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Stranger Things is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by the Duffer Brothers for Netflix. Produced by Monkey Massacre Productions and 21 Laps Entertainment, the first season was released on Netflix on July 15, 2016. The second and third season followed in October 2017 and July 2019 respectively, and the fourth season aired in two parts in May and July 2022. In February 2022, Stranger Things was renewed for a fifth and final season.

Set in the 1980s, the series centers around the residents of the fictional small town of Hawkins, Indiana, as they are plagued by a hostile alternate dimension known as the Upside Down, after a nearby human experimentation facility opens a gateway between Earth and the Upside Down. The ensemble cast includes Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Joe Keery, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin, Paul Reiser, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson and Brett Gelman.

The Duffer Brothers developed Stranger Things as a mix of investigative drama and supernatural elements portrayed with horror and childlike sensibilities, while infusing references to the popular culture of the 1980s. Several thematic and directorial elements were inspired by the works of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, David Lynch, Stephen King, Wes Craven and H. P. Lovecraft. They also took inspiration from experiments conducted during the Cold War and conspiracy theories involving secret government programs.

One of Netflix's flagship series, Stranger Things has attracted record viewership on the streaming platform. It has been received positively for its characterization, atmosphere, acting, soundtrack, directing, writing, and homages to 1980s films. It has received numerous nominations and awards. An animated spin-off series, developed by Eric Robles and produced by Flying Bark Productions, is in development.[6]


Overview

Stranger Things is set in the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the 1980s. The nearby Hawkins National Laboratory ostensibly performs scientific research for the United States Department of Energy but secretly experiments with the paranormal and supernatural, sometimes with human test subjects. They have inadvertently created a portal to an alternate dimension they refer to as the Upside Down, whose presence begins to affect the residents of Hawkins in calamitous ways.[7][8]

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.[9]

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 world.[10]

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 underneath Starcourt seeks to open the gateway to the Upside Down. Meanwhile, the Mind Flayer uses mind control to make Billy do his bidding.[11][12]

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 takes Eleven to a facility to help her regain her powers. Simultaneously, Joyce and Murray fly to Russia to rescue Hopper from the Gulag in Kamchatka.