The Stranger Things universe is full of mysteries waiting to be solved in future seasons, but until then, many fan theories have emerged to try to answer some big questions. One such fan theory suggests that Will Byers actually created the Upside Down – and this would mean that he’s key in closing the gate to it. Created by the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things introduced an alternate dimension known as the Upside Down in season 1, and it's home to the nightmarish creatures that have put the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in great danger.
Set in 1983, season 1 of Stranger Things focused on the disappearance of Will Byers, the discovery of the Upside Down, and the escape of Eleven (and the Demogorgon) from Hawkins Lab. Season 2 caught up with the characters a year later, following the aftermath of Will’s time in the Upside Down and a bigger threat known as the Mind Flayer. The third season took place in the summer of 1985, with the new Starcourt Mall being the latest attraction in Hawkins, but it turned out to be a cover for underground Russian experiments to open gates to the Upside Down.
The Upside Down is a mystery to both viewers and characters in the series, prompting many theories on how it was created, what it truly is (with some suggesting it’s a look into a post-apocalyptic future), and how it can be destroyed or the gate(s) to it can be closed for good. But there’s one theory that connects this alternate dimension with its most notable survivor: Will Byers, who managed to survive for a considerable time in the Upside Down. Did he make it out alive because he's actually the creator of the Upside Down? Let's examine the theory.
Everything We Know About The Upside Down & Its Origins
The Upside Down is an alternate version of this world. It looks like the human world, with the same buildings, houses, cars, and trees, but they all appear to be in decay, and are covered in webs and other substances. The atmosphere is not safe for humans, plants, and animals, with ashes and spores floating in the air, and it’s always dark. However, there are some monster-like creatures that are unaffected by this and can also survive in the human world, such as the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer.
The origin of the Upside Down is unknown even for the scientists at Hawkins Lab. Eleven accidentally opened the portal to this dimension when she came into contact with the Demogorgon during an experiment in the Void, and all missions to explore the Upside Down and its origins have been unsuccessful so far.
How Will Could Have Created The Upside Down
A theory posted on Reddit suggests that Will created the Upside Down, which is why he is the only person known to have survived there for days without any type of protection. The user suggests that prior to the events in season 1, when Will’s father, Lonnie, was still around, he took money from Hawkins Lab to let them experiment on a young Will (all this behind Joyce’s back, of course. There’s no way she could have agreed to something like that). Will is known to be a very creative kid, always drawing and making stories, and as Hawkins is all he knows, he could have created another version of the town, which somehow materialized after all the experimenting done on him.
According to this theory, the reason why Will survived in the Upside Down and wasn’t killed by the Demogorgon when it had the chance (or by the Mind Flayer, which instead chose to possess him) is because these creatures see him as their god and all they want is to keep him safe, even if they’re not doing it correctly. The theory adds that the events and creatures are so similar to Dungeons & Dragons because Will is an avid player, and it could have been his main inspiration when he was creating the Upside Down.
As for the powers he obtained during his time at Hawkins Lab, they either disappeared with time or he was somehow drained, as happened with Eleven at the end of season 3.
What This Would Mean For Stranger Things Season 4 & Beyond
At the end of season 3, the Byers (and Eleven) moved out of Hawkins to start a new life, but if Will is indeed the creator of the Upside Down, then moving out will not keep trouble away. This would mean that he is inevitably linked to the other dimension and the creatures in it, which will continue to go after him to bring him “home.” Of course, the fact that the Russians are still experimenting on the Upside Down doesn’t make this any easier for the Byers.
But this connection can also mean that Will is the only one who can either destroy the Upside Down or finally close the gate – after all, previous efforts to close it have been unsuccessful, even when Eleven used her powers to close it at the end of season 2. Speaking of Eleven and her powers, if she does get them back at some point in season 4, it could mean that Will can get his back too, and that could be key in destroying any and all creatures that cross to this world - as well as the Upside Down in its entirety.
The Problems With Will Creating The Upside Down
Making Will the creator of the other dimension would shift the focus from Eleven and the Upside Down to Will, which is not bad and it’s not something entirely new, as the second season also focused on him. But this doesn’t fit with what the series has been building about Eleven. As she was the one who (accidentally) opened the gate and the one who is more familiar with Hawkins Lab’s experiments (and Brenner’s intentions), she has been sold to viewers as the character who has what is needed to finally close the gate – she just doesn’t know how yet.
Even if Will lost his powers at some point between the experiments and season 1, it’s highly unlikely that he wouldn’t remember being at Hawkins Lab and creating the Upside Down, unless he was brainwashed – but that never turns out OK, as seen with Eleven’s mother. The problem with this theory is not so much that Will Byers is responsible for the Upside Down and therefore everything that has happened after that, but that it doesn’t quite fit with what the series has been doing so far, especially with Eleven. Still, Will can be key in helping Eleven close the gate or destroy the other dimension as he’s the only one who has spent enough time there to see how it functions, and survived being possessed by the Mind Flayer.