Want to know more about this groundbreaking show? Look no further – there’s plenty of trivia and facts about this blockbuster show right here. From inspirations to homages to behind-the-scenes details, you’re sure to find something new.
The Best Relationship of Season 2
To a lot of people, the friendship between Steve Harrington and Dustin was the highlight of season two. The two characters are both a little heartbroken. Steve because Nancy Wheeler broke up with him, and Dustin because he thought he was losing his friends.
The two came together and found ways to heal each other in a charming, heartwarming relationship that seemed like brothers. However, when the Duffers first pitched the second season, there was no bromance to speak of. As they dug into the plot they realized they had a great opportunity for a relationship TV frequently lacks.
Making Things Gross
During one specific segment of the show, Dustin and Steve make a trek down a train track with buckets of raw meat in order to track a mini-Demogorgon. While the show could have used simple raw meat, they wanted a little bit more visual pop to the scene.
The mixture was part chopped beef and part watermelon, making it super gross and juicy. Sadie Sink was quite grossed out by the scene since she's a vegetarian. Would she have been more grossed out by just meat, or was the gooey concoction what did it?
Invasion of Hawkins
The entirety of season two – and parts of season three – have to do with the Mind Flayer taking over certain characters, including Will Byers and Billy Hargrove. Both times, this is the cause of most of the problems in Hawkins. It's a sneaky shout-out to the classic film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” especially the 1978 remake.
In the film, people are replaced by evil copies of themselves, aliens from another planet. The details aren't exactly the same, and it's a little more like mind control than replacement, but several of the details line up.
A Musical Easter Egg
During episode four of season three, the kids trap Billy Hargrove – now controlled by the Mind Flayer – inside a sauna. The Mind Flayer hates the heat, and this proves effective in stopping Billy. For the moment, at least. However, keen-eared viewers might recognize the song playing over the scene, Vera Lynn's “We'll Meet Again.”
It seems an odd choice until you realize it was also in the movie “Dr. Strangelove,” which deals with the Cold War and its tensions. The Cold War had long been a backdrop of the series, but season three brings it to the foreground with the addition of Russians in Hawkins.
Switching up the Script
Joyce Byers creating a wall of Christmas lights in a desperate attempt to communicate with her lost son is one of the most iconic scenes of the first season – perhaps of the entire show. Originally, however, it wasn't going to work out that way. The first script had the teens, Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve, use the Christmas lights to find the monster that had been plaguing the town, the Demogorgon.
One of the writers pitched the idea of having Joyce use them to communicate with her son, and they immediately went with it. Viewers are grateful, as is Ryder, who displayed truly inspiring acting during the scene.
Trying to Branch Out
After the runaway success of “Stranger Things,” the Duffer brothers had plenty of other projects to consider. What would be a good idea for a bunch of kids in the eighties to face a cosmic horror from another world? If you're a fan of clowns, you probably already know the answer. Yes, the Duffers were in talks with Warner Bros. to direct a remake of “It,” one of the biggest horror icons of the eighties and nineties.
As we know now, a two-part remake did eventually get released (starring none other than Finn Wolfhard, who played Mike Wheeler), but the Duffers weren't part of the conversation. There are lots of potential reasons why, but it's all complicated studio stuff to us.
The Real Names
Part of the show's charm comes from the viewpoint of the kids – the horrific otherworld we discover in the first series is called the “Upside Down,” and the monster from the second season is referred to as a Mind Flayer – a classic Dungeons and Dragons monster. However, this wasn't always going to be.
The Upside Down was first called the Nether during production, but they got so used to calling it the Upside Down, that the name stuck. The Mind Flayer was just going to be the shadow monster, but it needed something with a bit more pop. Since the kids in the show were all fans of D&D and the first season had the Demogorgon, it wasn't too hard to find a good moniker.
Speaking the Lingo
Season two sees the addition of a few Californians to the cast, including main character Max Mayfield, played by Sadie Sink. The characters poked a little bit of fun at Max for her heritage, but they didn't do too much – she was kind of angry. One such example was when Dustin says the phrase “totally tubular.”
One might kindly interpret it as skater lingo, but it was really just Dustin trying to talk like a character from one of the many California movies. While Dustin hopefully hadn't seen the movie by that point, it sounds pretty similar to Sean Penn from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
Created by Twin Brothers Matt and Ross Duffer
Twins often work well together, so when Matt and Ross Duffer came up with this interesting idea, it was hard not to see the success.
The brothers had previously worked together as writers and producers for the Fox television series “Wayward Pines,” which uses a lot of the same elements as a horror and science-fiction show. The brothers have also created the movie “Hidden,” which has a family hiding in an underground bunker after a zombie apocalypse. They came up with the idea for “Stranger Things” by wondering what it would be like if Steven Spielberg directed a Stephen King book.
A Salty Bath
You might remember part of season one had to do with a sensory-deprivation tank. When Eleven went inside it, her psychic powers were greatly enhanced, since she had no other physical sensations. In an effort to stop the monster from attacking them, the good guys later create their own version of the tank using a kiddie pool, spray-painted goggles, and salt. Lots and lots of salt.
That wasn't TV trickery that got Millie Bobby Brown to float – production really did use more than a thousand pounds of Epsom salts to keep her suspended on top of the water.
The Power of the Strange Side
In a nod that was nearly impossible to miss, the second season of “Stranger Things” has a big shout-out to the Star Wars series. It was huge in the eighties, so of course, there were several set decorations from the series, but there's more.
Season two has Eleven run away and find some people with similar powers, and at one point she tries to move a train, pushing herself to the limit. Her friend Kali tells her to channel her anger to help, a clear indication that there is something like the dark side of the force at work.
An Unforgettable Audition
Dacre Montgomery, who plays Max's bully of a step-brother Billy Hargrove, decided to do something...unconventional for his audition tape. That's putting it mildly. The Duffers were looking for someone who was charismatic and charming, but also full of himself – how better to display those qualities than dance around in a G-string to “Come on Eileen”? There's no better way.
He assumed he would either get the part or never get an acting job again. The Duffer brothers loved it, saying it might be the most unique and memorable audition tape they've ever seen. Billy only lasted a few seasons in the show, but he danced through the hearts of plenty, even as a bad guy.
She Looks Cool, Doesn't She?
According to the Duffer brothers, Millie Bobby Brown was reluctant to shave her head for the role of Eleven. A close-crop cut isn't exactly the sort of style that most girls these days are interested in sporting, no matter how much it makes sense for what the character went through.
Brown wasn't into the idea, but the Duffers told her she could still look cool...and then handed her a picture of Charlize Theron from “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Just that image convinced Brown it would be all right, and she later called it a great decision (even if her dad cried while they were shaving the hair off).
A Nod to a Lost Legend
In season four, the kids have grown up, physically and mentally. Lucas has become part of the basketball team, and his jersey bears the number eight. This is a nod to the late Kobe Bryant's first jersey number when he joined the NBA.
Lucas's actor Caleb McLaughlin chose the number on purpose as a tribute to the late basketball star, who passed away between seasons three and four being released. As another costuming fact, Noah Schnapp absolutely hates the bowl cut that Will sports in several seasons and was thrilled when his moaning finally got through to the creators.
A Kid's Classic Weapon
Finn Wolfhard plays Richie Tozier in the modern adaptation of the classic book “It” by Stephen King, but there was actually a reference to the original movie version of the book, which came out in the early nineties. Okay, it was actually a two-part miniseries, but it still counts.
One of the kids in “It,” Beverly Marsh, uses a slingshot as a weapon against the titular clown and its various forms. Adding on to that, Lucas uses the weapon to defend himself from adolescent Demogorgons during several intense scenes. It might not have been as effective as Steve's nail-studded baseball bat, but it still did some damage.
Will, played by Noah Schnapp, was the unlucky kid who found his way to the Upside-Down in the first season. Part of the show featured an incredibly lifelike corpse of Will, used to give the viewers a shock. Well, they weren't the only ones. During a somewhat mean-spirited prank, the Duffer brothers took Noah's mom, Karine, aside during filming one day, and led her to a dark closet.
Opening the door, they revealed the VERY lifelike corpse of her son. She was startled at first which was, you know...duh. But, after the initial shock, she ended up loving it. Gotta say this raises a number of potentially uncomfortable questions.
Like Candy for the Ears
With sneaky synth sounds and other music tropes from the eighties, the soundtrack is yet another critical part of the “Stranger Things” formula. You couldn't have an indie rock song from the 2000s playing over a show set in small-town Indiana in the eighties, now could you?
In order to create this wonderful soundtrack, the Duffer brothers hired Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, members of the band "Survive". The Duffers first heard their music in the film “The Guest,” and they convinced the two to quit their day jobs and make music for the show.
A First Role
Since there were so many kids, most of the actors and actresses didn't have much to their acting resumes, but one actress got her start on “Stranger Things.” It was none other than Shannon Purser, who played Barb of “#justiceforBarb” fame. Yes, the doomed friend of Nancy Wheeler was Shannon's very first acting role, and Shannon was vocal about how excited she was.
To her, it was the biggest thing she had ever done, and the idea of getting the role was super cool. Despite only being alive in the first season, Barb is an important part of the show, even getting mentioned in the fourth season.
Not After Midnight
Another eighties storyline that season two seems to be copying/parodying/creating an homage to is that of “Gremlins.” The gang finds a small, strange creature and starts to care for it, watching as it grows bigger, only to discover to their horror that it is, in fact, a young version of the creature that nearly doomed them in the first season.
In “Gremlins,” Billy and Gizmo get along well, but it becomes clear that Gizmo is far more dangerous than Billy first assumes. So, too, do the kids of Hawkins realize they have been harboring one of the denizens of the Upside-Down, which does a lot to move the plot along.
She Was Just Too Sassy
Lucas's younger sister Erica Sinclair was originally going to have a much smaller role. The actress, Priah Ferguson, was just a local hire the Duffer brothers made in Atlanta, expecting to be little more than a background character to fill out Lucas's family. She wasn't supposed to be in season two as much as she was, but she started stealing scenes.
The brothers called her very “GIF-able,” as long as that's a word. She gets a lot more screen time in season three (and four) since it makes perfect sense for a young kid like her to enjoy spending lots of time at the mall.
The Breakfast Duo
It isn't confirmed that this is what the Duffer brothers were going for when they created the scene, but there's one part of season three that seems reminiscent of “The Breakfast Club.” Steve and Robin are confessing things to each other in a pair of bathroom stalls after getting away from violent enemies.
A similar scene occurs in “The Breakfast Club,” which has the five members lounging on the floor of their detention space, telling each other secrets. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Robin and Claire Standish seem to be seated in similar poses. Steve and John Bender also seem to have similar positions.
Keeping Things Rolling
With season three of the show in the bag, Netflix had a mind to keep the momentum going. They wanted the Duffer brothers to immediately jump into filming the next season, perhaps aware of how much longer and more intricate season four would be. Filming a show is a huge undertaking, and the Duffers, the producers, and the cast decided that it was best to take a break to do some other stuff and refresh.
It might have been for the best – with worldly events of the years after season three, who knows if the fourth season would have even come out any sooner. Lots of projects had to be shut down, and “Stranger Things” might have been one of them.
Convincing a Star
Winona Ryder was without a doubt the most recognizable name on the roster for the first season, and it took some persuading for her to join the team. Before officially casting her, the Duffer brothers sat in a four-and-a-half-hour meeting with the woman that would go on to play Joyce.
Ryder had been in a bit of a career slump at the time, but joining such a big, unsure project still required thought and conversation. Oddly, the Duffers later said that they didn't really talk about the show or the character much – instead, they just got to know each other. Ryder joined the project the next day.
Big Fan of the Films
Plenty of the kids from the show have started appearing in bigger and better things, but none so much as Finn Wolfhard, who even joined the ensemble cast of the new “It” movies. It turns out Wolfhard liked nothing better since he's a huge fan of movies and a voracious watcher. In fact, when the Duffer brothers cast him, they gave him a list of movies to watch to get into the mindset and idea of the show.
It turns out that Wolfhard, big movie watcher as he was, had already seen all of the films! We're not sure exactly what movies these were, but we can probably come up with some good guesses.
The Number of Kids
Finding the perfect people to be part of a project is a big job for any television show, but “Stranger Things” took it to the next level. The Duffer brothers interviewed over nine hundred boys and over three hundred girls for the children's roles. We're unsure if this means the main five young kids (Eleven, Will, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas) or if that also includes the teens.
Still, finding the kind of tykes that can stand up to school bullies and monsters from another world takes some time. We think they did pretty well, all things considered, even if working with child actors is never easy.
Making It Look Authentic
A lot of people have noticed that while the show uses modern filming techniques, it still has a certain eighties quality to it. This is due to the show's colorist adding scanned film grain to each and every frame. The Duffer brothers requested it to add a certain vintage vibe to the show, which was helped by the camera work, blocking, and sets.
People who are fans of classic eighties films probably felt right at home, even though the twenty-teens were already half-over when the show first arrived. A light touch was required so that it didn't overpower the show, but it still had to have an effect.
In the first episode of season 2, Will opens his front door to see a twisted landscape, roiling clouds, fingers of red lightning, and a dangerous, powerful figure. The red light that shines around him, and the scene beyond the door are similar to another classic film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
Little Barry Guiler opens his door to discover something very similar to the big shot from “Stranger Things.” Very likely, that's exactly what the Duffer brothers intended. While the elements aren't exactly the same, the framing and shot composition are undeniably similar. The newer version has a bit more of a pop to it, but that doesn't mean the original didn't do a great job.
A Callback AND a Shout Out
At one point in season three, a few of Dustin's friends surprise him in the neighborhood, and, in a moment of panic, he hits them with the bottle of hairspray he had been carrying. This hairspray has a dual purpose.
The first is as a reference to Farrah Fawcett, the eighties bombshell who was headlining “Charlie's Angels” at the time, but it's also a callback to a conversation Dustin had with Steve, during which Steve tells Dustin to get some hairspray and tame his mop. It seems as if Dustin listened to his ersatz big brother's advice, even if his friends were on the business end of the spray at one point.
Ideas From the Cast
Each of the main kids from the cast has unique styles and looks, despite all of them looking truly from the eighties. Caleb McLaughlin, who played Lucas, thought that his outfit didn't have enough personality in it, so he brought up the idea of wearing a bandana during season one. It gave the character a ready-to-rumble look, befitting Lucas's gung-ho attitude.
The Duffer brothers have gone on record saying the kids often have great ideas about the show, and this is one of those times. Such a simple addition that does so much to detail the character.
It seems like most of the main cast are good friends, and that comes as no surprise. All of the kids get along great, and even the adults fit in well. The group has a big group chat they've named “Stranger Texts,” but their phones aren't often seen on set – not even when the cameras aren't rolling.
Like the eighties kids the cast is portraying, they prefer playing board games and cards while they're waiting for their turns in front of the camera. It's nice to hear that not everybody is glued to their phones these days.
Stephen King Knew About Mille Bobby Brown
Millie Bobby Brown plays the complicated and struggling Eleven to a T, showing off both heartfelt joy, destructive anger, and wonder at simple things like frozen Eggo waffles. Before she joined the cast, author Stephen King – who was one of the big inspirations for the show – tweeted about the young actress.
She was on the British show “Intruders,” and King tweeted about his appreciation for her talents long before the Duffer brothers cast her as Eleven. King, who knows a thing or two about child actors, called her terrific and said child actors must be getting better.
He'll Be Back
“The Terminator” came out in October of 1984, and without a doubt, the kids of Hawkins would have begged their parents to take them. While the adults might not have acquiesced (it's super violent), that doesn't mean they can't have some posters.
There was also a character reference in the show – the third season introduces the dangerous Russian soldier Grigori, who not only has a certain Terminator look to him but is actually referred to as “Arnold Schwarzenegger” in the show. Thankfully, Grigori was far easier to dispatch than the robot from the classic film, even if it did take a while.
Steve Was Supposed to Be Meaner
By the end of season three, Steve Harrington was the best. His relationship with Dustin, sort of an older-brother younger-brother thing, was heartwarming in a show that had plenty of horror and sadness. In season one, however, he was the douchey boyfriend to Nancy Wheeler that the viewers loved to hate.
Yet, oddly, the character had plenty of fans, and in season two he made the transition to a good friend to all, becoming one of the young kids' staunchest allies. He was supposed to be even meaner and douchier, but actor Joe Keery was too charming for it to be believable.
Bob's Original End
Near the end of Season two, Bob Newby dies after shutting a door between an adolescent Demogorgon and the rest of the cast, resulting in his demise from said monster. He went out saving the lives of people he loved, but it wasn't always going to be that way.
His original passing was going to come at the hands of Will, whom he had an ersatz father-figure relationship with. The Mind Flayer, through Will, was going to kill Bob to up the stakes of the season, but it seemed like a criminal act to move past Sean Astin so quickly, so the Duffers re-wrote a few things.
Getting Help From the Experts
We shouldn't be surprised that some of the younger members of the cast had a little bit of trouble with some of the intense scenes in the show, but they had veteran actors and actresses to lean on. Noah Schnapp, who played Will, asked help from his on-screen mother, Winona Ryder, with help for a certain scene.
She showed up an hour and a half earlier than she was called in for and talked to Noah in her trailer. She gave the kid plenty of tips and guidance about the scene, along with plenty of assurance. We're pretty certain that it helped.
Asking for Permission
The second season of the show starts on Halloween, so what could be better for a bunch of eighties kids to dress up as the Ghostbusters? To get the outfits on the show, however, the Duffer brothers had to jump through a few hoops. They called “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman, and it was a serious phone call.
He had the brothers explain why they wanted to use the costumes, what “Ghostbusters” meant to them, and other big questions. However, he was already prepared to let them use the costumes, calling them flattering. We guess it was just pulling one over on the brothers.
The Death of Bob
Bob Newby, played by none other than Sean Astin, meets his untimely doom at the end of season two. He spends his time wooing Joyce, being a father figure to her boys, and eventually gives his life to save others – a true hero.
However, the Duffer brothers were originally going to off him much sooner in the series. Instead of episode eight, he was going to fall all the way back in episode four. The writers and directors ended up liking Sean Astin and Bob so much that they kept him around until his death could make him into a real superhero. It was a change that we're grateful for.
An End to the Show
Nothing good lasts forever, and the Duffer brothers are fully aware of this fact. They planned out a long storyline and saw it lasting four or five seasons. They, and Netflix, have confirmed that the fifth season will be the final one. However, the brothers aren't ruling out spin-off shows that deal with different characters or other places in the world they've created down the line.
They've already put plenty of work into creating a larger cosmos for them to explore, and there are lots of ways for other additions to fit inside the stories.
A Request From the Actor
Veteran actor Sean Astin (he's a lot bigger when he isn't a hobbit) has a pretty good mind for storytelling, at least when it comes to the characters he plays. In the second season's aftershow, “Beyond Stranger Things,” Ross Duffer revealed that Astin had requested a violent death for his character Bob.
He wanted it to be memorable, and Astin apparently kept talking about the movie “Jaws” and Quint being ripped apart by the shark. They were able to make his wish come true and also allowed Bob to display his heroic nature by putting himself in harm's way to save Joyce, Hopper, and Will.
The Show's Original Name
“Stranger Things” is a perfect name for the show, but it wasn't always going to be called that. The show's original name was “Montauk” for some reason, and it was going to take place on Long Island in 1980, however, the Duffer brothers realized that it would be too difficult to shoot there during the winter.
Instead, they moved the setting to a fictional town in Indiana, which helped the Stephen King-like feeling of small-town mystery. There's also the fact that quite a number of classic eighties films the show takes inspiration from are set in small towns or otherwise in the midwest.
Shout Out to Tom Cruise
Since the show is set in the eighties, it comes as no surprise that some of the decade's biggest stars get a little bit of lip service. One of those stars is Tom Cruise, and there are a couple of points when this occurred.
There's a Tom Cruise poster in Nancy's room – we're sure she wasn't the only gal who had one – but Tom Cruise didn't even make the show buy the rights, as long as they use a certain poster. In addition to that, in season 4, Steve Harrington wears an outfit that is straight out of “Risky Business” as a thank-you for the gift.
Eleven is a young, psychic girl, and you all know that there are plenty of powerful, perhaps destructive emotions that come from all those facts. There's one scene that has Eleven and Jim Hopper facing off, and Eleven uses all of her anger and powers to try and get her way.
It leaves Hopper battered and bruised, but David Harbour didn't use a stunt double during the scene, despite how much he gets thrown around. Matt Duffer would later call it a really intense day of shooting. Well, if you get thrown around in a cabin by a little psychic girl, it's always going to be intense.
While the Demogorgon from the first season was animatronic to keep costs low and give things a classic eighties feel, the second season had a much higher budget. This allowed them to create the fully-animatronic Dart, the young Demogorgon that the cast discovers. Eagle-eyed viewers can make the distinction between the practical effects and the CGI.
For the most part, the creature doesn't do much else than sit in a box, but it gets plenty of big moments later on. The visual effects team was also much larger, allowing the show to display some other cool stuff, such as the Mind Flayer's vibrant, dynamic approach.
Just Kid Things
Despite the fact that she played an extremely non-typical kid on the show, Millie Bobby Brown was still your average gal while filming the first season. As such, normal average gal stuff is going to happen, like getting covered in mysterious glitter. She might not have even been playing with glitter that day. You know how it goes.
She showed up to set sparkling, but the scenes filmed that day were meant to show her scared, dirty and figuring out what was going on. Production had to be held up for a full half-hour to get all the glitter cleaned off, which is probably something that a lot of parents understand.
Go on, Give It a Call
Murray Bauman, a conspiracy theorist, doesn't appear until season three, but he still quickly became a fan favorite. The creators seemed to know this would happen and planned accordingly. When Murray gives Nancy and Jonathan his phone number, the producers made sure they had the real number under their control.
If you give it a call, it will respond with a voice message from Murray himself. In it, he talks to his mother, Joyce, and, if the caller is neither of those two, will call the caller a parasite and tell him or her to never call again.
A Hat for a Specific Reason
When he became the face of grumpy-yet-kind police sheriff Hopper, David Harbour asked if a stylish hat could be part of his uniform. Turns out it was all an homage to Indiana Jones, one of the most famous hat-wearers in movie history. Hard to blame him.
The Duffer brothers even reported that he would joke about running away from a boulder early on in the project. At least, they think that he was joking. The brothers still aren't all that sure, but unfortunately, there wasn't space inside the show for such a set-piece.
The Little-Seen Dr. Brenner
Dr. Brenner, who runs the compound that was keeping Eleven locked down, doesn't have a whole lot of screen time on the show, but that doesn't mean he isn't important. He might actually be the MOST important character since he's behind most of the events.
Actor Matthew Modine did a lot of work to create his character. There just wasn't a lot of time to flesh the guy out. So every moment he is on screen, Modine did his best to inform us that he was not to be trifled with. By the end of the first season, the Duffer brothers had a much better idea of what he was all about.
There are plenty of fans who are already upset that the fifth season will be the last one, but there are also plenty of cast members that took the news hard. After hearing that season five would close out the show, Noah Schnapp (Will) started bawling. He was extremely upset, and during that time he texted Millie Bobby Brown to see how she was taking the news. She, too, was crying.
She then texted Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), who also revealed that he was crying about the end of the show. Great, now we're going to start crying, and everyone is going to start crying.
An Emotional Scene
While Eleven's real name is Jane Ives, she barely knew her real family. The figure she called “Papa” was actually the head of the compound where she was kept, Martin Brenner. A lot of season two deals with Eleven coming to grips with her life after the compound, and understanding that what happened to her wasn't normal, nor was it proper.
During one emotional scene, Eleven has a difficult conversation with “Papa.” Afterward, Millie Bobby Brown cried, calling it one of the hardest scenes she's ever had to film. And that's really saying something – Eleven probably has the most intense scenes in the show.
Tied Up in a Similar Way
After a bad time trying to investigate the Russian operation hiding under Starcourt mall in season three, Steve and Robin find themselves tied up back-to-back and wondering if they're going to make it out alive. It's possible this was unintentional, but fans of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” noticed that the two teens looked similar to how Indy and his father were bound during that movie.
Thankfully, just like how Indy and Dr. Henry Jones freed themselves, so did Robin and Steve. There are only so many ways to tie two people up, but it's interesting that another eighties film got referenced.
Adding His Own Flair
Dustin is a weird little kid, but we love him. One of the things that makes him so weird is the sounds that he can make, including something that we'll refer to as a “purr.” This detail came from Gaten Matarazzo, who used a modified version of his Chewbacca impression to create the sound.
The funny thing is, a geeky kid like Dustin would ABSOLUTELY have a Chewbacca impression to show off to his friends. It's another one of those little details that help each of the characters maintain a distinct flavor, and Dustin seems to have more flavor than some of the others.
Waiting for Season 4
A number of factors combined to slow down season 4. There were nine scripts, more than eight hundred pages, thousands of visual effects shots, and a runtime that was almost twice the length of any of the previous seasons. There was also some stuff going on in the world prior to its release in 2022 that you may recall.
However, the cast and crew were able to work through the huge amount of material and all the other problems standing in their way to releasing the fourth and penultimate season. Season five might be the final one according to the Duffer brother's plan, but all good things must come to an end.
The Authentic Arcade Touch
Season two has the kids hit the arcade for a little bit of fun, now that they're all back together. One of the games they're seen wasting their quarters on is called “Dragon's Lair,” and it's a real arcade game. If you've ever had the chance to play this or some of the later games in the series, you know that it's a brutally difficult experience that requires both split-second timing and a good memory.
It was also a lot different from your standard Galagas or Mrs. Pac-Mans of the era since it was like you were playing a cartoon with full-motion graphics and everything.
Inspiration From Space
Millie Bobby Brown had a tall order when she found out she was going to be playing Eleven. In the show, the poor girl had been taken away from her birth mother and locked in a compound. Even when she escapes, it's clear to almost everyone that she wasn't your normal kid. She acted weird, was scared of stuff, and really didn't know much about the world – just like someone that was visiting from outer space.
Brown said in an interview that the Duffer brothers told her she should even act like an alien, going so far as to call out a reference that any eighties kid would be familiar with: “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”
Impossible to Ignore
Anybody who had seen “Poltergeist” by Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper couldn't escape the movie while they were watching the first season of “Stranger Things. The show might as well have been subtitled “Poltergeist” and Joyce offers Will tickets to the movie by name.
She communicates with her son through the walls as Carol Anne does, and there are numerous uses of light, just like how the light of the television is a herald of bad things to come. The Duffer brothers weren't going to risk anybody missing the connections to a movie that was so similar to the show they were working on, so they made it clear.
Try and Stop Me
In season three, Hopper has finally convinced Joyce to go out with him, but she stands him up for plot reasons. This, as you might expect, upsets Hopper, who takes his ire out on the restaurant by nabbing a bottle of wine and walking out.
The waiter tells him he can't do that, and Hopper responds with “I can do anything I want. I'm the chief of police.” Believe it or not, those two sentences are lifted wholesale from the movie “Jaws.” Chief Brody says the exact same thing when a character questions his ability to get something tough done.
The Nightmare Returns
There are a few references to the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movie series in the show, seeing as it is a horror property set in the eighties. Another comes during season three, but it's pretty quick. Heather, a lifeguard working with Billy, goes missing, and Eleven goes to her family's house to find some things out.
Fans noticed that the bright red door looks a lot like the one on the house in “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and another detail all but assured the reference – the address for Heather's house is 1438, while the address in the classic slasher flick is 1428. Possibly a coincidence, but the odds are low.
Practical Effects for Greater Power
There are lots of computer graphics in the show – obviously since there are whole other worlds and crazy monsters and things like that – but not everything is fake. The Demogorgon, the monster from the first season, is a real animatronic. While its look got a bit of help from CGI, it really did chase the kids around the school.
The little kids on set were quite perturbed by the creature, including the twin girls that played Nancy's younger sister Holly, and Millie Bobby Brown's little sister. We can't really blame them. The Duffer brothers told them it came from Monstropolis, the city of the Pixar film “Monsters, Inc.” in order to calm them down.
Taking Inspiration From the Best
The sultry, creepy synth and vibrant neon letters of the title sequence immediately put us in the mood for science fiction and horror, and the people behind the title were careful where they got their ideas from. The now-iconic sequence was inspired by the work of motion graphics designer Richard Greenberg, responsible for some of the most iconic title sequences in movies.
He's practically an eighties legend, having done the graphics for movies such as “Alien,” “Superman,” and “The Goonies.” He's so good, he's gotten awards for his work. He was a visual consultant on “Predator,” and he also did the title graphics for “The Matrix.”
It's no surprise to anyone that has watched the show that “Stranger Things” has a ton of easter eggs for different properties. No doubt fans of Stanley Kubrick's “The Shining” will get a familiar feeling when they watch Joyce go mad with an ax in her house, tearing down the halls in a desperate attempt to find her missing son.
Jack Torrance, the bad guy of “The Shining,” uses an ax to a similar effect when he's finally flipped his lid. While Joyce's purpose for using the ax came from a much more loving place, it still had the same level of energy and chaotic drive.
Shipper on Deck
Season three has Jim Hopper doing his best to become Joyce's new paramour, and even though it doesn't exactly work out for a variety of reasons, there are plenty of other people who thought the match would work out. One of those people was Hopper's actor, David Harbour, who was in favor of the union since season one.
The two characters didn't get the chance to do much with the relationship, as Joyce was still mourning Bob, but that didn't stop Harbour. He dubbed the potential relationship #Jopper on Twitter and got his wish in season four!
A Taste of Blood
Seeing as how “Stranger Things” had plenty of horrors, it makes sense that the directors and producers would add some visceral elements. The shocking death of Barb in season one included a nod to another famous monster, the shark from “Jaws.” Barb has a small injury that drips blood into the pool where she's hiding, and that draws the attention of the Demogorgon, just like how the blood of the first victim in “Jaws” gets her a grisly end.
The shark was a much more realistic monster, of course, but it adds an element of realism to the Demogorgon – if it devours living creatures, of course it would be drawn to the scent of blood.
A Reference to the King
When it comes to inspiration for the show, there are two main directions. The first is classic movies of the eighties, the second is the classic horror novels of Stephen King. They have plenty of kids, small towns, creepy stuff, and other elements similar to the show.
The show threw a reference to that inspiration by having Bob Newby (played by Sean Astin) want to move to Maine, the setting for many of King's books. However, Matt Duffer said that Bob probably doesn't read King books – he would hate that kind of story. It's explained by Bob's parents living in the state.
This Thing Doing NUMBERS
It took a little bit of time for the first season of “Stranger Things” to take off, but that wasn't the case for the second season. Netflix's records show that almost nine million people (or accounts, or something like that) watched the second season of the show within its first three days of being available.
That incredible stat is beaten by one that is sort of eye-popping: According to Netflix, 361, 000 people watched the entirety of the second season within twenty-four hours of it becoming available. That's about nine hours of TV in a single day. Sure, we all love the show, but make sure you at least take some bathroom breaks.
A Classic Eighties Actor
Bob Newby is played by Sean Astin, and while most probably know him as the stalwart friend of Frodo's in the Lord of the Rings, he has another claim to fame. He was also Mikey in the eighties classic “The Goonies,” which has a bunch of kids on an adventure trying to find a hidden pirate treasure.
Astin's role in “Stranger Things” is in itself a nod to the beloved film, but there's a little more. In episode five of season two (Bob's only season) the gang uses a map to track the Demogorgons, and Bob points at an X, asking if it's a pirate treasure. He's still on the hunt after all this time.
Sticking With It
We aren't going to get on here and say that acting is the toughest job in the world – it's the only thing we let kids do, for Pete's sake – but it still takes plenty of work and a certain mindset. Millie Bobby Brown found herself losing that mindset, and a desire to act before she joined the cast of “Stranger Things.”
She felt like she couldn't do it anymore, but she was able to get the part of Eleven, which was a role quite different from lots of the other things she had been doing. Thankfully, she stuck with it.
A Book-Lover's Easter Egg
While this point might have gone over plenty of people's heads, fans of Ursula K. Le Guin certainly took notice. Dustin's ham radio friend, Suzie, is seen reading the book “A Wizard of Earthsea” during one of her few scenes, and the plot of the book is incredibly similar to the series as a whole.
In it, a little boy accidentally unleashes a horrifying entity from another world by using his strange powers in the wrong way. Someone on the cast or crew must have noticed the similarities, and thrown the wink to give book-lovers something to enjoy. Movie fans can't have all the fun.
A Monster That Seems Natural
There are lots and lots and lots and lots of reasons why the Demogorgon could be called scary, especially to kids, but the animators put lots of extra work into making it seem like a real creature and not just a puppet. If you pay attention to the movement of the creature's...head petals? Fangs? Whatever. If you pay attention to the flaps on its head, they never move the same way twice.
They seemed to have a life of their own, moving in unpredictable and bizarre patterns, befitting a strange, unknown monster. It was just that little extra touch that makes this season-one enemy so much more lifelike and believable.
Sadie Sink, who plays Max, was pretty tall when she first auditioned for the part. In fact, that was the reason they didn't pick her faster – the Duffer brothers were worried she would tower over the younger boys in the cast. Sure, that's what happens in real life a lot of the time during the early teen years, but this is a TV show.
Thankfully, the boys of the cast started to catch up to her height, and with a little bit of TV magic, the difference was easy to downplay or eliminate altogether. They brought Sadie in for a second read, and she proved to be the correct choice.
If you were a horror fan during the eighties you lived in the golden age of slashers, including the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series. “Stranger Things” manages to throw in a few winks to the classic movies during the first season. For one, Eleven has to spend time in a sensory-deprivation chamber, which makes her a target for the Demogorgon, just like how Freddy Krueger hunted kids in their dreams.
Second, there's a scene that has the Demogorgon trying to push through Joyce's walls, just like Freddy pushed through Nancy's bedroom walls in the first movie (it's not the same Nancy, hopefully. That would be pretty rough).
Caught in Frame
One of the more sneaky references in the first season of “Stranger Things,” so sneaky that it might not have even been intentional, is to the movie “Blow-Up.” In it, a photographer starts to think he might have captured a serious sin taking place in a picture he took.
In the first season, just as Barb is dragged into the Upside-Down, Jonathan snaps a pic of her sitting forlornly by the quiet pool. The picture is critical in helping to discover what happened to Nancy, and the larger plot of the creatures from the Upside-Down. It might not have been intentional, but it's quite similar to the classic film.
Joyce Byers without the dowdy, working-mom haircut just doesn't seem right. We can't have a single mom, missing a son and slowly losing her wits trying to find him looking red carpet perfect every time she steps outside. The hairstyle she wears was inspired by Meryl Streep from the movie “Silkwood,” which was released in 1983 and featured Streep as a hounded whistleblower and union activist.
Ryder's overall performance came from a number of influences, including Ellen Burstyn in “Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore,” Marsha Mason in “Max Dugan Returns,” and “Audrey Rose.”
Season three finally gives us a chance at seeing Joyce and Hopper get into a relationship after all this time. Hopper manages to convince Joyce to join him for a date, but (as we might have expected) things don't exactly go as planned. For one, Hopper doesn't look anything like the police chief he is, instead of dressing in a colorful Hawaiian shirt and shaving until he's left with just a mustache.
The outfit looks like it could have come right out of the show “Magnum P.I.,” and that's almost certainly what the producers had in mind. Tom Selleck's 'stache is hard to beat, but Hopper gives it a run for its money.
Friends Before the Show
While none of them had any fame before their time on “Stranger Things,” three of the kids knew each other beforehand. Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Sadie Sink (Max), and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) had met while each was making a name for themselves on Broadway, all at the same time.
Matarazzo was performing as Gavroche and Petit Gervais in “Les Miserables,” Sink was the titular character in “Annie” (alternating with another actress), and McLaughlin was performing as Young Simba in “The Lion King.” Interestingly, the three met while letting off a little bit of Broadway steam on the playground.
Stranger Things 2: Thunderdome
One of the harder references to miss in the second season is that of “Mad Max,” the alias that Max Mayfield uses to display her high scores on arcade machines. She was the champion of Dragon's Lair, which was how the young kids first learned about her, and it's clear where the inspiration came from.
The eponymous character of “Mad Max” was Mel Gibson's first-ever film, and it's the perfect name for a tomboy who wants to show that she can hold her own during the eighties. Since the movie has just gotten a reboot in 2015, two years before season two came out, it was a slam-dunk of a name.
Casting Gaten Matarazzo
Though all five of the younger cast (before the addition of Sadie Sink, anyway) had their good points, many viewers found Dustin, the curly-headed tyke with cleidocranial dysplasia to be the brightest star. The Duffer brothers also thought so, since they cast Gaten Matarazzo as Caleb right after watching his first audition tape.
The way they explained it, he popped right out of the tape. There was no way they couldn't put him in the show after the audition. Matarazzo also has cleidocranial dysplasia – the condition primarily affects the development of bones and teeth. Matarazzo has had multiple surgeries, including having fourteen supernumerary teeth removed.
Various Blobs of Certain Kinds
One of the grosser moments of season three comes when the news editors turn into big masses of flesh and body parts, collapsing into a pile outside the hospital. Film fans might have a couple of things that popped into their heads when they saw this scene.
One of them is the 1958 movie “The Blob,” which has...you can probably figure it out. The other example, which falls in line with the eighties nods the show loves, is the 1982 movie “The Thing,” which has the creature turning into a big mass of body parts at different times.
An End in Sight
All of the cast members have ideas about how their characters should end up after the show, and Millie Bobby Brown's is perhaps the sweetest. She thinks that Eleven truly loves Mike, and she wants to see them get married at the end of the show. She thinks it would be the perfect way for a girl that had no family for so long – no friends, no love – finally put things to rest.
In an interview, she said she hopes for a wedding dress scene at the end of the show, accompanied by Eleven's psychic nosebleed, and having her worry about getting blood on the dress. Not a bad idea.
Bringing Back a Classic
At the beginning of the third season, viewers find out that Max's bully of an older step-brother, Billy, is now working at the local swimming pool, much to the delight of many moms. He's still a bully, and he shows off this quality by referring to a chunky kid at the pool as a “lard-a*s.”
While this in itself is a withering insult very much to Billy's character, it's also a reference to the movie “Stand By Me,” which came out in 1986. While season three takes place in 1985, we think we'll let this one slip by. In the movie, one of the kids tells a story about a boy who had this unfortunate nickname.