The novel Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond takes place before the first season and focuses on Eleven's mother Terry Ives and her experiences with Dr. Brenner in the Hawkins laboratory in 1969. The novel was released on February 5, 2019, and was soon followed by Darkness on the Edge of Town by New Zealand author Adam Christopher on May 28, 2019. In Edge, following the events of the second season, Hopper relates details of his past life in New York City during the 1970s to Eleven. Runaway Max, a young adult novel by Brenna Yovanoff, was released on June 4, 2019, and explored Max Mayfield's early life in San Diego prior to moving to Hawkins in 1984, as well as offering a retelling of events from the second season from her perspective.
Montauk is an eight-hour sci-fi horror epic. Set in Long Island in 1980 and inspired by the supernatural classics of that era, we explore the crossroads where the ordinary meet the extraordinary...emotional, cinematic and rooted in character, Montauk is a love letter to the golden age of Steven Spielberg and Stephen King – a marriage of human drama and supernatural fear.
The first season begins in November 1983. Will Byers is abducted by a creature from the Upside Down. His mother, Joyce; the town's police chief, Jim Hopper; and a group of volunteers search for him. A young psychokinetic girl named Eleven escapes from the laboratory and is found by friends of Will. Eleven befriends and assists them in their efforts to find Will.
The second season is set a year later in October 1984. Will has been rescued, but he begins having premonitions of the fall of Hawkins caused by a creature in the Upside Down. When it is discovered that Will is still being possessed by an entity from the Upside Down, his friends and family learn that there is a larger threat to their universe.
Another impact of the series has been an increased demand for Eggo waffles, as they are shown to be Eleven's favorite food in several episodes and are seen as a representation of the series. The Kellogg Company manufactures Eggo and had not been part of the production prior to the first season's release, but they recognized the market impact of the series. They provided a vintage 1980s Eggo television advertisement for Netflix to use in its Super Bowl LI commercial, and they intend to become more involved with cross-promotion. Coca-Cola released a limited run of New Coke (introduced in 1985) to coincide with the third season of the show, which takes place in 1985.
The third season is set several months later, in the days leading up to the Fourth of July celebration in 1985. The new Starcourt Mall has become the center of attention for Hawkins residents, putting the majority of other local stores out of business due to the mall's popularity. Hopper becomes increasingly concerned about Eleven and Mike's relationship and becomes very protective of his daughter. Unbeknownst to the town, a secret Soviet laboratory under Starcourt seeks to open the gateway to the Upside Down. Meanwhile, the Mind Flayer uses mind control to make Billy do his bidding.
The fourth season is set several months later, in March 1986. Joyce, Will, Eleven, and Jonathan have moved to Lenora, California for a fresh start. In California, Eleven struggles with the loss of her powers and being bullied in school. Meanwhile, in Hawkins a being from the Upside Down—an entity later dubbed Vecna—begins killing the residents of Hawkins, opening new gates between the two worlds in the process. Planning to stop Vecna, Dr. Sam Owens and Dr. Martin Brenner take Eleven to a facility to help her regain her powers. Meanwhile, Joyce and Murray fly to Russia to rescue Hopper from the Gulag in Kamchatka.
In early 2015, Dan Cohen, the VP of 21 Laps Entertainment, brought the script to his colleague Shawn Levy. They subsequently invited the Duffer Brothers to their office and purchased the rights for the series, giving full authorship of it to the brothers. After reading the pilot, the streaming service Netflix purchased the whole season for an undisclosed amount; the series was subsequently announced for a planned 2016 release by Netflix in early April 2015.
In June 2015, it was announced that Winona Ryder and David Harbour had joined the series as Joyce and as the unnamed chief of police, respectively. The brothers' casting director Carmen Cuba had suggested Ryder for the role of Joyce, which the two were immediately drawn to because of her predominance in the films of the 1980s. Levy believed Ryder could "wretch up the emotional urgency and yet find layers and nuance and different sides of [Joyce]". Ryder praised that the show's multiple storylines required her to act for Joyce as if "she's out of her mind, but she's actually kind of onto something", and that the producers had faith she could pull off the difficult role. The Duffer Brothers had been interested in Harbour before, who until Stranger Things primarily had smaller roles as villainous characters, and they felt that he had been "waiting too long for this opportunity" to play a lead, while Harbour himself was thrilled by the script and the chance to play "a broken, flawed, anti-hero character".
Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of the electronic band Survive have composed the original soundtrack for the show, including the show's theme song. It makes extensive use of synthesizers in homage to 1980s artists and film composers including Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Goblin, John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, and Fabio Frizzi. According to Stein and Dixon, the Duffer Brothers had been fans of Survive's music since the 2014 film The Guest. Once the series was green-lit, the Duffer Brothers contacted Survive around July 2015 to ask if they were still doing music; the two provided the production team with dozens of songs from their band's past to gain their interest, helping to land them the role.
Additional casting followed two months later with Finn Wolfhard as Mike, Millie Bobby Brown in an undisclosed role, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas, Natalia Dyer as Nancy, and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan. In September 2015, Cara Buono joined the cast as Karen, followed by Matthew Modine as Martin Brenner a month later. Additional cast who recur include Noah Schnapp as Will, Shannon Purser as Barbara "Barb" Holland, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, and Ross Partridge as Lonnie, among others.
The brothers had desired to film the series around the Long Island area to match the initial Montauk concept. However, with filming scheduled to take place in November 2015, it was difficult to shoot in Long Island in the cold weather, and the production started scouting locations in and around the Atlanta, Georgia, area. The brothers, who grew up in North Carolina, found many places that reminded them of their own childhoods in that area, and felt the area would work well with the narrative shift to the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.
The filming of the first season began in November 2015 and was extensively done in Atlanta, Georgia, with the Duffer Brothers and Levy handling the direction of individual episodes. Jackson served as the basis of the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Other shooting locations included the Georgia Mental Health Institute as the Hawkins National Laboratory site, Bellwood Quarry, Patrick Henry High School in Stockbridge, Georgia, for the middle and high school scenes,
Stranger Things is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by the Duffer Brothers, who also serve as showrunners and executive producers. The first season of the series was released on Netflix on July 15, 2016. Its second, third, and fourth seasons followed in October 2017, July 2019, and May and July 2022, respectively. In February 2022, the series was renewed for a fifth and final season.
The first season consisted of eight one-hour-long episodes which were released worldwide on Netflix on July 15, 2016, in Ultra HD 4K. The second season, consisting of nine episodes, was released on October 27, 2017, in HDR. The third season once again consists of eight episodes, and was released on July 4, 2019. The fourth season, consisting of nine episodes, was released in two volumes on May 27 and July 1, 2022, respectively. In February 2022, Netflix renewed the series for a fifth and final season.
Netflix did not initially reveal subscriber viewership numbers for their original series, and Symphony Technology Group compiled data for the season based on people using software on their phones that measures television viewing by detecting a program's sound. According to Symphony, within the first 35 days of release, Stranger Things averaged ratings of around 14.07 million adults between the ages of 18–49 in the United States. This made it the third most-watched season of Netflix original content in the U.S. at the time behind the first season of Fuller House and fourth season of Orange Is the New Black. In a September 2016 analysis, Netflix found that Stranger Things "hooked" viewers by the second episode of the first season, indicating that the second episode was "the first installment that led at least 70 percent of viewers who watched that episode to complete the entire first season of a show."
United States Representative David Cicilline compared the state of the nation during the presidency of Donald Trump to that of Stranger Things during a speech given in Congress on February 16, 2017, using a sign "Trump Things" in the same format as the title card of the series and saying "Like the main characters in Stranger Things, we are now stuck in the Upside Down".
As part of its release on Netflix on April 14, 2017, the cast of the rebooted version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed on the first part of "Chapter 1" of Stranger Things. Google used augmented reality (AR) "stickers" of Stranger Things characters to introduce its ARCore technology announced alongside its Pixel 2 phone in October 2017. Sesame Street created a young audience-appropriate spoof of Stranger Things, called Sharing Things, released in November 2017; it featured Cookie Monster as the "Cookiegorgon", Grover as Lucas, Ernie as Dustin, and included several nods to the narrative of the second season.
In September 2017, multiple media outlets published articles about a cease-and-desist letter sent by a Netflix in-house attorney to the operator of a Stranger-Things-themed bar in Chicago. The letter included humorous references to the series: "unless I'm living in the Upside Down"; "we're not going to go full Dr. Brenner on you"; "the demogorgon is not always as forgiving". The letter also won praise from lawyers for its even-handedness in not demanding immediate closure of the bar, only demanding that the bar not remain open without Netflix's permission past its initial scheduled run.
Netflix and BonusXP developed a free mobile game tie-in for Stranger Things, released to iOS and Android devices on October 4, 2017. The game uses a retro-pixel style of art, similar to games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The game is loosely based on the Stranger Things story after season one, with the player starting as Chief of Police Jim Hopper looking for the missing boys. Once these characters are found, they become playable and have special abilities that allow the player to access more areas in the game.
The first season of Stranger Things was released on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack exclusively to Target retailers on October 17, 2017, and the same for the 4K/Blu-ray combo pack on November 15, 2017, both of which includes vintage CBS-FOX VHS-inspired packaging. The second season received a similar release on November 6, 2018.
In April 2018, filmmaker Charlie Kessler filed a lawsuit against the Duffer brothers, claiming that they stole his idea behind his short film Montauk, which featured a similar premise of a missing boy, a nearby military base doing otherworldy experiments, and a monster from another dimension. Kessler directed the film and debuted it at the 2012 Hamptons International Film Festival. During the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, he pitched his film to the Duffer brothers and later gave them "the script, ideas, story and film" for a larger film idea which he called The Montauk Project. Kessler contended that the Duffer brothers used his ideas to devise the premise for Stranger Things and sought a third of the income that they had made from the series.
In June 2018, Netflix announced plans for Telltale Games to produce an episodic adventure game based on the series, as part of a larger partnership that would see ports of other Telltale series as interactive movies on Netflix. However, the project was cancelled after Telltale laid off the majority of its staff in September 2018. As planned, the game would have taken place in the springtime of 1985, bridging the events of the second and third season. Telltale had also commissioned a companion game from Night School Studio titled Kids Next Door that would be a precursor to their title, but this also was cancelled on Telltale's closure.
Dark Horse Comics announced a partnership with Netflix for "a multi-year publishing line" of stories set in the Stranger Things world. The initial title was a four-issue miniseries written by Jody Houser and interior art by Stefano Martino. The story took place during the events of the first season and took Will's perspective while he was still trapped in the Upside Down. The first issue of the miniseries was released on September 26, 2018.
Penguin Random House partnered with Netflix to release a series of books related to Stranger Things, starting in late 2018. These include How to Survive in a Stranger Things World, a children's book released on November 13, 2018, that offers "advice, wisdom, and warnings" from Stranger Things. They have also published the behind the scenes book Stranger Things: World Turneds Upside Down: The Official Behind-The-Scenes Companion (released on October 30, 2018), and a two-in-one Hawkins Middle School Yearbook/Hawkins High School Yearbook (released on March 26, 2019).
The Duffer brothers' lawyer stated that they never saw Kessler's film nor spoke to him regarding it, and that Kessler had no input into their concepts for Stranger Things. The judge denied summary judgment for the Duffer brothers in April 2019, allowing Kessler's suit to proceed to trial. Just before the trial was due to start in May 2019, Kessler withdrew his lawsuit after hearing the depositions and seeing documents from as early as 2010 which showed him that the Duffers had independently come up with the concept of Stranger Things.
Hasbro published a licensed version of a Stranger Things-themed Dungeons & Dragons starter kit in May 2019. The kit, besides including instruction books, character sheets and dice, includes a campaign called "The Hunt for the Thessalhydra", which the children played in the first season (written with the intent of having come from the pen of the character of Will himself) as well as Demogorgon minifigs.
Lego introduced a Stranger Things set called "The Upside Down", based on a version of the Byers' home and its replica in the Upside Down, in May 2019. In 2020, The Upside Down set was awarded "Toy of the Year" and also "Specialty Toy of the Year" by the Toy Association. Netflix partnered with Epic Games to include some elements of Stranger Things as cosmetics in Fortnite Battle Royale in the weeks preceding the show's third season launch. Stranger Things DLC for the VR game Face Your Fears was also released. Within a September 17, 2019, update for the asymmetric multiplayer horror game Dead by Daylight, the Demogorgon was released as one of the killers, along with Nancy Wheeler and Steve Harrington as survivors. The chapter was later removed on November 17, 2021. Stranger Things-themed vehicles and cosmetics were added to Rocket League for its 2019 Halloween event. In the MOBA SMITE, a number of Stranger Things-themed character skins were created and released as part of a crossover Battle Pass, such as Starcourt Eleven Scylla, Hopper Apollo, The Demogorgon Bakasura and The Mind Flayer Sylvanus.
On May 4, 2019, Dark Horse Comics published a special Stranger Things comic as part of the event Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). The Dark Horse FCBD 2019 General comic contained a Stranger Things story entitled The Game Master set a few days after the events of the first season. It was written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Ibrahim Moustafa.
The second Stranger Things title is another four-part miniseries, written again by Jody Houser with interior art by Edgar Salazar, titled Stranger Things: Six. The comic focuses on one of the experiments preceding Eleven: a girl named Francine, who possesses powers of precognition. The first issue went on sale on May 29, 2019.
In July 2019, a three episode Behind The Scenes: Stranger Things 3 podcast was released, taking a look at the making of the show's third season. It was hosted by Dan Taberski.
A DRM-free Windows and Mac game based on Season 3 was released on July 4, 2019.
A second mobile game by BonusXP, Stranger Things 3: The Game, was announced during The Game Awards 2018. It was released as a tie-in for Stranger Things's third season, launching on July 4, 2019. This game is an isometric action game, where players leads selected show characters, including Joyce, Jim, Max, and Eleven, through various levels, with gameplay inspired by several video games of the 1980s. The game follows the narrative of the third season, as BonusXP has some input with the Duffer brothers, and provided additional story elements that the show does not have time to explore. The game was not only released for mobile platforms, but also personal computers, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Visions from the Upside Down: Stranger Things Artbook was released on October 15, 2019. Will Byers' Secret Files was released on September 24, 2019. Stranger Things: The Official Sticker Album was released on June 15, 2021. Stranger Things: The Official Coloring Book will be released on June 28, 2022. A Stranger Things-themed Little Golden Book, Stranger Things: We Can Count on Eleven is scheduled for release on July 5, 2022.
The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror XXX", which aired on October 20, 2019, included the segment Danger Things, a parody of Stranger Things. The classic 1980s bicycles used in the series have been produced in limited runs that sell out quickly. The mobile game The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross had a Strangers Things crossover event and the story followed the characters being transported to the universe of the anime. The Stranger Things characters could be unlocked for a limited time.
A third comic miniseries, Stranger Things: Into the Fire, started in January 2020. Also lasting for four issues, it is a sequel to the Six miniseries set prior to the show's third season. It is written by Jody Houser, penciled by Ryan Kelly, and inked by Le Beau Underwood.
The fourth season of Stranger Things was expected to consist of eight episodes, with the first episode titled "Chapter One: The Hellfire Club". Filming for the season was slated to begin in January 2020 and to last through August. With the release of a February 2020 teaser for the fourth season, the Duffers confirmed that production had started. Some filming for the fourth season took place at Lukiškės Prison and nearby in Vilnius, Lithuania. In March 2020, production was stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production resumed in September 2020.
An original graphic novel based on the series called Stranger Things: Zombie Boys was released on February 19, 2020. It was written by Greg Pak, drawn by Valeria Favoccia, lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot, colored by Dan Jackson, with cover art by Ron Chan. It is 72 pages and set after the first season.
On June 18, 2020, it was announced that IDW Publishing and Dark Horse will co-publish a Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons miniseries.
On July 23, 2020, Dark Horse announced a prequel one-shot entitled Stranger Things: Halloween in Hawkins.
A fourth miniseries from Dark Horse, entitled Stranger Things: Science Camp started in September 2020. It also ran for four issues.
A second Stranger Things original graphic novel, titled Stranger Things: The Bully, was released on October 13, 2020. It was written by Greg Pak and illustrated by Valeria Favoccia, and focuses on the characters Troy and James concurrent with the events of the second season, as the former struggles with PTSD following his encounter with Eleven.
A third mobile game, called Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales, was developed by Next Games. It was initially announced as a location-based game with role-playing game mechanics. Instead, when it was released in 2021, it was instead a story-driven puzzle role-playing game.
Magic: The Gathering will include a series of Stranger Things crossover cards as part of its special "Secret Lair" series in 2021.
Rebel Robin a young adult novel by A.R. Capetta was released on June 29, 2021, detailing Robin Buckley's struggle to accept her identity prior to the events of Season 3. Hawkins Horrors by Matthew J. Gilbert, a collection of short scary stories told from the perspective of the Party, was released on May 3, 2022; and Lucas on the Line by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, a novel set after the events of the third season from Lucas's perspective, will be released on July 26, 2022.
Both of these Stranger Things mobile games were used to launch Netflix's video games service for its mobile app in November 2021.
A third graphic novel; Stranger Things: Erica the Great!; was released on January 26, 2022.
From 16 to 19 June 2022, Netflix South Africa partnered with Fourways Mall to operate the Stranger Things Experience. The Experience previously operated at the Canal Walk Mall in Cape Town.
In July 2022, it was revealed that a spin-off stage play written by Sonia Friedman and Stephen Daldry and a spin-off series are in development. According to series co-creator Ross Duffer, the spin-off series will not focus on any of the core characters of main series. The direction the stage play will take in regards to characters and story is unknown as of yet.
Emory University's Continuing Education Department, the former city hall in Douglasville, Georgia, the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia, the probate court in Butts County, Georgia, Old East Point Library and East Point First Baptist Church in East Point, Georgia, Fayetteville, Georgia, Stone Mountain Park, Palmetto, Georgia, and Winston, Georgia. Set work was done at Screen Gem Studios in Atlanta and the series was filmed with a RED Dragon camera. Filming for the first season concluded in early 2016.
Insight Editions will release Stranger Things Tarot Deck and Guidebook on August 16, 2022, followed by Stranger Things: The Ultimate Pop-up Book on August 30, 2022.