Everything we know about the fifth and final season of Stranger Things.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
But this is not the end. There's still one entire season to come. That might be bad news for the kids who have to prepare to save Hawkins -- or what's left of it. But it's good news for those of us who just can't give up on Steve "The Hair" Harrington and the rest of this engaging crew.
For more on Stranger Things season 4 volume 2, dive into the Easter eggs, links to previous seasons and character arcs for the cast in our in-depth episode 8 recap and episode 9 season finale recap. If you've burned through season 4, here's what we know about the upcoming fifth and final season. We'll add to this as news is released.
When will Stranger Things' final season be released?
This is a bigger mystery than what exactly Erica found under Lucas' bed. There was a year between the first two seasons, and then we had to wait two years for season three, and another two for season four. (This explains why the kids are growing up so fast -- see our photo gallery to marvel at the differences.) The Duffer brothers flat-out told Variety that the wait shouldn't be as long this time, but also, they haven't started filming yet. So we'd estimate a year and a half, which would put the show in early 2024. (David Harbour, who plays Hopper, is guessing mid-2024.)
What's this about a time jump?
Like we said, the kids are getting older. Millie Bobby Brown, who plays 11, is 18 now, and Joe Keery, who plays Steve, is 30. Each season has jumped ahead a year, which would push the final season to 1987. But if the show jumped more than one year, the younger kids might be able to catch up to their actual ages -- say the show picked up as they're about to graduate from Hawkins.
The Duffer brothers, the show's creators, have confirmed a time jump, though they haven't revealed details. The problem, though, is that Hawkins is literally on fire as we faded out of season four, so it seems as if the kids need to jump back into immediate action. That'll be something for the Duffers to work out as they reopen their show's writers' room.
Season four was kind of all over the place, with Hopper and Joyce mostly in Russia, Eleven starting out in California (we still want revenge on roller-rink meanie Angela), and some of the crew back in Hawkins. The show jumped between settings pretty smoothly, but the Duffers say it will focus on keeping everyone together in Hawkins for the last season.
Will Byers loves Mike
The show started off back in season 1 with Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) getting abducted, and it looks as if the focus could spin back to him. Ross Duffer says Will is "a big part and focus" of the final season. And actor Schnapp told Variety in July 2022 that the rumors are true, his character is gay, and has feelings for best friend Mike, who's in a relationship with Eleven.
"Now it's 100% clear that he is gay and he does love Mike," Schnapp said.
And everything Will does is made more difficult by the fact that he's still apparently able to feel a connection to Vecna.
Eddie and Max
New character Eddie Munson sacrificed himself in season four, and the Duffers have assured fans that the meaningful death is real. It's possible actor Joseph Quinn could show up in a flashback (although Alexei didn't get to do that), but the character won't be an active part of the final season.
It's different for Max Mayfield, who's been a strong part of the show since the second season. Max ended the fourth season in the hospital, as Vecna tried to kill her in the same horrific bone-breaking, eye-gouging way he killed others before her. She's still alive, but not in great shape, and lingers in a coma. There just doesn't feel like any way the Duffers will kill off Max, though -- in fact, maybe that time jump will help her bones (and brain) heal.
"I'm already getting asked that question, it's like, 'What song are [you] going to do in Season 5?'" Matt Duffer said in an interview with Collider. "I'm like, 'We're not going to do that again.' Because if we do it, it will fail." Yeah, it likely would. Lightning is notoriously hard to bottle and, alas, there's only one Kate Bush.
Finale will be long again
The season four finale was more than two hours long. Season five's finale will be, too, though not quite as long, the Duffers say. But it will be moving fast. They note that season five will jump right into action, and joke that the finale will contain "eight endings." Get ready to block off some serious viewing time come 2024.
And then a spinoff?
The Duffers teased their fans with a letter saying, "There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of 'Stranger Things'; new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes."
And they confirmed to Variety that "we do have an idea for a spinoff that we're super excited about." The creators say they haven't revealed the idea yet, even to Netflix, and they think everyone will be surprised. But they also said that actor Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike, correctly guessed at the spinoff topic. So unless someone can get Finn to cough up the secret, we'll have to wait on that.
'Stranger Things' Stars Then and Now: Wow, They've Really Grown Up