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Stranger Things (season 1)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stranger Things (season 1)
Stranger Things season 1.jpg
Promotional poster
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes8
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2
List of Stranger Things episodes

The first season of the American science fiction-horror web television series Stranger Things premiered exclusively via Netflix's web streaming service on July 15, 2016.[1] The series was created by The Duffer Brothers who are also executive producers along with Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen.

The first season stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, and Matthew Modine, with Noah Schnapp and Joe Keery in recurring roles.


The first season begins in November 1983, when researchers at Hawkins National Laboratory open a rift to the "Upside Down", an alternate dimension. A monster from the Upside Down escapes and abducts a boy named Will Byers. His mother, Joyce, and the town's police chief, Jim Hopper, search for Will. At the same time, a young psychokinetic girl called Eleven escapes from the laboratory and assists Will's friends, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, in their own efforts to find Will.[2]

Cast and characters




No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
In November 1983, in a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory in the town of Hawkins, Indiana, a scientist is attacked by an unseen creature. While bicycling home from a Dungeons & Dragons session with his friends, 12-year-old Will Byers encounters the creature and vanishes. The next day, a young girl with a shaved head and wearing a hospital gown steals food from a local diner. The owner, Benny, takes pity on her and feeds her before calling social services. From a tattoo on her arm, he learns that her name is Eleven. A woman posing as a social worker arrives and kills Benny. Armed men search the diner for Eleven, but she escapes. Will's mother Joyce believes she hears Will's voice on a distorted phone call, but her phone short circuits. Will's friends Lucas, Mike, and Dustin search for Will in the woods and find Eleven.
22"Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
The boys bring Eleven to Mike's house, where she sleeps in the basement. The next day, Mike nicknames her "El". She says that "bad people" are looking for her and refuses to meet Mike's parents. Scientists from the laboratory find a substance oozing from the walls of Joyce's home. At Mike's home, Eleven recognizes and points out Will in a photo. Dustin and Lucas want to inform Mike's parents about Eleven, but she uses psychokinesis to stop them. While searching for Will, Mr. Clarke, the boys' science teacher, discovers a scrap of a hospital gown outside the laboratory grounds. Nancy goes with her friend Barb to a party at her boyfriend Steve's house. Will's brother Jonathan investigates the woods where Will went missing. Hearing screaming, he runs to help but finds only Steve, Nancy, and their friends roughhousing around Steve's swimming pool. He secretly photographs them. Barb, left alone by the poolside, vanishes. Joyce receives another call from Will, hears music from his room, and sees something coming through the wall.
33"Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly"Shawn LevyJessica MecklenburgJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Barb wakes up in an empty and decaying pool. She screams for Nancy and attempts to climb out but is dragged down by something unseen. Joyce strings Christmas lights around her home to talk to Will, who can turn them on and off. Hawkins Lab director Dr. Martin Brenner allows Hopper to view the lab's security camera footage. Hopper realizes it is fake. He and his deputies research Hawkins Lab, Brenner, and a woman named Terry Ives who claimed her daughter was taken by Brenner. Eleven has a flashback in which Brenner, whom she calls "Papa", has her put in solitary confinement for refusing to telekinetically harm a cat. Nancy worries about Barb, who is missing. Steve and his friends discover Jonathan's photographs. They destroy them and his camera. Nancy recovers a photo of Barb by the poolside and returns to Steve's house to search for her. Nancy finds Barb's car and sees the creature in the woods. Joyce establishes a code with Will using the lights, which he uses to tell her that he is alive but unsafe. He tells Joyce to run as a creature begins to climb through her wall. Will's apparent body is discovered in the water at a quarry.
44"Chapter Four: The Body"Shawn LevyJustin DobleJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Eleven proves to the boys that Will is still alive by making contact through Mike's walkie-talkie. Joyce goes to the morgue to view the body and refuses to believe it is Will. The boys give Eleven a makeover so they can sneak her into school. Joyce hears Will in her living room wall. Tearing away the wallpaper, she sees him behind a membrane. At school, Eleven uses Mr. Clarke's ham radio to channel Will talking to his mother. Joyce demolishes the wall with an axe but reveals only her front porch. Nancy discovers a figure behind Barb in Jonathan's photo. Jonathan realizes that the figure matches his mother's description of the creature: a humanoid figure with long arms and no face. Nancy tells the police about her missing friend and subsequently admits to her mother that she slept with Steve. When she tells Steve about the police, she is irritated that he cares only about not getting in trouble with his father. Hopper confronts the state trooper who found Will's body and beats him until he admits he was ordered to lie. Hopper goes to the morgue and finds that Will's supposed body is a dummy. He breaks into Hawkins laboratory.
55"Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat"The Duffer BrothersAlison TatlockJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Will's father Lonnie assures Joyce that her experiences are hallucinations. The boys conclude that Will is trapped in an alternative dimension which Eleven calls the Upside Down. Hopper discovers a portal in the basement of the lab. He is knocked out by the lab's guards and wakes at home. He searches his house and finds a hidden microphone. After Will's funeral, the boys ask Mr. Clarke about other dimensions. He tells them that a high-energy spacetime tear could create a passage between dimensions. The deputies inform Hopper that Barb's car was found by the state; Hopper finds the state's involvement suspicious. Positing that a tear in spacetime would disrupt Earth's electromagnetic field, the boys follow their compasses. Eleven remembers being placed in a sensory-deprivation tank to telepathically eavesdrop on a man speaking Russian; while listening, she came across the creature. Scared of encountering the creature again, Eleven redirects the compasses. Lucas notices the distortion and confronts her. Mike defends her, he and Lucas fight, and Eleven telekinetically flings Lucas off Mike. While Dustin and Mike tend to the unconscious Lucas, Eleven disappears. In the woods, Nancy and Jonathan find a wounded deer. The creature drags the deer away, and Nancy and Jonathan follow the trail of blood. Nancy crawls through a passage to the Upside Down and discovers the creature feasting upon the deer. She snaps a twig and draws the creature's attention.
66"Chapter Six: The Monster"The Duffer BrothersJessie Nickson-LopezJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
When she can't get out of the portal by herself, Jonathan pulls Nancy through and saves her from the monster. In her bedroom, she is afraid to be alone and asks Jonathan to stay. Steve sees them together through her bedroom window and assumes they are dating. The next day, Nancy and Jonathan resolve to kill the monster and purchase supplies from an army surplus store. During a fist fight with Steve, Jonathan inadvertently assaults a police officer and is arrested. Joyce and Hopper track down Terry Ives, who is catatonic and tended by her sister Becky. Becky explains that Terry underwent Project MKUltra testing while unknowingly pregnant; she believed her daughter Jane was kidnapped by Brenner at birth. Joyce and Hopper conclude Eleven is likely Jane. Eleven recalls being asked to contact the monster and how her contact opened the portal to the Upside Down in the laboratory basement. While searching for Eleven, Mike and Dustin are ambushed by bullies Troy and James. Troy holds Dustin at knifepoint and demands that Mike make a suicidal jump into the lake where Will's body was discovered. Mike jumps but is levitated to safety by Eleven, who dispatches the bullies. Lucas sees agents leaving the laboratory and realizes they are heading to Mike's house.
77"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"The Duffer BrothersJustin DobleJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Lucas warns Mike via walkie-talkie that government agents are en route. Mike, Dustin, and Eleven flee the house. Eleven telekinetically flips a van that blocks their path, and the kids escape. Lucas reconciles with Mike and Eleven. Joyce and Hopper are called to the police station because of Jonathan's assault. Jonathan and Nancy reveal their knowledge of the monster to Joyce and Hopper. The group contacts Mike and his friends and they rendezvous. They ask Eleven to search for Will and Barb, but her earlier feats have left her too weak to find them. To amplify Eleven's powers, they break into the middle school and build a sensory-deprivation tank. Eleven finds Barb's corpse with a slug-like creature crawling out of her mouth. With Joyce's help, she finds Will alive, hiding in the Upside Down "Castle Byers", his backyard fort. Hopper and Joyce break into Hawkins Laboratory but are apprehended by security guards. Nancy and Jonathan resolve to kill the monster and steal their hunting gear back from the police station. In the Upside Down, the monster breaks into the fort where Will is hiding.
88"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"The Duffer BrothersStory by : Paul Dichter
Teleplay by : The Duffer Brothers
July 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Hopper gives up Eleven's location to Brenner in exchange for access to the portal. He and Joyce enter the Upside Down. Hopper recalls his daughter Sarah struggling to breathe before her cancer diagnosis. Nancy and Jonathan booby-trap the Byers' home, then cut their hands to attract the monster with their blood. Steve arrives, intending to apologize to Jonathan about their fight. The monster attacks but disappears before springing the trap. Steve gets in his car to leave but stays when he realizes the monster is returning. The monster springs the trap but escapes back to the Upside Down. Eleven and the boys hide in the middle school. Mike asks Eleven to a school dance called the Snow Ball and kisses her. Brenner and his agents arrive to get Eleven back; Eleven kills most of them, but collapses of exhaustion. As Brenner cradles her, the monster appears. The boys carry Eleven to a classroom and hide as the monster slaughters Brenner and the agents. Hopper and Joyce find the monster's nest in the Upside-Down town library. Will is there, unconscious with a tendril down his throat. At the middle school, the monster finds the children, but is pinned and disintegrated by Eleven, who vanishes. Hopper and Joyce perform CPR on Will and revive him. Will is hospitalized and reunited with his mother, brother, and friends. Hopper is reluctantly picked up by a black car. One month later, Nancy has gotten back together with Steve, and both are friends with Jonathan. Hopper leaves the other food in a box in the woods. Will coughs up a slug-like creature and has a vision of the world as the Upside Down, but he hides this from his family.



Ross (left) and Matt Duffer, the creators of the series

Stranger Things was created by Matt and Ross Duffer, known professionally as The Duffer Brothers.[14] The two had completed writing and producing their 2015 film Hidden, which they had tried to emulate the style of M. Night Shyamalan, however, due to changes at Warner Bros., its distributor, the film did not see a wide release and the Duffers were unsure of their future.[15] To their surprise, television producer Donald De Line approached them, impressed with Hidden's script, and offered them the opportunity to work on episodes of Wayward Pines alongside Shyamalan. The brothers were mentored by Shyamalan during the episode's production, so that when they finished, they felt they were ready to produce their own television series.[16]

The Duffer Brothers prepared a script that would essentially be similar to the series' actual pilot episode, along with a 20-page pitch book to help shop the series around for a network.[17] They pitched the story to a number of cable networks, all of which rejected the script on the basis that they felt a plot centered around children as leading characters would not work, asking them to make it a children's show or to drop the children and focus on Hopper's investigation in the paranormal.[16] In early 2015, Dan Cohen, the VP of 21 Laps Entertainment, brought the script to his colleague Shawn Levy. They subsequently invited The Duffer Brothers to their office and purchased the rights for the series, giving full authorship of it to the brothers. After reading the pilot, the streaming service Netflix purchased the whole season for an undisclosed amount;[18] the show was subsequently announced for a planned 2016 release by Netflix in early April 2015.[19] The Duffer Brothers stated that at the time they had pitched to Netflix, the service had already gotten recognized for its original programming, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, with well-recognized producers behind them, and were ready to start giving upcoming producers like them a chance.[17] The brothers started to write out the series and brought Levy and Cohen in as executive producers to start casting and filming.[20]

The series was originally known as Montauk, as the setting of the script was in Montauk, New York and nearby Long Beach locations.[19][21] The brothers had chosen Montauk as it had further Spielberg ties with the film Jaws, where Montauk was used for the fictional setting of Amity Island.[22] After deciding to change the narrative of the series to take place in the fictional town of Hawkins instead, the brothers felt they could now do things to the town, such as placing it under quarantine, that they really could not envision with a real location.[22] With the change in location, they had to come up with a new title for the series under direction from Netflix's Ted Sarandos so that they could start marketing it to the public. The brothers started by using a copy of Stephen King's Firestarter novel to consider the title's font and appearance, and came up with a long list of potential alternatives. Stranger Things came about as it sounded similar to another King novel, Needful Things, though Matt noted they still had a "lot of heated arguments" over this final title.[23]


The idea of Stranger Things started with how the brothers felt they could take the concept of the 2013 film Prisoners, detailing the moral struggles a father goes through when his daughter is kidnapped, and expand it out over eight or so hours in a serialized television approach. As they focused on the missing child aspect of the story, they wanted to introduce the idea of "childlike sensibilities" they could offer, and toyed around with the idea of a monster that could consume humans. The brothers thought the combination of these things "was the best thing ever". To introduce this monster into the narrative, they considered "bizarre experiments we had read about taking place in the Cold War" such as Project MKUltra, which gave a way to ground the monster's existence in science rather than something spiritual. This also helped them to decide on using 1983 as the time period, as it was a year before the film Red Dawn came out, which focused on Cold War paranoia.[16] Subsequently, they were able to use all their own personal inspirations from the 1980s, the decade they were born, as elements of the series,[16][24] crafting it in the realm of science fiction and horror.[25] The Duffer Brothers have cited as influence for the show (among others): Stephen King novels; films produced by Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas and Guillermo del Toro; films such as Alien and Stand by Me; Japanese anime such as Akira and Elfen Lied; and video games such as Silent Hill and The Last of Us.[23][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33]

With Netflix as the platform, The Duffer Brothers were not limited to a typical 22-episode format, opting for the eight-episode approach. They had been concerned that a 22-episode season on broadcast television would be difficult to "tell a cinematic story" with that many episodes. Eight episodes allowed them to give time to characterization in addition to narrative development; if they had less time available, they would have had to remain committed to telling a horror film as soon as the monster was introduced and abandon the characterization.[17] Within the eight episodes, the brothers aimed to make the first season "feel like a big movie" with all the major plot lines completed so that "the audience feels satisfied", but left enough unresolved to indicate "there’s a bigger mythology, and there’s a lot of dangling threads at the end", something that could be explored in further seasons if Netflix opted to create more.[34]

Regarding writing for the children characters of the series, The Duffer Brothers considered themselves as outcasts from other students while in high school and thus found it easy to write for Mike and his friends, and particularly for Barb.[23] Joyce was fashioned after Richard Dreyfuss's character Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as she appears "absolutely bonkers" to everyone else as she tries to find Will.[35] Other characters, such as Billy in the second season, have more villainous attributes that are not necessarily obvious from the onset; Matt explained that they took further inspiration from Stephen King for these characters, as King "always has really great human villains" that may be more malicious than the supernatural evil.[36]


The Duffers cast David Harbour as Sheriff Hopper believing this was his opportunity to play a lead character in a work.
The Duffers cast David Harbour as Sheriff Hopper believing this was his opportunity to play a lead character in a work.

In June 2015, it was announced that Winona Ryder and David Harbour had joined the series as Joyce and as the unnamed chief of police, respectively.[3] The brothers' casting director Carmen Cuba had suggested Ryder for the role of Joyce, which the two were immediately drawn to because of her predominance in 1980s films.[16] Levy believed Ryder could "wretch up the emotional urgency and yet find layers and nuance and different sides of [Joyce]". Ryder praised that the show's multiple storylines required her to act for Joyce as "she's out of her mind, but she's actually kind of onto something", and that the producers had faith she could pull off the difficult role.[37] The Duffer Brothers had been interested in Harbour before, who until Stranger Things primarily had smaller roles as villainous characters, and they felt that he had been "waiting too long for this opportunity" to play a lead, while Harbour himself was thrilled by the script and the chance to play "a broken, flawed, anti-hero character".[23][38]

Additional casting followed two months later with Finn Wolfhard as Mike, Millie Bobby Brown in an undisclosed role, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas, Natalia Dyer as Nancy, and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan.[4] In September 2015, Cara Buono joined the cast as Karen,[5] followed by Matthew Modine as Martin Brenner a month later.[6] Additional cast who recur for the first season include Noah Schnapp as Will,[4][8] Shannon Purser as Barbara "Barb" Holland,[9] Joe Keery as Steve Harrington,[7][8] and Ross Partridge as Lonnie,[10] among others.

Actors auditioning for the children roles read lines from Stand By Me.[16] The Duffer Brothers estimated they went through about a thousand different child actors for the roles. They noted that Wolfhard was already "a movie buff" of the films from the 1980s period and easily filled the role, while they found Matarazzo's audition to be much more authentic than most of the other audition tapes, and selected him after a single viewing of his audition tape.[17] As casting was started immediately after Netflix greenlit the show, and prior to the scripts being fully completed, this allowed some of the actor's takes on the roles to reflect into the script. The casting of the young actors for Will and his friends had been done just after the first script was completed, and subsequent scripts incorporated aspects from these actors.[34] The brothers said Modine provided significant input on the character of Dr. Brenner, whom they had not really fleshed out before as they considered him the hardest character to write for given his limited appearances within the narrative.[35]


The brothers had desired to film the series around the Long Island area to match the initial Montauk concept. However, with filming scheduled to take place in November 2015, it was difficult to shoot in Long Island in the cold weather, and the production started scouting locations in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area. The brothers, who grew up in North Carolina, found many places that reminded them of their own childhoods in that area, and felt the area would work well with the narrative shift to the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.[22]

The filming of the first season began in November 2015 and was extensively done in Atlanta, Georgia, with The Duffer Brothers and Levy handling the direction of individual episodes.[39] Jackson served as the basis of the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.[40][41] Other shooting locations included the Georgia Mental Health Institute as the Hawkins National Laboratory site, Bellwood Quarry, Patrick Henry High School in Stockbridge, Georgia, for the middle and high school scenes,[42] Emory University’s Continuing Education Department, the former city hall in Douglasville, Georgia, Georgia International Horse Park, the probate court in Butts County, Georgia, Old East Point Library and East Point First Baptist Church in East Point, Georgia, Fayetteville, Georgia, Stone Mountain Park, Palmetto, Georgia, and Winston, Georgia.[43] Set work was done at Screen Gem Studios in Atlanta.[43] The series was filmed with a Red Dragon digital camera.[35] Filming for the first season concluded in early 2016.[40]

While filming, the brothers tried to capture shots that could be seen as homages to many of the 1980s references they recalled. Their goal was not necessarily to fill the work with these references, but instead make the series seem to the viewer as a 1980s film.[23] They spent little time reviewing those works and instead went by memory. Matt further recognized that some of their filming homages were not purposely done but were found to be very comparable, as highlighted by a fan-made video comparing the show to several 1980s works side-by-side.[16][44] Matt commented on the video that "Some were deliberate and some were subconscious."[16] The brothers recognized that many of the iconic scenes from these 1980s films, such as with Poltergeist, was about "taking a very ordinary object that people deal with every day, their television set, and imbuing it with something otherworldly", leading to the idea of using the Christmas light strings for Will to communicate with Joyce.[23]

The brothers attributed much of the 1980s feel to set and costume designers and the soundtrack composers that helped to recreate the era for them.[16] Lynda Reiss, the head of props, had about a $220,000 budget, similar to most films, to acquire artifacts of the 1980s, using eBay and searching through flea markets and estate sales around the Atlanta area. The bulk of the props were original items from the 1980s with only a few pieces, such as the Dungeons & Dragons books made as replicas.[45]

Visual effects

To create the aged effect for the series, a film grain was added over the footage, which was captured by scanning in film stock from the 1980s.[35] The Duffers wanted to scare the audience, but not to necessarily make the show violent or gory, following in line with how the 1980s Amblin Entertainment films drove the creation of the PG-13 movie rating. It was "much more about mood and atmosphere and suspense and dread than they are about gore", though they were not afraid to push into more scary elements, particularly towards the end of the first season.[35] The brothers had wanted to avoid any computer-generated effects for the monster and other parts of the series and stay with practical effects. However, the six-month filming time left them little time to plan out and test practical effects rigs for some of the shots. They went with a middle ground of using constructed props including one for the monster whenever they could, but for other shots, such as when the monster bursts through a wall, they opted to use digital effects. Post-production on the first season was completed the week before it was released to Netflix.[16]

The title sequence uses closeups of the letters in the Stranger Things title with a red tint against a black background as they slide into place within the title. The sequence was created by the studio Imaginary Forces, formerly part of R/GA, led by creative director Michelle Doughtey.[46] Levy introduced the studio to The Duffer Brothers, who explained their vision of the 1980s-inspired show, which helped the studio to fix the concept the producers wanted. Later, but prior to filming, the producers sent Imaginary Forces the pilot script, the synth-heavy background music for the titles, as well as the various book covers from King and other authors that they had used to establish the title and imagery, and were looking for a similar approach for the show's titles, primarily using a typographical sequence. They took inspiration from several title sequences of works from the 1980s that were previously designed by Richard Greenberg under R/GA, such as Altered States and The Dead Zone. They also got input from Dan Perri, who worked on the title credits of several 1980s films. Various iterations included having letters vanish, to reflect the "missing" theme of the show, and having letters cast shadows on others, alluding to the mysteries, before settling into the sliding letters. The studio began working on the title sequence before filming, and took about a month off during the filming process to let the producers get immersed in the show and come back with more input. Initially they had been working with various fonts for the title and used close-ups of the best features of these fonts, but near the end the producers wanted to work with ITC Benguiat, requiring them to rework those shots. The final sequence is fully computer generated, but they took inspiration from testing some practical effects, such as using Kodalith masks as would have been done in the 1980s, to develop the appropriate filters for the rendering software. The individual episode title cards used a "fly through" approach, similar to the film Bullitt, which the producers had suggested to the studio.[47]


The Stranger Things original soundtrack was composed by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of the electronic band Survive.[48] It makes extensive use of synthesizers in homage to 1980s artists and film composers including Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Goblin, John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, and Fabio Frizzi.[49]

According to Stein and Dixon, The Duffer Brothers had been fans of Survive's music, and used their song "Dirge" for the mock trailer that was used to sell the show to Netflix.[48][50] Once the show was green-lit, the Duffers contacted Survive around July 2015 to ask if they were still doing music; the two provided the production team with dozens of songs from their band's past to gain their interest, helping to land them the role.[48] Once aboard, the two worked with producers to select some of their older music to rework for the show, while developing new music, principally with character motifs.[50] The two had been hired before the casting process, so their motif demos were used and played over the actors' audition tapes, aiding in the casting selection.[50][51] The show's theme is based on an unused work Stein composed much earlier that ended up in the library of work they shared with the production staff, who thought that with some reworking would be good for the opening credits.[48]

The first season's original soundtrack, consisting of 75 songs from Dixon and Stein split across two volumes, was released by Lakeshore Records. Digital release and streaming options were released on August 10 and 19, 2016 for the two volumes, respectively, while retail versions were available on September 16 and 23, 2016.[52][53]

In addition to original music, Stranger Things features period music from artists including The Clash, Toto, New Order, The Bangles, Foreigner, Echo and the Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel and Corey Hart, as well as excerpts from Tangerine Dream, John Carpenter and Vangelis.[54][53] In particular, The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" was specifically picked to play at pivotal moments of the story, such as when Will is trying to communicate with Joyce from the Upside Down.[53]


The first season consisted of eight hour-long episodes which were released worldwide on Netflix on July 15, 2016,[55] in Ultra HD 4K and HDR.[56]

Home media

The first season of Stranger Things was released on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack exclusively to Target retailers on October 17, 2017, and the same for the 4K/Blu-ray combo pack on November 15, 2017, both of which includes vintage CBS-FOX VHS-inspired packaging.[57][58]

Stranger Things
Set details Special features
  • Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language/Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • 2:1 aspect ratio
  • 6-disc set, 8 episodes
  • Comes with a collectible poster not available for purchase separately from the set.
  • Retro packaging designed to look like a vintage CBS-FOX VHS cassette tape.
DVD release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
October 17, 2017 (Blu-ray/DVD)
November 15, 2017 (4K/Blu-ray)


Audience viewership

As Netflix does not reveal subscriber viewership numbers for any of their original series, Symphony Technology Group compiled data for the season based on people using software on their phones that measures television viewing by detecting a program's sound. According to Symphony, within the first 35 days of release, Stranger Things averaged ratings around 14.07 million adults between the ages 18–49 in the United States. This made it the third most-watched season of Netflix original content in the U.S. at the time behind the first season of Fuller House and fourth season of Orange Is the New Black.[59] In a September 2016 analysis, Netflix found that Stranger Things "hooked" viewers by the second episode of the first season, indicating that the second episode was "the first installment that led at least 70 percent of viewers who watched that episode to complete the entire first season of a show."[60]

In August 2017, the marketing analytics firm Jumpshot determined the season was the seventh-most viewed Netflix season in the first 30 days after it premiered, garnering slightly more than 20% of the viewers that the second season of Daredevil received, which was the most viewed season according to Jumpstart. Jumpshot, which "analyzes click-stream data from an online panel of more than 100 million consumers", looked at the viewing behavior and activity of the company’s U.S. members, factoring in the relative number of U.S. Netflix viewers who watched at least one episode of the season.[61]

Critical reception

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the series an approval rating of 96% based on 68 reviews and a weighted average score of 8.04/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Exciting, heartbreaking, and sometimes scary, Stranger Things acts as an addictive homage to Spielberg films and vintage 1980s television."[62] Review aggregator Metacritic gave the series a normalized score of 76 out of 100 based on 34 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[63]

IGN gave the score of 8 out of 10 and called the series "Great" saying, "Stranger Things is an easy recommendation, offering viewers an atmospheric and endearing series that is a nostalgic throwback without feeling like a simple copy."[64] In a review of San Francisco Chronicle Dave Wiegand wrote: "Stranger Things reminds us of a time marked by a kind of no-strings escapism. And as it does so, we find ourselves yearning for it because the Duffers have made it so irresistibly appealing. There may be other equally great shows to watch this summer, but I guarantee you won’t have more fun watching any of them than you will watching Stranger Things."[65] Joshua Alston of The A.V. Club also reviewed it positively saying, "Balancing style and substance is always challenging for a series like Stranger Things, but the show is perfectly calibrated. It feels like watching a show produced during the era in which it’s set, but with the craft of today’s prestige television."[66] Reviewing for HitFix, Alan Sepinwall said, "Over the course of the eight hours, the story and characters take on enough life of their own so that the references don't feel self-indulgent, and so that the series can be appreciated even if you don't know the plot of E.T. or the title font of Stephen King's early novels (a huge influence on the show's own opening credits) by heart."[67]

Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker also applauded the series and wrote, "This is astoundingly efficient storytelling, eight hours that pass in a blink, with even minor characters getting sharp dialogue, dark humor, or moments of pathos."[68] Television critic Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times said, "For the most part, and in absolute defiance of the odds, Stranger Things honors its source material in the best way possible: By telling a sweet 'n' scary story in which monsters are real but so are the transformative powers of love and fealty."[69] The Wall Street Journal's Brian Kelly said, "Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer, brothers and the show’s creators, have done their homework when it comes to ’80s cinema. Whether you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing or The Goonies is more your speed, there’s plenty to like in Stranger Things."[70]


Shannon Purser's performance as Barb received a great deal of attention from fans, and led to her being nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
Shannon Purser's performance as Barb received a great deal of attention from fans, and led to her being nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

Shortly after its release, Stranger Things gained a dedicated fanbase. One area of focus from these fans was the character of Barb, the nerdy friend and classmate of Nancy who is taken and killed by the monster early in the season.[71] According to actress Shannon Purser, Barb "wasn’t supposed to be a big deal", and The Duffer Brothers had not gone into great detail about the character since the focus was on finding Will. However, many fans sympathized with the character, with Laura Bradley of Vanity Fair suggesting that these people found that Barb would be a similar misfit in society, and "looks more like someone you might actually meet in real life" compared to the other characters, particularly Nancy, in the series. A hashtag "#ImWithBarb" grew in popularity after the series' release, and several fan sites and forums were created to support her.[72] While Purser will not return for the second season, The Duffer Brothers used the real-life "Justice for Barb" movement as inspiration for narrative at the start of the second season, with Nancy addressing the fact "that no one ever cares about" Barb.[73] Purser and several media outlets took her nomination as Barb for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards as achieving "justice for Barb", highlighting how well her character was received.[74][75][76]

Another impact of the series has been an increase demand for Eggo waffles, as they are shown to be Eleven's favorite food in several episodes and are seen as a representation of the show.[77] The Kellogg Company, which manufactures Eggo, had not been part of the production prior to the first season's release, but recognized the market impact of the series. It provided a vintage 1980s Eggo television advertisement for Netflix to use in its Super Bowl LI commercial, and is looking to become more involved with cross-promotion.[78]

United States Representative David Cicilline compared the state of the nation during the presidency of Donald Trump to that of Stranger Things during a speech given in Congress on February 16, 2017, using a sign "Trump Things" in the same format as the title card of the show and saying "Like the main characters in Stranger Things, we are now stuck in the Upside Down".[79]

As part of its release on Netflix on April 14, 2017, the cast of the rebooted version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed on the first part of "Chapter 1" of Stranger Things.[80]


Association Category Nominee(s) / work Result Ref.
ACE Eddie Awards Best Edited One Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television Dean Zimmerman
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Nominated [81]
Kevin D. Ross
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
American Film Institute Top 10 TV Programs of the Year Stranger Things Won [82]
Art Directors Guild One-Hour Period or Fantasy Single-Camera Television Series Chris Trujillo
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers", "Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly" and "Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated [83]
Bram Stoker Awards Superior Achievement in a Screenplay The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Nominated [84]
The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best International Program Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen Nominated [85]
Cinema Audio Society Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour Chris Durfy, Joe Barnett, Adam Jenkins, Judah Getz and John Guentner
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Nominated [86]
Costume Designers Guild Outstanding Period Television Series Kimberly Adams, Malgosia Turzanska Nominated [87]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Drama Series Stranger Things Nominated [88]
Most Bingeworthy Show Stranger Things Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement for a Drama Series Duffer Brothers
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Nominated [89]
Dragon Awards Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series Stranger Things Won [90]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Stranger Things Nominated [91]
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series David Harbour as Jim Hopper
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven / Jane Ives
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Shannon Purser as Barb Holland
"Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly"
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period Program (One Hour or More) Chris Trujillo, William Davis, Jess Royal
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series Carmen Cuba, Tara Feldstein, Chase Paris Won
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Tim Ives
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Dean Zimmerman
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Kevin D. Ross
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series Sarah Hindsgaul, Evelyn Roach
"Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street"
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Myke Michaels, Teresa Vest
"Chapter Six: The Monster"
Outstanding Music Supervision Nora Felder
"Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street"
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series Bradley North, Craig Henighan, Jordan Wilby, Jonathan Golodner, Tiffany S. Griffth, Sam Munoz, David Klotz, Noel Vought, Ginger Geary
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) Joe Barnett, Adam Jenkins, Chris Durfy, Bill Higley
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Outstanding Main Title Design Michelle Dougherty, Peter Frankfurt, Arisu Kashiwagi, Eric Demeusy Won
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Michael Stein, Kyle Dixon Won
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within a Scripted Program Netflix, CBS Digital
Stranger Things VR Experience
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best TV Series Stranger Things Pending [94]
Best TV Actress Millie Bobby Brown Pending
Best TV Supporting Actor David Harbour Pending
Best TV Supporting Actress Winona Ryder Pending
Gold Derby TV Awards Drama Series Stranger Things Won [95]
Drama Supporting Actress Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
Drama Supporting Actress Winona Ryder Nominated
Drama Supporting Actor David Harbour Nominated
Drama Episode Justin Doble, The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Drama Episode Paul Ditcher, The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Ensemble of the Year Cast of Stranger Things Nominated
Breakthrough Performer of the Year Millie Bobby Brown Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Drama Stranger Things Nominated [96]
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Winona Ryder Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing: TV Short Form – Music David Klotz
"Chapter Three: Holly Jolly"
Won [97]
Best Sound Editing: TV Short Form - FX/Foley Jacob McNaughton
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated [98]
Grammy Awards Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Stranger Things Volume 1 Nominated [99]
Stranger Things Volume 2 Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Main Title – TV Show/Digital Streaming Series Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein Nominated [100]
Best Original Score – TV Show/Miniseries Nominated
Outstanding Music Supervision – Television Nora Felder Won
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form The Duffer Brothers Nominated [102]
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in Period Television Tony Holley Nominated [103]
Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Best Period and/or Character Makeup – Television Amy L. Forsythe, Samantha Smith Nominated [104]
Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling – Television Sarah Hindsgaul, Evelyn Roach Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Awards TV Show of the Year Won [105]
Best Actor in a TV Show Millie Bobby Brown Won
Best Villain The Demogorgon Nominated
Best Hero Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
National Television Awards Best Period Drama Stranger Things Nominated [106]
People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Show Stranger Things Nominated [107]
Favorite Premium Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series Stranger Things Nominated
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
Peabody Awards Best Entertainment Program Stranger Things Nominated [108]
Producers Guild of America Episodic Television, Drama Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen, Iain Paterson Won [109]
Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Genre Stranger Things Nominated [110]
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Winona Ryder Nominated
Saturn Awards Best New Media Television Series Stranger Things Won [111]
Best Actress on a Television Series Winona Ryder Nominated
Best Younger Actor on a Television Series Millie Bobby Brown Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Millie Bobby Brown Nominated [112]
Winona Ryder Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Main cast Won
Society of Camera Operators Camera Operator of the Year – Television Bob Gorelick Nominated [113]
Television Critics Association Program of the Year Stranger Things Nominated [114][115]
Outstanding Achievement in Drama Nominated
Outstanding New Program Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Show Nominated [116]
Choice Breakout TV Show Nominated [117]
Choice Breakout TV Star Finn Wolfhard Nominated
Choice Breakout TV Star Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
Visual Effects Society Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Marc Kolbe, Aaron Sims, Olcun Tan Nominated [118]
Writers Guild of America Drama Series Stranger Things Nominated [119]
New Series Stranger Things Nominated


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