Stranger Things: Why is Eleven bald?

Stranger Things is a series that has left viewers with plenty of unanswered questions and mysteries yet to be unveiled over the course of its run. The show features an ensemble cast and every season we’ve seen each character struggle, whether it’s battling an otherworldly monster or dealing with more personal demons.

One character whose past is particularly puzzling is Eleven, played by the talented Millie Bobby Brown. Fans of Stranger Things will recall that when we first met Eleven all the way back in season 1, she was essentially a prisoner at Hawkins Lab. She was basically bald, had a limited vocabulary, and very little control over her powers. Recent seasons of Stranger Things have seen Eleven with much longer hair, but the question remains: what was the reason for the shorn locks in the first place?

Although we don’t know all the details about Eleven’s history, we know that Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) took part in the infamous Project MKUltra, a covert operation with the goal of developing mind-control techniques by administering psychedelic drugs to participants.  One of those test subjects was Terry Ives (Aimee Mullins), Eleven’s mother.

Since Terry was pregnant at the time of these experiments, her extensive use of drugs caused Eleven to be born with telekinetic abilities.

At the start of the series, it seems that Eleven has been kept at Hawkins Lab her whole life. Her abilities are often tested by Dr. Brenner. Eleven was being trained to use her powers to spy on the Soviet Union, giving the U.S. an upper hand in the Cold War.

As reported by Bustle, Eleven’s brain activity was often monitored in order to help the scientists at Hawkins Lab better understand and harness her abilities. When her powers were tested at the lab, Eleven would wear headgear covered in wires, presumably so that Dr. Brenner could get more data.

It makes sense that she has a shaved head, as it would have allowed easier access for the equipment to get a read on her brain waves. Since Dr. Brenner saw her as a science experiment, shaving Eleven’s head would have seemed like a logical way to streamline the trial process.