November 8, 2017 | Miles Brucker

Strange Facts About Stranger Things

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

1. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

2. 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.

Stranger Things factsStranger Things (2016– ), Netflix

3. 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.

Stranger Things FactsPxhere

4. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images


5. Reading Lines

As part of their audition, the casting director for Stranger Things had the kids read scenes from Stand by Me.

Stranger Things FactsFlickr, Budiey

6. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStand by Me (1986), Rob Reiner

7. Puberty

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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

8. Bargain

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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

9. 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.

Stranger Things FactsJaws 2(1978), Universal Pictures


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10. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images


11. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

12. Strong and Silent

According to Millie Bobby Brown, Eleven spoke a total of 42 lines in season 1 of Stranger Things.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

13. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

14. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

15. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

16. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix


17. Flashback

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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

18. True Love

Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy, and Charlie Heaton, who plays Jonathan, are dating in real life.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

19. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

20. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

21. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images


23. 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.

Stranger Things FactsMad Max: Fury Road(2015), Village Roadshow Pictures

24. Netwhat?

Before she took the lead role in the Netflix series, Winona Ryder had no idea what streaming was.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

25. Sold!

Netflix was so impressed with Stranger Things that they bought the show within 24 hours of hearing the pitch.

Stranger Things FactsPexels

26. Anniversary

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.

Stranger Things factsStranger Things (2016– ), Netflix

27. Addictive

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.

Stranger Things FactsFlickr, Brecht Bug

28. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

29. 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.

Stranger Things FactsFlickr, Patrick Lauke

30. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

31. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

32. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

33. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

34. 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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

35. 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.

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

36. Pranksters

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.

Stranger Things FactsFlickr, Gage Skidmore

37. Stephen King Discovered Millie

After seeing her in Intruders, Stephen King tweeted about how terrific Millie Bobby Brown was.

Celebrity Encounters FactsGetty Images

38. What if?

Twins Matt and Ross Duffer created Stranger Things based on a single premise: What if Steven Spielberg directed a Stephen King book?

Stranger Things factsGetty Images

39. Anachronisms

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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

40. 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.

Stranger Things FactsPexels

41. 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.

Stranger Things FactsThe Twilight Zone (1959),Paramount

42. "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.

Stranger Things FactsStranger Things (2016-2022), Netflix

43. 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?

Stranger Things FactsFlickr, SeeBeeW

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

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