When Hopper and Jane went back to the laboratory, they found the doctor who had managed the project. He was in a stairwell, having previously been left in the security camera room.

Most curiously, he appeared to have been stabbed by a Demogorgon claw, and even gnawed on a bit, but he was still quite alive—all this despite having been in the building for hours, having been grievously wounded to the point of immobility, and having no weapon. Crucially, of course, he’d already had an encounter with at least one Demogorgon, and had been left at their mercy. And we know that the Demogorgons don’t tend to leave their victims for dead, either—quite the contrary, they appear to be more “strip the bones of flesh” type monsters. It’s not as if they weren’t in the lab, either: by the time Hopper got downstairs, there were dozens of them.

Why didn’t they kill and eat the doctor? Was he just lucky enough to evade their attention after getting nearly killed, and if so, how? Or is there something else going on here?

  • I remember wondering this myself when I saw this, but spotted the bloody gun on the floor right next to him. However, remember which actor they picked to play him, and their influence from Aliens; we still don't know if he can be trusted. He may be more polite than Brenner, it doesn't make him particularly better as a person.
    – Broklynite
    Oct 30 '17 at 12:18
  • 2
    Most of the people in the building don't get eaten, they're just killed and abandoned. As Mike mentioned, the demo-dogs had other things to worry about at the time. My guess, this guy got cornered and played dead. The dog that attacked him assumed the job was done and moved on. Nov 1 '17 at 15:11

This is purely speculation, but it's possible that the Demodogs attacked the doctor at the same moment that Will heard the phone ring. So they could have mauled his leg, but before they could finish the job they were called away to deal with the people hiding out at the house.

It was also shown that Hopper gave him a gun before they parted ways. Maybe he managed to shoot the creature that attacked him and successfully fought it off.

  • 1
    But then they got back to the lab in time for Hopper and Eleven to get there? And didn’t notice the doctor on their way back? It does seem possible (they left through the tunnels to get to the house, so they could have come back the same way), but we’d need an explanation then for them all staying in the lower lab…which admittedly it appears they did.
    – Adamant
    Oct 30 '17 at 10:33
  • Demodogs have been "called away" at least three times: when Bob was attacked (he dropped a broom and was attacked by a whole pack), when Will called them to his house and when boys set fire in the tunnels.
    – Yasskier
    Nov 7 '17 at 19:57

Similar reason to why they left Dustin and Steve alone -- they were called away to respond to a greater threat. I believe in the timeline, this would have been in response to the boys lighting up the central tunnel node.

  • That was later.
    – Adamant
    Nov 7 '17 at 21:16
  • @Adamant are you sure? The whole point of the boys setting fire to the node was to distract the demo-dogs so Hopper and Eleven had safe passage. When Hopper and Eleven find the doctor, the dogs are enroute to where the boys are. It isn't until Eleven begins closing the gate that the dogs return back to the lab. So my suggestion is that the doctor was being attacked by a dog, but then stopped in response to the boys distraction.
    – Eckert
    Nov 8 '17 at 13:58

The doctor was possibly left alive for a purpose:

We know that the "Mindflayer" can infect humans, gain access to their memories and in the end basically almost completely control them (as it almost happened to Will). And who would be the best candidate for a flesh puppet than the leader of the institute? We could safely assume that the Mindflayer knew/suspected who the doctor was, since he could see the doctor many times standing near the gate giving orders.

Another reason: wounded man is no danger to the dogs (or the mindflayer), so after sating the initial bloodlust, Demodogs could simply make sure that he won't go away and leave him for a later meal, while they were meanwhile feeding on the other corpses.

It is also possible that to breed Demodogs/Demogorgon need alive host - will was impregnated in Season 1 when he was very much alive, we don't know has Barb been just killed for food or also used for breeding.

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