Part of what made the Netflix original series Stranger Things such a smash hit when it debuted last summer was the way in which it was able to appeal to audiences of all ages. The series spoke to both generations X and Y, and even the youngest of today’s millennials. But when Stranger Things was originally conceived as “Montauk” (based off of the alleged secret experiment operation conducted by the United States government known as The Montauk Project), Matt and Ross Duffer — aka The Duffer Brothers — had plans to make the show much less kid-friendly even though the cast was to be led by children. Matt and Ross recently dished on the original pilot telling Vulture it featured Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) using her telekinetic powers to brutally kill those who stood in her way:
“The Eleven character, the kind of powers she has and to have a young protagonist that’s violent — it’s not E.T. It’s not a happy situation. She’s killing people, and brutally murdering them. The original pilot was much more violent. It was originally like an R-rated thing.”
“Winona’s character was like, ‘Eff this, eff that!’ It felt a little bit unnecessary. I don’t feel like we sacrificed anything by toning it down a little bit.”
The decision to scale back the violence and profanity was smart, however. I would have liked to see Winona Ryder drop a few f-bombs. It’s a nitpick, but one of my only complaints in the series was when Joyce said “Screw you” to Dr. Brenner in the opening scene of the final episode. It didn’t feel genuine and interrupted me from suspending my disbelief in that moment, reminding me I’m watching a television show in the middle of having this magical experience like watching E.T. or Jurassic Park for the first time again.
Those weren’t the only places The Duffers pulled back, however. The original pilot also featured the death of Barb (Shannon Purser) but as we saw, the Duffers made the choice to hold off and flesh her character out a little more before buying the farm. It’s a good thing they did because if they hadn’t, Barb may not have become the beloved character she is today.
Finn Wolfhard — the brilliant 14-year old who played Mike Wheeler– also revealed in an interview with AOL Build that the final episode included a longer, grosser version of when Chief Hopper (David Harbour) pulled the tentacle out of Will’s mouth but Netflix had the Duffers cut it shorter.
Season two of Stranger Things will return later this year. The adventure continues one year later in the fall of 1984 as the series will explore the consequences Will’s time in the Upside Down has had on him and the inter-dimensional portal which is still open at the Hawkins National Laboratory. Season two has been teased as bigger in scale and darker than the first season while at the same time remaining familiar to the tone introduced in season one.