We're no strangers to the cult of Stranger Things. Netflix's blockbuster series is entering its eighth year as a streaming phenomenon, with one season left to go before the founding members of the Hawkins, Ind., Hellfire Club hang up their dice for good.
The fifth and final season of Stranger Things is expected to premiere in 2025, although that date could fluctuate based on delays caused by the summer's historic double strike by the Writer's Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. (The WGA has since returned to work; SAG-AFTRA remains on strike.) It'll likely be the last time that the show's now-grown cast of young actors appears together for the foreseeable future, as stars Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard have already expressed a desire to move on. The show's creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, have their sights set beyond Hawkins as well, overseeing an adaptation of Stephen King and Peter Straub's novel The Talisman, as well as a new Death Note based on the popular Japanese manga and anime series.
But the Dungeon Master's Guide isn't closed on the Upside Down just yet. Netflix has big plans for the franchise's next chapter — including multiple spin-offs in a variety of media, from stage and screen to print and video games — that will keep the brand right side up for years to come. Here's everything you need to know about the future of Stranger Things.
In a recent interview with Deadline, Stranger Things producer and director Shawn Levy insisted that the show won't employ AI to keep the show's cast looking youthful. That's a rumor that was accidentally spread by Levy himself. Speaking with Variety in October, the Deadpool 3 director remarked that the show would "use all the tools available to us" in order to not let the age gap between the actors and their characters become too noticeable.
One might interpret those "tools" as including AI-assisted de-aging technology, but Levy cleared the air during his Deadline chat. "I kind of was surprised that one sentence I said around this topic traveled so widely. The bottom line is, we know what we're doing on this show. Our cast is brilliant. And these characters that the Duffers have created are so vivid. I'm not worried about everyone suiting back up and bringing them to life."
Certainly, there will be a gap between when Season 4 ended and Season 5 begins. The Duffers have already confirmed the likelihood of a time jump, after plans to shoot the two seasons back-to-back proved unfeasible. The brothers also have the ending to the final season mapped out, with the full support of Netflix. "We did get our executives to cry, which I felt was a good sign that these executives were crying," Matt Duffer said at a press event last November. "The only other times I've seen them cry were like budget meetings."
As the Stranger Things writers room continues to plug away on their Season 5 scripts, across the pond the curtain is preparing to rise on Stranger Things: The First Shadow — a prequel play that's opening on London's West End on Nov. 17. Written by Kate Trefy from a story by the Duffers, The First Shadow will expand on the mythology around Henry Creel, who grows up to become Season 4's big bad, Vecna.
While the play takes place well before the events of the series, you can bet there will Easter eggs galore. "We were in the middle of breaking season four with our writers. We started going, ‘OK, well, there's definitely more story to tell here," Ross Duffer said in a just-released featurette, adding that the play will introduce a new character into continuity, Patty Newby, who develops feelings for Henry.
Meanwhile, cast member Patrick Vaill — who plays the younger version of Matthew Modine's Dr. Martin Brenner — teases that The First Shadow will reveal the origin of the Upside Down, and co-illusion designer and visual effects artist Jamie Harrison promises that audiences will see "a lot of monsters, [and] a lot of blood-and-gut effects."
On this day
It was 40 years ago today that Will Byers disappeared from Hawkins, launching his Hellfire Club pals on their long, strange relationship with the Upside Down. That may not be a day that Will himself wants to celebrate, but Netflix is giving fans permission to enjoy themselves by claiming Nov. 6 as "Stranger Things Day." The streaming service's various social media channels have been swarmed with behind-the-scenes images from the show's four-season run.
— Netflix (@netflix) November 6, 2023
Meanwhile, Netflix's official fan site Tudum is offering exclusive excerpts from Stranger Things tie-in novels, and all sorts of video and audio exclusives. We can't wait to see what the Is It Cake? crew dreams up for Stranger Things cake content.
Stranger Things is currently streaming on Netflix