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Hawkins National Laboratory was a secretive federal complex located in Hawkins, Indiana, and was one of several national laboratories established following the Second World War. The lab controlled several subsidiaries, including Hawkins Power and Light.[2] The lab was seemingly operated by the U.S. Department of Energy, though some speculated it was actually controlled, entirely or in part, by some other government agency, such as the CIA, or NSA.[3][4] In any case, the lab was headed by Dr. Martin Brenner until the strange events of November 1983; Dr. Sam Owens then took over as Director of Operations.[2]

Unbeknownst to the residents of Hawkins, the lab hosted experiments for the controversial government program known as "MKUltra". These experiments yielded the births of a number of child test subjects with psychokinetic abilities, who were in turn experimented on. The test subjects were strictly confined to the lab premises, their existence kept top secret by the authorities.

In November 1983, during experiments at the laboratory, one of these test subjects, "Eleven", accidentally opened a gate to an alternate dimension, allowing a predatory humanoid creature to enter Hawkins. The monster abducted residents and brought them to the other world. Among its victims were Will Byers, who was brought home after a week, and Barbara Holland, who was killed by the creature. The circumstances of their disappearances were covered up by agents working for Hawkins Lab.

Following the opening of the Gate, the alternate dimension, known by Will Byers's friends as "The Upside Down", began to slowly influence the surrounding environment. Despite the lab's efforts to contain the breach, gigantic, vine-like tunnels grew out from the Gate, burrowing deep beneath the town and causing nearby crops to rot. However, in 1984, the Upside Down's incursion was halted when Eleven returned to close the Gate. Soon after, the lab was shut down after Murray Bauman, Nancy Wheeler and Jonathan Byers disclosed that the lab had killed Barbara due to a "chemical leak".

By 1985, the lab had been completely abandoned.



Following the Second World War, Hawkins Lab was established as one of several national laboratories across the United States.


Main article: Project MKUltra

From the 1950s to 1970s, a controversial CIA-sanctioned research program involving experiments on human subjects was established, known as "MKUltra". Dr. Martin Brenner, a high-ranking researcher for the U.S. Department of Energy, had a hand in these experiments. In 1953, MKUltra began experimentation at Hawkins Lab.[5]

The program was designed to develop mind-control techniques in which the subject suffered extreme conditions at the hands of the researchers, including use of psychedelic drugs, physical and mental abuse, sleep deprivation, and malnourishment.

1959 - 1979

The strange boy

In 1959, Brenner was contacted by a woman named Virginia Creel, who believed her son Henry was responsible for a number of inexplicable happenings at her household. After Virginia and Henry's sibling Alice were found dead at the house, and Henry knocked unconscious, Henry's father Victor was presumed to be responsible. However, after Brenner got involved with the situation, he quickly learned Henry not only had an appetite for murder, but possessed remarkable psychokinetic abilities.

Victor was told that Henry died a week later due to shock, but in truth, his death was a hoax orchestrated by Brenner. Henry awoke from his coma to discover he had been transported to Hawkins Lab.

Brenner intended to both study and closely supervise the boy. He inserted Soteria into Henry's neck, a miniature device that suppressed his powers and tracked his every movement; in Henry's own words, he had become a "prisoner". Henry was designated Hawkins Lab's first test subject, with Brenner tattooing "001" on his forearm to mark the occasion. In time, Henry became one of several orderlies who assisted Brenner and attended to the lab. Brenner deeply distrusted Henry, however, and would occasionally order the other orderlies to torture him to keep him intimidated.

The abductions

Henry tattooed

Brenner applies to the tattoo to Henry

Hoping to recreate Henry's powers in other individuals, Brenner took what he had learned and adjusted his experimentations. Brenner gave volunteer test subjects experimental drugs and placed them inside sensory deprivation tanks, in the hopes of "expanding the boundaries of the mind".

One test subject, college student Terry Ives, was unknowingly pregnant while undergoing the experiments. As a result, her daughter was born with various psychokinetic abilities. Immediately after giving birth, her daughter was taken by Brenner. The lab covered up the kidnapping as a miscarriage and erased any traces of the child's existence. Terry filed a lawsuit against Brenner and his employees, but was unsuccessful due to a lack of evidence.

Terry's daughter was renamed "011" and raised in the laboratory, where she was subjected to harsh treatment and secluded from the outside world. Psychological tests were conducted to exploit the telekinetic abilities she was born with. Eleven was not the lab's only test subject: she had sixteen "brothers" and "sisters", who were probably abducted from their birth mothers in a similar fashion.

At some point in the '70s, MKUltra was exposed and along with it the alleged abuse of the test subjects. Despite this, the lab managed to block any inquiries.

"Oh my god, none of this is real."
This information from Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds is of questionable canonicity.[canon-rationale 1]
According to one account, Dr. Brenner arrived at Hawkins Lab and took control in 1969, taking the child Kali Prasad with him.


Terry attempted to retrieve Jane, breaking into Hawkins Lab with a gun, but was apprehended. Brenner then subjected Terry to electroshock therapy, which left her in a seemingly permanent catatonic state for years after.

Dr. Brenner raised Jane under the "name" Eleven. Brenner built himself up as a father figure in the mind of Eleven and seventeen other child test subjects, making them refer to him as "Papa".

Kali Prasad, also known as Eight, managed to escape the lab before September 8, 1979.

"Oh my god, none of this is real."
This information from Stranger Things: SIX is of questionable canonicity.[canon-rationale 2]
According to one source, Terry's rescue attempt actually occurred in 1978. The security breach and commotion caused by Terry distracted the lab's staff, allowing Ricky/Three, Francine/Six and Marcy/9.5 to attempt an escape. Brenner's right-hand agent, Connie Frazier, and other security fatally shot Francine, but Ricky and Marcy escaped. Brenner told a dying Francine he'd find the experiments.


The friendly orderly

During Henry Creel's time as an orderly at Hawkins Lab, he took a particular liking to Eleven. After witnessing her being bullied by the other test subjects, he believed both of them were similarly misunderstood, and also believed Eleven to be the most powerful of the test subjects. Henry helped Eleven during times when her peers ridiculed her, offering encouraging words and advice.

11 and Brenner 1979 - The Nina Project

Brenner encourages Eleven (NINA memory)

On September 4, 1979, Brenner took Eleven and the other subjects into the main training room, where, one-by-one, the children would attempt to psychically manipulate a series of lightbulbs. Eleven struggled with this task, leading the oldest child, Two, to mock and belittle her. Despite this, Eleven briefly powered one of the bulbs.[6]

On September 7, 1979, Henry advised Eleven to use negative emotions, such as anger and sadness, to better channel her abilities. Later that day, Brenner pitted the children against each other in a combat-based test. Two children at a time would stand on mats, with both trying to psychically push their opponent off their mat, all the while resisting the other's attack. In this game, Eleven ultimately defeated Two, humiliating him. Later, Two and his allies - Three, Four and Five - ganged up on Eleven in the Rainbow Room, and bullied her with their powers, even threatening to kill her. After being slammed into a wall, she apparently suffered a concussion.

The massacre at Hawkins Lab

S4E7-Eleven & the orderly play chess

Henry tells Eleven to meet him in the boiler room (NINA memory)

On September 8, Brenner checked up on Eleven, before he summoned all the test subjects to the training room. He punished Two for attacking Eleven through use of an electroshock collar.

Later that day, Eleven and Henry played chess in the Rainbow Room, during which Henry quietly offered her a chance to escape the lab. Henry disclosed - or claimed - that the other children planned to kill her, and that Brenner had been intending for this all along. He silently gave her a key card under the table, and told her to meet him in the basement.

Some hours later, Eleven persuaded another orderly to escort her to the infirmary, pretending to feel ill. Eleven used the distraction to reach a stairwell and travel to the basement. There, she met with Henry, who showed her an escape route through a drain pipe. He then convinced her to use her powers to remove the "Soteria" suppressant chip from his neck, restoring Henry's long-dormant abilities. Shortly after this, security guards stormed the basement; the two reached a corridor but were surrounded by the guards. Henry used his restored powers to maim and kill the guards; he took Eleven to a storage cupboard and told her to wait there, revealing his "001" tattoo before leaving.

Henry proceeded to go on a murderous rampage throughout the laboratory, killing all the other test subjects and various Hawkins Lab personnel, and indirectly knocked Dr. Brenner unconscious. Eleven entered the Rainbow Room and watched in horror as Henry finished killing Two. Henry explained himself to Eleven, telling her of his origins and philosophy; he asked her to join him in his goal to eradicate humanity.

1979 Gate opens

A Gate unexpectedly opens in the Rainbow Room.

But Eleven refused. She used her powers to fling Henry into the wall; angered and disappointed, Henry stood back up and outreached his hand, with Eleven doing the same. The two test subjects engaged in a psychokinetic duel, with Henry initially overwhelming and almost killing Eleven. However, Eleven, finding strength in a distant memory, ultimately overpowered Henry, pinning him against the wall of the Rainbow Room. She began disintegrating his body, but somehow, she opened an interdimensional gate in the wall, through which Henry was transported.

The gate began to seal up, and just after the membrane separating the worlds finished healing, Brenner entered the Rainbow Room. Though he initially believed Eleven was responsible for the massacre, he later learned Henry was to blame after reviewing surveillance footage. Brenner was amazed by Eleven's feat of power, but by the time Eleven woke from her coma, Brenner learnt she had no memory of the incident, and her powers had been somewhat reduced. Brenner was bewildered by Henry's disappearance, and wondered if he was still out there somewhere, "hiding in the darkness".

1979 - 1983

Psychokinetic training

For years, Brenner trained Eleven and developed her psychic abilities. To punish her for any failures, Eleven was sometimes locked in a solitary cell for great periods of time; this experience severely traumatized her, leaving her with a fear of confinement.

In one experiment, Eleven was presented with a soda can, which she then crushed using telekinesis. Although her nose began bleeding soon afterwards, Dr. Brenner seemed pleased nonetheless. Another experiment involved using her powers to manipulate a living creature. Dr. Brenner presented Eleven with a cat, but she could not bring herself to do anything to it. As punishment for her refusal, she was dragged into the cell by two guards. Refusing to be locked in again, an enraged Eleven used her powers to smash one guard into a wall and to break the other's neck before they could close the door. While she sobbed at her experiences, Brenner gently carried her away, pleased with Eleven's feat of ability.

Targeting the Soviets


Brenner talks Eleven through her next task

The Cold War was at a height in the early 1980s, with the United States and Soviet Union in conflict; Brenner and his associates sought to use Eleven's power to spy on their adversaries. Testing Eleven's ability to eavesdrop over long distances, Eleven was ordered to repeat words stated by an individual elsewhere in the laboratory. She did not repeat the words through her voice, but instead transmitted the individual's words via a speaker.

Brenner later directed Eleven to spy on a Soviet agent. A room in the lab's underground complex contained a sensory deprivation tank used to enhance Eleven's psychic powers; when sensorily deprived, Eleven could become immersed in an inner mental void, in which she could project her consciousness and psychically reach out to other living creatures. On an unspecified date - likely in 1983 - Eleven was lowered into the tank before entering her Void. She succeeded in finding the agent, but she unwittingly encountered a creature from another dimension, transmitting the creature's noises over the loudspeakers in Brenner's control booth. Eleven panicked and the experiment was aborted, but Brenner remained intrigued by the creature.


Stranger Things 1x06 – Gate Cracking

The Mothergate opens

Searching for Eleven

On November 6, 1983, Brenner repeated the experiment and encouraged Eleven to make contact with the creature. However, when Eleven made contact, another gate was somehow created, linking Eleven's dimension with the creature's dimension and cracking open the wall of the tank room. In the ensuing chaos, the Monster entered Eleven's dimension and killed a scientist, while Eleven managed to escape from the lab through the drain pipe in the boiler room. The entire east wing was subsequently evacuated, while the underground complex was sealed off following quarantine protocol. That evening, Will Byers was abducted by the Monster while going home on a road that passed by the laboratory.

While looking for the escaped Eleven, scientists investigated the Gate, from which strange tendrils and membranes slowly unfurled and spread into the underground complex. Connie Frazier and other agents found Eleven at a local diner and killed the diner owner, but Eleven escaped into the nearby woods. The diner owner's death was staged as a suicide.

When the lab intercepted Joyce Byers's phone call to the police, they realized that her son had been taken by the Monster. Later that day, Brenner and a team of agents investigated the Byers' shed, finding traces of some bizarre, supernatural energy. During a nighttime search for Will, a piece of ripped cloth was discovered on the edge of a drainpipe that lead to the lab. Hawkins Police Chief Jim Hopper became suspicious.

Line installation

Brenner oversees the line installation

The following day, Hopper took a tour of the facility with his two officers Powell and Callahan. They were escorted into the facility by the head of security, who allowed them to view the surveillance footage from the nights of the 6th and 7th. As the officers were leaving, Hopper realized a storm had occurred on the night of the 7th, but there was no rain in the footage, raising Hopper's suspicions. Meanwhile, Brenner decided a lab worker should venture through the Gate; he had a security line installed in the tank room, allowing the worker to be pulled out, if necessary. However, Brenner's plan would not be executed until the following day.

Holly Jolly S01-E03 SS 007

Will Byers' body being retrieved from the Sattler Quarry

In order to draw away any suspicion for Will's disappearance, Brenner and the lab created a fake body. The body was planted in the quarry, ready to be "discovered" by state police. The lab also instructed a state morgue worker to fake Will's autopsy.

The next day, Brenner selected one of his lab workers, Shepard, to pass through the gate. However, Shepard's expedition was cut short after he was brutally attacked by the Monster; when the workers reeled the security line back in, only a bloody fragment of Shepard's hazmat suit remained.

Unbeknownst to Brenner and his team of agents, local school-kids Mike, Lucas and Dustin had unwittingly crossed paths with Eleven, and were hiding her at Mike's house. The same day as Shepard's ill-fated expedition, the boys took Eleven to the middle school's Heathkit Ham Shack, where Eleven used her abilities to transmit Will's voice through the radio. Eleven's power pushed to the radio to its limit, setting it aflame and heavily damaging it. However, Hawkins Lab's monitoring room intercepted and recorded the radio transmissions.

That evening, Hopper discovered that Will's body had been faked, and decided to break into the lab. As he was searching the building for Will, he stumbled upon Eleven's room. Delving deeper into the complex, he was soon pursued by agents, taking an elevator in order to evade them. In the basement, he found the tank room where the Gate was located. Before he could investigate further, he was knocked out and drugged by several workers in hazmat suits.

Listening in

Brenner listens back to the tapes

The next day, Hopper awoke to find himself moved back to his trailer, and discovered the lab had planted a recording device in his lightbulb. Back at the lab’s monitoring room, Brenner listened to the tapes of Mike, Lucas and Dustin's voices, and quickly made up his mind: "she was there". The agents' next steps were obvious: they had to learn the identity of the mysterious boys.

Later that day, one of Brenner's agents, pretending to be a repairman from Hawkins Power & Light, went to the school and inspected the burned ham radio. While there, the principal informed him that the radio belonged to Scott Clarke.

Elsewhere in Hawkins, Agent Frazier visited Scott Clarke at his residence, hoping to find out which pupils operated the school's ham radio. While there, she told Clarke about a fictitious Indiana AV Club program, complete with a falsified flier. When asked if he knew anyone who'd want to participate, Clarke told her about Mike, Lucas, and Dustin. That afternoon, Brenner and his team travelled to the Wheeler house in Hawkins Power and Light vans to retrieve Eleven; however, Eleven and the boys fled the house and narrowly escaped on bike, with Eleven psychically flipping one of the lab's vans in the process. Brenner and his agents then interviewed Mike's parents, Ted and Karen, and scoured the house for information that could help them find Eleven.

That evening, Eleven, using a makeshift sensory deprivation tank at Hawkins Middle School, discovered Will's location in the Upside Down. Hopper and Joyce decided to break into the lab, enter the other world and save Will, but were caught while trespassing the lab grounds. Hopper made a deal with Brenner, disclosing that Eleven was located at Hawkins Middle. Brenner gave them permission to enter the Gate and search for Will, believing their mission to be suicidal and therefore unlikely to expose the lab.

The Demogorgon's attack

As Hopper and Joyce ventured through the Gate, Brenner, assisted by agents, traveled to the school and attempted to take Eleven back to the lab. Although Eleven killed some of the agents using her telekinetic powers, she was drained of strength and collapsed. Brenner cradled her and tried to convince her that he would fix everything and she would be brought back home, but Eleven saw through his facade and rejected him, crying out to reach Mike. In the meantime, the blood spilt from dead bodies attracted the Demogorgon, which distracted the surviving agents, allowing Eleven and her friends to escape. Brenner watched in horror as the monster ran towards him, freezing in shock. The Monster pounced onto him, either slashing or biting his face; he sustained a minor facial injury, but ultimately survived the attack. However, Brenner was unable to recover Eleven, who had mysteriously disappeared, along with the Demogorgon.

Despite Brenner’s pessimistic belief that Hopper and Joyce wouldn’t survive the Upside Down, they returned through the Gate, having brought Will with them. Will was taken to Hawkins General Hospital, where he reunited with his brother and friends. Hopper went outside to get some air and light a cigarette, but was interrupted when a government car pulled up to the hospital, with Hawkins Lab agents beckoning for him to join them. After reluctantly tossing his cigarette aside, Hopper complied and entered the car, and he and the agents set off into the night.

1983 - 1984

Following the incident at the middle school, Hawkins Lab was placed under increased scrutiny. For unknown reasons, Dr. Sam Owens replaced Brenner as Director of Operations. Brenner's whereabouts and activities at this time remain unclear, though he was possibly in hospital, recovering from his injuries.

After finding out about his "episodes", Joyce began taking Will to the lab to have his symptoms monitored by Owens. Meanwhile, Owens and the lab continued to study the Gate and the Upside Down, placing a probe-like machine within the dimension, presumably to gather data. They redeveloped the tank room into the "rift lab", where lab-affliated soldiers would periodically burn the vines extending from the Gate; despite the lab's efforts, the Gate grew to an enormous size, extending far beneath the lab and forming a series of tunnels beneath Hawkins. The lab soon discovered the existence of the tunnels; they created an elevator that transported lab workers and soldiers deep beneath the earth, connecting the lab to the tunnels' entranceways.


Will's symptoms

On October 29, 1984, Will experienced another episode at the Palace Arcade in which he flashed back to the Upside Down. The next day, Joyce took him to the lab for a medical exam with Dr. Owens. After meeting with Will in the lab, Owens explained to Joyce and Hopper that had "post traumatic stress disorder," Owens stated that Will's condition would get worse because of the "Anniversary Effect" and advised they should just "treat him normally". However, Will's episodes would soon take a turn for the worst, leading him to become possessed by a mysterious entity nicknamed "the shadow monster".

Once Hopper and Joyce departed, Owens's assistant came to inform Owens that "they" were ready for him. He took the elevator down to the underground complex, and watched one of his soldiers, Teddy, perform a routine burn on the Gate.

MF beaker 3

The particles become animated

After Merrill Wright's pumpkin patch and various other crops began to rot, Hopper demanded that Owens investigate, to which he eventually relented. He and his team analysed the soil at the degradation sites, and to their shock, discovered some of the particles would begin to float when exposed to heat; Owens was forced to conclude the particles were sentient, and were linked together in a hive intelligence.

The teenagers' plan

Meanwhile, Nancy Wheeler continued to grieve her friend Barbara Holland, who had been killed by the Demogorgon. Deciding she had to take action, she and Will's brother Jonathan developed a plan to expose Hawkins Lab and reveal the Upside Down's existence. Nancy called Barbara Holland's mother and explained that she had information about Barbara's death. Nancy would give this information to Mrs. Holland the next morning, at a local park. The next day, Nancy and Jonathan went to the park; Mrs. Holland did not meet them, but noticed multiple people appeared to be watching them. Nancy and Jonathan went back to their car, but were unable to make it start. A man knocked on the window and said that he would give them a lift; Nancy and Jonathan realized they were surrounded by covert agents from Hawkins Lab.

Nancy and Jonathan were taken to the lab, where they met with Owens. He took them to the Rift chamber, showing them the Gate; there, Owens stressed that the Soviet Union and other such foreign adversaries mustn’t learn about the Upside Down. He urged the pair to reconsider their course of action, before letting them go. Unbeknownst to Owens, Nancy had secretly tape-recorded his remarks, which included admissions about the lab's involvement in Barbara's death; they would later bring the tapes to investigative journalist Murray Bauman.

Descent into chaos

Later, Will had a vision of Hopper in the Hawkins Tunnel System and realized Hopper was in danger. Will guided Joyce, Bob and Mike to an entrance to the tunnels. Joyce and Bob entered the tunnels to find and rescue Hopper. Soldiers from the lab arrived, helped to rescue Hopper, but then started burning the vines in the tunnels. As soon as the burning began, Will began violently convulsing and collapsed to the ground.

Will was rushed to the lab, where it was discovered that he had lost some of his memories; he was only recognized his mother and Mike, and did not recognize Dr. Owens, Bob or Hopper. The doctors tested his connection to the hive mind by burning a severed vine with a blowtorch. Will experienced extreme pain from the burning of the tendril. Dr. Owens believed that Will had been infected with a "virus" of some sort, resulting in him becoming connected to the Upside Down via the "hive mind".

Will, Mike, Joyce, Hopper, Bob & Owens

Will's drawings of the tunnels reassembled at the lab

Several scientists argued over burning the tunnel system but Owens thought that it might kill Will. However, the scientists proposed that it was worth the risk and it was not possible for them to save Will. Claiming he knew the shadow monsters's weakness, Will revealed a location in the tunnels the entity didn't want him to see. Dr. Owens sent a team of soldiers into the tunnels to burn the location identified by Will. However, Will revealed that the shadow monster forced him to reveal this location. Mike realized it was a trap. Mike tried to warn Hopper and Owens of the trap but it was too late. While Hopper and Owens watched from the control room, the soldiers were ambushed and killed by a pack of Demodogs.

As the Demodogs began entering the lab, Owens sounded the alarm. Hopper and Owens went up the stairs, while the other scientists took the elevator. When the elevator door opened on the main floor of the lab, two soldiers saw that the elevator was full of dead scientists and demodogs. Mike, Joyce and Bob sedated Will to prevent the shadow monster from spying on them. Once Hopper and Owens reached Will’s room, the group had to leave quickly as the Demodogs were after them. As the Demodogs attacked and killed everyone, the group hid in a CCTV monitoring room.

The electricity in the lab failed, and all the doors were automatically locked when the power went off. Bob Newby volunteered to reset the breakers in the basement. He successfully reset the breakers and opened the doors. As Owens guided Bob over the radio, Bob made his way up from the basement and then through the lab, dodging Demodogs in the process. Meanwhile, Joyce, Hopper, and Mike managed to get Will out of the lab safely. Owens remained behind to watch the CCTV cameras and guide the others by radio. After outrunning a Demodog, Bob finally reached the lab's entrance lobby, where he saw Joyce. However, he was suddenly attacked and killed by a Demodog. Hopper pulled a traumatized Joyce out of the lab and, with the rest of the group, headed for the Byers house.

Closing the Gate

Eleven and Hopper went back to the lab, coming across the remains of the massacred technicians. They eventually found Dr. Owens seriously wounded in the stairwell; seemingly the only survivor of the attack. After a brief interaction, where Owens agreed to keep Eleven secret from the wider government, Hooper and Eleven continued to the rift lab. After waiting until Jonathan confirmed Will was safe over radio, and free from the Mind Flayer's influence, Eleven and Hopper then boarded the elevator and began their descent beneath the lab.

Eleven closes the Mothergate

Eleven closing the Mothergate

Facing the Gate's massive new entrance, Eleven began to channel her power; slowly, but surely, the edges of the portal began to retreat. The Mind Flayer and the hive mind, frightened by Eleven's power, sent a horde of Demodogs their way to stop her; the creatures crawled up the cavernous wall and lunged at the elevator, but Hopper fought them off with his shotgun and rifle. As Eleven focused on sealing the breach, the enormous silhoutte of the Mind Flayer appeared beyond the membrane, but it was too late; Eleven, drawing on all her anger and pain, finished closing the Gate. As the Gate closed, the remaining Demodogs, deprived of their connection to the hive mind, dropped dead and fell from the cavern walls. Hopper embraced an exhausted Eleven, and commended her for her bravery.

The exposé and shutdown

Some time later, lab workers confirmed the Gate had been entirely erased, with only minor cavities remaining in the wall that hosted the Gate's initial entrance. Hopper watched as workers filled the last cavities with cement, convincing him the horrors of the Upside Down were well and truly over.[7]

Nancy Wheeler and Jonathan Byers worked with Murray Bauman to release the tape recording of Dr. Sam Owens's 'confession', which compelled Hawkins Lab and "several high-level Department of Energy officials" to acknowledge their coverup of Barb's death. They claimed her death occurred due to the leak of an experimental chemical asphyxiant, a cover story that Nancy, Jonathan and Murray reluctantly agreed to. In December, the lab was shut down, with military police locking the lab.


Scuffle with Grigori

On July 1, 1985, Hopper and Joyce returned to the lab after Joyce suspected that the "bad men" were messing with the electro-magnetic field. When they went through the entrance, Joyce had small flashbacks of Bob's death, which had taken place there. After finding nothing but an abandoned government building, Hopper tells Joyce that all the bad experiences are over and she should move on.

At the same time of their visit, Grigori was also at the lab. When the two heard sounds and realized they were not alone, Hopper followed the noises into a room, where he was ambushed by Grigori. Taken by surprise, Hopper was beaten and knocked out and Grigori escaped on his motorcycle. Joyce found Hopper and took him back to his cabin where she would nurse him back to health.


Buried memories

After learning Eleven lost her powers on July 4, 1985, Dr. Owens and Dr. Brenner established the Nina Project to help bring them back. A custom sensory deprivation tank was fitted out with television screens; when placed inside and exposed to archived CCTV footage from Hawkins Lab, Eleven entered a state of "re-experience". She relived repressed memories from Hawkins Lab, remembering her first interactions with 001 and regaining her powers in the process.


The lab was very secretive and private; it was surrounded by a barbed wire fence and guarded by military police. It was composed of one multi-story building that led down to an underground complex. It was located within a secluded forest with only a single road leading to it.

According to one set of blueprints, the layout of Hawkins Lab was as follows:[8]

Floor 01

  • 01 – Entrance hall
  • 02 – Stairs
  • 03 – Elevators
  • 04 – Restroom
  • 05 – Conference room
  • 06 – Director’s office
  • 07 – Experimentation room
  • 08 – Computer room
  • 09 – Monitoring room
  • 10 – Archive
  • 11 – Office
  • 12 – Electrical
  • 13 – Mail and printer room
  • 14 – Board room
  • 15 – Break room
  • 16 – Broom closet

Floor 00

  • 01 – Hall
  • 02 – Stairs
  • 03 – Elevators
  • 04 – Restroom
  • 05 – Conference room
  • 06 – Director’s office
  • 07 – Experimentation room
  • 08 – Computer room
  • 09 – Monitoring room
  • 10 – Archive
  • 11 – Office
  • 12 – Electrical closet
  • 13 – Mail and printer room
  • 14 – Board room
  • 15 – Break room
  • 16 – Broom closet
  • 17 – Laboratory
  • 18 – Maintenance workshop
  • 19 – Warehouse

Clinical wing

  • 20 - Room
  • 21 - Recovery room
  • 22 - Operating room
  • 23 - Anesthesia room
  • 24 - Sick bay
  • 25 - CCTV control room
  • 26 - Supplies room
  • 27 - Chemical room
  • 28 - Box room

Basement/underground complex

  • 01 – Room 01
  • 02 – Room 02
  • 03 – Room 03
  • 04 – Room 04
  • 05 – Room 05
  • 06 – Room 06
  • 07 – Room 07
  • 08 – Room 08
  • 09 – Room 09
  • 10 – Room 10
  • 11 – Room 11
  • 12 – Room 12
  • 13 – Room 13
  • 14 – Room 14
  • 15 – Room 15
  • 16 - Elevator
  • 17 – Restroom
  • 18 – Infirmary
  • 19 – Pharmacy
  • 20 – Store
  • 21 – Test room
  • 22 – Treatment room
  • 23 – Broom closet
  • 24 – Electrical closet
  • 25 – Sampling room
  • 26 – Clean room
  • 27 – Locker room
  • 28 – Practising room
  • 29 – Laboratory
  • 30 – Playroom (Rainbow Room)
  • 31 – Control room
  • 32 – Test room
  • 33 – Tank room

A number of notable rooms were not mentioned by name in the blueprints:

  • Chemical lab (possibly 17 on Floor 00)[9]
  • Radio monitoring and surveillance room(s) (possibly 09 on Floors 00 and 01)
  • Eleven's 1983 bedroom (probably Floor 00)[3]
  • Boiler room[10]

The tank room, which was later redeveloped into the "rift lab" after the Mothergate opened, contained the following:

Beneath the complex

The grounds

  • Drain pipe
  • Front parking lot
  • Main entrance
  • Main gate
  • Perimeter fence


All lab personnel - excluding the test subjects - were given electronic key cards (see below).




Test Subjects

Main article: HNL Test Subjects

MKUltra test subjects

# Name Status Duration
1 Terry Ives Alive 1969 - 1971
2 Alice Johnson Alive 1969 - 1971
3 Gloria Flowers Alive 1969 - 1971
4 Ken Alive 1969 - 1971
5-6 Unnamed Test Subjects in Photo (2) Alive[12] 1969 - in or before 1973
7-8 Unnamed Test Subjects (2+) Deceased[13] 1969 - in or before 1973
See also: Project MKUltra

Child test subjects

# Birth name Other aliases Status
Vecna - Papa portrait
Henry Creel Vecna (nickname)
Two Chapter Seven
  • A friend to Three, Four and Five, and a bully to Eleven.
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
ST4 Three E6
  • A friend to Two, Four and Five, and a bully to Eleven.
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
  • A wholly different character to the comic book incarnation of Three.
ST4 Four E6
  • A friend to Two, Three and Five, and a bully to Eleven.
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
ST4 Five E6
  • A friend to Two, Three and Four, and a bully to Eleven.
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
Six S4E6
ST4 Seven E7
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
Kali Prasad
  • Originally from London.
  • An early friend to Eleven.
  • Did not possess psychokinetic abilities, but rather had the unique ability to make other conscious beings hallucinate. Henry Creel was the only other test subject known to wield this power.
  • Escaped from the lab sometime prior to September 8, 1979.
ST4 Nine E1
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
  • Features prominently in the opening sequence of "The Hellfire Club".
Eleven - The Piggyback
Jane Ives Jane Hopper (adoptee name)
  • Taken from Terry Ives.
  • An early friend to Eight.
  • Unknowingly helped Henry Creel restore his powers, and was the only test subject spared from the September 8, 1979 massacre.
  • Banished Henry to the Upside Down, before accidentally opening a Gate to the alternate dimension four years later.
  • Lab escapee, following in the footsteps of Eight before her.
ST4 Twelve E5
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
ST4 Thirteen E6
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
ST4 Fourteen E6
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
ST4 Fifteen E7
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
016 + 017
ST4 Sixteen and Seventeen E7
  • Sixteen and Seventeen appear to be identical twins.
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
ST4 Eighteen E6
  • Killed by Henry Creel as part of the September 8, 1979 massacre.
The following characters only appear in the comics,
and are of questionable canonicity.
  • Possessed the ability to manipulate other people's emotions.
Francine icon
  • Possessed the precognitive ability to see glimpses of possible futures.
  • Possessed the ability to generate heat.
  • The twin sister of Marcy.
"Nine Point Five"
  • Did not possess any special abilities, the only test subject of her kind not to do so.
  • The twin sister of Jamie.

Behind the scenes


In the original pilot script, Hawkins Lab's role in the story was instead fulfilled by the real life Camp Hero in Montauk, Long Island.

Filming & production design


The control room of the Georgia Mental Health Institute


A corridor at the Georgia Mental Health Institute

The filming location used for the exterior scenes is the Georgia Mental Health Institute, which operated from 1965 to 1997 near the Emory University on Briarcliff road in Atlanta. It was bought by Emory University in its entirety from the state in 1988 and housed a number of actual research projects for some years, but is now defunct and primarily used for shooting film and television.

When creating the fourth season's interior sets, production designer Chris Trujillo and his team researched institutional facilities for children throughout the 20th century. The lab's look took specific inspiration from Scandinavian children's homes and hospitals, including their carpet wrap furniture, clean lines, and hard antiseptic surfaces. They tried to get across that "an attempt was made to make [the lab] feel appropriate for children, but it's just fundamentally this cold, unpleasant space."

While seeking out sets for Lenora Hills High School, Trujillo was inspired by an "amazing coffered ceiling" with "recessed fluorescent squares" in the administration building of a school in New Mexico. While the ceiling was not at all appropriate for Lenora Hills High, the production team realised it was perfect for the season's new version of the Rainbow Room.[14]



  • The Duffer Brothers proposed various titles for Stranger Things, including "INDIGO", which "was gonna be" the name of the government program at Hawkins Lab.[15]
    • The 'Indigo' title is not seen or heard in the actual show, but it did crop up in the novel Suspicious Minds.[9]
  • The Georgia Mental Health Institute, where exterior shots of Hawkins Lab were filmed, was also used for the 2017 horror movie, Rings. As of 2023, the building is scheduled for demolition in the not-too-distant future.


  1. "The Hellfire Club"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Calling Hawkins Power will give you 'Stranger Things' clues" CNET. October 23, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Flea and the Acrobat"
  4. The official teleplay for "The Vanishing of Will Byers", page 26
  5. "New Poster, Official Release Date & Synopsis Revealed For ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2" The Playlist. July 11, 2017.
  6. The September 4 date is displayed on the Hawkins Lab security camera in "The Nina Project"
  7. "The Case of the Missing Lifeguard"
  8. 8.0 8.1 Stranger Things Hawkins Memories: Vecna's Curse
  9. 9.0 9.1 Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds
  10. "The Massacre at Hawkins Lab"
  11. Into the Fire Issue 2
  12. In newspaper clippings, it states: "The six subjects will offer witness testimony about their individual experiences in the labs."
  13. In newspaper clippings, it states: "The documents contain significant details of the extent of the drug tests. Including, details of death at the hands of the experimenters." Due to this, you can ascertain that atleast 2 test subjects were killed before Project MKUltra were exposed.
  14. "Chris Trujillo ('Stranger Things' production designer): Designing 'the quintessential haunted house'" The GoldDerby channel on YouTube. August 2, 2022.
  15. The Duffer Brothers' 'MasterClass'

CanonCanon hierarchy

  1. Information from Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds, a Tier 3 source, conflicts with what's presented in the main series.
    • Suspicious Minds shows Brenner arriving at Hawkins Lab at 1969, yet the fourth season suggests Brenner has run Hawkins Lab since at least 1959.
  2. Information from Stranger Things: SIX, a Tier 3 source, conflicts with what's presented in the main series.
    • The comic versions of the test subjects are at odds with what the fourth season depicts. Additionally, the dating of Terry's rescue attempt differs between Stranger Things: SIX and what behind-the-scenes material suggests (an Instagram post by lead makeup artist Amy L. Forsythe)