'Basically, eight movies': Stranger Things season 5 is going to test my runtime limits – and I watch Netflix for a living

Steve, Dustin, Max, and Robin looking surprised at a computer screen in Stranger Things 4
Stranger Things season 5 sounds like it'll really test your runtime limits. (Image credit: Netflix)

Prepare yourselves for an ultramarathon TV session, everyone – because it sounds like Stranger Things season 5 is going to be a really, really long watch.

That's according to Maya Hawke, who's played Robin on the hugely popular Netflix series since season 3. Speaking on the Podcrushed podcast, Hawke suggested that fans who watch the show's final eight episodes back-to-back will be in for an extremely long binge-watching session, with each entry's runtime being equivalent to a feature-length film.

"We’re making, basically, eight movies," Hawke said. "The episodes are very long. Our showrunners, Matt and Ross [Duffer], take a lot of responsibility. They have an amazing team of writers, but they’re very involved. They write a lot and they are very intense and serious about the quality of the continued writing, and it takes a long time to write each season, and it takes a long time to shoot them."

If, like me, you've been keeping a close eye on Stranger Things season 5's development, you'll have braced yourself for the possibility of episodic runtimes akin to Stranger Things season 4's finale, which clocked in at two hours and 22 minutes. Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast in July 2022, the Duffer brothers revealed that season 5 "is going to be [The Lord of the Rings:] The Return of The King" with its lengthy, barnstorming narrative and multiple endings.

Given that the theatrical version of that epic Lord of the Rings film is three hours and 21 minutes – and the Blu-Ray Extended Version is an hour longer than that – we should prime ourselves for some long episodes when season 5 eventually makes its debut. It sounds like we'll need to plan our bathroom breaks accordingly, and stock up on plenty of snacks.

When will season 5 of Stranger Things come out?

Eleven, Mike, and Will stare into the distance from a hill in Stranger Things season 4

Stranger Things season 5 might not be ready to be released until early 2026 (Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things' fifth and final season has been filming since January and, as Hawke also claimed on the Podcrushed podcast, principal photography will take a year to complete. Clearly, that means Stranger Things season 5 won't be released in 2024, although if it doesn't finish shooting until January 2025 we might not even see it until late 2025 or early 2026. That's a long time to wait for one of the best Netflix shows to arrive back on our screens.

Still, there's plenty you can do to pass the time. You could re-watch the other four seasons of Stranger Things to prepare yourself for its return, or simply read my Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 ending explained article for a quick refresher on where things left off before season 5 is released.

Alternatively, UK fans can go and watch its prequel stage play – Stranger Things: The First Shadow – at the Phoenix Theater in London. It's playing until February 2025 and, apparently, has a big lore reveal that'll need addressing in the hit Netflix show's final season. You'll have to see The First Shadow, though, to learn more about what reveal is. 

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

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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