Details about the next season of “Stranger Things,” officially called “Stranger Things 2,” are piling up in a hurry.
Specifics are somewhat thin on what we can expect from the second installment of the cult hit Netflix series, but we do know a lot of tantalizing tidbits. There are new characters, new monsters, and more Upside Down on the way. Here’s everything we’ve gleaned so far about the upcoming return to the supernatural ’80s.
It’s Hawkins, Indiana, 1984
The show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, have confirmed Season 2 is the same town but a year after the events of the first season. It’s 1984 as we know it, to some degree — the teaser trailer even shows the kids dressed up as the team from the 1984 classic “Ghostbusters.” Evidence from the trailer, specifically the kids in costume, suggest it’s Halloween.
The show will release on Netflix just in time for Halloween
A Halloween setting is further suggested by the release date, which is officially Oct. 27.
The kids are back
Most of the cast is back, including Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Will (Noah Schnapp). Mike’s sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Will’s brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are too, as is Nancy’s boyfriend Steve (Joe Keery)
Eleven’s fate was slightly ambiguous at the end of Season 1, although we saw Chief Hopper (David Harbour) dropping off a few Eggos at a small box in the woods. The teaser trailer puts down any doubts that Millie Bobby Brown is returning for Season 2, although we’re not sure just what the deal is with Eleven. The teaser more or less opens with Mike (Finn Wolfhard) calling out her name, and shots within suggest she’s in trouble, but that’s all we’re shown. The Duffer Brothers also told Entertainment Weekly recently that Season 2 would dive into more of Eleven’s backstory, discussing where she came from and revealing more of the experiment that helped create her.
The most recent trailer released by Netflix gives us a few more clues as to what’s up with Eleven. It seems that when she used her abilities to destroy the Demogorgon, she was transported to the Upside Down. The trailer shows Eleven standing in the same place in the school as where that final confrontation took place, but in the alternate dimension. Later in the trailer, she finds a passageway back between the worlds.
There’s more Upside Down
This is an easy one. The tagline for “Stranger Things 2” is “The world is turning Upside Down.” That’s not exactly ambiguous. Plus there’s that giant monster from the teaser.
In an episode of the South By Southwest podcast, composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein dropped a few more clues about what to expect from the Upside Down in Season 2. It’ll be “more of a place,” they said, with the second season spending more time in the actual Upside Down. With the Upside Down seemingly creeping more and more into Hawkins, that might mean the characters will have to travel back to the toxic world in order to figure out how to stop it.
The latest trailer for Season 2 gives a little more insight. As it seemed from earlier footage, the Upside Down is spreading in Hawkins, and possibly beyond.
Matthew Modine might be back as Dr. Brenner
Dr. Brenner was the leader of the government’s experiment on Eleven. It appeared he died at the end of Season 1 when the Demogorgon got loose in the Department of Energy lab, raging through an untold number of soldiers and scientists. But a cryptic post from Modine, who played Brenner, suggests he could be returning after all.
Fans have pointed out that the door is open for more Brenner, as he wasn’t actually seen to die on-screen in Season 1. And fans discovered Brenner named as a source in the newspaper clipping about Will, the one with the headline “The boy who came back to life.” That clipping appears in a shot at the close of the season. It would appear Eleven hasn’t escaped Brenner after all.
There are new characters
Casting for Season Two has already revealed a few story tidbits. Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”, “Aliens”) is joining the cast as Dr. Owens, another government agent who’s sent to deal with what happened in Hawkins. Reiser recently revealed that a big part of why he was cast was because of his role as Carter Burke in the 1986 flick “Aliens.” In that movie Burke, who starts out as a nice-enough middle-tier executive, sells out the other humans for a chance at the money that would come from capturing and returning an alien to Earth. Riffing on Burke, the Duffer Brothers even referred to the character as “Paul Reiser” when they were writing Dr. Owens. Then they asked Reiser to join the show, and he enthusiastically said yes.
It was revealed last year that Sean Astin of “Goonies” and “The Lord of the Rings” is joining the cast as Bob Newby. Bob was a classmate of Will’s mom, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), and according to David Harbour, he’ll be Joyce’s boyfriend in the second season.
Also joining the “Stranger Things” cast is Danish actress Linnea Berthelsen, who plays Roman, a character who doesn’t live in Hawkins but is connected to the events somehow, according to Netflix. There’s Max, played by Sadie Sink, described as a skateboarding tomboy. She might be what the first Season 2 episode title is referring to: It’s called , “Madmax.” Dacre Montgomery plays her older step-brother, Billy.
Barb gets justice
Well, maybe not “justice” per se, but a lot of fans complained that Barb’s disappearance and death at the hands of the Demogorgon didn’t get nearly the attention or weight it deserved. Where the whole town cared about Will, everyone seemingly forgot about Barb (Shannon Purser). The Duffer Brothers say that’ll change in Season 2. The second season is a sequel true to classic ’80s movies like “Aliens” and “Terminator 2,” so it’ll be very much about the direct aftermath of Season 1. A year on, Barb’s memory will factor highly, the creators said.
Hopper has to cover up what happened
The Duffer Brothers recently told Entertainment Weekly a few scant details about Season 2, and one of the things that was new to fans was Hopper’s role. After helping save Will from the Upside Down, Hopper was last seen dropping off Eggos in the woods — either because he knew Eleven was there, or because he hoped she was. The Duffers mentioned that Hopper will be working to control the story of what happened in Season 1 when the show starts up again. Hiding what really happened to Barb and Will is a big part of that. In essence, Hopper is helping institute a cover-up, although it might be more for the benefit of Joyce and her family than the government.
The “Thessalhydra” might be the Season 2 monster
Season 1 ends with the kids playing “Dungeons & Dragons,” which is what they were doing at the start of the season, where they battled the a monster called the Demogorgon, later giving that name to the creature from the Upside Down that posed the season’s main threat. In the second “D&D” game, the team took on the Thessalhydra — and apparently defeats it. But Mike details them cutting off seven hydra heads and not eight, which seems like it could be a hint.
Some fans theorized months ago that the Season 2 monster could be a creature similar “D&D”‘s “Thessalhydra.” Much like the Hydra from Greek mythology after which it is named, the Thessalhydra is an eight-headed hybrid beast that can regenerate its heads.
In the Super Bowl teaser for “Stranger Things 2,” we see a giant, spider-like creature. That seems like it could very well be Thessalhydra-like enough to assume that’s what the kids will face this time out.
Something is up with Will Byers
The cliffhanger of Season 1 showed Will coughing up a gross green slug, and then getting a flash of the Upside Down in his bathroom, before things returned to normal. That slug appears elsewhere, too: In the penultimate episode, when Eleven uses the sensory deprivation tank to find Will, she first discovers Barb’s body. And out of poor Barb’s mouth squirms another gross slug.
It seems Upside Down has infected Will in some way, and he’s tied up in its spread, and more. The slug he throws up finds its way down the drain.
Will is tied to the monster
After surviving the Upside Down, Will was the subject of a newspaper article briefly seen in Season 1, with the headline, “The Boy Who Came Back to Life.” That seems significant in a foreshadowing kind of way, but we don’t yet know how. From the Super Bowl trailer for “Stranger Things 2,” though, it looks as if Will’s trip to the Upside Down has earned him a spot in another government experiment.
From the screengrab above, it looks like Will’s turn in the government lab stretches right up to Halloween. And since the trailer shows the kids dressed as the Ghostbusters, it seems the Halloween release date for “Stranger Things 2” parallels the show’s setting.
In trailers for Season 2, Will is having more visions of the Upside Down, and in the latest one, he’s even hearing the voice of some unknown being, creature or force calling out his name. It appears there’s more intelligence in the Upside Down this time out. And Will gives us a hint at its motivations and nature in the trailer, when he says the thing doesn’t want him, it wants everyone else. But Will and the being definitely have some kind of connection.
Eleven might be tied to the monster, too
Obviously Eleven’s relationship to the Demogorgon was key to Season 1. Her contact with the creature brought it out of the Upside Down, and when she defeated it, both she and it disappeared in a cloud of ash. There are fan theories postulating that Eleven’s powers and the experiments on her inadvertently created the Demogorgon, in fact.
Chances seem good that Eleven’s involvement with this monster, and the Upside Down in general, will be a thing again. And if fans are right and Eleven is responsible for more of the supernatural elements than the show has let on, it’ll definitely factor heavily in “Stranger Things 2.”
The kids’ “D&D” campaign might offer some clues
Since “Dungeons & Dragons” factors so heavily in “Stranger Things,” fans have guessed the second game the kids in the show play might offer some clues for Season 2. They’ve already guessed the Thessalhydra is the second season’s creature, and it seems like the odds are decent that they’re right. And there’s more dialogue in that scene that could give some hints about elements that’ll pop up in Season 2.
Mike runs the second “D&D” campaign (the game story the kids play through), and Dustin, Lucas and Will aren’t happy when it wraps up with the destruction of the Thessalhydra. They mention a bunch of loose plot threads Mike failed to wrap up: “the lost knight,” “the proud princess,” and “the weird flowers in the cave.” Seems plausible these could be clues of plot points coming up — especially when you consider some of the Season 2 episode names.
Hopper might be a G-man
Fans have speculated Hopper might now find himself on the Department of Energy payroll, working within the system. It would make sense — Hopper knows as much as anyone still alive about the Upside Down and what it can do. He’s also been there, which only a few people yet living can say. And he’s an authority in Hawkins. He’d be an ideal recruit for the government.
We know Hopper is helping with a cover-up of the events of Season 1, even if it’s just to protect his friends. But it would also make sense if Hopper was working with the government because it affords him an opportunity for an inside look at what’s going on, in order to help him better protect the kids, and probably most importantly, Eleven. It seems likely that if fans are right and Hopper is with the government now, it’s probably as a double agent.
We know the names of all the episodes
Episode names aren’t especially useful on their own, but that doesn’t mean fans can’t speculate about what they mean:
“The Boy Who Came Back to Life”
“The Pumpkin Patch”
“The Secret Cabin”
“The Lost Brother”
It’s worth noting that Netflix has changed the titles from whatever they might have been before, to protect against spoilers leaking out. The Duffer Brothers acknowledged back in February that people are pretty good at predicting story beats based on even minimal information. So take these with a grain of salt if you’re trying to make guesses about what the titles mean and what plot points they hold.
We’ll keep updating as more details on “Stranger Things 2” become available between now and Halloween. In the meantime, share your fan theories and speculative ideas in the comments.