Follow TV Tropes

Following

YMMV / Stranger Things

Go To


  • Abandon Shipping: Shippers of Steve and Robin began from the instant the Starcourt Mall promo was first posted nearly a year before Season 3 was released, but then support for the pairing went down significantly with the reveal in "The Bite" that Robin is a lesbian. That said, some hold out hope that it will be revealed that Robin is actually bisexual so she can still be paired off with Steve even though both Hawke and Keery don't feel the characters should be anything more than friends.
  • Adorkable:
      Advertisement:
    • Dustin is a cheerful Ditzy Genius who plays Dungeons & Dragons and is a member of the Hawkins AV Club. On top of that, he has next to no social skills, finds himself in socially awkward situations frequently, and has a lisp. He's one of the sweetest characters and probably The Heart of his group of friends.
    • When he isn't focused on trying to be a walking stereotype, Steve actually lets a little of the inner-dork shine through — particularly alone with Nancy. This is only accentuated when he becomes a Big Brother Mentor to Dustin and best friends with Robin. It's admittedly a very good look on him. Pity he's spent a lot of time trying to bury it. However, not with as much success as he'd want: he projects the physically-capable-anywhere-Jock, but his occasional goofy nature prevents him from fully following through.
    • Advertisement:
    • Bob Newby is a very friendly, well-meaning but delightfully nerdy man with a low self-esteem. On Halloween, he dresses up like classic Dracula, complete with cheap-looking plastic fangs and a bad Bela Lugosi impression.
  • 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?
    • Was Barb really trying to protect Nancy, or was she selfishly trying to keep Nancy from moving into a social circle where Barb would never feel comfortable?
    • Hopper:
      • In Season 2, 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?
      • Some consider his role towards Eleven in Season 3 to be at same level of emotionally constipated roughness he's always been, or that he's reacting differently simply due to the fear of "losing" Eleven (like his first daughter) as she grows up. Others find his frequent screaming at Eleven, threatening Mike into lying to her, escalated drinking, and relentlessly negative behavior towards Joyce to be straight up Abusive Parent territory.
    • Advertisement:
    • 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?
    • Billy Hargrove:
      • 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.
      • Was his opposition to Max and Lucas hanging out the result of him being a racist (as his own actor thinks) or because he has reason to believe that Lucas mistreated Max, thus likening Lucas to his abusive father? note 
      • His actor Dacre actually denied that Billy was racist. The Duffer Brothers have stated they THINK Billy is racist not that he is for a fact but both Dacre and Caleb Mclaughlin (Lucas) stated it had nothing to do with race, which is why the racist word he was supposed to call Lucas was removed.
      • Billy coming on to Karen Wheeler in Season 3. Is he legitimately interested in her as a person? Just trying to score another conquest? Wanting to get back at Mike for his treatment in Season 2 by boning his mom? Or is he using an older woman to work through his mommy issues?
    • Will
      • His Minor Insult Meltdown in response to Mike’s crack that he doesn’t like girls. Is it because he’s gay and sensitive about it (justified considering the time)? Or is it because (even if not gay) people have been hounding him about his sexuality for years and he can’t believe Mike is getting in on the act?
      • Will’s aversion to romance in Season 3 in general. Is he just immature? Gay? Asexual? Or does he have a Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality?
  • 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.
  • Angst? What Angst?: After losing friends and loved ones, being chased by government agents, seeing said agents get their brains liquefied in front of them, having interdimensional monsters stalk, capture, pretty much rape one of them, the gang seems to always bounce back without much psychological trauma.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Barb was rather infamously subject to a particularly gruesome death, and there grew a perception amongst her fans that she was mostly forgotten about in subsequent episodes of the first season, which is something that didn't sit well. 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. She also receives a brief callback in Season 3.
    • A lot of fans were put off by Eleven being a cliche Clingy Jealous Girl towards Max. Season 3 has them become friends.
    • A common complaint about the Mind Flayer in Season 2 was that it was too vague and distant to be an effective villain, especially compared with the Demogorgon which presented a much more immediate threat. Season 3 has the Mind Flayer possessing people en masse and fashioning a makeshift body out of corpses, allowing it to directly challenge the heroes.
  • Award Snub: Despite the first season being the frontrunner at that year’s Emmys, the show left the main ceremony empty handed, with The Handmaid's Tale sweeping.
    • Despite acclaim and the narrative of her Career Resurrection, Winona Ryder was ultimately snubbed at the Emmys for the first season even though she managed to get in at the Golden Globes and SAG.
    • Many had hoped and predicted that David Harbour would win the Emmy for his performance in the second season, but but instead he joined the ranks of actors who lost that category to Peter Dinklage.
    • After proving He Really Can Act, Noah Schnapp had a lot of people rooting for him to be nominated, which unfortunately didn’t happen.
    • The third season was nominated for Drama Series, but didn’t get a single nomination for the performances, direction, or writing.
  • Awesome Art: The Drew Struzan–style poster displayed on the main page for this show looks just like an 80s 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".
    • Mike himself became one in Season 2 and 3. While he remained a Nice Guy on many levels and was still a beloved character among fans, some didn't like his Jerkass Ball behavior, particularly his attitude to Max, Will, and Hopper.
    • 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.
    • 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 in Season 2. In Season 3, she develops a close friendship with Eleven which was highly praised. However some viewers still felt the character was underutilized, surviving little purpose except to provide a mouthpiece for the relationship drama between Eleven and Mike.
    • Billy Hargrove, Max's older brother and an antagonist introduced in the second season:
    • Erica in Season 3. She was an Ensemble Dark Horse in 2 thanks to her bratty personality towards Lucas, and some fans enjoyed her joining the Scoops Troop. Other fans were less forgiving, as every line out of her mouth seems to be bratty and snarky, making her into a flat-out Jerkass rather than just an Annoying Younger Sibling, and they feel she doesn't add anything to the Steve/Dustin/Robin dynamic.
    • Jim Hopper in Season 3. He spends almost the entire season constantly agitated and pissed-off. Some viewers liked his attitude as someone who spends the entire season getting shit thrown at him and never getting any time to cool down, while to others he appeared as dangerously unstable, considering his willingness to threaten Mike with violence if he didn't break off his relationship with Eleven and the way he went full-blown Jack Bauer on the corrupt Mayor.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment Dustin and Suzie's rendition of the Neverending Story's theme song can come across as this, though it does get referenced later on.
    • A more direct example would be in the penultimate episode of S3 while the group is trying to hide from the Mind Flayer and help with El's bite in the store. The plot stops dead in its tracks to have Lucas suddenly comment on New Coke's bold, new flavor compared to the classic, with Mike and Max even arguing about it. This scene only really serves to poke fun at New Coke's ad campaign in the same year and to bring some attention to the real world re-release of New Coke as a tie-in to Stranger Things.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal:
    • The end of "The Mind Flayer" 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.
    • The crew seems to have been caught off guard a bit by how just about everyone immediately figured out that Hopper was still alive and the "American" referenced in The Stinger for Season 3, and wasted no time just openly revealing the "twist" in the very first teaser for Season 4.
  • 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 bearing the brunt of his abuse all season.
    • Mayor Larry Kline is such a smarmy asshole that the only thing more enjoyable than Hopper beating the shit out of him in his own office (and almost cutting his fucking fingers off) is seeing him arrested by the Hawkins PD and dragged out in front of all the news cameras with a look of pure disbelief on his face.
    • Nancy beating the complete crap out of (and later on killing) Bruce, the Hawkins newspaper reporter who kept mocking her and being a complete Hate Sink was borderline satisfying, especially when she bluntly tells him to "Go to hell". Equally satisfying is Jonathan, after suffering a vicious beatdown from a mind-flayed Holloway, turning the tables on the host body by stabbing him in the throat with a pair of scissors. It's even better because they're the same scissors Tom was trying to stab him with only seconds beforehand.
    • Dustin straight-up killing the sociopathic Russian Torture Technician who was torturing Robin and Steve by electrocuting him with his own cattle prod.
    • Hopper absolutely beating the shit out of the one Russian assassin in the funhouse, followed shortly thereafter by Joyce punching Mayor Kline in the face and then kicking him in the balls. The audience desperately needed that anger relief after Alexei's death.
    • Hopper finally giving the impossibly strong and smug Grigori his complete dues by having him be ripped to shreds by the Soviet key attempting to open the Upside-Down is incredibly satisfying.
  • 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" plows 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. Main character tempted by the power and freedom the new group offers, but finds the price of that lifestyle (morally and otherwise) too high to pay? Check and 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.
    • Season 3's depiction of the Soviet Union and Russian agents is unashamedly reminiscent of Red Scare 80s movies like Red Dawn. Dustin even lampshades it at one point.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Dr. Martin Brenner Appearances , the director of Hawkins National Laboratory, is the personification of human evil in the franchise. An ice-cold Mad Scientist with superficial regard to the lives of others, be it his test subjects or his own scientists, Brenner initially experiments on psychic college students in 1969. Brenner becomes more controlling and sadistic as time goes on, vowing to break one named Terry Ives and at one point pulling strings to have Terry's draft dodger boyfriend shipped off and killed in action in Vietnam. Brenner redirects his experiments to child subjects, taking Terry's child for his own and reducing Terry to a semiconscious vegetable through electroshock therapy. Brenner dubs Terry's child "Eleven," and exposes her and several other psychic children to more strenuous experiments, with no regard to their psychological health or even whether they live or die. Brenner's reckless experiments are responsible for unleashing the Demogorgon onto Hawkins in the first place, all of its carnage a byproduct of Brenner's complete and utter detachment from all human life.
    • The "Mind Flayer" is the eldritch horror lurking within the Upside-Down. A thinking, vindictive entity that subsumes other realms into itself, the Mind Flayer uses horrible monsters like the Demogorgon to capture and massacre several people from Earth, at one point using the Demodogs to initiate an utter massacre in the Hawkins Laboratory. In the third season, the Mind Flayer "flays" several more people, overtaking them in mind and body while possessing Max's older brother Billy, using him to corral up to thirty people—elderly and children among them—to melt down their bodies and amalgamate them into a crude, monstrous body it can use to walk on Earth. The Mind Flayer proceeds to try and slaughter El and all of her friends out of nothing more than spite for being denied entrance to Earth the first time, gleefully mind raping her and telling her it won't stop until it's ended everyone on Earth.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • In the Season 3 finale's climax, Dustin and his girlfriend Suzie sing a duet and harmonize almost perfectly over the ham radios. The problem? Said ham radios cannot send AND receive transmissions at the same time. Realistically, either person would only be broadcasting to themselves and neither would hear the other. That said, any others on the same channel would hear both, albeit probably out of tune/desynced (unless they were REALLY good at keeping pace with the song). However these are custom built super radios so it's not unreasonable to assume that Dustin and Suzie built them to do this specifically to let them sing a duet.
    • The idea that an untrained listener could perfectly transcribe Russian by ear. To give but one example, kogda is pronounced kagda, and plenty of Russian characters are near homonyms, especially when heard over a crackly radio recording. It would be akin to writing a perfect sentence in Mandarin by ear alone.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • The Mind Flayer's flesh proxy grabbing the Party's radio when they get a call from Dustin? Pretty terrifying. The Mind Flayer looking at it for a moment and then roaring like it's telling Dustin Silence, You Fool!? Pretty hilarious.
    • The famous "Neverending Story" duet between Dustin and Suzie, with the former going from embarrassed at first to blatantly enjoying himself while the fate of every major character hangs in the balance.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Billy Hargrove had fans from the get-go due to Dacre Montgomery's status as a Mr. Fanservice, and also won sympathy with the reveal of his father being abusive. In Season 3, his popularity became more widespread due to more information about his Freudian Excuse; it's shown that he was a friendly and happy kid when he was younger due to the presence of his loving and supportive mother, but his father's constant abuse drove her away, and Billy being left alone with his toxic father ultimately led to him mimicking Neil's behavior and turning his own pain against weaker targets. In general, Billy's behavior in Season 3 is more nuanced and portrayed more sympathetically (particularly through his connection with Eleven and his seemingly improved relationship with his step-sister Max), and his arc's culmination in a heroic death protecting El from the Mind Flayer has led audience opinion of him to soften somewhat (although not in all quarters).
  • 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. Statements from David Harbour have 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. It also helped that she was played by the very curvaceous and full figured Shannon Purser, who is outspoken about body image, sexuality, and mental health.
    • 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!
    • While the episode she's in is fairly divisive, Kali/8 herself is considered a fascinating character by many due to her unique powers and vengeful personality, with a number of fans hoping for her return.
    • Erica, Lucas's little sister, has caught on with the fandom due to her hilariously bratty personality. She was so popular that she joined the main cast in Season 3, though this did cause some of the fandom to view her more as a Base-Breaking Character.
    • Bob Newby for being a loving boyfriend to Joyce and an equally loving father figure to Will and Jonathan 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. His return in Season 3 as a major ally for Hopper and Joyce was extremely well-recieved by the fandom.
    • 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.
    • Alexei, the Russian scientist Hopper and Joyce find during their arc in Season 3. Despite speaking all the time in Russian, his snarky but genuinely curious behavior about American lifestyle is pretty endearing. His death scene is equally devastating especially considering Murray showed him the 4th of July fair and was given him a taste of American "fun" in comparison to how Soviet Russia is.
    • Despite being a late addition in Season 3, Robin has amassed a lot of fans for her friendship with Steve and being smart, snarky, and dependable. She got even more popular after it was revealed she's a lesbian, providing the series with some real LGBT representation.
  • 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 Charlie Heaton'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?
  • Even Better Sequel: Season 3 is not without its criticisms, but is considered by many to be a step up in quality from Season 2, with faster pacing, higher stakes risks for the characters and more exhilarating action sequences and tighter character moments.
  • Evil Is Cool: After most of the show's human villains being simply despicable, we finally get one of these in Season 3 with Grigori, the main muscle of the team of Russians in Hawkins, a Badass Normal and Determinator modeled after the Terminator himself.
  • 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:
    • Harrigrove (Steve Harrington and Billy Hargrove) is shipped far more in popularity due to both the Foe Yay and Ho Yay type vibe displayed between the two in the show as well as the chemistry between Joe Keery and Dacre Montgomery. Fans express more interest in the two of them than they do Steve with Nancy Wheeler or Robin Buckley and Billy with Heather Holloway or Karen Wheeler.
    • Robin and Heather (Maya Hawke and Francesca Reale), despite neither ever meeting in the show and the latter dying, ended up pretty popular with the fanbase after Season 3, specifically with the reveal of Robin being gay. The pair noticeably exceeds the popularity of both Robin's canon ship with Steve and Heather's with Billy as well.
  • 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). Season 3 seems to confirm this, with Mike directly calling him out on the fact that he's never been into girls, although we still haven't directly seen Will get romantic feelings for a boy.
      • A less prominent but still fairly common theory is that Will is Asexual, with the same basic notes as above applying to this theory.
    • 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.
  • First Installment Wins: While both Seasons 2 and 3 have generally been received well, they're subject to far more criticism, leaving an almost unanimous opinion that the first season is the strongest and most iconic one, with many feeling no other season will live up to its quality. Some will even argue that Stranger Things should only have been that one season for how great it was and simply stopped there or alternatively the show should have been an anthology series where each season focused on entirely new characters and storylines. For the latter, the show would not even need to rid of all the characters or even switch the setting.
  • Foe Yay: Something of an underground shipping community has emerged for Billy/Eleven after the release of season 3, based mostly on El's very sympathetic response to Billy and his sacrifice of himself to save her, in addition to certain elements of their relationship having clear romantic or sexual coding. Given that fandom has recently become a more hostile space for ships considered "problematic" (see No Yay), most people tend to be somewhat secretive about actually liking the ship.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Hopper gets a lot of flak for his actions in Season 3. While it is true that he was always a hothead, this was treated as a realistic character flaw that was part of his Character Development arc. His blowing up at Eleven in Season 2 was a result of extenuating circumstances — she had endangered her safety by leaving the house and using her powers in public, and he had the realistic fear that the Government Conspiracy would take her away — and after a night to cool off, he realized he was out of line and left a message to apologize. In Season 3, with much lower, more mundane stakes, he blows up at Mike, bullies him into hurting Eleven, and gloats about it the next day. Moreover, his dismissive treatment of Joyce is in marked contrast to the supportive way he treated her in the previous seasons.
  • 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 Mileven and Destiel. Here's a great example.
    • It formed one with the MonsterVerse fans mostly thanks to the Millie Bobby Brown being part of both franchises as well of being focoused on monsters. Plus, the Mind Flayer looks very similar in appearence to the female Muto.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Dustin's first appearance in Season 3 has the rest of the group pranking him with his toys apparently coming to life, in what was likely a deliberate nod to Gaten Matarazzo's upcoming role hosting Prank Encounters, about people coming in for a day's work only to be pranked by something seemingly supernatural. Trouble is, by the time the season was released, that show had suffered an astonishingly poorly worded announcement that gave the impression it was preying on people looking for long-term jobs, forcing both Netflix and Gaten himself to clear things up.
    • The first episode of Season 3 focused on Hopper trying to give Eleven a "heart-to-heart" talk about her relationship with Mike, only to be playfully joked at by Mike and Eleven. This becomes incredibly more saddening considering the final episode of the season reveals that the talk was less about Hopper wanting Eleven to set boundaries on her relationship with Mike and more about him just wanting her to still be his daughter despite growing up. Ouch.
    • Dustin telling Hopper that they could defeat the Mind Flayer with an army of zombies was played as a joke in Season 2. Then in Season 3 we see the Mind Flayer's brainwashed minions ingesting toxins, decomposing and turning into horrific monsters. Just like zombies.
  • 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.
      • On that note, Karen, who had upbraided Nancy for sex, ends up attempting to cheat on her husband with Billy.
    • Billy taking his lifeguard job seriously becomes quite poignant upon finding out that his childhood dream was to be a surfer.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: For Barb fans who felt that her death wasn't given the attention it deserved, the film Knives And Skin can feel like a Spiritual Successor.
  • 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 and was made even more with Season 3 having him undergoing an emotional arc of dealing with his circle of friend's slowly drifting due to their relationships and how he wishes things were what they used to be, along with his own trauma thanks to the Upside-Down.
    • 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. He gained further praise in Season 3 when Billy was made into a more complex character.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Following the third season, many fans believed that Hopper somehow survived the explosion and is currently being held prisoner by the Soviets, due to a Russian prison guard saying "Not the American" in The Stinger. A big clue is that Peter Gabriel's cover of David Bowie's "'Heroes'" plays in the aftermath of Hopper's death. This is the same song that played when Will's fake body was fished out of the quarry in Season 1.
  • 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. It's 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) also began dating in real life after season 1.
    • 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 boys dressing up as Ghostbusters at the start of Season 2 becomes more meaningful later on. In fact, Finn Wolfhard was afraid that he might not get the part in Ghostbusters: Afterlife because of this scene, but Jason Reitman cast him anyway.
    • 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 Lucas's family. Lucas's father, played by Kenan Thompson, looks a lot like Lucas'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 the MonsterVerse. Millie Bobby Brown starred in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
    • Finn Wolfhard went on to voice the Player in Carmen Sandiego, essentially Mike's Dungeon Master role as a whole character.
    • 2019 now has two instances where a big franchise, as directed by two brothers, kills offnote  a beloved character, with their final words being a post-mortem message to their daughters. Both of them even utilize the number three in their goodbyes; Tony says "I love you 3000", while Hopper says "Keep the door open three inches".
    • Hopper spends much of the third season fighting a Soviet conspiracy and winds up capturing a Russian scientist named Alexei. Later that year, his actor David Harbor was announced to be playing the Soviet superhero Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian in Marvel's Black Widow. There are also hints that Hopper, thought to be dead at the end, might still be alive but trapped in a Soviet gulag. One part of Black Widow involves the main characters rescuing Harbour's character from a Russian prison that he was sent to after the fall of the USSR.
  • 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.
    • Mike does seem protective of Will, more than friends typically are. He's also the most persistent in their search in finding Will in season one and was the only one who stayed awake while Will was in the hospital. It helps Will only confides to him about his visions, and Mike remaining constantly worried about him. His reaction to Mike saying he doesn't like girls have more meaning than the show lets on.
    • Season 3 has Max and Eleven develop a much closer friendship. Several scenes feature them doing things like holding hands and sleeping in the same bed. Another has them denounce men and basically say they only need each other. Nope, definitely no Les Yay there.
  • 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. The backlash was well and truly in place by the time Season 3 came out, most of the fandom moving onto #JusticeForAlexei instead.
    • In terms of the show’s actors, Finn Wolfhard started to experience this. As Wolfhard became more successful and appeared in more films, more and more people started to believe that his acting has gotten worse since his well received performance in the first season. By the time of the third season, many fans started to call Wolfhard out as a weak link in an otherwise strong ensemble.
  • 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?
    • Joyce standing up Hopper seems irresponsible, but Hopper knows by now that they're living in a town that's like a lightning rod for eldritch activities that are attracted to her youngest son. That's not getting into the typical stresses of being a single mother of two. Hopper should have at least considered picking her up to make sure things went smoothly.
    • Likewise, while Hopper's jealous sniping at Joyce may have been a bit over the line, she still broke off arrangements without calling ahead to let him know things had changed. Even in a pre-cellphone era there's little real excuse for this, since even at the time the restaurant would have a phone number she could easily look up. And Joyce's observations with the magnets are pretty innocuous even as things in Hawkins go. At the same time, in Joyce's defense, she had no idea that Hopper intended for that to be a date.
  • 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 is an Ax-Crazy, sadistic bully to his step-sister and her friends (as well as Steve)... and then you find out his father is even worse to him, violently bullying him and calling him derogatory names. And then you find out that he grew up watching his father abuse his beloved mother, resulting in a traumatic divorce and Billy being cut off from her. There's no way he could have turned out as anything but the bastard he is. Being used by the Mind Flayer couldn't have been pleasant for him either.
  • LGBT Fanbase: While Robin is the only canonical LGBTQ+ character thus far note , the show has been popular from the start with gay, trans and gender-nonconforming audiences for its familiar themes of social rejection, nonconformity and abuse. The young cast is largely comprised of women with masculine appearances (Barb's "Butch" fashion sense, Eleven's shaved head, Max being a tomboy) and boys who are bullied for having un-masculine interests, and there are increasingly unsubtle hints that Will might be gay (in Season 1, his mother mentions that he's often called "queer" as an insult and in Season 3, Mike outright asks him why he's not interested in girls).
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Very few fans genuinely thought Hopper died at the end of Season 3. Sure enough, he showed up in the trailer for Season 4.
  • 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 due 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. It's commented on in Season 3, when he knocks out the Russian guard with a telephone, Dustin cheerfully shouts "Look! You finally won a fight!"
  • 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, #JusticeForMews or #JusticeForBob for being killed by Demodogs, #JusticeForSteve who fans felt got screwed over by Nancy, or #JusticeForAlexei, after he was gunned down in the penultimate episode of season 3.
    • Going along with the above, some people have pointed out that Hawkins is a very dangerous place to live if your name starts with B, considering all the people with "B" names (Benny, Barb, Brenner, Bob, Billy, Bruce...) who have horrible things happen to them.
    • 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. Arguably an Ascended Meme in Season 3, given Robin outright tells Steve that "your kids are here"
    • 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.
    • "I closed the Gate" responsesExplanation 
    • Using a picture of Robin's score board for Steve's wins/losses with hitting on women, taking the score off, and putting statements about the show (or things unrelated to Stranger Things) in its place.
    • "Dustin is a Brony!"Explanation 
    • "[ominous synth music]"Explanation 
    • "Bill Cipher is the Mind Flayer confirmed!"Explanation 
    • Stranger Things IV: The Search For Hopper. Explanation (spoiler) 
    • Millie Bobby Brown herself started one by encouraging all the fans to record themselves singing the "Neverending Story" theme song. On a similar note, the Stranger Things Twitter account encouraged fans to drink a cherry slurpee in honor of Alexei.
    • The fact that David Harbor is playing Red Guardian in Black Widow (2021) naturally led to quips of "Hopper is the American confirmed!"note 
    • "It's your grandma"note 
  • 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 kidnapping the newborn Jane Ives (creating a story that the child was stillborn); stripping her identity and renaming her "Subject Eleven", raising her as a prisoner in Hawkins Lab and callously forcing her 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", and earlier calling Lucas a racist nickname, 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. And it gets worse in Season 3 when it uses Billy to capture people and make them into its puppets all while turning them into simple parasites that melt the human's body to add onto its form. The most horrifying part is that it's doing all of this simply to get back at Eleven for closing the Gate (and to possibly kill her and absorb her powers).
    • Grigori was already crossing the MEH due to working with the Russians to open the Gate For Science!, but heavily crossed it when he murders fellow comrade Alexei for being a "traitor".
  • 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.
    • The sheer fact that Billy never runs into any legal issues throughout season 2. So much about him is so Obviously Evil that 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.
    • The first couple episodes of Season 3 really can't make up their mind on how normally Eleven can speak now. Thankfully, this clears up for the rest of the season.
    • Grigori's resemblance to the Terminator seems like a nice homage, until you rewatch previous seasons and see that the actual film exists in the Stranger Things universe. The end result makes it seem like he is deliberately channeling The Ahnold in an attempt to be trendy.
    • Cary Elwes does a fine job as the slimy mayor Larry Kline, but his reaction to Hopper breaking his nose stands out as hilarious in an otherwise intense scene. His delivery is definitely what sells it.
      Larry: MY NOSE! YOU BROKE MY GODDAMN NOSE!
  • 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.
    • The Soviet villains of Season 3 are a gloriously over-the-top homage to the antagonists of 80’s spy and military thrillers.
    • The big climax of Season 3 stops dead in its tracks so two kids can do a mediocre cover of the theme song from The Neverending Story. But the whole thing is played so straight, complete with the original orchestration backing it, and combined with the song being such a beloved piece of nostalgia for the show's main audience becomes hilarious and heartwarming in equal measure.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • In Season 3, the Mind Flayer's physical form is made up of a bunch of human and rat corpses, and it's often as stomach-turning to watch as it sounds.
    • In the same season, something is inside Eleven's leg after the Mind Flayer bites her, so Jonathan gives her a wooden spoon to bite and starts cutting with a kitchen knife. Its exactly as horrific as it sounds and Eleven is quite audibly in agony.
  • 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.
  • Not-So-Cheap Imitation: The series was heavily influenced by the works of Stephen King, particularly It. In fact, this was because the Duffer Brothers were originally going to direct It (2017). Not wanting to let their vision go to waste, they reworked the concept into their own. While the 2017 It movie was highly successful, Stranger Things ended up being a huge Killer App for Netflix. This influence was so strong that the 2017 It faced a lot of comparisons to Stranger Things upon its release (and it didn't help that the two productions shared an actor).
  • No Yay: Some viewers were very put off by the vague romantic undertones between El and Billy in season 3 due to their four-year age difference and some of the interactions being read as rapey. This was not a universal response, however.
  • One True Threesome: For some, Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan, mostly due to their takedown of the Demogorgon in the last episode of season 1.
    • In Season 3, Joyce/Hopper/Murray became quite popular possibly because they're are the most action-involved adults among a bunch of preteens and teenagers (plus Erica).
  • 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.
    • Suzie, Dustin's Mormon-raised genius girlfriend from Utah has so far only appeared once in a single scene in at the climax of Season 3 but she made quite the impression when she makes Dustin sing the theme song from The Neverending Story.
  • Pandering to the Base: Season 2 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.
    • After Season 3, it didn't take long for fans to paint Dustin's girlfriend Suzie as evil (or at the very least, incredibly needy) due to her requesting an impromptu singing duet with Dustin so they could get the code needed to open a safe that contained the keys needed to shut off the Russian collider, indirectly causing both Billy's and Hopper's demise because of the delay that was enough to force them to sacrifice themselves. This, of course, ignoring the fact that Suzie (or any sane person for that matter) had no reason to believe Dustin when he was talking about the secret Russian underground base and how she'd "save the world" and just assumed that he was either doing a D&D session with his friends or playing pretend or something, hence the lack of urgency on her side. Nonetheless, you'll find no shortage of people who blame her for indirectly allowing two major characters to die. Of course, being one of the flayed means that closing the Gate would have killed Billy anyway, and The Stinger suggests that Hopper may still be alive.
  • 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. It seemed the writers noted this too, as their roles were noticeably reduced in the second and third seasons.
  • 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 2, 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 likable in Season 2, while Jonathan is mostly Out of Focus.
  • Shocking Moments: 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.
  • Signature Scene:
    • In Season 1:
      • The scene where Joyce communicates with Will in the Upside Down with Christmas lights.
      • Eleven's Big Damn Heroes moment against Troy, followed by Dustin's memetic warning.
      • The party getting chased by Hawkins Lab vans and Eleven flipping one of them over.
    • In Season 2:
      • Will's jigsaw puzzle drawings of the Shadow Monster's tunnels.
      • Bob's death scene.
      • Dustin crying at the school dance before Nancy dances with him out of pity.
    • In Season 3:
      • Dustin singing The Neverending Story with Suzie during the Final Battle.
      • Eleven reading Hopper's posthumous letter.
  • Signature Song:
    • Season 1: "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" by The Clash, which is Will's favorite song and played multiple times throughout the first season.
    • Season 2: "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, which is played during Mike and Eleven's first dance at the Snow Ball. A song about stalking seems like an odd choice to be Mike and El's "song", but it's not referring to them. It's referring to the Mind Flayer, who is watching the Party from the Upside Down.
    • Season 3: The theme song from The Neverending Story, sung by Dustin and Suzie during the finale battle with the Mind Flayer. To say there was Soundtrack Dissonance is an understatement, which made it all the more memorable.
  • 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 the second season, many of them sort of fell in the middle, appreciating the character development yet finding the story itself weak, but far from the worst thing.
  • Sophomore Slump: Fans considered the second season more uneven compared to the first, with "The Lost Sister" coming in for the most criticism. The third season met an overall better reception from the base.
  • 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.
    • 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 Adaptation:
    • 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.
    • Season 3 could very well be one for Slither, since it involves an otherworldly entity coming to a small, rural town to brainwash a number of citizens into a zombie hivemind, some of whom develop a ravenous hunger, while others scout the town for more people to forcefully convert. Not to mention said entity then weaponizes Body Horror in order to create a new form for itself out of the flesh of its victims. If the resemblance isn't strong enough already, there's even a scene where Eleven has to yank a distinctly slug-like piece of the Mind Flayer out of her leg in order to keep herself from turning into a Flayed.
    • Season 3 also has many similarities to The Thing (1982), a movie whose poster is featured prominently in Mike's basement and is even name dropped by the characters in episode 7. Both feature an Alien Invasion by an Assimilator who takes control of its victim's minds and bodies on the cellular level. Victims behave normally until they are exposed, threatened, or see a chance to create another host. And both The Thing and the Mind Flayer's avatar's final form is a Body Horror-incarnate Body of Bodies with Combat Tentacles, More Teeththanthe Osmond Family, and vaguely spider-like features that the heroes fight with fire and explosives.
    • Key parts of Season 3 involve a replica of a unique creature with extra tentacles the original isn't shown to have born from earth and decay around the time of a fireworks festival, the creature seeking out an individual with psychic powers to add to itself among other victims while proving very difficult to even slow down, the antagonist who helped create the replica redeeming themselves by getting in the way of the replica at the last moment due to being reminded of love, and the replica creature's death instigated in part by cutting off its power source. Now, did that just describe Stranger Things Season 3, or Pokémon: Jirachi: Wish Maker?
    • A bunch of kids (particularly, one with psychic abilities) fighting an otherworldly Eldritch Abomination in a fictional American town. Sounds a lot like EarthBound.
  • Squick:
    • Barb's fate. Being cocooned in slime after being eaten by the Demogorgon and then a big slug comes out of her mouth.
    • The way the Mind Flayer transforms its victims in Season 3 is this combined with Nightmare Fuel. The Mind Flayer inserts a dark substance into the victim latching onto their face with a tentacle-mouth. This binds the victim to the Mind Flayer's Hive Mind. The victim then gorges themselves on various toxic chemicals to make their flesh more suitable for the Mind Flayer's presence. Finally, when the victim has served their purpose, they explode into a gooey mass of flesh and bone and merge into the Mind Flayer's growing body.
    • Eleven gets some sort of parasite stuck in her after being bitten by the Mind Flayer. Jonathan cuts her leg open with a knife, then reaches in and tries to grab it in one of the most horrifically nauseating scenes in the entire series.
  • 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 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 fan-perceived 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 and got a little Call-Back in the third 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.
    • The Russians were clearly meant to fill the void left by the Hawkins Lab, yet they're treated as little more than props to keep the story moving along. Alexei gets some memorable moments, yet he's killed off as soon as he's no longer relevant. The Russian hitman (who killed Alexei) also seems to serve little purpose outside of being The Heavy and a Shout-Out to The Terminator, as if there was a need to get as many 80s references in as possible.
    • See above and below about "The Lost Sister"; Kali/8, another psychic who wants vengeance, is an interesting concept (regardless of the writing for the rest of the episode, the scene where she makes a butterfly for Eleven is very pretty, plus a rare instance of Hawkins "graduates" getting to enjoy their powers). But she got bogged down by an episode that was poorly received, and she doesn't appear in Season 3 at all, despite the writers initially saying they'd bring her back. She does appear in the novel Suspicious Mind and the comic Into the Fire thought.
    • Jonathan and Nancy fell into this in Season 3, the former especially being marginalized in favor of memeable moments from flashier characters like the Scoops Troop.
  • 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.
    • Steve, Nancy and Jonathan have very little meaningful interactions as a group following their fight against the Demogorgon in Season 1, with their Love Triangle resolving itself with very little fanfare. Fans of the so-dubbed "Monster Hunting Trio" were left disappointed, as the three having become friends could have led to multiple interesting subplots, but in the next seasons Nancy and Jonathan have their own subplot, while Steve is roped into the Party's.
    • "The Lost Sister" is generally considered to be an interesting idea bogged down by a cliched execution (see Cliché Storm above).
    • Some desperate fans who wanted to see Neil Hargrove get his just desserts at the hands of Mind Flayer!Billy were disappointed by his and Susan' absences. Even worse when we see Billy's backstory, and just how much Neil deserves a comeuppance. Flayed!Billy feeding Neil to the Mind Flayer could even have added to Billy's character arc, as a subtle lesson could be derived from Billy staying possessed due to the hollowness of using his father's brutal methods to "deal" with him, whilst being reminded of his mother's love frees him and incentivizes him to use his new strength to defend someone helpless from a Mind Flayer that would technically be part-Neil in this situation.
    • Will's storyline in Season 3 was commonly criticized for this. In the first half of the season, he's going through a complex Coming-of-Age Story about how he isn't ready to grow up and feels that his friends' newfound preoccupation with girls is causing their friendship to fall apart, a reaction which is implied to be rooted in both the Trauma Conga Line Will endured in the first two seasons and the fact that he might be gay. In the second half of the season, he... touches the back of his neck and announces that the Mind Flayer is coming.
  • 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. The series as a whole also seems to gladly indulge in toxic masculinity, and no better place is this shown than in Hopper's behavior (particularly in Season 3).
  • 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.
    • Mike could be considered this during season 3 when arguing with Max over the frequent mind reading Eleven does while trying to find the source of the Mind Flayer through Billy. The general theme of the argument in the episode is that Eleven should have the freedom to dive into people's minds when she wants, though Mike's concerns that Eleven needs time to rest and recover were also considered valid, in addition to his problems (outside the whole Mind-Flayer business) with her invading people’s privacy. Mike comes off as this in Season 3 in general. The idea that he needs to respect Eleven as a partner rather than treat her as a Wish Fulfilment pet would carry more weight if we actually saw him doing the latter. As in the above entry, he is realistically concerned for Eleven’s safety (which turns out to be 100% valid), and his major screw-up at the beginning of the season was in response to being coerced into it by Hopper, who realistically has the legal authority to separate the two of them.
    • The tie-in comic "The Bully" kills whatever hatred you might have had for Troy.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Joyce Byers, to those who got weary of her emotional outbursts.
    • Similarly, 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. Season 3 doesn't help matters when he acts very possessive over Eleven, threatens Mike, and is condescending and belittling towards Joyce. For others, it's different: they're tolerable of Hopper's behavior in seasons 1 and 2 because while he was impulsive and did have a tendency to act like a jerk, he also happens to be quite good at reading people, has moments of reflection over his rash decisions, and shows empathy for other people's feelings. This disappeared in Season 3, where he's more like a cannonball blasting through, trying to get what he wants with absolutely no regard for anyone else and no awareness or consideration for the pain he is causing, and only cares about how things will affect him personally.
    • 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.
    • On the flip side to the above, there are viewers who didn't feel much sympathy for Barb herself in this situation. While her concerns about Nancy going to Steve's party, drinking beer, and possibly getting asked for sex by Steve were certainly valid, some viewers feel they weren't actually out of Barb's concern for Nancy's wellbeing 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-Shaming.
    • Mike in Season 2 falls into this, considering his behaviour 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. He doesn't get much better in Season 3, where he and El regularly ditch their friends to go make out in her house, making up nonsense excuses like an early curfew - and they even do this when Dustin is literally just back from camp (Lucas and Max by contrast, have a much healthier balance of hanging out with the group and by themselves). When Will calls him on it, he just responds that it's a typical part of growing up; ignoring that Will's issue wasn't that they had girlfriends, but because Mike was constantly ditching him and when he was hanging with them, he was clearly only doing so out of obligation or because El wasn't available.
    • Hopper in Season 3 is quick to jealousy after Joyce breaks off their date to meet with Mr. Clark, with some viewers interpreting him as getting enraged any time she so much as makes eye contact with another man, often to the point of outright Domestic Abuse. At least one video essay notes that Hopper's behaviour in season 3 seems to dangerously rely on 1980s "action hero" tropes that are recognized today as dangerously toxic.
      • Likewise, even though she was investigating part of the plot, Joyce receives backlash both for how casually she bailed on Hopper without a call, and particularly because of Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male over Hopper's jealous reaction, since a woman being stood up by a man would be treated far more sympathetically if she lashed out from jealousy.
    • For some viewers, the attempt at Redemption Equals Death for Billy in the Season 3 finale doesn't land, with critics arguing that Billy didn't redeem himself at all, and deep down was the same sociopath that we'd seen in Season 2.
    • Karen Wheeler in Season 3 falls into this since she considering cheating on her husband with Billy (who is roughly the same age as her daughter Nancy). Granted her husband is lazy and unappreciative and she does ultimately change her mind, there's still the fact that she, a grown woman, thought about cheating on her husband with a high school student.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: In season 1, the fact that many characters immediately recognize Eleven as female very quickly is slightly surprising, as children are fairly androgynous before puberty. Though Benny and the others at 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. This is obviously not the case in the later seasons, after Eleven grows out her hair naturally.
  • 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 big-budget Hollywood movie as opposed to something made for a streaming 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 makes the first stupid mistake by murdering Benny Hammond despite it alerting Eleven to the fact that she was working for the Government Conspiracy, and it creates a murder investigation that puts the police onto the tracks of the cover-up. The reason Hopper becomes aware of Eleven in the first place is that he was investigating Benny's "suicide".
    • Hard love and parental duties aside, Hopper 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 Dart as a pet... which turns out to be a larval Demogorgon. Even after Will warns 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 (which Steve does point out is a big red flag). 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.
    • Murray ends up being pretty much solely responsible for Alexei's death, by bringing him to the July 4th carnival and into Grigori's field of attention. Granted, they had no way of knowing any Russian operatives would be around, but it was still pretty dumb for someone as intelligent (and paranoid) as Murray to bring a wanted fugitive like Alexei to such a public place when they could've easily stayed hidden in the parking lot.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: While the show seems at a glance to be fairly adult, what with the monsters, Body Horror and Mind Rape, it is officially, per Netflix, a family show intended to be appropriate for preteens and up. The presence of large quantities of kid-targeted merchandise and kid-targeted tie-ins supports this.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Some of the subtext in Season 3, especially concerning Mayor Larry Kline (an egomaniacal, performatively patriotic Corrupt Politician and yuppie prick who sports a distinctive blond comb-over and is in league with the Russians by way of a shady construction project), could easily be interpreted as a Take That! at President Donald Trump. Cary Elwes has had to step in and say that it was unintentional, even though he acknowledged that the similarities were real.
  • The Woobie: See here.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report