The big question at the end of Stranger Things season 4 is “is max alive Stranger Things?” Although apparently left in a troubled state, the Duffer brothers have a reassuring update on Max’s (Sadie Sink) fate at the end of the season. The fourth season of the Netflix series marked a crucial and emotional arc for Max. It saw her deal with the aftermath of the events of Season 3. Her abusive stepbrother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) came back from being possessed and sacrificed himself to save Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) from the Mind Flayer at Starcourt Mall, leaving Max with a large dose In Season 4, Max struggled to come to terms with Billy’s death and suffers from PTSD, eventually finding himself the target of the evil Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) as he goes on his terrifying killing spree around Hawkins.
Although Sadie Sink was already considered a breakout character in Season 3, Sadie Sink appears as Max in Stranger Things season 4 achieved widespread critical acclaim, namely for the episode “Dear Billy”, in which she tries to process the fact that she may soon die from Vecna and writes letters to her friends and family, including Billy. Season 4 ultimately brought Max through the twist as she narrowly escaped Vecna’s clutches mid-season with the help of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and the support of her friends, though the final episodes would see her briefly die. As the audience anxiously awaits further details about Stranger Things season 5, the creators behind the show are being offered clarification on where some characters will be in the future.
What is Max’s fate?
While speaking with Josh Horowitz for Happy Sad Confused podcast, the Duffer brothers broke down the major spoilers Stranger Things season 4. Going through the fates of many major characters, the creators confirmed Max’s fate at the end of the season and assured that Max is alive in Stranger Things, but is in a bad way. See what the Duffers explained below:
“Okay, she’s brain dead, but she’s alive. [Laughs] Brain dead and blind and all her bones broken, but she’s fine. She’s seen better days.”
That Stranger Things In the season 4 finale, Max almost saw her end when Vecna finally got to her and began his killing method on her, breaking both her arm and leg and leaving her blind before Eleven narrowly stopped the villain and she woke up and died in Lucas’s arms. Although Eleven apparently brought her back to life while watching over her in the void, the final moments of the finale saw Millie Bobby Brown’s heroine and her friends visit Max and Lucas in the hospital, where Max is in a coma and unresponsive. Despite apparently being alive and foiling Vecna’s plans to open gates to the Upside Down around Hawkins, Eleven was unable to find Max in the Void while in the hospital, leaving many to wonder what the future would hold her.
Interestingly, audiences weren’t the only ones unsure of Max’s fate, as Sink confirmed right after the release of season 4 that she didn’t know if her character would be alive heading into Stranger Things season 5, as the Duffers have remained tight-lipped about their cast. When Sink appeared Today in January 2023, she could confirm that Max would still appear in season 5, but she could not reveal more than that. She explained during the interview, “Spoiler free, just with the way my character ended in season 4, I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’ll be there.” She acknowledged that Season 5 would be “scary and sad“for the actors to say goodbye and move on to other projects when the show ends, but also that it would be”exciting to move on to the next chapter” as well.
The creators’ confirmation that Max is alive will certainly be reassuring news to those worried about the fan-favorite character, though their note that she is “brain death” presents a unique challenge for the Duffers heading into Season 5 in how to either bring Max back or give her an emotional send-off.
Could Max get any better?
Given the wait between seasons 4 and 5, there has been no shortage of theories about Max still being alive in Stranger Things. She may be in a “bad way” at the end of season 4, but theories about how Max could heal or get better after her initial conflict with Vecna abound. These theories range from her being saved by Eleven again, to her being saved by another character Stranger Things fans haven’t seen in a while.
The prevailing theory is that Max’s mind is still trapped in the Upside Down with Vecna, just as One told Eleven that their siblings were still with him after he took their lives. The student, being able to travel into the void and potentially into the space of other people’s minds, is theorized to be able to reach Max’s mind and help bring her back to her body. However, other theories point to the fact that after the time jump between seasons, Max’s body could begin to heal on its own, but another of Eleven’s siblings could give her a hand.
Eight, who chose the name Kali (Linnea Bethelsen), last seen in Season 2, has a unique ability compared to those seen from Eleven. She has the ability to make others see things that aren’t there. Her power specifically interferes with vision. If she’s spent more time honing her skills over the years since she last saw her little sister, it’s possible that Kali may have tapped into a deeper ability to see than before, that even if Max somehow wakes up, Kali help restore her sight.
Still, other theories suggest that Max will not survive the final season of Stranger Things. There is a possibility that even though her mind is still trapped with Vecna, Max can find a way to fight him from within. While many fans expect either Will or Eleven to make the ultimate sacrifice in Season 5, others believe it could be Max to save his friends, just like Billy did after being possessed by the Mind-Flayer. While Max could get inside Stranger Things season 5, she may also be one of the few main characters in the series to die in battle.
Source: Josh Horowitz/Twitter