Stranger Things season 5: everything we know so far

The logo for Stranger Things 5.
Wikipedia/Netflix

After one of the great cliffhangers in the show’s history, fans are eager to gather every detail about Stranger Things 5. Understandably, season 5, the finale of Netflix’s Stranger Things, is now one of television’s most highly anticipated events. Since Vecna succeeded in tearing open a massive gate to the Upside Down, audiences now expect the heroes of Hawkins to engage in an epic final battle against the evil psychic and his army of monsters.

At this point, details regarding the season to end all seasons have been scarce, and the world likely won’t get to see the show’s last episodes for quite a while. In the meantime, here’s everything that has been revealed and should be expected from Stranger Things 5.

Stranger Things season 5 release date

On February 1, Netflix announced its series and film slate for 2024. Notably absent from the list was Stranger Things season 5. The final season of the hit series will not air until 2025. Due to the show’s use of VFX and cinematic qualities, a 2024 release was never in the cards.

Due to the Hollywood labor strikes, Stranger Things season 5 has been significantly delayed. Production was due to start in May 2023 for a potential 2024 release. However, the work stoppages forced the show to pause all activities. After a lengthy hiatus, production on season 5 began in January 2024.

Principal photography seems like it will last until the end of this year, with the wrap date rumored to be December 22. According to Millie Bobby Brown, as of March 10, 2024, there are nine months of filming left.

Will Stranger Things season 5 get a theatrical release?

While the season’s premiere date is still unknown, it has been rumored that the first episode will be shown in theaters, just like how the season 4 finale got a theatrical screening. Considering the epic plot and scope of said finale, this venue implies audiences will get a cinematic treat right out of the gate.

Stranger Things season 5 cast

Eddie in "Stranger Things."
Netflix

Season 4 spent a lot of time introducing a variety of new characters like Eddie, Argyle, Dmitri, Yuri, Vecna, and Victor Creel, to name a few. This all contributed to the season’s extraordinarily long runtime, which many audiences took issue with.

Fortunately, the Duffers revealed on Netflix Geeked that the fifth season will not bring in any new players to join the war for Hawkins, leaving more time for the show to focus on the original cast and developing their characters. It will also give audiences a break from the show’s habit of introducing lovable characters and quickly killing them off. We’re likely going to see all of the originals at some point, but here’s a quick breakdown of who’s still in play:

  • Eleven/Jane Hopper — played by Millie Bobby Brown

  • Mike Wheeler — played by Finn Wolfhard

  • Will Byers — played by Noah Schnapp

  • Dustin Henderson — played by Gaten Matarazzo

  • Lucas Sinclair — played by Caleb McLaughlin

  • Max Mayfield — played by Sadie Sink

  • Steve Harrington — played by Joe Keery

  • Nancy Wheeler — played by Natalia Dyer

  • Johnathan Byers — played by Charlie Heaton

  • Robin Buckley — played by Maya Hawke

  • Jim Hopper — played by David Harbour

  • Joyce Byers — played by Winona Ryder

  • Murray Bauman — played by Brett Gelman

  • Vecna/Henry Creel/One — played by Jamie Campbell Bower

So, no instant fan favorites will be introduced this season. The focus will be solely on the originals, which is certainly a welcome move for the final season. Of course, there may or may not be a cameo — through a flashback or something — of Joseph Quinn’s Eddie Munson, who did perish last season in a glorious battle of metal and blood. When asked whether or not Eddie will appear, Quinn said, “I do know [the answer], but I’m not telling you.”

Nevertheless, it was revealed by Netflix Tudum that The Terminator actor Linda Hamilton has been cast in the next season, but whether or not her role is a minor one remains to be seen. This is another case of the show casting iconic ’80s actors, as it had previously brought in names like Sean Astin, Paul Reiser, Cary Elwes, and Robert Englund.

As for newcomer Argyle, actor Eduardo Franco stated in a YouTube channel interview with Steve Varley that he doesn’t think his character will return. “It’s nice to hear that there’s some kind of concern or something, you know what I mean? But I’ve never, I never got a phone call, so I think, yeah, I think that’s it,” he said.

It is also worth mentioning that, at this point, actor Noah Schnapp will remain in the show, despite calls for the show to be boycotted following the video of him smiling with people handing out “Zionism is sexy” and “Hamas is ISIS” stickers in the wake of the 2023 Israel-Hamas war.

However, one character may actually get recast: Mike and Nancy’s little sister, Holly. For the show’s first four seasons, Holly has been played by twins Anniston and Tinsley Price. But now, rumors say that Evil Dead Rise actor Nell Fisher will portray her in the new season, implying the character will have a much larger role requiring Fisher’s talents.

Is Stranger Things 5 Linda Hamilton’s final role?

Linda Hamilton in Resident Alien.
Universal Content Productions

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Linda Hamilton revealed that she was contemplating retiring from acting when she was approached for her role in Stranger Things season 5. Hamilton cited physical pain as the reason why she considered walking away from it all. But it turns out that her agent made the choice for her.

“I was getting ready to do season 3 of Resident Alien. I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t even know if I’m going to get there. I hurt.’ (Laughs.) And he’s like, ‘Oh, you don’t mean that.’ When I said retirement, cut to two weeks or so later, Stranger Things called him and said, ‘Is Linda Hamilton available from June to June?’ And he went, ‘Yes.’ He didn’t even ask me.”

Hamilton’s role in Stranger Things season 5 hasn’t been revealed yet, but she was signed on as a recurring cast member.  And if Hamilton had to set aside a full year for that season, it suggests that her role is bigger than a mere guest appearance.

As for her future in acting, Hamilton said “I’d come out of retirement to do [Stranger Things], yeah. And I think that’s going to give me another 15 minutes with a new audience, which is cool … I’m really happy. I’m really happy with the work I’m getting now. It’s not just Resident Alien and Stranger Things. I’m getting some good movie roles that allow me to not be the military person. I really just love the challenge. I just love acting.”

The cast negotiated a pay raise for season 5

Characters from Stranger Things season 4 stand ready to attack Vecna.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Given the enormous success of Stranger Things, it only makes sense that members of the core ensemble should be paid handsomely for their work on the show. According to reporting in Puck News, these pay raises were separated into three tiers.

Winona Ryder and David Harbour are supposed to be paid $9.5 million for the season. Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, and Sadie Sink will make a little over $7 million for the season. Series regulars such as Natalia Dyer, Maya Hawke, Charlie Heaton, and Joe Keery will make $6 million for the final season.

The show is casting for a few minor roles

The cast of Stranger Things in the lab.
Netflix

In addition to all of the core cast members returning for season 5, the show is also casting for a couple of smaller roles as part of the new season. Among those who are being cast for the season are a number of army or military personnel (which makes sense given Vecna’s takeover of Hawkins) and a couple of 8- to 10-year-old kids. A description for one of those kids reads: “[DEREK] Character is portrayed as 8-10yo, male, any ethnicity, overweight. An outsider with no friends, he is rude to adults — and a bully to those his age.”

Stranger Things season 5 plot

With the major questions out of the way, let’s discuss some of the other details we know or that the showrunners have confirmed.

Stranger Things season 5 will have a time jump

Vecna's grandfather clock in "Stranger Things."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

According to Screen Rant, like the show’s previous seasons, season 5 will begin quite some time after the fourth ended. One might assume that the show will pick up after season 4’s shocking cliffhanger, but the show’s creators understandably want more time to pass, given that most of the cast is still maturing and that the last two seasons took two to three years to complete.

The show has made casting calls requesting vintage cars from 1988, implying that season 5 will take place two years after the previous one ended. However, the show will reportedly jump from 1987 to 1988, which means it will start at least a year after season 4.

This time jump could have the series return to Hawkins long after the residents have evacuated the town, which could become overrun by Vecna’s forces from the Upside Down. However, who wouldn’t want to see the chaos unleashed on the invasion’s first day in the vein of A Quiet Place: Part Two?

Season 5 will take place entirely in Hawkins

A daytime view of the destruction in Hawkins, Indiana, from the end of Stranger Things season 4.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Season 4 of Stranger Things proved to be the show’s biggest yet in terms of scope. It followed the heroes living separately from each other and traveling through Hawkins, California, Russia, and even the Upside Down. In contrast, the final season will primarily follow the cast in Hawkins and the Upside Down, with the protagonists and the military reportedly trying to prevent both worlds from merging.

While that may not sound like anything new, the Upside Down did seep through the giant Gate that ripped through Hawkins, so audiences may see the town turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland warped by the alternate realm. Photos on X revealed that an Upside Down version of Hawkins Lab is being built for the next season, implying that Vecna will turn his former prison on Earth into his new fortress.

Ross Duffer shared set photos on Instagram, revealing a shot of Castle Byers, the childhood fort that Will tore down in season 3. There are also shots of Hopper in what looks like the Nina Project facility, where Dr. Brenner helped Eleven regain her powers and unlock her repressed memories of Vecna in season 4. There have even been reports of filming taking place in May and June at the Creel House, Vecna’s childhood home and subsequent base of operations within the Upside Down.

Also, some of the cast and crew were previously spotted filming scenes at a radio station set. The context of these scenes is unknown, but radio devices have been crucial in previous seasons, from the kids’ signature walkie-talkies to Eleven using radio to focus her telepathic powers.

Joyriding into the Upside Down?

More recently, leaked set photos and previs shots from the production suggest that a thrilling and flashy scene will occur in Steve Harrington’s car. The orange lights seen in the latter imply that Jonathan and Nancy’s team will actually drive into the Upside Down.

Will plays a greater role in season 5

Will Byers sits on a couch in season 4 of Stranger Things.
Netflix / Netflix

Will Byers played an important part in the show’s first two seasons, having been the first person to be dragged into the Upside Down and come back alive. Though the previous two seasons explored Will’s isolation from his friends and his closeted sexuality, he has very much taken a back seat from the rest of the group. However, Matt Duffer revealed to Collider that season 5 will have a strong focus on Will and show him “come into his own.” Rumors even claim he will have a love interest.

Will has long shared a psychic connection with Vecna and the Upside Down’s hive mind, giving him the ability to sense their presence and activity. This power could be crucial to his role in the show’s final episodes, and it could even become the key to stopping Vecna once and for all. Since the show began with Will’s disappearance, it’s only fair that it ends with him getting the spotlight.

Will also has a new haircut. In photos shared to Ross Duffer’s Instagram to commemorate Will’s birthday on March 22, Schnapp’s bowl cut in season 4 has been replaced with shaggy bangs for season 5. The second photo appears to be a flashback of an old Will lying next to a young Will in Castle Byers.

Cut season 2 content will be in Stranger Things season 5

Stranger Things season 2 Thessalhydra
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In an article by Netflix Tudum, the Duffer Brothers have revealed that the final season will use a lot of leftover ideas that they came up with for season 2. That alone has significant implications. The series’ second season shows Will struggling to live his life after returning from the Upside Down as he becomes possessed by the Mind Flayer and, therefore, Vecna. Perhaps the latter will try to possess Will once more after his body was wounded in the season 4 finale.

These reports do fit with rumors that the heroes will explore the Upside Down tunnels that were formed beneath Hawkins in season 2. Though the Gate that created them may have been closed, the new portal that tore through the town in season 4 will likely reintroduce these tunnels.

The second season also depicts Eleven exploring her past and reuniting with her old friend from Hawkins Lab, Kali. As a result, the final season may show Will once again being overcome by Vecna’s influence, and Eleven may team up with Kali one last time to save Hawkins and close the Gate once and for all.

The finale is going to be emotional

Eleven and the gang from Stranger Things Season 3.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While talking to The Hollywood Reporter, the Duffer Brothers and executive producer Shawn Levy made it clear that the season’s storyline is going to be an emotional rollercoaster of a ride. “We did get our executives to cry, which I felt was a good sign that these executives were crying.”

Levy also made it clear the story will center on the beloved characters. “Season five is already so clearly taking care of these stories of the characters because that’s always been the lifeblood of Stranger Things.”

Another little tidbit they shared is that the theme, tone, and experience would go full circle, meaning the fifth season will be more reminiscent of the show’s earlier seasons, just on a bigger scale. Whatever the case may be, we’re excited, and we can’t wait.

Will there be any new monsters?

The Spider Monster in "Stranger Things."
Netflix / Netflix

Each season of the show has introduced a new breed of monster from the Upside Down, with the fourth giving audiences the flying Demobats. If the next season follows this pattern, Vecna could pull out all the stops and introduce some new creatures to attack Hawkins. Nancy did have a vision of a “giant monster with a gaping mouth” leading Vecna’s army of monsters. While she could be referring to the Mind Flayer (as it fits this description of the Spider Monster in season 3), Comic Book Resources theorized that this mystery monster is actually the dreaded Thessalhydra.

In the world of Dungeons and Dragons, the Thessalhydra is a large, reptilian creature with eight heads akin to a hydra, all connected to an enormous mouth. This creature is presumably the one that was roaring and causing earthquakes in the Upside Down in season 4. The season 1 finale did show the boys fighting against the beast in their DnD campaign, so just like with the Demogorgon, this seemingly small scene could have foreshadowed their greatest battle yet.

How many episodes will be in Stranger Things season 5?

The cast of Stranger Things season 4.
Netflix / Netflix

Eight episodes have been confirmed for the show’s upcoming season, with the first episode titled The Crawl. But according to insider Jeff Sneider, subsequent episodes in the season are titled The Vanishing of [Spoiler] Wheeler, The Turbow Trap (this one may instead be The Turnbow Trap), Sorcerer, Shock Jock, and Escape From Camazotz, in that order.

The sixth episode’s title says a lot, as Camazotz is the name of a notorious creature from Dungeons & Dragons. As a god of bats and evil, Camazotz is a bloodthirsty predator who commands an army of bats and spreads disease. This character is very similar to Vecna, who describes himself as “a predator, but for good,” and controls a swarm of flying Demobats. However, Camazotz could either be the name of Vecna’s new lair or another bat-like creature the villain will unleash on the heroes.

Also, based on the second episode’s title, it is most likely that Mike and Nancy’s sister Holly will be taken by Vecna in the vein of Carol Anne in Poltergeist (which was a strong inspiration for Stranger Things). This kidnapping might coincide with an alleged hospital set photo revealing that Holly’s mom, Karen, will be admitted after a vicious mauling by a Demogorgon. This would make Mike and Nancy’s war against Vecna even more personal and give an often-overlooked character in the series a greater role in the story.

How long is each episode anyway?

It’s unknown how long each episode will be, but because the first one’s script is rumored to be 100 pages long, this episode may clock in at around 100 minutes. The Duffer Brothers also stated on Happy Sad Confused that the series’ last episode will have a runtime similar to season 4’s two-and-a-half-hour finale.

This will surely make for a big conclusion, and the Duffers have even stated that it will give “all the characters a proper send-off,” describing it as “Return of the King-ish with eight endings.”

If this is the case, some will surely have trouble streaming the entire season in one sitting. Fortunately, this fifth season may be split into two or three volumes like season 4, giving audiences time to process everything.

Who will helm each episode of Stranger Things season 5?

The Duffer Brothers will direct the first episode of the season, and possibly the second and fourth. Likewise, Shawn Levy is rumored to be the director of the season’s sixth episode. Along with the upcoming blockbuster Deadpool & Wolverine, Levy previously directed two episodes in each of the show’s seasons, including the fan-favorite Dear Billy.

Also, director Frank Darabont will reportedly lead the production of two episodes of the new season (possibly the third and fifth episodes). Darabont is famous for helming three acclaimed Stephen King movie adaptations: The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. Since King’s works have heavily influenced the Duffers in the making of Stranger Things, having a director well-versed in adapting such stories seems like a match made in heaven.

Who’s dead or dies in Stranger Things season 5?

Max in "Stranger Things."

Season 4 featured some major character deaths that shocked many audiences, including that of Eleven’s “papa,” Dr. Brenner. Though this isn’t the first time that Brenner appeared to bite the dust in this series, the Duffers confirmed on Happy Sad Confused that the doctor is dead “for real this time.”

Newcomer and fan-favorite Eddie Munson also gave his life fighting off a swarm of Demobats to protect Dustin and Hawkins. While it’s pretty clear he died, actor Joseph Quinn told E! News that he is hoping to return to the show as Eddie, at least for a brief cameo. “I’d be very up for it,” said Quinn. “But yeah, let’s see.”

Lastly, poor Max briefly died after Vecna broke her bones, allowing him to create the giant gate to the Upside Down. Though Eleven restarted her heart, Max was left in a comatose state, leaving her ultimate fate unclear. “I have no idea what’s coming in [season 5] and what that looks like,” Sink said to Deadline. “Max’s storyline is very up in the air ’cause, obviously, she’s in a coma, and Eleven can’t find her in the void. So who knows where she is and what state she’s in?”

As for who might leave the land of the living in Stranger Things season 5, we don’t really know, and there hasn’t been much shared about it. When asked about who dies in the show’s final season, actor Paul Reiser said he can’t tell anyone because he doesn’t know. “If I tell you, a bullet… You see a little red light on me here? There’s somebody watching us at all times,” he joked. Based on this statement, Netflix is hiding spoilers with the kind of strict attention that Marvel Studios displays with its releases. We’re just going to have to wait to find out what happens.

Will Steve survive at the end of season 5?

Steve and Dustin stand next to each other and stare in Stranger Things.
Netflix

There have been fears about Steve’s fate in the final season. Leaked BTS footage of the production at the radio station set seems to reveal Steve will be in danger at some point. Despite this, actor Joe Kerry promised “good things” for his character this season based on what he read about it.

What will we learn about the Upside Down in Stranger Things season 5?

Stranger Things

The Upside Down has long been one of the show’s greatest mysteries. This parallel universe is an almost exact copy of the human world, but season 4 revealed it was not always like this and that it looked the same as Hawkins on the day the series began, the day Eleven first opened the Mothergate.

According to Netflix Life, audiences will finally get some concrete answers about this strange world in the next season. The Duffer Brothers even revealed in an interview that they had a 25-page document outlining the mythology of the series, particularly the Upside Down, since they started making season 1. “The only thing we don’t delve into in [season 4] volume 2 is Upside Down lore,” said Ross Duffer. “We hint at it. I’m sure someone on Reddit will be able to maybe piece it together, but a lot of those answers for the Upside Down, or that is really what the basis of season 5 is about.”

How Stranger Things: The First Shadow connects to season 5

Vecna in "Stranger Things."
Netflix / Netflix

The popular Netflix series recently took over London’s West End with its stage play prequel, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, which follows the origins of Henry Creel and many of the show’s other adult characters. Fans of the show may want to follow this play, as the Duffers said in an email to EW, “The First Shadow definitely gives fans some no-so-subtle teases and hints as to where certain storylines are heading in season 5. It touches on several themes and ideas that we will continue to explore in the show.”

In The First Shadow, it is revealed that Henry first entered the Upside Down (then known as “Dimension X”) when he was living in Nevada as a child. He returns to Earth 12 hours later with his psychic powers and an overwhelming urge to kill, which he gained after being infected by the Mind Flayer. This twist suggests that the Mind Flayer will end up the show’s final antagonist after all, as it likely altered Henry’s memories to make him believe the life story he told the heroes in season 5.

The play also revealed that Bob’s sister, Patty, shared a romantic bond with Henry as a child, allowing him to hold onto his humanity before embracing his darkness and becoming Vecna. Since Patty survives by the end of the play, she could return to Hawkins in season 5 to help stop Vecna once and for all.

Is Stranger Things season 5 going to be the final season?

Joyce – Stranger Things - Winona Ryder | TVs Most Badass Moms
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The Duffer Brothers have confirmed that season 5 will indeed conclude the Stranger Things story and plotline. That means that when it’s all done, Eleven, her friends and companions, the Upside Down, and most characters involved in the story will be sunset — hopefully, with a satisfying wrap-up.

What did David Harbour say about Stranger Things season 5?

When discussing the show’s fifth season in an interview with Discussing Film, David Harbour was upfront about how it needs to be its last season. “I think it’s a great show, even if I wasn’t in it,” he said. “Now we’re almost nine years from filming the first season, and I think it is time for it to end. But it is, of course, very bittersweet.”

The good news is that even though this is the last season of the mainline series, we may see more Netflix shows and content set in the Stranger Things universe. The Duffers have teased a potential spinoff or two. While talking to Variety, they said, “There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things. New mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes.”

Only Finn Wolfhard knows what the Stranger Things spinoff show is about

Gaten Matarazzo, Finn Wolfhard, and Sadie Sink stand in a crowd during a high-school rally in a scene from Stranger Things 4.
Netflix

Apparently, Finn Wolfhard was able to guess the concept for the new show. “Somehow, Finn Wolfhard – who is one crazy smart kid – correctly guessed what it was going to be about. But aside from Finn, no one else knows!”

“We haven’t told anyone the idea yet, much less written it,” they added later on. “We think everyone – including Netflix – will be surprised when they hear the concept, because it’s very, very different.”

Whatever the case may be, with the Duffers, we’re certainly in for a wild ride, so buckle up while you still can.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane and recap some of the story beats, be sure to check out our guide on the ten most important moments in Stranger Things. You might also be interested to see the magic behind the vines and gore of season 4’s VFX.

When does Stranger Things season 5 start filming?

The cast of Stranger Things 5.
Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Following recent reports that Stranger Things 5 was filming last week, Netflix has confirmed that the show’s final season has officially begun production. No other details were revealed, but Netflix did share a picture from the cast table read taken on December 6, 2023, by Atsushi Nishijima. From left to right, you can see Noah Schnapp, Millie Bobby Brown, David Harbour, Winona Ryder, Cara Buono, Joe Keery, Amybeth McNulty, Charlie Heaton, Brett Gelman, Maya Hawke, Natalia Dyer, Jamie Campbell Bower, Priah Ferguson, Linda Hamilton, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Ross Duffer, Matt Duffer, Finn Wolfhard, and in case anyone was worried about the return of Max, Sadie Sink is there as well.

Variety was the first to report that principal photography of Stranger Things season 5 would begin in January. Via social media, Heaton, Keery, Hawke, and Dyer were reportedly on set in Atlanta on January 5. Those performers are notably the teenage heroes of the show, Jonathan, Steve, Robin, and Nancy, all of whom have had experience in the Upside Down by this point.

PopBase tweeted the below image, which shows stars Maya Hawke and Joe Keery getting ready to shoot a scene for Stranger Things‘ upcoming fifth season, on January 9.

On February 17, Ross Duffer shared on Instagram the first glimpse of what Nancy Wheeler will look like in season 5.

The new image doesn’t give much insight into what’s going on with Nancy, but it does suggest some time has elapsed since season 4. Her hair is longer, and she’s wearing clothes made for colder weather. How much of a time jump is there? Maybe Ross will give us more clues in future Instagram posts.

On March 15, Ross Duffer shared a new carousel of photos with the caption, “Weeks 9-10.” The first photo features a picture of Harbour’s Hopper. In previous seasons, Hopper sports a trademark mustache. However, the new photo shows Hopper sporting a new beard. The subsequent photos include a behind-the-scenes look at the Duffers in front of the station wagon, an Alf poster, a set of feathery high heels, a photo of the rainbow room with the caption, “Blood References,” a realtor’s billboard, a sign that reads, “Brozone,” and a fishbowl with marbles that represent the number of days that have been filmed in season 5.

What’s going on with Max in Stranger Things season 5?

Another day, another production image (or two) of Stranger Things season 5 popping up on Twitter. This time, it’s DiscussingFilm that shared two new images from the series, with both featuring series stars Sadie Sink (as Max) and Caleb McLaughlin (as Lucas) in what looks like a pivotal moment.

To refresh everyone’s memory, Max was left in a comatose state the last we saw her in season 4, with some believing she could pass away. Since Sink’s star has risen since that season thanks to her acclaimed supporting turn in The Whale, it seems Max will have a larger role to play in season 5 than originally thought.

A preview of what Stranger Things season 5 will be like

We recently got a sneak peek of what the upcoming season of Stranger Things will be like. On the Twitter account @strangerwriters, which is the official account for the Stranger Things writer room, an anonymous writer shared the following Tweet:

Whoa! While not exactly detailed, the Tweet gives you a reasonable parameter as to what season 5 will be like: epic like season 4 but with a more personal touch like the show’s season 1. This makes sense, as the writers will most likely want to keep up exploring the bigger picture and just how powerful the Upside Down can be in the final season. If you remember, season 4 had more monsters, more characters, and more of a detailed backstory about Eleven, the origins of Vecna, and how the Upside Down came to be in Hawkins.

Because this is the last season, the writers also want to return to what made the show so special: a tight focus on the four friends — Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will — and how their bond helped those around them (Joyce, Sheriff Hopper, Eleven, Nancy, Jonathan). With season 4’s finale leaving everyone back in Hawkins, it makes sense to return to the original season’s tight focus on those characters.

One of the actors happy to return to Hawkins is Wolfhard, who spent the majority of season 4 away from Dustin, Lucas, and Will. When he watched season 4, Wolfhard was “jealous” of the scenes in Hawkins, so he’s happy that the core group of characters will be together in season 5.

Even when I finally watched the show, my favorite part was watching the other guys in Hawkins. I just liked that storyline so much,” Wolfhard told The Hollywood Reporter. “So, yeah, not being around everyone all the time was definitely a bummer about filming 4, but 5 is the opposite. We’re all together all the time.”

As for Eleven, Millie Bobby Brown said that, despite not knowing how the series ends, she saw her character’s ending written on the directors’ whiteboard, which left her stunned and walking away very slowly. One can only imagine what kind of conclusion would leave her so shocked. Nevertheless, Brown hyped up the fifth season saying the show’s final episodes are “unbelievable.”

Saying goodbye is hard, especially for Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin)

Gaten Matarazzo Talks Stranger Things' Final Season and Joining the Cast of Sweeney Todd (Extended)

With season 5 set to be the show’s last, several stars have voiced their angst regarding its inevitable end. One of them is Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on the show. The actor recently stopped by The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to promote his new Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Of course, Fallon couldn’t resist asking about Stranger Things, and Gaten was more than happy to share his somewhat sad feelings about the show’s end.

Gaten was recently seen on social media shooting a scene in which Dustin seems to be visiting Eddie’s tombstone, which is vandalized in a likely reference to 1976’s Carrie. Without a doubt, this looks to be the setup for an emotional final arc for Gaten’s iconic character.

Don’t worry … it’s not all a game

The game of D&D that started it all | Stranger Things

During an interview with Metro on the red carpet for the new Stranger Things play in London, the Duffer Brothers went on record to debunk a popular fan theory about the show’s ending. The theory claims that the show will turn out to be a long and elaborate D&D game played by the show’s main characters, thus explaining the many connections between the plot and the popular role-playing game.

However, the Duffer Brothers have outright denied the theory, with Matt replying with a firm “no” to the suggestion. Ross added that “would be the equivalent of ‘that’s all a dream.'” The siblings reiterated that “(they’ve) known where (they’ve) been going for a while” and “feel comfortable with it.” Fans must wait a while longer to see their ending, but at least they can rest easy knowing it won’t be a cop-out.

But the cast is still having fun

Behind-the-scenes photos show the cast and crew of the show having a blast filming the final season. After nearly spending a decade working and growing up together, it’s no wonder everyone’s having the time of their lives as they near the end of the show. Luckily, Netflix is allegedly making a BTS documentary on the fifth season, so fans may be able to get a better glimpse of all the camaraderie.