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Stranger Things season 5: what we know so far

Stranger Things season 5: key info

– Fifth season will be the mainline show’s final entry
– No release date yet
– First episode title revealed in November
– Filming will begin in 2023
– Core cast set to return
– Major characters could die
– Will answer lingering questions about the Upside Down
– Spin-off and stage play projects in the works

Stranger Things season 5 is an Upside Down-based dream (or nightmare, depending on how you look at things) right now.

One of the best Netflix shows‘ last season won’t be with us until 2024 at the very earliest, so it’ll be a year (and the rest) before we’re reunited with the Hawkins gang for the fifth and final time.

Still, there’s plenty of reading up for you to do on Stranger Things 5 before it launches on Netflix. Below, we’ve compiled everything worth knowing about the fantasy horror series, including its cast and plot details, the franchise’s future, and when it might be released. And that’s before we get onto four big theories we have about Stranger Things season 5’s first episode title and the fact it’ll be the show’s deadliest season yet.

Full spoilers follow for Stranger Things season 4, while potential spoilers for season 5 are also incoming. You have been warned.

Stranger Things season 5 release date: what we know

Hopper, Joyce, Murray and Dmitri enter a barn and stare at someone off screen in Stranger Things season 4

When will Stranger Things season 5 launch on Netflix? (Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things season 5 doesn’t have a release date. Work on the scripts and episodic structuring began in August, but it wasn’t until November 7 that we received any major updates on how its development was going.

So, what was the big reveal? That Stranger Things 5’s first episode is titled The Crawl, and we have four big theories on what it could mean for the series.

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Enough of that title talk, though – when is Stranger Things 5 going to be released?

Not until 2024 at the earliest. In a Netflix Queue profile piece on star Millie Bobby Brown, it was revealed that Stranger Things season 5 will begin filming sometime in 2023. That tallies with what Brown’s fellow star David Harbour previously told Collider and GQ magazine. Meanwhile, a What’s on Netflix report suggests principal photography might start in May 2023. If the last of those claims is true, don’t expect to see the show’s final season air much before mid-2024.

As for the length of season 5’s episodes, the Duffers plan to make them shorter than season 4’s entries. Depending on how the Duffers want to wrap up the mainline show’s story, though, the length of Stranger Things 5’s episodes will be dictated by how long the scripts are.

Stranger Things season 5 cast

Eleven stands in the corridor of the subterranean Nina Project in Stranger Things 4

Eleven will definitely be back for Stranger Things 5. (Image credit: Netflix)

There’s no official confirmation on who’s returning but, based on how season 4 ended, here’s who we expect to see:

  • Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
  • Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
  • David Harbour as Jim Hopper
  • Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler
  • Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson
  • Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair
  • Noah Schnapp as Will Byers
  • Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield
  • Joe Keery as Steve Harrington
  • Natalie Dyer as Nancy Wheeler
  • Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers
  • Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley
  • Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman
  • Priah Ferguson as Erica Sinclair
  • Eduardo Franco as Argyle

Of the above, Sadie Sink’s Max is the most likely candidate to die in season 5. Following her near-fatal encounter with Vecna in Stranger Things season 4’s finale, Max is in a medically-induced coma in Hawkins Hospital. When Eleven went looking for Max in the Void, she couldn’t find her, so nobody knows if Max will wake up.

Speaking after season 4’s final episode, Sink confirmed she’s as much in the dark as fans are about Max’s fate. We still expect Max to appear in the final season – in what capacity, though, is unclear.

Other supporting characters could feature in Stranger Things season 5. Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono), Ted Wheeler (Joe Chrest), Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sullivan (Sherman Augustus), Vickie (Amybeth McNulty), and Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) might appear, though how involved they’ll be is up for debate. However, Dmitri Antonov (Tom Wlaschiha) and Yuri Ismaylov (Nikola Duricko) aren’t likely to return.

Doctor Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) was left handcuffed to a pipe in the subterranean Nina Project, while Vecna (Jamie Campbell-Bower) had disappeared after he was severely injured by Nancy, Steve, and Robin. We’d expect both to return – they’re too important not to – but we’re still waiting for Netflix’s official confirmation.

Eddie Munson (Joe Quinn) won’t be back. He died at the hands of the Upside Down’s demo-bats in season 4 episode 9, so don’t expect Quinn to return. Executive producer Shawn Levy doubled down on Eddie’s journey ending, too telling The Hollywood Reporter it was “highly unlikely” Eddie would be back in some guise.

Don’t expect new characters to be introduced in Stranger Things season 5, either. The Duffer brothers told IndieWire that they only introduce new individuals to the franchise if they’re going to be “integral to the narrative”. And, with the fifth season primarily focusing on the core cast, the Duffers don’t think it’s likely that new characters will be included.

Stranger Things season 5 plot

The Hawkins gang investigate Creel House, one of the main locations in Stranger Things season 4

Stranger Things season 5 has plenty of plot threads to wrap up. (Image credit: Netflix)

There’s very little information on Stranger Things season 5’s plot. However, speaking during the Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 unlocked episode, the Duffer brothers have teased what to expect.

“It’s going to be unlike any other season,” Matt Duffer suggested. “We’re starting season 5 and things are already going. In the way Max was impacted by [season] three and how that impacted her narrative in four, Dustin has been impacted a lot by the death of Eddie, so that’s going to impact his storyline in five. We’re going to see a side of him we’ve not seen before. It’s also going to be like season one on steroids.”

“Our characters are going after Vecna from minute one,” Ross Duffer added. “We have a lot to do, in terms of a few more revelations, and also we need to make sure we give our characters time to make these final arcs.” 

Interestingly, the Duffers revealed that, based on fan feedback from the fourth season, they rewrote parts of season 5’s story outline (per Netflix Tudum), which slightly alters the series’ ending. Meanwhile, based on season 4’s ending, there are storylines Stranger Things season 5 will need to tie up to give the series a satisfying conclusion.

For starters, our heroes are expected to band together and try to stop Vecna and the Upside Down once and for all. The show’s major players were all back in Hawkins by the time season 4’s credits rolled so, while they might break into smaller groups cover as much ground as possible, they’re still effectively working together.

Based on the Duffer brothers’ comments on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, that seems likely. The siblings have strongly suggested that Stranger Things season 5 will go back to the show’s roots – “We want to go back to a lot things we did in season 1 and a lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season 1,” Matt Duffer said – and bring its protagonists together in a final fight with Vecna and the Mind Flayer.

Potential Stranger Things season 5 spoilers follow from now on.

Vecna stares directly into the camera with a menacingly look on his face in Stranger Things season 4

Vecna should return as the big bad in Stranger Things season 5. (Image credit: Netflix)

Speaking of Vecna, the last we saw of Henry Creel/One/Vecna, he’d been severely injured by Nancy, Steve, and Robin at Creel House. When the trio leave to locate his body, though, Vecna is gone.

Vecna surely survived and likely crawled away to recover. Technically, he was victorious at the end of season 4, too – Max died for a whole minute following his attack, enabling four major gates to the Upside Down to converge in the center of Hawkins, and allowing it to merge with the real world. So Vecna will want to finish what he started – i.e. destroying earth and replacing it with the Upside Down.

Interestingly, TikTok user colt40tyfive has come up with a theory that may tie Karen Wheeler to Vecna. Based on Karen’s season 4 character poster – which contains a silhouette of Creel House – coly40tyfive thinks Karen is none other than Vecna’s sister, aka Alice Creel. It’s a cool theory, but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s true.

And what of Vecna/The Mind Flayer’s most notable victim, aka Will Byers? In a Vogue interview, actor Noah Schnapp dropped a big hint at where Will’s story will go in season 5, saying: “There’s a lot in store for Will. It ties back to where it begins, full circle. I’m excited for fans to see where we wrap his character. I think they’ll be really pleased, but also shocked.”

As for Max, nobody knows what condition she’ll be in when season 5 arrives. We’ve suggested that Max’s story could go one of two ways in Stranger Things season 5 and, based on Sink’s comments, one sounds more likely than the other. Here’s hoping she pulls through to play an integral part in the final showdown with Vecna.

Speaking of character deaths, the cast and crew have thoughts on who may perish in the show’s final season.

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Eleven and Mike seem like they’ll make it through Stranger Things season 5’s endgame and get their happy ending. Hopper, Joyce, and Will have all been through a lot (much like Eleven), so we suspect they’ll make it out alive. Everyone else, though, is fair game as far as we’re concerned. Based on other comments the Duffers have made, season 5 is going to be the deadliest yet, which clearly means a death or five (in our view, anyway).

Brown has since said she doesn’t actually want Eleven to die, despite initially joking that she’d like to see it happen. Meanwhile, Maya Hawke, who plays Robin, told NME she’d “love to die and get my hero’s moment” in season 5.

Natalie Dyer hopes Nancy will live to tell the tale, telling Cosmopolitan: “I hope she has a happy ending. I hope they all make it and they’re not too traumatized after this. It’s hard, but I really do put my trust in the Duffers to just come up with something way better than I ever could even fathom.”

Teasing what else fans can expect from the final season, Matt Duffer told TVLine that season 5 will likely feature a time jump, before revealing (via the Happy Sad Confused podcast) that it’ll get right into the thick of the action from the get-go. That’s before a tense and captivating final few episodes, which he describes as being Lord of the Rings-esque in tone.

“It [the season 5 finale] is going to be Return of the King-ish with eight endings,” he said. “If you just watch Return of the King, it feels like too many endings. [But] if you watch all of them back-to-back, which I’ve done multiple times, it’s exactly right. If it were any shorter, it would feel cheap and wrong.”

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There are other subplots that Stranger Things season 5 needs to wrap up. 

Lieutenant Colonel Sullivan is surely still tracking Eleven, believing she’s responsible for the deaths in and around Hawkins. Meanwhile, we need to see Eddie’s death impacts the usually jovial Dustin – Gaten Matarazzo teasing in the season 4 volume 2 unlocked episode that “it’s going to be rough for him to find a light at the end of the tunnel”.

Additionally, we need to know why the Upside Down is seemingly stuck in 1984. And we still don’t have all the answers about what the Upside Down is, why it’s spookier and more dingy than the realm Henry Creel first traveled to, or what The Shadow/Mind Flayer is exactly. Speaking on the season 4 volume 2 unlocked episode, Ross Duffer said those queries will be answered.

Then there’s the loose end concerning number eight – aka Kali Prasad. We haven’t seen Kali since season 2 and, unlike every other test subject under Doctor Brenner’s supervision (who had telekinetic abilities), she had different powers. Why was she the odd one out? And will we ever see her again? It’s possible that Stranger Things 5 won’t answer these questions. After all, the Duffers have confirmed (via Variety) that they’ve retconned specific plot points from earlier seasons in later instalments, so maybe Kali’s story is just one of those lingering mysteries we’ll never get closure on.

Stranger Things season 5 trailer

Max levitates as she battles Vecna for her mind and soul in Stranger Things season 4

Waiting on that Stranger Things season 5 trailer like… (Image credit: Netflix)

There’s no trailer yet. Once one is released, we’ll update this section.

The future of Stranger Things

A group of some of Stranger Things' main cast stare at something off screen in season 4 volume 1

There’s more Stranger Things content on the way. (Image credit: Tina Rowden/Netflix)

Stranger Things season 5 will bring the curtain down on the show’s main story. Chatting to ScreenRant, executive producer Shawn Levy said: “We never wanted to run on fumes and we wanted to only tell as much story as the brothers saw and feel with clarity. So it’s been clear for a while that they know exactly where we’re headed and this is the arc. We wouldn’t want to stick around for one moment beyond that vision and the clarity of that voice.”

However, there are other Stranger Things projects in the works at Upside Down Pictures, aka the Duffer brothers’ recently formed production company.

Upside Down Pictures will develop movies and TV shows exclusively for Netflix, including a new live-action Death Note project, which fans of the iconic manga don’t want to happen. Alongside that TV adaptation and other non-Stranger Things productions, Netflix confirmed that two Stranger Things spin-off projects were also in the works.

First, a stage play – set in the world and mythology of Stranger Things – is coming. It’ll be produced by multi-award winning duo Sonia Friedman and Stephen Daldry, whose works include The Crown and Billy Elliot, alongside Netflix. Daldry has also been installed as the stage play’s director.

Meanwhile, a Stranger Things spin-off is in the early stages of development. There’s no concrete information about it, but Netflix states that it’ll be an “original idea” from the Duffer brothers, and we don’t expect the spin-off project to feature characters from the mainline series. Check out our thoughts on five spin-off ideas that could work.

For more Stranger Things-based content, check out these five shows that you should watch while we wait for season 5’s arrival.

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