Grab your Christmas lights, dice, spiked bats and anything else you can think of because “Stranger Things” Season 4 is nearly here.
After three seasons of compounded otherworldly encounters, the original group, plus their older siblings and guardians, are back for more adventures in the long-awaited new season. New faces and thrills alike also lie in wait for the young heroes of the hit Netflix series.
While Season 3 bottled up every kind of Midwest summer activity — from Dustin’s return from camp to the town carnival — packaging the anticipation in that season’s trailers with two classic ‘80s songs “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue and The Who’s “Baba O’Reily,” Season 4’s trailer sets a much different tone with Journey’s “Separate Ways,” which fits the divided characters as well as the darker, more ominous threats the gang will face. Dr. Owens’ voiceover seals in the impending doom, saying “a war is coming,” and telling Eleven, “I’m afraid your friends in Hawkins are very much in the eye of the storm.”
Though The Mind Flayer was banished in battle at the end of Season 3, the Upside Down isn’t quite finished with Hawkins’ heroes yet.
Here’s everything else we know about “Stranger Things” Season 4 so far:
Season 4 is the longest season yet — by a lot
After a long (almost three year) wait, “Stranger Things” premieres on Netflix on May 27, but Season 4 is so massive it’s being split into two parts. Season 4 – Part 1 (Episodes 1-7) will be released on May 27, while Season 4 – Part 2 (Episodes 8 and 9) will be released on July 1. The season consists of nine episodes in total, and the running times of these episodes are extra long.
Here are the “Stranger Things” Season 4 episode titles, as revealed last Stranger Things’ Day:
- The Hellfire Club
- Vecna’s Curse
- The Monster and the Superhero
- Dear Billy
- The Nina Project
- The Dive
- The Massacre at Hawkins Lab
- The Piggyback
The story picks up six months after Season 3
Netflix’s official synopsis for season 4 reads, “It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time — and navigating the complexities of high school hasn’t made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.”
The story goes beyond Hawkins
One of the first videos hinting at Season 4 advertised the Stranger Things logo with the number four, ending with the words “We’re Not in Hawkins Anymore” in September of 2019. After the release of Season 3 in July 2019, the Duffer brothers hinted to Entertainment Weekly that the fourth season would probably “open up in terms of allowing plotlines into areas outside of Hawkins.”
Filming is said to have taken place in the base Atlanta location, at a Lithuanian prison, and in New Mexico, and we subsequently learned that there are three different story locations in the new season: Hawkins, Russia and California, the latter of which being where Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) moved with the Byers family.
Hopper is alive
At the end of the third season, Hopper (Davis Harbour) sacrifices himself by making sure nobody goes near the machine the Russians are using to keep the crack into the Upside Down open — and Joyce (Winona Ryder) has to push the button that will cause the ray to self-destruct. Hopper, who gets stuck fighting off a brutal and intimidating Russian heavy, disappears amidst the explosion, and Joyce takes him for dead and gone. One of the most burning questions that Season 3 left audiences with was: Did Hopper really just die?
The post-credits sequence opened on a bleak compound set in Kamchatka, Russia, quickly going underground to a dungeon of sorts, where prisoners are housed. Two guards walk into the prison to select an inmate, and when one of them goes for one door, the other stops him, saying “No, Not the American” in Russian. The guards then remove a different prisoner from his cell and take him to visit with a Demogorgon that they have on the premises. Many theorized that Hopper was the American mentioned.
On Valentine’s Day 2020, a teaser trailer revealed that Hopper was indeed alive, has somehow ended up in Russia and is working in snowy conditions. The snippet was captioned “From Russia with love.”
Eleven and Will are living in California
Another trailer snippet released on Stranger Things Day 2021 showed Eleven, Will and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) living in California. Eleven has written a letter to Mike (Finn Wolfhard) about their upcoming Spring Break, and her voiceover updates him on her new life out West. Argyle (Eduardo Franco) picks them up in a Van with the sign Surfer Boy Pizza, and a montage of high school scenes are followed by more violent shots involving guns and explosions. Argyle, a new character, is described as “a fun-loving stoner, pizza delivery boy and Jonathan’s new best friend.”
“They are in California – we’ve always wanted to have that like ‘E.T’.-esque suburb aesthetic, which we finally got to do this year in the desert; and then we have Hopper in Russia; and then of course we have a group remaining in Hawkins. So we have these three storylines [that] are all connected and kind of interwoven together, but it’s just very different tones,” the Duffer brothers told Deadline.
All your favorite cast members are back
The beloved group of Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) have entered high school.
As for the older counterparts, Will’s brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and mom Joyce (Winona Ryder) have an eye on the California group, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) hold down the fort in Hawkins. Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) died saving the kids from the Mind Flayer, to which he had become a sort of enslaved conduit. Russian Dr. Alexei (Alec Utgoff) was tragically shot and killed as well. Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke) is also back.
Police chief Hopper (David Harbour) is imprisoned in Russia working on some sort of railroad. Cara Buono is returning as Karen Wheeler, Mike’s mother. And the second shorter trailer as well as the eighth episode title “Papa” tease the possible return of Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine). As mentioned above, Paul Reiser is also returning as indicated in the official trailer.
Erica Sinclair (Priah Ferguson) and Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) have been promoted to series regulars for Season 4, so expect to see more of their characters.
But there are new characters too
In two separate posts on Instagram, the series revealed new characters joining Season 4. On November 20, 2020, the following newbies were introduced and described:
- Victor Creel (Robert Englund): a disturbed and intimidating man who is imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital. (Might he be connected to the Creel House?)
- Argyle (Eduardo Franco): a fun-loving stoner, pizza delivery boy, & Jonathan’s new best friend.
- Peter Ballard (Jamie Campbell Bower): a caring man who works as an orderly at a psychiatric hospital.
- Lt. Colonel Sullivan (Sherman Augustus): a no-nonsense man who believes he knows how to stop the evil in Hawkins.
- Jason Carver (Mason Dye): a handsome, rich athlete dating the most popular girl in school.
- Dmitri (Tom Wlaschiha): a smart and charming Russian prison guard.
- Yuri (Nikola Djuricko): an unpredictable Russian smuggler who loves bad jokes, cold hard cash, and crunchy style peanut butter.
- Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn): the head of the Hawkins High official D&D Club, The Hellfire Club.
On June 9, 2021, another lineup of fresh faces was revealed:
- Vickie (Amybeth McNulty): a cool, fast talking band nerd who catches the eye of one of our beloved heroes. (Fans in the comments wondered if Steve is the beloved hero mentioned, but some viewers might also consider Robin.)
- Patrick (Myles Truitt): a Hawkins basketball star who has friends, talent, and a good life… until shocking events send his life spiraling out of control.
- Ms. Kelly (Regina Ting Chen): a popular guidance counselor who cares deeply for her students — especially those struggling the most.
- Chrissy (Grace Van Dien): Hawkins’ High lead cheerleader and the most popular girl in school. But beneath the seemingly perfect surface lies a dark secret.
Dungeons & Dragons plays a key role
According to Collider, the Duffer Brothers wanted to remain accurate to ‘80s culture, and that includes the “Satanic Panic” that will grip Hawkins as a result of some beliefs around the game of Dungeons & Dragons, mainly that it contributed to the rise of Satanism. The Hellfire Club, or Dungeons & Dragons group at Hawkins High led by Eddie Munson, will be at the heart of the societal scare, especially when outsiders suspect that the game of D&D is not just an innocent extracurricular activity.
Characters will spend much more time in the Upside Down than before
The supernatural setting of the Upside Down will play a very big role this season. For those who still feel murky about what exactly the alternate dimension is as well as the way it operates, Season 4 promises to offer some clarity.
In an interview with Deadline, Ross Duffer revealed that he and Matt wrote a 20-page document detailing the lore of the show, especially The Upside Down. Ross also explained that their aim to get more to the heart of the series’ mythology is what expanded Season 4 so much. Matt even said they asked for an additional episode, which Netflix swiftly approved.
There’s a creepy haunted mansion called Creel House
The third teaser trailer introduced viewers to Creel House. Advertised on Instagram before its release through Netflix’s Tudum Press Day, scans of old newspaper articles about what happened in the mansion hint at its history. Headlines like “Vengeful Demon Killed Family” followed by the sub-hed “The Murder That Shocked a Small Community” and a picture of what looks to be the Creel House tie into the trailer, which shows a young family moving into the house before lights start to flicker and the radio turns on and off. Another headline reads [Blacked out name]: killer or tragic victim of a vengeful spirit?”
After a shot of the father facing the front door, his children lying on the ground, the trailer cuts to what looks to be present-day where someone hurls a brick through the stained glass window and he, along with Dustin, Lucas and Max, take a tour inside. The group heads upstairs to suss the place out, and then the trailer shows a grandfather clock standing front and center in a dusty attic, the tone of which dings and sounds the same as the sample used in the announcement clip. As the camera zooms in on the clock, spores from the Upside Down start to fall around it, and once close up to the face, the glass cracks.
There’s a new supernatural threat: Vecna
Vecna has been introduced as one of the new villains of the fourth season. Many fans are wondering if Vecna is somehow Billy reincarnated.
Vecna is a prominent character in Dungeons & Dragons, the game that the four boys played at the beginning of the series. Entertainment Weekly revealed the lore behind Vecna, who has many monikers, including that of Undying Wizard. Vecna is also accompanied by demo-bats.
“Maybe one of them alone is not very dangerous, but when there’s hundreds and hundreds of them coming to you at the same time, they’re very, very deadly, and they also have the ability to act as spies,” Matt Duffer told EW. “So you may not even see one in the tree, and it spies you, and then suddenly because everything is a hive mind in the Upside Down, every monster in there knows that you’re there.”
Vecna and his bats present a next level-threat to Season 3’s Mind Flayer, and Eleven put up a mighty fight against it with her powers. Weirdly and without much explanation, at the end of Season 3, Eleven can no longer telekinetically summon or push things away. Her powers are gone. The one thing that this can be traced to is the Mind Flayer’s stabbing of Eleven’s ankle. Not only did it puncture her skin, but a piece of the creature remained inside Eleven’s skin, squirming around, until Jonathan saw no other choice but to remove it.
Each episode is almost like a mini-movie
Each episode of “Stranger Things” Season 4 almost matches the runtime of a feature-length film.
“I don’t think we have an episode clocking in under an hour – even in Season 1 there were episodes that were like 35 minutes. You kind of forget that,” Matt Duffer said to Deadline. “This season, they’re very long, so I think it’s almost double the length of any season. So that’s one reason it’s taken so long. It does have this sort of epic quality to it. It’s a different feel, for sure.”
This is the second-to-last season of “Stranger Things” ever
In their bittersweet letter, the Duffer brothers followed the exciting announcement of concrete details of Season 4’s release with the line “It is also the beginning of the end.”
They then revealed that Season 4 would be the penultimate season, and Season 5 of “Stranger Things” will close out the show.