Let’s delve a little deeper into the fantastic world of Mike, Dustin, Will, Lucas, and Eleven—not to mention the countless other beloved characters that populate Stranger Things’ fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.
Stranger Things Facts
44. Déjà Vu?
If the characters, costumes, plot lines, and even the opening credit art of Stranger Things seem a little familiar to you, you’re not alone. Classic sci-fi auteurs like Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and John Carpenter were all major sources of inspiration for the two co-creators of Stranger Things, Matt and Ross Duffer.
43. Product Placement
Don’t just take our word for it. There are subtle nods to the works that influenced Stranger Things hidden throughout the show: for example, in one scene, a character is seen reading Cujo by Stephen King; meanwhile, Eleven’s pink dress and blonde wig give a nod to the disguise ET wears in 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
42. Fake Trailers
Music was a critical part of Stranger Things even before production started. The Duffer brothers wanted to use synth as a backdrop, but were worried it might distract audiences from the complex plot. So to test their hunch, they made a mock trailer for their new show and paired synth music with scenes from classic movies like ET. It worked.
41. Casting Call
Not everything was so well-planned early on. While the Duffers may have had the musical ambiance firmly in mind, they had absolutely no idea who they wanted to play the lead roles in Stranger Things. In fact, in the early days of production, they auditioned 906 boys and 307 girls before deciding on their young cast.
40. Reading Lines
As part of their audition, the casting director for Stranger Things had the kids read scenes from Stand by Me.
39. Channeling the 80s
To get a better feel for the Duffer brothers’ concept, the cast was told to watch the 80s flicks Stand by Me, The Goonies and Poltergeist before filming. The writers watched these films as well as The Thing, E.T., and A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was all a part of producing a believable 80s tone for the fledgling show.
Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) are from New York; Finn Wolfhard (Mike) is from Canada; and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) comes from the United Kingdom.
Matarazzo’s voice deepened by four octaves over the course of the first season. In fact, his voice changed so much he was unable to participate in additional dialogue recording (ADR) when production wrapped up.
Many of the impressive special effects on Stranger Things are wildly expensive, but luckily, the production team found savings elsewhere. For example, the rundown trailer that served as Chief Hopper’s home apparently cost the (apparently frugal) art department just a whopping $1 to buy. Now that’s a good deal.
35. Hey, Aren’t Those…
The Hawkins Police Department apparently shops at Goodwill. Officers of the force wear the same uniforms as those worn by the Amity Island officers in Jaws and Jaws II. The chief’s tan uniform and patch, the patrolmen’s blue uniforms, and even the beige SUV driven by Roy Scheider’s character are all literally the exact same.
34. The Biggest Douchebag on the Planet
The character of Steve Harrington was originally written as the “biggest douchebag on the planet,” but Joe Keery was so charming in the role that he became a fan favorite. The Duffer brothers decided to keep him and allowed him to redeem himself.
33. Dustin’s Condition
Dustin is mocked by school bullies in the first episode of season 1 because of his missing teeth. In response, he tells the bullies that he has cleidocranial dysplasia. There’s a reason the scene hits home so hard: actor Matarazzo was actually born with this disorder, which affects the development of teeth and bones. It’s an example of art imitating life.
32. Strong and Silent
According to Millie Bobby Brown, Eleven spoke a total of 42 lines in season 1 of Stranger Things.
31. Hidden Talents
In addition to being phenomenal actors, many of the young Stranger Things cast are also talented musicians. Millie Bobbie Brown and Caleb McLaughlin are both singers, while Finn Wolfhard is a gifted guitarist. Millie covers Amy Winehouse, John Legend and John Lennon in her YouTube videos and Caleb played Young Simba in The Lion King musical on Broadway. Finn prefers Nirvana and you can find his guitar cover of “Lithium” on Twitter.
30. Sully, not Shadowy
The monster terrified some of the youngest actors when it first appeared on the set of Stranger Things. To calm the toddlers, the cast told them the monster wasn’t a bad monster at all but a funny one like the ones in Monsters, Inc.
29. Freedom of Speech
In season 2, a few curses slipped into the dialogue of the four main young characters. Netflix requested the swear words be removed from the script, but the kids objected. Strenuously. Their objections convinced Netflix to allow the producers to shoot alternate takes, which included the cuss words. Once Netflix execs saw the first two episodes they decided it would be fine and allowed the language.
28. Acting in the Dark
The cast members were only allowed to see one episode script at a time, so they had no idea what happens next or who survives to the next episode.
All of the childhood pictures of Barb that are shown in the season 2 premiere are actual pictures of actress Shannon Purser as a child.
26. True Love
Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy, and Charlie Heaton, who plays Jonathan, are dating in real life.
25. What Might Have Been
The Duffer brothers had trouble finding a network that would allow them to focus the show on the children. Most studios wanted the Duffers to focus the series on Chief Hopper.
24. Millie Bobby Brown Hates Eggos
Eleven is obsessed with eating Eggos after years spent in a government facility. In real life, Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, finds them gross.
23. Justice for Barb
Everyone loves Barb, and her sudden death at the hands of the monster on Stranger Things only intensified these feelings. Twitter and Tumblr exploded with Barb-related postings. The actress who played her, Shannon Purser, even had to quit her job at a movie theater because people kept showing up to talk to her.
22. Video Partners
Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers) and Mathew Modine (Dr. Brenner) have worked together before. They appeared in a video for Roy Orbison’s song “A Love So Beautiful,” with Ryder as a trapeze artist and Modine as a clown.
21. Shaved Heads Are Cool
How did producers convince Millie Bobby Brown to shave her head? They showed her Charlize Theron’s character in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Before she took the lead role in the Netflix series, Winona Ryder had no idea what streaming was.
Netflix was so impressed with Stranger Things that they bought the show within 24 hours of hearing the pitch.
The first episode of the first season of Stranger Things opens with a date and location, November 6, 1983. On November 6, 2017 social media exploded with posts celebrating and lamenting the disappearance of Will Byers 34 years ago.
During its first three days on Netflix, 8.8 million people watched Stranger Things 2 and 361,000 people were so addicted they watched all nine episodes in the first 24 hours.
16. Who You Gonna Call?
When they requested the rights to use the Ghostbuster costumes in Stranger Things, the Duffers were forced to explain to Ghostbuster director Ivan Reitman why they wanted to use the characters.
15. The It connection
The Duffers originally wanted to do a remake of Steven King’s thriller It but were turned down by the studios. Interestingly, Finn Wolfhard (Mike) is in It.
14. Stranger Texts
Prior to production, the young castmates started their own group chat they appropriately called “Stranger Texts.” In it they discussed everything from a pimple that Millie Brown had to a trip to Six Flags.
13. Math Bonding
The teenage castmates got some of their best bonding experiences surviving pre-algebra together. They are all taught on set and this allowed Brown some quality time with her castmates, as she frequently isn’t filming scenes with them.
12. Vertical Challenges
Sadie Sink almost didn’t land the role of Max because the Duffer brothers thought she was too tall. During the first reading, she towered over her castmates, but by the time the second reading was scheduled they were catching up and she got the part.
11. Movie Magic
In the scene where the kids drop raw meat on the train tracks to bait the demi-dogs, the art department had to get creative to give things the right look. In the end, they used an odd concoction: an equal-parts mix of watermelon and actual raw beef. Apparently, it was enough to really gross out Sadie Sink, who is a vegetarian.
10. More ’80s vibes
To give the show more of a vintage vibe, ’80s film grain is scanned by hand into every frame by Stranger Things colorists.
9. Glitter Girl
The Duffer Brothers say they frequently forget that Millie Bobby Brown is just 11 (during filming of season 1). They’ll treat her like she is a “41-year-old Shakespearean actor.” One day, however, she came in covered from head to toe in glitter and they remembered how young she was. It took 45 minutes to remove the glitter before they could resume shooting.
The Duffer brothers used the fake body of Will to pull a prank on the mother of Noah Schnapps (who plays Will), hiding it in closet and sending mom in to discover it. Initially horrified, she eventually saw the humor in their prank.
7. Stephen King Discovered Millie
After seeing her in Intruders, Stephen King tweeted about how terrific Millie Bobby Brown was.
6. What if?
Twins Matt and Ross Duffer created Stranger Things based on a single premise: What if Steven Spielberg directed a Stephen King book?
The dedication to all things ’80s isn’t perfect. The kids use the word “chill” when they mean “hang out” several times. In the ’80s “chill” as slang almost exclusively meant “calm down.” During the nighttime searches, moreover, some use flashlights with modern blue-light coloured bulbs which weren’t available in the ’80s.
4. Big Budget
Netflix must have been confident they had a hit on their hands from the very beginning: they gave the producers about $6 million to produce each episode of season 1…which they then bumped up to almost $8 million per episode for season 2. This is just $2 million short of the $10 million budget given to each episode of Game of Thrones.
3. Little Girl Lost
The entire premise of Stranger Things is an eerie reflection of an episode of The Twilight Zone called “Little Girl Lost.” In the episode, a little girl goes missing after her mother tucks her into bed. Her parents hear her cries for help but are unable to find her, and discover that she has been transported to a parallel dimension.
2. “I’m coming in.”
The big kiss scene between Mike and Eleven at the end of Stranger Things 2 was originally unplanned, but Millie Bobby Brown pushed for the on-screen smooch. While shooting, Wolfhard wanted to warn Brown before the big moment, and if you look closely, you can actually see Wolfhard mouth the words “I’m coming in” right before the kiss.
1. Inspired by True Events
The producers of Stranger Things took inspiration from a real-life psychic experiment by the U.S. government known as the Montauk Project. Between 1971 and 1983, military personnel at Camp Hero or Montauk Air Force Station on Long Island supposedly conducted a mind control experiment with a large number of boys who, it is said, were believed to be psychics. Sound familiar?