Production on the fourth season of Stranger Things was halted due to the pandemic back in March 2020, like so many other series. Luckily, filming started back up again in late September — which means that we’re going to get more from the Upside Down when the series returns in 2021.
But what is the new season going to be about, and when is it actually going to premiere? Read on as we outline everything we know about Season 4 of the Netflix hit.
hop told us to leave the door open 3 inches…you’re welcome pic.twitter.com/hfeprJIXpF
— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) March 3, 2020
Season 3, which saw our favorite Hawkins, Indiana residents spend their summer like they spend the other seasons — defeating evil forces from another dimension, raising inter-dimensional beasts, and going to the mall — ended on quite a cliffhanger.
Spoiler alert (though why are you reading this article about Season 4 if you didn’t watch Season 3?): Although beloved police chief/foster dad Hopper (David Harbour) appeared to die sacrificing himself for the greater good at the end of the third season, Harbour is definitely returning to the series. The official Stranger Things Twitter account posted a video after filming began (way back in the beginning of March B.C. — before coronavirus), and Harbour’s face was the first to pop up (sporting a newly shaved head).
Also coming back: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, and Sadie Sink as the core group of friends; Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, and Maya Hawke as the teens; Winona Ryder, Harbour, Cara Buono, and newly promoted series regular Brett Gelman as the adults; plus Priah Ferguson as Lucas’ precocious little sister.
Who won’t be back: Billy, that lovely d-bag who proved his heart was good after all when he sacrificed himself to stop the Mind Flayer that was possessing his body all throughout the third season. Alexi, a.k.a. Hopper’s Russian hostage who was tragically killed, is also not likely to return (though we would not be mad if that Slurpee-lover popped up again somehow).
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While it appeared that Hopper was incinerated in the Season 3 finale when Joyce (Ryder) closed the gateway to the Upside Down that was hidden in the Russian bunker underneath the Starcourt Mall (with his approval, of course — it was the only way to ensure the safety of Eleven and the town of Hawkins), things might not have gone down the way it seemed. A mid-credits sequence in the finale showed two guards inside a Russian prison taking a prisoner from his cell to feed to a Demogorgon, making sure he was “not the American.”
But after Harbour confirmed his return with a Valentine’s Day video featuring Hopper working on a railroad track in a snowy Russian gulag, series creators Matt and Ross Duffer confirmed that Hopper is the American in question.
“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 confirmed in a press release. “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.”
how it started how it's going pic.twitter.com/ylNmU2sGRu
— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) November 6, 2020
Back in Hawkins, it appears the kids might be getting back into Dungeons and Dragons, as some of the footage released via the official social media accounts shows dice rolling and Keery carrying a flag for the “Hellfire Club” that includes some twenty-sided dice. Oh, and by the way, “The Hellfire Club” is the title of the first episode.
The title of the second episode, per the official Stranger Things writers’ Twitter, is “Tick Tok Mr. Clock,” while the third is titled “You Snooze You Lose.” The image of a clock appears in several social media posts, so will likely be very important to the season’s plot.
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(Photo by Netflix)
A bunch of new characters are joining the fray, including:
meanwhile in the upside down… pic.twitter.com/BtPlMjy0pS
— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) October 1, 2020
Filming had only been underway for about a month when the COVID-19 pandemic cut production short, but it resumed again at the very end of September. Needless to say, the show will certainly not be back on the air until the latter half of 2021 at the earliest, and since the seasons typically come out around the time of year when they take place — i.e. Season 2 took place around Halloween and was released in October, Season 3 took place over summer break and came out around the 4th of July — the fact that the upcoming season takes place during the school year (and, judging from social media clues, in the fall) means it is likely Season 4 will come out in the fall of 2021.
There had been plenty of speculation that the fourth season of Stranger Things would be the last — especially since the young actors definitely don’t look like middle schoolers anymore. But in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ross Duffer said that the story isn’t wrapping up just yet.
“Season 4 won’t be the end,” he said. “We know what the end is, and we know when it is. [The pandemic-induced shut-down] 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.”