The Hawkins National Laboratory, connected to the U.S. Department of Energy, was located in Hawkins, Indiana. It was a federal complex most likely controlled by the CIA or NSA, and was one of several national laboratories which grew out of the scientific endeavors of World War II.
The lab was very secure; it was surrounded with barbed wire fence and guarded by military police. It was composed of one multi-story building that leads down to an underground complex. It was located within a secluded forest with only a single road leading to it.
A child named Eleven was experimented on inside the laboratory. Psychological tests were conducted to exploit the telekinetic abilities she was born with. A room in the underground complex contained a sensory deprivation tank used to enhanced Eleven's psychic powers. When immersed in this state, she could psychically reach out to other living creatures.
While the initial intention was to spy on Russians using this power, Dr. Martin Brenner was intrigued by a creature from another dimension encountered by Eleven while in the tank. However, when Eleven made contact with it, a tear in reality was created and the Monster entered their dimension.
While looking for the escaped Eleven, scientists investigated the Gate, from which strange biologic matter slowly unfurled and spread into the underground complex.
Hopper later broke into the lab again. The second time, he was with Will's mother, Joyce Byers. Brenner gave them permission to enter the Gate to search for Will, believing their decision to be suicide and therefore unlikely to expose the laboratory for what it really was.
- Dr. Martin Brenner - scientist and researcher
- Connie Frazier - agent
- A lead agent with an unknown name
- Shepard - scientist
- Scientist with an unknown name
- Head of Security
- Dr. Owens
Behind the scenes
The filming location used for the exterior scenes is the Georgia Mental Health Institute which operated from 1965 to 1997 near the Emory University in Briarcliff, Atlanta. It was bought by Emory University in its entirety from the state in 1988 and housed a number of actual research projects for some years, but is now defunct and primarily used for shooting film and television.