Season 5 of Stranger Things doesn’t seem to be too close on the horizon, but that hasn’t stopped references to the popular series from wiggling their way back into thousands of people’s social media feeds.
Finn Wolfhard, the Canadian actor who plays Mike Wheeler on Stranger Things, has become the face of a new TikTok trend. These TikToks repurpose a video of him snapping, often cropping him out and overlaying it over other images. Clips of Wolfhard have been used over 2.2 million times, with the most popular videos exceeding 5.1 million views.
In the videos, people will use footage of Wolfhard in which he walks up to a camera, holds his hand up close to the lens, and snaps his fingers. People edit their video so it transitions as he snaps, all to the tune of a sped-up version of “Give It to Me” by Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, and Nelly Furtado. Most the TikToks tend to emphasize the difference between two points of comparison. In this example, a person talks about changes made to Minecraft graphics.
And here’s one that drags the way a stereotypical tech bro might decorate their home.
The origins of the source video are unclear — Wolfhard wears a button-up striped shirt with shorts that’s from the third season of the show, but it hasn’t been identified as a clip from the actual show.
Fans have used digital tools that make it relatively easy to create these videos. There’s an app called CapCut, which is owned by ByteDance, that allows people to use a template to make the videos. People have combined that with the pre-made green screen cutout version of the Wolfhard clip, repurposing it for their own jokes and memes.
The trend combines two super popular themes on TikTok: clever transitions and Stranger Things.
In TikToks, transitions are used to cut from one part of the video to the next in a way that minimally disrupts the visuals. Sometimes people will use a dance or a hand gesture to make a smooth transition or move the camera in special way, but this time people used the Wolfhard video to signal a transition.
The Duffer brothers’ sci-fi thriller series has inspired numerous major trends on the app. In summer 2022, a song that remixed Joseph Quinn screaming “Chrissy wake up” went viral on TikTok and was used in over 35,000 videos. Another sound of Millie Bobby Brown shouting “You are like papa!” similarly blew up and became a meme. Like anime, Stranger Things-adjacent content has always formed a foundational part of TikTok’s meme culture, so it feels appropriate that Wolfhard is popping on the platform.