Stranger Things Went Full Star Wars

Jamie Hayes

Stranger Things Season 4 is the gift that keeps on giving: “Running Up That Hill” is now a Zoomer anthem; Eddie Munson has taken over TikTok; insufferable practical effects nerds like me received the gift of Vecna; we weren’t subjected to that many Will and Mike scenes. It’s an embarrassment of riches. But I don’t want to talk about any of that. I want to talk about something miserable instead: Star Wars.


The Elephant In The Room

Living in a post-sequel trilogy world, Star Wars is generally the last thing I want to talk about. Religion, politics, anything but Rey and Luke and Palpatine. So it made me worried when the Star Wars references started popping up in Stranger Things Season 4. As Eleven started following along in Luke Skywalker’s footsteps, I got nervous she’d be led astray.

I didn’t have to worry. The Duffer Brothers have made 80s nostalgia for eight years now, and they’re getting pretty dang good at it. Rare, in a world of non-stop shameless nostalgia baiting, Stranger Things‘ homage to the Empire Strikes Back elevated Season 4 beyond where I expected it to go.

Nostalgia Factory

It’s no big secret that the Duffer Brothers feel a bit of nostalgia for 80s genre movies. When Stranger Things hit the scene, waves of geriatric millennials and Gen Xers rolled their eyes at this seemingly pale reflection of their childhood favorites. But the Duffer Brothers haven’t retreated from the criticism that their show relies too much on 80s references. If anything, they’ve doubled down.

In Stranger Things Season 4, they dove deeper than ever into homage, and the show has never been better for it. While earlier seasons relied mainly on Spielberg, Carpenter, and King for their inspiration, the Duffers finally decided to go full Star Wars in Season 4—and they weren’t exactly subtle about it.

You don’t have to be a pop culture historian to clock Murray’s “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” or Dr. Owens telling Eleven, “You’re our only hope!” The Duffers aren’t trying to hide the fact that this is a Star Wars season. But it’s not just window dressing, either. In a world where seemingly every new movie brims with empty “fan service” void of any narrative purpose, the Duffers managed to avoid the cliche. Instead, they stitched their nostalgia into the narrative fabric of the show.

Elle Skywalker

Subtlety is dead, and the Duffers made the Eleven/Luke Skywalker connection abundantly clear. She’s a “chosen one” with immense yet hard-to-define powers. She must face a tall, dark, gravelly-voiced monster who has similar powers—only he’s mastered them. When Vecna is first introduced, we don’t see him, instead only hearing a pained wheezing echoing down a hallway.

Vecna. Vader. I think I see the connection here… As I said, subtlety is dead. But the deeper you dig, the more the Eleven/Luke connection grows.

Eleven isn’t the first hero to mirror Luke Skywalker’s Empire arc, and she certainly won’t be the last. She has to go to an isolated place to train her powers with a wise mentor (though I’d much prefer Yoda to Papa, personally). Though she didn’t end up in a swamp, the Tattoine-esque Nevada desert subs in nicely.

This is also the setting for her greatest Jedi moment: The helicopter she ripped out of the air above the NINA Project might as well have been a Tie Fighter.

Luke, You Are My Father

Like Luke, Eleven learns that her friends are in danger. Her mentor warns her it’s a trap and demands she stay, but she ends up going anyway—straight into Vader, I mean, Vecna’s clutches. It’s the climax of Empire and the climax of Season 4, but this is where Eleven and Luke’s stories diverge.

“I am your father.” It’s one of the most famous moments in pop culture history. The demon who had been haunting Luke had been his father—his creator—all along. But after mirroring Luke’s arc up to this point, here is where the Duffers flipped it on its head. Vecna didn’t create Eleven—she created him. The Demogorgon, the Mind Flayer, Vecna: They’re all her fault.

Eleven may mirror Luke in a myriad of ways, but the Duffers have made sure that she’s still her own character, and her struggle is her own. Their love of Star Wars didn’t make them lose sight of her.

Nostalgia That’s…Good??

Nostalgia is a very fine line to tread. At its worst, it’s not just lazy and hollow, but manipulative. If you use it without any point, it’s more likely to conjure eye-rolls than anything else. But Stranger Things was born out of 80s nostalgia, and the Duffer Brothers refused to let it go. Instead, in Season 4, they hammered that nostalgia even deeper into the fiber of the show, and the results were better than ever.

Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
The Truth Always Comes Out: Dark Family Secrets Exposed The Truth Always Comes Out: Dark Family Secrets Exposed
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
These People Got Genius Revenges These People Got Genius Revenges
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife


Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team