Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers

"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers" is the series premiere of the American science fiction horror web television series Stranger Things. It was released exclusively on Netflix worldwide on July 15, 2016, along with the rest of the first season. It was written and directed by series creators the Duffer Brothers.[1][2]

"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Stranger Things episode
The Vanishing of Will Byers.jpg
Title screen for the episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byThe Duffer Brothers
Written byThe Duffer Brothers
Featured musicKyle Dixon
Michael Stein
Cinematography byTim Ives
Editing byDean Zimmerman
Original release dateJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Running time48 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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Stranger Things (season 1)
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The episode takes place in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana in November 1983, and introduces the first season's major storylines: the mysterious disappearance of 12-year-old Will Byers and the resulting search for him, the arrival of a mysterious psychokinetic girl named Eleven, and the nefarious attempts of a local U.S. Department of Energy laboratory to conceal their role in the strange events that have befallen the town.


On November 6, 1983, in a US Department of Energy laboratory in the town of Hawkins, Indiana, a scientist is attacked by an unseen creature. Meanwhile the four guys, Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will were playing Dungeons and Dragons were in the game, the demogorgan defeated the players .While bicycling home from the Dungeons & Dragons session with his friends, 12-year-old Will Byers encounters the creature and vanishes.Next morning Joyce and Will's brother Jonathan saw that Will didn't return home and report it to the Hawkin's police where we were introduced to police chief, Jim Hopper.Same day, a buzz cut young girl wearing a hospital gown steals food from a local diner. The owner, Benny, takes pity on her and feeds her before calling social services. From a tattoo on her arm, he learns that her name is Eleven. A woman posing as a social worker arrives and murders Benny. Armed men search the diner for Eleven, but she escapes. Will's mother Joyce believes she hears Will's voice on a distorted phone call, but her phone short circuits. Will's friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin search for Will in the woods and find Eleven.


Stranger Things was created by Matt and Ross Duffer, known professionally as The Duffer Brothers.[3] The two had completed writing and producing their 2015 film Hidden, which they had tried to emulate the style of M. Night Shyamalan, however, due to changes at Warner Bros., its distributor, the film did not see a wide release and the Duffers were unsure of their future.[4] To their surprise, television producer Donald De Line approached them, impressed with Hidden's script, and offered them the opportunity to work on episodes of Wayward Pines alongside Shyamalan. The brothers were mentored by Shyamalan during the episode's production, so that when they finished, they felt they were ready to produce their own television series.[5]

The Duffer Brothers prepared a script that would essentially be similar to the series' actual pilot episode, along with a 20-page pitch book to help shop the series around for a network.[6] They pitched the story to a number of cable networks, all of which rejected the script on the basis that they felt a plot centered around children as leading characters would not work, asking them to make it a children's show or to drop the children and focus on Hopper's investigation in the paranormal.[5] In early 2015, Dan Cohen, the VP of 21 Laps Entertainment, brought the script to his colleague Shawn Levy. They subsequently invited The Duffer Brothers to their office and purchased the rights for the series, giving full authorship of it to the brothers. After reading the pilot, the streaming service Netflix purchased the whole season for an undisclosed amount;[7] the show was subsequently announced for a planned 2016 release by Netflix in early April 2015.[8] The Duffer Brothers stated that at the time they had pitched to Netflix, the service had already gotten recognized for its original programming, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, with well-recognized producers behind them, and were ready to start giving upcoming producers like them a chance.[6] The brothers started to write out the series and brought Levy and Cohen in as executive producers to start casting and filming.[9]


Critical receptionEdit

Both Vulture and The A.V. Club gave the episode a positive review, praising its nostalgic elements and acting.[10][11]


The episode was honored at various award shows. Dean Zimmerman was nominated for three awards related to his editing of the episode, but only won two of the three, the "Outstanding Editing – Television" award at the Hollywood Post Alliance, and the "Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series" award at the 69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Chris Trujillo received two nominations for his production design in the episode, while The Duffer Brothers received four nominations for their directing.


  1. ^ "The Vanishing of Will Byers | STRANGER THINGS: Season 1". Archived from the original on 2019-07-15. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  2. ^ "All the 80s references in "Stranger Things Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"". July 25, 2016.
  3. ^ Mellor, Louisa (July 15, 2016). "Netflix's Stranger Things spoiler-free review". Den of Geek. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  4. ^ Sternbergh, Adam (August 20, 2017). "Turned Upside Down". Vulture. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Grow, Kory (August 3, 2016). "'Stranger Things': How Two Brothers Created Summer's Biggest TV Hit". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Cohen, Finn (August 14, 2016). "Matt and Ross Duffer Discuss 'Stranger Things,' a Nightmare on '80s Street". New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  7. ^ Berkshire, Geoff (July 22, 2016). "'Stranger Things': Shawn Levy on Directing Winona Ryder, Netflix's Viral Model". Variety. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  8. ^ Spangler, Todd (April 2, 2015). "Netflix Orders 'Montauk' Supernatural Drama Series from 'Wayward Pines' Duffer Twins". Variety. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  9. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 2, 2015). "Netflix Orders Supernatural Drama Series From Matt & Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  10. ^ Stephens, Emily L. "Stranger Things mixes its nostalgic glow with darkness". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 2019-07-19. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  11. ^ Tobias, Scott (15 July 2016). "Stranger Things Series Premiere Recap: Blast From the Past". Vulture. Retrieved 2020-02-13.