- Fifth season will be the main show's final entry
- No release date has been set
- Might not arrive until 2025
- Filming delayed due to various strikes
- Core cast set to return
- Terminator star confirmed to be joining cast
- Major characters could die
- Answers lingering questions about the Upside Down
- Will "takes center stage again"
- Spin-off projects in the works
- Stage play prequel launching in late 2023
It feels like Stranger Things season 5 is a long way away. The final season of Netflix's incredibly popular TV show is currently on hiatus due to the writers and actors strikes, which have brought Hollywood to a standstill. In short: don't expect it to be back on your screens before 2025 at the earliest.
While that'll be disappointing news to Stranger Things' huge fanbase, the break allows you to catch up on everything worth know about its final season. Below, we've rounded up what you need to know about the hit Netflix series' fifth entry, including its cast details, potential story beats, what the future holds for one of the best Netflix shows, and more.
Fair warning: full spoilers follow for Stranger Things season 4 are discussed below, so don't read on if you're not caught up. Potential spoilers for Stranger Things 5 are also on the way.
Stranger Things season 5 release date: what we know
The fifth season of Stranger Things doesn't have a release date. And, due to the writers and actors strikes, which has impacted Stranger Things 5's development among others, it won't be with us for a long time. Speaking to NME prior to the industrial action, David Harbour, who plays Jim Hopper, confirmed filming wouldn't begin until deals are reached between all parties, thus confirming the delay.
Duffers here. Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then -- over and out. #wgastrongMay 6, 2023
Despite the strikes, there appears to be some form of work going on behind the scenes, though. As reported by X (formerly known as Twitter) user itsjaredfilm, parts of Hawkins – the series' primary location – have been built as recently as August 6 (see the tweet below for the drone-captured images). It appears, then, that some sets are being erected now so filming can begin as soon as the strikes are over.
Downtown Hawkins being recreated on the back lot for season 5 of Stranger Things. #StrangerThings #ST5 #StrangerThings5 @SThingsSpoilers pic.twitter.com/k9Tk2xU748August 6, 2023
Meanwhile, script work began in August 2022, with the first episode's title unveiled in late November. It's called 'The Crawl', and we have four big theories on what Stranger Things 5's first episode title could mean.
Lastly, Stranger Things' co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer plan to make the final season's episodes shorter than those in its predecessor. Additionally, Dan Trachtenberg, whose directing credits include Predator prequel movie Prey, is set to helm an episode of the show's fifth season.
Stranger Things season 5 cast
Major spoilers follow for Stranger Things season 4's ending.
Here's who we expect to see in Stranger Things season 5:
- Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
- Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
- David Harbour as Jim Hopper
- Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler
- Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson
- Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair
- Noah Schnapp as Will Byers
- Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield
- Joe Keery as Steve Harrington
- Natalie Dyer as Nancy Wheeler
- Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers
- Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley
- Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman
- Priah Ferguson as Erica Sinclair
- Eduardo Franco as Argyle
- Linda Hamilton as TBC
The biggest casting news is that a major Terminator star has joined the Stranger Things 5 ranks. Linda Hamilton, who's synonymous with the sci-fi franchise for her role as Sarah Connors, was confirmed to be joining the show at Netflix Tudum 2023. There's no word on who she will play, though.
Prominent supporting characters could also appear in Stranger Things season 5. Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono), Ted Wheeler (Joe Chrest), Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sullivan (Sherman Augustus), Vickie (Amybeth McNulty), and Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) might return, but we don't know in what capacity.
Additionally, Doctor Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) was left handcuffed to a pipe in the subterranean Nina Project, while Vecna (Jamie Campbell-Bower) disappeared after being severely injured by Nancy, Steve, and Robin. Both are nailed on return, in our opinion – they're too important not to – but Netflix hasn't confirmed they'll be back yet.
As for those labeled "extremely unlikely to return", Dmitri Antonov (Tom Wlaschiha) and Yuri Ismaylov (Nikola Duricko) might not return. Eddie Munson (Joe Quinn) definitely isn't, with the fan favorite dying in the season 4 finale. However, Eddie is getting a prequel novel called 'Flight of Icarus' (per Entertainment Weekly), which is something, we guess.
The Duffer brothers also told IndieWire that they'll only introduce new characters if they're going to be "integral to the narrative". And, with Stranger Things season 5 primarily focusing on the core cast, you shouldn't expect anyone new to feature in the mainline show's final outing.
Stranger Things season 5 plot
We don't know anything official about Stranger Things 5's plot. However, speaking on Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 unlocked episode, the Duffers teased some story-based elements.
"It's going to be unlike any other season," Matt Duffer suggested. "We're starting season 5 and things are already going. In the way Max was impacted by [season] three and how that impacted her narrative in four, Dustin has been impacted a lot by the death of Eddie, so that's going to impact his storyline in five. We're going to see a side of him we've not seen before. It's also going to be like season one on steroids."
"Our characters are going after Vecna from minute one," Ross Duffer added. "We have a lot to do, in terms of a few more revelations, and also we need to make sure we give our characters time to make these final arcs."
Interestingly, the Duffers confirmed they've rewritten parts of season 5's outline (per Netflix Tudum) based on fan feedback, which slightly alters the series' ending. On X, the Stranger Things writing team suggested the fifth season "is like if season 1 and season 4 had a baby. And then that baby was injected with steroids".
Stranger Things season 5 needs to tie up other notable storylines to give the mainline series a satisfying conclusion, too.
First of all, our heroes will join forces to try to stop Vecna and the Upside Down for good. They've already gathered in Hawkins so, while they might break into smaller groups to cover as much ground as possible, they're still effectively working together.
Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Matt Duffer said: "We want to go back to a lot things we did in season 1 and a lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had". Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler, alluded to this plot thread, too, telling Collider: "I think it [season 5] answers an insane amount of questions about the lore of Stranger Things, the world-building. I think a lot of people will be happy with getting back. It's the last season, so we kind of want to get back to the roots of why the show was so special in the first place, and why the dynamics are so special in the first place, and sort of getting back to that."
Potential Stranger Things season 5 spoilers follow.
Speaking of Vecna, he was severely injured by Nancy, Steve, and Robin at Creel House. When the trio try to find Vecna's body, though, it's gone, with the series' primary villain crawling off to recover from his defeat.
That said, he was technically victorious in season 4. Max died for a whole minute following his attack, which caused four gates to the Upside Down to open in the center of Hawkins, allowing it to start merging with the real world. Vecna, then, will want to finish what he started – i.e. destroying earth and replacing it with the Upside Down.
And what of Vecna/The Mind Flayer's most notable victim, aka Will Byers? Speaking to Vogue, actor Noah Schnapp dropped a big hint about his character's arc, saying: "There’s a lot in store for Will. It ties back to where it begins, full circle. I’m excited for fans to see where we wrap his character. I think they’ll be really pleased, but also shocked."
Schnapp also told US magazine that Will is the "center point" of Stranger Things 5, before telling Forbes that season 5 will "end with Will". Ross Duffer corroborated Schnapp's comments in a chat with Variety, too, adding: "Will really takes center stage again. This emotional arc for him is what we feel is going to hopefully tie the whole series together. Will is used to being the young one, the introverted one, the one that’s being protected. So part of his journey, it’s not just sexuality – it’s Will coming into his own as a young man."
As for Max, she's in a medically-induced coma following her near-fatal encounter with Vecna in Stranger Things season 4's finale. When Eleven went looking for Max's consciousness/soul/whatever you want to call it in the Void, she couldn't find her either, so nobody knows if Max will recover.
Sink has since confirmed she's as much in the dark as fans are about Max's fate. She also said all she wants for Max is to "see her awake" (per The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon). You can read our thoughts on how Max's story could go one of two ways in Stranger Things season 5 while you're here.
you nerds are the best fans in the world and last night it showed. THREE @peopleschoice AWARDS INCLUDING BEST SHOW! #PCAs pic.twitter.com/Dh64W1PenJDecember 7, 2022
As for potential character deaths, we think Eleven and Mike will survive. However, Finn Wolfhard said he'd be open to Mike dying under one condition (via GQ). Hopper, Joyce, and Will have all been through a lot (much like Eleven), so we suspect they'll make it out alive. Everyone else, though, is fair game as far as we're concerned. Stranger Things season 5 is going to be the deadliest yet, which implies some main characters will bite the dust.
Brown claims she doesn't actually want Eleven to die, despite initially joking that she'd like it to happen. Maya Hawke, who plays Robin, told NME she'd "love to die and get my hero’s moment". Natalie Dyer hopes Nancy will live to tell the tale, though (via Cosmopolitan).
Teasing what else fans can expect, Matt Duffer told TVLine that season 5 will likely feature a time jump, before revealing (via the Happy Sad Confused podcast) it'll get right into the action from its first episode. That's before a tense and captivating final few episodes, which he describes as being Lord of the Rings-esque in tone.
"It [the season 5 finale] is going to be Return of the King-ish with eight endings," he said. "If you just watch Return of the King, it feels like too many endings. [But] if you watch all of them back-to-back, which I’ve done multiple times, it’s exactly right. If it were any shorter, it would feel cheap and wrong."
hard to pick just 10 moments from s4, but if i had to it'd be these pic.twitter.com/QmX4XBtmGgJuly 29, 2022
There are other subplots that needs wrapping up, too.
Lieutenant Colonel Sullivan is surely still tracking Eleven, believing she's responsible for the deaths in and around Hawkins. We also need to see how Eddie's death impacts the usually jovial Dustin – Gaten Matarazzo teasing in the season 4 volume 2 unlocked episode that "it's going to be rough for him to find a light at the end of the tunnel."
We have to find out why the Upside Down is seemingly stuck in 1984 as well. We still don't have all the answers about what this realm actually is, why it's spookier and more dingy than the realm Henry Creel first traveled to, or what The Mind Flayer is exactly. Ross Duffer (per season 4 volume 2's unlocked episode) said those queries will be answered.
Then there's the loose end concerning number eight – aka Kali Prasad. We haven't seen Kali since season 2 and, unlike every other test subject under Doctor Brenner's supervision (who had telekinetic abilities), she had different powers. Why was she the odd one out? And will we see her again? It's possible Stranger Things season 5 won't answer these questions. After all, the Duffers have retconned some early season plot points in later instalments,(via Variety). Maybe Kali's story is just one of those lingering mysteries we'll never get closure on.
Stranger Things season 5 trailer
There's no trailer yet. Once one is released, we'll update this section.
The future of Stranger Things
Season 5 of Stranger Things will bring the curtain down on the show's main story – and, in our opinion, David Harbour is right – it's time for Stranger Things to end.
However, there are other projects in the works at Upside Down Pictures, aka the Duffers' newly formed production company. The studio will develop movies and TV shows exclusively for Netflix, including two Stranger Things spin-offs – one of which is confirmed to be an animated series (per Variety).
The other confirmed spin-off is a stage play – Stranger Things: The First Shadow, which will debut on London's West End in late 2023. A prequel to events depicted in the main series, The First Shadow is set in 1959, will tell the tale of the Creel Family's arrival in Hawkins, and show us Jim Hopper and other notable characters in their teens. As good as that sounds, we think this spin-off of Stranger Things season 5 will hit the big Marvel and Star Wars problem.
For more Stranger Things coverage, check out these five shows that you should watch while we wait for season 5's arrival. Alternatively, read our thoughts on five Stranger Things spin-off ideas that could work.
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