The last time new Stranger Things episodes debuted on our screens was July 2019 and we might have to wait a while longer yet for more of the Netflix sci-fi hit.
Filming on the nostalgic ’80s series had only just started when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and although the cameras are now rolling once again production is still much slower than usual.
Dustin actor Gaten Matarazzo spoke to People about filming and said that “it’s not as steady-paced or as consistent as I think any of us would like it to be, but we do our best and we’re playing it by ear.”
However, it sounds like season four will certainly be worth the wait, with Matarazzo also telling Entertainment Weekly that the upcoming episodes are more “ambitious” and that “the tone is definitely matured for sure.”
We do know there’s been some new cast additions for the upcoming series, with Jamie Campbell Bower, Eduardo Franco and Freddie Krueger himself Robert Englund all joining the series. We’re tracking all the latest updates and news about Stranger Things season four for you, so keep reading for everything we know so far. Warning, there will be spoilers for seasons one, two and three!
Stranger Things season 4 release date: When will it air on Netflix?
We don’t have a Stranger Things season four release date yet. In March last year, David Harbour (Hopper) revealed during an Instagram Q&A that season four was “supposed to come out early next year”, but that the release date would “probably be pushed back” in wake of COVID-19. If things hadn’t had to be paused it looks like filming would have finished up in August 2020. The script was finished awhile ago, and production started in March 2020.
RadioTimes.com predicts it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing Stranger Things season four before at least late 2021– although even that is optimistic.
meanwhile in the upside down… pic.twitter.com/BtPlMjy0pS— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) October 1, 2020
Production on season four of Stranger Things finally resumed in October 2020 after a lengthy pause, with the cast and crew filming in Atlanta, Georgia. Filming originally began in February, with stunt boss Hira Koda telling ComicBook.com in May that the Stranger Things team had managed to film two episodes of season four before the coronavirus pandemic shut down production in March.
“We did three weeks of shooting when we shut down, pretty much along with the entire industry,” Matt Duffer revealed in an interview with Deadline. Seven months after production was shut down, the cast and crew are back on track and have been busy filming for much of this year.
So filming is back underway, and if we were pushed to make a guess, we would likely lean towards a 2022 release now. Looking at Netflix’s previous release dates, the first two seasons debuted in October, the perfect time to release a show like this, but the third season opted for a summer start around Independence Day.
Adding weight to the 2022 theory is star Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy. She told The Independent that we won’t be seeing anything “for a while” when she spoke to them last October. What we do know is it’ll be worth it. Dyer also told Vogue: “Honestly, the scripts are great. I’m very excited. I’m excited for Nancy. Every time we end a season, we all think, where is this going to go? Where can this possibly go? Then we get the scripts for the next season and we’re, like, ‘Oh my god, wow, like, wow!’ So, while I can’t say a lot, except that it’s going to be a while before it comes out, it will definitely be worth it. It’s going to be really big. It’s going to be big!”
Matarazzo then gave another update in March 2021, telling Collider that there was still a large chunk of filming to be completed on the series and that everything was still a bit up in the air.
“There’s very few dates that are reliable,” he said. “It really is more of a ‘guesstimation’ on when we’re gonna be filming next, when we’re gonna be wrapping up, when release is gonna be, all that jazz because we still don’t know on day-to-day if we’re gonna be filming next week.”
He added: “I should be filming like next month for a bigger chunk than I’ve had in a bit, but even though it’s coming up in about two weeks from now, I still don’t know an exact date. So because of that, there’s really no way to figure out when we’re gonna be wrapping.”
Looks like it could still be a while yet, then…
Stranger Things season 4 cast
Season three saw multiple casualties, including Billy (Dacre Montgomery), so we’re 99 per cent sure he won’t be returning in the upcoming series (unless he gets the flashback treatment).
We should expect to see most of the main cast back for season four, including Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven, Finn Wolfhard’s Mike, Winona Ryder’s Joyce, Noah Schnapp’s Will, Caleb Mclaughlin’s Lucas, Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin, Natalia Dyer’s Nancy, Charlie Heaton’s Jonathan, Maya Hawke’s Robin and Joe Keery’s Steve.
Priah Ferguson, who plays Lucas’s sister Erica (of “you can’t spell America without Erica” fame) has been promoted to series regular for season four, according to Variety – as has Fleabag star Brett Gelman who plays eccentric private investigator Murray Bauman.
In November 2020, Netflix posted a behind-the-scenes pictures from the Stranger Things set, featuring regulars Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Sadie Sink (Max), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Joe Keery (Steve Harrington).
Also in November, Netflix officially announced a whole host of new faces for the new series, with three new series regular cast members joining as well as some big-name recurring stars.
And in April 2021 David Harbour shared an updated look for his character Jim Hopper in a social media video.
The new regulars include Booksmart star Eduardo Franco as Argyle, who is described as “Jonathan’s new best friend, a fun-loving stoner who proudly delivers delicious pizza pies for Surfer Boy Pizza” and Sweeney Todd star Jamie Campbell Bower as Peter Ballard – “a caring man who works as an orderly at a psychiatric hospital.”
They are joined by Catherine the Great’s Joseph Quinn who plays Eddie Munson, “an audacious 80’s metalhead who runs The Hellfire Club, Hawkins High’s official D&D club” and Bosch star Mason Due who plays handsome student Jason Carver.
Among those to play recurring roles is none other than Freddy Kreuger himself, Robert Englund – and it looks like he may be inspiring just as many nightmares in Stranger Things, with his character Victor Creel described as “a disturbed and intimidating man who is imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital for a gruesome murder in the 1950s”.
The other new recurring stars include Tom Wlaschiha (best known as Jaqen H’ghar in Game of Thrones) as a Russian prison guard who befriends Hopper, Sherman Augustus (Westworld) as an intelligent, no-nonsense man who believes he knows how to stop the evil in Hawkins and Nikola Djuricko (Genius) as a seedy and unpredictable Russian smuggler who loves bad jokes, cold hard cash, and crunchy style peanut butter.
Meanwhile, eagle-eyed fans have spotted a few new cast members on set – including Levon Thurman Hawke, the younger brother of Maya Hawke (Robin). While Netflix declined to comment on the rumours, Thurman was spotted on-set with Joe Keery (Steve Harrington) in October.
Also joining the cast is Agents of SHIELD star Joel Stoffer, who has been cast in a currently-secret role, with the actor telling Comicbook.com: “I’ve got a role that we haven’t shot yet on Stranger Things.” Intriguing and exciting as he was memorable as Enoch in the later seasons of SHIELD.
We haven’t yet heard anything about Barb so we suspect that the justice everyone wants for her is still no closer to coming – sorry, Barb.
Stranger Things season 4 episode titles
Whenever it does come back, we do know, thanks to the IMDb page, that episode one is titled: “Chapter One: The Hellfire Club”, while the tagline for the episode reads, “We’re not in Hawkins anymore” – a reference to The Wizard of Oz. So that is something for us to go on at least!
Stranger Things season 4 plot: What will happen in season 4?
While the Duffer Brothers have given very little away about the upcoming series, the Stranger Things writers have been teasing a few (potentially jokey) details via their Twitter account including what might be a few of the season four episode titles.
When fans asked the account for any teasers as to what episodes two and three are titled, the writers responded: “Tick Tok Mr Clock” and “You Snooze You Lose” respectively However, they later tweeted what seemed to be a confirmation that the titles were just jokes to tease fans, writing: “Episode 4: Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey,” before the writers added: “This is called hilarious comedy.”
We know for certain that one of the episodes is named ‘The Hellfire Club’ – which the Stranger Things Twitter account teased in November, with a shot of the script and a picture of Gaten Matarazzo in a Hellfire Club T-shirt. While this points towards Dustin and the other kids joining something called the Hellfire Club, what exactly is the club and what does it stand for?
heard the Hellfire Club is now looking for new members 👀 pic.twitter.com/BfRf4if4wE— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) November 6, 2020
As well as tying up loose ends, a fourth run could open up new possibilities for the show: for instance, to accommodate the show’s quickly-ageing young cast, could Stranger Things four be set several years after season three?
This would fit with comments made by Gaten Matarazzo, who told Entertainment Weekly that the Duffer brothers use the ageing cast as “ammunition” for their writing.
Matarazzo said: “When it comes to the tone of the season, it’s definitely, I think the tone is definitely matured for sure, and I think they do that on purpose because I think they want their show to mature with their kids.
“As we are growing older as people, we have to grow older as characters. They’re confronted by this issue, but they embrace it, and they use it to their advantage.”
In February 2020, TVLine‘s Michael Ausiello reported that season four could consist of 9 episodes, one more than initially planned. He also said that a “fan-favourite character may have his/her origin story told in one (or more) of those nine episodes.”
This “fan-favourite” is likely to be Hopper, after David Harbour promised fans at Liverpool Comic Con in March a “big, huge reveal” about his character’s backstory in the upcoming season. Harbour added that it’s his “favourite thing” about Hopper that fans are yet to find out about him, but it’s related to the three boxes found by Eleven in Hopper’s attic which are labelled ‘Dad’, ‘Vietnam’ and ‘New York’.
What’s more, apparently the Stranger Things season four is set to be the scariest so far – according to Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington. The actor told Total Film, “I think that this year — and I know I say this every single year — but this is definitely going to be a lot scarier than prior years, because last year was pretty dark.”
While the Stranger Things team have given little away in terms of the upcoming season’s plot, its spin-off comic book may have recently teased a potential storyline involving Steve (Joe Keery), Robin (Maya Hawke), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Erica (Priah Ferguson).
In the comic, Erica starts selling green acid she smuggled out of the Russian lab at the end of season three, forcing the other three to intervene before she gets herself into trouble. While the plot doesn’t seem particularly dramatic for the small screen, hopefully, it’s suggesting that we’re going to see more of the fan-favourite foursome in season four.
In terms of theories for season four, we don’t know much about newcomer Robin’s background, so she could be a good bet for further exploration. Or perhaps we’ll find out how former journalist turned private investigator Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) became the bunker-living, vodka-drinking and Russian-speaking sleuth he is today. (This seems especially likely now that Gelman has been upped to series regular.)
Stranger Things season 4 trailer
We got a teaser on Valentine’s Day, but a full-length trailer is yet to land. The teaser did reveal Hopper is alive though! Netflix did also release a Stranger Things table read video with footage of the cast.
At the end of season three, David Harbour’s Chief Hopper was apparently killed after Joyce destroyed the key to the Upside Down, but the post titles scene referencing “The American” in a Russian jail kept hope alive for fans.
However, a first-look Stranger Things season four trailer confirms Chief Hopper is alive, and in a prison camp in Russia. Netflix revealed: “He is imprisoned far from home in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka, where he will face dangers both human… and other. Meanwhile, back in the states, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long-buried, something that connects everything….”
Will season 4 be the final season of Stranger Things?
The show is likely to continue for longer than the originally planned four season-run, according to Vulture. Producer Shawn Levy later told EW that enthusiasm from Netflix and the show’s fans may well have convinced them to go on until at least a fifth year.
“The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth,” Levy said. “Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”
The creators echoed these statements when speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in August, saying that season four “won’t be the end”.
“We know what the end is, and we know when it is,” Ross Duffer said. “[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. We’ve had a lot more time to work on the scripts,” he added. “For the first time, we have all the scripts written and we’re able to look at it as a whole piece and make adjustments.”
However, if season four is not the last hurrah, the end seems very much in sight. Series star Gaten Matarazzo also told Entertainment Weekly that although the Duffer brothers are usually happy to play things by ear, they have the end very much laid out.
“I heard from them that they have a pretty clear idea as to where they want to wrap the show up,” Matarazzo told EW. “And I think they have a completely clear outline as to how they want their show to end.”
Stranger Things season 4 theories
In the May 2020 video footage surfaced of Harbour teasing a bit more about what was coming for the character in season four, hinting that his Hopper’s past will be explored in greater depth and that a huge secret will come to light – apparently one for which some clues have already been laid out.
In the footage, which originated from Liverpool Comic-Con in early March, Harbour said, “There are these three things that we’ve established in the season that if we don’t pay off, it means that they’re bad writers. And the Duffer brothers are very good writers.”
“It’s my favourite thing about him that you guys don’t know about him yet, but it has to do with these backstories of New York, Vietnam, and Dad. And I’m really excited for you guys to know more about that, and it relates, of course, to things he’s doing with Eleven and Joyce and things like that.”
Also, while speaking to Deadline, he said: “I’m really excited to let people see these really deep colours in him. Each season we see a different side of him. Last season was… a bit wackier, and I loved playing that.”
How did Hopper survive the explosion?
Some fans believe that the Hopper seen in season four’s teaser trailer being forced into manual labour in Russia is not the real Hopper, but actually a clone of the detective. This theory is based on Billy Hargrove’s encounter with a clone of himself in the Upside Down during season three, when the Mind Flayer had planted part of itself inside him and Billy became under its control. A similar thing happened to Will Byers in season two – so could it be possible that the Hopper in Russia is actually a clone being controlled by the Mind Flayer?
It's not Hopper, people. It's a clone.— Ishkur (@Ishkur23) February 14, 2020
This is Stranger Things we're talking about.
Other fans are convinced that when Hopper was trapped between the gate to the upside down and a beam of light, he managed to escape before Joyce destroyed the portal. This is because when the camera cut from Joyce to the portal exploding, Hopper was not where he had been in the shot before. It is possible that Hopper found a ladder leading to a safe area and since he was already wearing a Russian uniform, the other Russian officers may have found him and taken him back to Russia.
Another theory suggests that Hopper travelled through the portal when the explosion happened and became trapped in the Upside Down. He was then found by the Russian team, who had built another portal to the Upside Down to find another Mind Flayer, and subsequently imprisoned.
Will Joyce and Murray save Hopper?
Some fans are convinced that Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) will be heading to Russia in season four to rescue Hopper.
After Ryder and Bauman were reportedly spotted filming in Lithuania, Redditor killthemwithcoffee is convinced that the pair, who spent the majority of season three with Hopper, will be executing a rescue mission during season four.
There have been hints that the story will move beyond Hawkins, with co-showrunner Matt Duffer recently telling EW that the fourth season could see plotlines moving “into areas outside of Hawkins”. According to Deadline, Netflix moved filming from Atlanta to New Mexico, which suggests a change of setting might be on the cards – this fits with the “we’re not in Hawkins” anymore tag the season has.
Will Jonathan and Will’s dad be back for season four?
A few Stranger Fans viewers are convinced that Jonathan and Will Byers’ dad, Lonnie Byers (Ross Partridge), will return for the upcoming season after seeing him at a table reading for season four.
Reddit user LastWarrior24 posted a photo from the video, appearing to show Partridge at the table read. Could Lonnie become a bigger part of the Byer kids’ lives now that the Byers have moved out of Hawkins? Could he become another antagonist that Joyce has to deal with this season?
Stranger Things season four has been delayed, but seasons one-three are now available on Netflix.