Now that the dust has settled a bit more on the topographic destruction of Hawkins, Indiana, it’s time to look forward to Stranger Things 5 — and all the weight it has to carry as the final season of Stranger Things.
Of course, after all the excitement of season 4, there’s not much of a status quo for Stranger Things to return to in its final season. With Vecna’s plan to merge the real world and the Upside Down at least partially in motion, we left the cast of Stranger Things steeling themselves for the biggest battle of their lives. And indeed, the Duffer brothers (Ross and Matt) have promised that season 5 will get straight to business.
“There’s a lot of build-up and set-up [each season], and 5 is just going to be pedal to the metal from the opening scene,” Ross told The Wrap ahead of season 4’s premiere. “At least that’s what I remember from the outline.”
What will Stranger Things 5 be about?
After a deadly showdown in the finale of Stranger Things 4 part 2, the scene is set for a climactic new season of the show. While the Duffers have been tight-lipped about where, exactly, that cliffhanger leaves us, they have said one thing for sure.
“I’m sure we will do a time jump,” Ross Duffer told TVLine in June, noting the fact that the young stars are aging rapidly. “Ideally, we’d have shot [seasons 4 and 5] back to back, but there was just no feasible way to do that. So these are all discussions we’re going to have with our writers when we start the room up.”
One can guess that Hawkins, Indiana — nay, the world — will once again be in peril thanks to Upside Down monsters. But in an interview with Variety, the Duffer brothers said the world of the Upside Down would be more explored in the fifth outing of Stranger Things.
“A lot of those answers for the Upside Down is really what the basis of season 5 is about,” Ross said.
Though they couldn’t elaborate, the Duffers once again alluded to how the final season will follow the blueprint of George Lucas, the same way the fourth season was inspired by The Empire Strikes Back.
“The final few is going to be more like a Return of the Jedi in that [...] not tonally, but just in terms of [...] they’re going from the beginning. There’s going to be less ramp up,” Matt told The Wrap. “And I think people will understand what I’m talking about when they see the end of this season. It’s like, we’re just going.”
That said, on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the brothers shared that while the final 30 minutes of the final season is “pretty clear in [their] heads,” the run-up to that is a bit more “vague and fuzzy.” Still, their plan to just get down to business in the new season means the Duffers agree that they’ll likely have fewer episodes — but you should still expect a supersized final episode.
“We’re more likely to do what we did here, which is to just have a 2.5-hour episode,” Matt Duffer said. He joked that it could even match the infamous sprawl of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings conclusion: “I’m sure the wrap-up will be a lot longer. It’s going to be Return of the King-ish with, like, eight endings.”
Joking aside, it makes a certain amount of sense. As the Duffers have routinely mentioned bringing the show full circle, it’s become clear just how many plot threads there are to wrap up in a final season.
“[It’s] setting up us coming full circle back to Season 1,” Ross told Collider. “I think you’ll see that with a couple of the character arcs, not just with Will. But also with Steve and Nancy, and her relationship with Jonathan where things are not fully resolved. The characters have maybe made steps, like in the case of Will, but that journey isn’t over yet. All of that is going to play a huge role as we try to wrap this thing up next season.”
Does Max die in Stranger Things 5?
While Max certainly faced dire straits at the end of Stranger Things 4, Sadie Sink (the actress who plays her) certainly believes — or at least hopes — that Max is going to wake up from her Vecna-induced coma.
“I think she’s at a place where she now really wants to fight,” Sink told Vulture. “She knew that there was no way she was going to make it out alive, but the fact that she was willing to make that sacrifice was brutal and heartbreaking. If she’s still out there, she definitely has a lot of rage and a lot of fight in her. So that’s where my hope lies in Max.”
While it’s possible to read into Sink’s “if” there, it seems likely that there’s some way to wake her up. On the Happy Sad Confused pod, the Duffers were careful to specify that she is “brain-dead, blind, and all of her bones are broken,” as opposed to some others who they said are definitely gone.
Is Eddie Munson still going to be dead, for real?
Unfortunately, Eddie “The Freak” Munson is one such confirmed death. On the podcast, the Duffers confirmed Eddie’s death was real — but also teased it’ll have “huge repercussions” for the survivors. Whether that’s the emotional weight that Dustin is carrying or the fact that the town still thinks Eddie was some sort of Satanist murderer, we’ll just have to wait and see.
What will Stranger Things 5 do for Will?
While Will’s coming of age (or coming out) moments in season 4 felt a little undercut by talking around... something, the Duffers have promised that Will Byers will play a key part in season 5.
“Will’s going to be a big part and focus, is really all I can say of Season 5, in his journey. We’re starting to see his coming of age, really. Which has been challenging for a number of reasons, some of which are supernatural. But you’re starting to see him come into his own.” Ross told Collider.
Is Stranger Things 5 the final season?
Yes — for the original series, at least. Netflix and the Duffers have announced that season 5 will be the final chapter of the show. But they’ve also said they are open to spinoffs — and even have some ideas for them that Netflix doesn’t know, with Matt Duffer telling SFX Magazine:
“We haven’t told anyone our plans, not even Netflix! [...] We have some ideas. In terms of if we were to do any sort of spinoff, or any continuation of Stranger Things, for us the bar was always ‘Is the idea exciting enough that we feel the pull of wanting to do it again?’”
Since they’re pretty clear about wanting to “feel the pull of ‘God I really want to do this’” and make sure that any new story set in the Stranger Things world isn’t just “retreading” where they’ve been when they pick their next project, it’s possible the spinoff just might not happen. Then again, Netflix is eager to pick up a sure thing, especially if it’s a spinoff of a wildly popular hit for the streaming service.
When will Stranger Things 5 start shooting?
Considering the long haul on the lengthy season 4, it’s going to take a second. Shooting for season 4 wrapped in fall 2021, and it wasn’t released until spring. While some of that was due to coronavirus delays, the sure-to-be effects-heavy final season will no doubt take some time to produce as well. As of now, neither Duffer brother can commit to when the show’s filming will resume.
“I’m not sure we’re ready to say yet a start date for shooting,” Matt Duffer said to TVLine in June 2022. “But a lot of it is pretty well mapped out.”
What they have committed to is returning to the writers room in August 2022. “The ending is the hard thing,” Matt added in his TVLine interview. “That’s obviously the stressful thing. We really want to stick the landing.”
If that makes your heart sink, just know that the Duffers told Collider they are committed to balancing quality and speed, with even a slight emphasis on the latter. “Ross and I will always favor quality, I think,” Matt said. “At the end of the day, I think it’s better that it’s good than that it comes out quickly.”
Still, a lot of this will come down to how long the season is, which will impact how much time the visual effects team needs. Between the writing and production, David Harbour (who plays Hopper) thinks they’ll end up shooting next year. “They’re finishing writing it this year, and they need to prep and stuff, so hopefully it’ll be this year,” Harbour told GQ UK. “But I think that’s the plan. So it’d probably come out mid-2024, based on our track record.”
Since then, Stranger Things has shutdown production on its fifth season during the WGA writer’s strike.
What do we know about the end of Stranger Things 5?
Only that the Duffer brothers know what it is (probably). “We know what the ending is,” Matt Duffer said to SFX. “It’s conceivable that it changes but I think it’s unlikely because it’s one of those endings that just feels, and has always felt, right. And it also feels sort of inevitable. Then when you come up with it, you’re like, ‘Oh yeah well, that is absolutely what it has to be.’”
During their time on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the Duffers also noted that they planned on keeping the focus on Hawkins. That’s unsurprising given the fiery doom that threatened to swallow the town (and the world) in the final shots of season 4, but the creators say they want to keep their attention on the town as a way of saying goodbye and returning to the building blocks of the show.
“We wanna go back to a lot of the things we did in season 1,” Matt said. “A lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season 1 — there’s something nice about coming full circle.”
In the same SFX interview, the Duffers also said they spoke with Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul creator Vince Gilligan for advice about their envisioned ending. As a result, Matt Duffer says the ending is “more interesting and exciting than originally envisioned by me and Ross.”
Where does the Stranger Things spinoff fit in with all of this?
While season 5 may be the end for Stranger Things, it’s not the end for the general world of the show. The Duffers have confirmed that a spinoff is in the works, but haven’t said much more than that. But you can expect some things to be seeded in season 5 that might feed into the spinoff.
“There’s a version of it developing in parallel [to season 5], but they would never shoot it parallel,” Ross told Variety. “I think actually we’re going to start delving into that. Soon as we’re winding down and finishing these visual effects, Matt and I are going to start getting into it.”
Matt added that it’s a project they’re very excited about: “Even if we took the Stranger Things title off of it, I’m so, so excited about it. But it is not… It’s going to be different than what anyone is expecting, including Netflix.”
Someone who does apparently know: Finn Wolfhard, who correctly guessed what the new spinoff would be.