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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • D'Artagnan. Could he have been raised to view Dustin as its parent and not be like other Demogorgons if only he hadn't attacked it as soon as it became clear what it was? Do all demogorgons carry the Mind Flayer's taint from birth or was D'art possessed offscreen at some point?
    • Hopper in season two. Is he keeping Eleven in secret because he's genuinely concerned over a government reprisal, or is he exploiting the situation to replace the daughter who was taken from him?
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    • Did Kali project Brenner in "The Lost Sister" to have Eleven stay with her or make her chose her path to return to her friends?
    • Was Billy actually going to run over the boys? Or did he know they were going to get out of the way and he was just messing with Max? The distance he was at before revving up his engine would have given the boys enough time to get out of the way.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Every network the Duffer Brothers pitched this show to before Netflix rejected it unless they removed the kids and focused entirely on Hopper. With how well-loved the kids were in the end, it's safe to say Netflix made a good gamble by letting the Duffers keep their creative control.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Barb was rather infamously subject to a particularly gruesome death and was mostly forgotten about in subsequent episodes of the first season, which is something that didn't sit well with fans and especially the character's own fandom. The second season actually spends a good amount of time addressing the fallout her death caused amongst her friends and provides a proper closure to her story.
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  • Awesome Art: The Drew Struzan–style poster displayed on the main page for this show looks just like an eighties movie poster, as it should.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Of the four main boys, Lucas is the most divisive. Many fans love his Brutal Honesty and being the most logical member of the group. In Season 1 however, others found him to be the most whiny of the group as his initial distrust of Eleven was a constant source of friction among the kids (though that was probably the point). Even after he gives a heartfelt apology to Eleven, some fans still weren't entirely convinced. Season 2 makes great strides in showing that after Season 1, Lucas's Character Development has changed his views on letting newcomers into the group and he is notably the only one of the boys to be a true friend to Max. We also get to see more of his Adorkable side and home life. The clincher is when it's briefly shown that he has become much more chummy towards Eleven in "The Gate".
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    • Mike himself became one in season 2. While he remained a Nice Guy on many levels and was still a beloved character among fans, some didn't like his Jerkass Ball behaviour, particularly his attitude to Max.
    • Ted Wheeler. Those that like Ted find his Bumbling Dad traits and general obliviousness funny, but there are those who hate how completely insensitive he is and how he spends most of the series either snarking at Mike, letting Karen handle the situation, or sleeping on his chair. Compare him to the other parents of the main kids who are either more supportive or comedic, and Ted doesn't contribute much.
    • Joyce Byers. While Winona Ryder is mostly praised for her strong performance of a woman struggling with the grief of losing her son, she's also been criticized for being so perpetually hysterical that she becomes difficult to empathize with, and even those critics debate over whether she's overacting or if the script and direction called for it.
    • Steve is very divisive with the fanbase, mainly because he and Nancy still stay together whereas it's implied Nancy has feelings for Jonathan. One camp believes that he's been too much of a dick for most of the season for her to want to be with him, while another point out that he does come around after realizing that he's become such a bully, especially since it seems that his friends had a toxic influence over him. Opinion on him has improved in the second season since Nancy breaks up with him and gets with Jonathan, and Steve's Character Development continues, with him becoming much more of a hero.
    • Max is an odd character for a lot of fans, who felt she didn't contribute much other than snarking at Lucas and Dustin, as it wasn't even decided if she was going to believe them or not. She was redeemed a bit when she began to grow closer to Lucas and also finally stood up to her step-brother, who had been an abusive and controlling force of her life.
    • Billy Hargrove, Max's older brother and an antagonist introduced in the second season:
      • A big debate sprung forth over how sympathetic the character actually is due to being a victim of Parental Abuse. There are those who feel that this doesn't justify his own abuse towards Max and his misogynistic attitude, while others were hoping that he'd undergo a Heel–Face Turn arc like Steve did the season prior. The Duffer Brothers themselves stated, "It doesn't excuse his actions at all, but it at least helps explain them."
      • As can be seen under the Discussion and Headscratchers pages, a very heated debate exists as to whether or not Billy's behavior towards Lucas throughout season two is racially motivated. Those supporting the view that he's not racist argue the lack of overt dialogue (particularly the fact Billy never uses a racial slur, contrasted with Troy calling Lucas "Midnight" in season 1) and denials by actor Dacre Montgomery, while pointing out that everything Billy says about Lucas could also be applied to the rest of the Party. Additionally, Billy is depicted as generally controlling and abusive towards Max, making such an additional motivation unnecessary. Those supporting the "racist" interpretation assert that Billy telling Max "there are certain kinds of people" to stay away from and that Lucas is "one of them" is itself racially-charged, and therefore more explicit dialogue is unnecessary. They also point to comments by Montgomery noting some of Billy's language was toned down from earlier drafts, and that Lucas is disproportionately the target of Billy's anger contrasted with the rest of the Party. These points in turn are countered by the fact that Lucas only receives the brunt of his attention because he's the character Max has the most screentime with, providing more opportunity for Billy to focus on him, and that Montgomery declined to elaborate on what the stronger language in earlier drafts actually was doesn't provide enough context (as well as suggesting a shift in direction for his characterization in general). Although most fans are split on those two sides of the debate, a third faction argues that the show is too ambiguous and doesn't provide enough context to make a determination one way or another. However, it's worth noting that The Duffer Brothers themselves eventually did confirm he is a racist, and that said racism was partially what fueled his targeting Lucas combined with a general need to bully Max any way he can.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: The end of season 2 episode 8 builds up a lot of tension as to what just arrived to scare the Demodogs away and is slowly opening the door to reveal itself to the characters, when pretty much every viewer would have figured that it's Eleven.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Bet you never thought you'd cheer so loud for a child's arm being telekinetically snapped almost in half, complete with Sickening "Crunch!", did you? But boy oh boy, did the character have it coming.
    • Also, the one attack by the monster that's more satisfying than scary? Its attack on Dr. Brenner.
    • When El uses her powers to give Connie a Cruel and Unusual Death that involves her brains getting scrambled - it's incredibly cathartic especially since the woman killed Benny in cold blood right in front of El.
    • Billy spends season 2 as an antagonistic force looming over the heads of Max and Steve in particular. The audience is likely cheering along with the kids to finally give it to him. Likewise, Max being the one to force Billy to back down is a welcome sight after seeing her on the brunt end of his abuse all season.
  • Cliché Storm:
    • The series intentionally draws tropes and plot elements from many 1980s works of fiction. As is usually the case with these kinds of works, opinions vary as to whether the loving homages enhance the story or cause it to feel too predictable and derivative.
    • "The Lost Sister" ploughs through every single "main character falls in with a new group but they turn out to be too zealous for her liking" plot beat with a machine-like determination. Main character walks in on lower-rung lackeys who try and scare her off? Check. Main character will not be deterred and leader makes a grand entrance with superfluous display of powers? Check. Main character demonstrates she belongs in group and leader gushes over how happy she will be? Check. Very next scene is leader revealing to lackeys she plans to exploit main character? Check. Main character has fun/looks stylish with newfound friends? Check. Group takes main character on a mission but are overly aggressive and push main character past comfort zone? Oh, you better believe that's a check. Main character is morally superior and decides not to go through with it? Check. Main character and leader have a confrontation on the streets in which leader urges main character to come with them or promises they'll meet again? Check. Main character returns to her old friends with new insight about herself, while the leader is left feeling hurt and betrayed? Check, check, and check!
    • Mike and Nancy's father is this in character form. The clichéd dialogue, such as "if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too", is perfect for him, because it emphasizes how detached he is from reality. It makes a nice callback for fans, since Mike actually did jump off a cliff for his friends before.
  • Contested Sequel: Although Season 2 has been well-received, between the occasionally narmy dialogue and somewhat dubious creative choices, it is sometimes thought that it doesn't live up to the quality of Season 1.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • Dustin repeatedly claims that compasses should point to "true north". In fact, compasses point to magnetic north. He does say magnetic north a few times, so it could be that he is using the terms interchangeably In-Universe, as expected of a kid his age.
    • The boys' D&D game, probably also in-universe, as they're kids and not likely to know the game inside and out. Most egregiously, they refer to the Prince of Demons as "the Demogorgon", which goes on to be the In-Series Nickname of the actual villain.
    • When Will says that his favorite candy is Reese's Pieces, Dr. Owens agrees that chocolate and peanut butter is an unbeatable combination. Reese's Pieces don't have any chocolate. That's Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Billy Hargrove. It helps that he's played by Dacre Montgomery. While taking your problems out on your sister is hardly justifiable, some were put off by the fact that his father abusing him was just swept under the rug. Believe it or not, some fans have an habit of taking Billy's side, no matter how crazy and despicable he is.
  • Dry Docked Ship: Some fans believe Joyce and Hopper may have had a thing in high school, especially considering that they used to cut class and smoke together, as well as the tension between them in the present. If anything, David Harbour has only added fuel to the fire.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • For a minor character, Barb gathered a substantial fan following for being a kind, loyal, and dependable friend to Nancy.
    • Benny the diner owner is also well-liked despite his small role. Fans were sad to see him killed so quickly after having shown kindness to Eleven.
    • Scott Clark, the science teacher. A friendly, knowledgeable man and enthusiastic nerd. Incredibly supportive and likable. Also survives his encounter with the company and turns out to have a girlfriend!
    • Erica, Lucas's little sister, has caught on with the fandom due to her hilariously bratty personality.
    • Bob Newby for being a loving boyfriend to Joyce and an equally loving father figure to Will and Johnathan as well as for being an intelligent and badass individual. Needless to say, fans were devastated by his death.
    • Steve in Season 2, having received arguably the best Character Development of anyone in the series. His friendship with Dustin and overall being Team Dad have both made him very popular amongst fans.
    • Murray Bauman, for being a hilarious Conspiracy Theorist who helps Jonathan and Nancy get justice for Barb and gets some of the best lines in the whole season.
    • Dr. Owens, for being the complete opposite of Brenner, and a much better boss. The fact that he actually puts Will's well-being over the facility's desire to destroy the Gate shows he's a far more compassionate and caring person than Brenner ever was.
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • Some fans started a joke that Steve is the father of Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation, due to the strong resemblance between the actors. Ben Schwartz is a big fan of Stranger Things and was quick to give his support to the theory, and even poked fun at it alongside Joe Keery for a sketch on The Late Late Show.
    • Likewise, a lot of people theorize that Jonathan Byers grew up to become Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead due to the actor's startling resemblance to a young Norman Reedus.
    • Max inexplicably has her own psychic powers in the video game. Just a random quirk because they had to give some kind of benefit to how hard it is to add her to the team, or a genuine sign of what's coming on the show?
  • Fanfic Fuel: As you'd expect from a series with significantly long time skips between seasons, fans frequently take it upon themselves to fill in what the characters have been up to during those breaks in the narrative, guided by throwaway lines and Noodle Incidents. Also popular for fanfic writers are the breaks between the climax of each season and the "epilogue." Fanfics that take place after the climax of season 2, particularly, are quite popular and known in the fandom as "post-Gate" fics.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Nancy and Jonathan are given a lot of screentime and the occasional Ship Tease as they team up to fight the Demogorgon, which had a lot of people preferring them together, but Nancy still goes back to Steve in the end (to the surprise of Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, and Joe Keery). However, others feel it was the right decision since Steve really redeems himself in the end and the writers didn't rush Nancy/Jonathan (plus making it feel too much like Nancy was a "prize" for Jonathan after his helping her), and that season 2's subplots would give more of an opportunity to explore them. Season 2 also gives the much-appreciated context that after the fight, Nancy waited a whole month for Jonathan to make a move before going back to Steve. Ultimately, it turns out that despite being back together with Steve, Nancy has lingering feelings for Jonathan. While staying with Murray Bauman, she and Jonathan do eventually kiss and sleep together, though how official they will be is left ambiguous.
    • Another part of the fandom has begun shipping Steve/Nancy/Jonathan, noting how quickly they became Fire-Forged Friends and how well they worked together as a team.
    • Joyce/Hopper may very well be the One True Pairing of the show, and according to David Harbour in an interview, it might become canon.
  • Fanon:
    • It seems that many fans have interpreted Will as being gay. This theory was addressed by Noah Schnapp, who made an Instagram post arguing that the question sort of misses the point because it doesn't matter if someone is gay or not – even if he was gay, it would change nothing about him, and that one of the show's biggest messages is that we should treat people with kindness regardless of who they are. His bullies calling him several gay slurs is only meant to depict an accurate portrayal of bullying at that age and era (as The '80s wasn't exactly the most LGBT-friendly of times).
    • Along the same lines, not long after it was shown that Neil Hargrove was an Abusive Dad towards Billy, speculation started to spring forth whether or not Billy is an Armored Closet Gay. Between his constant bragging of his sex life, inability to actually hold down any type of long term relationship, his obsession with Steve, and his dad demeaning him with homophobic slurs, it's led to some taking this stance with this character.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • Fans of the show tend to get on quite well with fans of It (2017) due to both being stories about child characters set in the eighties and both having Finn Wolfhard in the cast.
    • Some fans are also Gravity Falls and Samurai Jack fans. This is most likely due to the premise of these series involving Lovecraftian horrors, mystery, dramedy, thriller, Sci-Fi and... well, strange things.
    • There are a lot of Stranger Things fans who are also Anime fans, likely due to the plot being loosely based on Elfen Lied.
    • There's also a bit of overlap with fans of Power Rangers (2017) due to Dacre Montgomery being in both.
    • An overlap with some Supernatural fans exists, since both are paranormal/horror-themed shows with lots of references to 80s movies and shows and a classic rock/80s rock soundtrack. There's also a portion of Tumblr that enjoys drawing parallels between between Mileven and Destiel. Here's a great example.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • When he first sees El, Dustin asks whether she has cancer. In the season finale, we find out that Hopper's daughter died of it.
    • Nancy's justified anger towards her mother regarding her lack of focus on Barb's disappearance and more onto the fact she slept with Steve becomes eerily uncomfortable when the final two episodes focused more on Will's rescue from the Upside Down and less on Barb's death. The fan reactions made it worse. To the point that season 2 kinda had to work to resolve this.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Some fans wondered how good an actor Noah Schnapp actually was after Season 1, given that he has little screen time despite Will's large role in the story. Season 2 puts that to rest as he ably handles a ton of intense emotional scenes.
    • Dacre Montgomery had also earned a lot of praise for his performance as Billy Hargrove with many impressed that he was able to play so heavily against type and make Billy genuinely frightening.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Joyce's son Jonathan eventually finds himself in a Love Triangle with Nancy and Steve, which bears a lot of similarities to the love triangle in 1990's Edward Scissorhands, where Winona Ryder played a girl dating a Jerk Jock while also being crushed on by a strange boy. One big difference would be the film's Jerk Jock turning out to be evil, while the one in this series turns out to be not so bad after all.
      • Even funnier is that while making Scissorhands, Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp were dating in real life. As it turns out, Natalia Dyer (Nancy) and Charlie Heaton (Jonathan) are also dating in real life.
    • Joe Keery (Steve) played Melchior Gabor in Spring Awakening in university, who also initiated underage sex with a brunette girl around his own age. Only this time, Nancy said no and Steve backed down.
    • This wouldn't be the last time that Finn Wolfhard fought an Eldritch Abomination in the 80's.
      • The scene where Mike tries and fails to throw a rock at his bullies becomes this where his character in It does the same thing, but with better results.
    • The similarities between Eleven and X-23 became this after Millie Bobby Brown revealed she auditioned for the latter role in Logan, losing out to Dafne Keen. Her not getting it made her available for Stranger Things.
    • Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas were established to be fans of Tolkien in Season 1. In Season 2, Joyce's boyfriend is played by none other than Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gangee in the Lord of the Rings films.
    • A few weeks before Season 2's release, The Flash also introduced Arc Words that included "Bitchin'."
    • A Saturday Night Live sketch that aired in October 2016 was purportedly a sneak preview of the next season, with appearances by Luke's family. Luke's father, played by Kenan Thompson, looks a lot like Luke's father in Season 2.
    • The episode of Legends of Tomorrow that aired a few days after Season 2's release also features a kid befriending a small, cute creature that turns out to be a juvenile form of a dangerous race.
    • Some fans have pointed out that The Mind Flayer looks very similar to The Female M.U.T.O from Godzilla (2014). Millie Bobby Brown will star in it's sequel Godzilla King of the Monsters in 2019.
    • Finn Wolfhard went on to voice The Player in Carmen Sandiego, essentially Mike's Dungeon Master role as a whole character.
    • The Party dressing up as the Ghostbusters becomes this when it was announced that Finn Wolfhard is being considered for a starring role in the upcoming sequel to Ghostbusters (2016).
  • Ho Yay: Billy seems a bit obsessed with Steve. He frequently finds excuses to get in Steve's face, licking his lips, looking Steve up and down, and even calling him a "pretty boy" while they're showering together after gym class. Crosses over with Foe Yay. It reaches the point where the last episode of the second season even hangs a lampshade on it.
    Billy: Am I dreaming, or is that you, Harrington?
    Steve: Yeah, it's me. Don't cream your pants.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: The Season 2 Super Bowl trailer foreshadowed the larger stakes of the season, with the story transitioning from the search for a single missing boy to an apparent Eldritch Abomination attempting to enter our world from the Upside-Down.
  • Hype Backlash:
    • With as much praise as the series has gotten, a small amount of this was inevitable. The most common opinion by people who end up underwhelmed by the show is that the story is an amalgamation of many popular eighties movies, with no substance or identity of its own.
    • In a character-specific example, Barb has become this. Barb became a huge Ensemble Dark Horse after a hashtag (#JusticeForBarb) that started on Reddit trended on Twitter, to the point she acquired actual fans, and even Jimmy Fallon did a sketch featuring Barb coming back from the Upside Down, chewing out Mike and his friends for forgetting about her note . However, the fact that Barb's popularity is vastly disproportionate to her screentime and started as a joke meme that was accidentally taken seriously has led to criticisms that the fans' love for her stems more from them projecting themselves onto her rather than her value as a character.
  • Informed Wrongness: Yes, Billy is an asshole, but you can't really fault him for confronting Steve about Max when she snuck out of the house without permission while he was supposed to be watching her, leading to him getting beaten by his father and forced to cancel his date to look for her. The show justifies his Humiliation Conga because he beat the tar out of Steve, but he didn't know anything about the Upside-Down, and when your 13-year-old sister is hanging out with a considerably older boy like Steve, he is going to need some context. Even if he did know about the Upside-Down, was he honestly just going to let Max go in a life-or-death situation?
  • Internet Backdraft: The circumstances behind the inclusion of Lucas and Max's kiss at the end of Season 2 as described in Beyond Stranger Things got some people upset, especially with the increased scrutiny on sexual power plays in the industry at the time it was released. Namely: Millie Bobby Brown joked that if Eleven and Mike were going to kiss in the scene, then Lucas and Max should too. Sadie Sink promptly told the Duffers she wouldn't be comfortable with that, to which they deliberately added it, even going so far as to say it was "her fault." Though Sink's parents were there to supervise the whole thing, and she doesn't seem uncomfortable discussing it in the interview, people still think even if she wasn't, the inclusion was unacceptable either way.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • Barb gets killed by the Demogorgon, and that's all you probably know about the character if you haven't watched the series.
    • Eleven not only being still alive but definitely returning in Season 2, which was originally meant to be ambiguous back before the showrunners anticipated the show's explosive popularity. It was heavily implied by the scene with Hopper leaving behind Eggos in the woods at the end of the last episode of Season 1, but by the time Millie Bobby Brown was found to be part of the cast for Season 2 during pre-production, nobody really made an effort to hide it.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Billy may be an Ax-Crazy, sadistic bully to his step-sister and her friends (as well as Steve), however it is heartbreaking that his father is an equally violent bully to him, even to the point calling him (Billy) a derogatory gay slur.
  • LGBT Fanbase: While there are no canon examples of LGBT+ sexuality or gender identification thus far, social rejection and nonconformity is a major theme, with several regular characters defined by a certain kind of otherness which the more "normal" townsfolk look down on them for: Will and his friends are D&D-loving nerds (Joyce mentions that she's heard her son referred to as "queer," meaning homosexual), with little in the way of "manly" interests, the Byers family are impoverished, Barb shows no interest in boys or partiesnote , Hopper is a recovering alcoholic, and Eleven herself is some sort of superhuman being with psychic powers. The concept of being ostracized or otherwise labeled a "weirdo" has resonated a lot with LGBT+ viewers.
  • Love to Hate: Billy Hargrove in season 2. Dacre Montgomery's genuinely creepy, entertaining performance solidified him for instant fan approval.
  • Memetic Loser:
    • Barb is occasionally portrayed as a Butt-Monkey in various fanworks, due to her being a socially awkward girl whose disappearance and death becomes completely overshadowed by the search for Will Byers.
    • Steve is often this do to the one-sided beatdowns he has been subjected to in the first two seasons (from Jonathan in season 1, from Billy in season 2). His beating from Billy in particular was huge blow to him since he had to get saved by a bunch of middle school kids.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The Internet gets a kick out of creating custom messages out of the wall with Christmas lights lined up with the alphabet.
    • How great Eleven's wig looked.
    • The hashtag #JusticeForBarb became popular in response to her disappearance and death via the Demogorgon barely being acknowledged by anyone except her best friend, to the point it actually made Barb a popular character with the fans.
      • This also caused a Snow Clone meme for other characters who fans felt were wronged, such as #JusticeForBenny who was killed for trying to protect Eleven, #JusticeForMew or #JusticeForBob for being killed by Demodogs, or #JusticeForSteve who fans felt got screwed over by Nancy.
    • It's also become common for people to make their own "Stranger Things" title cards with this desktop app.
    • Eleven and her love for Eggo waffles.
    • "Where are we going to get that much salt?"Explanation 
    • Insulting someone by calling them a "mouth breather", Eleven's preferred insult.
    • Winona Ryder's multitude of hammy facial expressions during David Harbour's vicious rant against Donald Trump at the SAG Awards.
    • "Guys! I found the chocolate pudding!"Explanation 
    • Much has been made of how Steve became the party's Team Dad and Badly Battered Babysitter, due to how funny it is to compare with his characterization as a charming teen hearthtrob.
    • The show officially breaking suspension of disbelief with the kids being able to get to the final level of Dragon's Lair.
    • Dustin intruding on Mr. Clarke's privacy for the purpose of asking scientific questions.
    • "Mornings are for coffee and contemplation."Explanation 
    • Taking pictures of characters from other works from before and after they take a level in badass, then labeling the first one "Pretty" and the second one "Bitchin'".Explanation 
    • Lucas being an Action Fashionista.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Billy and Max's father Neil is a horrendously abusive jerkass, and a parent violently slapping their child around is, y'know, not cool. But considering it was the first time in the whole season that Billy had faced any repercussions for his actions whatsoever, Neil's criticisms of Billy were quite apt, and attacked Billy in that moment because Billy was insulting his sister and stepmom, some fans were less horrified by a cruel parent pulling a vicious Eviler Than Thou moment on his son and more begging him to hit Billy harder.
    • On the other side of the spectrum, some fans who were horrified by the cruelty shown to Billy by his father took the scene as reason to look at Billy in a more sympathetic light, absolve him of all his bad behavior, and believe he should be excused, forgiven, and redeemed because the parental abuse he's suffered justifies his villainy, despite the Duffer Brothers making it very clear that his actions are not to be excused and he's a terrible person who chooses to take his frustrations out on undeserving targets in order to make himself feel powerful.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Dr. Brenner crosses it by callously forcing Eleven to cruel tortures and experiments. Likewise when he electrocutes Terry's (Eleven's mother's) brain by setting the device to 450- thus leaving her brain dead, just as she was about to save her child, and also when he tries to make Eleven murder a cat.
    • Troy crosses it by threatening to cut Dustin's teeth out if Mike doesn't jump in the lake, a jump that would kill him. He already shows what an awful person he is before that by laughing and loudly talking shit with his friend about Will during a school service commemorating Will's "death", but trying to murder Mike and threatening to mutilate Dustin with a knife really takes the cake.
    • Agent Connie Frazier near-instantaneously crosses it by murdering Benny, the diner owner, in cold blood.
    • Lonnie crosses it when he returns to Hawkins after Will is presumed dead. It's reasonable to think he's there to mourn his lost child and be with his ex-wife and surviving son... until Joyce goes through his bags and finds out he only came back to sue the quarry where Will's (fake) body was found. He claims he can use the money to put Jonathan through college, but it's clear that his only goal is to pay off his own debts. Joyce is thoroughly disgusted that Lonnie cares more about getting rich than the fact that his son is dead, and kicks him out for good.
    • Billy thinking about running over three children (Mike, Lucas, and Dustin) with his car, just because Max talked back to him. If that is not enough, he also threatened Lucas and gave Steve a savage beatdown.
    • The Mind Flayer using Will's body for its plans.
  • Narm:
    • In "Holly, Jolly", we get a flashback of Eleven being forced to use her powers on a cat. While it makes a variety of noises, the cat makes one very common stock yowl, usually seen in cartoons and comedies, which can pull you out of the otherwise tense scene.
    • After all the emotion over Eleven's disappearance at the end of Season 1, it's pretty jarring when Season 2 reveals she just walked right back into our world.
    • Some of Will's monologues in Season 2 about the Upside-Down and the Mind Flayer feel very stilted and theatrical, as opposed to the more naïve and childlike naturalism of the other child actors. At times, he sounds like a thirty-year-old stage actor inside a twelve-year-old's body.
    • "The Mind Flayer" lingers ominously on Bob having left his gun behind, but between the Demodogs' bullet resistance and Bob barely knowing which end to point, it's obvious to the viewers it's useless to him anyway and comes off a bit silly. (In retrospect, the point may be to show he's lacking vital situational awareness that he'd forget it, but that's not apparent in the moment.)
    • A huge amount of tension is built around Will fighting the Mind Flayer's possession to give a message to the other heroes... which turns out to be that they should close the gate they already knew full well was the cause of everything.
    • While Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown continue to do a stellar job in portraying the relationship between Mike and Eleven in Season 2, "The Gate" occasionally saddles the former with some very cheesy lines that sound more like something from a cliched romance film than something a kid would say.
    • Max's stepbrother, Billy. Everything awful about him is taken so over the top and Obviously Evil, it breaks the suspension of disbelief that no one would ever call the cops on him.
    • During Billy and Steve's fight in "The Gate", Billy breaks a plate over Steve's head. While it's likely meant to highlight just how insane Billy has gone in the moment, it comes off a bit like something out of Looney Tunes.
  • Narm Charm: You'd never think that a woman talking to a ball of Christmas lights would create a genuine Tear Jerker of a scene.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The Netflix-produced app game is beautifully Retraux and features a very fun blend of fighting and puzzle-solving, all while making great use of the show's various characters and what abilities they could have, plus the entire town of Hawkins and locations from the show. And of course, the fact that it's entirely free to play despite its size (given that any player probably has a Netflix subscription anyway) is a huge plus.
  • One True Threesome: For some, Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan, mostly due to their takedown of the Demogorgon in the last episode of season 1.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Benny, in season 1, for being kind and caring towards Eleven. And getting killed ruthlessly for it.
    • Lucas' father's only scene in season 2 when he commented, "Your mother is never wrong, son", made him immediately popular with fans.
  • Pandering to the Base: Season two can come off as this to some people.
    • More 80s references? Check.
    • Justice for Barb? Check.
    • Nancy and Jonathan becoming a couple? Check.
    • Mike and Eleven are reunited and finally get to dance at the Snow Ball? Check.
    • Any loose plot-threads mostly neatly tied up? Check.
    • Enough Season 1 callbacks to sink a small armada? Check, check, and Double-check.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name:
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Despite his Heel–Face Turn at the end of season 1, a lot of fans still didn't like Steve. The second season amended this big time by giving him more Character Development (in the form of having to deal with his end of being responsible for what happened to Barb and his buried insecurities about his relationship with Nancy) and funnier scenes, showing him to be a more heroic and admirable person, making him one of the most popular characters. His charming relationship with Dustin and his Big Brother Instinct towards Dustin, Lucas, and Max definitely help cement it.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Benny is now much more recognizable as Toby from This Is Us and Taserface from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Some fans who shipped Steve and Nancy give this treatment to Nancy after she breaks up with him in Season 2, calling her a bitch and a terrible person, and even copying the "Justice for Barb" meme with "Justice for Steve", as if suffering from a break-up equates to being killed. This ignores the legitimate reasons Nancy had for leaving Steve, and Steve's own bad behavior as her boyfriend that he himself fully acknowledges by the end.
  • The Scrappy: Powell and Callahan during Season 1, due to their lack of empathy and incredibly tasteless jokes from Callahan. Powell at least garnered more likability due to being less of a Jerkass and more of a typical lazy cop.
  • Shipping Bed Death: While it was a popular ship in Season 1, some fans were rather displeased with how Jonathan and Nancy got together in season two, thanks to Murray acting as a Shipper on Deck until he practically prods them into it. It makes their hook-up a lot more stilted than it could've been.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Hoo boy, the amount of hatred between Jonathan/Nancy and Steve/Nancy shippers on Reddit and elsewhere could power a small country. Not at all helped by Steve's Character Development making him much more likeable in Season 2, while Jonathan is mostly Out of Focus.
  • Signature Scene:
    • In Season 1, the alphabet Christmas lights, as well as the van flip.
    • In Season 2, Will's jigsaw puzzle drawings of the Shadow Monster's tunnels.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: Some thought season 2 took a little while before kicking off, as the first few episodes are mainly used to build tension (while the first season had a slow pace at first too, it's usually considered justified seeing as it built up to the reveal of the Upside Down and the Demogorgon, while we're already aware of this in season 2, making the pacing seem more unnecessarily slow). At least one critic argued that the main plot of season 2 could have been boiled down to a two-hour movie.
  • So Okay, It's Average: It seemed for a while, there were two camps on the "Lost Sister" episode: People who loved it for Eleven's character development, and those that disliked it. Both sides hyped up the episode as either being brilliant or as the absolute worst thing Netflix ever produced. As more people caught up with Stranger Things 2, many of them sort of fell in the middle, appreciating the character development yet finding the episode itself weak, but far from the worst thing.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • While the Demogorgon looks pretty good for the first few episodes, as it is mostly kept in the shadows with quick glances, near the end of the first season as the actions scenes involving it ramp up, it really becomes obvious CGI. This is due to the CG effects having to be done on the quick when the original plan of using entirely practical effects turned out to be unworkable in a few scenes.
    • Inverted with the wig Eleven wears as a disguise when she goes into town. It's from Nancy's dress-up box, but the wig she actually wears in most scenes is clearly professionally applied and high-quality, blending perfectly into her hairline. It goes back to being a cheap kids' costume wig once she takes it off.
    • When Eleven is looking at her reflection at the water's edge, the CGI department forgot to flip the reflection left-for-right. Noticeable because she's strongly lit from one side when we see her actual face, and when we see her reflection, she appears to be strongly lit from the opposite side.
    • The dying deer that Nancy and Jonathan find in the woods looks obviously fake.
    • Eleven saving Mike from his fall in "The Monster", briefly leaving him dangling in the air, looks realistic enough in wide shots, but whenever the camera changes to focus on his face, it's clearly just Finn Wolfhard making awkward flailing motions in front of a green screen.
    • Some of the Demodogs in the second-to-last episode of the second season look like noticeably unfinished CGI, which is surprising considering that the visual effects in the second season are leaps and bounds above what the first season was able to accomplish.
    • More like set design failure, but the Hawkins High School sign is very obviously a prop sitting on the roof and not an actual part of the original building.
  • Spiritual Licensee:
    • All things considered, Eleven's storyline is probably the closest we're ever going to come to a live-action adaptation of Elfen Lied (minus the whole interdimensional monsters thing), right down to calling Dr. Brenner "Papa".
    • Powers aside, Eleven's background also shares a number of similarities with X-23, the main difference being their power sets (telepathy and telekinesis, rather than Wolverine Claws and a Healing Factor). Millie Bobby Brown even auditioned for the role of Laura in Logan shortly before getting this one instead.
    • A Town with a Dark Secret is connected to a Dark World version of itself that's filled with fog and inhabited by monsters. People can become trapped in this world, and a well-meaning police officer, a parent looking for their child who begins to doubt their own sanity, and a mysterious little girl with psychic powers who inadvertently caused a catastrophe involving the dark world are all key players here. The Conspiracy is looking for the girl in order to further their own goals. Did we just describe Silent Hill, or Stranger Things?
    • A Government Conspiracy rating high on the Scale of Scientific Sins is looking for a Psychic Child who's been subjected to brutal experiments all her life and is key in stopping a potentially world-ending disaster caused by said conspiracy, who continue to study the disaster long after the fact. Sounds like something out of the SCP Foundation. The working title for the series was even Montauk!note 
      • Also, the Demogorgon is basically a less malicious version of SCP-106.
    • Much of the entire plot above is Beyond: Two Souls, the biggest difference is that the protagonist in that is all grown up.
    • You could also see it as a license to Super 8. People disappear in a small Midwest town. A group of nerdy kids gets involved in something strange, only to find out there's a military conspiracy in the middle of all of it (that does not hesitate to kill to get their way) and get way over their heads, only getting through thanks to their ingenuity and the help of several understanding adults. A girl that is more or less an outcast joins the group, and Puppy Love develops between her and The Leader of the main characters, but this causes strife within the group as one of them dislikes said closeness. And one of the driving issues is the disappearance of one of the children.
    • The series came about because the studio behind the new adaptation of IT passed on the Duffer Brothers' treatment. Similarities between IT and Stranger Things include an American small town setting, a young boy getting kidnapped by a man-eating alien monster, and a gang of outcast children banding together to try and stop that monster. This also doubles as a strong case of Hilarious in Hindsight; given that the 2017 IT film changes the time period to the 1980s, and they just outright lifted one of Stranger Thing's actors (Finn Wolfhard) to play yet another middle-school-aged kid confronting a predatory monster.
    • It can also be one for Let the Right One In. Both are horror stories set in a 1980s small town, focus on a romance between a bullied boy and a girl with supernatural abilities, and said boy's bully is a criminally insane sociopath that tries to kill him for a small offense, but is saved by the supernatural girl. However, here, the bully only got off with a broken arm instead of getting ripped to pieces.
  • Squick: Barb's fate. Being cocooned in slime after being eaten by the Demogorgon and then a big slug comes out of her mouth.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: "Outside the Realm" by Big Giant Circles playing in season 2 episode 2 and season 2 episode 7.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Barb likely gained such a fan following relatively quickly because she's a homely, virginal, not too conventionally attractive girl with a slightly wry but very down-to-earth personality, a type of girl rarely seen on television. Which made it hurt that much more when she was killed off after only two episodes, during which she was given minimal screen time and development, while her conventionally attractive friend Nancy gets to have her own role evolve without her former best friend by her side. The lack of importance that Barb's death ultimately had in the remainder of the first season didn't help matters, hence the Justice For Barb meme, though this one ended up getting addressed and rectified in the second season.
    • Despite the storytelling potential that a character like Max has, she isn't really given much in terms of coherent focus (see Base-Breaking Character).
    • Will tends to suffer from this a bit in Season 2 when it comes to scenes in which he is with the rest of the Party. While in Season 1, he is shown to have plenty of camaraderie with the others despite his lack of screentime, here he tends to be more or less relegated to the background when the group is together.
    • Mike can feel this way in season 2, where he spends most of his time either missing El, worried about Will, or rejecting Max. In the first season, he was the closest thing to a protagonist and leader of their group; in the second season, Dustin has picked up his slack with the group, and Lucas is the most proactive of them.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot
    • Will seems to be the only one whom the monster attacks that anyone pays any mind to, despite having also claimed two hunters and two anonymous residents off-screen. Slightly justified in that Will, a young child, would garner more attention/sympathy. Also justified in that the main characters of the series include his mother, his older brother, his best friends and the sister of one of them (who, for her part, spends most of her time worried about another victim of the monster who was her best friend), who would naturally focus more on Will than anyone else.
    • "The Lost Sister" is generally considered to be an interesting idea bogged down by a cliched execution (see Cliché Storm above).
  • Ugly Cute: Dart is strangely adorable for an otherworldly monster.
  • Unfortunate Implications: A few commentators have perceived a sexist streak in the first season. It doesn't exactly help that the treatment of an Ensemble Dark Horse is textbook Stuffed in the Fridge.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Lucas is portrayed as being in the wrong for being wary of Eleven, who could very easily hurt all of them if she wanted to, and for initially wanting to deal with her as quickly as possible. In real life, these are all fairly sensible choices, but the show seems to lean on his Genre Blindness to cast him in an unsympathetic light.
    • Tommy, Carol, and Steve's anger at Jonathan for taking pictures of them from the bushes without their knowledge is rather justifiable, all things considered. While smashing his camera is perhaps taking it too far, and Jonathan did admittedly have a different purpose known to the audience, it's hard not to take Steve's side, and Jonathan's behavior could have easily been perceived as creepy. Though Jonathan himself admits he shouldn't have done what he did, making how unintentional this is debatable.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Joyce Byers, to those who got weary of her emotional outbursts.
    • Similarly, Jim Hopper to those who aren't fond of his short temper and tendencies to get violent with people in order to further his investigations, to say nothing of selling Eleven and the other kids' location out to the lab agents in the first season finale and his harsh treatment of Eleven early into Season 2 coming off as emotionally abusive.
    • A certain moment where Dustin describes Eleven knocking Lucas unconscious, to the point where everyone was briefly afraid he had been killed, as awesome. To his face.
    • Early on, it may seem a little hard to feel sorry for Nancy's overwhelming concern for Barb after her disappearance, considering that she did have her best friend personally drive her to a party Barb didn't want any part of, and then went to blow Barb off to have sex with Steve afterwards. This causes Barb to stay behind out of concern for Nancy's well-being due her having been drinking during the party, leading to Barb being taken and killed by the monster shortly afterwards. Granted, Nancy had no way of knowing that a monster was lurking around the town kidnapping people, and the timing of the attack was unfortunate, but Nancy's actions and initial dismissal of Barb did indirectly lead to her being taken and killed by the monster. She becomes much more sympathetic come Season 2, where she acknowledges all of this, feels guilty about it, and redeems herself for it by getting justice for Barb.
    • Some viewers didn't feel much sympathy for Barb herself, as it felt to them like her concerns about Nancy going to Steve's party, drinking beer, and possibly getting asked for sex by Steve weren't actually for Nancy's sake but out of fear that Nancy could get in with the cool crowd and thus become too cool to hang out with her, and Barb didn't want Nancy to change herself too much so that she could still be her friend. Barb's line of "Nancy, this isn't you" in response to Nancy making her own decision based on what she desired and thought was best for herself at the time (to have sex with Steve) is often cited, as is Barb sitting around moping by the pool even when she was told by Nancy that she could go home at least twice (which ends up leading to her death) and her attitude towards Nancy wanting to lose her virginity coming off as "slut shame-y."
    • Mike in season 2 falls into this, considering his behavior towards Max with his only reasoning being that he thought she was trying to replace Eleven, even with Max knowing almost nothing about her, as well as being dismissive and rude about her lack of knowledge about Dungeons and Dragons. His treatment towards Dustin and Lucas when they like Max is also unfair and awful, despite them supposedly being two of his oldest friends. And then, after he sees Eleven again, he tears into Hopper for hiding her away, despite him doing it primarily to keep her safe and away from the reach of Hawkins Lab, and refuses to listen to Hopper's reasoning, just yelling at him about how unfair it was that he didn't get to see Eleven. And when Steve is trying to keep them inside the house and safe from the demo-dogs, Mike just insults and ignores him.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: The fact that many characters immediately recognize Eleven as female very quickly is slightly surprising, as children are fairly androgynous before puberty. Though everyone in the diner initially mistook her for a boy and a few other characters described her as boyish, the main cast seemed to pick up on her gender right away. Then again, those who mistook Eleven for a boy probably barely saw her before leaving, but the main characters are able to see her close enough to notice her feminine features.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The second season is much more cinematic than the first, and the upgraded quality of the visuals reflect that. In particular, the climactic scene in the second season where Eleven closes the Gate has CGI that looks like something out of a Hollywood movie as opposed to something made for a web television series.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Crawling through the tree trunk and into an Eldritch Location with little reason to do so was not the smartest thing Nancy's ever done, and it nearly got her killed.
    • Connie Frazier killed Benny Hammond despite it alerting Eleven to the fact that she was working for the Government Conspiracy, and it created a murder investigation that could put the police onto the tracks of the cover-up. In fact, the only reason Hopper even became aware of Eleven in the first place is that he was investigating Benny's "suicide".
    • Hard love and parental duties aside, Hooper really should have known better than to verbally berate someone with telekinetic powers who was emotionally unstable.
    • Sure Hopper, go ahead and crawl into a demented underground maze alone, without any backup, or an escape plan. It's not long before he gets lost and would've died if Bob and Joyce hadn't found and rescued him.
    • Dustin sets off one of Season 2's subplots by keeping a strange creature as a pet... which turns out to be a larval Demogorgon. Even after Will informed him that it's probably an alien monster from the Upside-Down, Dustin decides to continue protecting "Dart" up until it grows large enough to eat his cat and become a threat to society. Though this oddly pays off later when Dart recognizes Dustin and allows him and his friends to pass unharmed.
    • Bob Newby, for expecting a flimsy wooden door to stop a Demodog and not immediately booking it towards the exit of the HAL building.
    • "The Gate": Max, if the idea is to make sure your big brother does not know you are in the house, the one thing you should not do is to look out of the window.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: There are child fans of Stranger Things, because it A) has young children as protagonists and B) came out around the same time an anime with a similar premise began picking up steam in the U.S. and Canada. This leaves out all the scary monsters, Adult Fear and Mind Rape scenes that the former series is well-known for. The show winning Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards for Favorite TV Show and Millie Bobby Brown winning Favorite TV Actress in 2018 probably won't help the "child-friendly" reputation for those who don't know better.
    • In the fall of 2017, as fans awaited the eventual arrival of the third season of Stranger Things, US and UK media began reporting on Netflix airing a thematically similar series called Dark, imported from Europe, with many recommending it to fans of Stranger Things. This led to some awkward moments for viewers expecting something semi-family friendly only to be confronted with a series with explicit sex scenes and heavier violence.
  • The Woobie: See here.

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