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Stranger Things season 4: Everything we know so far

Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin and Sadie Sink will return for Stranger Things season 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

We know a little more about Stranger Things season 4 than we did yesterday. No, not about the release date — what we've learned matches exactly what we knew — instead, we've gotten some glimpses at characters. And a new teaser just introduced a new house to the Stranger Things landscape.

The big news comes from a new teaser Netflix dropped that shows off Eleven's new haircut, gives us Hopper with a flamethrower and a little more. Most importantly, it confirms the release window we all already pretty much knew.

Still, while Stranger Things season 4 might not be coming soon, there are plenty of reasons to stay excited for the return of the series. Not least some leaked set photos, such as the ones showing something big happening at Hawkins High School. More on that below.

Stranger Things season 4 will take place (in part) far from Hawkins, Indiana. So, what changes are in store for Eleven, Dustin, Will, Steve and the rest of the folks who survived last year's mall massacre?

If you're like us, and completed Stranger Things 3 in less time than it takes to hang up your holiday lights, we're guessing you too are on the lookout for information. Here's everything that's been confirmed, a few rumors and theories and everything we want to know about the next adventures of the best kids on Netflix.

So, of course, understand that beyond this point lie spoilers for Stranger Things season 4.

Stranger Things season 4 latest news (updated Sept. 25)

  • At Netflix's TUDUM, we met the Creel House, which looks like the next big staging ground in a very spooky Stranger Things season.
  • Stranger Things season 4 is coming in 2022.
  • David Harbour's Hopper has been keeping secrets that will be revealed next season.
  • Sadie Sink is teasing that Stranger Things season 4 has the highest "stakes" yet.

Stranger Things season 4 release date speculation

Netflix just told us that Stranger Things season 4 is coming in 2022. And based on the evidence, we think it will arrive in early 2022, and possibly as late as April

David Harbour told Jimmy Kimmel Live that he thinks the show "should be done" shooting in August. With the normal amount of post-production work (the gap from wrap to screen on season 3 was eight months) required for a visual effects-laced show such as Stranger Things, that makes us think it's not arriving this year. 

There's also the latest earnings announcement from Netflix. In a letter to investors, Netflix noted "We anticipate paid membership growth will re-accelerate in the second half of 2021 as we ramp into a very strong back half slate with the return of big hits like Sex Education, The Witcher, La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist), and You." We're betting Stranger Things season 4 is a big enough property that it would have made the list, were Netflix sure it was coming that soon.

Word about a delay to 2022 was first signaled by Finn Wolfhard, who told Fanmio that "Season 4 ... it should be out sometime next year, hopefully."

Maya Hawke (Robin) told Collider that she's not "allowed to [reveal] when [they] finish filming," so it seems Netflix wants to control all the details about production. That said, she also noted that "because we had so much time, the level of effort, interest, and detail that [creators] the Duffer Brothers have had the time to put into the scripts… and the actors [who] have had the time to think about their characters — it is gonna be awesome."

Looking at release dates for past seasons, we see that Season 1 came out on July 15, 2016, the second season arrived on October 27, 2017 and the third season dropped on July 4, 2019. That's a gap of one-to-two years per season, so not a lot to go on really.

The writers of Stranger Things season 4 are clearly all-too-aware of the anticipation around the show — on July 4, exactly two years after season 3 arrived, their official Twitter account joked "Istg [I swear to god] if Stranger Writers tweet about S3 Day without giving us S4…….”. 

The account then followed up by saying that everyone had been "working their b*tts off" to get it finished — which we're pleased to hear.

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Stranger Things season 4 trailers and teasers

The latest Stranger Things season 4 teaser opened the doors to the Creel house. The footage begins with a retro family, and jumps to present day as the gang explores the seemingly haunted house.

The third Stranger Things season 4 teaser revealed the 2022 release window, and showed off Eleven's bangs, Hopper's flame-thrower and has an ominous line from Mike. Check it out for yourself.

The new, second teaser trailer for Stranger Things arrived on May 6 (watch for the numbers five and six embedded within the video). It's a chilling look at the facility where Eleven spent her childhood. 

And we get a glimpse of the younger Dr. Brenner, aka Papa (Matthew Modine), as he promises the youngsters "something special" that day. This clip has us wondering if Modine will return in Stranger Things season 4, together with some of the other children experimented on at the Hawkins Lab.

The first Stranger Things season 4 teaser trailer dropped huge news and confirmed the return of Hopper (David Harbour), who was presumed dead.

In addition to this bit of Hopper news, David Harbour told Comic Con Liverpool that Hopper "had to make a huge sacrifice" in order to be resurrected, and that while "Hopper as a character had to die [… but he] will come back as a different human-being with a different perspective."

Harbour even hinted at a possible Stranger Things 5, saying, "That’s the exciting thing moving into season 4 and whatever might be beyond." 

He also told us to expect a reveal about Hopper's origins: "I know specifically that in season 4 we will give you a big, huge reveal about Hopper’s back story which you’ve sort of sensed in certain ways, but we haven’t really told you about it."

We learned more about this in July 2021, when Harbour was doing press for Black Widow, stating "We get to see a lot of Hopper at his most vulnerable, we’re gonna reveal a lot of backstory points that we’ve only hinted at in boxes in his attic, ... We’re gonna see a lot of these different threads, and also, we get to see a rebirth of him." One of these reveals is going to be "very big in this season" and it's a story point that Harbour has "known since the first frame of the first season."

Following that, Netflix released a Stranger Things season 4 teaser clip to get fans excited. Instead of footage, this vertical video shows the cast reuniting for a table read:

Stranger Things season 4 cast

Expect the regular familiar faces of the younger teens: Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink) and Will (Noah Schnapp). 

Speaking of Sink, she's told the press that Stranger Things season 4 will have the highest ‘stakes’ ever for the show. We're wondering if that means The Upside Down is becoming a danger to the whole world, or something entirely different.

Young adults Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Robin (Maya Hawke) will also return, as will Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper. 

Also, there's no reason to expect Stranger Things season 4 won't include Erica (Priah Ferguson), Karen (Cara Buono) and Murray (Brett Gelman).

Eight new cast members have been reported by Variety, starting with the horror icon himself: Robert Englund. Yes, the man behind the Freddy Krueger is coming to Stranger Things. The report notes that Englund is portraying "Victor Creel, a disturbed and intimidating man who is imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital for a gruesome murder in the 1950s."

Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd), Eduardo Franco (Booksmart) and Joseph Quinn (Catherine the Great) fill out the other three new series regulars. Bower will portray Peter Ballard, who works at a local psychiatric hospital, Franco is in the role of Argyle, Jonathan’s new best friend, a pizza delivery guy who is also fond of marijuana. Quinn? Well, he's Eddie Munson, who we'll get to next.

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Other new additions: Tom Wlaschiha (Game of Thrones) is playing Dmitri, a Russian prison guard, Sherman Augustus (Into the Badlands) is Lt. Colonel Sullivan, who is out to squash the evil out of Hawkins for good. Mason Dye (Bosch) is cast as the rich kid at school, Jason Carver. Carver leads a seemingly ideal life that's about to be torn apart — in proper Hawkins, IN fashion — by something mysterious. Nikola Djuricko (Genius) is Yuri, a Russian smuggler.

During Netflix's Geeked Week, the Duffer brothers announced four new cast members are joining Stranger Things season 4. The group is led by Amybeth McNulty, the star of Anne With an E! (another Netflix show). She plays Vickie, a cool, fast-talking band nerd who catches the eye of one of our beloved heroes.

The others are:

Myles Truitt as Patrick, a Hawkins basketball star who has friends, talent, and a good life … until shocking events send his life spiraling out of control.

Regina Ting Chen as Ms. Kelly, a popular guidance counselor who cares deeply for her students — especially those struggling the most.

Grace Van Dien as Chrissy, Hawkins High's lead cheerleader and the most popular girl in school. But beneath the seemingly perfect surface lies a dark secret.

As for faces that might pop up from the past, Brenner (Matthew Modine), who "raised" Eleven in the Hawkins National Laboratory, is an important member of the Stranger Things lore. We'll get to him in the plot section.

Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Sadie Sink and Caleb McLaughlin in a darkened corridor

(Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things season 4 character death rumors

Okay, here's a bit of online rumor-mongering that should be taken with a grain of sale — but has fans scared nonetheless. The @StrangerNews11 twitter account posted old photos of the Hawkins cemetery with the caption "SOMETHING "MASSIVE" IS HAPPENING AT HAWKINS CEMETERY ... NO NEW PHOTOS, COULD BE ONE OF THE LAST SCENES OF THE SEASON."

A bit of Googling shows that the above photo has been around since 2019, and fans are taking this post as a sign for major concern. One tweeted "Oh god. I’m convinced Steve is going to die." 

As to why they could be there? Well, a funeral could easily be for Hopper or Billy, per the events of season 2. But it's just as likely that one of the core group of friends could kick the bucket, raising the stakes for the end of the season — or for season 5.

Stranger Things season 4 set photos

Filming on Stranger Things season 4 has resumed after pausing due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Twitter account best of stranger things has posted set photos of the cast, which reveal that there seems to be a new character played by Levon Hawke. He's the brother of Maya Hawke, who joined the show in season 3 as Robin Buckley (they are the children of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman). Could Levon Hawke play Robin's brother? Judging from the pictures, the character has a very punk rock vibe.

Levon Hawke on set of Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: best of stranger things/Twitter)

The Twitter account also posted images of Maya Hawke filming scenes with Joe Keery (Steve). Robin and Steve appear to work at a video rental store, a la Blockbuster. Also seen filming with them are Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Sadie Sink (Max).

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Stranger Things season 4

Set photos of Maya Hawke and Joe Keery on Stranger Things 4's set (Image credit: best of stranger things/Twitter)
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Stranger Things season 4

Set photos of Sadie Sink and Gaten Matarazzo on Stranger Things 4's set (Image credit: best of stranger things/Twitter)

More recent (and deleted) set photos revealed a run-down trailer park that could be the location of some scenes. One trailer home is covered with tentacles that look reminiscent of the Upside Down.

And the newest leaked set photos (which have been taken down) indicated something is going down at Hawkins High School, that requires military vehicles and some kind of tent.

Stranger Things season 4: David Harbour video

On the set of Stranger Things season 4, between shoots, a very dirtied David Harbour went on Instagram Live. In a clip posted to his IG, the actor teased spoilers from the season before telling his audience that "it's a very tough day today."

During the video, co-star Millie Bobby Brown jumped into the comments, which made Harbour tease spoiling her arc for the season. Then, the two have a video call.

Stranger Things season 4: Dustin & Steve spin-off?

Stranger Things' star Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) has been doing a lot of interviews lately, and recently handed out some free ideas for Netflix. While talking with Entertainment Tonight (via Metro), he said "‘I think a Dustin-Steve spinoff would be good if it were in a weird niche format. Like, they didn’t do a full show of it, ... Like a WandaVision type thing or a web series type thing where on YouTube, there’s weekly episodes of little hijinks they get into, like every now and again, like a skit show. That’d be great." 

Matarazzo also told Collider, when asked about the release date of the series, that "we still don’t know on day-to-day if we’re gonna be filming next week. ... there’s really no way to figure out when we’re gonna be wrapping." Which doesn't give us high hopes for a 2021 release.

He also noted that the Duffer Brothers (the series showrunners) have already finished the script — and aren't writing it as they go. Specifically, "This year, because of COVID, there’s no excuse for them not to have the [season] written completely," as "COVID hit and we only had like six episodes and so they were like, 'we might as well finish.'"

Matarazzo said that this allows the showrunners to "relish in directing in their day-to-day. There’s nothing else distracting them other than what we’re gonna do today while we’re directing ... now they can take their focus off of what the show is going to be about, and now that they know it, they can focus on how they’re going to deliver. And I think it shows."

Oh and speaking of scary, Matarazzo told Entertainment Tonight that Stranger Things is venturing into the most frightening area of all: adulthood. The kids are no longer just kids!

"When it comes to the tone of the season, it's definitely, I think the tone is definitely matured for sure, and I think they do that on purpose because I think they want their show to mature with their kids. As we are growing older as people, we have to grow older as characters," he explained. 

"They're confronted by this issue, but they embrace it, and they use it to their advantage. And they don't freak out when we get taller or when our voices drop or anything like that. They use it and they use it as ammunition for their writing. It's incredible what they can do. Working with them, it's just exceptional. Always has been." Matarazzo also spoke with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, telling him that Stranger Things season 4 may be the "scariest" season so far, before saying "I was reading it and I'm like, 'They're going for it this year, that's pretty cool!'"

Stranger Things season 4 theories and plot

In terms of "The American" that the Russians spoke of being locked in one of their base's rooms (one of which also has a Demogorgon), many speculated that this person was Dr. Martin Brenner. But the return of Hopper makes us think otherwise.

The show will likely need to use some plot device to pull the Byers family from their new home, back to Hawkins. 

While the new season will likely spend some time there or elsewhere, The Duffers told EW that season 4 is "going to open up a little bit...not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plotlines into areas outside of Hawkins." 

That makes us doubt the show would end without a return to where it all began.

As for other storylines, in an interview with Teen Vogue, Sadie Sink said her character Max will likely spend some time hiding the trauma of losing her brother Billy: "I think it makes sense for her, because that’s kind of as messed up as their relationship was ... [Billy’s death] still really affects the dynamic within her family. But in true Max fashion, she’s not going to let anyone see how she’s really feeling at some points. You see her just pretending that everything’s fine, when really, everything’s changed for her. She’s in a completely different emotional headspace."

One big bit of unresolved business is how Eleven has lost her powers, and will probably spend some time trying to regain them. Will Brenner be crucial to that as well? A wild fan theory, floated by Express.co.uk, claims that Eleven might actually be Hopper's daughter. This is pure speculation and at times seems like they're stretching things, so don't bet on it yet.

There's even speculation of an entire season taking place in The Upside Down, or at least focusing on a quest to free Hopper from the scary world.

Lastly, let's read into the name of the first episode of Stranger Things season 4:

Stranger Things season 4 episode 1 info

As has been publicly revealed on Twitter, Stranger Things season 4 episode 1 is titled "The Hellfire Club." Spoiler alert! It's been revealed that The Hellfire Club is the name of the D&D club at Hawkins High School. 

We don't know any members of the club beyond the aforementioned Eddie Munson, who runs the club. Rumors suggest that Mike, Dustin and Lucas are trying to become members of the group.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.