Stranger Things Season 3 Facts
“One summer can change everything.” This is the tagline for Stranger Things’ third season, which premiered on July 4, 2019. After an agonizingly long wait period—20 months and one week to be exact—the third season of the hit Netflix show finally graced our television screens, and it did not disappoint. Here are 24 strange facts about Stranger Things Season 3.
1. Shop ‘Til You Drop
Starcourt Mall was undeniably one of the most important locations in the much-beloved third season of Stranger Things. Though most viewers may have assumed the mall was a set built specifically for the show, it was in fact a real mall, albeit an abandoned and dilapidated one. The shopping center, called Gwinnett Place Mall, originally opened in 1984 just outside Atlanta but closed in 2018, making it the perfect location to film the Netflix series.
2. Official Soft Drink of Summer
Is there anything quite like a cold can of Coke on a hot summer’s day? Apparently not in Hawkins! New Coke, the name given to the type of Coke that launched in 1985—to extremely negative reviews, we might add—was given considerable airtime in season 3 of Stranger Things, featured in many scenes at Hawkins Community Pool and at Starcourt Mall’s movie theatre.
As a result of this product placement, Coca-Cola brought New Coke back from the dead, creating just 500,000 limited edition bottles that were available in the months leading up to the premiere.
3. Who You Gonna Call?
Stranger Things loves to pay homage to 80s pop culture. One example of this was the multiple references made to 1984’s Ghostbusters this season. First, Robin’s Scoops Ahoy uniform bears a striking resemblance to the ensemble worn by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters. Second, in the third episode of the season, there is a flashback showing Will, Dustin, Mike, and Lucas’ Halloween costumes from season 1.
4. 80s Throwback
English actor Cary Elwes joined the cast of Stranger Things 3 as Hawkins Mayor Larry Kline. Elwes is no stranger to 80s films, having portrayed the lead role of Westley in 1987’s The Princess Bride, a film that made him one of the biggest heartthrobs of the decade.
5. We All Scream for Ice Cream
In the lead up to the premiere of season 3, internationally renowned Spanish pastry chef Jordi Roca created a limited edition line of ice cream treats. Each tasty, frozen concoction in the “Summer 85” collection paid homage to a different character or theme in the show, such as the berry-flavored ice cream bar shaped like the Demogorgan’s head or the strawberry-bergamot-passion fruit flavor explosion in the shape of Dustin’s smiling face.
6. Future Boy
1985’s Back to the Future plays a prominent role in the third season of Stranger Things. Not only do Dustin, Steve, and Robin enter a movie theater where the famous film is playing, but several characters allude to the theme of learning from past mistakes, which is also a prevalent theme in all three Back to the Future films.
7. Poolside Merch
As part of the marketing efforts to promote the third season of Stranger Things, Netflix partnered with European retail chain H&M to create an exclusive Stranger Things-themed fashion collection. The line took inspiration from the swim and lifeguard outfits donned at Hawkins Community Pool, a setting featured prominently in season 3, and was modeled by Dacre Montgomery, who portrays Billy on the show.
8. Pulling an All-Nighter
Like all college students know, pulling an all-nighter during exam season is guaranteed to happen at one point or another. Turns out, the writer’s room for Stranger Things is somewhat similar to a college library in May. The Duffers are no strangers (pun intended!) to long, late hours. They began to write season 3 just before season 2 premiered, with the majority of the pages being written in 12- to 14-hour blocks.
9. Bringing in the Big Bucks
Given that Stranger Things has become one of Netflix’s most successful original series, it’s no surprise that the cast is raking it in. For season 3, several cast members were given raises amounting to overall salary increases of hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars. For example, David Harbour and Winona Ryder’s paycheques went from $80,000 and $150,000 respectively, to $350,000 per episode.
Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughin, and Noah Schnapp’s pay rates were estimated to be between $200,000 and $250,000 per episode—a huge jump from the $20,000 they each earned in the series’ freshman season.
10. Stage Presence
Dustin and Suzie’s rendition of the song “The Neverending Story” was one of the most talked-about scenes of the season 3 finale. According to the Duffer brothers, they knew from the outset that they wanted to utilize Matarazzo’s singing skills this season. Matarazzo is an accomplished stage performer, having been cast as Gavroche in Les Misérables and as Jean-Michel in Cinderella.
11. Line for Line
Looks like Stranger Things took inspiration from the 90s as well as the 80s. After showing Dustin the blueprints of Starcourt Mall that she obtained, Robin says, “It’s fascinating what 20 bucks will get you at the County Recorder’s office. Starcourt Mall, the complete blueprints.” This line, with 50 replacing 20 and Playtronics corporate headquarters replacing Starcourt Mall, was virtually the same one uttered by Carl (River Phoenix) in the 1992 film Sneakers.
12. One Ring to Rule Them All
Fans of Stranger Things were quick to fall in love with Dustin and Suzie’s performance of “The Neverending Story,” the theme song of the 1984 film of the same name. However, what most viewers don’t know is that this wasn’t the original song in the script. The Duffer brothers had wanted to use “The Ent and the Entwife” from The Lord of the Rings, but changed their minds after learning that Amazon Studios was in talks to develop a Lord of the Rings series.
13. Going Viral
It’s a good day to be Christopher Hamill, known by his stage name, Limahl. The English pop singer who recorded “The NeverEnding Story” back in 1984 experienced a major surge in popularity after the release of season 3 of Stranger Things, in which Dustin and Suzie belt the tune across Hawkins’ airwaves. The song saw an 800% increase in hits on popular streaming platforms YouTube and Spotify in the days following the show’s release.
14. Shattering Records
With a TV show as popular—not to mention, long awaited!—as Stranger Things, it probably won’t come as a surprise that the third season of the hit series broke Netflix’s viewership record. The network claimed that between July 4 and July 8, 2019, at least one episode of the season had been watched by roughly 40.7 million users, and a record-breaking 18.2 million accounts had watched the season in its entirety.
15. Ahoy—Ice Cream Ahead!
In an effort to get in on the success of Stranger Things, American ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins teamed up with Netflix to create a variety of delicious ice cream treats inspired by season 3 of the hit show. Months prior to the July 4 premiere, Baskin-Robbins locations in both Canada and the United States began selling a range of Stranger Things menu items, ranging from U.S.S. Butterscotch ice cream to the Elevenade Freeze.
16. Growing Up in the Spotlight
Season 3 of Stranger Things introduced its audience to several new characters, but none more beloved than unofficial “Scoops Troop” member Robin. Robin, played by Maya Hawke, is Steve’s coworker at Starcourt Mall’s ice cream shop, Scoops Ahoy. In real life, Hawke is the daughter of Hollywood A-listers Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, who tied the knot in 1998 and were married for seven years before eventually divorcing in 2005.
17. Around the Campfire
In episode 1 of season 3, Dustin returns to Hawkins after being away at summer camp. Based on the T-shirt and baseball cap he wears throughout the season, it is evident that the name of the camp he attended was “Camp Know Where.” Given that there is an actual film called Camp Nowhere that was released in 1994 and followed a group of children who used their parents’ money to rent a cabin for the summer and buy toys under the guise of attending camp, it’s likely that the moniker of Dustin’s camp is a nod to this film.
18. Fast Times at Hawkins High
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a classic 80s film and one the Duffer brothers alluded to multiple times throughout season 3 of Stranger Things. The first example is when “Moving in Stereo” by the Cars can be heard in the background when the lifeguards are walking beside Hawkins Community Pool. This song was also playing in the infamous pool scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
The second example is when Steve claims that having to wear the Scoops Ahoy hat is hurting his game with the ladies, much like in Fast Times when Brad (Judge Reinhold) gets upset after realizing a cute girl he thought was flirting with him was actually laughing at the company hat he’s wearing and so he throws it out the car window.
Finally, there are multiple references to Phoebe Cates, who starred in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Specifically, Dustin claims that his girlfriend, Suzie, looks like Cates, only hotter.
19. Family Connection
Though Stranger Things 3 marked Maya Hawke’s first time working with Winona Ryder, her father had worked with her before. Maya Hawke’s dad, Ethan Hawke, starred in 1994’s Reality Bites alongside Ryder and Ben Stiller.
20. Prank Call
The rude yet extremely helpful Murray Bauman, played by Brett Gelman, has gotten progressively bigger roles with each season. During one scene, Bauman’s phone number is visible, but unlike most phone numbers seen in television shows, the number actually works! Call 618-625-8313 and you’ll be treated to funny, blundering message recording by Gelman as the character.
21. Red Door
Stranger Things is always full of Easter eggs, and season 3 was no exception. At one point during the season, Eleven enters the Void in an effort to locate Heather, Billy’s coworker at the Hawkins Community Pool. Eleven finds Heather’s house, which fans claimed looked eerily similar to the home of Nancy Thompson’s family in A Nightmare on Elm Street, yet another classic 80s horror film.
In particular, both homes had the same distinct red door and nearly the same address—off by just one digit.
22. Coming of Age
Though the fourth season of Stranger Things has yet to be confirmed by Netflix, it was reported that the network requested showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer, and the producer, Shawn Levy, write and film the third and fourth seasons back-to-back. This was due to concerns about the age of the child actors and how quickly their appearances and voices were changing.
Ultimately, the Duffers and Levy decided against it, as they felt it wouldn’t be possible to devote the level of attention necessary if they were to produce both seasons simultaneously.
23. Spooky Burger
As a marketing gimmick to generate buzz for Stranger Things’ junior season and as a way of attracting new customers to Burger King, the American fast-food chain introduced a special new burger at 11 locations (get it?) in the weeks leading up to the season 3 premiere. The burger was called the “upside down” Whopper and was literally a regular Whopper served upside down.
24. We Can Be Heroes
*Spoiler alert!* Fans are speculating that the song used in the final moments of the season 3 finale is a sign that beloved Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper isn’t really dead. Viewers were quick to note that the very same song, Peter Gabriel’s rendition of “Heroes,” also played at the end of season 1, episode 3 when it was believed that Will was dead.
Of course, Will didn’t die, leaving some to infer that Hopper is also not actually dead.