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What is the Upside Down in Stranger Things, how did it kill Barb and why can Will Byers see it in season 2?

STRANGER Things tells a story of a small American town haunted by its own supernatural shadow – a dark netherworld referred to as the Upside Down.

The teaser for series two of the 80s-set drama was “the world is turning upside-down", so it clearly plays a key role in the show. But what is it? Here are all the theories…

 Stranger Things has terrified viewers with its depiction of a fictional world referred to as the Upside Down Stranger Things has terrified viewers with its depiction of a fictional world referred to as the Upside Down

What is the Upside Down in Stranger Things?

An alternate dimension

The most commonly-held belief among fans is that the Upside Down is an alternate dimension, somehow reflecting our own, that has always existed and has now been accessed by accident or by design in the 20th century.

Numerous characters have referred to it using the word "dimension", and Dustin compared it to the fictional Vale of Shadows in the boardgame Dungeons & Dragons.

This would make it "a dimension that is a dark reflection, or echo, of our world".

Dustin explained: "It is a place of decay and death, a plane out of phase, a place of monsters. It is right next to you and you do not even see it."

Meanwhile, Matt Duffer – one of the creators of the show, has described one of the creatures living there as an "inter-dimensional being".

However, accessing another dimension would involve travelling through space and time, and once tears have opened up between the Upside Down and the real world, people and creatures come and go quite easily.

 Hazmat suits are worn by military operatives in the Upside Down Hazmat suits are worn by military operatives in the Upside Down

A military weapon

The fact that it's remarkably easy to move between the real world and the Upside Down may be explained by one theory: that it was created by the US military.

Located at Hawkins Lab, the "gate" between the worlds presents a theoretical tear in space-time, which creates huge magnetic fields.

And in the town of Hawkins, compasses just happen topoint toward the laboratory.

This might suggest that experiments were done to create an alternate space, possibly a prison, just outside Hawkins – but what was created instead was more diabolical than expected.

A reflection of human evil

Some fans think that the Upside Down is a reflection, or collection point, of the real world's darkness and suffering.

The fact the air is toxic, and the fact that Barb was taken during a moment she felt most miserable – as well as the fact Will's "possession" was a psychic one – might support this theory.

 Slimy eggs are a feature of this alternate world Slimy eggs are a feature of this alternate world

What lives in the Upside Down?

Demogorgons

In series one the main monster was referred to as a Demogorgon and it had a flower-like head on a humanoid body.

It would capture humans, sometimes killing them and sometimes not, before bringing them to the Upside Down and keeping them in the alternate version of the Hawkins Library.

There was also a sinister-looking egg in the Upside Down, kept in the Demogorgon's den, which was used for feeding the creatures.

The main Demogorgon was apparently defeated by telekinetic youngster Eleven at the end of the first series.

Thessalhydras

In series two a new, much larger creature with eight legs and numerous heads appeared.

The creature was inspired by mythology before being designed as a creation for Dungeons And Dragons, the board game played by the young Hawkins gang.

How it can be defeated remains unclear given its size and the fact that legend says it will survive forever as long as one head remains.

The world of the Upsidw Down has its own unique and terrifying biology too, as its filled with vine-like tendrils and flesh-like membranes, and slugs emerging from the mouths of victims' bodies.

This wild life, and the spores in the air, spread to Hawkins Lab once the gate was opened in the first series.

 A creature referred to as a Demogorgon haunted this world in the first series A creature referred to as a Demogorgon haunted this world in the first series

How did Barbara Holland, aka Barb, die in Stranger Things?

Barb – the best friend of Nancy Byers – was taken by a monster from the Upside Down while sitting alone by a pool during a high school party.

The blood from a cut on her hand dripped into the pool and its scene attracted the creature, which appeared behind her and dragged her into the alternate world.

She was killed by the Demogorgon and stashed in its nest, with a horrible slug creature emerging from her mouth.

 In series one Barb was killed and dragged into the Upside Down In series one Barb was killed and dragged into the Upside Down

What happened to Will Byers in the Upside Down?

The first series of Stranger Things saw young Will Byers being trapped in this other world, and his friends then tried to find him.

He was discovered and brought back at the end of the series – but was seen vomiting up a very sinister slug creature into his sink at home.

It was the same slug creature than left Barb's mouth after she died in the world.

Then in series two Will was the subject of a kind of "exorcism" to expel the poison of the Upside Down from his body.

He continued to see visions of the Upside Down and the creatures living there.

Cast of Netflix hit drama Stranger Things hit red carpet for season 2 premiere in Los Angeles

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