In Stranger Things, early in the series,

Joyce finds a way to communicate with her missing son Will, using electric lights and an alphabet pointed on the wall (where Will spells out his answers by activating the lights).

However, later when we actually see more of the Upside-Down...

The environment seems to be relatively static, and as far as I could tell, completely empty of people. And, as far as I could tell (from the scenes that cut between the two perspectives in real time), the Christmas lights were not visible from the Upside Down. I didn't notice the alphabet painted on the wall either. From this one could assume that only things that have been in the same place for a long duration 'translate'.

But if this is the case, then

how would Will know a) that his mother was asking the questions that he subsequently answered with the lights, and b) that the lights/alphabet were there to be interacted with?

Is there any set of rules for how much somebody in the Upside-Down can sense subtler changes in the regular world, either extrapolated from within the show or given by those involved with production, that explains how any of that conversation could have happened, from Will's point of view?

  • 3
    In the last episode, Joyce can hear Jonathan when she's in the upside down, so there seems to be some overlap, it looks like changes in the one affect the other. What kind of sources are you looking for; speculation based on events in the show, or interviews/canonical sources outside the episodes?
    – nexus_2006
    Aug 19, 2016 at 1:36
  • That "hearing" was pretty ambiguous though, she didn't seem even sure that she had (it could have just as easily been that she vaguely felt his presence in a "someone walked over my grave" kind of way). Hearing is the less of the two problems, anyway, since the 'hole in the wall' open then might have let sound through like it had in the woods. Ideally I'm looking for something from 'official' that at least addresses it but if somebody can come up with a reasonable-and-consistent-with-what-we-saw explanation for how the 'spell out a message' thing worked that'd be fine too. Aug 19, 2016 at 1:48
  • 2
    Finally a stranger things question :) Aug 21, 2016 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


While I can't confirm were the lights/letters on the wall visible on the Upside-down side (I'm pretty sure they were this wall was is not shown in the scene when Joyce and sheriff walk to her house), people that are there can sometimes hear noises from the real world - like @nexus_2006 pointed out Joyce could hear Jonathan and Nancy when she was in the Upside Down with sheriff.

On top of that, it seems that the border between two worlds is for some reasons thinner in Byers house, probably because the creature ("Demogorgon") tore a hole there in the first episode abducting Will.

So answering your question, Will could hear (and probably even sometimes see) his mother trying to contact him - and please notice that he was actively TRYING to contact her, so he would pay much closer attention to any noise than Joyce in the last episode.

  • 6
    Another thing to note is that Joyce and the Sheriff were both wearing HazMat suits, but Will was over there without any protection for quite a while. When he finally makes it back home, he's seen flickering back to the Upside Down. It could be that such exposure allowed him a better "view" of the regular world as time went on.
    – Liesmith
    Aug 19, 2016 at 6:38

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