In the last few years, Netflix series Stranger Things has become an international hit. Its meshing of horror, adventure, comedy and 80s nostalgia had fans hooked and spooked from the very first show.
There was something about the small town’s alternate dimension that everyone couldn’t get enough of, despite it having so many eerie twists and turns. You may think you’re addicted to the show and know everything about it, but we’re sure this list will teach you something you don’t know.
It was rejected by major networks
Stranger Things may have turned out to be a mass success, but so many major TV networks never believed in it. The Duffer brothers took their original pitch to over a dozen cable networks who were less than impressed with the script.
All of them rejected and Netflix was the last one that picked it up. Most of the networks who rejected it argued that they couldn’t center the show around four kids without making it a children’s show.
Montauk was its original name
With a mix of Steven Spielberg, Steven King and the 80s mixed into the show, the Duffer brothers wanted to come up with a title that depicted these themes.
Initially they chose the name Montauk as it was the location Jaws was set at. In addition, it was the site of the Montauk Project urban legend which was researching supernatural phenomena in the 80s. Eventually, the show was set in a fictional location so the writers had more creative freedom.
Child actors auditioned with lines from Stand By Me
For each of the child roles in Stranger Things, the Duffers auditioned over 1,000 child actors. In order for them to get in the right frame of mind for the series, the Duffers had each actor read lines from the classic Stephen King adaptation Stand By Me.
Mike, played by Finn Wolfhard, was already a big fan of 80s pop culture and filmography so he fitted the part perfectly. Dustin, played by Gaten Matarazzo was cast after the Duffers saw just a single audition tape.
David Harbour was always wanted
When casting for the role of Hopper, the Duffers had always wanted David Harbour. They believed that he had been playing villain roles for too long and wanted to give him the opportunity to have a leading role and act as the hero.
In another nod to the 80s, his character was named after a commando who is killed in the 1979 science fiction horror movie Alien. The Duffers instincts were correct and Harbour became a hit with fans.
The series got the greenlit before the script was completed
When the Duffers were trying to pitch the show to different networks, the script itself wasn’t completed, but instead they had a 20-page pitch book on ideas for the show and potential episode concepts.
When Netflix bought the whole show, they picked it up purely based on the pitch ideas with no concrete script in place. From this, many of the roles on the show were cast as they went along with the series.
Authentic in the 80s
The Duffers whole intention for Stranger Things was that it would look and feel like a nostalgic 80s show. When it came to filming, they wanted to capture this look as much as possible and include grainy footage from real 80s movies.
This grainy look was applied to each episode after being captured digitally and applied in post-production. The Duffers also wanted to use old school effects including puppetry and practical effects, using as little CGI as possible.
A kidnapping movie inspired it
When the Duffers were going through ideas for the show, one of their original concepts and inspirations was from the 2013 movie Prisoners. In the movie the father goes to extreme lengths in an attempt to retrieve his kidnapped daughter.
The Duffers explored the emotional turmoil of a parent but then came to the decision to focus on the children. Somehow, they came to find the addition of a monster worked well with the children finding their missing friend.
Eleven was based on Firestarter
It wasn’t just the Stephen King novel that inspired the show’s title font, it also inspired the character of Eleven. Firestarter was about a little girl named Charlie who gained psychic abilities from her parents who were a part of MKULTRA, the top-secret government project.
Eleven also gained her superpowers from her mother who was also involved in MKULTURA. She even got a nosebleed when she uses the powers, just like Charlie’s father in Firestarter.
A nod to X-Men
In the first episode of Stranger Things, Dustin challenges Will to a bike race with the winner receiving Dustin’s copy of X-Men issue #134. In this issue of the comic book, Jean Grey becomes the most powerful psychic being, the Dark Phoenix.
For comic fans, this was a direct nod and appreciation for Eleven’s character with the ability to open gateways to other dimensions. Similarly, they both destroyed themselves to save their friends as Eleven did in the first season of the show.
The bike chase was inspired by E.T.
In another nod to Spielberg movies, the Duffer brothers added elements of his movies into Stranger Things, one of them being the bike chase in E.T. In the Spielberg blockbuster, Elliot and his friends try to escape the federal agents to get E.T. back to the spaceship, in which the alien uses his superpowers to fly them over a roadblock.
In Stranger Things, Mike and his friends were running away from the military when Eleven helps them escape by having the cars fly over their bikes.
More hidden E.T. references
The Duffer brothers were really into bringing numerous E.T. references into Stranger Things. The candy Reese’s Pieces was said to be Will’s favorite and the same candy was heavily featured in the Spielberg movie.
Moreover, the disguise that Eleven wears to go to school with the blonde wig was a very similar outfit to the one Elliot puts on E.T. in order to disguise the alien, even though Eleven’s was much more convincing!
The second season was originally totally different
In the case that Stranger Things wasn’t picked up for a second season, the Duffers created a complete story in the first season. So when the show became a hit and Netflix extended the contract it wasn’t their first choice to continue the story and one of the ideas they had was to make Stranger Things into an anthology series.
Another one of their ideas was to do a sequel that was set around a decade later in the 90s.
Stranger Things resurrected New Coke
New Coke was released in 1985 when season 3 of Stranger Things took place. When the drink first hit stores in the 80s, consumers hated it and it sparked protests around the U.S. as well as internal lawsuits at Coca-Cola.
Three months after this, the New Coke was stopped and the original Coke was reinstated. Fast forward to present day, from the success of Stranger Things, Coca-Cola released a limited run of retro-style New Coke with Steve and Dustin featured in the commercial.
The significance of Hopper’s blue wristband
One of the easter eggs in Stranger Things that could easily have gone unnoticed was Chief Hopper’s wristband. For the majority of the first two seasons, the blue band was always seen on his wrist.
Eventually, it was revealed that this was the band his terminally ill daughter wore before she died. However, at the end of season 2, Eleven is seen wearing the band, showing that Hopper’s grief may have been let go of, after adopting Eleven.
Not a cheap show
The vision of Stranger Things and the fact it was set in the 80s with a grainy background was never going to be cheap for Netflix. As a result, the budget of the show mirrors that of a Hollywood movie.
The Duffers were quite pleased with this considering they saw the first two seasons of the show as two very long movies. In the first two seasons, the total cost of production was a huge $120 million.
It has a timeline
Unlike many other series which run until the popularity has decreased or it has come to a natural end, the Duffers always had an idea of when they wanted to end the show, and end it on a high. They stated that the show would go on for four or five seasons.
While the fourth season is a certainty, questions are still being asked surrounding the possibility of a fifth season. Only time will tell if it goes ahead.
Winona Ryder was cast due to her 80s icon status
In all aspects of Stranger Things, there are many aspects that pay homage to the 80s and have this theme running throughout. When the prospect of casting 80s icon and it-girl Winona Ryder as the part of Joyce, the Duffers were extremely excited about it.
After the idea came up, they were absolutely set on it and knew Winona would make a great addition to the show, as well as bringing her status as an 80s star with her.
The title was loosely based on Stephen King novels
When the show wasn’t going to be set in Montauk anymore, the Duffers needed a new title so went and bought an old copy of Stephen King’s novel Firestarter. They used the cover of the book to come up with different ideas and eventually settled on Stranger Things.
This was partly because another King novel was titled Needful Things and they liked the to-the-point nature of the title. However, it took them a while to definitely settle on the name.
The hidden meaning behind the Poltergeist movie
When Joyce took Will to see the classic 80s horror movie Poltergeist, he disappeared right after. Ironically, in the movie a young couple’s daughter is kidnapped by ghosts and brought to another dimension.
They could only contact her through walls and eventually find a portal to reach her through. Essentially the movie mimics exactly what happens to Will in stranger things season one. Joyce is even the one who carries him through the portal.
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