A deep dive into the world of Stranger Things, one of the world’s most recognizable TV shows of the past decade as the residents of Hawkins, Indiana get ready for their biggest battle yet in season 5.
Creating a TV series that imbues both a heavy dose of nostalgia while also marking itself as a modern masterpiece is no easy feat, but the Duffer Brothers managed to pull it off with Stranger Things. The twin brothers, hailing from North Carolina, channeled Eighties classics from Stand By Me to The Goonies in creating the hit Netflix TV show, which was named the top streamed show across all platforms last year. While we patiently await the new season, Forever Geek takes a magnifying glass to the sci-fi hit that’s had us glued to our screens for five years.
Stranger Things season 5 – fans are ready for an epic finale
Sinister happenings have been ongoing in the fictional town of Hawkins since the start of Stranger Things. The first two seasons introduce the Demogorgon, a monstrous humanoid creature attacking residents and sending them to the Upside Down, as the main antagonist. But we have steadily been learning more about this creature’s world, what it wants, and how it all relates back to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the Hawkins Laboratory.
The latest ‘big bad’ introduced in Stranger Things 4, Vecna, continues to threaten Hawkins and fans are readying themselves for an epic showdown between our heroes and the murderous entity.
Stranger Things 4 was released in two parts over a year ago. The first part was released on May 27, 2022, while the second arrived five weeks later on July 1, 2022. This was three years after the third season was released on Netflix, having been delayed due to the Covid-19 imposed lockdown and filming restrictions.
The ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike is impacting the production of Stranger Thing season 5. With no exact timeline for when the strike will end, it is unclear as of yet when we can expect the final season. The Duffer Brothers have voiced their support for the WGA as they continue the strike.
On May 6, the Duffers tweeted from the official Stranger Things Writers’ Room account announcing their support and confirming Stranger Things 5 will be impacted.
Stranger Things season 5 release date continues to be pushed back
A recent TikTok made in light of the ongoing strikes falsely claims that Stranger Things season 5 will be released in four years’ time.
As of yet, there are no announcements about a release date. Some reports stated that filming was to take place this summer, with a potential release date arriving as early 2024. But with the ongoing strikes, it is likely to be pushed back a while longer.
As the content creator below states, don’t believe everything you see on TikTok!
Stranger Things cast from seasons 1 to 5 – breakout stars to famous faces
Finding a cast of talented young actors is no easy feat. We’ve seen it done before in the Harry Potter franchise, with the young stars growing up to be some of the most successful actors working in Hollywood. This also seems to be the case with Stranger Things, as the tweens have cemented their position as the next generation of stars.
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
British actress Millie Bobby Brown rocketed to fame thanks to her leading role in the Duffer Brothers’ sci-fi series. It was her first major role, having started work as a child actress. In fact, Stephen King is said to have ‘found’ Millie Bobby Brown, after publicly praising her performance in Intruders the year before Stranger Things began its casting process.
Outside of Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown has featured as the titular Enola Holmes (2020), its 2022 sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and its 2021 sequel.
Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp and Charlie Heaton as The Byers
The first season of Stranger Things revolves around the disappearance of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). So, understandably we are introduced to his family members as the search for Will begins. The Duffers chose none other than screen icon Winona Ryder for the role of Joyce Byers, Will’s mother. British actor Charlie Heaton joined the cast as Will’s introverted but passionate older brother, Jonathan.
Ryder is best-known for her roles in Mermaids (1990), Little Women (1994), and Edward Scissorhands (1990); Schnapp has featured in Abe (2019) and Waiting for Anya (2020); whilst Heaton has been in The New Mutants (2020), and The Secret of Marrowbone (2017).
David Harbour as Jim Hopper
American actor David Harbour has been working in the film industry since the late 1990s. But he gained global recognition for his performance as police chief James “Jim” Hopper in Stranger Things.
Away from Stranger Things, Harbour is best-known for featuring in Hellboy (2019), Black Widow (2021), and Suicide Squad (2016).
Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo and Sadie Sink also star
Joining the cast alongside Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp for the first season are Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo as Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair, and Dustin Henderson, respectively. They form the key members of the Dungeons and Dragons club who uncover the secrets of the Upside Down in their search for Will. Sadie Sink joins the cast in the second season as Max Mayfield.
Natalia Dyer and Joe Keery play lovebirds in season 1
Breakout stars Natalia Dyer and Joe Keery play the older generation of Hawkins students, Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, Mike’s older sister, and Keery as Steve Harrington. Their blossoming romance is a central plot line of the first season. However, Natalia Dyer is actually dating Charlie Heaton in real life, who plays Jonathan.
Maya Hawke, daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, joins the older students for the third season.
Fan favorite characters that never made it through the Upside Down
It’s become a running joke in the Stranger Things community that you should never get attached to any new character, especially a fan favorite one, because throughout the series, it hasn’t ended well for one-season stars.
In season 1, it was the lovable Barbara Holland that was the first fan favorite character to meet an untimely end in the Upside Down. Portrayed in the series by Shannon Purser, Barbara was sadly pulled into the Upside Down by the Demogorgon as she sat on the edge of a swimming pool waiting for Nancy as she hooked up with Steve in his bedroom just a few feet away.
Season 2 saw the demise of both Mews (Dustin’s cat) and Bob Newby, played by Sean Astin. Whilst Mews was tragically eaten off-camera by a D’Artagnan, fans couldn’t escape the gory death of poor Bob, mauled in the lab by demi-dogs, who had given up pretty much everything in order to be with Joyce.
Two fan favorite characters would meet their end in season 3; Alexei (played by Alec Utgoff) and Billy Hargrove (played by Dacre Montgomery). Alexei was one of the Russian scientists working in the lab under Hawkins and after helping Hopper, he was tragically shot dead after threatening to defect from the Soviets to the United States.
Billy certainly did not start off as a fan favorite character and if anything, he was one of the most hated characters in Stranger Things due to his intense bullying and manipulation of a young and impressionable Max. That being said, Billy rallied himself against the Mind Flare and ultimately, sacrifice himself so that Max could survive in that dramatic Mall-showdown.
Season 4 saw arguably the two most horrific deaths to date; Chrissy Cunningham (played by Grace Van Dien) and the adorable Eddie Munson (played by Joseph Quinn). These two characters were intertwined from the start, with Eddie witnessing Vecna’s first kill on Chrissy before being framed for her murder. Our would-be hero would then team up with Dustin in the Upside Down to provide the ‘most metal’ distraction in TV history; at the cost of his own life.
Unfortunately, this pattern means that if there is a new fan favorite character introduced in season 5, fans should certainly not get too attached to them as the season progresses.
Stranger Things is not filmed in Indiana
Whilst Stranger Things is set in Indiana, the series was actually filmed in Atlanta, Georgia at the EUE Screen Gems Studio.
The Duffer brothers originally wanted production to center around Long Island; however, the cold weather made filming the outdoor scenes extremely difficult, with the production moving to Jackson for season 1.
Other filming locations included the Georgia Mental Health Institute, Patrick Henry High School, Douglasville City Hall, Stone Mountain Park, and Bellwood Quarry.
Interestingly, the Duffer brothers wanted the Starcourt Mall to be a permanent attraction for fans of the series to visit and tour, but this proposal was sadly cut short and the set was dismantled.
How the Duffer Brothers came up with the idea for the show
Stranger Things was the biggest project that Matt and Ross Duffer had pitched to date. The Duffer Brothers, as they are now professionally known, were rejected by over 15 studios before Netflix picked up the idea.
They were inspired to create a project that reflected the spirit of a Stephen King novel but was directed by Steven Spielberg. Other inspirations for the brothers include the movies of horror legend John Carpenter.
Originally, they planned for the show to be called Montauk and set in the New York-based town. Montauk is subject to a number of conspiracy theories. They also wanted to choose a coastal location in homage to Spielberg’s Jaws.
Expand your Stranger Things obsession with book adaptation
If you want to continue your Stranger Things obsession but can’t wait for season 5, why not check out some of the video games and books that have been published from the show?
There are countless graphic novels, guidebooks, artbooks, and tales from the Stranger Things universe available for fans worldwide including:
There are also a variety of graphic novels from Dark Horse comics that are well worth a read.
Live-action and anime spin-offs are in the works
Thankfully, the world of Stranger Things will continue after the main series ends with Netflix having already confirmed that a live-action and anime spin-off titles are in the works.
Details on the plot and targeted release dates for both series remain kept under wraps; however, the animated title is said to be in the style of “Saturday morning cartoons”, reported the Duffer brothers:
“We’ve always dreamed of an animated Stranger Things in the vein of the Saturday morning cartoons that we grew up loving, and to see this dream realized has been absolutely thrilling. We couldn’t be more blown away by what Eric Robles and his team have come up with — the scripts and artwork are incredible, and we can’t wait to share more with you! The adventure continues…”
The live-action spin-off is an original Duffer brother’s idea, with the filmmaking duo confirming with THR that the series will also be produced by their Upside Down Pictures banner in association with 21 Laps.
There is also a Stranger Things stage play called The First Shadow set to open at the Phoenix Theatre in London later in 2023.
‘Dear Billy’ isn’t actually the highest-rated Stranger Things episode
Season 4 episode 4 of Stranger Things ‘Dear Billy’ went viral thanks to its heartfelt monologue from Max beside her brother’s grave and its iconic Vecna scene, featuring Running Up That Hill from Kate Bush.
This episode easily features some of the most iconic and recognizable scenes in the entire series; however, it’s not actually the highest-rated episode of the show on IMDB.
As of July 2023, the highest-rated episode of Stranger Things is season 4 episode 7 ‘The Massacre at Hawkins Lab’ and it’s not even close:
Which episode of Stranger Things has been your favorite so far?
Watch Stranger Things season 1-4 on Netflix now.