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"Chapter Nine: The Piggyback" is the ninth and final episode of the fourth season of Stranger Things and the thirty-fourth episode overall. It premiered on July 1, 2022, being the second episode of the second volume, and was directed by the Duffer Brothers.


With selfless hearts and a clash of metal, heroes fight from every corner of the battlefield to save Hawkins — and the world itself.


Outside the church in Kamchatka, Yuri Ismaylov fixes Katinka and tells Murray Bauman and Dmitri Antonov that the helicopter might work if he gives it another try. The stalling of the engine leads Murray and Dmitri to think Yuri is purposely sabotaging Katinka to get his reward money.

Inside the church, Jim Hopper and Joyce Byers wait for a callback from the U.S. Waiting for the phone, Joyce notices Hopper's scarred wounds and expresses concern about his time being confined in the prison with Hopper reassuring and telling her that it has given him some time to reflect. He tells Joyce that he never should have sent the message, but Joyce reaffirms that it was her choice to pursue the rescue mission and that she would do it again. The pair advances their relationship after discussing their date at Enzo's, kissing and almost going further until the phone rings with the call they've been waiting for.


Max and Lucas make up with one another while they wait for the plan to be initiated

Back in Hawkins, Dustin Henderson, Nancy Wheeler, Steve Harrington, Robin Buckley, and Eddie Munson go over the plan again with ‘Phase One’ being initiated when Nancy, Steve, and Robin get Erica Sinclair's signal at the playground outside the Creel House, and she'll signal Max Mayfield and Lucas Sinclair inside the house when the trio is ready. ‘Phase Two’ begins with Max baiting Vecna by distracting him into putting her into a trance. ‘Phase Three’ starts with Dustin and Eddie drawing the demobats away from the house, clearing the trio an opening. ‘Phase Four’ ends with Nancy, Steve, and Robin heading to Vecna's lair and killing Vecna while he is using his powers.

Arriving back at the Forest Hills Trailer Park, the group travels through the gate in the Munson trailer. In the Upside Down as the two groups split up, Steve tells Dustin and Eddie if anything goes wrong, they will have to abort. Eddie and Steve acknowledge this and bid the trio as Nancy, Steve, and Robin walk off to find the Creel House.

At a gas station in Nevada, Jonathan Byers calls and begs for the earliest flight to Hawkins. Eleven notices a billboard featuring a woman giving her daughter a piggyback and has an idea, recollecting the time she went into her mother and Billy Hargrove's minds using the Void. With the boys realizing that they wouldn't make it to Hawkins until the next morning, Eleven proposes a way to protect Max from their current location. She explains that since Vecna will be infiltrating Max's mind, she can protect Max from within her mind, using the same technique that she has used in the past with her mother and Billy. To do so, Eleven needs a sensory deprivation tank to help her gain access to Max's subconscious. Will Byers suggests going back to the motel that they had passed earlier, but Mike Wheeler points out that they won't have enough salt. After the group explains to Argyle how to make a sensory deprivation tank, he measures El's size and tells them he knows exactly where to go; a place that he is certain will have at least 600 pounds of salt, having the group pile in the van and drive off.

In the Creel House, Lucas, Max, and Erica search for Vecna's presence using lanterns to locate him. They search each floor in silence with their shoes off and use notepads to communicate in order to not tip off Vecna. Erica finds him on the first floor and alerts Lucas and Max. Conducting Phase One, Erica runs out to the playground. A man walking his dog sees the lights from the Creel Home and notices Erica on the playground. He calls Andy who in turn alerts Jason Carver.

In Kamchatka, Hopper tells the others the caller on the end of the phone was a friend of Sam Owens and told her he had Eleven and Joyce's children prepare to fight an evil force in Hawkins, but they all went off-grid. Murray suspects that it's the KGB again, but Joyce confirms the caller's claims, saying that the particles they saw in the prison were alive, meaning there's a Gate opening in Hawkins. Murray says that even if Yuri was able to fix Katinka, the earliest they'd get home would be late tomorrow. But Joyce says that since the threat is connected to the hive mind, they can instead psychically injure it by destroying the particles, thereby giving the kids an upper hand. Knowing that this means returning to the prison, Murray objects at first but the trio relents into going back. Hopper tells Dmitri to do whatever it takes to get Yuri to fix Katinka while he, Joyce, and Murray go back with the help of their weaponry, including a flamethrower.

Surfer Boy Pizza - The Piggyback

The California crew arrives at a local Surfer Boy Pizza store. Argyle tries to convince the equally stoned yet friendly fellow Surfer Boy Pizza cashier to give them the salt they need, explaining their situation. The employee is somewhat hesitant until Jonathan offers Argyle's Purple Palm Tree Delight joint as payment, and the young man soon allows the crew to get to work as he leaves. Will and Jonathan fill the freezer with salt and water while Mike crafts a pair of sunglasses from a pizza box. Meanwhile, Eddie and Dustin barricade the trailer with scrap metal, and Eddie is ecstatic to find an Upside Down version of his guitar in his bedroom.

In the decaying woods of the Upside Down, Nancy, Steve, and Robin travel to the Creel House. As they walk, Steve reminisces about his stupidity and confidence during his junior year, and thanks Nancy for metaphorically waking him up two years prior. He tells Nancy that she had changed his life for the better but wonders if they could have lasted as a couple had he changed before he met Nancy. Steve reveals that in his dream of traveling across the country with his family, he pictured Nancy by his side. But he admits that now it is too late for his dream to become a reality. The two are interrupted when Robin announces that they've arrived at the Creel home and the group sees Erica's light at the playground.

Arriving at the prison, Joyce, Hopper, and Murray notice the lack of guards in the prison. Dmitri keeps an eye on Yuri and berates him for treating the Americans so coldly when they've warned them about an evil that can harm their families and lives. Dmitri then tells him how he was told how great the "Peanut Butter Smuggler" once was and suggests that he could be great again. Regretting his previous actions, Yuri removes the missing piece of the helicopter engine from his pocket.

Back in Hawkins' Creel House, Max and Lucas sit as they wait for the next phase in the living room. Through their notepads, Max tells Lucas she's glad he's here with her. Lucas asks her if she wants to go to the movies with him on Friday, and she accepts his invitation by showing him a crude drawing of her and Lucas at the movies together. Erica then flashes her light at them from the playground, and once Lucas flashes back, she confirms to Robin through the Upside Down to move to phase two: they wait for Vecna to take the bait. Max puts on her sneakers and approaches the flickering lantern. She calls Vecna, attempting to communicate with him, but she is confused when she receives no response. The lantern's light fades, and Max and Lucas slowly walk upstairs, following it as it flutters according to Vecna's location.

Back at Surfer Boy Pizza, Mike finishes his crafted sunglasses so El's vision can be blocked. As they laugh and flirt, Mike attempts to tell El of his feelings but is interrupted by Argyle. Will sadly observes them from afar. Jonathan, taking notice, asks Will if he remembers when he was little and asked Jonathan to get a Lego figure named Larry out of his nose. As they laugh, Jonathan says that he misses Will asking him for help and advice, feeling he doesn't do it anymore, but also apologizes for being stoned a lot of the times when Will needed him. As Will gets emotional, Jonathan emphasizes to him that he's here for him and that he'll love him no matter what. Will embraces his brother, and Jonathan reassures him that things will be okay. They soon finish preparing the freezer and inform the others. El places herself in the freezer and quickly finds Max and Lucas in the Void. She tells the boys that Max's plan isn't working.

S4-E9 Max talks to Vecna

Max talks to Vecna

Max and Lucas are now in the attic as they stand near a lantern. Max tells Vecna she knows she can hear him and sits down without her Walkman. She tells Vecna how what he said about Max wanting Billy to die was true, as there were nights she'd pray something bad happened to her stepbrother since he made her life miserable every chance he got. She admits that the day Billy died, she hesitated to run to him because she didn't know whether he truly deserved to be saved. She says she can't forgive herself, and at night, she now prays she could be taken instead, admitting to Vecna that she wants him to make her disappear. Lucas asks Max if that's the truth and if she ever thinks those thoughts about him. Max is confused as to why Lucas is talking but he tells her that normal people don't fantasize about killing other people. Lucas begins to back Max in a corner, telling her he's glad she'll be the final sacrifice that will break the world. Lucas, in reality, attempts to wake up a cursed Max. El tells the boys in the Void that Vecna has Max. In Max's hallucination, she hits Lucas who turns into Vecna as she bolts downstairs. Holding Max's hand, El concentrates and retreats to one of Max's memories, a California skate park in the 1970s. Back in reality, Lucas signals Erica through the window, and she tells Robin to initiate Phase Three.


Eddie plays Master of Puppets

Robin informs Dustin, and he sets up the speakers on top of the Munson trailer. Eddie begins to play Metallica's Master of Puppets to lure the Demobats away. Nancy, Steve, and Robin approach the Creel house as the bats are led away. In Max's hallucination, she attempts to escape the house but finds the doors boarded up. In reality, Jason and Andy speed towards the playground as Andy chases Erica away. When Max opens a door, she finds a hallucination of Billy in the sauna room who is attempting to escape. Andy catches up to Erica and tackles her. As Billy breaks through the door, Max thinks through her memories and transports herself back to the Snow Ball dance she attended with her friends in 1984. As the swarm of Demobats approach, Dustin and Eddie countdown before sprinting into the trailer and cheering over how metal his performance was.

In Kamchatka, Joyce, Hopper, and Murray crawl through the hole back into the prison and find out that the containers have been broken empty. Armed with a flamethrower, the trio enters the security room which is riddled with dead bodies and a barely breathing general. Murray asks the general what had happened, and he (with Murray’s translation) explains to the trio that the Demogorgon got into the building and that the guards accidentally shattered the containers while trying to ward it off by gunfire, breaking out the Demodogs and the particles (referred by the general as “The Shadow”) which went into “them”, but succumbs to his wounds before he could explain who did they went into. Through the security cameras, the crew realizes that the particles have possessed the creatures.

In the Upside Down, Steve, Nancy, and Robin open the Creel house door and navigate carefully. El walks through the skate park and eventually finds Max as a younger child, but tells the boys that she can't interact with her. When Will asks if anything is off in the memory, El finds an out-of-place DJ station on top of a bridge. Max sits at a table in the Snow Ball and waits for the next phase, only for the decorative balloons to begin to explode blood. The record on the DJ table warps to play Ella Fitzgerald's Dream A Little Dream of Me as it begins to affect the memory of the skate park as well. In the Snow Ball memory, the banner and flowers begin to decay as flakes begin to fall. Thunder and lightning begin to surround both memories.

In reality, Lucas notices Max beginning to hyperventilate and attempts to signal Erica again. Erica is being held in an arm hold by Andy, who threatens to break her arms. Lucas turns around to find Jason approaching Max, believing it to be the same ritualistic sacrifice that killed Chrissy Cunningham. Lucas tries to stop him, but Jason whips out a pistol and holds him at gunpoint. After forcing him to empty his pockets, Jason dictates him to wake Max up. Lucas refuses and tells him waking her up could kill them all, but Jason says he'll kill him if he doesn't comply.

At the Russian prison, the trio arrives in the courtyard with a plan to bait the Upside Down's creatures into the arena and set it on fire to help out El and the kids. Murray is given the flamethrower while Joyce is told to monitor the security system. Hopper plans to lead a Demodog out from the prison laundry room, but Joyce is haunted by Bob Newby's encounter with the Demodogs that resulted in his death. Hopper reassures her that he'll die someday, but not today, departing with a kiss.

S04E09 Official Image

Eddie and Dustin defending the inside of the trailer from the Demobats

In the Upside Down Munson trailer, Dustin and Eddie have weapons in hand as the bats crash against the windows, with Eddie realizing they're on the roof. Hearing noise from the vents on top, a bat pops through and causes the pair to stab at it vigorously. At the Creel House, the trio crawls up the stairs and is about to enter the attic when a random earthquake alerts Vecna of the trio's presence. The vines take Robin and pin her against the wall, and soon take Nancy and Steve as they attempt to help, placing the trio in a chokehold.

Hopper approaches the laundry room and baits the Demodog to follow him and flees through the halls. In the Munson trailer, Eddie places his garbage can lid over the hole, but it proves to be futile as the bats make their way through Eddie's bedroom vents. Closing the bedroom door, Dustin climbs up the rope back to Hawkins' version of the Munson trailer. Eddie is about to climb but quickly comes up with a plan to buy more time. He cuts off the rope and pulls away the mattress to protect a distressed Dustin, and leaves outside. Eddie bikes away and causes the bats to follow behind.


Vecna approaching Max

At the Snow Ball, Max barricades the doors using tables and chairs but turns around to find them all gone and the Creel House door in place of it. Vecna begins to taunt Max as she attempts to find more happy memories, but it's interrupted by visions of her friends - in Hawkins and Russia - failing to fight back against him. Vecna pops behind Max and throws her against the wall.

In Hawkins' Creel House, Lucas attempts to explain to Jason who Vecna is, and Jason asks if the Hellfire Club had summoned him. Lucas explains that Hellfire isn't a cult, but Jason asks why Chrissy was at Eddie's trailer. Lucas tells him that Chrissy needed to buy drugs which angers Jason. Lucas rephrases and tells him Chrissy was seeing visions that Vecna forced her to see and wanted help. Jason says he knows Lucas is lying since Chrissy would've told him what was going on. Lucas tells Jason he's wrong about Eddie, but Jason corrects him by saying he was wrong about Lucas, regretting ever letting him join the basketball team. Lucas retaliates that he should've never joined. He tells Jason that he was wrong thinking he was normal and popular, realizing now he's nothing more than a raging psychopath. Enraged, Jason tells Lucas he has five seconds to wake Max, or he shoots. As he counts, Lucas charges toward him and tackles Jason, causing a shot to ring out. Andy, distracted by the noise, is hit in the crotch and incapacitated with a flashlight by Erica, who soon bolts back to the Creel house. Jason and Lucas begin to brawl, and Jason initially has the upper hand. In the process, he steps on and crushes Max's Walkman.

Vecna and Eleven at Snow Ball

Vecna and Eleven at the Snow Ball memory

In the Snow Ball, Vecna approaches Max and tells her while she's brave but like everyone else, including Billy, she'll eventually break. Before Vecna can kill Max, he is thrown back into the air by an unseen force, revealed to be Eleven. Vecna, who immediately recognizes her, is thrown into the bleachers.

Eddie leads the swarm through the trailer park, taunting them. Dustin grabs a chair and hoists himself through the portal, inadvertently injuring his leg as he falls through. A bat hits Eddie and makes him crash, initially causing him to run. But Eddie halts when he thinks back to how he ran when Chrissy was murdered and decides to stand his ground.

At the prison, Hopper runs through the halls as Joyce tensely watches from the cameras and notices tasers hung on the wall. Back at the Creel House, Erica runs to the attic while Jason and Lucas continue to fight. In Max's memories, El and Max reunite although Max questions if El is really real. Their reunion is interrupted when Vecna rises from the bleachers. El threatens to kill Vecna again if he touches Max again. Vecna questions whether El truly killed him and tells her he's glad El is here with him. He wants El and him battling against one another. At Surfer Boy Pizza, they realize El is fighting against Vecna. Back in the Upside Down, Dustin limps outside the trailer and sees Eddie swarmed by the bats. El is thrown around by Vecna, with Max attempting to intervene but is knocked out by Vecna. Vecna captures El and informs her that he wants her to watch him kill her friends before he killed her last. He sends her to his mindscape and traps her, pinning her against the Creel house door with vines. Vecna brings an unconscious Max and hoists her up against a fragment of the Creel house.

Vecna taunts Eleven

Vecna tells Eleven that she created him, not Brenner

As a last-ditch effort, El informs Vecna of Martin Brenner's death as she understands why he was made into who he is. While he admits that Brenner did hurt him, he says Brenner was not a monster, but just an ordinary man. His need to control both Eleven and Vecna proved to be futile as it was El that shaped him into who he became Vecna explains when he was sent to the Upside Down where he thought to be Hell turned out to be a world untouched by humanity, and was fascinated by the dimension's biggest creature, the Mind Flayer. He needed an open gate to unleash chaos in Hawkins, which was what Eleven inadvertently created for him back in 1983. When Eleven resisted by destroying the Demogorgon that year and closing the Gate in 1984, Vecna then sought her powers by using the Mind Flayer's proxy form to attack El in 1985.

Max floats in the attic

Max floats in the attic

El attempts to persuade Vecna to stop but is told that her friends have lost; Lucas continues to be beaten by Jason while Erica is locked out unable to assist, Hopper is tackled by a demodog, Eddie is pinned down by demobats and is slowly mauled, and Nancy, Steve, and Robin are being choked out by vines. Vecna tells El that Hawkins will burn and fall as he plans to build something new out of it. As Vecna begins his killing of Max, Max's physical body begins to float.

At Surfer Boy Pizza, Mike sees El hyperventilating and the boys hoist her out of the tub. Placing her on the pizza table, Mike calls out to her. Will reminds Mike that he is the heart of the Party, causing Mike to finally tell her he loves her. El, listening, becomes emotional as Mike apologizes for not professing his love, admitting he is afraid that one day, El will realize she won't need him anymore, and expressing his feelings will make their separation hurt more. Mike tells El that his life started the day he found El in the woods, that he loves her regardless of who she is, with or without her powers, and that she is his superhero. Motivated by this, El breaks free of the vines' grasp. In Hawkins' Creel house, Lucas hits Jason's head against the wall and finally knocks him unconscious. However, he's left horrified as Max's limbs snap and her eyes slowly bleed. Eleven finally breaks free and throws Vecna away from Max, holding him against a spike.

In Kamchatka, Joyce runs to Hopper and tases the Demodog on him to death. As they embrace, Hopper and Joyce run as the Demogorgon sprints towards them. Arriving at the courtyard, the couple is cornered by the monsters when Murray calls for them on top of the viewing stand and lights up the flamethrower onto them. This causes Vecna to shake violently, while also causing the Demobats surrounding Eddie to fall and the vines to release Steve, Nancy, and Robin. The trio gather their weapons and once again head to the attic.

Russian Demogorgon And Jim Hopper

The Demogorgon and Jim Hopper

In Russia, the fully grown Demogorgon is the only monster still alive. It approaches Hopper, who grabs a sword after running out of ammo. Nancy, Steve, and Robin find Vecna's body in the attic. With Eleven, Vecna tells her that she thinks she and her friends have won, but it is just the beginning of the end. He insists that she had already lost, but El replies that it was he that didn't succeed. Hopper runs to the Demogorgon and cuts off its arm. Dodging it, Hopper finally kills the monster with a decapitation to the head. Joyce and Hopper embrace while Murray cheers as Dmitri and Yuri arrive inside a functioning Katinka.

Nancy attacks Vecna

Nancy attacks Vecna

Steve throws a Molotov at Vecna's body and lights him on fire, which causes Vecna to vanish with his mindscape around Eleven and also cause Max to awaken. As Vecna stands up, Robin throws another Molotov at him, while Nancy shoots Vecna multiple times, causing him to fall out of the window and onto the ground. Nancy, Steve, and Robin arrive outside the Creel house to find Vecna's body gone, with only singes remaining.

Dustin limps towards a mortally wounded Eddie, who is gushing blood. Eddie, choking, proclaims that he didn't run away this time and makes a tearful Dustin promise to look after the Hellfire Club. Telling him that he loves him, Eddie dies as Dustin cries uncontrollably. Erica finally breaks through the attic lock and is horrified to find Lucas holding a mutilated Max in his arms. He tells her to call an ambulance as she bolts back down the stairs. Max tells Lucas she can't see or feel anything, her eyes covered in blood. El, in the Void, sobs alongside Lucas as Max fearfully says she's not ready to die. Lucas cries in anguish as he calls for Erica when Max succumbs to her injuries.


The Hawkins gates converge

In the Upside Down, the Creel House's clock chimes four times as Robin, Nancy, and Steve solemnly realize that Max is gone. Suddenly, the house begins to shake as the trio holds onto the banister. In the Creel House on the other side, Lucas pulls Max away as a large, red crack forms within the middle of the attic, quickly gaining momentum as it splits Jason in half, killing him as he screams in agony. The crack tears through the Creel home and continues onward with the remaining cracks formed from each murder ripping open and tearing through Hawkins, causing massive destruction and mayhem everywhere. At the Wheeler House, Karen Wheeler runs to a terrified Holly Wheeler and holds her as their house shakes violently. The four tears meet at the center of Hawkins, the library, as it explodes and causes a shock wave of clock chimes to ring through. Back in Surfer Boy Pizza, Mike tearfully whispers to El that he knows she's in there and needs her to wake up. In the Void, El sits in silence as Lucas cradles Max's body. Not willing to let her go, El uses her abilities to restart Max's heart.

S4E9-News Reporters outside the Hawkins Library

News reporters outside the library

Two days later, the California crew finally arrive in Hawkins, only to find a line of Hawkins residents leaving the town. The opening of the Upside Down is perceived as an earthquake by the media and the townspeople with 22 casualties resulting from the disaster. At the Wheeler home, Ted Wheeler watches the news report about the disaster, and Karen begins packing while helping Nancy, Steve, Dustin, and Robin load up Steve's car with donations for the Red Cross at Hawkins High. They're interrupted by the arrival of the California crew, and everyone embraces. Karen reunites with Mike, telling him she's never leaving her side again. Jonathan reunites with Nancy and tells her that he knows a lot more than she thinks and apologizes for not reaching out more since he couldn't risk contact. Steve is silently comforted by Robin as Jonathan and Nancy embrace. Dustin embraces Will and El, who ask where Lucas is, causing Dustin to tell them what has happened.

At the Hawkins Memorial Hospital, Max is comatose with casts covering the entirety of her limbs. Lucas reads to her while Erica and Susan Hargrove, Max’s mother, sit by her bedside. The Party arrives, and Lucas embraces Mike, Will, and El as he tells them the doctors aren't sure when Max will wake since it was a miracle she's even alive; her heart stopped for over a minute and she died clinically. El sits on Max's bed, holding her hand, and reassures Max that she will always be by her side. Using her powers, El transports the Void in Max's mind, only to find it completely empty as El screams Max's name.

At Hawkins High School, Steve, Robin, and Dustin arrive with donations as they see how many people are homeless and injured. Offering their services, Steve is sent to comb through the clothing donations, while Robin is sent to make sandwiches. Vickie pops out from the kitchen and is caught off guard that Robin is there. Her discombobulated nature and ranting lead her to apologize to Robin, who is amused and tells her she relates to her, causing Steve to smile from a distance as he watches Vickie and Robin chat away. Dustin has been sent to give water to the people but stops when he sees Wayne Munson put up missing posters for Eddie. When Dustin approaches, Wayne is initially cold when asked about Eddie, believing him to be like everyone else, but Dustin stops him and tells him he was with him when the earthquake happened. When Wayne asks where he is, Dustin tearfully pulls out Eddie's guitar pick and tells him he's so sorry. Dustin comforts Wayne by telling him that he wasn't at all how everyone portrayed him and that he fought so hard to protect a town that hated him, hailing him as a hero.

Eleven, Mike, Will, Nancy, Jonathan, and Argyle arrive at Hopper's Cabin in the Surfer Boy Pizza van and decide to spruce it up. Outside, while Jonathan and Nancy board up the windows and observe Argyle collecting mushrooms, they apologize for not being there for one another. Jonathan asks if things between them are alright, to which Nancy hesitantly says yes. Nancy asks if Jonathan ever got his college acceptance letter, to which Jonathan lies and says it hadn't arrived yet.

Mike and Will discuss El's struggle to fight, with Mike hoping that Vecna is dead. Will says though Vecna is hurt, he's still alive, and that now that he's in Hawkins, he can feel the presence of Vecna on his neck. Will had thought it was the Mind Flayer but realizes it was Vecna who simply used the Mind Flayer as a puppet and tells Mike he won't stop until he's taken everyone, but Mike tells him that they'll find a way as he comforts him. Their conversation is interrupted when a car approaches the cabin.

In her bedroom, El hears a large figure approaching her door and is shocked to see Hopper. She breaks down in tears and the two embrace as El says she never stopped believing he was alive, keeping her door open three inches. Hearing a noise outside, El runs out to see Joyce and the two hug. Hopper and Joyce were given a ride by one of Owens's agents. Mike approaches Hopper, who says he's grown, while Mike says he's shrunk, and the two embrace.

Suddenly, Will begins to feel goosebumps on his neck as he looks to the sky to see looming clouds. The group takes notice as they look and El sees spores falling from of the sky. Meanwhile, all over Hawkins, the people take notice as well: Karen and Holly at the Wheeler house, Lucas and Erica at the hospital, and Steve, Robin, Vickie, Dustin, and Wayne at Hawkins High.

Joyce, Hopper, El, Mike, Will, Nancy, and Jonathan walk their way to a field over Hawkins, seeing the clouds stemming from the four gates, with red lightning erupting in the clouds. El takes notice of the field slowly dying, as the group realizes that the Upside Down is beginning its invasion of Hawkins.

The gates and plumes


The official teleplay for "The Piggyback"



Also Starring[]




  • "Fine Time to Let Me Know" by Free Beer - At the gas station, El explains her plan to protect Max.
  • "B.G.'s One Eye" by The Nunchez's - Argyle and Jonathan convince the Surfer Boy employee to leave in exchange for Purple Palmtree Delight.
  • "40 Miles Bad Road" by The Lively Ones - Argyle serves Mike and El pineapple pizza; El and Argyle jokingly force Mike to try it.
  • "The Box" by Makeup and Vanity Set - Jonathan tells Will that he'll always support and love him no matter what, hugging Will as he weeps in his arms.
  • "Fields of Coral" by Vangelis - The California boys place El in the pizza dough freezer.
  • "The Tyburn Tree" by Makeup and Vanity Set - In the Void, El observes Max and Lucas in the Creel attic.
  • "Master of Puppets" by Metallica - In the Upside Down, Eddie distracts the Demobats with the power of heavy metal.
  • "Every Breath You Take" by The Police/"Dream A Little Dream of Me" by Ella Fitzgerald - The memory of the Snow Ball decays due to Vecna's presence, while El approaches the turntable.
  • "Running Up That Hill (TOTEM Remix)" by Kate Bush - Hopper battles the Demogorgon while Nancy, Steve, and Robin take down Vecna's physical form.
  • "When It's Cold I'd Like to Die" by Moby - Eddie says his last words to Dustin before dying; El watches in horror in the Void as Max succumbs to her injuries in Lucas' arms.
  • "Sentinels" by Makeup And Vanity Set - El uses her powers to restart Max's heart, using memories of the two of them to give her strength.
  • "Fact of Fiction" by Makeup and Vanity Set - Dustin, Steve, and Robin arrive at Hawkins High to deliver their donations, noticing how many residents have become injured or displaced.
  • "Deep" by Peter Sandberg - Hopper and El reunite; Joyce embraces El, while Hopper hugs Mike.
  • "Spellbound" by Siouxsie And The Banshees - End credits roll.

Original score[]

  • "Undressing" - Joyce and Hopper separate to get changed; Joyce notices Hopper tending to his scars and wounds.
  • "The First I Love You" - Joyce and Hopper embrace their romantic feelings and kiss.
  • "We Go Out Tonight" - Dustin, Nancy, Steve, Robin, and Eddie sneak into the Munson trailer and access the Gate.
  • "Soldiers" - Nancy, Steve and Robin march through the Upside Down.
  • "Rolling Out the Pool" - Argyle explains he knows how to get all the salt for El's "mind fight".
  • "A Proper Thump" - In the Upside Down's woods, Steve thanks Nancy for helping him become a better person.
  • "The Shire is Burning" - Nancy, Steve, and Robin arrive at the Creel House.
  • "Never Tell" - Dmitri reminds Yuri of the legendary soldier he once was.
  • "Hiiiiiiiii" - Max and Lucas silently reconcile by using their notepads, with Max accepting Lucas' offer for a date at the movies.
  • "Slashing the Tires" - Erica and Lucas signal one another via flashlight, and Erica tells Robin to move on to Phase Two.
  • "Skull Rock" - Max and Lucas follow Vecna's presence upstairs through the fly zapper.
  • "Still Pretty" - Mike attempts to tell El that he loves her, but gets interrupted by Argyle.
  • "Praying Something Will Happen to Me" - Max admits to Vecna that she wished for Billy's death, and believes she should disappear as well to compensate for it.
  • "Mugshot" - El uses her powers to infiltrate Max's mind.
  • "What Did You Do to Him?" - Murray interrogates the dying Russian warden.
  • "Starts to Rain" - Eleven finds a young Max at the skate park, and spots the Snow Ball's turntable atop a nearby walkway.
  • "Portal Drill" - Max and El notice Vecna's presence invading the former's memories.
  • "Stuck in 1983" - Hopper makes a plan to lure the Demogorgons into the courtyard.
  • "Destroying the Castle" - Hopper and Joyce kiss before departing to commence the plan.
  • "Danger Danger" - Vecna erases Max's barricades, and the Creel House door takes its place.
  • "Spellcaster" - Vecna pins Max against the wall and tells her she'll break just like her brother.
  • "Reign Fire From Above" - Eleven arrives at the Snow Ball memory and saves Max from Vecna.
  • "Hurtling Towards a Gruesome Death" - Dustin uses a chair to launch him through the gate, twisting his ankle in the process.
  • "We Are NOT Heroes" - Eddie stands his ground against the Demobats.
  • "I Want You to Watch" - Vecna sends Eleven to the Mind Lair, using vines to pin her against the Creel House door.
  • "A Realm Unspoiled By Mankind" - Vecna reveals he has led the invasion of Hawkins since the beginning.
  • "[Delicate, Intense Music Playing...]" - Vecna tells El that he'll bring Hawkins down, as a montage shows the characters losing their individual battles.
  • "You're the Heart" - Mike finally proclaims his love for Eleven, motivating her to fight.
  • "You Have Already Lost" - Hopper picks up a sword and prepares to fight the Demogorgon; Nancy, Steve, and Robin find Vecna's physical form in the Creel attic; El and Vecna spar with words.
  • "The Cure" - Hopper and Joyce embrace, and Dmitri and Yuri arrive to take the group back to America.
  • "Aftermath" - The Cali crew drive through a wrecked Hawkins.
  • "Eight Fifteen" - El and the Cali crew arrive at the Wheeler home.
  • "Kids Two" - Vickie and Robin excitedly chatter, as an amused Steve observes from afar.
  • "Letter to Willy" - Dustin tells Wayne about Eddie's fate and his sacrifice to save Hawkins.
  • "Tammy" - Nancy and Jonathan reflect on the current state of their relationship.
  • "Inverted (Season Finale)" (an orchestral mix of "Stranger Things", composed by Rob Simonsen)[2] - El and her allies watch as the Upside Down's spores fall from the sky.

Influences and references[]

See also: Influences & references


  • The Dirty Dozen (1967)
    • Murray compares Hopper's extreme plan to the film.
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
    • As Vickie makes PB&J sandwiches with Robin, she mentions how she should've broken up with her ex-boyfriend when he trashed Fast Times, claiming it had no plot.
  • Pretty in Pink (1986)
    • The appearance of Vickie was based on Andie Walsh in the film.
  • Red Dawn (1984)
    • The battle outfits of Dustin, Nancy, Steve, Robin, and Eddie were derived from the warrior outfits the teenagers donned in the film.
  • Supergirl (1984)
    • Argyle refers to Eleven as "Supergirl".


  • The Cars - Greatest Hits
    • Argyle has a tape of the album on the dashboard of the Surfer Boy Pizza van, seen when Mike grabs Argyle's sunglasses.


  • Hulk Hogan
    • Joyce and Hopper don yellow bootleg Hulk Hogan T-Shirts taken from Yuri's cargo.


View Gallery For this subject's gallery, see The Piggyback/Gallery.


  • The episode title was revealed on November 6, 2021, as part of Stranger Things Day.
  • "The Piggyback" is currently the longest episode in the entire series.
  • According to the Duffer Brothers, this episode includes more visual effects than the entirety of Season 3.
    • Post-production for the episode wasn't completed until just a few hours before release; the Duffer Brothers even approved 20 VFX shots hours before Vol 2. dropped.[3]
  • The Snow Ball makes its return through Max's memories.
  • The sequence in which Max was trapped in the Creel House was originally written with a few differences. In a storyboard by Michael Maher, it was intended for Max to exit the house and find herself trapped in the Hawkins Community Pool, at which point the plot would merge with the current climax of Max reliving her memories of the Snow Ball.[4]
  • Will is confirmed to have feelings for Mike, and Jonathan is shown to know and love him regardless.
  • After the climax in Max's hospital room, Susan was supposed to be in the room more prominently while Lucas was reading the 1986 comic The Legend of Wonder Woman. In the final cut, Lucas instead reads Max the 1984 novel The Talisman, while Susan is only seen from her right arm and torso sitting next to Erica.
  • Joyce and Hopper are confirmed to have romantic feelings for one another.
  • Joe Keery revealed that when attempting to axe the vines inside the Creel House, he inadvertently lost his grip and caused the butt of the axe to hit and break the camera.
  • Most of the emotional scenes in the episode were either improvised, reworded, or different from the original script. Confirmed by the Stranger Things writers, Eddie telling Dustin, "I love you, man.", Lucas yelling "Erica, help!", Mike saying to El, "You're my superhero.", and Hopper kissing Joyce before departing were all unscripted.
  • Before trying to kill Max, Vecna tells her, "Don't be afraid. It will all be over soon. Just try and stay very still" - the same sentence Billy said to his victims when possessed by the Mind Flayer.
  • The use of "When It's Cold I'd Like to Die" is a callback to the first season's finale, where Hopper and Joyce revive Will via CPR in the Upside Down, while Eleven disappears. The use of "Deep" by Peter Sandberg is a callback to the third season's finale, where Eleven reads Hopper's letter.
  • This is the only season finale where the characters have indisputably lost. Vecna, though injured, is still alive, and successfully opens a new gateway in Hawkins.
  • The doodle Max drew of her and Lucas at the movies was taped next to her hospital bed by Lucas.
  • This episode has the shortest time-jump out of all the season finales, with the epilogue taking place only two days after the events at the Creel House.
  • This episode is the first season finale where Mike and El do not kiss.
  • The end credits for this season finale is unique; the song Spellbound replaces the theme as the fourth season's logo zooms in, unlike previous finales, which shows the logo zoom out.
  • This is the final episode where Matthew Modine is listed as part of the main cast. Modine's name appeared during the opening credits sequence, even though his character, Dr. Brenner, was killed-off during the previous episode