Stranger Things without Eleven? It almost happened.
During a chat with at Chapman University, Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer revealed Millie Bobby Brown's breakout character was supposed to die. Oh yeah, Stranger Things was supposed to be a limited series too.
"Maybe I shouldn't say this because I like to pretend that it was all planned out, but it was originally pitched as a limited series," Ross Duffer said, according to CinemaBlend. "So it was like, Eleven was gonna sacrifice herself and save the world and then that was gonna be it, because there was a moment where limited series were a big deal."
Obviously that did not happen. Eleven survived, Stranger Things returned for a second season and there are already plans for as many as five seasons about the paranormal happenings in Hawkins, Indiana.
Eleven isn't the only character to outlast the original expiration date creators had in mind—read on below to find out other TV characters who were supposed to die!
Sure, he landed his own spinoff, but Joseph Morgan's The Vampire Diaries character was supposed to die before heading off to The Originals. "I will tell you this—and I haven't said this before: Our intention was to kill Klaus at the end of season three," Julie Plec said. "We created the character last year… and our intention was, that after a long, arduous year of trying to vanquish and defeat the villain, our heroes would prevail and he would be no more. But when you have actors [like Joseph Morgan] who are that good, making such a distinct mark in the roles that they are playing, you have to let your storytelling evolve and wrap around that a little bit. We collectively decided around the middle of season three that we weren't done with Klaus—or Joseph."
Yes, there was almost Breaking Bad without Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman and his relationship with Bryan Cranston's Walter White. Crazy, we know. Series creator Vince Gilligan intended for Jesse to die in season one, with his death affecting Walter White in profound ways.
"My intention was that at the end of season one, Jesse would die horribly, which would make Walt feel really guilty and force him to question his criminality," Gilligan said. "But it became clear to me that Aaron Paul was an absolute asset to the show. I'd no more kill him off now than cut off one of my pinkies."
Before Matthew Fox landed the role on ABC's acclaimed drama, producers were looking at a big name, like Michael Keaton. The idea was to have Keaton as Jack, but kill the character off in the first episode.
"I said, 'I'll seriously consider it, send me the script,'" Keaton said. "[J.J. Abrams] said, 'No, we're keeping the guy alive,' and I said, 'Oh, ok, well I can't do that.'"
Jack lived and Fox landed the role.
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Believe it or not, Spuffy wasn't always endgame. Joss Whedon had originally intended James Marsters' character to just be another villain for the heroes of Buffy to defeat—key word being defeat.
"It was not supposed to be romantic, but the audience was responding that way and Joss was freaking out," Marsters said. "He backed me up against a wall one day and said, 'I don't care how popular you are, you are dead.'"
Damian Lewis' character was supposed to kick the bucket at the end of season one of Showtime's hit series when he strapped himself with a suicide vest. That didn't happen, he went on to survive until season three.
"Ultimately, we felt that there's just more to tell between Brody and Carrie," executive producer Alex Gansa told TVGuide.com. "So, we decided to keep him alive. Also, Showtime really wanted Damian Lewis around for another year."
The first episode of ER featured Julianna Margulies' character attempting suicide with an overdose of pills and that was supposed to be it…until the character struck a chord with test audiences. The rest? TV history.
"I had no idea I was coming back," Margulies said. "I was hired as a guest star, just for the pilot."
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Chalk this up to another case of test audiences loving a character. Walton Goggins' Justified character was supposed to die in the pilot after getting shot, but audiences loved Boyd so much he eventually became a main character.
Rich Sommer's Mad Men character wasn't supposed to be long for the world in AMC's period drama. He was supposed to meet his maker at the end of season one by jumping off the building. That didn't happen, obviously.
If you thought Stranger Things season one felt like a complete story, you would be right. The Duffer brothers envisioned a limited series, one that ended with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) making the ultimate sacrifice to save the day. She lived and Stranger Things continued, with Eleven becoming a new pop culture icon.
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Stranger Things season two is now streaming on Netflix.