The Real Life Experiments That Inspired ‘Stranger Things’

'Stranger Things' Inspiration: Its creators have revealed the hit Netflix show is based on real-life experiments.
Credit: Alamy & Netflix via YouTube

Stranger Things creators have revealed the hit Netflix show is based on real-life experiments.

Matt and Ross Duffer spoke to Rolling Stone magazine back in 2016 about wanting to create a supernatural programme that would be ‘grounded in science’. 

They said they drew inspiration from Project MKUltra, a mind control programme the CIA instigated from the fifties to the seventies that Americans believed, if successful, would help them defeat the Russians.

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The brothers even made a reference to this government scheme in Season One by revealing that Eleven’s mother was a subject for these experiments while she was pregnant with her, which explains why she has powers.

In the interview, they said: “As ridiculous as it is, the monster [in the alternate dimension] doesn’t come from a spiritual domain and it’s not connected to any religion. It made it scarier. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe in aliens and alternate dimensions.”

Initially, people could volunteer for Project MKUltra, however, as time passed subjects were abducted without consent and would be abused physically and mentally.

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The programme got shut down in 1973 but the public only found out about it in 1975 after documents got leaked.

Stranger Things’ original working title was called Montauk, which is a reference to a conspiracy theory that had a similar premise to Project MKUltra. However, this supposed government programme is yet to be officially proven. 

The Duffer Brothers recently announced a number of upcoming projects they are working on, including a Stranger Things spin-off and a stage show, which will reportedly be an adaptation of the Stephen King novel ‘The Tailsman’. They are also set to start writing the fifth series for the record-breaking Netflix show.

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.