Throughout Stranger Things, the romance between Mike and Eleven has been a focal point of the show, but their relationship was actually set up during their first meeting. Though its plot is driven by the investigation of Hawkins’ secret lab and the deadly second dimension it connected to, Stranger Things is also a coming-of-age story for each of its young protagonists. As its main cast grows into teenagers, Mike and Eleven’s relationship seems to be one of the constants that the show’s tumultuous story revolves around.

During the show’s first season, the main cast is a group of preteens with little interest in romance, but Mike’s connection with Eleven is evident from their very first interaction. Having just escaped from the Hawkins lab, Eleven isn’t sure what to make of the group of boys, but Mike is immediately taken with her. Because of their age and inexperience with relationships, they have a few awkward hurdles to overcome throughout the show, but there’s no denying that they were intended to get together from the beginning.

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Stranger Things Set Up Mike & Eleven’s Relationship In Episode 1

Eleven and Mike in Stranger Things

When Mike and his friends first meet Eleven, they’re actually out looking for Will, who has been trapped in the Upside Down. Mike hears Eleven rustling in the woods and, much to Lucas’ displeasure, insists they take her back with them. Mike’s immediate instinct to take care of her and show her kindness makes Eleven form an attachment to him. Even though both characters are young enough to have romance far from their minds, it’s pretty clear to the audience that that’s where Mike and Eleven’s relationship is headed.

When the boys first see Eleven, the camera zooms in with Mike in the middle, making it evident that she has already captured his attention. This technique is often used in film to indicate two characters with a strong personal or romantic connection, and the audience knows right away that something is being set up here. Right from the get-go, the two of them share a bond, and it doesn’t take long for that to turn into infatuation. Throughout season 1, that air of intrigue that began at their first meeting continues to build until he finally makes the move to kiss her in the season finale.

Mike & Eleven’s Romance Setup Doesn’t Mean They Should Stay Together

Composite image of Mike and Eleven in Stranger Things season 4

After everything Mike and Eleven have been through, it’s easy for their relationship to seem like a pillar of the show. Their meeting set things in motion, but Stranger Things doesn’t necessarily depend on them saying together. Season 4 introduced some issues into Mike and Eleven’s relationship, and a season 5 time jump could be the thing that breaks them up. Mike’s limited social circle at school and Eleven’s lack of any interaction with people her age puts them both in the position to benefit from having the opportunity to entertain other potential love interests or even go without a significant other in the show’s final season.

The Duffer Brothers have evolved the show so much further than its original story that Stranger Things doesn’t necessarily need to lean on their romance to keep the plot running smoothly. Nancy and Jonathan have definitely proven that chemistry in past seasons isn’t enough to keep a relationship going strong as the show wraps up. After 4 seasons, Stranger Things has proven that it might not need Mike and Eleven’s romance to last, but their relationship was a central detail from the very beginning.

More: Why Stranger Things Star Is Fully Ready For The Netflix Show To End

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