Stranger Things is a phenomenon that has grown to match its nostalgic influences. It might be proudly loaded with nods to the ’80s – Dungeons and Dragons, Kate Bush, Stephen King and Nightmare on Elm Street are all referenced – but those nuggets are stylistic window-dressing for a show that’s always placed its endearing, original characters at the forefront of the spectacle.
The charming cast leading the charge have all become global superstars too – from Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) to Joe Keery as everyone’s favourite jock Steve Harrington. With one season left, can Stranger Things defy expectations again to make its final adventure the best yet?
- The Duffer Brothers said Netflix executives cried during the pitch meeting for the final season
- Maya Hawke says she would love her character Robin to die in season five
Has Stranger Things season five been confirmed?
Yup, we’ll return to Hawkins one last time
In February 2022, creators Matt and Ross Duffer announced in a letter that the fifth season of Stranger Things will be the show’s last.
“Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things,” the Duffer Brothers wrote. “At the time, we predicted the story would last four to five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four, but – as you’ll soon see for yourselves – we are now hurtling toward our finale. Season four will be the penultimate season; season five will be the last.
“There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things; new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes. But first we hope that you stay with us as we finish this tale of a powerful girl named Eleven and her brave friends, of a broken police chief and a ferocious mom, of a small town called Hawkins and an alternate dimension known only as the Upside Down. As always, we are grateful for your patience and support.”
uoos noʎ ǝǝs pic.twitter.com/pJ71dRgmo1
— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) February 17, 2022
Is there a release date for Stranger Things season five?
Nope, but history provides some clues
While there’s no confirmed release date, the gaps between prior seasons may provide some indication of when to expect the fifth outing.
Filming on the fourth season was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, which led to an extended three-year wait between seasons three and four. There was a one-year gap between the first and second seasons in July 2016 and October 2017 respectively, while the third season was released in July 2019 – almost two years later.
If we assume another pandemic doesn’t strike in the coming years (with filming on the fifth season yet to even start), the release schedule suggests season five will, at the earliest, be released in late 2023. However, it’s perhaps a safer bet for sometime in 2024.
Speaking to Variety, the Duffer Brothers also suggested there might be a shorter wait between season four and five. “Don’t hold us to it, but the gap should be quite a bit shorter this time, due to the fact that we already have an initial outline, and we can’t imagine there will be another six-month forced hiatus,” the pair said.
Will there be a time jump in season five?
Yes, according to early word from the creators
To perhaps combat the aging cast members, Ross Duffer confirmed to TVLine that the fifth season will kickstart with a time jump.
“I’m sure we will do a time jump,” Ross said. “Ideally, we’d have shot [seasons four and five] back to back, but there was just no feasible way to do that. So these are all discussions we’re going to have with our writers when we start the room up.”
The entirety of Stranger Things (so far) has spanned three years, from November 1983 to the fourth season in March 1986. Each new season has jumped forward roughly a year, so unless they break tradition, the fifth and final season will likely take place sometime in 1987.
What else have the creators said about season five?
It’ll be closely tied to season four
Speaking to NME, Matt Duffer confirmed the final season will be paced differently in comparison to previous outings.
“Typically in the previous seasons, everything wraps up in a nice bow,” Matt Duffer said. “Four and five are really [connected] together. [With five], there’ll be no wind-up time – like even this season, you get to experience the kids and what they’re going through in high school before things start to escalate. Then it gets crazier and crazier and crazier – that’s typically the trajectory. Five, you’re just going to be right in the middle of it so it’s going to feel very, very different.”
They also have an end in mind for the show, although it might change during production. “We do have an end,” Matt Duffer added. “I’m sure a lot of it’s going to change, but now [it’s] the end. It’s just one of those things that you come up with and you go, ‘That’s it, that’s right, that’s inevitable – that’s what it has to be’.”
Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the creators confirmed that the final season would be entirely set in Hawkins – leaving behind Russia and California from the fourth season.
“We wanna go back to a lot of the things we did in season one,” Matt Duffer said. “A lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season one – there’s something nice about coming full circle.”
During a panel on November 13, the creators provided an update on the show’s progress, after previously sharing the title of the first episode, Chapter One: The Crawl. “We turned in the first script a couple of weeks ago, and we’re onto the second. It’s full steam ahead,” Ross told moderator Patton Oswalt (via The Hollywood Reporter). “I remember season one we were just amazed that Netflix was letting us do this at all, but season two was when we really, with the writers, we developed an overall plan and a backstory for all of this and make sure that, with the Upside Down, everything about what it was.”
To close out #StrangerThingsDay, very excited to reveal that the Stranger Things 5 premiere episode is titled…
THE CRAWL pic.twitter.com/QosrkNZcRi
— Netflix (@netflix) November 7, 2022
Ross said some answers in that plan were revealed in season four, but there still will be “quite a bit” to unravel in the final outing. “But just as important as the supernatural, we have so many characters now, most of whom are still living,” he added. “It’s important to wrap up those arcs because a lot of these characters have been growing since season one.
“So, it’s a balancing act between giving them time to complete their character arcs, and also tying up these loose ends and doing our final reveals.”
The brothers also said a few people know how the series will end, after they pitched the final season to Netflix in a two-hour meeting. “We did get our executives to cry, which I felt was a good sign that these executives were crying,” Matt said. “The only other times I’ve seen them cry were like budget meetings.”
Will Vecna return in season five?
Will Byers’ chilling monologue wasn’t for nothing
In the season four finale, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) explicitly states to Mike (Wolfhard) that main villain Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) is “hurting” but still alive.
“Now that I’m here, in Hawkins, I can feel him and he’s hurt,” Byers remarks. “He’s hurting but he’s still alive. It’s strange knowing now who it was this whole time but I can still remember what he thinks and how he thinks, and he’s not going to stop. Ever. Not until he’s taken everything and everyone. We have to kill him.”
If that wasn’t confirmation enough, Vecna actor Jamie Campbell Bower teased to The Hollywood Reporter that he’s aware of events in season five.
“Let me put it this way: I know about season five,” Campbell Bower said. “Take from that what you will.”
In regards to other casualties in season four, the Duffer Brothers confirmed to the Happy Sad Confused podcast that Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) is definitely dead – although his death will have “huge repercussions” among the survivors in the next season.
As for Max (Sadie Sink), she is alive but “brain dead, blind, and all of her bones are broken,” according to the creators. Could she, however, become a vessel for Vecna’s return?
What else is likely to happen in Stranger Things season five?
No plot details have been confirmed yet, but the show’s star Maya Hawke, who plays Robin, has said she would be keen for her character to die.
“Well, it’s the last season, so people are probably going to die,” Hawke told Rolling Stone. “I would love to die and get my hero’s moment. I’d love to die with honor, as any actor would. But I love the way that the Duffer Brothers love their actors.
“The reason that they write so beautifully for me and for everyone else is because they fall in love with their actors and their characters, and they don’t want to kill them. I think that’s a beautiful quality that they have, and I wouldn’t wish it away.”
Is this actually the last we’ll see of Stranger Things?
A spin-off is in the works
As teased in their letter announcing season five, the Duffer Brothers have since openly discussed their plans for a spin-off series following the main show.
Speaking to Variety, the duo said: “We do have an idea for a spin-off that we’re super excited about… but we haven’t told anyone the idea yet, much less written it.
“We think everyone – including Netflix – will be surprised when they hear the concept, because it’s very, very different. But somehow Finn Wolfhard – who is one crazy smart kid – correctly guessed what it was going to be about. But aside from Finn, no one else knows!”