How did Eleven lose her powers on Stranger Things?

Stranger Things season 4 is just around the corner! Season 4 of Netflix’ paranormal horror ’80s extravaganza is set to be its most ambitious yet, with episode run times well over an hour and our cast of characters spread across the globe.

One particular mystery that was left hanging from season 3 is how Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) lost her powers. This is sure to be a major plot point in Stranger Things 4, with new villain Vecna terrorizing Hawkins and Eleven’s friends more in need of her powers than ever. It’s been almost three years since we last got new episodes of Stranger Things, so if you’re in need of a refresher for how El lost her powers, we’ve got you covered.

Stranger Things season 3. Image: Netflix

How did Eleven lose her powers in Stranger Things season 3?

While Eleven’s powers only grew stronger throughout seasons 2 and 3, by the time the dust had settled on the battle against the Mind Flayer in the Starcourt Mall, she was no longer able to use them. It’s only during the epilogue section of the season when she’s packing to leave Hawkins that it becomes really clear Eleven’s powers are gone. But what happened?

The exact reason her powers were lost is a mystery that will no doubt be addressed in season 4, but we’ve have a pretty likely suspect. During the penultimate episode of season 3, “The Bite,” the Mind Flayer attacks Eleven, Nancy, Jonathan, Mike, Lucas, and Max at Hopper’s cabin. They manage to fight it off and escape, but not before Eleven is bitten in the leg. Once the kids get to the Starcourt Mall, they realize that the Mind Flayer’s bite implanted a worm in the wound.

Jonathan cuts open the wound, which allows Eleven to use her powers to rip the worm out. But afterward it becomes clear that something’s not quite right. Eleven tries to crush a Coke can before the battle at the mall and is unable to do it. There are one or two instances during the battle where she tries to use her powers and isn’t able to. After the Mind Flayer is defeated and the gate to the Upside Down sealed, Eleven’s powers still haven’t returned.

Whether Eleven lost her powers because of the Mind Flayer’s worm, the trauma of the attack, or for some other reason isn’t clear. However, it is important to note that she lost her powers before the gate to the Upside Down was sealed, so that is likely not the cause.

Whatever the reason, we’re counting on season 4 spending a solid amount of time addressing whether Eleven can get her powers back.

Update: Stranger Things 4 does indeed address Eleven’s missing powers. We will discuss the new information from season 4 below, so consider this your spoiler warning.

Stranger Things

Brenner’s stroke theory

As we suspected, season 4 addressed why Eleven lost her powers. After being taken to a secret bunker in Nevada to work on regaining them, Eleven comes face-to-face with Dr. Brenner, the scientist who was conducting inhuman experiments on psychic children back in season 1. Despite initially pushing back against the idea of working with him, Eleven comes to rely on his expertise by Episode 6, “The Dive,” where Brenner reveals his theory for why she lost her powers.

“Do you know what happens when someone has a stroke?” he asks her. “The blood supply to the brain is cut off. It scrambles the signals in the brain to the point where the mind can forget how to do things. To eat. To speak. To walk.”

When you were attacked last year, I believe that your signals were scrambled in much the same way. But just as a stroke victim can learn to walk again, I believe you, too, can return to your full power. Your abilities are still in [your head]. You just need to remember.

Brenner then proceeds to guide Eleven through a process where she relives the memories of when she originally unlocked the full potential of her powers. Those memories hold the key to season 4’s biggest twist, and hopefully, to Eleven regaining her powers in time to help her friends in Hawkins survive their battle with the sinister Vecna.

Volume I of Stranger Things 4 released on Netflix on May 27, and consisted of seven episodes. Volume II will follow on July 1, and will contain the final two episodes of the season.

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