Everything We Know About 'Stranger Things' Season 5

The hit Netflix series is wrapping up with a final, epic conclusion.

millie bobby brown in stranger things 4 finale

Over the course of Netflix's hit Stranger Things, the teens of Hawkins, Indiana, and their superpowered friend Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) have taken down an evil government lab, defeated more than a few monsters from another dimension, and fought with the Soviets. It seems like all of those threats have only been preparing them for what's to come, now that the show is wrapping up with a fifth and final season.

Before Season 4 even aired, in early 2022, series creators and showrunners the Duffer Brothers announced that Season 5 would be its last. At the time, they wrote a note, announcing that they planned the "complete story arc" for the series seven years ago and knew it would take four to five seasons to do so. Since the two-part fourth season—which broke records to become the most-streamed show in a week—revealed what's actually been going on in Hawkins all along, it's safe to say fans are excited to see how the show concludes its massive sci-fi story. While information tends to be scarce, we're breaking down everything we know about the final season of Stranger Things so far.

stranger things cast in season 4

When will Season 5 of Stranger Things be released?

Right now, there's no official Season 5 release date. While Season 4 was especially delayed due to the pandemic, knowing how things go with Stranger Things' big-budgeted production schedule, it might be a while. We would guess that new episodes should arrive sometime in 2024.

For what it's worth, that's when star David Harbour thinks the final season will drop, too. He told GQ, "I think we'll [shoot] next year. They’re finishing writing it this year, and they need to prep and stuff." He said he hoped to start filming this year, but the plan is for next year more likely, "so it'd probably come out mid-2024, based on our track record."

How many episodes are in Stranger Things Season 5?

An official episode count hasn't been released yet. Considering every season has had between eight or nine installments, we'd guess probably about the same for the final one.

What we do know is that episodes won't be as long as they were in Season 4—a choice not every fan was into. On the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the Duffer Brothers confirmed they don't expect Season 5 to be as lengthy and clarified the reason Season 4 episodes were so long was because of how much of a "ramp-up" it was. They did say, though, that the very last episode will probably be feature-film-length, so definitely prepare for a final stretch of cinematic proportions.

sadie sink in stranger things season 4, max stranger things

Who in the cast will be back for Stranger Things Season 5?

Eleven, the Hellfire Club nerds, their teenage babysitters, and families have managed to survive the Upside Down this long, so fans can expect everybody in the core cast to be back for Season 5. It's also confirmed that Vecna/One/Henry Creel, who we now know is at the center of the Upside Down and the monster-hunting teens have yet to take down, will be back. Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays the villain, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he's returning and said he actually knows about the Season 5 arc already.

As the series is prone to adding new characters who become fan favorites—only to kill them off that same season—Joseph Quinn, who played Eddie Munson, won't be back. (He sure did die a hero, though!) A different character whose fate is somewhat unclear, though, is Sadie Sink's Max. Although Vecna nearly killed her, she is confirmed to have ended up "brain dead, blind, and all of her bones are broken." Sink herself has said that she has "no idea what's coming in [Season 5]" and that her character's story is "very up in the air," so it could very well be that we're in for a very tragic death, or Max could return and perhaps still be integral in defeating Vecna.

vecna stranger things, eleven and vecna

What will Stranger Things Season 5 be about?

While nearly every season of Stranger Things ended with demogorgons slayed and all of the adventures in Hawkins nicely wrapped up, save for a tease at some sort of darkness remaining, Season 4 couldn't have ended more differently. Now, a rift between Hawkins and the Upside Down exists and it seems like only a matter of time before darkness continues to pour over into our world from the other (and other Hawkins residents realize that was no Indiana earthquake). So, basically, it seems like we're in for the ultimate face-off between Vecna, the Mindflayer, and whatever else is looming in the Upside Down, and Eleven (along with the help of her friends). It's unclear how it's all going to go down, but it seems inevitable.

Another thing that seems rather likely is that Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) will come back into the fold even more so. In returning to Hawkins in the Season 4 finale, he still feels some sort of connection to the Upside Down, so it's possible he will play a large part in defeating it. (That is, as long as it doesn't consume him.) Schnapp even told Variety that "the Duffers are saying for next season that they're going to focus more on Will and build that story line." He made the point of noting that Will was the first victim and the first one from Hawkins captured, so it seems likely that there there will be a tie-in with that in Season 5.

Considering how many teases revealed early on or details have played into Stranger Things, it's possible that Will's painting he made Mike could foreshadow Season 5. You may remember it was a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired image that showed their friends as knights facing off with a multi-headed dragon, Mike being the "heart" that saves them. Reddit and TikTok theorizers have pointed out that it is not unlike the Prince of Demons that killed Will in the game of D&D they're playing in the very first episode of Season 1. Although nothing is confirmed, it definitely seems like a detail that's worth galaxy-braining over in the meantime, especially since Nancy (Natalia Dyer) said Vecna showed her a vision of a monster that was nothing like what she'd seen before.

For fans still hung up on potential plot holes about the Upside Down's mythology and just want to know more about Vecna in general, it seems we'll learn more about his origin going forward, too. Jamie Campbell Bower told THR, "I think what you will see is more of the human aspect of Vecna … and there’s a huge, great, cool thing you see as well! You still witness a bit more of an evolution—quite a bit more of an evolution, particularly for Vecna and Henry to Vecna."

Is Season 5 of Stranger Things really the last season?

It's true: Netflix's flagship sci-fi hit is really ending. While it's a bummer to see the show go, the Duffer brothers have supposedly known how to wrap it up for quite some time, so you can likely expect an epic conclusion. And anyway, the cast is starting to age out of their young roles.

Despite being the last season of the series, it won't be the only thing set in its universe. When Season 4 Volume 2 dropped, Deadline reported that the Duffer brothers formed Upside Down Pictures and have lots of projects in the works, some being inspired by Stranger Things. The details are scarce, but a live-action spin-off is eventually coming to Netflix. Don't expect it to be about anybody in the main Hawkins crew, though: The showrunners have stressed it's going to be "very, very different" and think fans "will be surprised when they hear the concept." And then, for all of the theater nerds out there, a "stage play set within the world and mythology of Stranger Things" is in the works. It's to be written by series writer Kate Trefry and produced by Netflix, famed theater producer Sonia Friedman, and Stephen Daldry (The Crown, Billy Elliot), who will also direct.

Before we get any of the eventual full-blown franchise treatment of Stranger Things, we still have the final season. We'll keep updating this article as more details are announced.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.