Stranger Things is a phenomenon that truly seemed to appear out of nowhere. Summer 2016 was drumming along and all of the sudden one sheets and images started to appear. They were old looking, yet they were new and they unabashedly recalled the great horror and sci-fi films from the 1980s. In a word, this show seemed perfect.
And there was no way this show could live up to the hype, right? Wrong. Sure, there are always going to be some people that feel that a "love-letter to the 1980s" is derivative. At the same time, I don't think it's too far fetched to say that even the most beloved 80s films were derived from something before.
Ultimately, the consensus was that audiences and critics loved it. With it's classic 80s tropes of caste systems, kids knowing the truth while adults are in the dark, monsters...And some odd place called The Upside Down, Stranger Things is a show 80s aficionados have been waiting for. Though the show is meant to be dated, the characters, the storyline (what are the people at Hawkins Lab trying to hide?), and the adventure are firmly set in November, 1983.
With Netflix backer Reed Hastings saying it would be "stupid" not to renew Stranger Things, any began to wonder what Season 2 will bring. As we near the launch date for new episodes, quite a bit has come to light about the returning binge-favorite. In today's internet age, the playing field is leveled and we all know that we don't have to settle for secrets. To quote the 80s, hardcore band the Cro-Mags, "We gotta know!"
And this is precisely why we've compiled this list. We've meticulously gone through all the stories about Season 2 and separated fact from fiction. So it is without further adieu that we tell you everything we know about Stranger Things Season 2.
Stranger Things Season 2 Premiere Date
While Stranger Things Season 1 debuted in the summer of 2016, fans have to wait a little longer for new episodes. It was first revealed that Stranger Things Season 2 was set to premiere over Halloween weekend 2017. A more precise release date was announced for October 27, with all episodes available to stream at midnight. This will surely make Stranger Things Season 2 one of this fall's biggest releases.
Eleven Will Return
It has often been reported that Eleven won't fully return until episode 7. But the most recent trailers and clips suggest it could happen soon, as fans are eager to see Eleven return from the Upside Down, where she has been trapped since she sacrificed herself at the end of Stranger Things season one. Deadline was the first to announced that new stars Sadie Sink and Dacre Montgomery (as well as Joe Keery and Noah Schapp) will join series stars Winona Ryder, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, and Caleb McLaughlin. They were also the first to unveil Millie Bobby Brown's return, who'd recently signed with WME in a very competitive situation. It was later confirmed by a table read photo that Eleven is officially returning, despite some fans believing her to be dead forever. This is excellent news because of all the things we knew about this show, not knowing the exact fate of Eleven was killing us. As we mentioned above, who in the world would Hopper have been giving food to (Eggos, no less!) in the woods if he's wasn't giving it to Eleven? Her return makes sense because she seemed to give up her life in order to destroy the dreaded Demagorgon. Yet, there were other times in Stranger Things Season One where she seemed sapped by her powers and she survived. I know the Demagorgon is on a whole other level, but if anyone could survive that, it would be Eleven. So what might be happening with her now? Will she still be in jeopardy? Might the boys who helped her, now that things have gotten back to normal (well, as normal as they can for Hawkins), want to sign up for another season of action? Wouldn't seeing her trigger memories or even signal that they must again return to the Upside Down? Could this Eleven be clone? Only seen in flashbacks? However Eleven comes, she does have a new look, and hair this time. She's been seen rocking a perm that is very reminiscent of Ellen Ripley in Aliens.
The Main Cast Will Return
Yes, you read that right. Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton will all be returning. As the events from the first season are still close at hand, audiences will be happy to see how these characters have evolved one year later. Have Joyce (Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) grown closer? Have Mike and his friends grown apart as can sometime happen as youths get older? Might this be a storyline and somehow they get drawn together? The big question is the character of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). At the end of Stranger Things Season 1, we saw Hopper leaving food for someone in the woods. The first thought is that it is probably Eleven? Hopefully, Stranger Things Season 2 answers enough of these questions to satisfy its rabid fan base.
Will Byers is Becoming a Monster
Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers, the young boy from Hawkins, Indiana who was trapped in the Upside Down, didn't have much to do in the first 8 episodes, even though the entire story revolved around him. The young actor is coming back in a big way, though, and has been promoted to series regular for Stranger Things Season 2. But this won't be the Will his friends all know and love. In an interview, Will teased that he will be going through some growing pains, and puberty might not be so kind. He says, "I threw up a slug, so Season 2 begins with what happens from there. There may have been some effect on him. I may or may not have turned into a monster. You'll have to watch to find out." He may not be the only one turning into a monster. There is some speculation that Eleven may also be transforming into a Demogorgon-monster.
We're Getting 9 Episodes Instead of 8
Stranger Things Season 1 was a scant (by Netflix standards, shows usually clock in at 13 episodes) 8 episodes. At the same time, it made sense for this show as there was nothing usual about it. So what might we see in that extra episode? Well, we know there are more characters in Stranger Things Season 2 (more on that later), perhaps the extra time was needed to expand/complete their story-lines. Also, this IS a new season so one can expect new story arcs that are (in some way) going to need to be resolved. Whatever the reason, we're not complaining about a longer Stranger Things season and it doesn't seem like anybody else is either.
The Story is set in 1984
Yes, you read that right. The events in Stranger Things Season 2 will take take place nearly one year after the events in Season 1. As this show is a look back at the 1980s, as well as a statement about the present, one can only wonder how this time period will inform the show. First of all, the year will be 1984. That was huge year for Apple so it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to see some first generation Macs now would it? More importantly, might we see a nod to George Orwell's book of the same name? 1984 was a dystopian look at the world and many might argue that it foreshadowed where we are politically and geopolitically in 2017? There was also the first untethered space walk, the Cold War with Russia was in full swing, the PG-13 rating was introduced, etc. Basically, the year 1984 will provide a rich backdrop for what already promises to be a second season filled with complex storylines, great characters, and deft storytelling. The premiere kicks off in October, just like the launch of the series. And we'll see the boys dressed as Ghostbusters, which in their world, just came out that summer. There will also be a direct ode to Gremlins, which also arrived in the summer of 1984.
The Story will be Darker and Scarier
Producer Shawn Levy recently pulled back a few layers on the new season, which will be much darker this time around. He explains that, "Season 2 is bigger and potentially darker in its stakes. The threat, which in Season 1 was to Will Byers, has grown. That's all I'm going to say! But, I will say Season 2 has a bigger cast and is definitely loyal to the kind of magical storytelling that we established in the first season. It's character-based and still about our core group of characters." Finn Wolfhard went onto tease that more character development this time around, saying, "Now that we've done a season, we know exactly about our characters. We are very conscious of them and can take them to the next level. I think we've grown up a little bit, and our characters have too. They have been through a lot and have used those experiences to help them grow and to be stronger in Season 2."
We'll See More Steve Harrington
We will be seeing a lot more of Steve Harrington. It was recently announced that Noah Schapp (who played Will Byers) and Joe Keery (who portrays Steve Harrington) have been moved from recurring characters to regulars in Stranger Things Season 2. In the first season we saw Schapp in 7 episodes and we saw Keery in 8. Personally, they seemed like pretty regular characters as Stranger Things Season 1 was only 8 episodes, but TV has it's own lingo, right? Also, it isn't surprising that we are seeing more of Schapp. Stranger Things Season One concluded with Schapp bent over a sink. He throws up something that gives a clear indication that he's been extremely effected (internally) by the Upside Down. Keery, while many viewers probably wanted to kill him for being an awful boyfriend, did get Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) in the end. So, seeing him again, even though it is a year later, is also not that big of surprise. One has to wonder what will happen to Will Byers? Might be changing into a Demagorgon? Is he pitted against his friends? Is he a vessel to unleash new Demagorgons? What about Steve Harrington? Is he a better person now? Did he learn anything from his battle with the Demagorgon? These actors getting more prominent roles seems to suggest that some of these questions will be answered.
80s Stars Sean Astin and Paul Reiser Join the Cast
80s icons Sean Astin (Goonies) and Paul Reiser (Aliens} will be playing important characters that are close to the mysterious events that unfolded in Hawkins, Indiana in the first season. Astin's character reportedly works at the local Radio Shack and is friends with the kids. He becomes entangled in a love triangle with Joyce and Hopper. Reiser is playing a much more sinister character with ties to the Hawkins lab who may know more about Eleven than he lets on. Though many speculate that he's character will be set up in the same vein as Aliens' Carter Burke, with the new character redeeming himself before his death this time out.
There are 3 More Key New Characters
At present we don't know too much about how the new characters of Max (Sadie Sink), Billy (Dacre Montgomery) and Roman tie into Season 2. What we do know is that Max is a girl and her name is part of the premiere episode of Stranger Things Season 2. Titled "Mad Max" we don't know too much more than she is a not a typical girly girl. As you remember, neither was Eleven but for (probably) very different reasons. Max's brother is Billy who had been described as "muscular and hyper-confident". Billy is also a fan of muscle cars as he drives a Camaro. It seems that this character is also given to violent outbursts. Lastly, we focus on the character of Roman. Roman is been called "gender neutral." It seems that Roman's early life was marred by a great loss, and Roman has made a mission in life to exact a toll on who (or what?) ever caused this tragedy. It will be interesting to see how these new characters gel with the returning cast mates (more on that later), or if, in some way, they might have parallel stories that happen to coincide?
Brett Gelman is a Conspiracy Theorist
Former Adult Swim star and comedian Brett Gelman is set to play an important role with what is said to be a strong connection to Eleven. He will portray a disgraced journalist who come to Hawkins to investigate conspiracies surrounding a mysterious old case. He appears to be delving into the MK Ultra project of the Hawkins Lab where the pregnant Terry Ives, Eleven's mother has been a part of.
Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein Return for the Soundtrack
Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein from the group S U R V I V E have returned to bring the John Carpenter vibes back for Season 2. The first 9 tracks are mellow, synth-laden tracks that fit in perfectly with what we've already come to expect from the duo, but things take a dark turn on track 10, which is entitled "Descent into the Rift." The common thread of the first soundtrack is clearly evident, but this time around, things are a lot darker sonically. If the soundtrack for Stranger Things Season 2 is any indication, we're in for a darker experience this time around.
Hawkins Lab is Back
Pictures surfaced not too long ago showing production vehicles parked at this location. As it is really a building on the Briarcliff campus of Emory University, and it is used for exterior shots, one can deduce that Hawkins Lab at least makes an appearance on the show. Maybe the main characters return there? Maybe exteriors of the lab are only shown in flashback? Perhaps it just looms largely as the place where those "strange things" took place? Maybe it's working in a wholly different way that somehow connects it to the Upside Down? However this locale resurfaces, fans at least know that they will be seeing it again in one way or another. And for a show that resides in the realm of past knowledge informing our present understanding of it, that provides a sense of familiarity that should bode well for Stranger Things Season 2.
The Duffer Bros. Are Returning
Matt and Ross Duffer returning is music to many Stranger Things fan's ears. At the same time, the original creators returning doesn't always guarantee that a show as incredibly successful as Stranger Things couldn't suffer a sophomore slump (see True Detective). At the same time, including the Duffer Bros., this show has 7 writers on it. Based on what we know so far, it seems like the creative folks involved are fairly in tune with what their audience wants and expects from Stranger Things 2. At the same time, if done correctly, those expectations can be usurped and perhaps this show can rise to an even greater level. Either way, even though it is inspired by everything 80s, the Duffer Bros. involvement in the Stranger Things Season 2 seems like it is is a great thing.
Season 2 Will Go Outside Hawkins
We know that Hawkins will be the main setting. At the same time, we've been told by the creators that of Stranger Things that the cast won't just be contained in the walls of the city. In fact, it seems that in the first episode of Stranger Things Season 2 (titled "Mad Max") the show won't even open in Hawkins. It might be easy to question these decisions, but as we've stated, the people behind Stranger Things seem to know what they are doing. Sadly, a show like True Detective is both brilliant and a cautionary tale. Perhaps that show's creator should've waited a year or two before embarking on a second season. Maybe we'll be saying the same thing about Stranger Things? The reality is that that probably won't happen. This show is very much of its time and place. To completely leave Hawkins (or even be away for a long period of time), would be like Orange Is the New Black moving it's main location from a prison to a flower shop.
The Episode Titles
Episode titles were named early on, but have since changed to avoid spoilers. They were originally laid out as 1) Madmax, 2) The Boy Who Came Back to Life, 3) The Pumpkin Patch, 4) The Palace, 5) The Storm, 6) The Pollywog, 7) The Secret Cabin, 8) The Brain, 9) The Lost Brother. While Mad Max is still the title of the first episode, the second episode has been changed to Trick or Treat Freak. The Pumpkin Patch has been changed to The Pollywog. Episode 4 is now called Will the Wise, with Episode 5 changing to Dig Dug and Episode 6 is now called The Spy. Episodes 7-9, which did have some spoiler-ish titles to begin with, are going untitled for the time being. We can definitely speculate about what some of these names mean. For starters, as we mentioned, we know that Max is a girl but is the episode called that because Max does "crazy" things? Does she do things she can't control? Some have suggested that The Lost Brother episode deals with one of the newer characters, and could be an ode to The Lost Boys, which didn't come out until 1987. Billy played by Dacre Montgomery very much looks like Michael in that vampire classic. The pollywog is predicted to be the episode that clearly takes on Gremlins and other creature features of the 80s. Again, the prognostication is endless.
We'll Go Further Inside the Upside Down
Matt Duffer has gone on record as saying that Stranger Things Season 1, only gave viewers a glimpse of what it is. He's said they "definitely want to explore a little bit more." Ross Duffer point blank says that "There's a lot more mystery there to be solved." What might these revelations include? Will Stranger Things Season 2 take the Aliens route and give us many more monsters? Will we find out if the monster from Season 1 died? Are there other things in the Upside Down that we can't imagine? The is called Stranger THINGS after all. This hints at the fact that there really might be a lot more in the Upside Down than meets the eye.
Barb is Still Dead, But Her Spirit Looms Large
David Harbour says that Barb (Shannon Purser) "is fully dead." That statement was later re-confirmed by star Millie Bobby Brown at the 2017 Golden Globes. If we can't trust Hopper and Eleven, then lord help us all. That said, Harbour also mentioned that Barb's death will loom large over Stranger Things Season 2. Or, at least it will be addressed. And there could always be flashbacks. Or a zombie Barb. Whatever the creators of this show do, there's no way it will be enough to satisfy the internet furor over her death. At the same time, depending on how long Stranger Things goes, fans and Barb-lovers alike can be strung along by little Barb tidbits that the writers elect to drop into certain episodes. Then again, the Upside Down is a creepy place. It wouldn't be so hard to believe that it belies space and time. And in that regard, maybe Barb resurfaces in some form in Season 5? What we do know is that Barb's parents will surface at some point.
Will Dr. Brenner Return?
Dr. Brenner's (Matthew Modine) death, like that of Eleven, is highly inconclusive. Sure, we see him get attacked by the Demagorgon, but that is it. We never actually see him shuffle the mortal coil. Matt Duffer has even said that seeing Dr. Brenner on screen again is a "possibility." Honestly, it seems like he's going to return. In fact, maybe that's how the first episode begins? Perhaps Brenner is running around the Upside Down? He's thin and haggard as he's been hiding for awhile, and finally the Demagorgon gets him. Again, this is just speculation based on what we know for sure about Stranger Things Season 2.
There will be a Season 3
It has been confirmed that Stranger Things Season 2 ends on a cliffhanger. The Duffer Bros. are already hard at work on Season 3 of Stranger Things, with Season 4 also mapped out. But the creative duo plan to end everything there. Which is the current goal. They don't want to go beyond that, 'We're thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out. They're going to have to get the f*ck out of this town! It's ridiculous!' So enjoy it while you can, Stranger Things, while very popular, might be over in the blink of an eye. But we can always look forward to the revival, which may show the kids as adults. Hey, we can dream, right?