At the end of Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 2, it's frustratingly unclear how dead or alive Max (played by Sadie Sink) actually is. Max is the fourth and final victim of Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) whose death triggers the apocalypse, breaking the barriers between Hawkins and the Upside-Down ahead of the fifth and final season of the show. Unlike Vecna's first three victims, Max was clinically dead for a moment before being revived by Eleven (Millie Bobby brown).
The last time we've seen Max, in Season 4, "Chapter Nine: The Piggyback" she's in the hospital, still critically injured and comatose after her dangerous encounter with Vecna. Vecna's curse clearly hurt Max, and her comatose mind is an empty black void after Eleven's intense mind fight with Vecna.
Did Max die in Stranger Things Season 4 finale?
Technically, Max died in Stranger Things Season 4 finale—if only for a moment. Lucas said that the doctors declared that Max's heart stopped for over a minute, but she somehow came back to life. Eleven doesn't reveal that she's responsible for Max's revival, but Mike and Will glance at each other a knowing look to say they've figured it out.
But even if the Season 4 finale showed that Max came back to life, there are still a lot of questions that are left unanswered, such as, "What did Eleven exactly do? Did she jump-start Max's heart with her psychic powers? Did channeling Max's pleasant memories somehow revive her? How did she develop resurrection powers in the first place?
At this point, it's still unclear if Max will wake up from her coma. “They say she might not,” Lucas said. Even if Max wakes back up, that won't mean that she'll be safe from Vecna and other threats from the Upside-Down. We'll have to wait for Stranger Things Season 5 to find out the answers about Max's future.
What did the Duffer brothers say about Max's fate in the alternate ending?
The Duffer brothers recently revealed that Max was set to die in Stranger Things Season 4, but they clearly changed her fate in the final version.
"[Max's death] was discussed as a possibility. For a while that is what was gonna happen," Ross Duffer told Netflix Geeked. "We wanted to end it in a little bit more of a question mark at the end of the season where it's still really dark and we don't know if Max is going to be OK… We don't really know. We wanted to leave it up in the air moving forward into Season 5."
"This season, we always wanted our [Star Wars] Empire Strikes Back season," Matt Duffer said. "We tried it a little bit with 3, but this is really doubling down on that idea of — at least 3 has a sad note, there's a sacrifice, but they've defeated the evil, or at least pushed it back for a while. Whereas with this, we wanted them to actually lose. We wanted our characters to experience what that felt like."
He added, "That was the big idea coming into 4, that they were gonna lose and we're gonna introduce Vecna, and they're gonna lose to him. That would be setting our characters up for what is gonna be the ultimate final confrontation with Vecna, with the Upside Down, which is going to be Season 5."
Is Sadie Sink returning for Stranger Things Season 5?
In the Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 2 aftershow, Max actress Sadie Sink shared her thoughts on Max's ultimate fate.
“I just hope that she’s able to do anything, I guess,” she replied when asked about her hopes for Max in the final season. “Yeah, I have no clue what is going on just with her in general… Hopefully she’s out of the hospital… out of the full body cast, that would be great.”
Speaking to W magazine, the young actress said, "When I got the script for episode 9, it said that Max dies but that she sort of comes back. It’s uncertain, but she’s not fully dead."
Sink said that Season 4 was "a difficult road for her." She added: "I definitely knew nothing good would happen, but I was not expecting this—this was a crazy, crazy end."
Matt Duffer also said that he “can’t really get into the details, but it is important that she is” in a coma, explaining that the character’s condition isn’t just a “cheat” to keep her in the cast but is actually “incredibly relevant” and will have “a major effect on Season 5."
For now, it's likely that Sadie Sink will return as Max in Stranger Things Season 5, and that her character will likely reunite with Lucas, but it's still unclear if Max will wake up from her coma.
You can read more details about the final season in everything we know about Stranger Things Season 5.