Well, what would be your reaction if you come to know that the plot of stranger things is based on a true story of an experiment conducted by the CIA. There are several elements of the show that are based on real-life incidents.
We first came across the trailer of one of the highest-grossing TV series in 2016, when the world full of strange things was introduced by show creators Matt and Ross Duffer. It was explained to Rolling-Stone by the show makers that they intended to create a perfect blend of paranormal and scientific stuff.
“We wanted the supernatural element to be grounded in science in some way.”
Matt and Ross Duffer.
So, to come up with this perfect blend, Stranger Things followed a real government project called MKUltra. The same project was used as the storyline in Season 1, wherein, Eleven was subjected to Dr. Brenner’s experiment.
As per the storyline, Eleven’s mother was a subject of an MKUltra experiment and while she was pregnant with Eleven, Dr. Brenner used LSD and sensory deprivation to experiment on her, unwittingly imbuing Eleven with psychic gifts.
What is MKUltra Project?
Project MKUltra (or MK-Ultra) was the codename for a program of illegal human experimentation devised and conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States (CIA). It was conducted in 1953 with the purpose of giving the USA an upper hand over Russia in the war. The project MKUltra was concerned with controlling the mind of humans and several files were later revealed in declassified documents.
MKUltra used a variety of techniques to manipulate the mental states and brain functions of its subjects, including the covert administration of high doses of psychoactive drugs (particularly LSD) and other chemicals, electroshocks, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, and other forms of torture.
Sidney Gottlieb approved of an MKUltra sub-project on LSD in this June 9, 1953, letter.
The project initially began on a voluntary basis and the individuals were subjected to physical and mental abuse by means of psychedelic substances, sleep deprivation, and other experimental techniques.
Surprisingly, one element of the project was narrated by The San Francisco Chronicle. It was reported that Operation Midnight Climax, examined the effects of LSD on males who visited brothels put up within agency safehouses in San Francisco.
The perilous nature of this project eventually led to the project’s cancellation in 1965, and although many of the pertinent materials were subsequently destroyed, enough information was leaked to inspire the shady activities at Hawkins National Laboratory in Stranger Things.
The Duffer Brothers also drew inspiration from a government conspiracy known as the Montauk Project, which is much crazier than Steve’s and Billy’s hairstyles combined.
Montauk Project, MKULtra and Stranger Things
Even though there is considerably less evidence to prove that this particular line of research was legitimate, the show’s makers took the myths around it seriously. In fact, Stranger Things was supposed to be titled ‘Montauk’ at one time, and it’s easy to see how many of the show’s weirder concepts are directly lifted from this project.
According to the conspiracy, a series of dubious experiments were undertaken in the 1980s in the Montauk, New York area. A man-named Alfred Bielek reported, who was allegedly engaged, indicating that these operations accidentally created a hyperspace rift between Montauk in 1983 and 1943, threatening to “engulf a portion of the earth.”
If all the pieces of the equipment were destroyed, then only the world could be saved, by Bielek and his brother Duncan. Some of his explanation continues the plot of the science-fiction conspiracy film The Philadelphia Experiment which is also believed to be a real-life experiment.
One can easily figure out the similarities between the conspiracy theory and Stranger Things, as odd as that may sound. While time travel has not been featured in the show, Eleven’s experiments tear a hole in space that infects Hawkins, Indiana. El and her unexpected allies lock the portal to prevent the destruction of Hawkins.
Interestingly, Bielek had also claimed that his brother began to age rapidly after the incident took place. What he claimed next is both terrifying and shocking. He stated that only when he traveled back in time and convinced his parents to have another son, he could transfer Duncan’s soul into his youngest brother. This is how Bielek managed to keep his brother alive against the race of time. Additionally, he claimed that he can recollect memories of life in the 28th century.
After this mind-blowing experiment, Duncan developed extraordinary psychic abilities for reasons that are never addressed. However, Preston B. Nichols purports to have suppressed recollections of the Montauk Project. He has also authored a book titled The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time that discusses this project in detail.
According to him, Duncan utilized a gadget known as the Montauk Chair to enhance his talents to the point where he was capable of materializing objects from thin air.
Though on the show, Eleven is not that strong however if compared, she shares a lot of similarities with Duncan and the Montauk Chair project including the capacity to travel to other planes of existence through sensory deprivation and even open interdimensional portals. Similar to Eleven, Nichols’ narrative asserts that Duncan also allegedly introduced a monster into our world.
The alien species, referred to by Nichols as the “Beast,” came after he and his colleagues “decided we’d had enough of the whole experiment.” According to Nichols, Duncan “set loose a monster from his psyche” which could only be stopped by destroying all the equipment in Camp Hero.
If you have watched Stranger Things, then it would be easier to relate the plot of the series with the incidents narrated in Nichols’s account. This concept appears more frequently in Stranger Things than in the Demogorgon, so it’s not surprising that the Duffer Brothers originally intended to name the show after Montauk.
Although it has been verified that the MKUltra project genuinely existed, many experts are still skeptical about the Montauk Project. Though it is difficult to say whether it all happened for real or not, it is intriguing to observe how much they influenced the creation of Stranger Things. Whatever the case be, there is one thing for sure, which is that Stranger Things is one interesting series that keeps us entertained.