The Netflix original series Stranger Things is heavily influenced by pop culture, particularly from classic 1980s film and television. The Duffer Brothers aimed for the show to capture the feeling of classic films they loved growing up, which were connected by "these very ordinary people encountering these very extraordinary things."[1] They hoped the show would lead younger generations to discover the stuff they grew up on.[2]

Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter and Stephen King have been named as main influences. The Duffers said their influences came from a thousand different places, and though there are a couple of intentional homages, "it's not us trying to find moments to do an homage to stuff."[1]

The storylines of the three generations in the show were envisioned with their own mood and setting, inspired by different genres of films: the kids in adventure films, like The Goonies or Stand By Me; the teenagers in a classic horror film, like John Carpenter's Halloween or Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street; the adults in a classic Spielberg movie, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind.[3]


  • "A Christmas Story" — A 1983 Christmas comedy film directed by Bob Clark and based on Jean Shepherd's semi-fictional anecdotes in his 1966 book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.
    • Although not directly referenced in the show, it is mentioned by Steve in the comic Stranger Things: FCBD 2019, where Steve offers Nancy a trip to the movies to see the newly opened A Christmas Story, calling it "good, wholesome fun".
  • "Akira" — A 1988 Japanese anime science fiction film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, based on Otomo's manga of the same name. The plot follows a teenage biker with psychic powers, who attempts to release an imprisoned psychic named Akira. The Duffer Brothers stated that there was a lot of Akira in the show's DNA.[4]
    • Akira features children who possess psychic powers, collectively referred to as "Espers". These children were test subjects, experimented on in a secret government project - the government aimed to develop and use their abilities for personal gain. Similarly, Eleven's powers are used by the Department of Energy to spy on Russians during the Cold War.
    • The Espers were assigned subject numbers alongside their real names, with Akira himself being number 28. This might be an inspiration for Eleven's "name".
  • "Alien" — A 1979 science-fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott. The film features an extraterrestrial creature that stalks and hunts the crew of a spaceship. Alien inspired the Upside Down's appearance in Stranger Things.[5]
    • In Stranger Things, David O'Bannon is the state trooper who claims to have found Will's body. His surname is likely taken from Dan O'Bannon, who wrote Alien's screenplay.
    • The egg that Hopper observes, as well as the tendril found down Will's throat, were nods to Alien.
    • The film also inspired the Duffers to create an animatronic monster.[6]
    • A promo poster posted on the show's social media accounts was directly inspired by the theatrical poster for the film.
  • "Aliens" — A 1986 science fiction horror film written and directed by James Cameron, and the sequel to Alien. When naming inspirational sequels for the second season of Stranger Things, the Duffers listed Aliens among other film sequels by James Cameron.[7]
  • "All the Right Moves" — A 1983 American drama film starring Tom Cruise as a small-town football star.
  • "Altered States — A 1980 American science fiction-horror film adaptation of a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. Both the novel and the film are based on John C. Lilly's sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks under the influence of psychoactive drugs like mescaline, ketamine, and LSD. The film's subject matter was a source of inspiration for the experiments which took place at Hawkins Lab, and served as the basis for Terry Ives's backstory.[8]
  • "Bambi" — A 1942 American animated drama film produced by Walt Disney. It features a young deer experiencing hardships and life lessons in the woods.
    • In "The Flea and the Acrobat", Jonathan recounts to Nancy a memory where his father forced him to kills a rabbit on his tenth birthday. When Nancy is shocked, Jonathan's defense is, "I'm a big fan of Thumper", a reference to the cute rabbit featured in the Disney film.
  • "Breaking Away" — A 1979 coming of age comedy-drama film produced and directed by Peter Yates.
    • The film partly inspired the show's Indiana setting, with the quarry scenes being direct references to the film's setting.[9]
  • "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" — This 1977 science fiction film, written and directed by Steven Spielberg, tells the story of an everyday blue-collar worker in Indiana, whose life changes after an encounter with a UFO.
    • When developing the character Joyce, the Duffer Brothers "talked a lot about Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters, because for much of the show Winona is entirely on her own and to the outside world she seems absolutely bonkers."[10]
    • Stranger Things' setting in Indiana references the setting of Close Encounters.[9]
    • A shot of Will standing in front of an opening door in "MADMAX" resembles a scene in the film where Jillian's son, Barry, opens a door, letting in eerie orange light.
    • When Dustin arrives home from camp in "Suzie, Do You Copy?", the toys in his bedroom take on lives of their own and begin to slowly maneuver themselves out of the bedroom. This is a reference to the beginning of Close Encounters, where Barry's toys in his bedroom take on a lives of their own as well. In fact, Barry and Dustin both have a monkey clanging cymbals together in their bedrooms.
  • "Damnation Alley" — A 1977 post-apocalyptic film directed by Jack Smight.
    • Although not directly referenced in the show, in the tie-in graphic novel Zombie Boys, Lucas lists off movies that feature the black guy dying to Joey, one of them being Damnation Alley.
  • "The Dark Crystal" — A 1982 puppet-animated dark fantasy adventure film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz.
  • "The Endless Summer" — A 1966 seminal surf movie.
    • Max has a poster of the film beside her bed in her bedroom.
  • "Enter the Dragon" — A 1973 martial-arts film directed by Robert Clouse.
    • Although not directly referenced in the show, in the tie-in graphic novel Zombie Boys, Lucas lists off movies that feature the black guy dying to Joey, one of them being Enter the Dragon.
  • "The Evil Dead" — A 1981 supernatural horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi.
    • A promo poster posted on the show's social media accounts was directly inspired by the theatrical poster for the film.
    • Jonathan has a large poster of the film in his bedroom. Specifically in "The Flea and the Acrobat", Lonnie tells Jonathan to take down the poster, saying it's inappropriate.
  • "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" — A 1982 science fiction fantasy film directed by Steven Spielberg. E.T. tells the story of Elliott, a lonely boy who befriends a benevolent extraterrestrial who is stranded on Earth. Elliott and his siblings help the alien return home while hiding it from their mother and the government. E.T. is an evident influence on Stranger Things, which shares many similar elements. Clips from the film were used in the fake trailer the Duffers created to pitch the show.[11]
    • The film opens with Elliot's brother Michael playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends and eat pizza. In "The Vanishing of Will Byers", the episode begins similarly when the four friends play D&D in Mike's basement while they eat pizza.
    • Will running into the shed in "The Vanishing of Will Byers" was an intentional homage to a similar shot in the film.[12]
    • In "The Vanishing of Will Byers", as the boys arrive at school, one student carries a metal E.T. lunchbox.
    • The Duffers stated that "The Weirdo on Maple Street" contained many not-so-subtle nods to the film; if E.T. was about the developing bond between E.T. and Elliott, the second episode was largely about the developing bond between Eleven and Mike.[4] Indeed, within the episode, Mike gives El a tour of his home, introduces her to regular products, and shows his toys and collectibles, all things Elliot does with E.T. in the 1982 film.
    • "The Bathtub" includes a bike chase scene where the kids are chased by agents, which recalls E.T.'s famous chase scene. The Duffers were initially unsure about doing their own chase scene, as it was such an obvious reference to such an iconic moment, but they eventually decided that the scene was not unmerited as it moved along the plot. [13]
    • Eleven's introduction to suburban life and all the comedic situations it leads to - was inspired by the film.[12]
    • Mike has to keep Eleven's existence a secret from his parents, as Elliott did so with E.T.
    • The hazmat suit-donning Dr. Brenner could be a reference to E.T.'s villain, government agent "Keys".
    • Both E.T. and Stranger Things feature characters named "Mike" and "Steve".
    • At one moment in the film, Elliott accidentally drops a sausage and pepperoni pizza. Dustin offers a pizza with the same toppings to Nancy in the opening scenes of the show.
    • Eleven's makeover in "The Body" recalls a scene in which E.T. is dressed up by Elliott's younger sister, Gertie.
    • Holly Wheeler, the toddler sibling of Mike and Nancy, may have been inspired by Gertie, with her appearance and innocence.
    • In Dustin's bedroom, there is an E.T. doll next to the terrarium on his dresser.
    • Although not directly referenced in the show, in the tie-in graphic novel Zombie Boys, a new classmate to the boys, Joey Kim, wears a T-Shirt with the iconic picture of Elliot and E.T. riding a bike in the sky with the moon behind them.
  • "Frankenstein" — A 1931 film based on the 1818 novel of the same name by Mary Shelley.
  • "Halloween" — A 1978 slasher film directed and scored by John Carpenter. Clips from Halloween were used in the fake trailer the Duffers created to pitch the show.[11]
    • In "The Weirdo on Maple Street" when Lucas believes that Eleven has escaped from a psychiatric hospital, Dustin compares her to Michael Myers.
    • In The Monster", a cinematic shot of only someone’s shoulder (presumably Troy) is shown as Mike and Dustin leave Bradley’s Big Buy. This mirrors a similar shot of Michael Myers’ shoulder as he watches Laurie Strode leave the Myers House in the 1978 film.
    • In "Trick or Treat, Freak", Max wears a Michael Myers costume for Halloween.
  • "Indiana Jones" — an action-adventure franchise directed by Steven Spielberg. The four main films, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Temple of Doom (1984), The Last Crusade (1989), and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), focus on the adventurist and daring archaeologist Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford.
    • Hopper's character and persona are directly based off of Indiana Jones, most notably his build, his banter between characters, his willingness, and his fighting skills.
    • Hopper's chief hat is inspired by Indiana Jones's iconic hat, which was recommended by David Harbour himself to add to the character's mystery.
    • The Duffers have noted Temple of Doom, the second film of the franchise and the prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, as one of the inspirations for season two's darker tone, with Matt saying "I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did. Even though it was probably slammed at the time - obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film - that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."[7] [14]
    • In "The Gate", Max driving Billy's car with a brick on the gas pedal is a direct reference to The Temple of Doom, which has Short Round, Indiana Jone's young sidekick, doing the same thing in a getaway car. During production, there was a concern as to whether or not Sadie Sink was short enough to use the brick on the pedal, but Sadie was the perfect fit, and the homage stayed in the episode.
    • Mike has a Raiders of the Lost Ark boardgame on his shelf in his bedroom.
    • The opening scene in "Suzie, Do You Copy?", where the Russian scientists fail to open the Gate is a direct homage to the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Nazis are killed after a failed experiment as well.
    • The banter between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery while tied up in The Last Crusade was a reference for when Robin and Steve are tied up while being held captives by the Russians in "E Pluribus Unum".
  • "Jaws" — a 1975 thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The story is about a giant man-eating shark that terrorizes the fictional coastal town of Amity Island. As the Duffers have said that Jaws is "probably" their favorite film, it comes at no surprise that Stranger Things is heavily influenced by it.[15]
    • A scene in which Hopper typewrites a police report while talking to Joyce is framed identically to a similar scene in Jaws.[10]
    • Stranger Things was originally titled Montauk and would've taken place in Montauk, New York. One of the reasons behind this was the desire to replicate Amity's coastal town feel and atmosphere.[15]
    • The Duffers had this to say on the Demogorgon: "It is an interdimensional being that has more in common with the shark from Jaws than Pennywise from It. When the monster enters our dimension, it’s like a shark breaching the water. Very much like a shark, it drags its prey back into its home, where it feeds."[6]
    • Will has a Jaws poster on his bedroom wall.
    • A promo poster posted on the show's social media accounts was directly inspired by the theatrical poster for Jaws.
    • In "The Mall Rats", as Hopper drunkenly leaves Enzo's, a waiter says he cannot take the alcohol, to which Hopper murmurs, "I'm the Chief of Police. I can do anything." This line is directly taken from the film, where Chief Brody says the exact line.
    • Although not directly referenced in the show, in the tie-in graphic novel Zombie Boys, a new classmate to the boys, Joey Kim, wears a T-Shirt with the poster compressed onto the shirt.
  • "The Lonely Guy" — A 1984 American romantic comedy film directed by Arthur Hiller and starring Steve Martin.
    • A poster for the film is seen being advertised outside of the Hawkins Theatre in "The Monster".
    • A VHS tape of the film is seen on the shelves of Family Video in "The Battle of Starcourt".
  • "Night of the Living Dead" — A 1968 American independent horror film directed by George A. Ramero, revolving around a group of people struggling to survive as zombies threaten their lives.
    • Although not directly referenced in the show, in the tie-in graphic novel Zombie Boys, Troy teases Lucas that the black guy always dies in horror movies, comparing Ben, the main character in the film who dies at the end, as an example.
  • "Planet of the Apes" — A 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin L. Schaffner.
    • Although not directly referenced in the show, in the tie-in graphic novel Zombie Boys, Lucas lists off movies that feature the black guy dying to Joey, one of them being Planet of the Apes.
  • "Poltergeist" — A 1982 supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper, and written and produced by Steven Spielberg. The plot follows a family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts - these ghosts kidnap their youngest daughter, Carol Anne. Poltergeist made an ordinary object or device like a television seem like something extraordinary - the Duffers were inspired to do the same but with Christmas lights.[16]
    • Will being trapped in another dimension while being hunted by the Demogorgon has parallels to Carol Anne's story; Carol is taken to another dimension and held captive by a demon known as the “Beast”.
    • Joyce communicating with Will through the Christmas lights, as well as Will being heard through radios, was also inspired by Poltergeist, where Carol Anne can be heard through the television and walls.
    • During a flashback in "The Vanishing of Will Byers", sometime in 1982, Joyce visits Will at Castle Byers and surprises him with tickets to see Poltergeist. Joyce asks Will if he's still afraid of clowns, which might be a reference to a creepy clown toy prominently seen in the film that terrorizes the main children.
    • In "Stranger Things: The Other Side", which focuses on Will's perspective of the Upside Down during the first season, Will enters the Upside Down version of his home and presses his hand against the television. When nothing happens, he scolds himself, saying just because it worked in a movie doesn't mean it would work in real life, which references Carol Anne using the television to communicate with the spirits in her home.
    • The Wheeler family is similar to the Freeling family, as both are labeled as the typical nuclear family. In the film, there is father Steven, mother Diane, older sister Dana, middle son Robbie, and youngest daughter Carol Anne while in Stranger Things, there is father Ted, mother Karen, older sister Nancy, middle son Mike, and youngest daughter Holly.
    • Holly might be inspired by Carol Anne, as both make contact with supernatural entities with their families having no knowledge of it.
  • "Risky Business" — A 1983 romantic comedy film.
    • In "The Flea and the Acrobat", when Steve asks Nancy out to see the movie All The Right Moves, starring Tom Cruise, Steve says, "You know, your loverboy from Risky Business". He mentions that Carol says Steve looks like Tom Cruise and begins to sing "Old Time Rock and Roll", which was featured in the film.
    • In "Trick or Treat, Freak", Steve and Nancy attend Tina's Halloween party dressed as Joel Goodson and Lana, the main couple from the film.
  • "48 Hours" — A 1982 buddy cop comedy film directed by Walter Hill. The film features a cop and convict teaming up together to catch two cop-killers.
  • "Animal House" A 1978 sex comedy film directed by John Landis. The film is about a trouble-making fraternity whose members challenge the authority of the dean of the fictional Faber College.
  • "Alone in the Dark" A 1982 American slasher film.
  • "Annie" — A 1982 American musical comedy-drama based off the stage play of the same name.
    • In MADMAX, when Bob and Joyce make out in the storage room of Melvald's, there's a Halloween costume of the titular character seen on the shelf.
    • Interestingly, Sadie Sink, who portrays Max, played Annie on Broadway, where she eventually met Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo.
  • "Back to the Future" — A 1985 science-fiction adventure comedy film. Max Mayfield possesses a skateboard that was produced by the same company as Marty McFly's.
    • In "Trick or Treat, Freak", Bob Newby lends Jonathan his video camera, which is the same model of camera that Doc Brown gives to Marty to film his Delorean time travel experiments.
    • The third season of Stranger Things contains multiple references to Back to the Future, with many visual references to scenes from the film. The film itself is premiered at the newly built Starcourt Mall in Hawkins.
  • "Dawn of the Dead" — This 1985 George A. Romero horror film is the third installment in Romero's zombie film trilogy, alongside "Night of the Living Dead" in 1968 and "Dawn of the Dead" in 1978.
    • At the time of the movie's launch in cinemas the film received an R-rating, thus forbidding anyone under the age of 17 from watching it. To that end, in "Suzie, Do You Copy?" Steve had to sneak Mike, Max, Lucas and Will into the Starcourt Mall movie theater so they could watch an early screening of "Day of the Dead."
    • Season 3 of "Stranger Things" features the Russians experimenting on the rift leading to The Upside Down inside an underground laboratory, similarly how in "Day of the Dead" a skeleton crew of American scientists were experimenting on zombies. Grigori's surly and violent behavior mirrors that of Captain Henry Rhodes in "Day of the Dead."
    • In "E Pluribus Unum" the song "Breakdown", written by John Harrison for "Day of the Dead", plays out during Steve and Robin's talk while they are being held hostage by the Russians in the military laboratory beneath Starcourt Mall.
  • "Dazed and Confused" — A 1993 teen coming of age comedy film written and directed by Richard Linklater.
    • In "Trick or Treat, Freak" at Tina's Halloween party had teens get drunk, teens fights, and rock music. But the soiree Steve and Nancy attend has a strong Dazed and Confused vibe.
  • "Diner" — A 1982 comedy-drama film.
    • A scene featured in "The Gate" where Dr. Owens offers his sandwich to Hopper was directly inspired by the film's sandwich scene, where Modell asks for Edward's sandwich. Also, both the characters, Dr. Owens and Modell, were portrayed by Paul Reiser.[17]
  • "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" — A 1982 teen coming of age comedy film based on Cameron Crowe's book of the same name.
    • The Duffers have named the film as one of the inspirations for the third season.[18]
    • In "Suzie, Do You Copy?", Billy's first scene is a direct homage to the film where he struts shirtless at the pool as Mrs. Wheeler and her friends watch. In the film, actress Phoebe Cates (who is already heavily mentioned throughout the third season) struts out of a pool while The Cars "Moving in Stereo" plays as a boy named Brad imagines sexually.
    • In "The Battle of Starcourt", there is a cut-out of Phoebe Cate's character in Family Video that Steve trips over. As he props it back up, he notices what it is and names Fast Times as one of his favorite movies.
    • For the fourth season, Argyle's character has been mentioned to be based off of one of the characters of the film, Jeff Spicoli, as they are both chill stoners.
  • "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" — A 1986 teen comedy film written, co-produced, and directed by John Hughes.
    • Steve's, Jonathan's and Nancy's character might be inspired by Steve as Ferris Bueller, Jonathan as Cameron Frye, and Nancy as Sloane Peterson.
    • Suzie plays the clarinet like Ferris Bueller.
    • In "MADMAX", there's an homage to the film when the camera zooms in on a different bored student in Mr. Clarke's classroom. In the film, the same thing happens as the teacher calls role and notices Ferris Bueller missing.
  • "Firestarter" — A 1980 science fiction novel by Stephen King, and its subsequent 1984 film adaptation. The story follows a young girl, born with pyrokinesis, who runs from a secret government agency which seeks to control her.
    • Protagonist Charlie McGee shares various similarities with Eleven. They are both young girls with psychic abilities who are pursued by malevolent government agencies.
    • Both Charlie and Eleven have mothers who, while in college, participated in secret government experiments involving the intake of hallucinogenic drugs. Charlie and Eleven are born with supernatural powers as a result of these experiments.
    • Charlie's father bleeds from his nose when exercising hypnosis, in a similar fashion to how Eleven bleeds when she exercises her powers.
    • A promo poster posted on the show's social media accounts was directly inspired by the theatrical poster for the film.
  • "Fletch" — A 1985 comedy film starring Chevy Chase as a reporter who takes on several identities in order to solve a case. According to David Harbour, the film will be an influence for the third season.[19]
    • Fletch is one of the films that will be shown playing at the Starcourt Mall's multiplex.[20]
  • "The Fog" — The soundtrack from The Fog was used in the fake trailer the Duffers created to pitch the show.[11]

The boys in Ghostbusters costumes.

  • "Ghostbusters" — A 1984 supernatural comedy film.
    • In "Trick or Treat, Freak" Mike, Dustin, Will, and Lucas wear Ghostbusters outfits as Halloween costumes.
    • Throughout the second season, Will and Dustin are shown carrying Ghostbusters lunchboxes to school.
    • In The Bite, when Lucas and Will search for a bowl in the cereal aisle of Bradley's Big Buy, one of the cereals features Ghostbusters cereal with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on the box.
    • In Stranger Things: The Game, when a character examines a telephone, they say "Who you gonna call?", referencing the film's infamous tagline.
  • "The Goonies" — A 1985 adventure comedy film. The film's plot revolves around a gang of teens and pre-teens who go looking for long-lost treasure in the hopes of saving their homes from demolition. The tone of the kids' storyline in Stranger Things was largely inspired by The Goonies.
    • Both stories feature a close-knit gang of kids. Dustin, in particular, has a lot of similarities to Chunk - they share a large appetite and love of food, but also has a lot of similarities to Mouth - they are both smart and humorous and crucial to the story.
    • Mike's character was originally based on Michael "Mikey" Walsh from the film, with his first name being a direct reference.[21]
    • A promo poster posted on the show's social media accounts was directly inspired by a Goonies poster.
    • Mike's, Dustin's and Lucas' character based and inspired are by Mike as Mikey, Dustin as Chunk and Lucas as Mouth.
    • Brandon's bandana is the same bandana Lucas wears.
    • Bob's actor acted as Chunk as a child.
  • "Gremlins" — A 1984 comedy horror film. The Duffers have revealed the second season was influenced by the film.[22]
    • Dustin's season two storyline of finding and bonding with Dart was inspired by Gremlins.[23]
  • "Hellraiser" — Clive Barker’s classic horror film Hellraiser inspired the Duffers to build an animatronic monster. The Duffers say that Barker's stories influenced the 'strange' factor of the show, saying: "We talked a lot about Clive Barker and his stories. They’re very weird, and the weirder it is, the more inexplicable it is, the scarier it is."[5] [6]
  • "The Hidden Fortress"- A 1958 Japanese adventure film. Robin said it was her second favorite movie when applying for a job at Family Video Store three months after the closure of Starcourt Mall.
  • "Jurassic Park" — A 1993 science fiction adventure film. The Duffers listed the film as one of the inspirations for the third season.[18]
  • "Let the Right One In"/"Let Me In"Let the Right One In is a 2008 Swedish romantic horror film, based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It tells the story of a young boy named Oskar who befriends a vampire child named Eli. The film was given a 2010 American remake called Let Me In, where the names of the main characters were changed to Owen and Abby respectively. While it is unknown if the Duffers have seen the original Swedish film or have read the novel, they did use clips from the American remake in a fake trailer they made to demonstrate the tone they wanted Stranger Things to have.[24]
    • The relationship between Eleven and Mike has a similar dynamic to the relationship between Oskar and Eli. Oskar, being interested in serial killers and who even fantasized about killing those who bullied him, meets and befriends Eli, who must kill in order to survive. In a similar fashion, Mike, who enjoys movies like Star Wars that feature characters with extraordinary abilities, befriends Eleven, who was born with such abilities and as a result was held captive in a lab for her entire life. Both boys also end up developing romantic feelings towards their new friends.
    • In "The Monster", Mike is seen holding a Rubik's Cube while waiting for Eleven to return. A Rubik's Cube was a prominent symbol of Oskar's and Eli's friendship in both films and the novel. However, the Duffers could have simply included the Rubik's Cube to further express the time period since the toy was extremely popular in the early '80s.
    • Both Eleven and Eli defended their friends from bullies with switchblades, with both situations involving water; Mike was threatened to jump off a cliff into a lake, while Oskar was forced to hold his breath in a swimming pool.
  • "Midnight Run" — A 1988 buddy cop action comedy film. The Duffer Brothers acknowledged the film as one of the inspirations for the third season.[18]
  • "Mr. Mom" — A 1983 comedy film that follows automobile engineer Jack after he is fired from his job. When his wife, Caroline, finds a job before he does, they switch roles, placing him in the unfamiliar position of homemaker and caretaker to their three children.
    • In "MADMAX", the film was one of the three VHS tapes being rented by Jonathan for their movie night. Eventually, Bob chooses it out of three and the family watches it in the living room.
    • A VHS tape of it is seen in Family Video on a shelf in "The Battle of Starcourt".

Comparison of scenes in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Stranger Things."

  • "A Nightmare on Elm Street" — A 1984 horror film directed by Wes Craven, and the first installment of a long-running franchise. The plot revolves around several teenagers who are terrorized and killed in their dreams by burn-damaged serial killer Freddy Krueger.
    • When asked about the cultural reference points of the teens' story, the Duffers stated that "the teens are in that sort of ‘80s horror film like Nightmare on Elm Street."[25] They also said "A Nightmare on Elm Street" was a movie that scared them as kids, with Ross explaining that "When you put that unexplainable evil with this very ordinary American life, to us, that was the scariest, because suddenly I'm going to bed, and I'm thinking, 'Is Freddy going to push through the ceiling and grab me?'" They tried to replicate this sense of dread with Stranger Things.[26] Snippets from A Nightmare on Elm Street were used in the fake trailer created to pitch the show.[11]
    • The Demogorgon pushing through Joyce's walls and stretching the wallpaper is visually reminiscent of a scene in which Freddy Krueger tries to push through the wall above Nancy Thompson's bed.
    • In the film, the characters exploit Freddy Krueger's nature and behavior in order to defeat him; they are dependent on a trusted person to pull them out of sleep if attacked by Freddy in their dreams. In a similar fashion, the teens in Stranger Things exploit the nature of the Demogorgon in order to defeat it. Nancy and Jonathan cut themselves, hoping that the blood scent will lure the creature to a house with a booby trap set up inside. Nancy and Glen concoct a similar scheme to fight Freddy.
    • The mention of an "Elm Street" in "The Bathtub" is an obvious reference to the title of the film.
    • Nancy Wheeler's first name is potentially derived from Elm Street's Nancy Thompson.
    • A promo poster posted on the show's social media accounts was directly inspired by the theatrical poster for the film.
    • Actor Robert Englund, who plays Freddy Krueger throughout the franchise in the 1980s, was casted for the role of Victor Creel in the fourth season, further continuing the show's casting of iconic 80s actors.
  • "Pretty in Pink" — A 1986 teen romantic comedy film written by John Hughes. Dustin's hair at the Snow Ball was inspired by Duckie's hair at the prom in Pretty in Pink.
  • "Prisoners" — A 2013 film about the search for the abductor of two young girls. The film was the initial inspiration for the plot of Stranger Things.[27]
  • "Romancing the Stone" — A 1984 romantic comedy-adventure film. It was one of the inspirations for the third season.[18]
  • "The Running Man" — A 1987 science fiction film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and loosely based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. A promo poster posted on the show's social media accounts was directly inspired by the theatrical poster for the film.
  • "The Shining" — A 1980 psychological horror film that is based on Stephen King's 1977 novel of the same name. According to actor Dacre Montgomery, the Duffers based his character Billy somewhat on Jack Nicholson's character in the film, Jack Torrance.[28]
  • "Sixteen Candles" — A 1984 coming of age comedy romance written and directed by John Hughes. Nancy's, Steve's, and Jonathan's character might be inspired by Nancy as Samantha "Sam" Baker, Steve as Ted "Farmer Ted," and Jonathan as Jake Ryan.
  • "Stand by Me"— A 1986 coming of age adventure film based on Stephen King's 1982 novella "The Body." In the film, four small town boys go on a hike across the countryside to find the corpse of a missing child.
    • During auditions, the child actors read lines from scenes from Stand by Me.[29] Matt Duffer said "We always wanted to keep the stakes high. When you’re looking back at 'Stand By Me,' the stakes feel very real. The kids never feel completely safe, even though there is an element of fun and you love those boys." [5]
    • In both, the main characters are young, small town boys at a carefree age who are suddenly confronted with adult issues such as loss and tragedy.
    • Mike, Dustin, Lucas. and Eleven's walk along the train tracks when they search for Will is similar to an iconic scene from the film.
    • The group of friends in both are threatened by bullies wielding switchblades.
    • Chapter Four is called "The Body," borrowing its title from the King novella.
    • A promo poster posted on the show's social media accounts was directly inspired by the theatrical poster for the film.
    • In Hawkins Community Pool, Billy called the running boy "lard-ass" is when Gordie tell a story about a overweight fat boy called David "Lard-Ass" Hogan to his childhood friends (Chris, Teddy, and Vern).
  • Star Wars — Although the long-running science fiction film franchise has little to no influence on the first season's overall plot (within the Stranger Things universe, the original trilogy are the only films released during that period), the boys make various references, scattered across the span of the eight chapters. It makes sense that the boys would be exposed to "Star Wars", as it was a pop culture phenomenon in the 80's - especially considering that "Return of the Jedi" came out in June of 1983, the same year the first season is set in.
    • Mike compares Eleven and her psychic abilities to the mentor character Yoda and his special ability to tap into the mystical "Force".
    • When the kids are debating whether to answer their radio in "The Bathtub", Dustin references Lando Calrissian, a character who is notable for betraying his allies.
    • When Lucas tells Mike that he wants to find Will without Eleven, Mike refuses, saying that be would like "R2-D2 going to fight Darth Vader!".
    • In "Holly, Jolly", Dustin tries to make Eleven levitate Mike's toy Millenium Falcon in the air with her powers, to no avail. When they leave, however, El does make the toy float with ease, but gets bored and drops the toy quickly.
    • In "Suzie, Do You Copy?", Dustin has an R2-D2 remote-controlled toy.
    • When Will was suffering from memory loss, Joyce reminded that his friends brought him Star Wars toys on his birthday and he drew a large spaceship inspired by the movie's spaceship, referring to the "Star Destroyer".
    • When naming inspirational sequels for the second season, Shawn Levy said he and the Duffers noted Empire Strikes Back as a sequel that "worked". [30]
    • Grigori choking the scientist in the opening scene of "Suzie, Do You Copy?" is an allusion to Darth Vader choking a rebel in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
    • In "The Battle of Starcourt", Steve lists the Star Wars franchise as his favorite movies. Keith asks if it's A New Hope or which of the trilogy does he like. Steve refers to the one with the "teddy bears" (The Ewoks, first appearing in Return of the Jedi).
    • Although not directly referenced in the show, in the tie-in graphic novel Zombie Boys, a new classmate to the boys, Joey Kim, wears a T-Shirt with a picture of the Death Star.
  • "The Breakfast Club" — A 1985 teen comedy drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes. Nancy's, Steve's, Jonathan's, Robin's and Billy's character might be inspired by Jonathan as John Bender, Nancy as Claire Standish, Billy as Andrew Clark, Steve as Brian Johnson, and Robin as Allison Reynolds.
  • "The Terminator" — A 1984 science-fiction action film directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. An advertisement for the film is briefly shown while Eleven is watching television in "Trick or Treat, Freak".
    • Grigori, a character from the third season, was inspired by the titular character from the film.
  • "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" — A 1991 science-fiction action film and the sequel to The Terminator. When naming inspirational sequels for the second season of Stranger Things, the Duffers listed Terminator 2 among other film sequels by James Cameron.[7]
  • "The Thing" — A 1982 American science-fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster. The titular "Thing" is a parasitic alien life form that can hijack and imitate other organisms. The Thing was one of various science fiction and horror films which inspired the Duffers to use practical effects when creating their own monster.[6] Stranger Things also includes various nods to the film.
    • Mike has a poster for the film hung up on the basement wall.
    • In "The Bathtub", Scott Clarke and his girlfriend Jen are watching the film on VHS when Dustin calls asking about sensory deprivation. While Jen is horrified at the film, Scott comforts her by explaining how they made the special effects.
    • The film was one of the inspirations for the third season.[18]
    • In "The Bite", while the group is in Bradley's Big Buy, Lucas drinks New Coke, much to the disgust of the group. Lucas compares his love for New Coke to his love for John Carpenter's The Thing: Although the original is a classic, the remake is "sweeter, bolder, better".
  • "Under the Skin" — A 2013 science fiction film directed and co-written by Jonathan Glazer; it is loosely based on Michel Faber's 2000 novel of the same name. The film takes place in Scotland, following an otherworldly woman who preys on unsuspecting men. It is the direct inspiration for the Void, a visual representation of Eleven's mind while sensorily deprived.[31]
  • "WarGames" — A 1983 Cold War science fiction film that follows a hacker named David Lightman, who unknowingly hacks into a military supercomputer believing it to simply be a computer game. The Palace, the arcade in Hawkins, was named after the arcade in the film.[32]
  • "The Wizard of Oz" A 1939 American musical fantasy film directed by Victor Fleming and based off the 1900 book of the same name written by Frank L. Baum. It follows a young girl traveling alongside her dog to the world of Oz and her journey back home.
    • In "Holly, Jolly", as Hopper, Callahan, and Powell pull up to Hawkins Lab, Powell compares the lab to "Emerald City".
    • In "The Battle of Starcourt", Suzie has a small poster of The Wizard of Oz behind her bed.
    • In promotions for the fourth season, the tagline, "We're Not in Hawkins Anymore", is a reference to the film, where Dorothy says to her dog, "Toto, I have the feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."


  • "Cheers" — An American sitcom that ran from 1982 - 1993. It briefly appears while Eleven is watching television in "Will the Wise".
  • "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" — A thirteen-part television series that originally aired from September 28 - December 21, 1980. It is referenced by Mike in "The Flea and the Acrobat" when he, along with Lucas and Dustin, ask Mr. Clarke about other dimensions.
    • In the original Montauk pilot script, Mr. Clarke mentions the series as he is teaching his class.
  • "Elfen Lied" — A 2004 anime television series directed by Mamoru Kanbe, based on the manga of the same name, written by Lynn Okamoto. The plot largely revolves around a teenager named Lucy, a member of the Diclonii, a mutant off-shoot species of humans. Diclonii mostly resemble humans, with the distinguishing feature being a pair of horns that protrude from a Diclonius's skull. They also possess “vectors”, which are telepathically controlled arms usually invisible to the naked eyes. Vectors can be used to pick up and cut objects, though they are primarily used to brutally murder people.
    • The Duffers have named this as an influence, in particular for Eleven's story, saying it reminded them of a "very violent, anime-ish E.T." [15][4]
    • Eleven and Lucy are similar since they both possess extraordinary power. They also both escape from the laboratory in which they are experimented on, kill numerous people, and develop romantic feelings for a boy who treated them kindly.
    • Eleven also has some similarities with the Diclonius, Nana. Both refer to the scientists who raised them as “papa”, and both have a number for a name (“Nana” being a word that means “seven” in Japanese).
    • The other Diclonius individuals who were held captive in the lab were also given assigned subject numbers as names. This, along with Akira, was most likely the inspiration for Eleven's "name".
    • The scene where Eleven interacts with Nancy's music box could be a reference to Elfen Lied, as a music box was featured prominently in the anime.
    • Diclonii, while extremely violent towards humans, were shown to act benevolently towards animals. This potentially inspired the scene where Eleven refuses to hurt a cat.
  • Freaks and Geeks”/"Friday Night Lights"Freaks and Geeks was a 1999 drama series following a group of early '80s teens and their life at high school; the teens clearly parallel those of Stranger Things and their storylines. The show was one of the Duffer Brothers' favorite shows growing up. Friday Night Lights, meanwhile, is a 2006 drama series about a high school football team. The show is set in Dillon, Texas, while Stranger Things is set in Hawkins, Indiana - both are fictional towns. Matt Duffer said this: "I thought, 'OK, television now is becoming more cinematic. Can you do a show where you care about the characters just as much as Freaks And Geeks or Friday Night Lights, but can there also please be a monster in it?' So that was a goal with it. I just hadn’t seen enough of that on TV."[33]
    • Stranger Things' Nancy shares several character traits with Freaks and Geeks' Lindsay Weir. Both girls are academic students, but they become keen to hang out in more popular (and less academically minded) social circles. They both have a 'geeky', academic and long-time best friend, who becomes suspicious of this change in behavior. Nancy and Lindsay's younger brothers are also dismissive of their unexpected, wilder antics.
  • "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" — A 1983 American animated television series that followed the adventures of Prince Adam on the planet of Eternia. The show is referenced in “Holly, Jolly”; it briefly appears on the Wheelers' television while Eleven is channel-surfing.
    • Lucas possesses a He-Man action figure.
  • "Knight Rider" — A popular '80s show, appears briefly in "The Vanishing of Will Byers"; Ted Wheeler, while talking to Mike, tries watching an episode on television, but he is frustrated by the poor reception.
    • In the original pilot script, Ted is instead trying to watch CHiPS, a TV series that aired from September 15, 1977, to May 1, 1983. The change from CHiPS to Knight Rider likely occurred due to the show's shift from 1980 to 1983.
  • "Rescue at Midnight Castle" — A My Little Pony television special which aired in April of 1984 as part of the first generation of My Little Pony toys (G1 for short). Dustin is knowledgeable of this television special in "E Pluribus Unum" and uses it as an example of nerd culture influence in girl media of the 1980s, thus pointing out that Erica Sinclair is by association also a nerd just as much as he is.
    • "Rescue at Midnight Castle" was a major inspiration for G4, more commonly known as "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", the current incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise. This series is especially known for having a large male fanbase named "bronies", some of whom are men who had grownup during the 1980s.
  • "Strawberry Shortcake" — A famous children's cartoon about a young girl named after a dessert called Strawberry Shortcake. In "Trick or Treat, Freak", one of the background characters is shown trick-or-treating as Strawberry Shortcake while carrying her pumpkin pail.
  • "The X-Files" — A science fiction drama television series that first aired in 1993. In Stranger Things: The Game a poster on the wall in the Wheelers' basement resembles Mulder's iconic "I Want to Believe" poster.


  • Atari — A series of home video game consoles produced by Atari Inc, which reached their greatest heights of popularity from the late '70s to mid '80s. Will strongly suspected one of his Christmas presents, as well as one of Dustin's, was an Atari console, as both gifts were of the same weight.
  • "Dark Souls" — A Japanese action role-playing game released in 2011. According to Matt Duffer, ""We're huge, huge fans of the Dark Souls games, and there's something about when you're playing Dark Souls,". He said, "Immediately when you're in that world, it was to do with the imagery, it has to do with the sound design, and you're just immediately very uncomfortable and on edge. We wanted you to feel that way when you're in the Upside Down".[34]
  • "Dig Dug" — A 1982 arcade game. In "MADMAX", the game is first mentioned when Dustin discovers that his high score in the game has been beaten. Later, Max is seen playing the game while Lucas and Dustin spy on her.
  • "Dragon's Lair" — A 1983 laserdisc video game. Dustin, Will, Lucas, and Mike play the game at the Palace in "MADMAX".
  • Dungeons & Dragons — A tabletop RPG that plays a prominent role in the first season. The boys' two D&D campaigns bookend the season, and foreshadow and reference various characters and story elements, such as the Demogorgon's attack on Will in the opening scenes.
  • "Silent Hill" — A popular Japanese survival horror video game franchise created by Keiichiro Toyama, developed and published by Konami. The games take place in the series' fictional town Silent Hill, Maine. The games are heavily influenced by psychological horror, with Stephen King as one of the possible inspirations. The Duffers have acknowledged Silent Hill as one of the video games that inspired Stranger Things.[15]
    • Silent Hill's Otherworld conceptually and visually informed the Upside Down. [35][36] Both are essentially “dark reflections” of the regular world, and are home to grotesque monsters.
    • When creating the Demogorgon, the Duffers were inspired by the work of Masahiro Ito, who designed the monsters for some of the Silent Hill games.[6]
    • One of the franchise's major characters, Alessa Gillespie, has a lot in common with Eleven. Both have supernatural powers and had abusive childhoods. Hopper also mentioned an Eleanor Gillespie, whose surname could be referencing this character.
  • "The Last of Us" — An action-adventure survival horror video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. In the game, protagonist Joel accompanies a young girl named Ellie as they travel across a post-apocalyptic United States, overridden with the undead. The Duffers have noted The Last of Us as one of the video games that inspired Stranger Things.[15]
    • Both Chief Hopper and Joel had a daughter named Sara. Both also died tragically, albeit through very different means.
    • Eleven and Ellie are similarly named preteen girls who are endowed with unusual, remarkable qualities: Ellie is immune to the mutant Cordyceps fungus, while Eleven instead possesses psychokinetic abilities. Just how Ellie reminds Joel of his deceased daughter, Eleven potentially reminds Hopper of his own child who passed away. The Duffers have alluded to this connection, with Matt saying "we like the idea of potentially putting (Eleven) and Hopper together" in future seasons.[5]
    • The Monster bares some resemblance to Clickers (a stage of the Infected from the game), though this is very possibly coincidental.


  • "Fantastic Four" — While comparing Dustin's cleidocranial dysplasia to a superpower, Mike name-drops Mr. Fantastic, a member of the fictional superhero group called the Fantastic Four. They appear in Marvel Comics along with the X-Men.
  • X-Men — A fictional team of superheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.
    • In the opening episode, Will remarks that if he wins a bike race with Dustin, he wins his X-Men #134. In this issue, Jean Grey telepathically pins the villain Mastermind to a wall and puts in him in a coma - this is reminiscent of Eleven's eventual confrontation with the Monster in Chapter Eight.
    • In the original pilot script, Will instead wanted Dustin's Uncanny X-Men #269 - this would've been an anachronism, as that issue was released on October 10, 1990.
    • The X-Men are also mentioned in Chapter Three, when Dustin speculates about the origin of Eleven's abilities.
    • In "The Body", when Eleven "channels Will", Dustin compares her to Professor X, a powerful telepath.
  • "Wonder Woman" — Max collects and reads Wonder Woman comic books from DC Comics. Max gives a brief rundown on the books' premise to Eleven.
  • "Green Lantern (John Stewart)" — Max collects and reads Green Lantern comic books from DC Comics. The cover of one of her issues of Green Lantern features John Stewart, the third human to join the Green Lantern Corps.
  • "Cyborg" — A fictional superhero appearing as part of the The New Teen Titans comic series from 1980-1996. In the episode "The Flayed" Dustin and Robin name droped the character's alter ego of "Victor Stone" and brought up the fact that the character's mechanical limbs were built out of the fictional sybstance promethiun.


  • Drew Struzan — A renowned artist known for making over 150 movie posters, especially those for the Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Star Wars films. Artist Kyle Lambert, who created the main Stranger Things poster, drew inspiration from Struzan's work in order to "pay tribute to the ‘80s style of movie poster."[37]
  • Zdzislaw Beksinski — A Polish painter that specialized in the field of dystopian surrealism. The "hellish" and "otherwordly" imagery of his work were one of the inspirations for Aaron Sims while creating the look of the Upside Down.[35]


  • Cujo — A 1981 psychological horror novel by Stephen King about a rabid dog. In "The Body", the security guard at the morgue can be seen reading the novel - Hopper acknowledges the book, remarking "That's a nasty mutt..."
  • "The Hunt for Red October" — A 1984 novel by Tom Clancy. It tells the story of a CIA analyst named Jack Ryan, who must determine the motives of a seemingly rogue Soviet Captain named Marko Ramius aboard the submarine "Red October", which is equipped with cutting-edge stealth technology, making the sub nearly invisible. The novel can be seen featured at Waldenbooks in the first teaser trailer for the third season.
  • It — The Duffers were influenced by much of Stephen King's work, including his novel It. The titular "It", also known as Pennywise, is a child-stalking creature originating from beyond our regular universe. "It" has a fair deal in common with Stranger Things' Monster, which also stalks children and originates from another dimension beyond our own. They also acknowledged that Bob's backstory behind his fear of clowns was based on It. Ironically, Finn Wolfhard would later portray one of the main characters in the 2017 film adaptation. He'd also utter an exact same quote from the film later in the show.[38]
  • "Ronia, the Robber's Daughter" — A 1981 children's fantasy book by Astrid Lindgren that tells the story of a young girl, Ronia, who lives among a clan of robbers. Ronia's appearance on the book's cover was the inspiration for Eleven's hairstyle for the second season.[39]
  • J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth — The boys casually refer to a wooded area/road in Hawkins as "Mirkwood". This is the name of a great forest in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth, located near the Grey Mountains. Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey and a group of dwarves venture through this forest in The Hobbit.
    • The password to Castle Byers is "Radagast", a reference to a wizard or "Istari" featured in The Lord of the Rings.
  • The work of H.P. Lovecraft — H.P. Lovecraft is an author widely credited with the creation of the "cosmic horror" subgenre. Cosmic horror stories usually promote the notion that human civilsation is insignificant in the wider scheme of a mysterious, uncaring universe. Lovecraft was one of various storytellers who influenced the Duffers when developing Stranger Things' more supernatural elements. When discussing the Upside Down, Matt Duffer said he believes "it’s scarier when you don’t fully understand it. The more that you reveal and the more you comprehend, the less scary it gets. That’s sort of the H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker approach." [36]
  • The work of Preston B. NicholsStranger Things is influenced by the books of Preston B. Nichols, such as The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time. Stranger Things and his books cover a great deal of common ground, such as monsters, portals and children with psychic powers. The pilot script reveals that the show was originally set in Montauk, Long Island instead of Hawkins, Indiana.
  • "The d'Artagnan Romances" — A book trilogy written by French novelist Alexandre Dumas in the 19th Century. The novels detail the adventures of a trio of French swordsmen (musketeers) during the 17th Century and of Charles d'Artagnan, a young man wishing to join the trio as their fourth member.

Possible or Unconfirmed

  • "Another one bites the dust " — A song by musical band Queen.
    • When Steve attempts to impress girls at the Ice Cream Parlour and fails, Robin marks a entry on a board and says " Another one bites the dust. "
  • Beyond the Black Rainbow — A 2010 science fiction-horror film written and directed by Panos Cosmatos. The film's main story takes place in 1983, and features a tyrannical scientist, Dr. Nyle, experimenting on a young, female test subject named Elena, who have a similar dynamic to Dr. Brenner and Eleven. There are scenes in which characters become submerged in a vat of liquid and subsequently experience the supernatural. Like Eleven, Elena eventually escapes Nyle's laboratory and is pursued by her former master.
    • Matt Duffer has watched Beyond the Black Rainbow, although his brother Ross has not. Ross has remarked that the film very possibly influenced his brother while producing Stranger Things.[15]
    • The Rainbow room could possibly be an allusion to this film.
  • "Carrie" — Eleven shares some features with Stephen King character Carrie White, a fundamentally sweet-natured but troubled girl with telekinetic powers.
    • Stranger Things also seems to include a homage to the stinger that closes Carrie: Just as Carrie’s hand reaches through the soil at her grave site, Nancy’s hand punctures through a web-like portal upon returning from the Upside Down.
  • "Die Hard"Stranger Things's Officer Powell is a possible reference to the similarly named Officer Al Powell in the 1988 action movie classic Die Hard.
  • "Eerie, Indiana" — An American television series which aired in the early 90s, and has since developed a cult following. The show revolves around a teenager whose family moves to the desolate town of Eerie, Indiana. He soon begins to encounter various bizarre, sometimes supernatural goings-on in the town. The idea of the supernatural meeting the ordinary, as well as the Indiana setting, could have been an influence to Stranger Things.
    • When the Duffers had to rename the series once the setting was changed from Montauk, New York to Hawkins, Indiana, they stated they "didn’t want to do the Eerie, Indiana or Twin Peaks thing and name it after a fictional place because it had been done a lot.” [40]
  • "The Last Starfighter" — A 1984 sci-fi film about a teenager who’s recruited into interstellar warfare. Though Stranger Things contains no direct references to the film, both stories are rooted in the geek-friendly idea that playing video games or D&D campaigns can provide kids with knowledge they can use to solve real-life situations.
  • "The Mist" — A 1980 horror novella by Stephen King that was later adapted as a film in 2007. The appearance of the Mind Flayer emerging in the midst of a storm is vaguely reminiscent of The Mist.
  • "Police Academy"Stranger Things's Officer Callahan is a possible reference to the similarly named Officer Debbie Callahan in the 1980s comedy film series Police Academy.
  • "Predator" — A 1987 sci-fi action horror film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The name of the film's team leader that tried to recover the CIA agents was Jim Hopper, who could be a potential inspiration for the show's Chief Jim Hopper, although no direct references exist between them.
  • "The Twilight Zone"The Twilight Zone was a fantasy, psychological-supernatural horror anthology television series which ran from 1959 to 1964.
    • Chapter Two's title, "The Weirdo on Maple Street", recalls "The Monsters are due on Maple Street," a classic Twilight Zone episode in which aliens invade and scare a small neighborhood.
    • The Twilight Zone episode "Little Girl Lost" follows a married couple as they try to find their daughter, who becomes lost in an alternate dimension. There are clear parallels between "Little Girl Lost"'s and Stranger Things's missing child story-lines. It is unknown if the episode directly influenced the Duffer Brothers. That being said, Poltergeist, a film named as an influence on the show, was itself influenced by "Little Girl Lost"; in this sense, the Duffers were at least indirectly influenced by the episode.
  • "Twin Peaks" — David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks shares various similarities with Stranger Things. Both shows are set in small and seemingly inconspicuous American towns, where supernatural goings-on secretly take place. The two shows both revolve around the mysteries surrounding an ill-fated local - this is teenager Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, and Will Byers in Stranger Things. Both are found dead in or near a body of water, yet they are later seen seemingly alive.
  • "Videodrome" — When Will communicates with Joyce through the house in Chapter Two, his bedroom walls distend like the skin-colored television in David Cronenberg’s horror film Videodrome. A similar effect can be seen whenever the creature tears through the seams of the Upside Down to attack.


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  2. "'Stranger Things': Creators Matt and Ross Duffer Reveal Plans for a Possible Season 2" Collider. July 31, 2016.
  3. "Stranger Things interview - Duffer Brothers on Netflix's new supernatural show" Irish Examiner. May 18, 2016.
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  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "‘Stranger Things’ Finale: Duffer Brothers Talk Cliffhangers, Death and Season 2" Variety. July 18, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "Stranger Things episode 6: How the Duffer Brothers created the monster" Entertainment Weekly. July 20, 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Stranger Things season 2: Duffer Brothers reveal details" Entertainment Weekly. August 31, 2016.
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  10. 10.0 10.1 "Stranger Things: the Dufferbrothers share the secrets of their hit show" Empire. July 27, 2016.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "How the Duffer Brothers Picked the Perfect Music for 'Stranger Things'" Complex. August 2, 2016.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "'Stranger Things' Creators Explain It All About Season 1" Hitfix. July 27, 2016.
  13. "Stranger Thingsepisode 7: The Duffer Brothers on the 'most fun' episode of the season" Entertainment Weekly. July 21, 2016.
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  17. "The Duffer Brothers Recap Stranger Things 2 Finale" Vulture. November 10, 2017.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 "Stranger Things 3: The movies that inspired the new season" Entertainment Weekly. May 23, 2019
  19. "‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 Is Inspired by 1985’s ‘Fletch’ (EXCLUSIVE)" Variety. August 18, 2018
  20. Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down
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  22. "Remote Controlled: ‘Stranger Things’ Creators Duffer Brothers on Going ‘Big’ in Season 2"Variety. June 6, 2017.
  23. "The Duffer Brothers Recap Stranger Things 2, ‘Chapter Three: The Pollywog’" Vulture. November 1, 2017
  24. "Stranger Things Panel @ The Days of the Dead Atlanta Feb. 4 2017"
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  29. "Stranger Things premiere: The Duffer Brothers introduce their new Netflix series" Entertainment Weekly. July 15, 2016.
  30. "'Stranger Things' Producer on New Characters and Casting "Famous People" for Season 2" The Hollywood Reporter. August 31, 2016
  31. "How 'Stranger Things' Created The Void" Inverse. August 2, 2016.
  32. "The Duffer Brothers Recap Stranger Things 2, ‘Chapter One: MadMax’" Vulture. October 30, 2017
  33. "The Stranger Things creators want some scares with their Spielberg" AV Club. Jul 13, 2016
  35. 35.0 35.1 "Exclusive ‘Stranger Things’ Art Reveals ‘Upside Down’ Secrets and Barb’s Alternate End" ScreenCrush. August 22, 2016.
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  37. "Meet Kyle Lambert, the Artist Behind the Now-Iconic Stranger Things Poster" The Hundreds. August 17, 2016.
  38. "The Connection Between ‘Stranger Things’ And ‘It’ Is Quite Intentional"Uproxx
  39. "’Stranger Things’ Stylist Teases Season 3 Hair and Breaks Down 7 Iconic Character Hairdos" IndieWire. Novemeber 8, 2017
  40. "On Set For ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2, Duffers Hint At Future: “We Have A Blinking Light That We’re Headed Toward”"Deadline. May 15, 2017.
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