‘Stranger Things’ Is Returning This December, but Not Everyone’s Coming Back

in Movies & TV

Eleven screaming and using her powers against Vecna in 'Stranger Things' Season 4

Credit: Netflix

Stranger Things (2016) became a global phenomenon after it emerged from the Upside Down in 2016. It’s easily Netflix’s most iconic show and perhaps the biggest melting pot of all things 1980s — at least where science fiction is concerned.

It follows a group of young children in Hawkins, Indiana, who discover that “strange things” are afoot in their hometown, from government conspiracies to missing children, telekinetic powers to portals to a mysterious dimension, and bloodthirsty creatures.

'Stranger Things' cast
Credit: Netflix

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Could Recast Eleven This Year

In a similar fashion to Harry Potter (just as the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, once promised), each season of Stranger Things finds its ensemble a few years older, allowing for more complex characters, relationships, group dynamics, and storylines.

There are now four seasons of Stranger Things, and the most recent is by far the most epic. The Season 4 finale clocks in at over two and a half hours and, as such, feels like a movie event. Unfortunately, though, the major cliff-hanger won’t be followed up for a long time.

Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna in Stranger Things 4
Credit: Netflix

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Is Temporarily Replacing Its Main Character Lineup

While work on the script for the fifth season began last summer, and with shooting planned for May this year, production suddenly came to a halt due to the ongoing WGA (Writer’s Guild of America) strike, at which point Matt and Ross Duffer tweeted that “writing doesn’t start [until] after filming begins”:

Duffers here. Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then — over and out. #wgastrong

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Is Bringing Back a Fan-Favorite Character

Unsurprisingly, this significant delay has caused great disappointment for Stranger Things fans, and now, Season 5 could be years out. However, while the fate of Hawkins hangs in the balance, it’s not all doom and gloom here in the real world.

Fortunately, there are several exciting Stranger Things spinoffs in the works. One of them, which is set to arrive later this year, will rival that epic Season 4 finale, and will undoubtedly keep fans satisfied until Season 5 eventually arrives on Netflix.

Eddie Munson in Stranger Things Season 4
Credit: Netflix

Related: When Is ‘Stranger Things: The First Shadow’ Out In Theaters?

However, don’t expect to see the return of the Stranger Things ensemble: Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke), Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink), Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), and Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp).

With that said, there will be a handful of familiar faces: Jim Hopper, Joyce Byers, Bob Newby, and the villain Henry Creel, who goes on to become the Upside Down’s One/Vecna. But these characters will, of course, be recast for the upcoming Stranger Things installment.

Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

Related: New ‘Stranger Things’ Trailer Hints at Major “Reset” for the Series

Stranger Things: The First Shadow (2023) is a stage production heading to London’s West End this December. It takes place in 1959, which means these characters will be teenagers at the time of the story.

After seeing the first trailer for The First Shadow, though, which seemingly hints at time travel in both the stage show and Season 5, it’s possible some of the younger characters from the 1980s could also show up in 1959.

As per the official website for The First Shadow, here’s the synopsis:


Hawkins, 1959: a regular town with regular worries. Young Jim Hopper’s car won’t start, Bob Newby’s sister won’t take his radio show seriously and Joyce Maldonado just wants to graduate and get the hell out of town. When new student Henry Creel arrives, his family finds that a fresh start isn’t so easy… and the shadows of the past have a very long reach.

Brought to life by a multi-award-winning creative team, who take theatrical storytelling and stagecraft to a whole new dimension, this gripping new adventure will take you right back to the beginning of the Stranger Things story — and may hold the key to the end.

'Stranger Things' cast
Credit: Netflix

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Star Teases Will and Vecna’s Upcoming Battle In Season 5

Now let’s look at all the other Stranger Things spinoffs currently in development.

Upcoming Stranger Things spinoffs

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

Stranger Things: The First Shadow official artwork
Credit: Netflix (via Stranger Things: The First Shadow website)

As we’ve already discussed, Stranger Things: The First Shadow is an upcoming stage production set to premiere on London’s West End later this year. The show will serve as a canonical prequel to the flagship Netflix series, this time taking place in 1959 and focusing on younger versions of characters such as Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper.

Related: “Theatrical” ‘Stranger Things’ Prequel Gets 2023 Release Date and Synopsis

“TMNT x Stranger Things”

TMNT x Stranger Things - the Turtles in the Upside Down
Credit: IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics

The collaborative crossover comic book event, “TMNT x Stranger Things” (2023), from Dark Horse and IDW Publishing, is now on sale. Combining the world of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Stranger Things, the one-off story sees the titular reptiles team up with the Hawkins teens as they battle the forces of the Upside Down in New York City.

Related: Upcoming ‘Stranger Things’ Spin-Off Shares First Look

Stranger Things: Tokyo

TMNT x Stranger Things
Credit: IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics

While the Stranger Things anime series was seemingly confirmed in July last year, with the unconfirmed title Stranger Things: Tokyo floating around in the ether, this project is yet to be properly announced by Netflix or the Duffer brothers. As such, we’re not entirely sure if this spinoff will ever come to fruition.

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Spin-Off Reportedly Gets Title, Synopsis, and More

Stranger Things animated series

BREAKING: 'Stranger Things 4' Coming to Universal Orlando
Credit: edited by Inside The Magic

There is, however, a Stranger Things animated series that has been confirmed. While there’s no title or release date yet, the series is reportedly canon and is being developed by the same studio that gave us Marvel’s What If…? (2021). This may actually turn out to be the same project as the anime spinoff, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Spin-Off Coming to Netflix, Duffer Brothers Reveal

Stranger Things live-action spinoff

David Harbour as Jim Hopper in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

This Stranger Things spinoff is the most exciting one of them all. Another live-action Stranger Things series separate from the main Netflix series is currently being developed. Unfortunately, there’s no release date for this one either, and just like the others, we don’t know what it’s about or whether it will feature any well-known characters.

As per Netflix, here’s the official synopsis for Stranger Things Season 4:

It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time – and navigating the complexities of high school hasn’t made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.

Stranger Things artwork poster
Credit: Netflix

Related: David Harbour Speaks Out on ‘Stranger Things’ Getting “Canceled”

Stranger Things Season 4 stars Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers), David Harbour (Jim Hopper), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven/Jane Hopper), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Joseph Quinn (Eddie Munson), Paul Reiser (Dr. Sam Owens), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Matthew Modine (Papa/Martin Brenner), Maya Hawke (Robin Buckley), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), and Jamie Campbell Bower (Vecna/One/Henry Creel).

Nancy Wheeler in in Stranger Things Season 3 poster
Credit: Netflix

Related: All the ‘Stranger Things’ Characters Ranked (Good Guys Only)

Stranger Things Season 4 is currently streaming on Netflix. Stranger Things: The First Shadow is set to premiere in London’s Phoenix Theater on December 14, 2023.

Are you excited to see more from the world of Stranger Things? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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