The Duffer brothers haven’t shied away from killing off characters on their Netflix hit “Stranger Things.” But usually, sudden deaths or mysterious disappearances in the town of Hawkins, Indiana, are made apparent by way of surging lights, bloody noses or attacks from slimy mutants with faces made of teeth.
Throughout Season 2, one member of the Byers family has simply vanished, without fanfare, ceremony or, seemingly, any explanation whatsoever: the dog.
Yes, the beloved family pupper who, throughout Season 1, certainly appeared to be a Very Good Boy:
Handlers for the canine actor, a rescue who goes by Cruiser in real life, confirmed to HuffPost that he does not somehow appear in the background but was, in fact, cut from Season 2. “Maybe the Duffers are saving him for Season 3!” Greg Tresan of Atlanta’s Dogworks, Inc., said in an email. A look at the episodes played with closed captioning enabled suggested characters also do not appear to mention the dog’s absence.
And so we ask: Did he die? Did he run away? Was he given away? Was he ever really there in the first place?
Yes, he was there. He didn’t exactly have a name, though, in the series. The dog was called Chester in the Duffers’ pilot script ― which described him as a “shaggy mutt” ― but the name “Chester” didn’t make it into the actual dialogue, so viewers knew him simply as the Byers’ family pet.
Perhaps most memorably, the pup was on hand as Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) was stalked by a menacing creature in the show’s first episode. He enthusiastically greets Will ― a good dog owner who takes time for a couple pets even in an emergency situation ― and tries to defend the house from the Demogorgon.
His barking lacks that “Beware of Dog” flavor, but at least he tries, you know?
In other scenes, the dog is able to demonstrate sharper instincts. He attracts the attention of Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Chief Hopper (David Harbour) by barking in the direction of the woods ― and the handmade fort of the missing Will ― but Joyce drags him back inside by the collar. Later on, the dog is again drawn to the fort, where we eventually discover Will has been hiding in the Upside Down.
His last appearance comes at the season’s very end, having survived Joyce’s preoccupation with string lights, a hallway full of gasoline and all things Demogorgon. With Will finally rescued from the Upside Down, all is mostly back to normal in Hawkins. It’s Christmastime, and Joyce has left some processed meat product on the counter that appears to still bear the markings of whatever ’80s-era can it was dumped from.
The dog takes advantage of an unsupervised moment to nab some of the pieces:
Perhaps this is how he meets his fate.
Or perhaps some of the human members of the “Stranger Things” cast just didn’t get along with him. In August 2016, Harbour reportedly appeared on “The Howard Stern Wrap-Up Show” to talk about the series, mentioning how difficult it was to work with the canine actor.
“The dog was just being a jerk. I never ― I walked off set. I’ve never done that before,” the actor said, per Uproxx.
But Tresan, the dog’s handler, couldn’t confirm that explanation.
“I can’t really say if someone lost their patience with Cruiser or why. He’s a good dog and he did some difficult stuff on a demanding set. The end result is he gave a memorable performance,” he wrote, adding, “And yes, I, too, believe that leaving him out of Season 2 is a big plot hole.”
Representatives for Harbour and the Duffer brothers did not immediately return requests for comment.
And yet the status of the Byers’ pupperino isn’t the only important plot hole we noticed in “Stranger Things” Season 2. After Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) evicts Yurtle the turtle (temporarily, he says) in order to provide an enclosure for the tadpole-like creature he called Dart, Yurtle’s whereabouts are left unknown by the season’s end.
Unlike Mews the cat, his shell likely protected him from the creature’s fatal clutches. But if we can draw one conclusion about the town of Hawkins, it’s that this isn’t a safe place for pets.
“Stranger Things 2” is now streaming on Netflix.