Stranger Things is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by the Duffer Brothers, who also serve as showrunners and are executive producers along with Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen. Produced by Monkey Massacre Productions and Levy’s 21 Laps Entertainment, the first season 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, it 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 it and the normal world. 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 pop 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 critically acclaimed 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.
- Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
- David Harbour as Jim Hopper
- Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler
- Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven (“El”)
- Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson
- Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair
- Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler
- Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers
- Cara Buono as Karen Wheeler
- Matthew Modine as Martin Brenner
- Joe Keery as Steve Harrington
- Shannon Purser as Barbara “Barb” Hollan
- Noah Schnapp as Will Byers
- Joe Chrest as Ted Wheeler
- Ross Partridge as Lonnie Byers
- Rob Morgan as Officer Powell
- John Paul Reynolds as Officer Callahan
- Randy Havens as Scott Clarke
- Catherine Dyer as Connie Frazier
- Aimee Mullins as Terry Ives
- Amy Seimetz as Becky Ives
- Peyton Wich as Troy
- Tony Vaughn as Principal Coleman
- Charles Lawlor as Mr. Melvald
- Tinsley and Anniston Price as Holly Wheeler
- Cade Jones as James
- Chester Rushing as Tommy H.
- Chelsea Talmadge as Carol
- Glennellen Anderson as Nicole
- Cynthia Barrett as Marsha Holland
- Jerri Tubbs as Diane Hopper
- Elle Graham as Sara Hopper
- Chris Sullivan as Benny Hammond
- Tobias Jelinek as lead agent
- Robert Walker-Branchaud as repairman agent
- Susan Shalhoub Larkin as Florence (“Flo”)
Stranger Things was created by Matt and Ross Duffer, known professionally as The Duffer Brothers. The two had completed writing and producing their 2015 film Hidden, which they had tried to emulate the style of M. Night Shyamalan, however, due to changes at Warner Bros., its distributor, the film did not see a wide release and the Duffers were unsure of their future. To their surprise, television producer Donald De Line approached them, impressed with Hidden‘s script, and offered them the opportunity to work on episodes of Wayward Pines alongside Shyamalan. The brothers were mentored by Shyamalan during the episode’s production so that when they finished, they felt they were ready to produce their own television series.
The Duffer Brothers prepared a script that would essentially be similar to the series’ actual pilot episode, along with a 20-page pitch book to help shop the series around for a network. They pitched the story to a number of cable networks, all of which rejected the script on the basis that they felt a plot centered around children as leading characters would not work, asking them to make it a children’s show or to drop the children and focus on Hopper’s investigation in the paranormal. 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 show was subsequently announced for a planned 2016 release by Netflix in early April 2015. The Duffer Brothers stated that at the time they had pitched to Netflix, the service had already been recognized for its original programming, such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, with well-recognized producers behind them, and were ready to start giving upcoming producers like them a chance. The brothers started to write out the series and brought Levy and Cohen in as executive producers to start casting and filming.
The series was originally known as Montauk, as the setting of the script was in Montauk, New York and nearby Long Beach locations. The brothers had chosen Montauk as it had further Spielberg ties with the film Jaws, where Montauk was used for the fictional setting of Amity Island. After deciding to change the narrative of the series to take place in the fictional town of Hawkins instead, the brothers felt they could now do things to the town, such as placing it under quarantine, that they really could not envision with a real location. With the change in location, they had to come up with a new title for the series under the direction from Netflix’s Ted Sarandos so that they could start marketing it to the public. The brothers started by using a copy of Stephen King’s Firestarter novel to consider the title’s font and appearance and came up with a long list of potential alternatives. Stranger Things came about as it sounded similar to another King novel, Needful Things, though Matt noted they still had a “lot of heated arguments” over this final title.
July 15, 2016
- E01 – “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”
- E02 – “Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street”
- E03 – “Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly”
- E04 – “Chapter Four: The Body”
- E05 – “Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat”
- E06 – “Chapter Six: The Monster”
- E07 – “Chapter Seven: The Bathtub”
- E08 – “Chapter Eight: The Upside Down”
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