Stranger Things (season 4)

The fourth season of the American science fiction horror drama television series Stranger Things was released on the streaming service Netflix in two volumes. The first set of seven episodes was released on May 27, 2022, while the second set of two episodes was released on July 1, 2022. The season was produced by the show's creators the Duffer Brothers, along with Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen, Iain Paterson and Curtis Gwinn.

Stranger Things
Season 4
Stranger Things season 4.jpg
Promotional poster
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes9
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseMay 27 (2022-05-27) –
July 1, 2022 (2022-07-01)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 3
List of episodes

Returning as series regulars are Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, Matthew Modine and Paul Reiser, while Brett Gelman was promoted to series regular after recurring in the previous two seasons. Jamie Campbell Bower, Joseph Quinn, Eduardo Franco and Cara Buono also star. Tom Wlaschiha, Nikola Đuričko, and Mason Dye appear in recurring roles.

The season was met with positive reviews, with critics praising the performances of the cast (particularly those of Brown, Sink, Harbour, McLaughlin, Bower, and Quinn), the visuals, action sequences, realistic themes, and the darker, more mature tone, though some criticized it for being overstuffed due to the lengthier episode runtimes.[1][2][3] The first volume of the season received 13 nominations for the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, including Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series.[4]


Set in March 1986, eight months after the events of the third season, the fourth season is split between different plotlines.

The first plotline takes place in Hawkins, where several teenagers are killed in mysterious ways. Eddie Munson, the leader of a Dungeons & Dragons group called the Hellfire Club, becomes the prime murder suspect and is hunted down by the Hawkins High School basketball team, led by Jason Carver, who believe that Eddie killed Jason's girlfriend, Chrissy Cunningham, using satanic powers. Dustin, Max, Lucas, Erica, Nancy, Steve, Robin and Eddie investigate and discover that the murders were carried out by a powerful being that lives in the Upside Down, whom they later dub "Vecna".

The second plotline involves Mike visiting Eleven, Will and Jonathan at their new home in California. Due to the events in Hawkins and the imminent danger to her friends, Eleven goes with Dr. Martin Brenner and Sam Owens to a secret facility to help her regain her powers, while Mike, Will, Jonathan and his friend Argyle try to track her down.

The third plotline follows Joyce and Murray Bauman when they learn that Hopper may still be alive and are told to bring money to arrange for his transfer. Meanwhile, Hopper is held in a Soviet prison camp in Kamchatka, where he and the other inmates are forced to battle a Demogorgon that the Russians have captured.

Cast and charactersEdit


Also starringEdit




No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
Volume 1
261"Chapter One: The Hellfire Club"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersMay 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)
In a flashback to 1979, Dr. Brenner is experimenting on children possessing supernatural abilities until a mysterious incident kills all of the children except Eleven. In 1986—eight months after the events at Starcourt Mall—Joyce, Will, Jonathan, and Eleven have moved to California, where Eleven struggles with the loss of her powers and is routinely bullied by other students. Joyce receives a porcelain doll in the mail, seemingly from Russia, and finds a hidden note stating that Hopper is alive. In Hawkins, Mike and Dustin have joined their high school's "Hellfire Club," a Dungeons & Dragons club led by the eccentric Eddie Munson. As a result, they miss seeing Lucas win the basketball team's championship game. Max, who has broken up with Lucas, struggles to grieve Billy's death. Chrissy Cunningham, a student on the cheerleading team, is haunted by visions of her abusive mother and a chiming grandfather clock. While buying drugs from Eddie, Chrissy is possessed and killed by a sentient humanoid creature from her visions.
272"Chapter Two: Vecna's Curse"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersMay 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)
Hopper has survived the explosion underneath Starcourt Mall but was captured by Soviet soldiers and sent to a prison camp in Kamchatka. Joyce and Murray call the phone number on the note she was sent and speak to Dmitri Antonov, a prison guard that Hopper has bribed. Antonov has them deliver a $40,000 ransom to his contact in Alaska. Mike flies to California to visit Eleven, where he and Will witness her being bullied by her classmate Angela; Eleven eventually retaliates by striking Angela in the face with a roller skate. Max tells Dustin she saw Eddie run away the night that Chrissy died. Along with Robin and Steve, they locate the traumatized Eddie and explain the Upside Down to him. Eddie and Dustin name the entity that killed Chrissy "Vecna." Nancy and her fellow student reporter Fred investigate Chrissy's death; Eddie's uncle tells Nancy he believes the killer is Victor Creel, a Hawkins resident who was institutionalized after allegedly murdering his family in the 1950s. Fred is lured into the woods by visions of a girl he accidentally killed before Vecna murders him.
283"Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero"Shawn LevyCaitlin SchneiderhanMay 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)
Sam Owens is visited by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jack Sullivan, who believes Eleven is responsible for Chrissy's death. Eleven is arrested for assaulting Angela but is taken by Owens, who explains that Hawkins is in grave danger and that he has been working on a program to help bring back Eleven's powers. Eleven agrees to go with him. Joyce and Murray fly to Alaska to deliver the ransom for Hopper. Hopper bribes a fellow inmate to break his shackles using a sledgehammer. Nancy and Robin go to the library to look up information about Victor Creel and discover that Creel blamed his family's murders on a demon, which they believe to be Vecna. Jason leads the basketball team to hunt for Eddie, believing him to have killed Chrissy, but Lucas abandons them. Max recalls that Chrissy had visited the school counselor before being killed by Vecna. She steals Chrissy and Fred's files from the counselor's office and learns they suffered from PTSD symptoms similar to hers. Max hears Vecna call her name and envisions a grandfather clock.
294"Chapter Four: Dear Billy"Shawn LevyPaul DichterMay 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)
Joyce and Murray deliver the ransom payment to Antonov's contact Yuri, but he drugs them, planning to turn them (and Hopper and Antonov) over to the Russians for a larger profit. Hopper escapes the prison camp but is soon recaptured. Jonathan, Mike, and Will prepare to sneak away from Wallace and Harmon, agents sent by Owens to watch them, but armed soldiers attack the house. They escape with the help of Jonathan's friend Argyle, bringing an injured Harmon with them. Nancy and Robin interview an imprisoned Victor Creel, who recounts his family being tormented and killed by supernatural forces while he was arrested for their deaths. Max, fearing that Vecna is about to kill her, writes letters to her friends and family and goes to the cemetery to read her letter to Billy by his gravestone. She is soon possessed by Vecna and finds herself at an altar inside his mind. Steve, Dustin, and Lucas learn from Nancy and Robin that playing music can break Vecna's spell, and they play Max's favorite song, "Running Up That Hill" on a cassette tape. This opens a portal through which Max narrowly escapes Vecna's control.
305"Chapter Five: The Nina Project"Nimród AntalKate TrefryMay 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)
Owens takes Eleven to an abandoned ICBM silo in Nevada, where he and Dr. Brenner have developed a specialized isolation tank (dubbed "NINA") that will allow Eleven to access memories of her time with other children at Hawkins Lab. After her first time in the tank, Eleven attempts to escape and briefly regains her powers in the process, convincing her to continue with the experiment. In California, before Agent Harmon dies, he gives the boys a pen containing a phone number for the NINA project that connects to a modem; Mike decides to enlist the aid of Dustin's girlfriend Suzie in Salt Lake City. After Yuri's betrayal, Hopper is imprisoned alongside Antonov. While flying to Russia, Joyce and Murray subdue Yuri and crash-land in the wilderness. Max, Lucas, Steve, and Dustin regroup with Nancy and Robin and decide to investigate the Creel house; inside, they encounter flickering lights, which they trace to Vecna's movements in the Upside Down. Jason and his teammates locate Eddie trying to escape in a boat at Lover's Lake; Jason and Patrick swim after him. In the water, Vecna kills Patrick in front of Jason and Eddie.
316"Chapter Six: The Dive"Nimród AntalCurtis GwinnMay 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)
Eleven relives memories of befriending a lab orderly, who warns her not to trust Brenner. She also recalls being threatened by other test subjects, leading her to believe she was responsible for the lab massacre. Suzie helps Mike's group locate the NINA project's coordinates. Hopper and the other inmates are given a large feast, which Hopper warns is to prepare them to be fed to the Demogorgon. He later manages to pickpocket a lighter, recalling that the Demogorgon's weakness is fire. Joyce and Murray force Yuri to take them to a nearby town where he stores his goods and decide to have Murray pose as Yuri to infiltrate the prison. Jason galvanizes Hawkins' residents at a town hall meeting against Eddie's supposed Satanic cult, the "Hellfire Club." Steve's group finds Eddie; Dustin notices his compass misbehaving and realizes there must be a new gate to the Upside Down nearby. They trace the gate to Lover's Lake, where Steve dives down to inspect it before being yanked into the Upside Down by a tendril and swarmed by bat-like creatures. Nancy, Robin, and Eddie dive down after him.
327"Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersMay 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)
Joyce, Murray, and Yuri enter Kamchatka and witness Hopper and his fellow prisoners fighting the Demogorgon. Hopper holds the creature back with a flaming spear while Murray and Joyce subdue the guards and open the prison doors, allowing Hopper and Antonov to escape. Joyce and Hopper reunite. Dustin, Lucas, and Erica theorize that Vecna has spawned a gate at the site of each murder, which they communicate to Steve's group in the Upside Down. Both parties reunite inside Eddie's trailer at the gate where Chrissy died. Robin and Eddie safely exit, but Vecna possesses Nancy. She discovers that he is Victor Creel's son Henry, who killed his mother and sister with his psychokinetic powers before falling into a coma and being placed in Brenner's care. Henry became subject 001 in Brenner's attempts to replicate his powers and later the orderly that Eleven befriended. Eleven finally remembers Henry committing the lab massacre and trying to kill her when she refused to help fulfill his murderous ambitions; Eleven overpowered Henry and sent him to the Upside Down, where he became Vecna.
Volume 2
338"Chapter Eight: Papa"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 1, 2022 (2022-07-01)
Vecna shows Nancy, who is still possessed by him, a vision of the future where Hawkins is torn apart by rifts before releasing her. The group determines Vecna needs four gates to enact his plan; Max offers to lure Vecna into possessing her so the others can attack him while he is distracted. Eleven, using her powers, learns of this plan and gets Owens to arrange transit to Hawkins. However, Brenner betrays and secures Owens and traps Eleven, insisting she needs to complete her training. Eleven realizes that Brenner had been using her for years to try to recover Henry from the Upside Down. Sullivan and his forces arrive at the site and kill all the staff; Brenner flees with Eleven but is shot himself. Sullivan's crew tries to kill Eleven from a helicopter, but she uses her powers to take them out just as Mike's group arrives. She does not concede to understand Brenner's motives before he dies. In Russia, Hopper, Joyce, Murray, Yuri, and Antonov escape the base after discovering several more creatures from the Upside Down, as well as a shadowy fragment of the Mind Flayer, under study at the prison.
349"Chapter Nine: The Piggyback"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 1, 2022 (2022-07-01)
The Hawkins group enacts their plan: Max, Lucas and Erica go to the Creel House while Steve, Nancy and Robin go to its Upside Down counterpart to attack Vecna, with the bats being drawn away by Dustin and Eddie. Eddie sacrifices himself in the process. Eleven's group creates an isolation tank for her to enter Max's mind and fight Vecna. However, Vecna overwhelms her and possesses Max, revealing to Eleven that he has controlled the Upside Down ever since she sent him there. Mike professes his love to Eleven, giving her the strength to break Vecna's control over Max, but after interference from Jason Carver, Max dies from her injuries. Hopper, Joyce and Murray reenter the prison and kill the remaining Demogorgons, weakening Vecna. Steve, Robin and Nancy set Vecna's physical form ablaze and shoot him, apparently killing him. Eleven uses her powers to revive Max, but the latter's brief death allows Vecna's gates to open and tear through Hawkins. Two days later, the town is recovering from an "earthquake". Everyone unites, while Max remains comatose. Will senses Vecna is still alive, and the Upside Down begins invading Hawkins.



As with seasons past, planning for the fourth season of Stranger Things began before the preceding season's release. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly that ran shortly after the third season's release, series creators Matt and Ross Duffer revealed the series' creative team had already met on several occasions to discuss the show's future.[15] On September 30, 2019, Netflix announced it had signed the Duffer Brothers for a new multi-year television and film deal that was reportedly worth nine figures.[16][17][18][19][20] To coincide with the production deal announcement, Netflix also announced the renewal of Stranger Things for a fourth season by releasing a brief, minute-long teaser on YouTube.[17][19][20][21]


Commenting on the previous season's ending, Ross Duffer divulged the process of connecting story arcs between seasons:

We don't want to write ourselves in a corner so we try to have these early discussions with the writers just to make sure that we're setting ourselves up to go in the right direction. We don't know a lot, but we do know a lot of the big broad strokes. At the end of season two, we knew about Billy. We knew that the Russians were going to come in. We didn't know the mall and stuff, but again, we know these big broad strokes. That's sort of where we are in season four. We have the big broad strokes. It's just now about filling in those lines in the details. We're pretty excited about where it's potentially going to go. Again, like we said, it's going to feel very different than this season. But I think that's the right thing to do and I think it'll be exciting.[15]

Matt Duffer indicated one of the plot's "broad strokes" is the main center of action being moved out of Hawkins, Indiana, for the majority of the season, a series first.[15] He also indicated the several loose ends left by the ending of season three, such as Hopper's perceived death and Eleven being adopted by Joyce Byers and relocating with her new family out of state, will all be explored sometime during the fourth season.[15] The Duffers later expanded on their previous comments, saying that "epic" triptych structure of the fourth season was one of the main contributing factors to its exaggerated length.[22] They likened it to the HBO series Game of Thrones in terms of its sheer scale, runtime, and newer, more mature tonal shift, as well as having split their characters across multiple distant locations.[22][23]

Another contributing factor to the show's newfound extended length was the expressed goal of the Duffers to finally provide answers to uncertainties regarding the series' long-simmering mythology, which they have been slowly revealing like "layers of [an] onion" over the past three seasons. Halfway through writing the fourth season, Matthew and Ross realized they were going to need a ninth episode to include all of their desired plot points, which Netflix in turn "quickly approved".[22] During production on the first season, the duo prepared a twenty-page document for Netflix that explained the show's universe, including what the Upside Down is, in clear detail. In turn, material from said document dictated certain plots while writing the season.[22] The Duffers wanted to spend more time within the Upside Down in this season, as the narrative of the third season gave them little opportunity to explore it further.[23]

Since the fourth season is the longest-running season produced so far, the Duffers and Netflix opted for a two-volume release plan. In a letter from the Duffer Brothers posted by Netflix, the duo revealed they wrote nine scripts spanning over 800 pages, and that the fourth season is nearly double the length of any of the previously released seasons.[24]

In an interview on the Netflix podcast Present Company With Krista Smith, Ross Duffer discussed season four's much more mature tone, which he indicated will be at least partially achieved by "[leaning] into" the horror genre:

When we pitched it to Netflix all those years ago, we pitched it as the kids are... The Goonies in E.T. That's their storyline. And the adults are in Jaws and Close Encounters [sic] and then the teens are in Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween. But, this year, we don't have the kids. We can't do The Goonies anymore. And so, suddenly, we're leaning much harder into that horror movie territory that we love. It was fun to make that change.[25]

In a May 2022 interview with Entertainment Weekly on their Around the Table series, Finn Wolfhard stated that this season feels like "five movies into one", comparing it to "Scooby-Doo-meets-Zodiac-killer" while also being a "stoner action-comedy" and a "Russian prison movie".[26]

The character of Eddie Munson is based on Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three who was wrongly convicted in 1994 of the deaths of three boys due to his appearance, which residents tied to being part of a satanic cult. The writers drew from Paradise Lost, a documentary covering Echols, for Eddie's story.[27]

As they had done with the Demogorgon from the first season, the Duffers opted to use the Dungeons & Dragons character of Vecna as the basis of this season's antagonist, something that the child characters would recognize and understand the dangers due to their familiarity through the role-playing game. While Vecna was not fully introduced in Dungeons & Dragons materials until 1990 through the module Vecna Lives!, and only had been alluded to in the lore prior to that, the Duffers believed that Eddie was an advanced gamemaster that was able to extrapolate how Vecna would behave for purposes of the show.[28]


By November 1, 2019, casting had begun to add four new male characters to the fourth season's lineup, with three of the roles being teenagers and one of them being an adult.[29][30] The teenaged roles were characterized as ranging "from a metalhead to an entitled jock to a character that sounds an awful lot like the twin of Fast Times at Ridgemont High stoner Jeff Spicoli", while the adult character was tied to the Russian storyline introduced during the third season.[29]

On December 3, 2019, it was confirmed by the show's writers' room that Maya Hawke's character Robin would be returning for the fourth season.[6] On February 14, 2020, Netflix confirmed David Harbour would return as Jim Hopper and that Tom Wlaschiha had been cast as a Russian malefactor.[5][31] Priah Ferguson's return to the series was confirmed in February 2020.[8] That March, Brett Gelman's promotion to series regular was also confirmed.[7] On October 27, 2020, it was reported that Maya Hawke's brother, Levon Thurman-Hawke, was cast in an undisclosed role.[32]

On November 20, 2020, Jamie Campbell Bower, Eduardo Franco, and Joseph Quinn were cast as series regulars while Sherman Augustus, Mason Dye, Nikola Đuričko, and Robert Englund joined the cast in recurring roles for the fourth season;[11] Englund, best known for portraying Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films, had approached the Duffers for a role in Stranger Things, which fit well with the direction they wanted to take this season.[23] On June 9, 2021, Amybeth McNulty, Myles Truitt, Regina Ting Chen, and Grace Van Dien joined the cast in recurring roles for the fourth season.[33]

In the case of Bower, he was initially announced as "Peter Ballard", and credits for his role in the first six episodes were listed as "Friendly Orderly". This was to hide the reveal that his character was the grown-up Henry Creel, who was the first test subject for Dr. Brenner and thus named "One", and that he would become Vecna following his battle with Eleven.[34][35]


The Claremont House in Rome, Georgia was used for exterior shots of the Creel House.

In February 2020, it was announced in a joint statement from the Duffer Brothers and Netflix that production had officially begun on the fourth season[5] in Vilnius, Lithuania, at the recently decommissioned Lukiškės Prison.[36][37] After production wrapped in Lithuania, filming resumed in the United States in and around the Atlanta metro area, the primary production location of previous seasons.[38][39] However, after two weeks of filming, all Netflix productions, including Stranger Things, were halted on March 16, 2020, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.[40] A significant portion of filming occurred at Albuquerque Studios in New Mexico, which Netflix acquired in 2018.[41]

After several delays, filming resumed on September 28, 2020, in Georgia.[42] On October 1, 2020, Natalia Dyer, Sadie Sink, and Gaten Matarazzo were all spotted filming scenes at the Hawkins Middle School and Hawkins High School sets.[43] The three were also spotted filming scenes at the set for Dustin's house the following day.[44] Filming took place in late 2020 around Rome, Georgia, including exterior shots of the Claremont House, which was used as the Creel House in the show.[45]

On January 27, 2021, Matthew Modine was spotted filming scenes in Atlanta.[46] On March 15, 2021, set photos were leaked of a trailer park in Griffin, Georgia that was dressed with tendrils from the Upside Down.[47] In June 2021, David Harbour said filming was set to wrap in August.[48] The same month, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, Natalia Dyer, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Caleb McLaughlin were spotted filming a scene that involved buying weapons from a store.[49] In August 2021, a fire with no injuries near one of the filming sets was reported.[50] In September 2021, Noah Schnapp stated that filming had wrapped.[51]

To visually distinguish between the season's three storylines, costume designer Amy Parris revealed that each of the plot's locations will have their own distinct color palette: "It's so fun because [the production team gets] to kind of capture California versus Hawkins through color. So, Hawkins still looks very saturated. We don't have as much as the dusty, rusty brown of Seasons 1 or 2 ... And in California, we get to incorporate baby pinks, and fun teals and purples. It's way more sun-soaked and saturated as opposed to the richer colors of Hawkins."[52] American shoe company Converse designed three different styles of shoes using the Hawkins High School colors to be worn onscreen during a scene depicting a pep rally.[52]

According to Bower, for the key scenes of the massacre at the Hawkins lab, Brown herself helped to direct Martie Blair, who played the younger version of Eleven, so that the multiple filmings of Eleven's interactions with Henry in the lab, some with Brown and some with Blair, were consistent in Eleven's mannerisms.[34]


In April 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported in an article scrutinizing Netflix's recent production expenditures that the total cost to produce season four of Stranger Things was around $270 million, which amounts to roughly $30 million per episode.[53]

Visual effectsEdit

Due to the season's considerable length, thousands of visual effect shots were commissioned and rendered during the two-year production and post-production processes.[24] However, the Duffers wanted to rely more on practical effects than computer-generated ones, similar to how the first season was produced. For example, the season's major threat from the Upside Down, a humanoid creature called Vecna, was "90% practical", which the Duffers found created a better presence on the set for the actors to respond to rather than a prop for later computer-generated effects.[23]

Barrie Gower, a make-up artist that had worked previously on Game of Thrones and Chernobyl,[54] provided the look for Vecna and other creatures.[23] Vecna was loosely based on the Dungeons & Dragons villain of the same name, though the character in the universe of the show is a human "who mutated into a monster from overexposure to the Upside Down ... he's been subjected to all the environments and all the surroundings of the Upside Down basically for 20 odd years."[55] Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays the human character that is turned into Vecna, also played the role of Vecna with the use of planned prosthetics.[34] Once the outfit was prepared, it took about seven hours of work to fit Bower into it.[34]

Gower designed Bower's Vecna costume with "anemic" skin whose integration with the toxic environment of the Upside Down was apparent through the inclusion of "lot of roots and vines and very organic shapes and fibrous muscle tissue."[55] To achieve this look using mostly practical effects, Gower disclosed that he and his team took a full body cast of Bower, to later sculpt to meet their design needs:

We started off with his life cast, and to make sure everything was going to be super skin-tight, we reduced the life cast by a certain percentage all over, so once we had a plaster form of his entire body, our guys here started modeling the body in all shapes and forms in the Plasticine, which took several weeks to do that. From that, we split the body up into various sections... I think it was about 18 pieces in total, and they all went on to their own respective formers made out of either fiberglass or epoxy resin. And then we made molds of all the separate Plasticine pieces and then once we had these molds, we were able to create prosthetic appliances, and we've done them in a mixture of materials.[52]

Before and after comparison of visual effects work done by Rodeo FX.

As with season three, Montreal-based Rodeo FX was contracted to provide a number of visual effects for the fourth season. One of the most complicated shots they worked on tracked a demobat as it glided through the air towards the Creel house in the Upside Down. Due to its various complexities, the company reports the shot took two years to animate to completion.[56] To animate the death scenes of Vecna's cursed victims, personnel at Rodeo FX conducted "extensive research on broken bones and accidents" so they could properly manipulate the actor's CGI doubles to make their death look convincingly gruesome. The company also animated the demogorgon and demodogs seen in the Kamchatka prison, and updated their designs to better compliment the brighter lighting of the setting that was not present in seasons one and two.[56]

The season was released while the visual effects team were still perfecting the special effects, due to challenges encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Production went eight weeks over schedule for the season, without a change to the release date. The amount of visual effects work required for the season during a limited time period led Netflix to bring over some visual effects editors working on other shows they produced to devote more resources to this season.[57] The Duffer brothers said that they updated certain visual effects shots in the season's first volume during its initial release weekend, a practice Netflix has not allowed for any of its past releases.[58] Similarly with volume two, a number of visual effects shots had finished rendering the morning of June 30, a day before the release. The season finale was originally uploaded with an estimated 20 unfinished visual effects shots to meet the release deadline.[59] In all, season four's two-and-a-half hour finale had more visual effects shots than the entirety of season three.[60] Three weeks after the season's release, the visual effects team was still updating visual effects shots at the request of the Duffer brothers.[57]


Both volumes of the original soundtrack album for the fourth season, titled Stranger Things 4, were released digitally on July 1, 2022, via Lakeshore and Invada Records.[61][62] Like the previous three seasons, the soundtrack was composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the electronic band Survive. Both volumes will be also released on physical formats such as CD and vinyl.[61][62]

The non-original soundtrack companion album for the season, titled Stranger Things: Music from the Netflix Original Series, Season 4, was released digitally in two volumes by Legacy Recordings on May 27 and July 1, respectively.[63]

Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" is featured multiple times during the season, including as part of the key scene in episode 4 with Max escaping from Vecna. The Duffers had envisioned a powerful emotional song for Max and had tasked music supervisor Nora Felder to determine which song would be used. Felder came upon "Running Up That Hill", which the Duffers agreed was a great fit for both the music itself and the theme of dealing with God. Felder knew that Bush had been cautious on music licensing before, but after contacting her, Felder learned Bush was a fan of the show, and after reviewing the script pages where the song would be used, Bush agreed to clear licensing rights to the song for the show.[64] The song saw a resurgence of popularity with an increase of over 8,700% on streaming charts, reaching the second-most heard song on Spotify playlists in the United States and the fourth-most song for worldwide charts.[65] Metallica's "Master of Puppets" was prominently featured in the season finale when Eddie played its guitar riffs and solo as music to lure and distract demobats in the Upside Down. The song also got a significant boost peaking at number one on streaming platforms,[66] and made listings on music charts in both the U.S. and UK for the first time since the song's original release in 1986.[67]

Other songs featured in season 4, such as Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)", Musical Youth's "Pass the Dutchie", and Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus", also saw increased streaming playbacks of around 1,784 percent.[65] The final two episodes of the season featured period music and classic rock songs such as Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Spellbound", James Taylor‘s "Fire and Rain", Rick Derringer’s "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" and Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)".[68]


The season's official announcement showed a ticking grandfather clock in the Upside Down and ended with the tagline "We're not in Hawkins anymore," which led many news outlets to speculate the show's setting would be relocated to Russia.[17][19][20][21] A teaser was released on February 14, 2020, showing that Hopper was still alive.[5] On October 2, 2020, the show's various social media accounts posted two photographs from different sets: A poster for a pep rally hanging in a hallway at Hawkins High, and a clapperboard in front of a grandfather clock in the Upside Down, a scene that was first depicted in the season's initial teaser trailer.[69] A second teaser was released on May 6, 2021.[70]

On August 6, 2021, a sneak peek was released featuring most of the core cast and announcing that the show would return in 2022.[71] On September 25, 2021, a third teaser was released, showcasing the house that was previously owned by the Creel family.[72] The final teaser was released on November 6, 2021, and showed inside Will's and Eleven's lives in California, with the episode titles for the season being revealed on that same day.[73]

On February 17, 2022, the social media accounts associated with Stranger Things released four teaser posters, one to coincide with the four teasers that were previously released, and a fifth poster, announcing the release date of both volumes.[74] On March 23, 2022, Netflix released various stills from the upcoming fourth season.[75] On April 12, 2022, the first official trailer was released online.[76] On May 20, 2022, the first eight minutes of the season's first episode were released online.[77][78]


The fourth season was released on the streaming platform Netflix in two volumes, the first volume with seven episodes was released on May 27, 2022, while the second volume with two episodes was released five weeks later on July 1, 2022.[79]

The season's release occurred three days after a mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman fatally shot 21 people. In the aftermath of the tragedy, and considering that the first episode's cold open — a scene that had been released as an online tease one week before the premiere[80] — features graphic images of dead bodies including those of children's, Netflix added a warning card before the prior season recap that automatically plays before the episode. The card, which is shown only to viewers in the United States, reads as follows:

"We filmed this season of Stranger Things a year ago. But given the recent tragic shooting at a school in Texas, viewers may find the opening scene of episode 1 distressing. We are deeply saddened by this unspeakable violence, and our hearts go out to every family mourning a loved one.”[81]

Shortly after the season's release, viewers reported that Will's friends did not acknowledge his birthday in an episode of the season that took place on that day. The Duffers said in an interview that they could rectify the matter by changing its month, which they called "George Lucas-ing the situation", in reference to the canon changes that George Lucas had made to the original Star Wars trilogy to match what the prequel trilogy had added.[58][82] Some viewers took this to imply that scenes from earlier seasons were also being edited, including one scene where Jonathan takes discreet pictures of a pool party that Steve, Nancy, and Barbara are holding. The writers stated that "no scenes from previous seasons have ever been cut or re-edited", including this scene.[82]

On July 1, 2022, after the second volume of the season was released, Netflix's website reportedly crashed due to server overload as vast numbers of users logged on to stream the new episodes, overwhelming the service.[83][84][85][86]


Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth season holds an approval rating of 88% based on 184 reviews with an average rating of 7.90/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Darker and denser than its predecessors, Stranger Things' fourth chapter sets the stage for the show's final season in typically binge-worthy fashion.[87] On Metacritic, the fourth season's first volume has a score of 69 out of 100, based on 28 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews";[88] the second volume has a score of 72 out of 100, based on 17 reviews, also indicating "generally favorable reviews".[89]

Reviewing for The A.V. Club, Saloni Gajjar gave the season a "B+" and said, "Stranger Things still injects an enthralling backstory into its well-established universe. It’s an indication that the final two episodes of Volume 2 (dropping on July 1), despite its movie length, will only elevate season four."[90] The Guardian's Jack Seale gave it a 4 out of 5 stars and summarized it by saying, "Stranger Things is bigger, older, somewhat sadder – and as lovable as ever."[1] Tilly Pearce of Digital Spy also rated it a 4 out of 5 stars and said "Stranger Things continues to be the beautifully addictive nostalgic thrill ride we know and love. Season four is without a doubt the strongest offering to date and by far the most ambitious."[91]

Tara Bennett from Paste gave it a score of 8.1 out of 10 and wrote, "There’s a lot to love about Stranger Things Season 4, especially when it comes to some of the character progression and the change in vibe which fully embraces the tropes of the best of ‘80s horror."[92] In a mixed review, Mae Trumata of The Upcoming gave it a 3/5 stars and said "Overall, this is a fun continuation to Stranger Things. For anyone who’s well acquainted and attached to the series and the characters, this is an addition that will either be appreciated or tired of, as it offers nothing significantly new."[93] Author Stephen King reviewed the season as "as good or better than the previous three", pointing out a "Carrie riff". However, King opined that the decision to split the season into two parts is "kind of lame".[94] Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic was more critical, calling the season "a 13-hour-plus behemoth that added Wes Craven to its mood board but otherwise ended with undeveloped characters and obvious but superficial allusions to contemporary crises."[95]

Critics praised Jamie Campbell Bower's performance as the season's villain. Patrick Caoile of Collider said "For the first time, Stranger Things gives us a villain with layers. Through Vecna, Bower explores a compelling, more complicated villain than the monsters that came before. From his traumatic childhood as Henry Creel to the abusive experiments he went through as One and finally to his role as the Mind Flayer’s top general, Vecna is the perfect villain to pit against Eleven.[96] Another Collider writer Robert Brian Taylor stated, "He's a compelling presence from the moment he first appears. [...] From there his performance continues to shape-shift -- from intriguing to imposing to menacing," and called his monologue scene in episode seven as "hypnotizing" and further deemed the scene as "Stranger Things at its best."[97] Vulture's Devon Ivie wrote, "[Bower] has the distinction of embodying three characters, each more unsettling than the last, as the episodes unfurl: a friendly Hawkins Laboratory orderly; Henry Creel, aka "One"; and the most significant villain of the series thus far, Vecna."[98]

TVLine named Joseph Quinn the "Performer of the Week" on May 28, 2022, for his performance in the episode "Chapter One: The Hellfire Club", writing: "Quinn took the teenager in short order from curious to concerned, then from panicked to so utterly horrified that he let out the kind of shriek that other shrieks hear and go, “Whoa.” All in all, Quinn’s debut was as auspicious as they come."[99] Caleb McLaughlin was also named the "Performer of the Week" on July 9, 2022 for his performance in the season's final episode "Chapter Nine: The Piggyback". The site wrote: "...after Vecna’s brutal assault of Max, McLaughlin unleashed Lucas' pain with a rawness and urgency that still haunts us. McLaughlin had just shown us what an empowered young man his alter ego had become."[100]

TVLine gave Sadie Sink an honorable mention on June 4, 2022 for her performance in the episode "Chapter Four: Dear Billy", writing: "Sink not only nailed the tasks [of Max trying to put on a brave face for her friends despite being anxious and afraid] while still maintaining the edge that her character had received upon enrollment in the school of hard knocks, she also played Max's bittersweet monologue to her late stepbrother with a mixture of sincerity and regret that all but defined the word 'heartbreaking'."[101] Millie Bobby Brown was also an honorable mention on July 2, 2022 for her performance in the penultimate episode "Chapter Eight: Papa". The site wrote: "Brown unleashed a pain and fury that was every bit as impressive as her character's powers. Later, when 'Jane' was offered a chance to rewrite history, in a manner of speaking, Brown beautifully, wordlessly played the emotions that were roiling inside of her alter ego. The scene was complex, deep and tricky to navigate, especially without any dialogue on her part. Yet Brown led us through it as surely as a lantern through a dark night."[102]


Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Streaming Series, Drama Stranger Things Nominated [103]
Best Actress in a Streaming Series, Drama Winona Ryder Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Series, Drama Joe Keery Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Series, Drama Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
Maya Hawke Nominated
Sadie Sink Won
Best Directing in a Streaming Series, Drama The Duffer Brothers (for "Chapter Seven: The Massacre At Hawkins Lab") Nominated
Shawn Levy (for "Chapter Four: Dear Billy") Nominated
Best Writing in a Streaming Series, Drama The Duffer Brothers (for "Chapter Seven: The Massacre At Hawkins Lab") Nominated
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in Period Television Tony Holley, Kyle A. Carey, John Lucas, Jonas Spokas, Vytautas Riabovas Won [104]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series The Duffer Brothers, Dan Cohen, Shawn Levy, Iain Paterson, Rand Geiger, and Justin Doble Nominated [4][105]
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series Carmen Cuba, Tara Feldstein, and Chase Paris Nominated
Outstanding Music Supervision Nora Felder (for "Chapter Four: Dear Billy") Won
Outstanding Period and/or Character Hairstyling Sarah Hindsgaul, Katrina Suhre, Brynn Berg, Dena Gibson, Jamie Freeman, Tariq Furgerson, Chase Heard and Charles Grico (for "Chapter Seven: The Massacre At Hawkins Lab") Nominated
Outstanding Period and/or Character Makeup (Non-Prosthetic) Amy L. Forsythe, Devin Morales, Leo Satkovitch, Nataleigh Verrengia, Rocco Gaglioti, Lisa Poe, Benji Dove and Jan Rooney (for "Chapter Two: Vecna's Curse") Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period Program (One Hour or More) Chris Trujillo, Sean Brennan and Jess Royal (for "Chapter Seven: The Massacre At Hawkins Lab") Nominated
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup Barrie Gower, Duncan Jarman, Mike Mekash, Eric Garcia and Nix Herrera (for "Chapter Four: Dear Billy") Won
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Dean Zimmerman and Casey Cichocki (for "Chapter Four: Dear Billy") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) William Files, Mark Paterson, Craig Henighan and Michael P. Clark for ("Chapter Seven: The Massacre At Hawkins Lab") Won
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) Craig Henighan, William Files, Ryan Cole, Korey Pereira, Angelo Palazzo, Katie Halliday, Ken McGill, Steven Baine, David Klotz and Lena Glikson-Nezhelskaya (for "Chapter Seven: The Massacre At Hawkins Lab") Won
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Season or a Movie Michael Maher Jr., Marion Spates, Jabbar Raisani, Terron Pratt, Ashley J. Ward, Julien Hery, Niklas Jacobson, Manolo Mantero and Neil Eskuri Nominated
Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or Movie Hiro Koda Won
Outstanding Stunt Performance Matthew Scheib and Jura Yury Kruze (for "Chapter Four: Dear Billy") Nominated
Set Decorators Society of America Awards Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a One Hour Fantasy or Science Fiction Series Jess Royal and Chris Trujillo Pending [106]
Saturn Awards Best Streaming Horror & Thriller Series Stranger Things Pending [107]
Best Actress in a Streaming Series Millie Bobby Brown Pending
Supporting Actor in a Streaming Series Joseph Quinn Pending
Performance by a Younger Actor (Streaming) Gaten Matarazzo Pending
Sadie Sink Pending
Guest Performance in a Streaming Series Robert Englund Pending


Netflix reported that by May 30, 2022, Stranger Things 4 had been viewed more than 287 million hours, surpassing the previous first-week viewership record from season two of Bridgerton, which had 193 million hours in its first week. Earlier seasons of Stranger Things also broke into the top 10 viewed programs in the same week as Stranger Things 4's release.[108] With its fourth season, Stranger Things became the second Netflix title to reach more than one billion hours viewed within its first 28 days of release, following Squid Game. It reached 1.352 billion hours of viewership in the first 28 days, making it the second-most viewed program after Squid Game, and the most viewed English-language series ever.[109][110][111]


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External linksEdit