Halloween 2018 was a little gloomy for Stranger Things fans. In 2017, season 2 of Netflix’s horror-sci-fi drama came out just days before the creepy holiday, making for a streaming TV treat better than any candy. But fans will have to console themselves with fun- size Snickers bars and SweeTarts this fall, as the blockbuster hit won’t be back until 2019.
To help ease the pain, Netflix dropped a cute behind-the-scenes video from the cast in honor of . In the show’s universe, it was the day Will Byers disappeared in 1983. But despite speculation/hope we were getting our first season 3 trailer, all we got was this.
The show seemingly came out of nowhere in July 2016, with a 1980s setting and rich pop-culture details. Young Will Byers disappears one night after playing D&D with his buddies in Hawkins, Indiana. The unfolding plot includes a secret government laboratory, a young girl with psychokinetic powers called Eleven, a creepy Upside Down dimension filled with monsters and goo, and Christmas lights that blink an unnerving message. It boosted the sales of Eggo waffles, Eleven’s favorite snack, and created an entire movement, Justice for Barb, after a beloved character disappeared from a pool and sent fans off the deep end.
The show’s been renewed for a third season, and co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer say a fourth and fifth season are likely. Here’s a sneak peek at what strange things await.
When? Where? What?
Season 3 is coming sometime in 2019 and will be eight episodes long, the same as the first season (but one fewer than Season 2). It’s set in the summer of 1985, jumping ahead one year from season 2.
For the previous two seasons, Netflix posted all the new episodes at once, making the show yet another poster child for binge-watching. We expect the same all-at-once episode dump again, though we don’t have confirmation.
Production began on April 20. On April 27, Netflixof the cast settling down to read through what’s presumably the first script of the new season. (Priah Ferguson orders the audience to “Get out of here, nerds!”) Sadly, there are no spoilers, but it’s fun to see the cast again, even if only the backs of their heads.
At the Primetime Emmy Awards in September 2018, producer Shawn Levy told The Hollywood Reporter that filming would wrap in two months, making it November. He added, “cinematically, it’s our biggest season yet.”
Star Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy Wheeler, echoed Levy, saying that, “This year it feels very … big. I mean, [all the seasons] feel big, but this one feels maybe the biggest so far, so it’s been good.”
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 two 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 you can soak up the new season and both previous years, then cancel your membership without cost. But we’re expecting two more seasons of the show, so you might have to sign up again later on (or find a Netflix-subscribing friend who’ll invite you over)
Meet the cast
Maya Hawke: Hawke, the daughter of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, will join the cast as Robin, Variety reports. Robin is described as “an ‘alternative girl’ bored with her mundane day job. She seeks excitement in her life and gets more than she bargained for when she uncovers a dark secret.”
Cary Elwes: Elwes, forever known to many as Westley in The Princess Bride, is coming to Hawkins, where he’ll play the town’s mayor. “Handsome, slick and sleazy, Mayor Kline is your classic ’80s politician — more concerned with his own image than with the people of the small town he governs,” .
Jake Busey: Busey, son of acclaimed actor Gary Busey, will play Bruce, described by Netflix as “a journalist for The Hawkins Post with questionable morals and a sick sense of humor.”
What we know about the plot
Freeze, police! In October 2018 a casting notice looked for extras with military and police experience to film with the show in Atlanta. Both men and women, aged 18-50, of any ethnicity, are needed. Hmm, what Stranger Things plot could call for a large military or police presence? Could Chief Hopper be calling in a larger force to help control the supernatural side of Hawkins?
Strike up the band: In September 2018, casting notices were postedto appear in a Stranger Things episode. As with the police/military casting notice above, there isn’t a ton of info to go with this news: Will it be a school band? A community group? Are they to appear in a parade? And, of course, we don’t know if any of the main cast members will be part of the band, which would seem to mean it could play a larger role in an episode, or if the band is just background noise.
Life’s a beach: Celeb site Just Jared published a photo of Millie Bobby Brown filming what appears to be a pretty dramatic scene at the beach in Malibu, California. Stranger Things, of course, is set in landlocked Indiana, so maybe the Pacific Ocean is standing in for an Indiana lake or river. Or perhaps Eleven is taking a West Coast trip in the new season. About a week later, more snaps of the cast taken in Georgia were revealed, this time, featuring most of Eleven’s friends, but she wasn’t seen. It’s unclear what scene the kids were filming, and most of them were wrapped in robes, either to keep warm or to hide whatever they were wearing.
Eleven’s backstory revealed: Viewers have already met Eleven’s mom, troubled Terry Ives, but a new young-adult novel coming out in February 2019 will dig into her mother’s past even more. Entertainment Weekly published an excerpt from Gwenda Bond’s book, called Suspicious Minds, and it follows Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine on the show) as he tries to assemble a group of young test subjects, presumably including Terry. Five-year-old Eight, who Eleven meets when she’s quite a bit older, also appears.
Love is in the air: The romantic duos of Eleven/Mike and Max/Lucas are still together in season 3, but for how long? “They’re like 13- or 14-year-old kids, so what does romance mean at that stage of life?”. But , Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike, noted that the show will be set in the summer of 1985, and called it “the summer of love.” Wolfhard wasn’t around for the first summer of love in 1967, and he wasn’t born until after the summer of 1985. But his quote seems to hint that love and relationships will be a part of season 3, for good or for ill.
Not everyone’s romance will be all hearts and flowers, though. David Harbour, who plays police chief Jim Hopper, said his character will “take more risks with these new languages of intimacy and vulnerability,” but is “going to flail and be horrible at it.”
Father figure as martyr: Also in summer 2018,that he knows how he’d like his character to bow out. “I would like to take a bullet for Eleven,” he said. And when fans cheered the selfless response, he replied, “Now you’re all happy about me dying!” No fears, though. I think Hopper will stick around until the show’s eventual end. We’ll have to wait and see whether he lives happily ever after (with Joyce?) or heroically exchanges his life for Eleven’s.
New faces: Finn Wolfhard appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in August 2018 and hinted at some new additions. “We’re in the middle of (filming the season),” Wolfhard said. “We got some new cast members, some incredible people.” But that was about all he would spill, and Fallon quickly changed the subject to joke about how he should appear on the show as a “weird uncle or something.” New characters are no surprise, and if they play major roles, as Max and Billy did in season 2, surely details will leak out soon.
More D&D: The first season started with the main boys playing Dungeons & Dragons, which certainly helped endear the show to all of us nerds out there. Expect more of the fantasy role-playing game in season 3. As Comicbook.com pointed out, artist Jared Flaming shared on Instagram in April that he’s teaching the show’s prop master about the game.
Dad Steve is back: Older teen character Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), who turned out to be a big brother figure for Dustin in season 2, will keep up that role. “I’ll just say we won’t be abandoning the Dad-Steve magic,” Levy told THR.
Back in time: Ghostbusters was an important theme in season 2, and Michael J. Fox’s 1985 movie Back to the Future will be a key element this season.
Chasing Chase: Back to the Future isn’t the only 1980s movie that will play a role. David Harbour told Variety that Chevy Chase’s 1985 action comedy. “Fletch is one movie we get to play around and have some fun with this season, which you wouldn’t expect from Stranger Things. and you wouldn’t expect from the Spielberg universe and you certainly wouldn’t expect from a darker season,” he said.
Hopper’s history: Harbour also told Variety that he hopes the show investigates his character’s history as both a New York cop and a Vietnam vet. “I’m curious as to how his tours in Vietnam might have shaped him to be who he is and if some of that stuff doesn’t still linger or haunt him in various ways,” Harbour said.
Sing it, sister: Lucas’ lively younger sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) will have an expanded role this season, and deservedly so. “There will definitely be more Erica in season 3,” show co-creator Ross Duffer told Yahoo Entertainment. “‘We got to use more Erica’ — that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”
Keeping up with the Byerses: Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, did her best to start a crazy rumor about the new season. While being interviewed by E! in mid-May, Brown asked co-star Noah Schnapp (Will Byers) if he’d love to see reality-show star Kim Kardashian on Stranger Things. A confused Schnapp thought the casting was reality, and Brown led him on by claiming Kardashian was set to play a character named 10. Kardashian herself seemed to be onboard, tweeting an enthused response. (Fan opinion: NOOOOO PLEASE NOOOO!)
This piece was first published May 3 and is frequently updated as we get closer to the upside-down.
: Everything we know about HBO’s 2019 fantasy series.