Stranger Things (season 3)

The third season of the American science fiction horror web television series Stranger Things, titled Stranger Things 3, was released worldwide on Netflix's web streaming service on July 4, 2019. The series was created by the Duffer Brothers, who are also executive producers along with Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen, and Iain Paterson.

Stranger Things
Season 3
Promotional poster
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes8
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
Season chronology
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Season 2
Next →
Season 4

The third season stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Dacre Montgomery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Cara Buono. Cary Elwes, Jake Busey, Michael Park, and Francesca Reale appear in recurring roles.[1][2][3]


In the summer of 1985 in Hawkins, the newly opened Starcourt Mall has become the focal point of the town, driving other stores out of business. Hawkins chief of police Jim Hopper is conflicted over Eleven and Mike's budding relationship, while Joyce considers moving out of Hawkins for better prospects, leaving the state of the children's friendships and her own relationship with Hopper in the air, and Joyce notices something strange going on with her magnets. However, strange power fluctuations trigger Will's awareness of something otherworldly, and Eleven and Max sense something is off about the town's residents, and despite having closed the portal to the Upside Down, fear that they are all still in danger from it.

Cast and charactersEdit


Notable guestsEdit


No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
181"Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy?"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
In June 1984, Soviet scientists attempt to force open a new gate to the Upside Down. One year later in Hawkins, the popularity of the new Starcourt Mall has forced many local businesses to close, angering townspeople. To the chagrin of the now fiercely paternal Hopper, Mike and Eleven have developed a romantic relationship, leading him to seek Joyce's advice. Joyce suggests he have a "heart-to-heart" conversation with them. Dustin returns from summer science camp and, with the help of the other kids, sets up a makeshift radio tower so he can contact his camp girlfriend Suzie. Dustin is unable to contact Suzie, leading the other kids – who are skeptical as to whether Suzie really exists – to leave, but Dustin later overhears a transmission in Russian on his radio. Will senses that the Mind Flayer may still be alive, but keeps this to himself. Hopper attempts to communicate his feelings to Mike and Eleven, but Mike's smugness angers him and he secretly threatens Mike into agreeing not to see Eleven. Rats congregate in a mill near Hawkins where they explode into an organic mass. Billy offers to give Mrs. Wheeler "swimming lessons". Both had been romantically interested in the other for quite a long time, and it could lead to an affair. While getting ready for this "date", Mrs. Wheeler realizes that she needs to be there for her husband and children, and does not go to meet Billy. Later, while driving by the mill, Billy's car is hit by an unseen creature and he is dragged inside the mill.
192"Chapter Two: The Mall Rats"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
Billy escapes from the mill after being subdued by the creature, having a vision of the Upside Down where a doppelgänger instructs him to "build it". Mike lies to Eleven to avoid seeing her, confusing Eleven and elating Hopper. Max deduces that Mike is lying and that, if he does not apologize, Eleven should break up with him. Nancy and Jonathan, working as interns at the Hawkins Post, investigate at the home of an elderly woman named Mrs. Driscoll who claims that rats have been eating her fertilizer and acting rabid. After they leave, a caged rat explodes into an organic mass and escapes. Max and Eleven bond while shopping at Starcourt and run into Mike, Will, and Lucas. Mike lies to Eleven again, leading her to break up with him. Joyce is puzzled when the magnets at the store and on her fridge at home lose their magnetism, leading her to miss dinner with Hopper. Dustin reunites with Steve, who now works at an ice cream parlor at Starcourt with former classmate Robin Buckley. The trio translate the Russian communication and determine that the incoherent message must be a code. Billy returns from the Upside Down and, struggling with visions and guided by a strange voice, abducts fellow lifeguard Heather Holloway and takes her to the mill where she is subdued by the creature.
203"Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard"Shawn LevyWilliam BridgesJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
Eleven uses her powers to spy on Mike and later Billy, finding him subduing Heather before he senses Eleven's presence. Max and Eleven try to track down Billy but fail to find him and Heather at the pool, with Eleven attempting her own telepathic search for Heather. After finding out more about the rats' strange behavior and reports of missing fertilizer and chemicals all over Hawkins, Nancy takes Jonathan back to Mrs. Driscoll's house where they find her eating fertilizer herself. Will has a falling out with Mike and Lucas, frustrated by their preoccupation with girls. Robin decodes the Russian communication, determining it to be about a shipment arriving at Starcourt that night, and she joins Dustin and Steve on a stake-out where they spy on armed Russian soldiers at Starcourt's loading dock. Hopper is angry at Joyce for standing him up, but she convinces him that the magnets must have demagnetized due to an electromagnetic device at the abandoned lab. Hopper and Joyce go to the lab to investigate, but Hopper is attacked by Grigori, a Russian soldier. Max and Eleven find Billy and Heather having dinner with Heather's parents, seemingly fine. After the girls leave, Billy and Heather knock out her parents, which Will senses and reveals that the Mind Flayer has returned.
214"Chapter Four: The Sauna Test"Shawn LevyKate TrefryJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
Billy and Heather bind her parents and take them to the mill. Nancy and Jonathan are fired for harassing Mrs. Driscoll, whom their boss Tom Holloway claims to be a paranoid schizophrenic. Will reveals his connection to the Mind Flayer to Mike, Lucas, Eleven, and Max, speculating that the Mind Flayer still resides in the real world and has possessed Billy. Hopper recalls having previously seen Grigori meeting with the town's mayor, Larry Kline. Hopper and Joyce force Kline to reveal that Grigori works for the owners of Starcourt, who have been purchasing abandoned properties throughout Hawkins. Kline later alerts Grigori that Hopper and Joyce are planning to search the properties. At Starcourt, Dustin, Steve and Robin enlist Lucas' sister Erica to crawl through the airshaft and break into the loading dock, where they discover that it is an elevator. The elevator plunges deep below the mall with them trapped inside. Still suspicious, Nancy goes to visit Mrs. Driscoll at the hospital, while the kids trap Billy in the pool's sauna to confirm that he is possessed. Billy gains superhuman strength and breaks free, while Nancy witnesses Mrs. Driscoll similarly transform. Billy regroups with Heather at the mill, where dozens of other townspeople have been possessed.
225"Chapter Five: The Flayed"Uta BriesewitzPaul DichterJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
Hopper and Joyce search one of the abandoned properties, discovering a hidden laboratory. Grigori arrives to kill them, and they narrowly escape with a hostage – a Russian scientist named Alexei – in tow. Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica arrive in a Russian lab underneath Starcourt and hide from Russian soldiers unloading crates from the elevator. Attempting to find a communications room, the group discovers a large testing area where scientists are trying to force open a portal to the Upside Down. As Alexei does not speak English, Hopper and Joyce take him to Murray – the only Russian speaker they know – to translate. Grigori tries to follow them but loses the trail. Nancy and Jonathan regroup with Will, Mike, Lucas, Eleven, and Max and then theorize that Billy and Driscoll are both possessed by the Mind Flayer, who is using them to "flay" (possess) people to create an army. The group decide to visit Driscoll at the hospital to learn more but find her gone. They are attacked by Tom and Bruce who are now of the Flayed who, after Nancy and Jonathan kill them, dissolves into single organic mass resembling the Mind Flayer.
236"Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum"Uta BriesewitzCurtis GwinnJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
Eleven, who had just then reconciled with Mike, uses her powers to incapacitate the Mind Flayer, forcing it to flee to the mill. In the Russian lab beneath Starcourt, Steve and Robin are captured, drugged, and interrogated, but Dustin and Erica manage to rescue them. With Murray translating, Hopper and Joyce hold Alexei hostage, forcing him to reveal that the Russians are attempting to access the Upside Down and that they are opening a portal beneath Starcourt. Hopper calls Owens to warn the U.S. Government of the threat but Joyce insists that they return to Hawkins immediately, fearing that their kids may be involved. Grigori corners Kline at Hawkins' Independence Day fair, demanding he step up efforts to find Hopper. Mike inadvertently admits his love for Eleven. To find the Mind Flayer, Eleven uses her powers in an attempt to psychically communicate with Billy, learning of his troubled childhood and finding the Flayer at the mill. Billy senses Eleven's presence, giving the Mind Flayer access to her location, and reveals that the Mind Flayer's plan is to kill her in revenge for her closing the gate. The Flayed converge on the mill, dissolving into an organic mass and merging with the Mind Flayer.
247"Chapter Seven: The Bite"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
Eleven and the others determine the Mind Flayer is coming for her since she was the one who previously closed the gate. Will senses the Mind Flayer approaching and it attacks them before they flee, wounding Eleven. Dustin and Erica drag a drugged Steve and Robin to the movie theater in Starcourt. Eleven's group break into a supermarket to help treat her wounds and gather more supplies. Dustin contacts them over walkie-talkie to try and explain their situation before he loses battery power. Eleven uses her powers to find Dustin and the group takes off for the mall. Steve admits that he has feelings for Robin, but she comes out to him as a lesbian. Hopper's group make their way to the fairgrounds in Hawkins to find the children where they are spotted by Kline, who alerts the Russians. Alexei is fatally shot by Grigori in front of Murray. Murray, Hopper, and Joyce evade several Soviet agents and learn the agents are looking for the children at the mall. At the mall, Eleven's group arrives in time to stop the Russians from shooting Dustin's group. Eleven collapses in front of the children, her wound pulsing.
258"Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 4, 2019 (2019-07-04)
Eleven rids herself of a piece of the Mind Flayer that had been embedded in her wound as Hopper's group arrives. Plans are made to take Eleven to safety, while Hopper, Joyce, and Murray will shut off the machine, with Dustin and Erica navigating for them from his radio tower. Dustin enlists Suzie's help for a necessary code, Planck's constant. Billy and the Mind Flayer trap Eleven at the mall, and Billy seizes Eleven. While the others distract the Mind Flayer by attacking it with fireworks, Eleven is able to awaken Billy's mind from his memories, and Billy sacrifices himself to protect Eleven. Hopper fights with Grigori in the gate room as Joyce prepares to trigger the shutdown. Hopper throws Grigori into the machine, causing it to go haywire and block his exit. Hopper nods at Joyce to trigger the shutdown, disintegrating everyone in the gate room, seemingly himself as well, and killing the nearby Mind Flayer. As Dr. Owens arrives with military forces, Eleven learns from Joyce's expression that Hopper is gone. Three months later, Joyce's family and a powerless Eleven prepare to move out of Hawkins. Mike and Eleven confess their love for each other and make plans to see each other at Thanksgiving. Joyce gives Hopper's written speech, that he was going to say during their heart-to-heart, to Eleven. In Kamchatka, Russian guards are instructed to feed a prisoner, but "not the American", to a captive Demogorgon.



Levy noted in November 2016 that he and the Duffer Brothers had already begun planning a potential third season, saying, "We are not gonna be caught off guard and we don't wanna be making stuff up like the day before we have to write it and make it, so we are definitely optimistic and we have started thinking ahead."[21] The Duffer Brothers anticipate having about four to five seasons to work with, but do want to "have a really finite ending" while the series is still at a height of success, according to Matt, rather than letting it draw out indefinitely.[22] In August 2017, the Duffer Brothers confirmed there would be a third season, with the likelihood of one more season following that, with Ross saying, "We're thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out".[23] However, executive producer Shawn Levy later suggested that either four or five total seasons were possibilities, claiming that "the truth is we're definitely going four seasons and there's very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely."[24] Matt Duffer later commented that no official decision has been made, claiming that "It's hard, like four seems short, five seems long. So I don't know what to do."[25] In December 2017, Netflix officially confirmed that they have green lit the third season,[26] consisting of eight episodes. Levy also confirmed that a fourth season was "definitely happening" and that there was potential for a fifth season.[27] A year later, the episode titles for season three were revealed, along with confirming the season would be named Stranger Things 3, similar to the second season.[28]


Writing for the third season began before the second season's premiere, with a good portion being written in twelve-to-fourteen-hour bouts by the series' creators.[29] It was reported that Netflix wanted both the third and fourth seasons to be written simultaneously as to facilitate a back-to-back production schedule, for the actors were aging faster than their on-screen characters, but both the Duffer Brothers and producer Shawn Levy opted to focus only on the third season to ensure it was better-developed and more fleshed out.[30]

In terms of narrative, Levy said the season would be less about Will, saying, "We're not going to put Will through hell for a third season in a row. He'll be dealing with stuff, but he won't be at rock bottom... We're [going to be] dealing with forces of evil that are new."[31] David Harbour has said that the third season also draws heavily from the film Fletch.[32] Both Levy and Natalia Dyer echo sentiments that this season's events will be more adult-oriented, with Dyer calling the season's narrative "...Bigger, darker, [and] scarier."[33]

The early pitch documents for the season featured a scene that had the Mind Flayer monster rampaging through the Hawkins Fourth of July Parade, but the idea was later scrapped as the scripts were written.[34]


The third season sees Ryder, Harbour, Wolfhard, Brown, Matarazzo, McLaughlin, Schnapp, Sink, Dyer, Heaton, Buono, Keery, and Montgomery return.[35] In March 2018, it was announced that Priah Ferguson's character had been promoted to a recurring role, and that Maya Hawke has been cast as Robin, a new lead who's been described as an "alternative girl."[1] Hawke's character was later revealed to be Steve's co-worker at the Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor in the newly built Starcourt Mall.[36] Cary Elwes and Jake Busey's castings were announced in April 2018; Elwes was cast as Mayor Kline, a " classic '80s politician – more concerned with his own image than with the people of the small town he governs," and Busey as Bruce, a shifty reporter who works at The Hawkins Post.[2] Francesca Reale was cast as Heather, a popular lifeguard at the community pool.[3] As of September 2018, casting had still not been completed for the season, which at that point had been shooting for five months and was less than two months from completion. Carmen Cuba, the show's casting director, attributed the slower-than-usual casting process to the heightened secrecy of the plot paired with certain roles' shifting characterizations and importance.[37]

For the third season, it was reported that several of the cast members would receive pay raises. Ryder and Harbour received an increase to $350,000 an episode from $150,000 and $80,000 respectively; Wolfhard, Matarazzo, McLaughlin, and Schnapp earned a pay increase to over $200,000 an episode, possibly as much as $250,000, a significant increase from the reported $20,000 they had made in season one (later increased by $60,000); and Dyer, Heaton, and Keery received approximately $150,000 an episode. Brown's wage increase was not disclosed, but was estimated to be bigger than that of her young counterparts. Some sources suggest she made at least $250,000 and may have received between $300,000 and $350,000 per episode.[38][39][40]


Gwinnett Place Mall stood in for the fictional "Starcourt Mall" during third-season filming

Filming for the third season officially began on April 23, 2018.[40] Jackson, Georgia remained as primary filming area for scenes in Hawkins' downtown area.[41] The South Bend Pool in Atlanta served as the Hawkins community pool.[41] The major setpiece of the season, Starcourt Mall, was filmed at a re-dressed Gwinnett Place Mall near Duluth, Georgia.[42] The production team had searched around Georgia for a dead mall, one either closed or with significantly reduced vacancy, for film, and found Gwinnett was nearly perfect, having been built in 1984 and thus having the staples of construction from malls in that period. They secured a portion of the mall that had been vacant for some time, redressing the storefronts and food court to feature brands of the 80s, paying attention to which stores likely had made it to Indiana by 1985. Outside "Scoops Ahoy!", a fictional store, they had to make one exception for "Glamour Shots", which was a real chain of photo studios but did not come to malls until after 1985; as a scene of Eleven and Max enjoying a photo shoot was a necessary plot element, the design team created a similar photo studio but with a new fictitious name. Not only did they recreate the facade of each of the storefronts, but they worked to fully stock them as well, in anticipation of any last-minute filming ideas the Duffers may have had.[43] A custom-built grid cloth was employed to completely block sunlight from entering the atrium of the food court to enable filming night scenes during the day.[44]

In addition to the aforementioned sets, filming also occurred at pre-existing structures dressed as the Hawkins town hall and Mayor Kline's house.[44] The production also used a total of seven sound stages, with an average of three sets per stage.[44] To create the "black void", the visual manifestation of Eleven's telepathic ruminations, filming took place in a pool that was "painted black [and filled] with about an inch of water, [and was] surrounded by 270 degrees of duvetyne around thirty feet high".[44] The void's look was tweaked slightly for the third season, and shooting in the newer, smaller space required a 50-foot (15 m) Technocrane and two boom operators.[44] An empty field was used to film the scenes set at the Hawkins Fun Fair, with the crew arriving just three weeks prior to the opening of a previously booked medieval fair.[44] Period-appropriate carnival rides were trucked in to the set from locations from across the country, and the crew retrofitted the rides' modern lighting with bulbs that would have been used in the 1980s.[44]

On September 27, 2018, Brown was spotted filming an emotional scene with stunt doubles and a child dressed in a baseball uniform at a beach in Malibu, California.[45] Filming for the third season concluded on November 12, 2018.[46] Regarding the lengthy hiatus between the second and third seasons, Netflix programming executive Cindy Holland noted "[the Duffer Brothers and Shawn Levy] understand the stakes are high. They want to deliver something bigger and better than last year. I think it's going to be a fantastic season. It will be worth the wait."[47]

Visual effectsEdit

Heading into production for the first season of Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers intended on shooting a number of special effects using practical methods. However, due to issues with the deployment of the practical effects on-set, coupled with a dissatisfaction with the results of the filmed practical material, The Duffer Brothers became much more keen on utilizing digitally-produced special effects for the second season, and even more so for the third season.[34] During pre-production, the Duffers sat down with Senior VFX Supervisor Paul Graff, production designer Chris Trujillo, and senior concept illustrator Michael Maher to plan out the digital visual effects for the season. One of the most important topics of discussion was the design of the "corporeal" manifestation of the "Shadow Monster/Mindflayer," which the Duffers wanted to be cognizant of the titular "Thing" from John Carpenter's 1982 science fiction horror film The Thing.[34] To emulate this decided look, the group decided the creature should have "some real weight and, consequently, a different new feel for [the animation], including specularity and moisture," an aesthetic that also translated to the "Tom/Bruce" monster that attacks Nancy at the hospital.[34]

The team for season three found it important for the actors to have some sort of on-set physical guide to interact with the large would-be digital entities, as money wasn't budgeted for any sort of costly on-set augmented reality previsualization renderings. Graff noted it was impractical and too expensive to 3D print a rough replica of the physical "Shadow Monster/Mindflayer", as had been done with creatures in the previous season, especially considering the monster is essentially "something the size of a T-Rex invading a shopping mall."[34] A one-hundred pound "zeppelin-shaped creature shell" was initially constructed for the actors to interact with, but it too was deemed impractical and was scrapped. Graff eventually went out and purchased "the largest object [he] could think of" — a blow-up beach ball — and taped it to the end of a twenty-foot boom pole so he could "puppeteer the ‘head’ enough to provide an eyeline for the actors while also giving camera operators a shot at framing for and tracking the creature’s movements.”[34] Graff employed a much more unique means to visualize the "Tom/Bruce" monster during filming, as the extremely erratic and complicated lighting situation of the scenes that it was featured in mounted a number of potential hardships to be faced during post-production work:

I came up with the idea of having a stunt guy wearing this giant silver ball helmet while standing in for an incarnation of the monster that was 6-feet or 7-feet tall. This helmet let us see the variance in brightness of the lights from frame to frame. I told assistant stunt coordinator Ken Barefield that I needed him to really be that monster, conveying all that evil energy. ‘I need you to roar – and you can’t let yourself be intimidated by the fact you’re wearing a ridiculous red spandex suit with a giant silver ball helmet.’ He told me, ‘Don’t worry, Paul, I’ve got this – I’ll deliver for you’ – and then he sure did. The lights flicker and go out, and when they come back on, this guy is screaming at the top of his lungs, charging like a bull down the hallway. It looked completely absurd, and yet at the same time, it was really cool, one of the most amazing moments of the year for me.[34]


The original soundtrack album for the third season, titled Stranger Things 3, was released digitally on June 28, 2019, via Lakeshore and Invada Records.[48][49] Like the previous two seasons, the soundtrack was composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the electronic band Survive.[48][49] The album will be also released on physical formats such as CD, vinyl, and cassette.[48][49]

In addition to Dixon and Stein's original soundtrack, the season features several songs selected from the 1980s and earlier eras.[50] Legacy Recordings released a 16-track compilation of these songs on July 5, 2019.

Of note was the use of "The NeverEnding Story", the theme to the 1984 film of the same name, which is used in the final episode when Suzie refuses to provide the critical code until Dustin sings it to her. The Duffers had wanted to introduce Suzie into the show's narrative in some dramatic fashion while giving Matarazzo, who has sung on Broadway before, a chance to show off his own vocals. Initially, they were planning to use "The Ent and the Entwife" song from The Lord of the Rings, but aware that Amazon Studios were developing its own Lord of the Rings series, decided to change direction. The Duffers credit writer Curtis Gwinn for using "The NeverEnding Story" as the replacement.[51] Matarazzo and Gabriella Pizzolo, the actress playing Suzie and also a seasoned singer on Broadway, were on sets near each other when they sang the song together and were able to harmonize the song as well without the backing music.[52] As their characters were not meant to be in that much synchronization due to being in two different places, the song's backing track and some autotuning were used to blend their singing to their respective settings and the tone of the soundtrack.[53] According to the cast and to composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, the song became an earworm for many of the cast on the day that scene was filmed.[52] Later in the episode, Lucas and Max, played by Caleb McLaughlin and Sadie Sink, sing the song in duet back to Dustin to mock him; both McLaughlin and Sink also have had experience in Broadway musicals.[52] As a result of its appearance in the series, "The NeverEnding Story" drew an 800% increase in viewership and streaming requests on YouTube and Spotify over the days after initial broadcast, putting Limahl, the song's artist, briefly back in the spotlight.[54][55]


Stranger Things 3 was widely anticipated, and Netflix backed the show with extensive marketing campaigns. Promotion for the third season began with the first day of production, when Netflix released a video featuring the cast as they met for the season's first script read-through.[56] On July 16, 2018, the first teaser trailer for the season was released. The teaser, which is the first to feature footage shot for the new season, is styled as an in-universe commercial for the newly built Starcourt Mall, one of the main settings for the season's events.[57][58][59] The "commercial" lists some of the stores found in the mall[60] as well as restaurants in the "state-of-the-art" food court, and closes with Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) saying "Ahoy!" during a short plug for one of the food court's establishments, an ice cream parlor called Scoops Ahoy.[57][58][59] On December 9, 2018, during an appearance at the 2018 Comic Con Experience at the São Paulo Expo in São Paulo, Brazil, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, and Caleb McLaughlin presented a new teaser which revealed the titles of the eight episodes in the new season.[61] Hours later, the teaser was released online across all of the official Stranger Things social media accounts.[62][63]

On December 31, pedestrians in New York City's Times Square noticed a video playing on a loop advertising a special announcement "sponsored" by the Starcourt Mall.[64][65] According to the video, the announcement was slated to be aired on the fictional ABC network affiliate WIYZ.[64] At midnight EST, Netflix released a new teaser announcing the release date of the season to be July 4, 2019.[66][64][65] The teaser utilized footage from Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1984, specifically the countdown to the New Year. As the countdown commenced, the video slowly turned upside down and became fuzzy, and Mike could be heard calling out for Eleven as the video cut in between different recordings of computers running MS-DOS.[65] The season's first poster, featuring a menacing creature slowly approaching the cast while they're enjoying Independence Day festivities, was released concurrently with the teaser.[66][64][65]

On March 19, 2019, the official Stranger Things social media accounts posted a short clip of rats scurrying through a dilapidated industrial area with the caption "It's almost feeding time."[67] This turned out to be a prelude to the release of stills and the first official trailer the next day on March 20.[68][69] The trailer quickly became the most-viewed video on Netflix's YouTube channel, amassing 22 million views in the first week of its release.[70] On May 21, the first clip from the season was released in tandem with cast posters.[71][72] The clip, which features Billy flirting with Karen Wheeler at the local pool, includes notable references to the early-1980s comedy films Caddyshack and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.[71] Netflix released the final trailer on June 20, 2019.[73]

In July 2019, actors Finn Wolfhard and Caleb McLaughlin took part in a Q&A session at the Open'er Festival in Gdynia, Poland. The festival also boasted a replica of the Palace Arcade filled with retro coin-ops – such as Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Dig Dug.[74]


Netflix revealed they had partnered with around 75 companies to produce tie-in products to promote the third season.[75] For many of these deals, there was no financial exchange between Netflix and the third-parties, with Netflix allowing the third-parties to generate their own marketing buzz for their products while helping to promote Stranger Things.[76] Some of the more notable tie-ins include:

  • Swedish apparel retailer H&M offered a clothing collection that includes pieces worn on-screen by several of the series' actors on May 24, 2019.[75][77] The advertisement campaign for the clothing and accessory lines features Dacre Montgomery (Billy) as a model and revolves around his character's summer job as a lifeguard.[77]
  • The Coca-Cola Company revived their ill-received New Coke soft drink for a limited time production run in the month leading up to the season's release.[75][78] The unpopular soft drink was released around the time frame of the season's setting, and a number of episodes featured the beverage prominently placed within the frame.[75][78] New Coke was sold at special upside down vending machines in some United States cities and through Coca-Cola's web store.[75][78]
  • Ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins started offering Stranger Things-inspired menu items in the months prior to the season's release, and at the launch of the third season, several Baskin-Robbins stores across the United States and Canada[79] were made up into the fictional "Scoops Ahoy!" ice cream parlor in the show for about two weeks.[80]
  • Fast food chain Burger King started serving special themed 'upside down' Whoppers as a reference to the Upside Down (an alternative universe in the story of the show), including special edition items sold at 11 special locations in the weeks leading up to the premiere.[81][82] And selling special ketchup packets displaying a nose in reference to the nose bleeding of the character, Eleven. Burger King also promoted their restaurant commercials, cups and boxes in a special 1980s theme as a tie-in with Coca-Cola. The restaurant was also featured in the food court of the Starcourt Mall.[83]
  • In the week leading to Stranger Things 3's release, Microsoft teased "Windows 1.0", the company's first graphic operating system introduced in 1985. Microsoft released this mock version of "Windows 1.0" as an app for Windows 10 on July 8, 2019. The app features a similar interface as the original software, with various Easter eggs to the television series scattered through the app.[84]
  • Netflix partnered with Epic Games to include Stranger Things tie-ins into Fortnite Battle Royale around the premiere of the third season.[85]


The third season consists of 8 episodes and was released worldwide on July 4, 2019, via Netflix.[66]

Video gameEdit

A video game adaptation entitled Stranger Things 3: The Game was released hours after the third season premiered on July 4, 2019.[86] It was developed by BonusXP, published by Netflix, and was designed with a retro look.[87] The game was criticized by reviewers for being an exact scene-by-scene replica of the season.[88]


Audience viewershipEdit

Netflix ratingsEdit

Within four days of its release, Netflix reported that over 40.7 million accounts had seen at least 70% of one episode of the third season, a record viewership for any Netflix program, while 18.2 million had seen the entire season within the time.[89] Netflix reported in October 2019 that over 64 million households had watched Stranger Things 3 within the first four weeks of its release.[90]

Nielsen ratingsEdit

Nielsen ratings recorded viewership data for those who viewed the series within the United States on a TV set; the data does not account for mobile, tablet, and PC devices, nor viewers outside of the United States.[91]

Nielsen ratings
No. Title Release date Same day viewership Three day viewership Refs
Persons 2+ rating Persons 2+
(AMA[a] in millions)
Persons 2+ rating Persons 2+
(AMA[a] in millions)
1 "Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy" July 4, 2019 (2019-07-04) 2.9 8.86 6.3 19.16 [92]
2 "Chapter Two: The Mall Rats" 2.2 6.75 5.8 17.61
3 "Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard" 1.6 5.03 5.2 15.92
4 "Chapter Four: The Sauna Test" 1.2 3.63 4.6 13.93
5 "Chapter Five: The Flayed" 0.9 2.72 3.9 12.01
6 "Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum" 0.7 2.11 3.5 10.77
7 "Chapter Seven: The Bite" 0.4 1.18 2.4 7.35
8 "Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt" 0.4 1.13 2.9 8.70
  1. ^ a b Average Minute Audience (AMA) is the average number of individuals or (homes or target group) viewing a TV channel, which is calculated per minute during a specified period of time over the program duration.

Critical responseEdit

Stranger Things 3 received positive reviews from critics, who praised the visuals, humor, performances (particularly that of Harbour, Brown, Montgomery, and Hawke), and emotional weight, but some criticized the repetitive narrative and sidelining of some characters. On Rotten Tomatoes, the third season received an approval rating of 89% based on 132 reviews, and an average rating of 7.80/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Vibrant and charming, Stranger Things transforms itself into a riveting—if familiar—summer ride that basks in its neon-laden nostalgia without losing sight of the rich relationships that make the series so endearing."[93] Writing in the New Statesman, Emily Bootle considered the third season an improvement on the second stating that the third "returned to strength" after a confusing second season and that "season three has largely brought back what made the show unique in the first place".[94] Hugh Montgomery at the BBC awarded 5 stars, describing the third season as "an exhilarating example of a franchise hitting new heights that Hollywood would do well to learn from."[95] On Metacritic, the third season has a weighted average score of 72 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[96]

On the dissenting side, Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly criticized the third season for looking like a Reagan-era pop culture mixtape.[97] Ed Power of The Telegraph blamed Duffer Brothers for refusing "to stray from the Goonies-meets-Stephen King formula" and recycling their "well-worn bag of retro references to increasingly underwhelming effect", producing the limpest installment of the three.[98] His opinion was echoed by Hank Stuever of The Washington Post, who felt almost heartbroken for "the Duffers working so hard to re-create an elusive vibe" of the 1980s with a "mishmash of ingredients" only to fail to create a fully entertaining show.[99] Writing in National Review, Daniel Payne criticized the season's "sloppy storytelling" and "cornball humor" compared to the previous seasons, claiming that season three was "frenetic and bewildering where the first two seasons were slow, careful, and rewarding in crafting their plots."[100]


As part of the 2019 Teen Choice Awards Stranger Things received a nomination for Choice Summer TV show.[101] Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, and Noah Schnapp were all nominated for Choice Summer TV actor for their work on the series[102] while Millie Bobby Brown was nominated for Choice Summer TV actress for her work on the series.[103] Stranger Things, Schnapp, and Brown all won awards in their respective categories.[104]


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External linksEdit