Inside The Real Government Experiments That Inspired 'Stranger Things'

Is the 'Upside Down' real?

Stranger Things Netflix

Fans have fallen in love with the horror-drama series, Stranger Things thanks to the escapism it provides in its world of monsters and superpowers.

However, fans may be surprised to know that the series is not entirely fictional.

While the show's creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, don't know about a secret Upside-Down that the rest of us haven't heard of, they didn't create the concept for the show entirely from their imagination.


Is Stranger Things based on a true story?

Not completely, but it is based on some real experiments and conspiracies.

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In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Duffer brothers said they wanted "the superficial element to be grounded in science in some way."

So, they took some inspiration partially from real events.

Stranger Things is partially inspired by MKUltra.

MKUltra was created in 1953 with the goal of developing mind-control techniques to use in the Cold War.

What started as a voluntary program eventually led to experimentation on unwilling participants who suffered from mental abuse and sleep deprivation.


Just like Brenner experimented on Eleven's mom with LSD while she was pregnant, people in MKUltra were experimented on using psychedelic drugs.

The experiments went on for 12 years and shut down in 1965.

Similar mind control experiments are seen being conducted on the kids at The Hawkins Lab throughout the series.   

Stranger Things also seems to reference the Montauk Project conspiracy theory.

One of the reasons the thriller show has captured so many people’s hearts is the nostalgia it gives out from its 80s setting.


But this setting is no coincidence.

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The Montauk Project is a theory that, in the 80s, alleges the US government conducted a project with the goal of developing psychological warfare and time-travel techniques.

The working title for the Netflix series was "Montauk" at one point.

The conspiracy originated from the book, ‘The Montauk Project: Experiments In Time’ by Preston B. Nichols who, along with another man named Alfred Bielek, claim to have repressed memories of the project.

The story states that two brothers, Alfred and Duncan Bielek conducted experiments and managed to open a gateway into hyperspace. 


The brothers were then able to travel through time to the year 1943 and release a monster called the ‘Beast’ into our world.

Only by destroying all of the equipment could the brothers save the world.

In Nichols' book he claims that Duncan even had the ability to materialize objects out of thin air — not unlike Eleven in Stranger Things who can move objects with her mind.

Of course, this theory is not grounded in fact and nor is the Netflix show.

Eddie Munson is based on a real person, Damien Echols.

Munson's character seems to reference Echols, one of the "West Memphis Three," three Arkansas teenagers who were convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys in 1993.


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However, after 16 years, new evidence determined that another suspect might have been present at the crime scene and Echols was released from prison.


Like in Stranger Things, satanic panic played a large role in law enforcement turning against Echols and his friends.

In Stranger Things, Munson is accused of killing his high school classmate, Chrissy, after she dies at the hands of the fictitious monster, ‘Vecna.’

As fans eagerly wait for the next part of season 4, it will definitely create more buzz after knowing that some of it is based on a true story.

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Sanika Nalgirkar is a news & entertainment writer at YourTango based in Seattle, Washington. She has a master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. You can check out some of her writing on her website.