One of my proof-readers caught an error in chapter 3 of my novel Endless Night. The kids are in Mike’s basement getting slaughtered in a ruthless D&D campaign, something happens which makes them want to leave the house as fast as possible, but it may be too dangerous to go up the stairs into the kitchen. My reader pointed out that there is a door in Mike’s basement that leads directly outside, so why didn’t they just use that?
Now, I have seen each season of Stranger Things series many times, and I was never aware of an outside door in Mike’s basement. I’ve spoken to others who also didn’t recall such a door. So I got on Netflix and breezed through some of the episodes, and sure enough — once you look for it — it stands out rather obviously. The door to the outside is close to the D&D table, and right next to the desk-table that was turned into El’s hideaway fort.
I took screenshots and drew up a map of the Wheeler basement as follows. It turned out to be a worthy exercise. There are other things about Mike’s basement I wasn’t aware until I looked carefully, like the tool area behind the staircase.
(So here’s my question: given this door, why do the kids never use the damn thing throughout seasons 1-3? Do they just like the exercise of climbing the stairs and going out the front door, when they need to leave the house?)
These the screen shots. Click on each to enlarge.
The first scene of the series puts the matter beyond doubt: the outside door is right there, close to the D&D table. To its right is the desk that Mike will soon be turning into El’s hideaway fort. The poster of The Thing (behind Will’s head) is still there in season 3.
Another shot of the same scene, with the staircase visible.
Same scene, showing the open bathroom behind Mike, which puts the bathroom opposite the wall that has the poster of The Thing.
Same scene again, and a very helpful angle that shows the tool area of the basement behind the staircase. There is a work table on the far side, and a small desk on the side closer to the gaming table. Note: there is no telephone on the pillar behind Mike, but there will be by the time of season 3.
The couch and food table are the first things you see in the basement when coming down the stairs.
As Mike tucks in El, the outside door is plainly visible to his left.
The couch area. By season 3, there will be a TV to Mike’s left, on top of the area where the green blankets are sitting.
Same scene after Mike leaves for school.
The couch view of El’s fort and the door to the outside.
Another shot of the outside door, a bit hard to see, but clearly there.
This view of the door makes clear that it goes to the outside. It’s clearly outside lighting, especially from the window above El’s fort.
View of the tool area and work table behind Dustin.
The boys are at the D&D table, and Dustin is sitting where Mike sat during their campaign. The open bathroom is now behind him.
Another shot of the couch area.
The clearest shot of the outside door in season 1, as Dustin prepares to school Mike and Lucas on the nature of magnets.
The epilogue scene, wrapping up the D&D game. As in the opening scene, except you can see behind Mike that he has kept El’s fort intact, even though she’s presumed lost or dead.
In season 2 we hardly see any of the Wheeler basement, except for a scene like this, where Mike is being forced to throw out his toys as punishment for raising hell in school, and…
…this one, as he looks over to the fort he has kept intact for a whole year, as he pines for El and tries calling her on his walkie-talkie every night.
Into season 3, with a hugely grown Mike, and a TV now in the couch area.
And also a phone on the pillar at the bottom of the stairs. The fort is gone now, and it’s just a desk-table again. The Thing poster is still behind the D&D table.
There are much clearer shots of the basement windows in season 3.
The clearest shot of the outside door in season 3, as Will prepares for a campaign that Mike and Lucas have no interest in…
…but which they are going to play, and have their sleep cut short for it.
Another shot of the couch area, and the tiger poster.
El no longer has a fort to call home, but that TV is very useful.
Another view of the basement from the bottom stair.
Mike is talking to Lucas who is on the couch. Behind him to the left is the bathroom door, next to the washer and dryer…
…which comes in this close-up shot.