[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/strangerthingsposter.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:''[[Music/TheClash Should I stay or should I go?]]''[[note]]Characters, starting from the top going down: [[LivingMacGuffin Will]], [[MamaBear Joyce]], [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure Hopper]], [[TykeBomb Eleven]], [[ActionGirl Nancy]], [[CameraFiend Jonathan]], [[TheLeader Mike]], [[AgentMulder Dustin]], and [[AgentScully Lucas]].[[/note]]]]

'''''Stranger Things''''' is a Creator/{{Netflix}} Original Series created by the Duffer Brothers which debuted on July 15, 2016. Taking place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in TheEighties, the series tells the story of the disappearance of a young boy named Will, and the supernatural events surrounding it. It is inspired by Creator/AmblinEntertainment movies such as ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial'', ''Film/{{Poltergeist}}'', and ''Film/TheGoonies'', the works of StephenKing, and 1980's Main/{{Horror}}, ScienceFiction and ComingOfAge stories. It stars Creator/WinonaRyder, Creator/DavidHarbour and Matthew Modine.

----
!!Stranger Tropes:

* AbuseMistake: When Steve sees Nancy's bandaged hand [[spoiler: after she and Jonathan cut themselves to lure the monster]], he initially thinks Jonathan has been beating her.
* AbusiveParents: "Papa" put Eleven through [[{{TrainingFromHell}} questionable parenting techniques...]]
* ActionSurvivor: [[spoiler: Will survives for a long time in the Upside-Down, and his mom finds him in a fort he created and named after himself. Barb, Shepard and the government mooks? Not so savvy, not so lucky.]]
* AdultFear: The show is full of this, and not just for the adult characters. Specifically:
** Losing a child, either to disease or disappearance.
*** Trying your hardest to find/recover your missing child only for everyone, including your family, to dismiss you as crazy.
** Having your marriage fall apart.
** Having to raise your children on a fixed income, with no support (financial or otherwise) from their other parent, and ultimately having to rely on one of your children to make ends meet.
** A GovernmentConspiracy unaccountable to anyone, [[spoiler: which abducts your child for unethical experiments]].
** Most works involving missing children typically emphasize the effects of the disappearance's effects on their family, the parents particularly. ''Stranger Things'' demonstrates that a missing child's friends are affected, too, and that the disappearance or death of a friend could be an AdultFear for children, too.
** Again, for the children, especially Mike, particularly in Chapter 1: having an adult-sized problem (Will's disappearance), with your family not seeming to give a crap about it. Nancy experiences this as well after Barb's disappearance, being the only one (including the police, her mother, and Barb's own mother) who seems to care about her.
* AdultsAreUseless: {{Played straight}} [[spoiler: initially]].
** [[spoiler: It comes to a natural conclusion in the SeasonFinale to Season 1: it's not the trained government soldiers that can damage the Demogorgon, but three teenagers with improvised weapons. The Demogorgon easily defeats said soldiers, but is brought down by Eleven with help from Mike, Lucas, and Dustin instead. The trope ''does'' zigzag a bit due to the two aforementioned competent adults in the cast, Joyce and Hopper, who are the ones to enter the Upside Down and save Will.]]
* AliensInCardiff: A government conspiracy is hunting [[spoiler: an interdimensional creature]] in Hawkins, Indiana,where nothing ever happens.
* AlmostKiss: [[spoiler: Between Mike and Eleven]] in the seventh episode, before Dustin interrupts them.
* AnkleDrag: Happens to poor [[spoiler: Barb]] as she tries to crawl out of the pool to escape [[spoiler: the monster]].
* {{Anticlimax}}: [[spoiler: Joyce and Hopper gear up and descend into the Upside-Down, prepared to face off against the monster to save Will and protect the younger members of the cast from danger. Unfortunately, while they do so this, the monster is in their world attacking said youths.]]
* ArcWords:
** More like arc song really, but "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" by Music/TheClash shows up often through the series. Most notably [[spoiler: Will sings it to himself while trapped in the Upside-Down, and it gets broadcast over the record player when Will makes contact with Joyce the second time.]]
** "Friends don't lie." Mike tells Eleven this when he is explaining friendship to her, and she repeats this throughout the series when she catches Mike trying to hide awkward truths from her.
* ArtisticLicense: Isolation tanks used for sensory deprivation [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolation_tank involve more of the "deprivation" part]], though for the purpose used on Eleven, she does require stimulus to gain reassurance and be pulled back to reality.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory:
** Flashlights used in various nighttime searches produce very modern blue-white beams of light. Ironically, they'd have been a lot less noticeable if they hadn't been in use next to period-correct devices which produce beams of light in a visibly much redder spectrum. Probably necessary to allow for minimal additional lighting.
** Arguable example: Jonathan says that he put Music/TheSmiths on the mixtape he made for Will in 1983. The band would only release its debut album the following year. An American, even one following the burgeoning AlternativeRock scene, he would not have heard of the band yet unless Jonathan was an avid collector of import records. The Smiths had already released a couple of singles but nothing yet stateside.
* BadBoss: Dr. Brenner couldn't care less about the safety of his underlings. [[spoiler:He routinely puts them at risk from both Eleven and the Demogorgon and is willing to sacrifice as many of them as it takes to achieve his goal.]]
* BaldWomen: Eleven has a buzzcut as a result of her [[spoiler: being a laboratory test subject. It is difficult to discern a pre-pubescent girl with short hair from a boy, making her a red herring for the missing Will. It also adds to the perception of her as a weird outsider and they have to hide it with a wig when the boys have to move her through public.]]
* BatterUp: Jonathan hammers nails into a baseball bat to [[spoiler: combat the Demogorgon]], though Steve is the one who makes use of it.
* BavarianFireDrill: This is Hopper's go to when he's investigating. When it doesn't work, he switches to [[JackBauerInterrogationTechnique punching people in the face]].
* BettyAndVeronica: Jonathan is the Betty and Steve is the Veronica to Nancy's Archie.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Eleven is a generally nice, if somewhat socially awkward, girl, but you don't want to be on her bad side. The kids who bully Mike and his friends learn this the hard way.
* BigDamnHeroes:
** [[spoiler: Eleven when bullies force Mike to jump off a cliff.]]
** And [[spoiler:Steve when Jonathan and Nancy are fighting the Demogorgon.]]
* BitchInSheepsClothing: The [[spoiler: "Social Worker" Connie]].
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: The Demogorgon is dead, and it seemed to take Eleven with it, but she's implied to be alive due to the fact that Hopper was bringing Eggos to a dead drop in the woods; Nancy chose Steve over Jonathan, but they're all friends; and Will is safe, but the monster did something to him so that he's vomiting slugs and having visions of the Upside-Down. Hopper exposed the Hawkins "Department of Energy" research to the public, but appears to have made a deal with some MenInBlack. Also, Mike succeeded in saving Will, but Nancy was too late for Barbara.]]
* BookEnds: Begins and ends with [[spoiler: the boys playing D&D.]]
** Alternatively/more specifically, begins with [[spoiler: Will telling Mike the Demogorgon got him in the game when everyone thought he was safe,]] and ends with [[spoiler: the revelation that the Demogorgon actually did get Will when everyone thought he was safe.]]
* BoomHeadShot:
** In the first episode, this is the fate of [[spoiler: Benny, the diner owner]].
** Played with in the final episode, when [[spoiler:the monster opens its maw, and it ''looks'' like the wrist rocket (not a slingshot) throws it across the room. It was actually Eleven]].
* BrickJoke: When Mike shows Eleven the La-Z-Boy, he says, "This is where my father sleeps." In the final episode, we see his father passed out on the chair.
* TheBully: Troy and James, who regularly terrorize the gang.
* BullyingADragon: The orderlies at the facility where [[spoiler:Eleven was experimented on]]. They may not have known the details but they should've known and seen enough to know that manhandling Eleven might be a bad idea.
* CallBack: Joyce flees her home and gets into her car when [[spoiler:the Demogorgon almost breaches the walls. But she looks back at the house and realizes that she can't leave Will.]] In the final episode, [[spoiler:Steve also runs to his car and almost leaves Jonathan and Nancy to fend for themselves, but looks back to the house at the last moment and realizes he can't leave Nancy, either.]]
* CaliforniaDoubling: Suburban Atlanta, Georgia stands in for Hawkins, Indiana.
* CassandraTruth:
** No one believes Joyce when she claims [[spoiler: Will is alive.]] {{Justified}}, because she's talking to him through flickering lightbulbs.
** The hardware store clerk raises an eyebrow at the weapons Nancy and Jonathan are buying. When he asks what they are up to, Nancy point blank tells him they are going monster hunting. He makes the sale.
* CastFromHitPoints: Eleven's powers clearly take a number on her, most evident by her PsychicNosebleed. There is some element of CastFromCalories as well, since it's noted that food helps her to recover.
* CannotSpitItOut: [[spoiler: Mike.]]
* ChaseScene: A particularly memorable one in "The Bathtub" in which [[spoiler: Dr. Brenner and his agents]] chase after the kids.
* ChekhovsGun:
** The cliffs are noted to be fatal in an early episode. Later in the season [[spoiler: Mike]] jumps off of them.
** The Wrist-Rocket – '''[[InsistentTerminology not]]''' slingshot – is introduced early and gets some use in the final episode.
** Nancy and Jonathan's box of [[spoiler: monster hunting]] equipment does get used.
*** On that note, Nancy's bat [[spoiler:is the only weapon that actually makes the Demogorgon retreat after Steve takes some swings at it, though it looks more like a mace at that point after Jonathan jammed some nails in it]].
** Mr. Clarke's ham radio is introduced early on and is [[PsychicPowers used by Eleven]] in a later episode.
* CoolCar: Apart from the usual 1970s/early 1980s Oldsmobiles, Ford Pintos and Chevy Blazers that the people of Hawkins drive, Steve Harrington drives a 1981-1982 BMW 733i, which would have cost around $36,000 ($77,000 in today's money).
* ColdWar: Naturally for a story involving [[spoiler: psychics]] in TheEighties, the purpose of [[spoiler: the experiments]] that kick-start the plot is to get an advantage over the Soviets. Eleven is shown spying on a Russian when she first [[spoiler: sensed the Demogorgon]].
* ConditionalPowers: A couple of examples:
** Eleven is extremely powerful, but she seems to be limited by her bodily limits. This is usually manifested by bruising and ruptures in her mucosal capillaries, causing either nose or ear canal bleeding. She faints whenever she overexerts herself.
** [[spoiler: The Demogorgon is extremely attracted to the scent of blood and only attacks actively bleeding victims outside its dimension; in some cases he will transcend the barrier if he gets even the tiniest whiff of blood. One of the reasons it doesn't immediately kill Will is because he's not bleeding.]]
* CoolTeacher: Mr. Clarke knows exactly what the boys are talking about when they give him their nerd references.
* CPRCleanPrettyReliable: Hopper starts to use this on [[spoiler:Will when he and Joyce find him in the Upside-Down]], but when it doesn't work he reverts to WorstAid chest thumping and the usual shouts of "Come on, breathe, dammit!", which of course works.
* CreepyChild: Eleven. She barely speaks and her entire body language is that of a skittish and scared animal. She also has no idea how to interact with regular people. [[spoiler:Being raised as a subject of study in a laboratory will do that.]]
* DarkWorld: [[spoiler: The Upside-Down where Will is trapped, which is filled with toxic fog and covered in MeatMoss.]]
* DefectiveDetective: Chief Hopper was once a big-city cop, but he's become a mess since his daughter died. He's divorced, spends his time abusing substances, and apparently had to take an easier job in the small town of Hawkins.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Some due to taking place in 1983.
** The attitudes towards bullying and casual uses of homophobic slurs have changed significantly since the time period in question.
** There was much less stigma against smoking at this time, so Joyce smokes around her kids, and Hopper smokes on the job when dealing with the public.
** Two teenagers buying gasoline, bear traps, nails, sledge hammers and revolver ammunition elicits nothing more than mild curiosity from a hardware store attendant, instead of jumping to [[AxesAtSchool the conclusion]] a present day person would.
* TheDeterminator: Joyce Byers will stop at ''nothing'' to save her son.
* DisappearedDad: One of many thematic references to Spielberg.
** Lonnie to Will and Jonathan. He's been living in Indianapolis for some time and apparently has little contact with them. Joyce is heard berating him for breaking a promise to take Will to a baseball game over the phone. He shows up only after [[spoiler: Will's apparent death]], and then Joyce finds out he's trying to cash in by a lawsuit.
** Mike's father is basically useless, leaving his mother to do all of the parenting.
** There's also no mention of who Eleven's father is (if anyone knows). Dr. Brenner is a very poor surrogate, to put it mildly.
* DudeNotFunny:
** Hopper isn't amused when Powell cracks a joke about Joyce's SanitySlippage.
** Mike confronts his bullies due to their mocking of Will's wake. Eleven's intervention defuses the fight, though the bullies escalate.
* DugTooDeep: [[spoiler: When Brenner forced Eleven to make contact with the Demogorgon, opening the gate in the process.]]
* TheEighties: The first season takes place during November 1983.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: The cool and cruel Tommy and Carol have the most consistent relationship in the series. Barb says that they've probably been having sex since the 7th grade. They're always seen together and always support each other.
* EverytownAmerica: Hawkins, Indiana, an anonymous, small Midwestern town.
* EvilDetectingDog: [[spoiler: Inverted. The Byers family dog barks at nothing in the back yard and eventually settles in Castle Byers. Both are places where Will hides.]]
* ExtremelyShortTimeSpan: The main story takes place over the course of about a week.
* FaceFullOfAlienWingWong: Seems to be a part of [[spoiler: the Demogorgon's]] M.O.
* FakinMacGuffin: {{Invoked}}. [[spoiler: The body of "Will"]] found at the quarry is almost life-like and close to the real deal, enough to pass off [[spoiler: as a real body at first glance; remarkable work from the scrubs at the Hawkins facility]], considering they had ''less than a day to prepare it''. [[spoiler: It even had Will's exact clothes to boot. It's identified as fake by Joyce and later confirmed to be an ''extremely'' detailed doll by Hopper]].
* FakingTheDead: The government plants [[spoiler: a dummy of Will]] to [[spoiler: make everyone believe he drowned]]. They're careful not to let anyone get any close looks at it.
* FirstLove: Mike and El, obviously. It's almost a foregone conclusion.
* FlashbackEcho: Eleven's backstory is gradually revealed through these.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** Will admits that the Demogorgon "got him." [[spoiler: The real Demogorgon gets him on his ride home]].
** In an early episode, Hopper tells an officer that a fall from the local cliff would be fatal, despite there being a lake on the bottom, due to sheer height. [[spoiler: Mike]] later goes over the edge.
** Steve sings into a baseball bat while trying to woo back Nancy. He later uses the bat to rescue her.
** In the first episode, the boys get excited about how far the signal on Mr. Clarke's ham radio can reach. The radio is later used by Eleven to reach a place [[DarkWorld farther away than they ever thought.]]
** After a big fight in the group, Dustin recalls a D&D session where the party split up and they were picked off by trolls one by one. Sure enough, both Lucas and Dustin and Mike end up in trouble in two separate situations.
* FreakLabAccident: It seems that the whole purpose of [[spoiler: Eleven's subject testing]] was spying on Russia and possibly eliminating Soviet agents via telekinesis, [[spoiler:only it brought the attention of a bloodthirsty EldritchAbomination]]. Dr. Brenner's priority becomes trying to cover this up as quietly as possible.
* FreakOut:
** The boys do this when Eleven, who ''really'' has NoSocialSkills, tries to change her clothes right in front of them.
** Eleven has a proper one when she sees [[spoiler: Barb's]] body.
** Steve, when he shows up at the Byers home [[spoiler: at the moment Nancy and Jonathan are setting up a trap for the Demogorgon. He then crumbles down and escapes when they tell him that it will appear again. He puts himself together and returns to save both Nancy and Jonathan]].
* FreeRangeChildren: A good portion of the early episodes has the various middle school and high school characters slipping away from their homes, skipping school and staying out later than they'd promised, though this ''does'' typically land them in hot water when they get home.
* FreezeFrameBonus: The season finale [[spoiler: has 4 articles pinned to a corkboard regarding the events of the season, all of which are quite detailed]].
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: Several, mostly courtesy of Lucas and Dustin. Examples include Dustin disgustedly wiping his hand on his shirt after Lucas demonstrates a spit swear to Eleven and [[ShipperOnDeck both of]] [[FriendVersusLover their expressions]] when Mike blurts out that Eleven looks pretty.
** When Mike instructs his friends to "look sad" if anyone at school sees them, Lucas and Dustin make exaggerated crying expressions to show Eleven what he means. She immediately mimics them.
* {{Gaslighting}}: What the government can't conveniently murder or sequester, they'll subject to this.
* GenreRoulette: Switches between horror, sci-fi, and conspiracy thriller. Usually, the genre depends on the characters being followed. Mike, Dustin and Lucas's plotlines are more sci-fi/horror, Jonathan and Nancy are more horror, and Hopper and Joyce are investigating a conspiracy.
* GenreThrowback: To Creator/StevenSpielberg's early 1980s output, particularly ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial'', and to Creator/StephenKing's novels of the same era.
* TheGlomp: After [[spoiler:Will is saved from the Upside-Down]], Mike, Lucas and Dustin give [[spoiler:their friend]] a huge hug for surviving.
* GoneHorriblyWrong: It was already bad when the facility was [[spoiler: torturing children]] to spy on Russia, but [[spoiler: bringing a monster of unspeakable horror]] into the world is on a whole worse level.
* GoneHorriblyRight: The facility wanted [[spoiler: a psychic child who could]] spy on Russian intelligence - they got that. Then when they found out [[spoiler: she used a parallel universe]] to do it they [[spoiler: wanted her to contact the being that already lived there]] - they got that too. However, they didn't realise [[spoiler: the nature of that being, nor what it could do]].
* GovernmentConspiracy: All the shenanigans on the show are the result of [[spoiler: dangerous experiments conducted in]] a government facility near Hawkins. When the consequences [[spoiler: of those experiments]] start spilling over into the town, the government does everything in its power to cover things up.
* GuysSmashGirlsShoot: Nancy and Jonathan bring a bat and a revolver respectively [[spoiler: to kill the monster]]. Initially, they try practicing with the weapons they picked, but trade when Nancy proves to be the better shot.
* HaveYouToldAnyoneElse: [[spoiler:Played with. As Hopper is being interrogated by the agents, they demand to know who he is working with. Hopper answer that he is working alone, but he is also savvy enough to attempt a bluff by telling them that he has shared all the information he has with a journalist.]]
* HeroOfAnotherStory: The story unfolds in three different parallel factions: Hopper and Joyce, the boys and Eleven, and Jonathan and Nancy. Though most of the events are centered around Eleven, it's Hop who eventually puts two and two together by realizing that they were all working for the same end, which is finding Will.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Eleven manages to kill the Demogorgon but seemingly disintegrates in the process]] in the final episode.
* HiddenDepths:
** Hopper is a more insightful, conniving, and caring person than he lets on.
** Steve is more caring and brave than he shows at first, finally revealing the person Nancy sees in him.
** Most of Lucas' behavior is focused on his concerns about the safety of his closest friends.
** {{Played with}} in the case of Terry Ives. [[spoiler:Though catatonic, Ives' concern hinges on the notion that her daughter is still alive, which she considers a ''fact''. The experimentation done on her raises the question of how much she is aware of what transpired and to what degree the experimentation affected ''her too''.]]
* HistoryRepeats: Jonathan accuses Nancy of repeating her parents' story, which is something he says that most teens do.
* {{Homage}}: Many that are not explicit shout-outs:
** An inversion of the ''Film/{{ET}}'' flying-bike shot, where rather than make the bikes fly, [[spoiler:Eleven just launches a van over them instead.]]
** ''Series/TheXFiles'' fans were delighted to find similarities between scenes: when [[spoiler: Hopper and Joyce save Will from The Upside-Down]], it bears a striking resemblance to a similar scene in the 1998 movie ''Fight the Future.'' Near the end of the final episode, [[spoiler: Will coughs up a miniature of whatever had been pulled from his throat in the Upside-Down]], a scene that is almost frame-by-frame a copy of a scene from season two's "The Host." The Duffer Brothers have said in interviews that they were fans of the series during its original run, though it was not credited as having a direct impact on ''Stranger Things.''
** The [[spoiler:alien slug coughed up by Will]] could be an homage to ''Film/NightOfTheCreeps''.
** Eleven's origin story is very similar to [[spoiler:''Literature/{{Firestarter}}''. One character even explicitly likens the experiments Eleven's mom took part in to something out of a Stephen King novel.]]
** The show's title typography is very reminiscent of the way Creator/StephenKing's name used to be presented on his book covers.
** [[spoiler: The monster's mouth]] is reminiscent of both the eggs from ''{{Film/Alien}}'' and the mouths of the sandworms from ''{{Film/Dune}}''.
** A group of geeky, ostracized middle school kids, joined by some teenagers (including one kid's [[BigBrotherInstinct protective big brother]]), discovers a secret beneath the surface of their seemingly quiet hometown, while (most) adults remain blissfully ignorant of what's going on... The premise of the series was clearly inspired by ''Film/TheGoonies'', and the main protagonist kid in both works is even named Michael. One could also interpret that description to apply to Literature/{{It}}.
** A bullied boy befriended by a girl with paranormal abilities in 1983 seems reminiscent of ''Literature/LetTheRightOneIn'' by way of its Americanized version, ''Let Me In''. Troy's SadisticChoice to Mike and Dustin is reminiscent of the bullies' SadisticChoice to Oskar/Owen in the pool; Eleven's BigDamnHeroes moment is a LighterAndSofter version of Eli/Abby's rescue of Oskar/Owen. Notably, Eleven's cover story is that of a cousin from Sweden, the original setting of ''Literature/LetTheRightOneIn''.
** The overarching plot of [[spoiler: a missing child being trapped in another dimension, who is nevertheless able to contact his family goes all the way back to "Little Girl Lost",]] an episode of Series/TheTwilightZone1959.
** Hopper's ProperlyParanoid scene is lifted straight out of Coppola's Film/TheConversation.
** When Will says he's sure his Christmas present is an {{Atari}}, Joyce responds with "[[Series/FreaksAndGeeks An A-what-i?]]"
** There are quite a few references to Creator/StephenKing throughout the series, including one notable scene of the kids [[Film/StandByMe traveling along train tracks]].
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: The sixth episode stresses that while the [[spoiler:monster]] is a deadly and frightful being, it's still little more than an animal. Humans on the other hand, can be downright EVIL.
* IAmAMonster: When Lucas accuses Eleven of [[spoiler: being the monster]], she attacks him and runs away. She takes off her wig and uses her powers more aggressively to steal food. She even says it verbatim when confessing that [[spoiler: she opened the portal to the Upside-Down.]]
* ICanExplain: The boys try to explain why they're breaking into the AV room instead of the memorial assembly for Will:
--> '''Mike''': We're just...you know...
--> '''Lucas''': Upset.
--> '''Dustin''': Yeah, definitely upset.
--> '''Mike''': We need some alone time.
--> '''Dustin''': To...cry.
* IfWeGetThroughThis: [[spoiler: In "The Upside-Down", Mike talks about his and Eleven's future. Guess what happens to Eleven.]]
* ImmediateSelfContradiction: In episode 7, Nancy and Mike agree to start being honest with each other, then instantly lie to each other about their feelings for Jonathan and Eleven, respectively.
* ImmuneToBullets: [[spoiler: The Demogorgon]] is still standing after [[spoiler: Brenner's]] men pump lead at it for several seconds.
* ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy: Apparently Jonathan attended, as when he takes a revolver out for the first time [[spoiler: in preparation to face the monster]], he misses every shot he takes at the cans he's set up.
* InterplayOfSexAndViolence: [[spoiler: Barb is attacked by a strange monster while Nancy and Steve have sex.]]
* IronicEcho: In the second episode, Mike explains the concept of a promise to Eleven as "something that you can't break", and Eleven later promises that she's okay when he finds her crying. In the season finale, [[spoiler: Mike and Eleven promise each other that she'll be okay and have a life with Mike and his family. [[HeroicSacrifice That promise is quickly broken.]]]]
* {{Irony}}: In episode 7, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven decide to trust [[spoiler: Hopper]] not to give their location to the government, reasoning, "Why would [[spoiler: the chief]] betray us?" [[spoiler: In the next episode, Hopper does exactly that.]]
* ItsAllMyFault:
** Since she [[spoiler: opened the gate to the Upside-Down and made first contact with the monster, Eleven]] feels personally responsible for the havoc it wreaks.
** Nancy feels responsible for what happened to [[spoiler: Barb]] because she left her alone to have sex with Steve.
* JackBauerInterrogationTechnique: Hopper utilizes it in episode 4 [[spoiler: after the state police officer who'd "found" Will's body lies to his face [[SpottingTheThread regarding the jurisdiction of the quarry]]]].
* JerkJock: Tommy [[spoiler: and seemingly Steve at first.]]
* JerkassHasAPoint:
** Breaking the camera was perhaps harsh, but Steve and his friends were right to [[spoiler: call Jonathan out on taking pictures of the party.]]
** Sure, Lonnie is a deadbeat dad trying to cash in on his [[spoiler: son's apparent death]], but he is right: that gorge is ridiculously unsafe. It's just a sheer dead drop over the side into the water around a hundred feet down. Later we see Mike nearly fall in too. Even if [[spoiler: Will]] really wasn't killed there, someone likely would be.
** Lucas, while abrasive about it, also isn't given a particularly good reason why they shouldn't tell someone else about Eleven until a few days after it's first suggested.
* JockDadNerdSon: Lonnie had absolutely no respect for Will's nerdy pursuits, and mistreated him because of them.
* JurisdictionFriction: {{Invoked}} when [[spoiler: the state police "find" Will's body in the quarry, this occurs with the locals. The officer who'd called it in claimed the quarry was state-owned, when it was actually a privately-held one - something Hopper knew prior to asking him about it]].
* KillItWithFire: [[spoiler: Combined with a bear trap as part of Jonathan and Nancy's second plan to kill the monster. It doesn't take, but it hurts the creature badly enough that it retreats back to the Upside Down. Unfortunately, it regenerates quickly enough to be seemingly no worse for wear when it shows up again.]]
* KubrickStare: Eleven. Several times. [[spoiler: Usually before breaking something with her psychic powers.]]
* LadyLooksLikeADude: Because of her androgynous appearance, Eleven is briefly mistaken for a boy in the first episode. This later leads to her case getting mixed up with Will's during Hopper's investigation.
* LeftHanging: A significant number of questions are left unanswered ({{lampshaded}} in the boys' final D&D game). Which (if any) are {{Sequel Hook}}s is yet to be seen.
* LockAndLoadMontage:
** Lucas gets one when he sets out to save Will on his own.
** Nancy and Jonathan preparing to fight [[spoiler: the Demogorgon]] at the Byers' house in "The Upside-Down".
* MadnessMantra: After Eleven finds [[spoiler:Barb's dead body]] in the Upside-Down she can only repeat the word ''"Gone!"'' until Joyce calms her down.
* MakeoverMontage: A short one in "The Body" in which the boys disguise Eleven as a normal middle school girl, complete with a blonde wig and [[PinkMeansFeminine pretty pink dress.]]
* MauveShirt: Poor [[spoiler: Barb and Shepard]]...
* MeatMoss: Seems to be prevalent in [[spoiler: The Upside-Down and around its portals]].
* MercyKill: Jonathan and Nancy find a deer in the woods that has been hit by a car. As they decide what to do and screw up the courage to shoot the poor thing, [[spoiler:the Demogorgon makes the decision for them and drags it off to feed]].
* MindOverMatter: Eleven's telekinetic powers can do anything from closing doors and turning fans to [[spoiler: flipping vans]] and [[spoiler: crumbling brains.]]
* MissedHimByThatMuch:
** The boys ask Eleven to take them to where Will is hiding, when she leads them to Will's house they try explain the concept of being at home vs hiding. Meanwhile, inside Joyce is trying desperately to [[spoiler:communicate with her son trapped in the Upside-Down.]] If the boys had only walked inside...
** Nancy is looking for Barb and the one person who might be able to explain where she is is hiding in the basement.
** When the government agents get to [[spoiler:the school gym, the boys and Eleven had moved to the main school building to look for food. This gives them a slight head-start that ends up with the luring of the Demogorgon, who butchers the agents]].
* MistakenForCheating: When Nancy and Jonathan come back from [[spoiler: the encounter with the Demogorgon in the woods]], Steve catches them in an apparent compromising position.
* MonsterDelay: Fitting, given the show's prominent [[{{Jaws}} Spielberg]] influence.
* MoreTeethThanTheOsmondFamily: [[spoiler: The Demogorgon.]]
* TheMourningAfter: Some examples:
** Played with in the following case. Eleven leads the boys to the quarry to find [[spoiler:Will's body]], much to the contrary to what she's been telling them so far. In grief and anger, the boys accuse her of misleading them. [[spoiler:She then tinkers with Mike's walkie-talkie to show him that Will is indeed alive, which they later confirm by using their teacher's ham radio.]] They spend the following couple of chapters pretending they are grieving to their parents and schoolmates.
** In Barbara's case, while mostly everything that happened is covered in the end, it's still not known whether [[spoiler:her death was indeed reported. Most of the protagonists are aware of her fate in the end, but any mentions of anything else related to her are left out, including whether she had a funeral or a vigil like Will had at school]].
** [[spoiler: In the epilogue, Mike is shown to be still grieving El's sacrifice, though unbeknownst to him, she might still be alive]].
* NeckSnap: Eleven kills a security guard this way.
* NeverSuicide: [[spoiler: Benny the diner owner is murdered by government spooks and made to look like he shot himself.]]
* NewscasterCameo: The anchorwoman in the pilot episode is a real anchor for ll Alive, the local NBC affiliate in Atlanta [[CaliforniaDoubling where the show is filmed.]]
* NoCommunitiesWereHarmed: While there is no Hawkins nor Roane County in Indiana, there *is* a Roane County, Tennessee, which is home to [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Ridge_National_Laboratory Oak Ridge National Laboratory]] and [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-12_National_Security_Complex Y-12 National Security Complex]], two secluded government facilities that were integral parts of the top secret "Manhattan Project" that developed [[UsefulNotes/AtomicBombingsOfHiroshimaAndNagasaki the first atomic bombs]] during WorldWarTwo. Y-12 was a highly secure nuclear weapons production facility in the Reagan Era (and still is to some degree), and both Y-12 and ORNL were and are operated under the aegis of the Department of Energy. However, it's doubtful that psychic children and dimensional portals were ever on the agenda at either.
* NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished:
** Poor Benny the diner owner tries to help out a lost girl and [[spoiler:ends up shot in the head for his trouble.]]
** Likewise Nancy's best friend Barbara, who agrees to party with Steve and his friends to make sure Nancy doesn't get too drunk and [[spoiler:gets dragged into the Upside-Down, suffering a horrific death...eventually.]]
* NoHoldsBarredBeatDown: [[spoiler: Hopper delivers one to a flunky of the "Department of Energy," and then Jonathan ends up giving one to Steve after he taunts him about his brother.]]
* NotSoDifferent: As the After Show commentators note, Steve's self-absorbed reaction to Nancy's concern about Barb echoes Nancy's own self-absorbed reaction to Mike's concern about Will in the first episode.
* NothingButHits: A notable aversion: episode 5 ends with "Nocturnal Me" by Music/EchoAndTheBunnymen, which is from the same album as the far better known "The Killing Moon." Lesser-known songs by both Music/JoyDivision and Music/NewOrder are also used in the series.
* NothingExcitingEverHappensHere: According to Hopper, the worst thing that had happened in his four years of working in [[EverytownAmerica Hawkins]] was when an owl attacked Eleanor Gillespie's head because it thought her hair was a nest.
* NothingIsScarier: The show makes fantastic use of this trope. [[spoiler:The Demogorgon]] isn't clearly seen until very late in the first season.
* OhCrap:
** Nancy when [[spoiler: she sees the [[{{MoreTeethThanTheOsmondFamily}} Demogorgon]]]].
** Mike when he notices a car coming [[spoiler: in "The Upside-Down"]] and runs outside only to realize that [[spoiler: it's not Nancy and Jonathan – it's the bad guys.]]
** Also [[spoiler: in "The Upside-Down"]] when the lights start flickering and everyone collectively realizes [[spoiler: the Demogorgon]] is about to break through the wall.
-->'''Mike:''' Blood.\\
'''Lucas:''' What?\\
'''Mike:''' Blood!
* OneOfUs: In-universe example: the boys' chemistry teacher, who is an RPG geek as well.
* TheQuietOne: Eleven speaks very little, often preferring hand gestures to get her point across.
* ParentalObliviousness: Pretty much all of the parents beside Joyce.
* ParentsKnowTheirChildren: This is one of Joyce's most prominent character traits, and key to the strength of Winona Ryder's performance. Joyce has a thorough and timely understanding of her son's social life. She deduces that the drawing wasn't created by Will by asking the exact right question, "was it good?" and shows pride of her son's artistic talent. She remembers where his birthmarks are. Most importantly, her motherly intuition leads her to the conclusion, despite knowing full well just how crazy it sounds, that [[spoiler: Will is communicating from the Upside-Down through flickering the lights and playing the Clash, knowing it's one of Will's favorite songs.]]
* PeriodPiece: The whole season happens on late November, 1983, in a period of 4-6 days (later jumping to Christmas Eve). It shows a remarkably faithful recreation of the 1980's down to the most minute details. The series as a whole is a collection of tropes of 80's sci-fi.
* PetTheDog:
** Will admitting to Michael that the Demogorgon got him is both foreshadowing and shows that Will is a good kid worth saving.
** Steve volunteering to clean up the graffiti shows that he's turning a new leaf.
* PhoneaholicTeenager: Nancy is introduced lying on her bed and talking on her bedroom phone in a classic invocation of this trope.
* PlanningForTheFutureBeforeTheEnd: [[spoiler:In "The Upside Down", Michael will twice tell Eleven how she can move in with him and his family after the monster has been dealt with, and they'll have a normal life together. The second time he tells her this is while she's drained of her powers and the Demogorgon is coming for them. Soon after, Eleven sacrifices herself to kill it.]]
* PoliceAreUseless: With the exception of Chief Hopper, all the deputies in town are lazy, incompetent {{jerkass}}es.
* PoorCommunicationKills: Played with and somewhat justified. The kids, Nancy and Jonathan, and Joyce and Hopper keep their findings to themselves, for various reasons:
** Mike, Lucas, and Dustin hide Eleven's existence because they want to find Will and believe she's key to the mystery. Eleven's fear of TheConspiracy helps contribute to their reluctance to tell others the truth.
** Nancy and Mike haven't been close for years and have no reason to share the information. [[spoiler: They have a bonding moment when they team up and agree to avoid keeping secrets.]]
** Joyce, at first, is ''very'' vocal about her belief in Will's survival. Hopper is usually much more subtle about his investigations, especially after alerting TheConspiracy, [[spoiler: but he immediately subverts the trope and tells Joyce what he's uncovered when he's convinced she's right.]]
** [[spoiler:Lonnie]] convinces Jonathan that telling Joyce his suspicions about [[spoiler: the Demogorgon]] would only hurt an already traumatized Joyce. [[spoiler: She calls him out on it later and he quickly admits his mistake.]]
** [[spoiler: Completely averted once everyone is gathered together in "The Bathtub" where they all make sure everyone knows the situation.]]
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: [[spoiler: Eleven's powers are used to spy on Russians and ultimately communicate with the creature and open the portal between the Upside Down and their reality.]]
* ProperlyParanoid: After Chief Hopper awakens from [[spoiler:being drugged after seeing too much inside the Hawkins Lab]], he immediately looks for surveillance equipment in his trailer [[spoiler:and eventually finds it.]]
* PsychicNosebleed: Eleven gets them whenever she uses her telekinesis. This becomes a plot point when it's used to prove that she's been using her powers.
* PuttingOnTheReich: A variant. Eleven's serial number is tattooed on her left forearm, right where the Nazis put it on people in the camps. She's also essentially [[spoiler: a government slave and used as a human test subject in completely unethical, illegal ways]], which the Nazis did as well. Not to mention her [[spoiler: "owners" tactics in trying to retrieve Eleven once she escapes]] easily put them into Nazi territory.
* PuppyLove: Mike and Eleven, who are both around twelve years old.
* RealityEnsues:
** When Eleven sees [[spoiler: Barb's body]], she freaks out and needs to be comforted by [[spoiler:Joyce]]. This shows us that, super-powered or not, she's still a kid with a very human reaction to seeing [[spoiler: a dead body]].
** When Eleven attempts to get changed in front of the boys, the After Show commentators initially expect the boys to perv at her; instead, being kids, they act their age and freak out.
** Additionally, the boys, particularly Lucas, are initially reluctant to look for Will or keep Eleven's secret. They need to be talked into the former by Mike; later, Eleven's telekinesis stops Lucas from exposing her to Mike's mom.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure:
** Hopper is actually pretty willing to listen once he sees actual evidence. He's also remarkably quick on the uptake, as seen in episode three when [[spoiler: he realizes the tape they were shown ''wasn't'' the night after Will's disappearance, as it was pouring rain [[SpottingTheThread while the tape showed none]]]].
** Mr. Clarke, the boys' science teacher, is shown to be remarkably caring and nurturing of the kids' pursuits regardless of the weirdness of their requests and the appropriateness of the situation.
* RedShirt: [[spoiler: The Department of Energy's foot soldiers are essentially only there to be slaughtered by Eleven or the Demogorgon.]]
* RelativelyFlimsyExcuse: The boys pretend Eleven is Mike's cousin from Sweden when they try to get into the AV Room.
* {{Retraux}}: The title sequence and synth-heavy soundtrack are a pitch-perfect '80s throwback, very much emulating Creator/JohnCarpenter's style. It can be jarring to see modern CGI against the carefully researched early '80s look.
* SarcasticConfession: "What are you doing with all this stuff?" - [[spoiler: "Monster hunting."]]
* ScienceIsBad: {{Invoked}}. The boys' teacher tells them that even when science is neat, it's rather unforgiving. The show makes a point in showing both sides of the coin: the cold-hearted and dehumanizing aspect of scientific research, and the wondrous world of scientific pursuit.
* SealedEvilInACan: [[spoiler: The can, in this case, is an alternate dimension with at least one, but possibly multiple monsters inside it. Interestingly, there was never an apparent seal, the monster simply wasn't aware of our world. Until we became aware of it.]]
* SequelHook: At the end of the first season, a few loose-ends remain:
** Eleven [[spoiler:pulls a Heroic Sacrifice, but her death isn't confirmed. Hopper and Mike are on the lookout for signs of her return. Hopper appears to be leaving food out in the forest for her.]]
** Will [[spoiler:vomits up a worm-like creature and has a flash of the Upside-Down.]]
** Hopper [[spoiler:is approached]] by the Men In Black, but since he is [[spoiler:still working as the town sheriff after that, it seems he's managed to cut some kind of a deal with them.]] What this entails, though, is not yet revealed.
* SpitShake: Lucas and an unwilling Dustin demonstrate this to Eleven to teach her the meaning of an unbreakable promise.
* SheCleansUpNicely: In order to sneak Eleven into the school, Mike dresses her up complete with wig. Though he already likes her, a smitten Mike, and then his friends, freely admit that she is indeed a very pretty girl.
* SheIsNotMyGirlfriend: Although "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" aren't used, in "The Bathtub", when the three groups join up, Mike and Nancy ask each other if they ''like'' their new opposite-sex friends. [[spoiler: In keeping with this trope, Nancy calmly says that it's not like that, foreshadowing the fact that she and Jonathan remain friends in the end; Mike denies it a bit more vehemently, and ends up kissing Eleven in the next episode.]]
--> '''Nancy''': Do you like Eleven?
--> '''Mike''': What?! Ew, no, gross!
* ShoutOut:
** A child, [[spoiler: abducted by paranormal forces into another dimension]], who contacts his family through household appliances is a reference to ''{{Film/Poltergeist}}'', a movie that is referenced by name.
** The series is rife with references to ''Franchise/StarWars'', including:
*** Many a ''Franchise/StarWars'' novice has wondered why all the stormtroopers are numbered [[http://www.stormtrooper-costumes.com/images/page/Image/STORM%20PICS%20GENERAL/stormtrooper_back.jpg 011]].
*** In the final few episodes, [[spoiler: the kids use the term "[[Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack Lando]]" to describe the possibility of the adults being forced to betray them]].
** Many to Creator/JohnCarpenter's work (the soundtrack being close to his style) and especially ''{{Film/TheThing1982}}'', with the poster being shown in one scene and Mr. Clarke watching the Norris-monster scene at one point. [[spoiler:Also acts as foreshadowing for the KillItWithFire solution for the monster, like The Thing.]]
** When Will wins one of Dustin's comics in Episode 1, he asks for [[Comicbook/XMen X-Men 134]]. This issue features Jean Grey using her telekinetic powers to unleash [[ComicBook/TheDarkPhoenixSaga Dark Phoenix]] for the first time.
** The name Mirkwood is straight out of ''Literature/TheHobbit'', ([[InsistentTerminology not]] ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'').
** There's a prominent film poster for ''Film/TheDarkCrystal''.
** Steve invites Nancy to go see ''Film/AllTheRightMoves'', with [[Creator/TomCruise that guy]] from ''Film/RiskyBusiness''. He then starts singing Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll," reenacting the famous scene from ''Risky Business''.
** Jonathan has a poster for ''Film/TheEvilDead1981'' on his wall. His father tells him to pull it down as it is "inappropriate" with [[spoiler:Will's death]].
** May not be intentional, but Jim Hopper was the name of the Green Beret leader in ''{{Film/Predator}}'' that is killed offscreen by the titular alien.
** Also may not be intentional, but when Nancy and Jonathan are investigating the woods, they come across a wounded deer, consider whether or not to MercyKill it, before [[spoiler: it gets suddenly dragged away by the Demogorgon]]. The whole scene is remarkably similar to a scene from ''VideoGame/UntilDawn''.
** Whenever Eleven uses the deprivation tanks, [[spoiler: the dimension she winds up in]] is very similar to the EldritchLocation in ''Film/UnderTheSkin''.
** Jonathan's beatdown of Steve elicits "He's had enough, man!" from Tommy, similar to Bobby's line to Johnny in ''Film/TheKarateKid''. Even the inflection and way he says it are similar.
** Yet another example that may be unintentional: [[spoiler:[[DarkWorld the Upside-Down]]]] bears a strong resemblance to Dark Aether from ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime2Echoes'', particularly when intruding on our world. It maybe no coincidence that the opening title of ''Stranger Things'' lingers on the letters "ING" for a while, the titular parallel-universe enemies of said game.
** There are a ''lot'' of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' shout-outs in the series. The first few minutes of the first episode involve kids playing the game, fighting troglodytes before being attacked by Demogorgon, the Prince of Demons. [[spoiler: Which is later used as a name for the extradimensional monster.]] In episode 5, we see them looking through a copy of the D&D Expert Rulebook, [[spoiler:which is used to describe the Upside-Down by comparing it to "the Vale of Shadows", taking its name from a location in ''VideoGame/IcewindDale'' and its description from the Shadowfell]]. [[spoiler: Even Eleven's psionic powers can be taken as a reference to D&D's psionics.]]
** A Creator/StephenKing book physically appears in the series, read by the state trooper guarding the morgue. We can only see it from the back, which has nothing but a giant author photo of King, but from Hopper's quip it's ''{{Literature/Cujo}}''.
* SlutShaming: Done to Nancy by Tommy and Carol, with the connivance, at least, of Steve, after Steve finds Nancy with Jonathan.
* TheSnackIsMoreInteresting: In the first episode, Mike's mother tries to referee her kids around the dinner table while his father silently eats without helping. As the dinner disintegrates, the mother pointedly asks the father if he's enjoying the chicken.
* SoftWater: Deputy Callahan [[DiscussedTrope brings it up]] when retelling a story from a local who claims to have taken a dive into the water at the bottom of the quarry from the top of the cliff on a bet. Chief Hopper immediately calls bullshit, informing Callahan that from that height he would've broken every single bone in his body upon hitting the water.
* SpottingTheThread: One reason why Hopper is a ReasonableAuthorityFigure - when he sees something amiss, he doesn't write it off as just a coincidence until he's investigated it fully.
* StandardSnippet: In season 1 episode 3, "Holly, Jolly," the TV shows a clip of President UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan saying "Today, Syria has become a home for sev-". A simple search reveals that to have come from his [[http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2004/reagan/stories/speech.archive/lebgre.html address to the nation on Lebanon and Grenada]] from October 27, 1983. Depending on the writers' attention to detail, this could be an exact date or a "close enough" bit of stock footage.
* TapOnTheHead: [[spoiler: Hopper knocks a state police officer out in two punches when investigating Will's body]].
* TheresNoKillLikeOverKill: Take one look at the heat the bad guys brought for a bunch of twelve-year-olds. [[spoiler: Possibly justified in that they initially try to stop [[TykeBomb Eleven]] with an absurd amount of manpower, and that proves completely inadequate. They then escalate to a much larger force, which [[PersonOfMassDestruction also fails completely.]]]]
* ThoseTwoGuys: Deputies Powell and Callahan rarely show up without the other.
* {{Troperiffic}}: As many reviews have indicated, this series is built on tropes from eighties movies and shows.
* TrademarkFavoriteFood: Eleven is really into Eggos.
* TrueCompanions: Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will, [[spoiler: with Eleven being welcomed into the group first by Mike, then Dustin, and finally Lucas.]]
* TwoLinesNoWaiting: The show juggles the plotlines of Will's mother and brother, his friends, Nancy, and the town's sheriff before intertwining them all by the season finale.
* TykeBomb: Eleven is [[spoiler:the daughter of an MKULTRA test subject. She inherited supernatural abilities from her mother and, among other things, is being used by Brenner to spy on and assassinate Russians, this being the Cold War era.]]
* VillainousRescue: [[spoiler: The Demogorgon]] arrives to attack the government goons, allowing the heroes to escape, at least for a short while.
* WeaponTwirling: Steven twirls his bat while [[spoiler: pounding on the Demogorgon]].
* WorkingTheSameCase: Three distinct groups of people (the kids, the sheriff, and Nancy and Johnny) all run around independently trying to figure out what is going on [[spoiler:until converging for the finale.]]. Each group ends up ‘specializing’ in a certain area of the investigation. The kids do the most research into the science and idea of [[spoiler: The Upside-Down]], Nancy and Johnny are mostly dealing with understanding [[spoiler: the Demogorgon]], and Joyce and Hopper are largely dealing with Eleven's origins.