Here's everything you need to know about Stranger Things season 4.
Stranger Things season 4 is finally on its way – and it has some big questions to answer following season 3's explosive 77-minute finale, "The Battle of Starcourt".
On February 17, Netflix announced that the new series is coming this May – but not the entire season. Instead, Stranger Things season 4 has been split into two parts, with the second batch of new episodes coming a few weeks later. To make up for that, though, you can expect the new season to be bumped in size, as promised by the showrunners.
So, what do you need to know? Well, there's a fair amount of information out there on Stranger Things season 4. Along with the release date, we have quite a few trailers and clips, episode titles, cast list, and more. We even know that a certain police chief is definitely coming back. For more from Hawkins, scroll down to find out everything we know so far about season 4 of Stranger Things.
Stranger Things Season 4 Release Date
Stranger Things season 4 finally has a release date, and will be coming at you in two parts. Part 1 will drop on Netflix on May 27, 2022, with the second half following just six weeks later on July 1, 2022.
The events we are about to witness will then pave the way to Stranger Things season 5 – the final season of the show.
Why the Two Release Dates?
The showrunners, the Duffer brothers, said in a statement that the new season is the biggest yet, and that means it's taking longer than anticipated to finish. As a result, they have decided to release the episodes in two goes. "It's coming soon," the duo said. "And it's bigger than ever."
In part of a long announcement letter by the creators the Duffer brothers, they said: "With 9 scripts, over 800 pages, almost 2 years of filming, thousands of visual effects shots, and a runtime nearly twice the length of any previous season, Stranger Things 4 was the most challenging season yet, but also the most rewarding one. Everyone involved is incredibly proud of the results, and we can’t wait to share it with you."
Producer Shawn Levy previously acknowledged that season 4 was taking longer than anyone expected, including him, seeing as the last episodes dropped back in July 2019. However, he promised that it's "worth the wait".
David Harbour – who plays Hopper – previously said during a Q&A that the series was "supposed to come out early " but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which left many movies and TV shows unable to film. The series had begun filming pre-outbreak but was forced to pause.
As we also mentioned above, Stranger Things season 5 will be the show's last. The season will bring the current storyline to a close. However, the showrunners have also teased "many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things," which, if you ask us, sounds like an open invitation for someone to come along and make a spin-off show.
Stranger Things Season 4 Teaser Trailers
Sep 30, 2019
Following some Twitter teases, Stranger Things season 4 was officially confirmed (to no one's surprise) with a teaser trailer that featured the season 4 logo being strangled by the living vines of the Upside Down. It also has a clock chiming. The video concludes with the message, "We're not in Hawkins anymore." Can we expect the curtain to be drawn back on the Upside Down's secrets?
Feb 14, 2020
Then, in February 2020, a second trailer arrived, confirming a very important return... Hopper is alive! After perishing at the end of season 3, the Duffer brothers have confirmed that David Harbour's character will be back.
"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," the brothers said. "Meanwhile, back in the states, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long-buried, something that connects everything…
"Season 4 is shaping up to be the biggest and most frightening season yet, and we cannot wait for everyone to see more. In the meantime – pray for the American."
Mar 3, 2020
Netflix has also unveiled a look at the cast doing a table read, the video confirming a few big names will return. Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Noah Schnapp (Will), Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Winona Ryder (Joyce), Sadie Sink (Max), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan), Natalia Dyer (Nancy) are all present, as expected. Cara Buono (Karen) and the season-stealing Maya Hawke (Robin) will return. Then there is a bald-headed David Harbour (Hopper), presumably fresh off his excursion to Mother Russia.
May 6, 2021
May 2021 brought a new teaser trailer – the minute-long clip sees the test subjects at Hawkins National Laboratory gently going about their day in the ominously titled Rainbow Room. It's a flashback scene, and we can hear Eleven's labored breathing emanating from her room. "Eleven, are you listening?" Matthew Modine's Dr. Brenner, the one-time director of the lab, asks. Cryptic.
Aug 6, 2021
Yet another teaser trailer was released in August 2021. Eleven is seen with a new look and held back by shadowy government agents in one moment. In another, Hopper looks to have broken out of Russian captivity in some way or another and is bringing the heat with a flamethrower.
Sep 25, 2021
Another teaser, this one revealed at Netflix's Tudum event, reveals a new mysterious location: Creel House, described by the Duffer Bros as a "super important location."
Nov 6, 2021
Yet another teaser, this one titled "Welcome to California", shows Eleven and Will attempting to settle into their new life – and school – in the Golden State after they left Hawkins with Will's mother Joyce at the end of season 3. In the teaser, Eleven is drafting a letter to Mike, who's still back in Indiana, telling him how much she's looking forward to seeing him over spring break. But this is Stranger Things, so spring break doesn't look like it's set to go as smoothly as they might hope – the trailer teases car chases, gunfights, and explosions aplenty.
Apr 12, 2022
Netflix dropped the full official trailer for Stranger Things Season 4 on April 12, and there is plenty to unpack. The clip begins with Max sitting by the grave of her stepbrother Billy. "Dear Billy, I don't know if you can even hear this," Max says. "Ever since you left everything's been a total disaster." The trailer then teases that a war is coming. Watch the full trailer for Stranger Things Season 4 above.
Stranger Things Season 4 Episode Count and Titles
Reports had circulated that Stranger Things season 4 would be eight episodes long, which would be consistent with seasons 1 and 3, though one episode behind season 2. However, the Stranger Things scriptwriters revealed that they had written nine episodes worth of scripts. In a tweet, the nine scripts were shown all piled on top of one another. Natalie Dyer, who plays Nancy, confirmed this, saying that the delay to filming allowed the scriptwriters to finish everything before filming – something that does not normally happen.
More interesting is the title of episode one. Yes, we've had confirmation on the name of the Stranger Things season 4 premiere, all thanks to the show's official writers' Twitter account. The episode is titled "The Hellfire Club", and alongside the image, a message reads: "Looking for new members... are you in?"
The Hellfire Club is a group of villains who have faced off against the X-Men numerous times, including on the big screen in X-Men: First Class. In that movie, the Hellfire Club is led by Sebastian Shaw, played by Kevin Bacon. Of course, the Stranger Things kids will not have seen that movie, but they will have read the comics. The Hellfire Club, filled with wealthy and influential individuals looking to manipulate world events for their own benefit, debuted in the 1980 comic Uncanny X-Men #129. At one stage, Jean Grey, overtaken by Phoenix, joins the club.
Numerous commentators have drawn comparisons between Eleven and Jean Grey. Could the telepathic teenager be about to break bad? Well, perhaps not.
While The Hellfire Club may be a famous group from the X-Men comics, it serves here as the name of Hawkins High’s official Dungeons & Dragons club. Joseph Quinn will play Eddie Munson, and that character will run the club. Expect lots of D&D role-playing in Stranger Thing season 4.
The rest of the season's episode titles have since been revealed, too: they're titled Vecna’s Curse, The Monster and The Superhero, Dear Billy, The Nina Project, The Dive, The Massacre At Hawkins Lab, Papa, and The Piggyback.
Stranger Things Season 4 will not be the Last
Don't worry, Stranger Things fans: season 4 will not be the last. Sure, Millie Bobby Brown may be leading new Netflix movies like Enola Holmes, but the actor hasn't left the series that made her a household name behind just yet.
“Season 4 won’t be the end,” showrunner Ross Duffer told The Hollywood Reporter. “We know what the end is, and we know when it is. [The coronavirus 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.”
How many more seasons will there be? Only one more. Yes, that's official. Stranger Things Season 5 will be the last season we will have.
Stranger Things Season 4 will be the Scariest Season yet – and the Biggest
Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington, had us very excited about Stranger Things season 4 – even if that instantly iconic Scoops Ahoy outfit has been retired.
"Oh man, it's pretty amazing – the Duffer brothers have really done it again," Keery told Total Film magazine. "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."
Quizzed about hanging up the Scoops Ahoy outfit, he replied: "I know that costume served its purpose and I'm glad to retire it [laughs]. Do I have it at home for Halloween? I don't, unfortunately. They won't let me have that one. One day!" Maybe Scoops Ahoy just isn't scary enough for Stranger Things anymore? Alas, we can only hope that Steve has to dress in another ridiculous outfit sometime soon.
Along the same line, the Duffer brothers have teased a different tone this time around. “Every time we go to a new season, we want it to have a different feel and a different tone,” they recently said. While they went no further, it wouldn't be a leap to see Stranger Things getting scarier come season 4.
Finn Wolfhard also told CBC's Radio Q (via Complex) that this season would be darker: "Every season it gets darker. Really, I will say with season 3, I was like, 'This is the darkest season that there’ll ever be', like the exploding rats and everything. But really, season 4 so far, it’s the darkest season there’s ever been." He added: "Every year, it gets amped up. Every year it gets funnier and darker and sadder, and everything. Every year, they amp it up."
Similarly, Gaten Matarazzo has spoken about season 4's tone to ET Online: "When it comes to the tone of the season, it's definitely, I think the tone is definitely matured for sure, and I think [Matt and Ross Duffer] 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. And they don't freak out when we get taller or when our voices drop or anything like that. They use it and they use it as ammunition for their writing. It's incredible what they can do. Working with them, it's just exceptional. Always has been."
Following Keery's comments, Natalia Dyer spoke about how the new series will be "really big", teasing: "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!’”
Sean Levy, who acts as an executive producer, went one step further and said Stranger Things will be "better than ever" with season 4. “[The delay due to the coronavirus] impacted very positively by allowing the Duffer Brothers, for the first time ever, to write the entire season before we shoot it and to have time to rewrite in a way that they rarely had before so the quality of these screenplays are exceptional, maybe better than ever,” Levy said.
So, in the many, many months where the Stranger Things cast and crew were twiddling their thumbs, the creators were able to endlessly tweak and tinker with the scripts instead of literally writing things during filming. That can only be a good thing.
Stranger Things Season 4 Setting
The Soviets’ involvement in season 3 was kept under wraps until the episodes dropped on Netflix, so don’t expect any major revelations about the Stranger Things season 4 plot for a good while yet. One of the most important questions we have right now, however, concerns when the new season will be set. Not just the month – as we’ve discussed above – but also the year.
The first three seasons were set in November 1983, October 1984, and July 1985, respectively, so it would be continuing an established pattern if Stranger Things season 4 took place the following year, in 1986. But we wouldn’t be surprised if the show gave 1986 a miss entirely and jumped straight on to 1987.
Why? It’s not that we’ve got anything against the year that brought us Top Gun and Aliens – and both would clearly be ripe for the sort of Easter egg treatment Back to the Future received in season 3. Instead, this theory owes more to the fact that the teenage cast is aging significantly faster in real life than they are in the show.
Although only 20 months have passed in Hawkins time since the story began for Eleven, Mike, Dustin, and the rest, the actors have aged more than three years in the real world – and it’ll be at least another 18 months before we see them in action again. Increasing the in-show gap between seasons would be a good way to address the stars getting older – especially as Shawn Levy says the show’s creative team can’t make episodes any quicker.
“Probably once a week we say to ourselves we really should work faster,” Levy told SFX Magazine ahead of season three. “Then within moments we realize, ‘Oh wait, we’re working at the speed we can work at.’ However much we resolve to work more quickly, it takes what it takes to do it right. Because we’re not really able to change the pace it’s a reason why we simply embrace the evolution of our actors – we don’t have an option.”
Hopper's Return in Stranger Things Season 4
The biggest mystery in Hawkins surrounds Jim Hopper’s status. Of course, we already know the "American" will be back, but Eleven and the gang do not. How they will deal with his inevitable return remains to be seen. David Harbour has updated us on how Stranger Things season 4 will feature a "big, huge reveal about Hopper's backstory."
Specifically, it’s to do with one of the marked boxes Eleven finds in Hopper’s stash midway through the second season. As Harbour explains, there are “five boxes, one of which has Brenner's stuff from Hawkins Lab, one of which says 'Dad,' and one of which says 'Vietnam,' and one says 'New York.’ So, there are these three things that we've established in the season that if we don't pay off, it means that [the Duffer brothers are] bad writers. And the Duffer brothers are very good writers."
He continued: "I'm so excited about revealing this aspect of the character. It's one of the things that I've known since the first frame of the first shot, and we haven't expressed it yet. And finally we're gonna express it in a big way. It's my favorite 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."
Total Film met with the actor during a press run for Black Widow, and Harbour detailed how Hopper's return was like that of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. "I’ve had those discussions with [the Duffer brothers] from the very first season," he said. "We were always interested in that idea of the Gandalf resurrection – Gandalf the Grey who fights the Balrog and then becomes Gandalf the White. It’s the idea of the resurrection of the character.
"And mythologically, Hopper, in a sense, had to change. I mean, you couldn’t go on the way he was going on. He has to resurrect in some way. So it was a great opportunity to do that. So we’ll see a very different guy going forwards. The same guy but in a different vein. It’s a very cool thing to be able to play."
Stranger Things Season 4 Plot
Murray Bauman, the Russian-speaking conspiracy theorist who played a key role in season 3 (and who has been bumped up to a regular cast member for season 4), has hinted that he knows something about Hopper's whereabouts and could play a key part in bringing him back to Hawkins. As CNET revealed, if you call Murray's home phone number (618-625-8313, according to the show) you receive the following answerphone message:
“Hi, you have reached the residence of Murray Bauman. Mom, if this is you, please hang up and call me between the hours of 5 and 6pm as previously discussed, okay? If this is Joyce: Joyce, thank you for calling, I have been trying to reach you. I have an update. It’s about... well, it’s probably best if we speak in person. It’s not good or bad, but it’s something.”
Reports have indicated that season 4 will film in New Mexico, home to the likes of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and a certain major conspiracy theory…
“This is the first time the show will be traveling beyond Atlanta,” Netflix’s Momita SenGupta said of the decision to film in New Mexico, while also promising that the move means the show will be “bigger, bolder and more intricate than ever.”
So, why is Stranger Things upping sticks? It’s almost definitely spoiler-related. “If I told you that, I would be disappearing into the Witness Protection Program,” SenGupta said when asked about the New Mexico scenes. Those of you who know their UFO history, though, can point to at least one major location of interest in New Mexico: Roswell, where evidence of aliens was reportedly spotted in 1947. The event grew in prominence in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Perhaps Bauman will go exploring?
Expect Stranger Things season 4 to also explore how Eleven is coping now that her telekinetic powers have deserted her – and also how she’s dealing with life after Hopper, living with the Byers in a new (as-yet unrevealed) town. While we’re pretty much certain that Stranger Things season 4 will find some way of bringing Eleven, Joyce, Jonathan, and Will back to Hawkins at some point, Noah Schnapp (who plays Will) suggested in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that the story may hook up with him in a new location: “I know that I might have a separate storyline from everyone else, so we might be filming, like, in another place.”
New set photos suggest that things may not go smoothly for Eleven – they show her being wheeled on a stretcher, complete with an oxygen mask. You can also see police cars, what appears to be an armed soldier or guard of some kind, and plenty of rubble – so whatever happens in this moment, it seems destructive.
Ross Duffer appeared to echo this idea in Entertainment Weekly: “I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen [in the new season] is it’s going to open up a little bit, not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plotlines into areas outside of Hawkins.”
“Areas outside of Hawkins” could mean the Byers’ new home or, just as feasibly, more trips to the Soviet Union – after going to the effort of building that colossal base under the Starcourt Mall, it’s unlikely Communist forces be disappearing any time soon. Indeed, Duffer could even be referring to the mysterious world of the Upside Down – over the course of three seasons we spent very little time there and we know even less about it.
“No one really knows what the Upside Down is, we just know what comes from it, like Demogorgons and like the Mind Flayer,” Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas, told Entertainment Weekly. “But the Upside Down is an alternate dimension of our world. Our world is so big so there’s more than just Demodogs, and Demogorgons and Mind Flayers, so no one really knows.”
Perhaps not even the Duffers, it seems, as Levy readily admitted to SFX back in June that “we don’t really follow some overarching road map. Every year we end up exploring things that interest us in that moment, and that means we don’t plan everything.”
“We don’t know a lot [about Stranger Things season 4], but we do know a lot of the big broad strokes,” Ross Duffer told Entertainment Weekly in July. “At the end of season two, we knew about Billy [Hargrove]. We knew that the Russians were going to come in. We didn’t know the mall and stuff, but again, we know these big broad strokes. That’s sort of where we are in season 4. We have the big broad strokes. It’s just now about filling in those lines in the details. We’re pretty excited about where it’s potentially going to go. It’s going to feel very different than this season. But I think that’s the right thing to do and I think it’ll be exciting.”
David Harbour hinted that season 4 will set up the show's ending. "I mean, it's bigger, that's the first thing," he told Collider. "In scope, in scale, even in the idea that we're not in Hawkins anymore. We, locale-wise, we're bigger. We're introducing new stuff, but we're also tightening and wrapping up in a certain direction to make it have a clear, clean, specific, and definite ending at some point, which I can'