Stranger Things : Upside Down Explained ( In Detail )

Stranger Things Season 4 has been such the most revealing season of Stranger Things so far. So much of setups since the very first season, have been paid off or concluded or at least revealed to a greater extent. 

Definitely this season, then also raised so many more questions to look forward to, but that’s credit to great writing behind the show. 

Pretty much the primary role that plays in the plot as well as the location of the show’s narrative is this alternate dimension called Upside down. 

What the show has done a great job so far is not revealing much about upside down, giving us little bit to work with, allowing fans to come up with crazy fan theories too, but thankfully, they revealed the origin of upside down in this season. 

We get to know a lot about what happened in those years to Eleven, and her connection to Upside down, introducing this new villain and his connection to upside down. 

Another great thing about the show was connecting the show back to the first season so gracefully and tying up lose ends as well. 

Fans are looking forward to knowing more about the upside down than ever. Even though a lot revealed, sometime we fail to see the full picture, and then there are indeed a lot the writers are holding back for the next season. 

So before that happens, lets do a full recap of what we know about Upside Down, see its timeline and all the important question regarding it that are revealed in this season. 

What Is The Upside Down?

Image Source: Vulture

The upside down is this alternate dimension which plays a key role in the plot of Stranger Things till the very season four ends. 

Even though It is nothing like our earth with no inhabitants, system or human life, it does have similar structures, places, landmarks, buildings, and even things. 

It is like a post-apocalyptic world, it goes really great with the fan theory that upside down is the future of Hawkins. We will get to these fan theories as well. 

Even though there is no human life upside down, it still seems they can survive in the environment as we know Will has been stuck in the first season for quite a long. 

As long as it has been seen, all the physics rules are similar or same to this mirror world, at least to a degree, because it does have a distinctive effects from the real world. 

Like the light becomes this sparkly light particles.And sun doesn’t seem to work there as it is always dark there. Then, there is no presence of plants and life forms except those terrifying creatures. 

Also, we have Vecna just casually hanging out in his house controlling the Mind Flayer entity. If you haven’t watched the show, hope you took that spoilers warning seriously! (By now at least) 

Upside down also seems to be this decaying and broken world, where everything is stale and falling apart. So, we see the ash particles in the air floating around 

Upside Down :  Complete Timeline 

Image Source: Polygon

The first time we get to see the Upside down was in the pilot season, and marks the timeline to be  November 1983 when Eleven was forced by her ‘Papa’ i.e Dr Martin Brenner to use her psychic abilities without holding back. 

Also, a testament to Eleven’s potential of her superpowers. She seemed only subject in Hawkins Lab even though we could the number ‘eleven’, so there has to be more, at least 10 other child just like her, as part of the experiment. 

It started when Eleven was spying on a Russian Target given by Brenner, she felt this another presence, a new entity or being in mindscape which was later named Demogorgon from Upside down. 

Eleven created this psychic contact with this creature and in this panic and fear situation, she accidentally rips open a hole or cut in fabric of reality, creating a doorway to this seemingly mirror yet quite different alternate dimension. 

So, this means, there is this gate to other world in the Hawkins Lab from where Demogorgon can come through to this world, to Hawkins.  

But Eleven escapes the lab almost before that when this Demogorgon destroys everything in the lab, killing people and escape to outer world. 

Now, this deadly creature is out in the world, started attacking people of the small town and the first victim as we know was our own Will Buyers, after which he went missing setting up the whole mystery in the season 1. 

Not explained this yet, but Will get teleported to the Upside down when Demogorgon attacked him. He tries his best to keep hidden away from these creatures, in the cold and wastelands of Hawkins. 

This means, whatever building, structures or places exist in Hawkins or real world, is also mirrored to upside down. 

Later he hide in his house in upside down whereas his mother Joyce, in Hawkins where she started noticing his presence across the dimension. 

Will tried to communicate with Joyce through the lights after he also tried to contact with her through telephone.  

This means, the other dimension forms the connection between these two worlds and that’s were Will used electricity to communicate. 

Joyce went one step further and used alphabets in front of lights and Will lit those lights in order to communicate words to her. 

Then, we also see Hopper approached by Joyce to save her son from Upside down, and go through the gate. 

Image source: Oodon

Meanwhile, Will’s friends Lucas, Mike and Dustin found Eleven. She seem not speaking but she shared in broken worlds that Will is alive in this upside down. 

Will uses her psychic connection with Upside down to channel a bridge between Will and her finding his voice through the walkie-talkie. 

Other than that, Will’s friends Jonathan get together with Nancy and his boyfriend Steve Harrington tracking down and killing a demogorgon whom they spotted in the photos taken by Jonathan where Barbara was taken one by one. 

They also found out these creatures from Upside down has a weakness, ie. Fire, and hence they can be killed by fire too.

What more we learn about these Demogorgons that they open up these small portals and take people to upside down, and that’s the way they hunt, also that’s how Will went to upside down in first season. 

Then they put their victim on this incubation with a vine that get implanted to them with slugs converting into hosts for the reproduction cycle of Demogorgons. 

And this process, the host is alive or can be kept alive, however we see Barb not surviving this process as they died way before. 

In the end of the first season, when Will comes back to Hawkins, to his family he burps a slug in the sink which basically shows that the reproduction cycle was completed, hence making Will a host. 

Demogorgon at that time was banished back to the Upside down by Eleven using her powers. This creates a temporary gate between these two worlds, looks entirely different from the normal big gate we see in the Hawkins lab. 

This one comes from Eleven disintegrating the Demogorgon where his chest start erupting this bright light before broken down to light leaving a temporary gate at the spot. 

So, this is more like a window that opens to Upside down but doesn’t have the same attributes as the gate we saw in Hawkins lab. 

The Mind Flayer 

Image Source: ED

After a peaceful year in Hawkins, in October 1984, shown in season 2 Joyce struggles from the mental trauma and PTSD Will is gone through as his last encounter in Upside down. 

He was regularly taken to Hawkins Lab which run by this new doctor Samuel Owens trying to understand the effects of upside down, and help Will get better. 

Will suffers from waking nightmares which feels quite real to him so much that he feels being in upside down. 

He also witness this giant creature made of tornadoes shaped like spider looming over the red lit sky, introducing the new big bad from Upside down- the Mind Flayer. 

The goal of the Mind Flayer is to take over the world by infiltrating through portals, his demo dogs and hosts. He wants to merge these two worlds which definitely will be apocalyptic for the earth. 

In on of these visions, Mind Flayer attacked Will where he swallows a part of him giving control over Will’s mind and body to certain level. 

So, we see Mind Flayer taking over and Will losing himself. 

Meanwhile Dustin found one of the slugs that Will has vomited which has grown to a size of pollywog, and he kept it not knowing that he will evolve to Demodog. 

Then, we also found out there whole lot of demo dogs secretly raising up in the Hawkins for becoming the foot soldiers for the Mind Flayer. 

What we know more about Mind Flayer is that he uses hive mind connection to control these demo dogs and same to Will or say any other hosts as well. 

So, basically what Will knows or demodogs see, the mind Flayer supposedly see or can see that too and sort of vice versa as well. 

However, this connection only work when there is a gate still opened linking these two worlds where we also know that the first gate that Eleven opened in season 1 was not destroyed by Owens merely mitigated using flamethrowers. 

Without anyone’s knowledge, this gate secretly grows beneath the earth forming these tunnels sprawled across the whole Hawkins opening a pathway for demo dogs to go through. 

Hopper found these tunnels eventually where he also spotted those vines that create hive mind or connected as hive mind to the Mind Flayer. 

This they discovered when they tried to torch these vines, Will experiences extreme pain as he is also connected to Mind Flayer as well as these vines through hive mind. 

Towards the end, Eleven uses her powers to close this gate, hence breaking the connection between mind flayer and Hawkins or this world, also resulting in dying of all demo dogs. 

Mind Flayer was exposed to extreme heat to bring it out from Will and it does escape out in the world and apparently flies to an abandoned Brimborn Steel working remaining dormant there for a long while until what we see as his next plan in third season. 

In third season, that is July 1985, what remained dormant of the Mind Flayer that got out from Will was trying to come up with another plan. 

He suddenly get revived on his plans after eight months when another gate was opened by Russians under the Starcourt mall. 

Russians basically infiltrates Hawkins, uses Starcourt mall as cover to create this massive unground hidden facility to open up another gate to Upside down, so they can harness out of the world power and technology from it. 

Apparently, they uses this giant machine what they called “key” to punch a dimensional hole in the fabric of reality recreating the gate. 

As per the Russian scientist Alexie, they preferred to do this in Hawkins because the fabric of reality is weak or more susceptible as another gate is already opened there. 

Surely, Russians have no idea about the Mind Flayer but they enabled him actually. 

Mind Flayer was waiting for this very moment when the door get opened and he uses the power from Upside down to infect new hosts and create his army to take over the world, starting from Hawkins. 

He also posses the powers of bio-psychosis where he can contort a living creature and use its flesh to create a whole new entity to control through necrotic tissues. 

And he did that earlier with rats, and then infecting people and controlling them through Billy and making them into this new flesh proxy body except Bily forming a the similar spider monster Will saw in his visions. 

Towards the end, when this spider monster fought with Eleven, he was managed to wound her and infect her with a slug, however it was taken out but still somehow caused her to lose her psychic abilities. 

Meanwhile, Joyce and hopper destroyed the key and closed the gate causing this spider monster die same as Demo-dogs died in the first season due to severed connection. 

However, it was not before he killed Billy as he came forward to protect Eleven and others. Even though the Mind Flayer failed to take over or something, and seemingly fail, he actually did claim a  great victory in disabling human’s biggest defense, Eleven by removing her powers from her. 


Image Source: GR

In season, that is spring of 1986, another new threat loomed over Hawkins where Eleven, even though she lost her powers was looked upon to save the world. 

And for that, he was convinced by Owens to again go through labortory experiment to regain her powers and save Hawkins and her friends. 

This was really good circling back to the first season and tying up the whole papa-eleven dynamics, and also her time at the lab which was not much talked about earlier seasons. 

Fourth season in a way, exposed the most about the Upside down than any other seasons clarifying most of the questions that were kept shush since the first season. 

The new threat this time, is this another creature, a villain from Upside down but smarter and more humane and with more intellect, named Vecna. 

Everything starts when young people in Hawkins seemingly die horribly with their eyes gouged in, broken and twisted bones of hands and legs. 

Apparently Vecna targets the young adults or teens with traumatic past and haunts them, show them living nightmare or visions after which they was killed brutally lifted in the air, twisted, broken bones and eyes gouged outside from their skulls. 

After killing three victims, Max also became the fourth one who also suffers from a depressive phase of her life living in grief over death of her brother who died in season 3. 

However, using the music, she was saved by her friends but she still was marked for Vecna. 

Team Dustin figured out that with each Vecna’s killing, a gate is created at the spot connecting upside down to earth. 

Also, the big reveal of the show was Vecna found to be the number one, the first child of the Brenner’s program who had originally the psychic abilities, using which other kids were experimented on. 

Brenner then kept his abilities at bay by installing some sort of tech under his neck skin which when removed by Eleven, made him powerful again. 

Eleven denies his offer to join him and in their fight, little Eleven banish him to this alternate dimension the same way she did to the demogoron in the first season. 

And sending One to this alternative dimension which found out to be Upside down is what made him Vecna where he used this dimension to concept his evil plans for the take over and revenge against Eleven. 

He was the one to discover this storm swirling like entity which he psychically controlled and made into look like a spider, which we later know as the Mind Flayer. 

So apparently, all this time, the demogorgons and the mind flayer, was all Vecna aka number one behind pulling the strings, trying to merge these two worlds by creating portals. 

Vecna kills people to create these portals but he can do that without killing them but he choses to do so, because he is end of the day, the classic sadistic, maniac and predator-y in his nature. 

It clearly demonstrated by his past when he killed his own mother and sister in cold blood. 

How Portals or Gates Are Created? 

Image Source: THR

Apparently, it seem that to create portals, the ways is to access huge amount of energy. We saw Eleven opening up gate for the first time with extreme negative, ‘said but angry’ emotion and same she did with the first demogorgon in the first season. 

Demogorons, we know that they can create their own portals for hunting and brining their hunts to devour on by brining them into the upside down. 

Russians used the key to bring huge amount of energy to do so. Vecna, uses his kills where he get connected to his victim in the process. He uses his victim’s ‘terror’ feeling created in their final moments , which seemingly is such strong energy to tear open a gate. 

Did Eleven Create The Upside Down? 

Image Source: Distractify

So if you noticed the timeline as per the last season 4 part 2 revealed, the first known contact between Upside down and our world was in 1979 during the very first fight between Eleven and the one or Vecna. 

During this fight, Eleven, even though she was younger, sometime around when we saw her in the first season, was still able to overpower Vecna using her psychic abilities. 

She did almost died in this fight as Vecna aka One pulls off his signature killing move of lifting, breaking bones and scourging eyes into the skull, but Eleven got out the trans and gained control just in time. 

Then, she was able to completely disintegrate One where we see this light coming out of his chest, again we have previously seen this her doing to a Demogorgon in the first season. 

And that unintentionally opened the gate to this alternate dimension Upside down behind through the walls in which One fells, getting burnt and go through changes eventually becoming Vecna. 

But what this scene does is created this debate that whether Eleven created a whole alternate dimension, the Upside down or merely just opened a gate to it. 

Well, if you ask El actor Millie Bobby Brown, she said according to her, Eleven didn’t create the Upside Down, it was always there, she just created a gate to which one can go through, something no one earlier was able to do. 

According to the science teacher in Stranger Things, there are ‘infinite variations’ of the world we lie in, hence there even can be multiple Upside down as well, or other dimensions like Upside down which is yet to go through. 

Why Is The Upside Down Was Stuck In Year 1983? 

Image Source: Bustle

When Steve, Nancy, Robin and Eddie go through the ‘Watergate’ to Upside down, Nancy found out that the upside down was frozen in time on the date Nov 6, 1983, the same date when Will dissipated and more important when Eleven opened the ‘mother gate’. 

This definitely cannot be just a coincidence, so what does this mean, and why they even show that, if there is nothing to bring back into the plot. 

Chris Trujillo, the production designer of the show said something really insightful on this and explained, quoting “The moment that the Upside Down was quote-unquote “created” inadvertently by Eleven, the set dressing and the world of the Upside Down is frozen in that moment. So like when we’re in Nancy’s room, we’ll discover in the Upside Down that Nancy’s room is as it was season 1 when we first were introduced to it.”

Still, why part of this mystery is still to be discovered. Another explanation can be that when Vecna got into Upside down, he changed it to match Hawkins as it comes in contact with the real Hawkins. 

There is also another explanation that since for long years, the upside down has been a barren wasteland like we saw when Vecna first entered in there but when mother gate opened, the 1983 version of Hawkins get replicated to this alternate dimension. 

Well, there is no very apt theory on this for sure. May be these one could be near the right explanation. Whatever it is, we are going to get more about this in the season five of the show, for sure. 

Which Monsters Live In Upside Down? 

Image Source: Indiwire

It is not doubt that the overall surrounding of upside down is not a friendly place, even if you remove the whole monster part. 

You see this wasteland with decaying remains of flora and fauna in the form of toxic vines and spores. 

Then, also there are all sorts of monsters and weird creatures that seems to be controlled by Vecna under one hive mind. 

We clearly know the demogorgons from the upside down, hunt on people, creating temporary portals to bring their victims into the upside down, and incubating them to start the reproduction cycle. 

In the season two, we get introduced to this mist-formed six-legged creature that can control minds, create hosts and do a lot of damage we saw unto third season. 

Demodogs are basically more smaller or younger versions of demogorgons and then those vicious demobats that actually killed Eddie. 

Then, of course, the one who controls everyone through the hive mind, the mastermind, monstrous evolution from Henry Creel, to one, to finally a human-shaped monster, Vecna who feeds and preys on people’s trauma and grief before killing them brutally. 

Is Vecna Actually The Mind Flayer? 

Image Source: TB

Actually it is completely other way around! 

Till the end of the season 4 part I, Dustin’s theory was this guess that Vecna is basically the ‘five-star general’ to the Mind Flayer. 

But as with the end in the season 4 part 2, we know it totally opposite and Vecna turned out to be the main bad guy who has been always behind all the upside-down related stuff happened in Haawkins. 

When Vecna entered first in Upside down, he explored this wastelands and came across this living entity in form of dark cloud, mist and storm, which was basically the the basic form of Mind Flayer. 

Vecna who has the power to absorb people’s subconscious  and feed on their power, coming across this entity made him a perfect tool to pull the revenge on the world, and obviously on Eleven. 

Vecna reshaped this entity to this giant spider form which we know the mind flayer now,  drawing power from and himself transcend from his human form. 

This also clarifies why there was a strong connection between upside down, their creatures and Eleven. 

After many years, when Eleven opened the mother gate, Vecna finally get the chance to do which he wanted to, getting a foothold in this world. 

Then he used every monster through his hive mind out in Hawkins to do his bidding where he himself stayed in the Upside down building up his power even more. 

Featured Image Source: Twitter
Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment

Translate »