedly killed during the process and buried on the site. Others were released with programming as mind-slaves with alternate personalities to be sleeper cells who could be activated to perform missions.”
Sound familiar? Does Stranger Things include mind control experiments? Yes. Eleven has flashbacks that are clearly efforts at mind control. Runaway and kidnapped boys? Yes. Stranger Things hasn’t yet revealed how Eleven became involved in the activities taking place at the Hawkins Laboratory, but it’s pretty clear that Will was kidnapped so he could serve as a participant in the experiments.
Stranger Things includes so many scenes of Eleven being submitted to torture by “the bad people.” It’s what she is trying to flee and the reason she knew it was crucial for Will to be saved.
Then there’s the scene in Season 1 of Stranger Things where she kills a monster just before seeming to die herself. There’s a story that goes with the Montauk Project theory that one of the subjects was able to conjure up a small monster with his mind. He and the others who were part of the experiments were being trained to use their minds for telekinesis, a talent that Eleven has also exhibited multiple times on Stranger Things.
It’s hard to deny the similarities between Stranger Things and the Montauk Project. What we don’t know, though, is how far the Duffer brothers will take it. Some of the participants in the Montauk Project were killed. Some were released into the population and are part of another group that’s the center of conspiracy theories — the Illuminati. Will Eleven or Will follow either of these paths? Maybe we’ll see in Season 2 of Stranger Things.
If you want to take a little deeper dive into the Stranger Things/Montauk Project theory, check out the video below.
[Featured image by FX]