Warning: This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 4 part 2’s finale.
Here’s everything you need to know about Stranger Things season 5. After the explosive events of Stranger Things season 4 part 2’s ending, and the showdown with Vecna, Hawkins was left facing another rift caused by the villain. The story is far from over and while it may take some time to get over the events of Season 4, the hype to return to Hawkins and the Upside Down is real.
The Duffer Brothers planned Stranger Things’ expansive story from the outset, with a multi-season story mapped out before fans even met Eleven. Six years after the debut of the future Hellfire Club, the gang have gone through incredible hardships, losing friends and family members and saving the world on multiple occasions. For every victory, though, the Upside Down gets smarter, throwing out new nightmares. It’s clear that before Stranger Things ends, there will have to be a final showdown.
Stranger Things season 4 part 2 is now done, after a mammoth feature-length finale and the question of what comes next rings loud. So what can we expect from Netflix’s flagship sci-fi show and what will happen in Stranger Things season 5? Read on for Stranger Things season 5 story hints, updates and information.
As The Duffer Brothers have already confirmed in an open letter to fans, Stranger Things season 5 is definitely happening:
The decision to extend to a fifth season avoided the same problems that Game of Thrones faced in its final season with pacing and trying to resolve storylines too quickly. Stranger Things season 4 part 2 had enough space to tell Vecna’s backstory, and build the villain’s mythology, as well as developing the dynamic between human cast members.
While the Upside Down’s real villain, Vecna is defeated in Stranger Things season 4 part 2, he is not killed, and his disappearance almost certainly sets up his return as the villain of the final season. Hawkins also suffers a rift, creating a cliffhanger that breaks Stranger Things‘ usual final episode trend. After all, the Duffers usually tie everything up nicely, as a story reset before the new season brings a new threat. This time, though, the four gates that opened throughout Hawkins connect at its center, opening rifts from which smoke and storms pour into the real world, prompting a mass exit from the town. The next Stranger Things chapter already has a lot to deal with.
According to the Duffers, there is already a firm plan for Stranger Things season 5’s story, as they revealed in their letter to fans:
So far, nothing has been written, but Stranger Things season 5’s story has to be the biggest yet, with all-out war brewing between the Upside Down and the real world, with Vecna and Eleven as the generals. And there’s also the small matter of Max’s fate and how she can be brought back.
It seems that Stranger Things season 5 will see a time-jump, at least partly to help justify the fact that the teenage central cast are now too old to convincingly play their ages. Most are now over the age of 19, and Joe Keery (Steve Harrington) is already 30. There’s only so much suspension of belief, even where the Upside Down is concerned and wrapping up the story quick enough to avoid any actor aging issues is not really an option. Instead, skipping forward in time makes them less of a concern, as well as affording a new story set-up, given the way the Upside Down breaks through at the end of Stranger Things season 4 part 2. Ross Duffer already revealed the plans for a time-jump:
Even with Stranger Things season 4 part 2’s cliffhanger ending and most Hawkins residents leaving, there is a feasible way to explain a time jump. Vecna was defeated in battle and could disappear for even a period of years – skipping the main cast to high school graduation age symbolically – in order to recharge, before using the rifts from the Upside Down to easily attack the real world. And that would allow for a real world response that doesn’t leave the Hellfire Club to fend for themselves in what could be a final war to end all wars.
Thankfully, the majority of Stranger Things‘ cast would be free to return for season 5. Only Sadie Sink’s Max Mayfield is in danger, but it’s presumably unlikely she will be killed off between seasons, despite being in a coma at the end. That means all of the main cast are likely to return: here’s every Stranger Things season 4 cast member who can return for season 5:
As for Vecna? Jamie Campbell Bower has already teased he may be back: “Let me put it this way: I know about season five. Take from that what you will,” (via The Hollywood Reporter).
The only Stranger Things cast members who are unlikely to return are those who are killed off in season 4 part 2. Matthew Modine’s Dr Brenner may have survived “death” once, but he seems to be definitely dead now, while Joseph Quinn’s former living legend Eddie Munson died in the Upside Down, and secondary antagonist Jason Carver (Mason Dye) are both unlikely to return. Barring some sort of Vecna-powered afterlife twist. After all, if Jim Hopper can survive being evaporated, anything is possible.
Though the decision to split Stranger Things season 4 into 2 parts proved unpopular for some – especially when the first part ended – it wasn’t done for cynical reasons. The Duffers revealed that the split was added in order “to get it to you as soon as possible” given the unprecedented length of the season. That is no guarantee that Stranger Things season 5 will follow the same model, but it’s unlikely the final season of Netflix’s flagship show will be smaller than the penultimate one – logic dictates the opposite. And because Netflix will not want to sign off on a multi-year delay before the next chapter releases, it seems logical that Stranger Things season 5 could be broken in two again.
Stranger Things season 5 isn’t the only future development for the Duffers, with a Stranger Things spin-off also promised. The Duffers talked about other mysteries they could tell after they wrap up Eleven’s story, and Ross Duffer has previously talked about when development may start:
Excitingly, Matt Duffer also confirmed that the spin-off will be a different prospect entirely to Stranger Things: “It’s going to be different than what anyone is expecting, including Netflix.”
Stranger Things season 5’s release is likely to be some distance away. While the Duffers wanted to shoot it back-to-back with season 4, that proved impossible, despite how much it could have sped up the release. Post-production on Stranger Things season 4 was behind the need to split it into two parts, and it is likely season 5 is bigger again, with inevitably bigger post-production requirements too.
It took almost two years to film Stranger Things season 4 even before the post-production stage started, and though lockdown will have played a part in that extended filming period, Stranger Things season 5 could still have a lengthy filming schedule. That makes 2024 the likely earliest release for the final season.
Next: Stranger Things Season 4’s Vecna vs. Mind Flayer: Differences Explained