Just like many other cinematic universes out there, it sure looks like no one stays dead for long in Hawkins, Indiana. While we *thought* we saw him die at the very end of Stranger Things Season 1, there’s some evidence stacking up that Papa — aka Dr. Brenner — is alive. But…where is he?
Let’s rewind for a hot sec: The first season of Netflix’s breakout series ends with the Demogorgon attacking Dr. Brenner (played by Matthew Modine), and it’s assumed that he dies from the injury. We never see him again. However, later we see a news clipping on a bulletin board at the Hawkins’ police station. If you look at it closely, the bottom of the news story has one sentence that reads: “Under legal advice, Brenner has issued no comment.” That one sentence seems to imply that Brenner is alive, since his legal team told him not to comment. Or, this is a misdirection from the lab and they’re trying to cover up his death.
That brings us to Season 2.
Eleven is convinced that Brenner is dead, and like, same. She sees him in creepy flashbacks, but those are creepy flashbacks. BUT THEN, during Eleven’s Big Day Out in the city with her ~sister~, one of Brenner’s former employees claims that he’s alive. This former employee explains that he knows where Brenner is, and he can take Eleven to him. Eleven isn’t sure if we should believe him, and honestly, neither are we.
Eleven explains, once again, that she knows Brenner is dead, but dude says he’s in hiding. OH REALLY?
At the end of the season, it’s left completely open as to whether or he’s dead or alive. The Hawkins Lab is in straight up shambles, as many (read: literally all) of the people who worked there are dead, and it’s safe to assume that any information about Brenner went with them. Dr. Owens (played by Stranger Things newcomer, Paul Reiser) is the only one left mostly-alive, and doesn’t seem to be in the know regarding Brenner’s experiments.
Someone else left alive is Brenner’s former employee. Though Eight is pressuring Eleven to kill him, for all the wrongs he did against the two ~sisters~, she leaves him alive. There’s a huge possibility that we could see this guy again, and Season 3 just might lead us back to Dr. Brenner and his dastardly, highly questionable activities.