Warning: Spoilers for previous seasons of Stranger Things ahead.
Stranger Things is , and it's about time. Season 3 ended in 2019, in those pre-pandemic days that now seem hard to recall. Before the pandemic hit, creators Matt and Ross Duffer signed a multiyear film and series deal with Netflix, and have promised two more seasons of the show.
Stranger Things captivated the streaming world when it debuted in 2016. Set in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the 1980s, the show begins with the disappearance of a kid named Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). Researchers at Hawkins National Laboratory have opened a gate to the creepy alternate dimension known as the Upside Down and are experimenting on a group of special children, one of whom, known as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), escapes and befriends Will's group. Part of the show's charm is its varied young cast, who feel like real friends, and its nostalgic setting.
Where we left off
At the end of the third season, Eleven and the Byers family left Indiana for California. So the new season will have to show the two groups of friends living far apart, and how they stay in touch. Remember, the 1980s were pre-cell-phone and internet days. And a spooky trailer released in April shows that life in California doesn't seem all sunshine and lollipops.
Police Chief Hopper (David Harbour) appeared to be dead at the end of the third season, but video clips show him being held at a creepy labor camp in Russia that's not against feeding prisoners to the monsters from the Upside Down.
Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) proved to be an abusive jerk of a stepbrother to Max (Sadie Sink), though suffered through an abusive past of his own. He sacrificed himself in the third season, and there are rumors that he'll have some kind of a presence in the fourth, whether in flashback or otherwise. The 2022 trailer shows Max mourning at his grave.
When is season 4 coming?
The first part of Stranger Things' fourth season will be released on Netflix on May 27. But you won't be able to binge all of the new season, as the second part won't arrive on Netflix until July 1, giving fans a few months to mull over the first-half events. (You just know it will end on a cliffhanger. This show is good at leaving fans wanting more.)
In 2021, the show's official Twitter account revealedfor the next season. The photos were tweeted upside down, in honor (we guess?) of the show's terrifying underworld, the Upside Down.
Band nerd Vickie will be played by Amybeth McNulty, basketball player Patrick by Myles Truitt, guidance counselor Ms. Kelly by Regina Ting Chen and cheerleader Chrissy by Grace Van Dien.
What will season 4 bring?
Leaving Hawkins and that clock
The first teaser for the new season has creepy music and eerie looks at the rot-filled Upside Down. That teaser includes text saying, "We're not in Hawkins anymore," which makes sense considering Eleven and the Byers' westward move.
A creepy clock appears in the teaser, leading to theories that Stranger Things might somehow bend and move through time. (If this happens, can we bring back Barb, or save Hopper's deceased daughter?)
Eleven's past and future
In May 2021, Netflix released a trailer focusing on Eleven, played by Brown, the show's first breakout star. If you remember, Eleven was held prisoner with a group of other kids and tested for her supernatural powers in some kind of weird experiment. The scene flashes back to her time in captivity, as Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) greets a bunch of children. But Eleven seems to be his star pupil for sure.
Eleven is going to continue to be important -- duh -- as the latest trailer shows Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) telling her "without you, we can't win this war." She also is seen in that trailer being taken away in a prison-transport van at one point.
We seem to be on track for a 1986 season next. The year has some big pop culture and news events that could play well into a show like this, including the Chernobyl disaster. Considering the Russians were heavily involved in season three, could Chernobyl itself be worked into the show's mythology? In lighter news, maybe El and Mike could go see Pretty in Pink or Top Gun, and the kids could learn how to Walk Like An Egyptian.
The Hellfire Club
Way back in November 2019, the show's writers tweeted out a photo of the cover of the first season-four script. The episode is called The Hellfire Club, which is also the name of a supervillain group in the X-Men comics. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is also seen wearing a Hellfire Club shirt as he sits in the gym bleachers next to Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). It's apparently the name of the school Dungeons & Dragons club, but in this monster-filled plot, has a double meaning.
How to watch
Get yourself a Netflix subscription to ensure you get all the new episodes plus access to the first three seasons.
The service offers a free one-month trial, so if you wait to sign up until after the entire fourth season is uploaded on July 1, you can soak it up with previous years' seasons and then cancel your membership without cost. But then you're going to have to get a kind friend with Netflix to let you watch the fifth season, whenever that comes around.
Cast: Who's who?
The biggest casting question has been answered: A scene in the third-season finale mentioning an imprisoned American all but gave away the fact that Hopper survived the bleak events of that episode. Since then, Hopper has shown up in trailers at the Russian prison, which also appears to be a monster-gladiator camp.
We told you above about the four new characters announced in June 2020. Here's a look at the rest of the cast.
- Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
- David Harbour as Jim Hopper
- Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler
- Noah Schnapp as Will Byers
- Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair
- Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson
- Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
- Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler
- Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers
- Maya Hawke as Robin
- Joe Keery as Steve Harrington
- Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield
- Priah Ferguson as Erica Sinclair
- Cara Buono as Karen Wheeler
This article was first published on Aug. 12 and will be updated as news is revealed.