Dr. Brenner is Alive

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A newspaper clipping quoting Dr. Brenner following the Demogorgon attack at Hawkins Middle School.
Dr. Brenner is Alive is a fan theory that Dr. Martin Brenner, director of Hawkins National Laboratory and secondary antagonist of Season 1 of Stranger Things, survived the Demogorgon attack in the season finale.

Due to the vague nature of his death, fans speculated that the writers had intentions of having Brenner return in future episodes to reprise his role as tormentor of series protagonist Eleven. This would go on to prompt responses from show creators.

Origins

Questions surrounding Brenner’s possible return first arose on a spoiler thread in NeoGAF a few days after the first season aired on Netflix, with user Qvoth stating,

i think dr. brenner isn't dead and will return, he's the actor that revealed season 2 is in the works after all during some interview if i'm not mistaken[1]

Further speculation arose following the release of Season 2, when in the seventh episode a former scientist at Hawkins Lab, when attacked by Eleven and Kali, claimed to know Brenner’s location--prompting a surge of articles and Reddit discussions regarding his ambiguous fate.

The Conspiracy

When Dr. Brenner was attacked by a Demogorgon in the first season of Stranger Things, it made it seem like Dr. Brenner was dead, but many people believed otherwise due to various reasons. Dr. Brenner was never shown to be dead, and it left many people speculating what this could mean. Is he dead? Is he alive? These questions were left so open-ended that numerous people took to writing fanfiction over this topic, creating the theory of “Dr. Brenner is Alive.”[2] Another idea to add to this theory is how Hawkins Lab’s former employees mention how Brenner is alive by making comments on his behalf. Driving this even more in season 2, a fake Dr. Brenner created by Eleven’s “sister” even asked Eleven why she never came to find him. Although Dr. Brenner is the antagonist, people seem to want him alive. They crave to see what would happen.

Reactions From Show Personnel

After hearing the Brenner theory, Matt Duffer (one of the creators of the show) responded with “As an audience member watching the show, if that was his death, that would be very unsatisfying to me -- when the monster jumps on him and we cut away.” He then adds, “He would deserve much more than that as an ending. So yes, there’s a possibility of seeing him again.”[3] In an interview discussing Episode 7 of Season 2, executive producer Shawn Levy mentions, “But that feeling of the world getting a bit bigger especially coupled with the fact that is now seems clear that Brenner is alive, Brenner is out there.”[4] This makes it pretty clear that Brenner is not to be forgotten about because he’s still there.

Criticisms of the Theory

Actor Matthew Modine (Dr. Brenner) is not listed to on IMDB for season three. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4574334/fullcredits) This would imply that either he will not return for the next season and may for a later season, or that he will not return at all. Either way due to this fact, it is unlikely that he will be seen in season three.

We have seen almost no characters be attacked by the Demogorgon and live. Save a few main characters, namely Will, no one has survived the Demogorgon. Especially not an attack while they were alone (or not with Eleven).

He is replaced.As revealed after his death or supposed death, Dr. Brenner is replaced as head of the Hawkins Lab could prove that he truly is dead. If he wasn’t dead, why would they not put him in charge again. While this loss of power could be explained by his failure, it seems unlikely that Dr. Brenner was that easy to replace.


Further Reading

In-depth analysis on Romper

CinemaBlend’s article about the director’s statement

A Reddit thread speculating how Brenner survived the Demogorgon attack and how he’d return in Season 3

FanFics:

References

  1. ^ NeoGAF Post, 2016-07-18.
  2. ^ It's Time to Talk About Dr. Brenner..., at HelloGiggles 2017-10-27.
  3. ^ Matt Duffer's Comments, at Bustle 2017-10-27.
  4. ^ Shawn Levy Interview, at Collider 2017-10-30.
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