It’s been almost exactly a year since the first season of Stranger Things dropped on Netflix, a show that remains one of the company’s most biggest word-of-mouth success stories.
You could be forgiven for subconsciously trying to erase the summer of 2016 – Brexit, Iceland, Suicide Squad – from memory, but in July all anyone wanted to talk about was Eleven, The Upside Down, BMXs and their common hatred of Barb (she sucked and you know it). The Duffer brothers’ thrilling sci-fi horror series was an explosion of ‘80s nostalgia for anyone who lived through the decade, and as for the rest of us – well, we just enjoyed the hairdos. Especially Steve; if it wasn’t for that almighty barnet the writers may well have had him severed by the Demogorgon.
Anyway, the internet is primed to talk nothing but Stranger Things again when it returns for season 2, which we’re getting fresh details about all the time. Last year’s finale had a bittersweet eeriness about it. The boys had their mate back in Hawkins, mercifully alive, but it’s fair to say Will wasn’t quite himself. The enormous slug he puked into the sink was a pretty big giveaway. Eleven was nowhere to be seen, and that feeling of impending dread that made the show so watchable was still lingering in the air.
Here’s everything we know so far about season 2.
When’s it out?
Alongside a snazzy, gloriously Stephen King-esque new poster, Netflix this week revealed that season two of Stranger Things will launch in its entirety on Friday 27 October – a few days earlier than the Halloween premiere that was teased originally. That means you could feasibly blast through the entire thing before a trick or treater even steps foot on your doorstep.
They also dropped a teeny new teaser that promised 1984 (the first series was set a year earlier in 1983) “only gets stranger”. Good news for us, bad news for a gang of school children that should be playing 8-bit video games and having water fights.
How many episodes are there?
Nine, one more than last time. And we already have their names.
1 - ‘Madmax’
2 - ‘The Boy Who Came Back to Life’
3 - ‘The Pumpkin Patch’
4 - ‘The Palace’
5 - 'The Storm'
6 - ‘The Pollywog’
7 - ‘The Secret Cabin’
8 - ‘The Brain’
9 - ‘The Lost Brother’
Co-creators the Duffer brothers will be in the directing chair for the the first two episodes and will return for the final two. In-between, the reins will be handed to executive producer Shawn Levy for episodes 3 and 4 (the same ones he helmed in season 1), before Finding Nemo and Wall-E director Andrew Stanton takes 5 and 6. Rebecca Thomas (Electrick Children) has the big job for episode 7.
There’s been a lot of debate already about the meaning of the season finale title, ‘The Lost Brother’. Could it be referring to the irreversible damage Will’s time in the Upside Down caused, and the way it has changed his relationship with brother Jonathan? Could the pukey slug stuff have been the beginning of the transformation into one of those demons? Maybe he gets kidnapped again? Maybe Mike (brother to Nancy) is the one who’s taken this time. Maybe Eleven has a mystery brother we meet in season two? Twelve? Thirteen? So many questions. So many fan theory rabbit holes to get lost in.
Which cast members are coming back?
Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) all return for season 2, as does Will (Noah Schnapp), who we only really saw fleetingly in his slimy Upside Down prison first time round.
All the supporting characters you care about – Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Steve (Joe Keery), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), Hopper (David Harbour) – will be back, and we’ve had a very brief glimpse of Millie Bobby’s Eleven, whose fate was left uncertain in season 1. Realistically, though, the boys aren’t going to stand much of a chance against the Demogorgon or any of its pals without her telekinetic badassery.
What about new cast members?
Seven new cast members have been added for Stranger Things’ second season, including Sean Astin (above), whose role as Mikey in The Goonies made him a bit of an ‘80s icon, but you might well know him better for playing Sam in Lord of the Rings. He’ll be a love interest for Joyce Byers, who is presumably trying her best to bring some normality back to a traumatised family.
Child actress Sadie Sink will play Max, who, according to TVLine, is a tough and confident tomboy teenager who prefers skateboards to bikes. Will we see her kickflipping over a mutant? Hopefully.
Aussie actor Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers) will play Max's older brother Billy, “a classic girlfriend-stealing bad boy”, with Paul Reiser and Linnea Birthelsen also on board.
There’s a new monster, and it’s massive
Remember when the Demogorgon thought it was a big deal? Meet season 2’s new monster, a gargantuan spider-like beast whose presence apparently turns the sky blood red. Fans have speculated that it looks a lot like a Thessalhydra, a mythical creature from the Dungeons and Dragons board game, which the boys played regularly.
There has been, however, a recent Reddit theory suggesting the being (that Finn Wolfhard had been referring to as “the shadow monster” in interviews) may inhabit both the Upside Down and our own dimension. The cloud-based form could be what it adopts when it’s human hunting time, or maybe it’s stuck between two worlds. So much of the Upside Down remains a mystery, but we know the Duffer brothers are keen to further explore its origins in season 2.
The upcoming series will introduce more than one new creature, and not all of them are out for blood. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gaten Matarazzo said Dustin will even befriend one of them. “It’s a little creature I get to bond with,” he explained. “It’s obviously not from this planet or this dimension.”
Will’s week in The Upside Down had lasting effects
The cast members have been keen to emphasise that goings on second season will take an even darker turn. Will’s friends know their mate has changed, but try their best to avoid confronting him about it. “Scarier stuff happens,” co-star Finn Wolfhard told TVLine. “Something happens to Will in the first couple of episodes that’s very, very disturbing.” It was pretty obvious that the Upside Down had an effect on him, both emotionally and physically, but the question is: will the damage be permanent?
Meanwhile, Mike and Nancy are mourning the loss of Barb and Eleven, so it will be interesting to see how their characters develop.
Papa could yet return
Last time we saw Matthew Modine’s Dr Martin Brenner – or Papa, to Eleven – he was being viciously attacked by the Demogorgon, but the camera cut away before we were able to assess that, yes, he’s fully deaded. The door’s wide open for a dramatic season 2 return, and considering he’s still an enigmatic figure in the show, we’d bank on it happening.
The full season two trailer debuted at the Super Bowl, and it remains the most comprehensive look we’ve had so far (despite only being a measly 37 seconds long).
Is Barb definitely dead?
Yep, still dead.