It’s officially Stranger Things summer! Both volumes of the highly-anticipated fourth season are now available to stream on Netflix. After that shocking season 4 finale, everyone wants to know about all things season 5. Thankfully, the Duffer Brothers are providing some key updates while we anxiously await the final season.
Volume 1 of season 4 dropped on May 27, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Volume 2 was released on July 1 ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. Season 4 arrived nearly 3 years after season 3 debuted in 2019. The new season was officially announced in October 2019 with the tagline, “We’re not in Hawkins anymore.”
The official synopsis for season 4 read: “It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time – and navigating the complexities of high school hasn’t made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.”
Season 4 production initially began in February 2020, but it was quickly shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following several delays, filming resumed in September 2020. Season 4 filming didn’t wrap until September 2021.
The first teaser dropped on Valentine’s Day 2020 and revealed that Hopper was alive and being held captive in Russia. Several teasers have been released online since 2020 and teased new aspects of the season like Creel House and Eleven’s new life in California with the Byers, as well as the episode titles. The official trailer was revealed on April 12, 2022, and featured the Stranger Things crew preparing for their biggest fight yet.
But all good things must come to an end. On February 17, 2022, Netflix announced that season 5 would be the final season of Stranger Things. HollywoodLife has rounded up all the latest news we know about the fifth season.
All About Season 5
When Netflix announced that season 4 would be split into two volumes, the streaming service also included a letter from the creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, a.k.a. the Duffer Brothers. While they wrote that season 4 would be “bigger than ever,” they noted that “it’s also the beginning of the end.”
Their letter continued: “Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things. 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 not hurtling toward our finale. Season 4 will be the penultimate season; season 5 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.”
The Duffers have always been adamant that Stranger Things wouldn’t go on for seasons and seasons. However, season 4 was never intended to be the end of the hit Netflix series. “Season 4 won’t be the end,” Ross told The Hollywood Reporter in August 2020. “We know what the end is, and we know when it is. [The pandemic] has given us time to look ahead, figure out what is best for the show. Starting to fill that out gave us a better idea of how long we need to tell that story.”
Stranger Things director and EP Shawn Levy fully supports the decision by the Duffer Brothers to end the show with season 5. “Well, we never wanted to run on fumes and we wanted to only tell as much story as the brothers saw and feel with clarity,” Shawn told Screen Rant in March 2022. “So it’s been clear for a while that they know exactly where we’re headed and this is the arc. We wouldn’t want to stick around for one moment beyond that vision and the clarity of that voice. So rather than focusing on that sad day that happens who knows when, the end of season 5, I’ll just once again reaffirm what I’ve told everyone, which is it has been a long-ass wait for season 4. But I swear to God, the world will realize it’s worth it.”
As for the confirmed cast of season 5, that remains a mystery. Given that season 4 isn’t out just yet, fans have no idea who may (or may not) make it out of the new season alive. If everyone survives, you could expect Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Natalie Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Winona Ryder, and David Harbour back for the final season.
Season 5 production has not started just yet, so casting calls haven’t been made. The fifth season does not have a release date yet, but it will likely premiere in 2023 or 2024. “I’m not sure we’re ready to say yet a start date for shooting,” Matt Duffer recently told TVLine. “But a lot of it is pretty well mapped out.”
The Duffer Brothers know that expectations are high when it comes to how the show ends. “The ending is the hard thing,” Matt said. “That’s obviously the stressful thing. We really want to stick the landing.”
Fans can likely expect a time jump between seasons 4 and 5. The timeline of Stranger Things is much slower than the real world, so a time jump will bring the kids closer to their actual ages. “I’m sure we will do a time jump,” Ross told TVLine. “Ideally, we’d have shot [seasons 4 and 5] back to back, but there was just no feasible way to do that.”
As for the plot, Matt revealed on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that season 5 will be “moving fast.” He explained, “Characters are already going to be in action, they’re already going to have a goal and a drive, and I think that’s going to carve out at least a couple hours and make this season feel really different.” He later added, “It’s going to be Return of the King-ish with, like, eight endings.”
As for the runtime, the Duffer Brothers admitted that they “don’t expect” the final season’s episodes to be as long as the ones in season 4. Every season 4 episode was over an hour, with the last 3 episodes being well over 1 hour and 20 minutes. However, the series finale is the only episode that could end up as long as a full-length movie.
The final season will be set entirely in Hawkins, after splitting up the cast into three separate groups in season 4. “We wanna go back to a lot of the things we did in season 1,” Matt also revealed in the interview. “A lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season one–there’s something nice about coming full circle.”
The writer’s room is expected to start up in August 2022. “We’re going to take a little vacation in July,” Ross told Collider. “And then we’re going to come back. I know that the writer’s room is going to start in that first week of August.”
On the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Matt that season 5’s trajectory is “actually pretty blurry” at the moment, but “the last 30 minutes of it are pretty clear in our heads. So if we can make the journey entertaining, I think that we have an end that will hopefully satisfy. You can’t satisfy everyone, but the hope is that it’s something that feels right for this story.”
Stranger Things Run So Far
Stranger Things became a global phenomenon when it premiered on Netflix in 2016. The series catapulted the young stars to superstardom, and they have grown up before our eyes.
Following the success of the second season, the cast reportedly scored major pay raises for season 3 and beyond, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The cast was divided into “different pay tiers” with Winona and David making up the “A tier” that earned them up to $350,000 an episode. The “B tier” included the younger stars like Finn, Gaten, Caleb, and Noah, who started making $250,000 an episode. The “C tier” featured the older kids — Natalia, Charlie, and Joe — who began making $150,000 an episode in season 3.
At the time, it couldn’t be confirmed exactly what Millie was making. After making $30,000 per episode alongside Finn, Gaten, and Caleb, Millie separated herself from the rest of the cast during renegotiations. For season 3, Millie was at least making $250,000 like her fellow young actors, but sources told THR she could be making as high as $350,000 per episode or in her own tier of $300,000 per episode.
What Happened In Season 4?
Stranger Things season 4 introduced the show’s biggest bad yet: Vecna. The Upside Down was created after Eleven battled Henry Creel, who also happened to be One, the first child to be experimented on by Dr. Brenner. When Eleven was a child, Henry/One posed as Peter Ballard at the Hawkins Lab. Once he gained Eleven’s trust, he betrayed her and killed the other children at the lab.
Henry/One faced off against a young Eleven, and she opened the first gate to the Upside Down as she tried to destroy him. Henry/One didn’t die when he was thrown into the Upside Down. Vecna was born. Vecna is the one behind all the chaos that’s been wreaking havoc in Hawkins.
In Volume 2 of Stranger Things season 4, the Hawkins crew (with Eleven’s help) tried to take down Vecna. In the midst of this fight, Eddie sacrificed himself and died in Dustin’s arms, Eleven infiltrated Max’s mind, Jason and Lucas got into a brutal fight, and Max was nearly killed by Vecna.
Joyce and Hopper finally kissed and got out of Russia with Murray. They returned home where they reunited with their kids. However, the current state of Hawkins is borderline ruin. Max did die for a moment before she was brought back to life by Eleven. Max’s death allowed Vecna to get that fourth kill he needed to open the last gate. The faultlines created by the 4 collided at the center of Hawkins, creating massive openings to the Upside Down. The end of the season 4 finale showed the effects of the Upside Down creeping in on Hawkins, and the biggest fight for Eleven and the others is still ahead. Meanwhile, Max is in a coma after her confrontation with Vecna.
“Now that I’m here in Hawkins, I can feel him,” Will said to Mike about Vecna. “And he’s hurt. 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.”
What Comes Next After Season 5?
The Duffer Brothers’ letter about season 5 left fans with hope that there could be spinoffs in the future, and Matt and Ross haven’t ruled out expanding the Stranger Things universe. In fact, there is a spinoff officially in the works.
“We have some ideas,” Matt revealed to SFX, according to NME. “In terms of if we were to do any sort of spinoff, or any continuation of Stranger Things, for us the bar was always, ‘Is the idea exciting enough that we feel the pull of wanting to do it again?’” He added, “I want to feel the pull of ‘God I really want to do this. I feel really, really excited about this.’ So that’s why we’re being careful about what that is and whether we move forward with it or not.”
Ross stressed that “the key for us is that it needs to feel like its own distinct thing, not that we’re just retreading what we’ve already done… I do think we have something pretty exciting, so we’ll see.”
In July 2022, the Duffers revealed on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that their spinoff is going to be “1000% different” from Stranger Things. “I’ve read these rumors that there’s gonna be an Eleven spinoff, that there’s gonna be a Steve and Dustin spinoff, or that it’s another number. That’s not interesting to me because we’ve done all that. We’ve spent I don’t know how many hours exploring all of that. So it’s very different.”
Noah, who plays Will Byers, is totally down for a spinoff. “I know I am – and I’m sure everyone else is – up to do whatever. And we’ll definitely be back for spin-offs and whatever else they can throw at us,” he told SFX.
Shawn told Collider in August 2021 that he is aware that “there is an interest and a real voracious appetite for any offshoot, any other iteration format or extension of the franchise, the characters, the mythology. And certainly, those conversations are hardly evolved, but they’re also not non-existent.”
As for a Stranger Things movie, that remains to be seen. However, some of the episodes of season 4 are feature-length. “[Episodes] 7 and 9, in particular, are movies,” Matt told The Wrap. “And nine is a long movie.” Ross admitted that the season 4 finale is “over two hours. It’s a big one.” However, there will be a stage play, set “within the world and mythology of Stranger Things,” according to Variety.