The Hawkins National Laboratory, operated by the U.S. Department of Energy, was a federal complex located in Hawkins, Indiana. It was most likely actually controlled by the CIA or NSA, and was one of several national laboratories which grew out of the scientific endeavors of World War II. It controlled several subsidiaries, including Hawkins Power and Light. The lab was headed by Dr. Martin Brenner until the events of November 1983. Dr. Sam Owens then took over as Director of Operations.
In the mid 20th century, the lab conducted MKUltra experiments, and at some point began abducting children to experiment on. During one experiment, on November 6, 1983, a child test subject named Eleven made contact with the Demogorgon, accidentally opening the Gate to the Upside Down. For a year, an alien biological growth, stemming from the other dimension, consumed the lower levels of the lab. Despite the lab's attempts at containing the growth, the Gate was able to grow to a gargantuan size with a series of tunnels extending from it beneath Hawkins.
In 1984, an inter-dimensional entity called the Mind Flayer unleashed a pack of adolescent Demogorgons through the Gate, which resulted in the deaths of nearly all those present in the laboratory at the time. However, the Mind Flayer and his army were stopped when Eleven closed the Gate. Soon after, the lab was shut down following disclosure of the lab's involvement in Barbara Holland's death.
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.
Following the Second World War, Hawkins Lab was established as one of several national laboratories across the United States.
From the 1950s to 1970s, a program of experiments on human subjects was designed and undertaken by the CIA, 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.
In these experiments, participants would be given psychedelic drugs and placed in isolation tanks in hopes of “expanding the boundaries of the mind”. 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.
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 she gave 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.
On September 8, 1979, Dr. Martin Brenner prepares for work as he heads to Hawkins National Laboratory. Arriving there, he enters the lab's newly-built Rainbow Room, now full of child experiments. He approaches Ten, playing with a Magic 8 Ball, asking if he's ready for more lessons. Shaking the ball, Ten agrees when it says "All signs point to yes." As they walk through the lab and pass a woman named Dr. Ellis along with another experiment named Six. Brenner and Ten begin their experiments. Brenner first has Ten use his abilities to see what Brenner is drawing on his pad. After succeeding, Brenner then asks if they could do something more challenging by seeing what Dr. Ellis and Six are doing in the other room. Ten sees in a vision Dr. Ellis and Six doing an experiment, but Ten begins to hyperventilate as he says that something is wrong, saying that they're screaming. Suddenly, the lab's alarms begin to go off. As Brenner asks what's happening through the intercom, Ten tells him that Six and Dr. Ellis are dead. Brenner slowly heads to the door leading to the lab as he hears screams and impacts, when the door bursts off the hinges and hits Brenner, knocking him unconscious. When he awakes, he's horrified to find Ten dead from the impact of the door. As he limps outside, he sees experiments, security guards, and fellow doctors dead and bloodied. When reaching the Rainbow Room, he finds the playroom full of dead children, all except one standing near the broken two mirror, breathing heavily. Brenner angrily asks what the experiment has done. The experiment, revealed to be a young Eleven, turns around slowly, with her eyes, nose, and ears dripping with blood.
Experimentation on 011
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. A room in the lab's underground complex contained a sensory deprivation tank used to enhance Eleven's psychic powers; when sensory deprived, Eleven could become immersed in an inner mental void, in which she could psychically reach out to other living creatures.
The Cold War was at its heights in the early 1980s, with the United States and Russia in conflict. Brenner and his associates used Eleven's power to spy on a a Russian enemy. 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. Eleven panicked and the experiment was aborted. However, Brenner was intrigued by the creature.
On November 6, 1983, Brenner repeated the experiment and encouraged Eleven to make contact with the creature. However, when Eleven made contact, a tear in space-time 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 our dimension and killed a scientist while Eleven somehow managed to escape from the lab. 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. Agents found Eleven at a local diner and killed the owner, but Eleven escaped into the nearby woods. The 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. 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. This made Hopper believe the lab was presenting misleading information. Brenner and agents in hazmat suits installed a security line in the Tank Room Meanwhile, test pilot Shepard began an expedition into the alternate dimension at the command of Brenner. This exploration was cut short when Shepard was brutally killed by the Monster, leaving behind only a fragment of his hazmat suit.
In order to draw away any suspicion for Will's disappearance, 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.
After discovering that Will's body had been faked, Hopper broke into the lab. As he was searching the building for Will, he stumbled upon Eleven's room. Heading 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 drugged by several agents. Hopper later awoke in his trailer and discovered the lab had bugged his trailer.
Upon discovering Will's location in the Upside Down, Hopper and Joyce decided to break into the lab to save him. However, they were caught before they entered the building. Hopper made a deal with Brenner, agreeing to reveal Eleven's location if he and Joyce were allowed to save Will. Brenner gave them permission to enter the Gate, believing their mission to be suicidal and therefore unlikely to expose the laboratory.
On October 29, 1984. Will experienced an episode at The Palace 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”.
Once they were gone, a woman in a lab coat came to inform Owens that “they” were ready for him. He took the elevator down to the sub basement and watched as a soldier burned vines creeping from the Gate.
Nancy and Jonathan developed a plan to expose the lab. 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 local park. Mrs. Holland did not meet them, but they saw multiple people who appeared to be watching them. Nancy and Jonathan went back to their car. They tried to start it, but it would not start. A man (one of the people who appeared to have been watching them) knocked on the window and said that he would give them a lift. Nancy and Jonathan realized they were surrounded by several apparent agents from Hawkins Law. Nancy and Jonathan were taken to the lab. They met with Owens and he told them the importance of keeping the Gate a secret, so that the Soviet Union, or some other rival faction didn’t try to replicate that, believing that they could use the Upside Down as a weapon. Nancy secretly tape-recorded Dr. Owen's remarks, which included admissions about the lab's involvement in Barbara's death.
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. It was discovered that Will had lost some of his memories, only being able to recognize his mother and Mike, but failed to recognize Dr. Owens, Bob and Hopper or recall the events of him helping to save Hopper. The doctors experimented on him by taking a tendril and burned it with a blowtorch. Will experience 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 by the "hive mind".
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 Mind Flayer'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 Mind Flayer 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.
Eleven and Hopper went back to the lab, coming across the remains of the massacred technicians. They eventually found Dr. Owens in the stairwell. Owens was seriously wounded and seemingly was the only survivor in the building. Once they had reached the Gate, they waited until they received a signal from Jonathan that Will was safe. Then, Eleven and Hopper descended into the depths below the lab, to confront the Mind Flayer and close the gate. Hopper used a shotgun and a rifle to fight off the Demodogs. Eleven focused on facing the Mind Flayer and after channeling her anger, closed the Gate. Hopper embraced an exhausted Eleven and commended her for her bravery.
A month later, the lab was closed after it was revealed (in a watered down version of events) that the lab was responsible for the death of Barbara Holland. The official story handed to the news claimed Barb died because of an "experimental chemical asphyxiant" leaking from the lab. Military police locked the lab. Reportedly several high-level Department of Energy officials admitted to covering up Barb's death.
On July 1st, 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. Grigori escaped. Joyce found Hopper and took him back to his cabin where she would nurse him back to health.
Ground floor/upper floors
- Eleven's room
- CCTV monitoring room
- Surveillance room
- At least one cell
- Experimentation rooms
- Interrogation rooms
- Rainbow Room
- Rift Lab
Beneath the complex
- Rift Chamber - contained the Gate's second entrance
- Entrance to the underground tunnels
- Drain pipe
- Patrick's outpost
- Front parking lot
- Main entrance
- Main Gate
- Dr. Martin Brenner - head scientist and researcher, former Director of Operations
- Shepard - scientist
- Unnamed senior research scientist
- Unnamed scientist
- Unnamed radar technician
- Unnamed technician
- Edward J. Morris 
- Dr. Sam Owens - Director of Operations
- Terry Ives (formerly)
- 001: Henry Creel/One (formerly)
- 002: Two (deceased)
- 003: Ricky/Three (formerly)
- 003: Three (deceased)
- 004: Four (deceased)
- 005: Five (deceased)
- 006: Francine/Six (formerly)
- 006: Six (deceased)
- 007: Seven (deceased)
- 008: Kali Prasad/Eight (formerly)
- 009: Jamie/Nine (formerly)
- 009: Nine (deceased)
- 009.5: Marcy/9.5 (formerly)
- 010: Ten (deceased)
- 011: Jane Hopper/Eleven (formerly)
- 012: Twelve (deceased)
- 013: Thirteen (deceased)
- 014: Fourteen (deceased)
- 015: Fifteen (deceased)
- 016: Sixteen (deceased)
- 017: Seventeen (deceased)
- 018: Eighteen (deceased)
- Head of Security
- Ray Carroll (former orderly)
- M.P. Guards
- Unnamed test subject (did not have psychic abilities; played a role in one of Eleven's tests)
Behind the scenes
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.
In the original pilot script, Hawkins Lab's role in the story was instead fulfilled by Camp Hero in Montauk, Long Island.
The same building was used for filming of the 2017 horror movie Rings.
- "Calling Hawkins Power will give you 'Stranger Things' clues" CNET. October 23, 2017.
- "New Poster, Official Release Date & Synopsis Revealed For ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2" The Playlist. July 11, 2017.
- Into the Fire Issue 2
|Locations||The Upside Down • Creel House • Curse gates • Gates • Hawkins • Hawkins National Laboratory • Lover's Lake • Public Library • Hawkins Middle School • Hawkins Tunnel System • Mothergate • Trailer Park|
|Entities||D'Artagnan • Demobat (species) • The Demogorgon • Demogorgon (species) • The Flayed • Hospital Monster • The Mind Flayer • Russian Demogorgon • The Spider Monster • Hawkins Tunnel System • Vecna • Vines|
|The Flayed||Billy Hargrove • Heather Holloway • Bruce Lowe • Tom Holloway • Janet Holloway • Doris Driscoll|
|Visitors||Robin Buckley • Joyce Byers • Will Byers • Eleven • Steve Harrington • Dustin Henderson • Barbara Holland • Jim Hopper • Max Mayfield • Eddie Munson • Bob Newby • Shepard • Lucas Sinclair • Mike Wheeler • Nancy Wheeler|
|Miscellaneous||Upside Down Egg • Dungeons & Dragons • The Void • The Keys • Vecna's curse • Vecna's Mind Lair|
|Articles may contain spoilers.|
|Hawkins National Laboratory|