Is Max Mayfield blind in Stranger Things season 4 and is she in a coma?

Is Max Mayfield blind? The ending for Stranger Things fan favourite is left unclear and fans want answers

Is Max Mayfield blind in Stranger Things picture shows Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield suspended in the air with eyes all white and staring
(Image credit: Netflix/Future)

The ending for one Stranger Things character was left unclear as fans want to know is Max Mayfield blind?

Stranger Things season 4 part 2 (opens in new tab) concluded with 2 thrilling final episodes, that saw the fate of Max Mayfield left hanging in the balance. Max has been under series’ antagonist Vecna’s curse throughout much of season 4. It’s only with the power of her connection to Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ that she has managed to stay free of the horrific end befalling those ahead of her. 

Vecna (opens in new tab) and his evil comrades the Demobats (opens in new tab) nearly completed his killing ritual on Max at the end of episode 9, ‘The Piggyback’. Laying in a hospital bed with potentially life-altering injuries, fans are concerned for the future of one of the show’s favourite characters.

Is Max Mayfield blind in Stranger Things? 

At the end of Stranger Things episode 9, Max is left blind. A trademark of Vecna’s killing ritual is to blind his victims as he breaks their limbs. He has been taking the eyes of his victims since he began killing as a child in his human form as Henry Creel. He doesn’t get to finish his ritual on Max, as a collective effort from the adults in Russia, and the teens in Hawkins and the Upside Down to destroy him, leave him seriously weakened.  

Max stops breathing for an entire minute, but is brought back to life by Eleven from inside her mind while in a sensory deprivation tank. A sobbing Lucas cradles Max with her shattered limbs and bleeding eyes. A terrified Max says to him “I can’t feel or see anything, I’m so scared, I’m so scared, I don’t want to die, I’m not ready”. One fan mused on Twitter (opens in new tab) that Max will remain blind for season 5, but will develop the ability to see what the others can’t, in the way Will feels things others can’t. 

Is Max brain dead in Stranger things? 

No, Max is not brain dead at the end of the Stranger Things season 4 finale. In technical terms she did stop breathing, but only for 1 minute. This isn’t long enough for brain death to occur. She is also seen in hospital at the end of the episode without a ventilator. She has oxygen running through a cannula into her nose, but if she were brain dead, she would require a ventilator. Those suffering brain death are unable to breathe for themselves.

This little ray of hope was reiterated by several Twitter users. One posted “GUYS MAX CANNOT BE BRAIN DEAD BECAUSE SHE’S NOT INTUBATED WHICH MEANS SHE’S BREATHING ON HER OWN”. To the apparent relief of other social media users.

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Some disagreed with this idea. (opens in new tab) When El entered Max’s mind, there was nothing there but darkness. They felt this was a metaphor for her being brain dead. Although clinically this is not possible, creatively the Duffer Brothers could be moving in any number of directions with this. The black mind and altered brain activity could be one of them.     

What was the book Lucas was reading to Max? 

Lucas is seen reading from ‘The Talisman’, a 1984 fantasy novel by Stephen King and Peter Straub. During the epilogue of the season 4 finale, Lucas is enthusiastically reading to Max from the fantasy book. 

It turns out that this is a strategically placed Easter Egg, as Netflix are adapting the book into a series, and the Duffer Brothers are executive producers. They will be joined by Steven Spielberg as fellow executive producer, and Curtis Gwinn as showrunner.

‘The Talisman’ follows a boy named Jack Sawyer who sets out on a quest to save his mother who is dying. Jack has the ability to switch between the present reality and a parallel world known as ‘The Territories’. The reveal of this plotline has drawn inevitable parallels with Stranger Things. Sharing a picture of Lucas’s battered copy of ‘The Talisman’ and sharing to Twitter, one fan said “Anyone else catch that Stephen King The Talisman Easter egg in Stranger Things? I hear they’re still making it so it was a nice little clue!”

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What year was Max Mayfield born in Stranger Things? 

Max was born in 1971. Max was born Maxine Mayfield in California to parents Sam and Susan Mayfield. Her parents divorced, and Susan married Neil Hargrove, who already had a son, Billy. The family moved to Hawkins in 1984, and Max arrived at her new home resentful of leaving California and her father. 

Max spends a lot of her early time in Hawkins at the Palace Arcade, using the name ‘MADMAX’ to log her scores on the video games. Dustin notices this user name is beating a lot of his highest scores and sets out to track Max down. Later when Dustin, Mike, Lucas and Will watch her skateboarding, she leaves them a note saying "Stop Spying On Me! Creeps!" She later becomes a valuable part of the gang.

Why did Max move to Hawkins? 

Max’s stepfather moved the family to Hawkins to put distance between Max and her mother, and Max’s real father. His reasons for doing this remain unclear, although fans have surmised that it could be related to him being an abuser. He is known to have inflicted abuse on his first wife, Billy’s mother, and Billy himself. Knowing Max had a close relationship with her father, Neil Hargrove could’ve got a brutal satisfaction at separating Max even further from him.

A production still of Billy and Max Mayfield from Stranger Things

(Image credit: Netflix)

Billy and Max are not biologically related, only step-brother and sister. During season 3, Billy becomes possessed by the Mind Flayer. This caused him to kill a lot of Hawkins citizens, and collude with the Mind Flayer to kill Eleven. In the process of killing Eleven, she relays memories she can see from Billy’s past, back to him. Memories of his mother and her kindness momentarily breaks him free from the Mind Flayer’s trance. In a lucid moment, Billy sacrifices himself to the Mind Flayer to allow Eleven to escape, and the Mind Flayer stabs him to death.

Speaking to The Independent (opens in new tab) about Billy’s death scene, Dacre Montgomery who plays Billy said “We constructed it this way from the beginning. I knew it was coming in that this was going to be the outcome. And I don’t think I would have been given the season that Billy had if I wasn’t dying — I think because I was on my way out, I was given an amazing opportunity to do a wide array of things. I’m very grateful”. 

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Lucy Wigley
Lucy Wigley

Lucy is a multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ experience writing about entertainment, parenting and family life. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and telling you why you should watch them.