|This article is about the series. For other uses, see Stranger Things (disambiguation).|
The show takes place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the early-to-mid 1980s. The first season revolves around the disappearance of Will Byers, while the second season explores the repercussions of the mysterious events of season 1. The third season focuses on "forces of evil that are new." The upcoming fourth season will explore newer regions, outside of Hawkins.
- 1 Cast and characters
- 2 Seasons
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Production
- 5 Reception
- 6 References
Cast and characters
- Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
- David Harbour as Jim Hopper
- Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler
- Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
- Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson
- Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair
- Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler
- Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers
- Cara Buono as Karen Wheeler
- Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner (season 1; recurring season 2)
- Noah Schnapp as Will Byers (seasons 2-4; recurring season 1)
- Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield (seasons 2-4)
- Joe Keery as Steve Harrington (seasons 2-4; recurring season 1)
- Dacre Montgomery as Billy Hargrove (seasons 2-3)
- Sean Astin as Bob Newby (season 2; guest season 3)
- Paul Reiser as Dr. Sam Owens (season 2; guest season 3)
- Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley (seasons 3-4)
- Priah Ferguson as Erica Sinclair (seasons 3-4; minor season 2)
- Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman (season 4; recurring seasons 2-3)
- Jamie Campbell Bower as Peter Ballard (season 4)
- Eduardo Franco as Argyle (season 4)
- Joseph Quinn as Eddie Munson (season 4)
- Joe Chrest as Ted Wheeler
- Anniston and Tinsley Price as Holly Wheeler
- Rob Morgan as Officer Calvin Powell (seasons 1-2; guest season 3)
- John Paul Reynolds as Officer Phil Callahan (seasons 1-2; guest season 3)
- Susan Shalhoub Larkin as Florence (seasons 1-2; guest season 3)
- Randy Havens as Scott Clarke (seasons 1-2; guest season 3)
- Aimee Mullins as Terry Ives (seasons 1-2)
- Amy Seimetz as Becky Ives (seasons 1-2)
- Chester Rushing as Tommy H. (seasons 1-2)
- Chelsea Talmadge as Carol (seasons 1-2)
- Ross Partridge as Lonnie Byers (season 1)
- Shannon Purser as Barbara Holland (season 1)
- Mark Steger as The Demogorgon (season 1)
- Catherine Dyer as Connie Frazier (season 1)
- Peyton Wich as Troy Walsh (season 1)
- Cade Jones as James Dante (season 1)
- Chris Sullivan as Benny Hammond (season 1)
- Linnea Berthelsen as Kali Prasad (season 2, season 4)
- Kai Greene as Funshine (season 2)
- James Landry Hébert as Axel (season 2)
- Anna Jacoby-Heron as Dottie (season 2)
- Gabrielle Maiden as Mick (season 2)
- Catherine Curtin as Claudia Henderson (season 2; guest season 3)
- Cynthia Barrett as Marsha Holland (season 2; guest season 1)
- Will Chase as Neil Hargrove (season 2; guest season 3)
- Cary Elwes as Larry Kline (season 3)
- Jake Busey as Bruce Lowe (season 3)
- Alec Utgoff as Alexei (season 3)
- Andrey Ivchenko as Grigori (season 3)
- Francesca Reale as Heather Holloway (season 3)
- Michael Park as Tom Holloway (season 3)
- Holly Morris as Janet Holloway (season 3)
- Peggy Miley as Doris Driscoll (season 3)
- Levon Thurman-Hawke (season 4)
- Joel Stoffer (season 4)
- Mason Dye as Jason Carver (season 4)
- Tom Wlaschiha as Dmitri (season 4)
- Nikola Đuričko as Yuri (season 4)
- Sherman Augustus as Lt. Colonel Sullivan (season 4)
- Robert Englund as Victor Creel (season 4)
Stranger Things 1
Young Will Byers is cycling home from a "Dungeons & Dragons" campaign at a friend's house, when a terrifying figure suddenly appears, Will tries to escape and hide, but the Monster abducts him to an alternate dimension. Will's friends Dustin, Lucas and Mike begin investigating his disappearance; while looking for Will in the local forest, the boys find a girl with a shaved head in a hospital gown, who they let stay in Mike's basement. They learn her name is Eleven and discover that she has psychokinetic abilities.
Will's mother Joyce becomes transfixed by supernatural events affecting the house electricity - she's convinced Will is communicating with her. As these strange events continue, she witnesses (and is threatened by) the same monster that took Will. Meanwhile, police chief Jim Hopper grows suspicious of the nearby national laboratory and begins researching into the facility's shady history. Mike's older sister Nancy attends a pool party hosted by her new boyfriend Steve, begrudgingly accompanied by her best friend Barb. Jonathan, Will's brother, witnesses the events of the party, taking photos. While alone, Barb is abducted by the Monster....
Stranger Things 2
October 29, 1984. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…
After killing a man. a group of criminals flee in their van but are pursued by police. They escape from the police when the group goes under a tunnel, where rocks fall and block the opening. However, it is revealed that the rocks were only a vision in the mind of the lead policeman. Back in the van, it is revealed that a member of the gang Kali with a tattoo marked "008" on her wrist, has caused the vision.
Back in Hawkins, the boys go to the Palace arcade, where they find that someone with the name "MADMAX" has beaten Dustin's high score in "Dig Dug" by over 100,000 points. At the arcade, Will experiences an "episode", where he finds himself in the Upside Down version of the arcade. In the episode, he sees a large "shadow monster". The next day at school, they meet a new student from California named Max, who immediately captures the affection of Lucas and Dustin. Dustin believes she is "MADMAX" but Lucas is skeptical. At Hawkins High, Max's stepbrother Billy arrives, and begins to compete with Steve for the title of "King". Will, who has been experiencing the episodes frequently, is taken by Joyce and Hopper to Hawkins Lab, where he is seen by Dr. Owens, the new head scientist. Meanwhile, Joyce has begun seeing Bob Newby, a classmate from high school and the manager of the local RadioShack. Nancy and Steve have been having regular dinners with the Holland family following Barb's death. Nancy, who is still grieving Barb's death, learns that the Hollands (who are unaware Barb is dead) are selling their house to afford to pay an investigative journalist named Murray Bauman to find Barb; Nancy feels responsible and guilty. At the basement, Mike futilely tries to contact Eleven for the 352nd day in a row since her disappearance but is unsuccessful. Later, Hopper goes to a cabin in the woods, where it is revealed he lives there with Eleven, who is still alive...
Stranger Things 3
It’s 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana, and summer's heating up. School's out, there’s a brand new mall in town, and the Hawkins crew are on the cusp of adulthood. Romance blossoms and complicates the group’s dynamic, and they'll have to figure out how to grow up without growing apart.
Meanwhile, danger looms. When the town’s threatened by enemies old and new, Eleven and her friends are reminded that evil never ends; it evolves. Now, they’ll have to band together to survive and remember that friendship is always stronger than fear.
Stranger Things 4
The Duffer Brothers are quoted here: “We're excited to officially announce that production for Stranger Things 4 is now officially underway—and even more excited to announce the return of Hopper! Although it's not all good news for our 'American'; [Hopper] is imprisoned far from home in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka, Russia, where he will face dangers both human… and other. Meanwhile, back in the States, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long-buried, something that connects everything...”
During an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the Duffer brothers mentioned that Season 4 wouldn't be the last, while reiterating that they know when and how the story is going to end.
|1||"The Vanishing of Will Byers"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|On his way home from a friend's house, young Will sees something terrifying. Nearby, a sinister secret lurks in the depths of a government lab.|
|2||"The Weirdo on Maple Street"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|Lucas, Mike and Dustin try to talk to the girl they found in the woods. Hopper questions an anxious Joyce about an unsettling phone call.|
|3||"Holly, Jolly"||Shawn Levy||Jessica Mecklenburg|
|An increasingly concerned Nancy looks for Barb and finds out what Jonathan's been up to. Joyce is convinced Will is trying to talk to her.|
|4||"The Body"||Shawn Levy||Justin Doble|
|Refusing to believe Will is dead, Joyce tries to connect with her son. The boys give Eleven a makeover. Nancy and Jonathan form an unlikely alliance.|
|5||"The Flea and the Acrobat"||The Duffer Brothers||Alison Tatlock|
|Hopper breaks into the lab while Nancy and Jonathan confront the force that took Will. The boys ask Mr. Clarke how to travel to another dimension.|
|6||"The Monster"||The Duffer Brothers||Jessie Nickson-Lopez|
|A frantic Jonathan looks for Nancy in the darkness, but Steve's looking for her, too. Hopper and Joyce uncover the truth about the lab's experiments.|
|7||"The Bathtub"||The Duffer Brothers||Justin Doble|
|Eleven struggles to reach Will, while Lucas warns that "the bad men are coming." Nancy and Jonathan show the police what Jonathan caught on camera.|
|8||"The Upside Down"||The Duffer Brothers||Paul Dichter · The Duffer Brothers|
|Dr. Brenner holds Hopper and Joyce for questioning while the boys wait with Eleven in the gym. Back at Will's, Nancy and Jonathan prepare for battle.|
|9||"MADMAX"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|As the town preps for Halloween, a high-scoring rival shakes things up in the arcade, and a skeptical Hopper inspects a field of rotting pumpkins.|
|10||"Trick or Treat, Freak"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|After Will sees something terrible on trick-or-treat night, Mike wonders if Eleven is still out there. Nancy wrestles with the truth about Barb.|
|11||"The Pollywog"||Shawn Levy||Justin Doble|
|Dustin adopts a strange new pet, and Eleven grows increasingly impatient. A well-meaning Bob urges Will to stand up to his fears.|
|12||"Will the Wise"||Shawn Levy||Paul Dichter|
|An ailing Will opens up to Joyce -- with disturbing results. While Hopper digs for the truth, Eleven unearths a surprising discovery.|
|13||"Dig Dug"||Andrew Stanton||Jessie Nickson-Lopez|
|Nancy and Jonathan swap conspiracy theories with a new ally as Eleven searches for someone from her past. "Bob the Brain" tackles a difficult problem.|
|14||"The Spy"||Andrew Stanton||Kate Trefry|
|Will's connection to a shadowy evil grows stronger, but no one's quite sure how to stop it. Elsewhere, Dustin and Steve forge an unlikely bond.|
|15||"The Lost Sister"||Rebecca Thomas||Justin Doble|
|Psychic visions draw Eleven to a band of violent outcasts and an angry girl with a shadowy past.|
|16||"The Mind Flayer"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|An unlikely hero steps forward when a deadly development puts the Hawkins Lab on lockdown, trapping Will and several others inside.|
|17||"The Gate"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|Eleven makes plans to finish what she started while the survivors turn up the heat on the monstrous force that's holding Will hostage.|
|18||"Suzie, Do You Copy?"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|Summer brings new jobs and budding romance. But the mood shifts when Dustin's radio picks up a Russian broadcast, and Will senses something is wrong.|
|19||"The Mall Rats"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|Nancy and Jonathan follow a lead, Steve and Robin sign on to a secret mission, and Max and Eleven go shopping. A rattled Billy has troubling visions.|
|20||"The Case of the Missing Lifeguard"||Shawn Levy||William Bridges|
|With El and Max looking for Billy, Will declares a day without girls. Steve and Dustin go on a stakeout, and Joyce and Hopper return to Hawkins Lab.|
|21||"The Sauna Test"||Shawn Levy||Kate Trefry|
|A code red brings the gang back together to face a frighteningly familiar evil. Karen urges Nancy to keep digging, and Robin finds a useful map.|
|22||"The Flayed"||Uta Briesewitz||Paul Dichter|
|Strange surprises lurk inside an old farmhouse and deep beneath the Starcourt Mall. Meanwhile, the Mind Flayer is gathering strength.|
|23||"E Pluribus Unum"||Uta Briesewitz||Curtis Gwinn|
|Dr. Alexei reveals what the Russians have been building, and Eleven sees where Billy has been. Dustin and Erica stage a daring rescue.|
|24||"The Bite"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|With time running out -- and an assassin close behind -- Hopper's crew races back to Hawkins, where El and the kids are preparing for war.|
|25||"The Battle of Starcourt"||The Duffer Brothers||The Duffer Brothers|
|Terror reigns in the food court when the Mind Flayer comes to collect. But down below, in the dark, the future of the world is at stake.|
Growing up as avid movie fans, the Duffer Brothers were excited how television was going in a more cinematic direction, and they loved the idea of doing a long-form movie. When they started thinking out their ideas in early 2014, they were initially inspired by the plot of the 2013 film Prisoners, which starred Hugh Jackman as a man searching for his missing daughters. Wanting the show to have something more, the Duffers began discussing “more childlike sensibilities”, like having a monster devouring people. They became interested in a paranormal missing child storyline, which would be connected to versions of mysterious, real-life government experiments which took place at the tail end of the Cold War. They thought it made sense to set it at the end of the ‘70s or early ’80s and realized it allowed them to pay homage to the films they grew up with.
Growing up in the suburbs of North Carolina, watching films made them feel like their normal lives had the potential for adventure, which was a feeling they wanted to capture with Stranger Things. They aimed to return to a simpler style of storytelling and create something in the vein of the classic stories they loved growing up - such as films by Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter and Wes Craven, and the novels of Stephen King. They have stated many times that “What made those stories so great and resonant was that they explored that magical point where the ordinary meets the extraordinary.”
Two weeks after having the idea, they threw it away, thinking no one would let them do a TV show. They were invited to write on Wayward Pines and, taking lessons from that experience, wrote a pilot script.
The pilot script was brought to Dan Cohen, the vice president of production company 21 Laps Entertainment, in late 2014. He showed it to producer Shawn Levy, and within days they started talking about the project and how to bring it to the world. The Duffers created a mock-trailer, where they combined clips from more than twenty-five classic films, including Carpenter and Spielberg movies, and added a John Carpenter soundtrack over it. They also made a little notebook to help sell the show when pitching it with the cover aesthetically modeled after a Stephen King book.
Being filmmakers, the Duffers were determined to approach the show as an eight-hour movie and not have it feel like typical television which influenced their every key decision in the development process. They did not want anyone else directing as they wanted the show to be unified in the same way a movie is. The Duffers make emotional decisions leading with their heart, so when choosing the crew, they wanted to go with people who understood their idea and the show.
Netflix was their first choice when looking for a production company and broadcaster as their format would give them the freedom to tell the story like an eight-hour movie. With Cohen and Levy, the brothers pitched the show to Netflix in early March 2015. Netflix was very passionate about the show and bought the entire season within 24 hours of the first meeting. Matt Duffer later stated, “The dream scenario was always Netflix, so we’re very fortunate that we wound up there.”
Originally, the show was set in Montauk and correspondingly titled Montauk because the twins always loved the idea of the coastal-town Amity feel in Jaws. As it would be impossible to shoot in Long Island during wintertime, production was moved from Montauk to Atlanta. The twins ended up falling in love with the idea that it was more Anywhere, USA, and it reminded them of their childhoods and homes, a world they inherently understood better than the coastal town.
It was important for the Duffer Brothers to create a world with characters that felt real while also maintaining that 80's aesthetic. With that in mind, Kimberly Adams and Malgosia Turzanska were selected as the costume designers for the first season. 
Adams had to put together mood boards with images from her research to distinguish each character’s look, including the background characters and extras, who were dressed with the same care as the main characters. The pieces of the clothes were aged and designed according to how long the characters had owned them, while also reflecting the characters’ difference in social status. 
For the second season, Kim Wilcox was brought as the new costume designer who was offered a bigger budget by Netflix in order to create a bigger archive of clothing for both the kids and the adults.
The Duffers always wanted the music to play a major role in the show, deciding very early on that they wanted an entirely electronic score. They were charmed by existing electronic soundtracks, as they were very modern and cutting-edge, while also inevitably evoking the sounds of ’80s music (most notably Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, and John Carpenter). The Duffers felt that having a synth soundtrack would do exactly what they wanted to achieve with the show: It would feel both modern and nostalgic at the same time. Some of the show’s biggest inspirations, such as E.T. or Jaws, feature a soaring, orchestral "John Williams" style score, so the Duffers thought that a synth soundtrack would play nicely against expectations.
The Duffers first discovered the synth band S U R V I V E when they heard one of their tracks in Adam Wingard’s film, The Guest. The Duffers reached out to the band and asked if they were interested. Two band members, Kyle Dixon, and Michael Stein, agreed to score the project. Kyle and Michael first started composing music in summer 2015, sending “sketch” tracks inspired by the characters, tone, and story.
Over the course of the year, over 13 and a half hours of music was accumulated from Kyle and Michael. Though not all of this music made it into the eight-hour first season, it gave the Duffers a huge library to pull from as they edited.
Season 1's score was eventually released in two parts: Stranger Things, Volume One, and Stranger Things, Volume Two. Dixon and Stein have also worked on the score for Stranger Things 2 which was released on October 20, 2017.
The title sequence was designed by production studio Imaginary Forces. The first phone call between the studio and the Duffer Brothers was set up by Shawn Levy, where the Duffers spoke about what they were looking for. Imaginary Forces was sent the script for the first episode and started working on the titles before the show had started filming, which is fairly unusual for a TV show.
In terms of design, the Duffers referenced Richard Greenberg, who had designed the titles for The Goonies, Altered States, Alien, The Untouchables and many others. For the font, they were inspired by old Stephen King books and sent twelve different covers to Imaginary Forces. They felt that going back to the simplicity of Greenberg’s titles and the King covers represented the show well. The production team tested out several typefaces before deciding on Benguiat.
Imaginary Forces initially presented three different ideas; one was called “Missing,” which featured eerie scenes of abandoned toys; another was “Shadows,” which was type creating shadows or objects creating shadows with type. “Red” was the idea that eventually became the final product. 
The production team for the sequence was a small one. They used Cinema 4D, but most of it was done in After Effects, with “tonnes and tonnes of layering.” For effects, they used elements of Lens Distortion 4K, which is real shot optical lens flares, and Gorilla Grail, which is real scanned 35mm film grain, which was also used in the actual film footage in the show.
The special effects in Stranger Things were achieved through a combined effort of practical effects and computer-generated imagery (CGI).
- See also: Awards & Recognitions
Stranger Things has received critical acclaim from critics and viewers alike. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the series an overall approval rating of 93% (97% For Season 1, 94% for Season 2 and 89% for Season 3), with an average rating of 7.9/10.
The site's critical consensus for Season 1 reads, "Exciting, heartbreaking, and sometimes scary, Stranger Things acts as an addictive homage to Spielberg films and vintage 1980s television." Critical consensus for Season 2 reads, “Stranger Things’ slow-building sophomore season balances moments of humor and a nostalgic sweetness against growing darkness that’s all the more effective thanks to the show’s full-bodied characters and evocative tone.” Critical consensus for Season 3 reads, “Stranger Things transforms itself into a riveting -- yet familiar -- summer ride that basks in its neon-laden nostalgia without losing sight of the rich relationships that make the series so endearing.”
On Metacritic, the series has a score of 76, 78 and 72 out of 100 for Seasons 1, 2 and 3 respectively, indicating "generally favourable reviews". The series also currently has a score of 8.8 on IMDb.
Stranger Things has also received numerous awards and nominations for both seasons, including 31 nominations on the "Primetime Emmy Awards" with 5 wins, as well as winning the 'Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series' for the first season.
The series has also been recognized as the most in-demand digital original series of 2017 and will be included in the 2019 edition of Guinness Book of World Records.
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- "'Stranger Things' Season 3 Is Further Along Than You Think" Glamour. January 22, 2018
- "Stranger Thingswill likely go beyond 4 seasons, per producers" Entertainment Weekly. September 8, 2017.
- "'Stranger Things' Creators on Their Departure From Halloween Spookiness and Season 4 Plans"The Hollywood Reporter. August 18, 2020
- "Exclusive: ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 Starts Filming Monday; Andrew Stanton Not Returning" Collider.April 21, 2018
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- "Interview: ‘Stranger Things’ Producers on Influences, Marketing, the Possibility of Future Seasons and More" Slash Film. July 21, 2016.
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- "Durham’s Duffer Brothers land on Netflix" The News & Observer. July 9, 2016.
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- "A Season of Stranger Style" Because. February 13, 2017.
- "Stranger Things - Costume Designing 1980s Nostalgia" Tyranny of Style.
- "Stranger Things 2 Fashion Secrets Revealed" FASHIONISTA October 23, 2017.
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- "Stranger Things (2016)" Art of the Title. August 9, 2016.
- "Stranger Thingsepisode 4: How the Duffer Brothers were inspired by Stephen King" Entertainment Weekly. July 18, 2016.
- Stranger Things: Season 1
- "'Stranger Things' Makes Guinness Record Book"Broadcasting Cable. August 28, 2018.