Warning: Spoilers for previous seasons of Stranger Things ahead.
We're ready when you are, Netflix. Stranger Things has to come back for a fourth season, right? Just because the streaming network hasn't yet officially announced season four, we believe it's coming. After all, the creators, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, have said they wanted four (or even five) seasons of the 1980s-set horror-sci-fi series.
Netflix didn't respond to a request for comment, but we fans have reason to hope. According to CNET sister site ComicBook.com, a listing from film trade publication Production Weekly indicates the sci-fi/horror series is going to begin shooting a fourth season in the fall of 2019.
Stranger Things took the streaming world by storm when it debuted in the summer of 2016. Set in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s, the show begins with the disappearance of young Will Byers. It turns out that researchers at Hawkins National Laboratory have opened a gate to the creepy alternate dimension known as the Upside Down. And they're apparently also experimenting on a group of special children, one of whom, known as Eleven, escapes and befriends Will's group.
Since then, viewers have been introduced to hideous and deadly demogorgons and demodogs, met various other children with psychokinetic powers, and lost a variety of beloved and not-so-beloved characters. Part of the show's charm is its varied young cast, who feel like real friends, and its nostalgic setting. (The third season took viewers back in time to Starcourt Mall circa 1985, from Orange Julius sipping to Glamour Shots-style photo snapping.)
Season three earned stellar ratings from critics and fans alike. CNET's own Jennifer Bisset offered high praise for season 3, dubbing it "a tighter, faster-paced... run of eight episodes that manages to tap every emotional vein of childhood (even for those who didn't grow up in the '80s)."
How to watch
Get yourself a Netflix subscription. Stranger Things is a jewel in the service's crown of original series', and it's the best way to ensure you get all the new episodes plus access to the first three seasons.
Not sure Netflix is worth it to you? The service offers a free one-month trial, so if you sign up close to the new season's premiere, whenever that is, you can soak it up with previous years' seasons and then cancel your membership without cost. But if you do this for season four and a fifth season is later added, you might have to sign up again later on and pay up (or find a Netflix-subscribing friend who'll invite you over).
Release date, production info
This is the $64,000 question. Thatthat we mention above says filming could begin in October 2019, meaning the new series might be available in 2020.
But that sounds a little optimistic. There were 15 months between seasons one and two, and about 20 months between seasons two and three. Season three came out on July 4, 2019, so unless the Duffers speed up their process, it might be late 2020, or even sometime in 2021, before we see a fourth season.
The first season had eight episodes, the second nine, and the third eight again, so we assume a fourth season would have around eight episodes. They'll presumably all be uploaded to Netflix at once, the better to suit your binge-watching needs.
Filming for past seasons has taken place in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area. It would seem likely that will continue, but in May 2019, faces legal challenges before it would go into effect in 2020.that threw that into question. Due to a new Georgia law that would prohibit abortions from being performed in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the streaming service might reconsider working in the state. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law in May 2019, but it
Cast: Who's who?
Obviously, we don't know who's returning and who's not, but this show is such a wonderful ensemble piece that we assume most of the cast of the first three seasons will be back. The one big casting question: Is Police Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) still alive, possibly in a Russian prison? Better list him as a "maybe."
Likely to return
- Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
- 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
Might return? Might not?
- David Harbour as Jim Hopper
Plot news, rumors and theories
Eleven as the Big Bad
Now here's a juicy rumor. Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, has been one of the show's main heroic characters since the beginning, escaping from the lab where she was experimented on to help the kids of Hawkins fight the evil around them. She's even made bullies pee themselves. Such a heroine could never turn bad, right? A theory discussed on Reddit claims that El could have been infected by the Mind Flayer and could be used in the same way the creature manipulated creepy Billy in season three. Far-fetched? Maybe, but it would sure shake things up.
Beloved characters have died before in Stranger Things. (Barb! Bob!) But there's been no death -- or, assumed death -- as big as the possible loss of Police Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour). He seems to die a martyr in the final episode of season three. But in a perplexing and much-discussed scene, viewers discover that there's an American being held in a Russian prison where other, unluckier inmates are fed to a demogorgon. Seems apparent we're meant to wonder if that's Hopper, still alive, and if he'll somehow make his way back to Joyce, Eleven and crew in a fourth season.
The directors speak
Matt and Ross Duffer spoke to Entertainment Weekly and dropped some very vague hints about a fourth season's plot. Ross Duffer addressed the importance of the American in the Russian prison cell, saying that plotline is "obviously going to play a huge role in a potential season four." (WELL, DUH!)
His brother Matt hints at a more national or even global aspect to a fourth season. There may be other towns like Hawkins with creepy labs and access to alternate dimensions. "I think the biggest thing that's going to happen is it's going to open up a little bit," he said. "Not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plotlines into areas outside of Hawkins." And speaking of moving outside of Hawkins...
Movin' on up
In that final season-three episode, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), her sons and Eleven, who seems to have been taken in by Joyce after Hopper's possible demise, are moving. She looks through her old battered house one last time and then the family drives away. Where are they off to? Admittedly, we wouldn't want to stay in a cursed place like Hawkins either, but for the plot's sake, it would seem she can't go too far. Joyce, Will, Jonathan and Eleven all need to stay close to the other kids, and it would be so sad if the friend group was split between two different school systems.
The first season took place in 1983, the second in 1984, and the third in the summer of 1985. So we'd seem to be on track for a 1986 season next, although admittedly, the kids are growing up faster than time is moving onscreen, so things could jump even two years ahead. 1986 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 Dustin could teach the kids how to Walk Like An Egyptian.
This article was first published on Aug. 12, 2019, and will be updated as news is revealed.