Entertainment

Everything We Know About 'Stranger Things' Season 4

It's supposed to be the darkest season yet.

stranger things 3
'Stranger Things 3' | Netflix
'Stranger Things 3' | Netflix

Stranger Things 3 hit Netflix in July 2019, bringing the same '80s immersion and heart as previous seasons. Gorier and gooier than ever, the season also featured plenty of good goofs while introducing new, great characters like Robin (Maya Hawke) and Alexei (Alec Utgoff). While Season 3 had a pretty definitive conclusion, the series' infinitely bingeable quality left us wanting more. 

Luckily, this isn't the end of Stranger Things. Season 3's post-credits scene raised more questions than it answered, while also expanding the scope of the series outside the isolated boundaries of Hawkins, Indiana. It's hard to believe that Eleven, Mike, Dustin, Will, Lucas, Steve, and the rest of the crew are free from their supernatural escapes, so here’s everything we know about Stranger Things 4 so far. 

david harbour winona ryder stranger things
Netflix

When will Stranger Things 4 premiere?

Not even our friends in Hawkins could defeat the coronavirus, making Stranger Things one of the many shows that Netflix had to halt production on in 2020. It shouldn't be long before we can head back to the haunted Indiana town, though! Based on a report by Deadline and social media posts from Netflix, the series resumed filming in late September 2020. They're still at it as of May 2021, according to Deadline, but at this point it shouldn't be much longer until they're done. The show will of course need to go through post-production in order to add all of those sick sci-fi effects and demogorgons, but it seems possible that new episodes could arrive just in time for Halloween.

Is there a trailer for Stranger Things 4?

Back in February 2020, Netflix dropped the first teaser of Season 4, titled "From Russia With Love." The clip showed Hopper stuck in Siberia, and confirmed that our trusty, beloved father figure to all of Hawkin's tweens was still alive. (We break it down and you can watch it below).

After fans had the chance to ruminate over that clip for 15 months, Netflix finally dropped another teaser in May 2021, though it doesn't offer a ton of clues as to what the new season will actually be about. The trailer, called "Eleven, are you listening?", comes in at just over a minute, but gives an eerie look at what's ahead, and confirms some long-running theories. It transports you to the Hawkins Lab where a handful of children with psychokinetic abilities seem to be playing and getting a creepy lesson from Papa—Matthew Modine's character who's been absent since Season 1, but rumored to be MIA. While we never actually get a glimpse of his face, the clip ends just outside of Eleven's door and flashes to her as Papa (aka Dr. Brenner) says, "Eleven, are you listening?" So, basically, it's time to start theorizing because who knows whether Season 4 will reveal more about Eleven's past and show her having flashbacks, or maybe something more complex, like her traveling through time back to the lab or her trying to locate the scientist through her abilities in the present.   

How many episodes will there be in Stranger Things 4?

While nothing has been formally announced, it looks there will be nine installments in Season 4, based on IMDb. That sounds about right, since the series usually goes with an episode count of eight or nine. 

natalia dyer charlie heaton stranger things
Netflix

Who will return for Stranger Things 4?

It was pretty much always a given that the core A/V Club crew and their teenaged friends were going to be back, but based on a sweet homemade video that Netflix shared of the cast's first table read, it looks like just about everyone is returning for Season 4. Of the main cast, you can expect to see Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Noah Schnapp (Will), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Natalia Dyer (Nancy), Winona Ryder (Joyce), Joe Keery (Steve), Sadie Sink (Max), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan), and Maya Hawke (Robin). Lucas' younger sister Erica will also be back and given more time to make scathing, sassy remarks, as Priah Ferguson has been upped to series regular, per Deadline. The same goes for everybody's favorite conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman—Deadline reported Brett Gelman is also now signed on as a regular. Sadly, his bromance with Alexei (RIP Alexei) is obviously no more. 

Last season tried to play with fans' heartstrings when it didn't seem clear whether or not David Harbour's Hopper was really dead, but don’t you worry: It's confirmed that he’s returning. Monsters from the Upside Down haven't gotten to him yet. (It's the Russians he has to worry about—more on that below.)

Are there any new cast members? 

With each new season, the sci-fi series tends to introduce fans to new characters—some of which including Season 3's Robin (Maya Hawke) and (RIP) Bob Newby (Sean Astin) becoming fan favorites. Season 4 is no different, with more than a few additions joining the cast; Deadline reported a handful in late November 2020. 

As the show frequently casts '80s staples, from star Winona Ryder to recurring appearances by Cary Elwes and Paul Reiser, another legend is joining this time around. Robert Englund, who's played Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise for years, is a new cast member playing Victor Creel, a man who's been committed to a psychiatric hospital since the '50s for a gruesome murder. At the hospital, he'll appear opposite Jamie Campbell Bower (The Mortal Instruments, The Twilight Saga), who's portraying Peter Ballard, a caring orderly. 

Aside from that new setting, Stranger Things is also headed to Siberia where we'll meet some new faces, including Dmitri, a charming, potentially trustworthy guard played by Tom Wlaschiha (Game of Thrones), and Yuri, a Russian smuggler portrayed by Serbian actor Nikola Djuricko.

Perhaps the most interesting announcement was Joseph Quinn's (Catherine the Great, Overlord) casting taking on Eddie Munson, a metalhead who runs the official D&D club at Hawkins High, The Hellfire Club. According to Deadline, "Eddie will find himself at the terrifying epicenter of this season’s mystery," so figure him a new major character.
 
Plus, a few more newbies include Sherman Augustus (Westworld) portraying Lt. Colonel Sullivan, a no-nonsense man trying to wrangle in the evil plaguing Hawkins, and Mason Dye (Bosch, Teen Wolf), who plays a handsome high school jock named Jason Carver whose life starts to unravel at the hands of the darkness pervading town. Also, Eduardo Francho (Booksmart) is likely the latest pal in the main crew, as he'll be portraying a friend of Jonathan's named Argyle, a stoner and employee at Surfer Boy Pizza. 

Those aren't the only bitchin' developments. Netflix announced even more character additions in May 2021, including one named Vicky who's supposed to be pretty pivotal to the plot. The Duffer Bros. themselves made a video announcing that newbie, saying that even though she's introduced this season, "she plays a big role in the events to come." Netflix obsessives will be excited to know that she's played by star of the cult teen series Anne With an E, Amybeth McNulty. Other than that, what we know about her role is that she's "a cool, fast talking band nerd who catches the eye of one of our beloved heroes." Ah, young love. 

In addition to Vicky, it seems like the show is filling out the students of Hawkins High. This season, we'll also meet basketball star Patrick, played by Myles Truitt (Black Lightning), whose life spirals out of control after being met with "shocking events." Grace Van Dien (The Village) plays another student named Chrissy—the head cheerleader and most popular girl in school, no less, who's hiding a "dark secret." Plus, Regina Ting Chen (Queen of the South) will play the school's caring guidance counselor, Ms. Kelly. So, Hawkins might not be that small of a town after all with all of these new additions, but that's sci-fi world-building, baby!

What is the plot of Stranger Things 4?

Back when Netflix announced that Season 4 was a go, they made it clear that the upcoming installment was going to be bigger than ever by declaring: "We’re not in Hawkins anymore." It's cryptic, but also literal since the sci-fi series is headed to Russia to combat the Ruskies, on top of creatures from the other realm. Last season ended with Hopper maybe killed by a demogorgeon—but without a body to prove it—or potentially transported to Russia, as seen by the wild post-credits scene that revealed Upside Down monsters and an "American" were stuck in a USSR government building. In February 2019, Stranger Things cleared up any lasting worries that the creature-fighting cop was dead by dropping a teaser showing Hopper forced to work at some sort of Russian labor camp. You may recall back in Season 1 that the reason Eleven accidentally opened up the portal to the Upside Down in Hawkins Lab was that American government officials wanted to use her and others like her to spy on the Soviets. So, it seems like the series is returning to that grand plot now with Hopper over there and the US' Cold War enemies in their own alternative dimension pickle. 

When the teaser dropped, the Duffer Brothers said, "Although it's not all good news for our 'American'; 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." 

They echoed that sentiment yet again, more recently in fall 2020, saying to Deadline that Season 4 will feature "a new horror is beginning to surface, something long buried, something that connects everything." We can only begin brainstorming what that might mean, but based on the details revealed in the news of additional cast members, we can parse a few theories. It's possible that whatever's haunting Hawkins, it could date back to the '50s and have made innocent people out to be evil and convicted of crimes they didn't commit—like Robert Englund's upcoming character. Or, since it sounds like whatever darkness is coming to surface has been there awhile, maybe Hawkins Lab has been doing controversial research of other dimensions for decades. 

Whatever those secrets coming to light are, it sounds like it'll make for a dramatic season. Hop (David Harbour) himself said to Deadline, "It's all very epic and very big in a Stranger Things way … There's monsters, there's horrors, there's scares, there's also like great Indiana Jones-type action, but also we get to see some of Hopper's really deep backstory that we've hinted at with the boxes in Season 2."

While Hopper may not be in Hawkins anymore, most of the cast and plot still is, so it'll be interesting to see how they presumably try to get their friend home. Finn Wolfhard told CBC Listen that this season again takes place after another year, so it's likely a mission to find Hop will bring the whole gang of teens back together, now that Eleven moved away with the Byers at the end of Season 3. It's hard to say how they'll bring Hop to safety, but it's possible that time travel might be the latest sci-fi concept the show is tackling. When the series announced it was back in production, the Stranger Things Twitter shared an image of the crew's clapperboard in front of what appears to be a grandfather clock in the Upside Down. Eleven and co. have traveled through different dimensions before, so who's to say they won't be able to travel through time? 

Whatever's in the works, Finn Wolfhard told CBC Listen that, to his surprise, it's "the darkest season that's ever been." And similarly, Gaten Matarazzo told Us Weekly it's the "scariest season" yet, so get ready for a particularly amped-up season.

What are the episode titles?

As of right now, all we know is the premiere is called, "Chapter One: The Hellfire Club." The showrunners shared the episode name in a tweet featuring a picture of the front page of a Season 4 script back in fall 2019. There were more than a few fan theories floating around once that was released, but all of them were put to rest in fall 2020. With the casting news of Joseph Quinn, which explained his character Eddie is the head of Hawkins High's official D&D club, The Hellfire Club, we got a great deal of context. The show started out majorly referencing to the game with the kiddos finding some clues to understanding The Upside Down within it, so it seems like Season 4 will return to that. The more D&D nerds to uncover Hawkins' mysteries, the better.

Is this the last season of Stranger Things?

The short answer: maybe, but probably not. Netflix announced in September 2019 that it was renewing Stranger Things for a fourth season, which was no surprise given the success of the series. The renewal also came with news that Stranger Things showrunners the Duffer Brothers had inked a multi-year film and series deal with Netflix. While neither party has disclosed the exact details of that contract, Deadline reports that industry sources estimate that it was likely comparable to the multiyear, nine-figure agreement that Netflix holds with Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. 

While it's unclear if the deal is exclusively tied to Stranger Things projects, the Duffer brothers previously told Vulture that they originally envisioned the series spanning four seasons. However, executive producer Shawn Levy clarified to EW that “we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth.” Given the series' success over the years, we're going to hazard that Season 5 will probably end up being a go.

Whenever it is that Stranger Things ends, the Duffer Bros. already know what's going to happen. Gizmodo pointed out that in conversation with Deadline Matt Duffer said, "We've known the ending of the show for quite awhile." He explained that they went into the show not knowing if it would get renewed, which is why Season 1 ends as if it could be a contained limited series, but they always knew if they got the opportunity to go beyond a first season, they "had an idea of where it would go." 

While we can't wait to see where the Duffer Brothers are planning to take us with their predetermined conclusion to the epic series, but we still have a ways to go before we get to Season 4. Continue to check back, though, as we'll continue to update this post when more information regarding Stranger Things 4 is announced. 

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.
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