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Stranger Things season 4 release date, likely cast, and that amazing fan theory

Stranger Things. Image Credit: Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix (Image credit: Netflix)

It happens every time Stranger Things comes back around. As soon as the third season has finished, the question on everyone’s lips is: will there be a Stranger Things Season 4 on Netflix? And, when can I get my tiny telekinetic hands on it? Well, first you should probably keep your powers a little more secret - you never know who's watching - but also we can confirm we know the answer to at least one of the questions.

Netflix has renewed the hit sci-fi series for another season – although, there's no finalized Stranger Things season 4 release date as yet. According to Engadget, Netflix has also signed the show's creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, to "a multi-year film and series overall deal", so the pair certainly have a lot on their plate. 

Could the fourth be the final season? In an interview with Vulture, Ross Duffer hinted the series would be "a four-season thing and then out." Series producer Shawn Levy clarified that "The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely" (via Entertainment Weekly).

While the mega-hit sci-fi / horror / adventure show was originally intended as an anthology series, like American Horror Story, the popularity of its cute child cast ensured that Netflix fans would get plenty more of the charming little scamps. Here's everything we know about Stranger Things Season 4 so far.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The fourth season of Stranger Things
  • Where can I watch it? Netflix
  • When will it be released? Late 2020 / early 2021 seems likely

Stranger Things first landed on Netflix in 2016, and has been one of the biggest Netflix Originals series ever since.

Steeped in 80s nostalgia, the show takes influence from countless iconic films and genres from the period, including the works of Stephen King, John Carpenter, and Steven Spielberg – with a killer synth soundtrack underscoring the action.

In a Hollywood Reporter interview, co-creator Ross Duffer noted that "With the kids it's more, yes there's the Spielberg stuff, but that's where it gets a little confusing, because part of it is the Spielberg stuff like E.T. – and because with adults, we really wanted that Close Encounters feel with Joyce and stuff, or Jaws."

Dealing with inter-dimensional beings, telekinetic teenagers, Dungeons & Dragons lore, and all sorts of out-there sci-fi that only gets more fantastic with each season, it's not hard to see how the show has gripped the public's imagination. 

Along with the renewal announcement, Netflix has released a creepy teaser video that proclaims "we're not in Hawkins anymore" – possibly referring either to the Upside Down realm or adventures further afield in the real world (Russia maybe?). As the teaser progresses, a sign saying "Welcome to Hawkins" is swamped by creatures from the Upside Down.

You can check out the teaser video below.

Stranger Things season 4 release date: when we expect it

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Stranger Things Season 2 was set at Halloween (Image credit: Netflix)

The Duffer Brothers' show tends to angle its release date around public holidays such as Halloween for Season 2, or the 4th of July for Season 3 – depending on the time of year within Stranger Things itself. 

We wouldn't rule out a Christmas edition, though we think a Spring season seems more likely – that is, if current plot threads end up leading the show's story to the Chernobyl disaster, which occurred April 26, 1986, which isn't long after the 1985 setting of Season 3. (Yes, this theory is from Reddit, but it's pretty legit, okay?)

There tends to be 1-2 years lead time between each season, so we wouldn't expect Season 4 to be released before late 2020 anyway, and an early 2021 release may be more likely.

stranger things season 4 release date

(Image credit: Millie Bobby Brown on Instagram)

We also know that filming for Season 4 is starting soon, too. When asked in an Instagram Q&A when shooting was to commence, Millie Bobby Brown (aka Eleven) confirmed that it was to be "early this year." 

However, filming will start in a new place before returning to the show's normal home of Atlanta. According to Murphy's Multiverse, first the team are setting off to Lithuania and shooting in and around where HBO shot their gripping smash hit, Chernobyl. That'll certainly fuel the fire of one of the most persuasive fan theories we've seen so far. More on that below.

Stranger Things Season 4 cast: who's returning?

Brett Gelman plays Murray Bauman in Stranger Things

Brett Gelman plays Murray Bauman in Stranger Things (Image credit: Netflix)

Despite the face Stranger Things has now been officially renewed, there are no official casting announcements, but you can be sure you'll get a lot of the same faces as Season 3 – including Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Sadie Sink (Max), and Joe Keery (Steve Harrington). We don't expect to see Keery in a sailor suit for the whole season again, but it was wonderful while it lasted.

Maya Hawke (Robin), a newcomer for Season 3, also quickly became a fan favorite, and will almost certainly be a big presence in the season to come – while Caleb's younger sister Erica (played by Priah Ferguson) will likely continue to enjoy a larger role in the show.

Who won't we be seeing? Spoilers ahead (obviously), but we don't expect to see Dacre Montgomery (Billy) or Alec Utgoff (Alexei) again, though the showrunners could always surprise us. Heck, why don't you bring back Barb while you're at it?

David Harbour's character (Chief Hopper) may well return too – despite seemingly having been killed off in the Season 3 finale.

With the Byers family moving out of Hawkins at the end of Season 3, it may be that series regulars Winona Ryder (Joyce) and Charlie Heaton (Jonathan) decided to back out from a further season, or will have smaller roles.

However, that's probably not the case if we take Matt Duffer's interview with Entertainment Weekly as gospel, in which he said: “I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to open up a little bit, not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plotlines into areas outside of Hawkins.”

Stranger Things season 4: theories and rumors

The biggest question is: what's happened to Hopper? 

Although it looked like he was destroyed by an explosion, there's a chance he managed to jump through the wormhole/portal to the Upside Down – it might be up to Mike, Eleven, Lucas and the gang to save him.

But even if he's not in the Upside Down, he might still not be gone for good. We also know an "American" is being kept locked up in a Russian jail somewhere, and Hopper is a likely bet. That makes more sense given that filming is allegedly due to take place on a prison set in Lithuania. And in "one last tease before the New Year" a square appeared in the name of the Stranger Things writers account on Twitter, which some have speculated could refer to a prison cell.

Even though he appeared to have been killed off in season 2, some online rumours are hinting that the "American" might be Matthew Modine (Dr Martin Brenner), which is less likely but an interesting theory.

One Reddit user has been causing a stir online with a new theory: season 4 will be to do with the Chernobyl disaster. Sure it's an "out there" suggestion, but the thinking is that the past three seasons have followed a pattern: "‪Season 1: Winter 1983‬ (Christmas) Season 2: Fall 1984‬ (Halloween) Season 3: Summer 1985‬ (Independence Day) Season 4: should be Spring 1986 ‬(Easter and probably goes into spring break)."

The post-credit scene was in Russia and the Chernobyl disaster happened in the Spring of 1986. Is this going to be a huge fight between Eleven and the Upside Down that'll be covered up by a story of a nuclear reactor? It's bold, but we buy it.

For more evidence (both for and against Hopper's return), fans have been turning to David Harbour's Instagram account. He initially posted a photo about shaving his beard off, which had people speculating he can't possible by the "American" as he'd need a long beard. But then, as news broke about season four, he changed his profile picture to fan art of him and Eleven and they're upside down. What does it mean? Could he be trapped in the Upside Down?

Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 1 already has a working title

The Stranger Things' writers account has been teasing the title of Season 4, Episode 1: it's called The Hellfire Club, which Marvel fans will know from the X-Men comics as a group of villains that includes Emma Frost. It's possible this is just a working title, but hey, every little detail counts with this show. 

Where can I watch Stranger Things season 4?

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Winona Ryder, back in Season 1 (Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things is one of Netflix's hottest properties, and, like the previous seasons, Season 4 will almost certainly only be on the Netflix platform.

Netflix is a paid-for online streaming service for browsers, TV streaming devices, and mobile and tablets apps. Even the cheapest Basic Plan on Netflix offers access to the whole catalogue of titles for £5.99 / $8.99 / AU$9.99 a month. However, you'll need the Premium Plan to watch the show in the highest video quality possible. You can see a breakdown of all the subscription options in our Netflix plans guide.

Will Stranger Things season 4 be in 4K / HDR?

The neon-lit shopping mall of Season 3 was a highlight of Stranger Things

The neon-lit shopping mall of Season 3 was a highlight of Stranger Things (Image credit: Netflix)

If you're interested in Stranger Things' good looks as well – as you should be – you may be wondering what video formats the next season will be filmed in.

All three seasons so far have been filmed in 4K Ultra HD resolution, meaning anyone with a 4K TV and a strong enough internet connection will be able to watch in a huge amount of detail. Seasons 2-3 are also in HDR (high dynamic range), meaning an expanded range of colors and enhanced contrast – important for a show awash with bright colors, dazzling neon, and moody skies – though again you'll need an HDR-compatible screen to make the most of it.

Netflix also uses the Dolby Vision HDR format, rather than the competing HDR10+ standard – we know this is a lot to think about with your next TV, but some only support one format over the other.