Stranger Things star David Harbour believes it's time for the wildly popular Netflix show to end – and I wholeheartedly agree.
Speaking to Discussing Film, Harbour said it was bittersweet that one of the best Netflix shows will end after ifs fifth and final season. However, the award-winning actor suggested it was for the best, and would allow the Duffer brothers – Stranger Things' creators – and the main cast to work on other projects.
As someone who's watched Stranger Things since its premiere, it'll be as bittersweet for me when the credits roll on Stranger Things season 5's final episode. That'll officially bring down the curtain on one of Netflix's biggest hits and I, like every other fan of the series, will wonder what we'll watch in a post-Stranger Things world.
Harbour is right, though, in his belief that Stranger Things should finish after five seasons; at least where the main show is concerned. The Duffer brothers and Netflix are already collaborating on new projects in the Stranger Things franchise, including a stage play and other spin-offs.
But I digress. The finish line is in sight for Stranger Things' main TV series, and that's a good thing.
How so? Every show has its own lifecycle. Some work best with a three-season arc – a trilogy, if you will, which is an increasingly common production formula in the movie and TV industries. Others find success as a limited series, such as other Netflix hits like The Queen's Gambit and Unbelievable. Then there are TV series, such as Grace and Frankie or Better Call Saul, that require five-plus seasons to wrap up their stories, and do so in highly entertaining fashion.
There are some shows, though, that simply outstay their welcome. The Walking Dead (11 seasons), How I Met Your Mother (nine seasons), Scrubs (nine seasons), and – whisper it quietly – even The Simpsons (34 seasons and counting) should have ended far earlier. They and countless others ran out of narrative steam before they were put out of their misery (in The Simpsons' case, the end is yet to come), allowing hugely successful shows to become shadows of their former selves.
With Stranger Things 5 set to be the final installment in the main show, it won't fall into the same trap (unless season 5 absolutely sucks, that is). As long as the Duffer brothers wrap up the overarching story, and each character's arc, in satisfying ways, Stranger Things will end on a high note rather than a low one.
As Harbour suggests, the end of Stranger Things will enable its cast and crew to fly the nest and showcase their obvious talents on other projects.
True, Stranger Things hasn't prevented the cast from pursuing other roles. Millie Bobby Brown has starred in two Enola Holmes films for Netflix, Sadie Sink recently wowed audiences alongside Brendan Fraser in The Whale, and Harbour himself has become a Marvel star (he appeared in Black Widow, and will reprise his role as Red Guardian in Thunderbolts in 2024) and has been the lead in other movies, such as Violent Night and 2018's failed Hellboy reboot.
However, it's clear that the cast's contractual obligations to Stranger Things are holding them back from branching out. As Harbour told Discussing Film, he was concerned that he might not be able to feature in Thunderbolts, as its rumored filming schedule clashes with that of Stranger Things 5. Shawn Levy, an executive producer-director on the Netflix show, almost missed the chance to direct a Marvel Phase 5 film – Deadpool 3 – for a similar reason.
Thankfully for the pair, Marvel and Netflix have come to an agreement that enables them to work on their forthcoming projects simultaneously. Levy and Harbour (and other cast and crew members), though, won't have to worry about such issues once Stranger Things season 5 has wrapped production.
But what of Netflix? The world's best streaming service will lose one of its most popular shows when Stranger Things' main series ends. Isn't it in its best interest to keep the franchise going?
Well, yes – and, as I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of spin-off projects in development. The conclusion of Stranger Things, though, will allow Netflix to focus on other breakout hits, such as Wednesday and Squid Game, and pump funds from Stranger Things' production into new series that it will hope can assume that show's mantle as the top dogs of its TV catalog.
It'll be a sad day when Stranger Things' main show finishes, but Harbour is right: it's time for the supernatural sci-fi series to draw to a close – and I know that its creators, cast, and crew will give it the best possible send-off.
Over to you, Netflix.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.
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