Report: Netflix Pulls the Plug on ‘Stranger Things 5’ Return for 2025, Scraps Release

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Stranger Things

Credit: Netflix

Stranger Things 5 has a few possible drop dates, and one of the options is less than ideal.

A young woman dramatically expressing anger or frustration with an outstretched hand toward the camera, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers in a sunny, outdoor setting.
Credit: Netflix

The Stranger Things Phenomenon

Years ago, the Duffer brothers created a world in the Upside Down that has grown into one of the largest fandoms in the world. 

This wildly popular Netflix series has taken the world by storm, captivating audiences with its blend of 80s nostalgia, science fiction chills, and endearing characters. Since its premiere in 2016, Stranger Things has become a cultural phenomenon, with fans eagerly awaiting each new season to revisit the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, and its group of intrepid heroes.

We’ve come to know and love the core cast, a group of misfit kids thrown together by extraordinary circumstances. Millie Bobby Brown leads the charge as Eleven, a mysterious young girl with telekinetic powers. Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Noah Schnapp portray her loyal friends, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will – a group who navigate the trials of adolescence alongside battling interdimensional threats. Winona Ryder shines as Joyce Byers, Will’s determined mother, with David Harbour providing a gruff yet lovable presence as Sheriff Hopper.

The first three seasons saw our heroes confront the horrors of the Upside Down, a terrifying alternate dimension lurking beneath Hawkins. They battled monstrous creatures like the Demogorgon, unraveled government conspiracies involving Hawkins National Laboratory, and grappled with the consequences of Eleven’s powers. Season three culminated in a bittersweet victory, with Hopper seemingly sacrificing himself to close the gate to the Upside Down.

Max and Dustin looking into the Upside Down in 'Stranger Things' Season 4
Credit: Netflix

But as we all know, in Hawkins, things are rarely what they seem.

Season four throws a whole new set of challenges at our heroes. With the group scattered across the country, Eleven grappling with the loss of her powers, and a sinister new threat emerging from the Upside Down with Vecna (AKA Henry Creel), and the multitude of deaths mysteriously ripping through Hawkins, the stakes had never been higher.

While the season ended with Vecna injured, as Will, who has had a connection to him since his visit to the Upside Down in season one, confirmed — Vecna will be back for the final season of the show.

“Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for ‘Stranger Things,'” series creators the Duffer Brothers wrote in a post announcing the final season on X. “At the time, we predicted the story would last four or five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four, but — as you’ll soon see for yourselves — we are now hurtling toward our finale. Season 4 will be the penultimate season; season 5 will be the last.”

 

Work on Stranger Things season five commenced on August 2, 2022, just about a month after the debut of Season four, Volume two. However, production faced a setback due to the writers’ and actors’ strikes in 2023, leading to a suspension. Nevertheless, Netflix announced that production had resumed on January 8, 2024, and is currently ongoing.

Unfortunately, this means it will be at least a year before viewers can return to Hawkins with the gang for the final chapter of this hit series. While no specific release window has been provided, fans are hopeful for a summer 2025 premiere for Stranger Things season five, based on the series’ history. Initially, the plan seemed to be a simultaneous release of all episodes, but with significant delays, another split season, akin to season four, may be in the cards. Confirmation is pending, but as the 2025 premiere approaches, more details about the final season’s release approach are expected to emerge.

Stranger Things 5 has a 2026 Release?!

While there’s no official release date for Stranger Things season five yet (as of May 14, 2024), we can make some educated guesses based on past production timelines.

Season four took roughly 20 months to complete, filming from late September 2020 to September 2021, with post-production extending its release to May 2022. However, factors like the pandemic and potential delays due to the show’s ambitious nature suggest a longer wait for season five.

Considering these factors, a September or October 2025 release might be optimistic. Factoring in the recent strike and the show’s likely grandeur, a more realistic target could be early 2026, according to Forbes, which is the furthest date we have heard yet for a season five release.

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

As we already hinted, Netflix often releases their major shows in multiple parts. Season five could follow suit, with parts released 1-3 months apart, maximizing viewer engagement. An even more segmented release, like the final season of Cobra Kai (three parts), isn’t out of the question. While the split in season four was attributed to production delays, Netflix also utilizes this strategy to maintain viewer subscriptions.

What We Know About Stranger Things 5

For now, Stranger Things fans eager for any glimpse into season 5 can glean a few intriguing details.

The opening lines of the script hint at a chilling atmosphere – cold wind, groaning trees, and a child’s song – setting the stage for the episode titled “Chapter One: The Crawl.” This ominous introduction suggests a continuation of the series’ signature blend of suspense and horror.

Will Byers appears poised to take center stage. Given his unique connection to the Upside Down, his role as a “lynchpin” between the two worlds is likely to be further explored.

Will didn’t have a big presence in season four as most of this season’s focus was on Eleven and Vecna, but it made the big reveal that Will is gay and has feelings for Mike. This, along with Will feeling the presence of the Mind Flayer again at the end of Stranger Things season four, sets him up for a bigger role in season 5, which has now been confirmed, but this is making the series’ past Will failures even worse.

Speaking to Variety, Stranger Things creator Matt Duffer revealed that Will will have a key role in season 5, being what ties “the whole series together”. Duffer added that season five will not only be about exploring Will’s sexuality but also about how Will goes from being the young one to “coming into his own as a young man”.

Noah Schnapp as Will Byers looking scared in the 'Stranger Things' Season 4 finale
Credit: Netflix

In Stranger Things seasons three and four, Will was used to show how much the characters have grown by having him stay pretty much the same. Will has shown a fear of change and growing up, which is understandable after what he went through in the first two seasons, but he has been let down for the majority of the series.

Will’s disappearance is what kicked off the events of Stranger Things, and his recovery and connection to the Upside Down in season 2 were also key to the events of the season, yet Will hasn’t had the right amount of focus and development. Schnapp has brought some of the best performances in the series, yet he has been mostly sidelined except for his central role in season two. If he’s truly as important as to be the one who ties everything together in Stranger Things’ final season, the way the writers failed, Will Byers is made even worse, as they shouldn’t have waited until the end to show how important Will really is and seize Schnapp’s talent.

As mentioned above, the finale of Stranger Things season four hinted at Will still having a connection to the Upside Down and the Mind Flayer, as he felt a tingle on the back of his neck as the Upside Down started to take over the human world. Along with Eleven, Will is the only character who has a direct link to the Upside Down and who survived days in the other dimension, so now that the Upside Down is crossing over to the human realm, Will could be key in stopping this or even tracking Vecna, who is believed to still be alive.

Eleven attacking Vecna in the Upside Down in Stranger Things Halloween Horror Nights 2023
Credit: Netflix

While Eleven is also a human, she was heavily experimented on, while Will is a regular kid who went through the unfortunate situation of being kidnapped and taken to the Upside Down, forming an involuntary connection to the Mind Flayer. Will, then, can be the one who ties all sides of the conflict together: Eleven, the rest of the Hawkins crew (including the adults), Hawkins Lab, and the Upside Down. Unfortunately, Will’s bigger role in Stranger Things season five further fuels theories about him dying in this final season, though at this point, no character is guaranteed to survive.

The Duffer brothers, creators of the series, have hinted at a deeper dive into the Upside Down’s lore. While they previously aimed to maintain an air of mystery surrounding this alternate dimension, fan requests have prompted them to codify this mythology. This suggests a season rich in world-building and answers to long-standing questions about the Upside Down’s origins and nature.

The grandfather clock representing Vecna's Curse from Stranger Things Halloween Horror NIghts 2023
Credit: Netflix

We also know. the show will have some time jumps in it, starting with a one-year time jump to start off the show and deal with the aging cast of kids turned adults, as well as another certain time jump due to Linda Hamilton (Terminator) also being cast to play Eleven alongside Mille Bobby Brown (who will soon marry fiancée Jake Bongiovi).

Finally, the Duffers have acknowledged “last remaining questions” that will be addressed in season five. These lingering mysteries, teased in 2022, promise significant revelations that will shape the final chapter of the Stranger Things saga.

How do you feel about Stranger Things “realistically” being released in 2026? 

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