‘Stranger Things 4’ Fan Theory Clings to Hope for Brain-Dead Max

Max Mayfield narrowly escaped death in the Stranger Things Season 4 finale. Despite Eleven’s last-minute save, Max clings to life in a coma. But some fans of the Netflix series have a theory about how the fan favorite could return in Stranger Things Season 5.  

What happens to Max in the ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 finale? 

Stranger Things Season 5, Stranger Things 4, Stranger Things Max
‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 finale: Caleb McLaughlin (left), Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, and Sadie Sink | Netflix

After the Spider Monster killed Billy (Dacre Montgomery) in season 3, Max (Sadie Sink) felt guilt-ridden over her older brother’s death. Season 4 villain Vecna used that vulnerability to get into Max’s mind to try to kill her.

Her friends saved her early in season 4 by playing Max’s favorite song. But in the season finale, she offered herself as bait to help vanquish Vecna. In doing so, she left him vulnerable, but he still nearly killed her

Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who entered Max’s mind space to battle Vecna, ultimately saved her best friend from certain death. But unfortunately, Max’s conscious self didn’t return. In the finale, she lay in a coma in the hospital. 

She’s brain-dead, but, yeah, she’s alive,” Stranger Things creators and showrunners Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer confirmed in a chat with Josh Horowitz for his Happy Sad Confused podcast. “She’s blind, and all of her bones are broken. But, yeah, she’s doing great.” 

A fan theory explains how Max could recover

Max has become a Stranger Things fan favorite. And after seeing her bravery and heroism in season 4, many viewers can’t accept she’s lost forever. 

Fans have been sharing ideas on how Max could return to normal in Stranger Things Season 5. And one interesting theory suggests her survival is linked to Vecna’s demise. 

“Vecna ended up killing her, and he said those he kills don’t die — they just become part of him,” Erika Danielle wrote in the Stranger Things Memes Facebook group. “Max’s mind or spirit or whatever you want to call it is most likely trapped inside Vecna, [and] to save/release her, they gotta kill him.” 

The fan theory does hold water. However, if fans want to see her fight alongside El and the rest of the gang in the final season, Max will need to recover before Vecna dies. 

What we know about ‘Stranger Things’ Season 5 so far

With the season 4 finale ending in tragic suspense, fans can’t wait to see how things play out for Max and the rest of Hawkins in Stranger Things Season 5. For now, there’s no official release date for the final installment. But the Duffer brothers revealed that writers will begin working on scripts this August.

“We’re going to take a little vacation in July,” Ross Duffer recently told Collider. “And then we’re going to come back. I know that the writers’ room is going to start in that first week of August.”

With pre-production beginning next month, the show will likely start filming in early 2023. That means fans might not get new Stranger Things episodes until fall or winter 2023 or even early 2024.

The entire main cast is expected to return for season 5. And according to the Duffers, the story will primarily take place in Hawkins and focus on Will Byers (Noah Schnapp)

“Will is going to be a big part … is really all I can say of season 5 in his journey,” Matt Duffer told Collider. “We’re starting to see his coming of age, which has been challenging for a number of reasons, some of which are supernatural. But you’re starting to see him come into his own.”

“[It’s] setting up us coming full circle back to Season 1,” Ross Duffer added. “I think you’ll see that with a couple of the character arcs, not just with Will but also with Steve and Nancy and her relationship with Jonathan, where things are not fully resolved. The characters have maybe made steps, like in the case of Will, but that journey isn’t over yet. All of that is going to play a huge role as we try to wrap this thing up next season.” 

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