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Stranger Things season 5 — everything we know

Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson in STRANGER THINGS 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

We need to go back to Hawkins for Stranger Things season 5 right now. Or at least once we've finished rewatching those last four hours of ST4, as we come to grips with what Hawkins has become.

And in case you haven't heard, the next chapter of the war between the Upside Down and our side of reality is its final chapter. Matt and Ross Duffer announced Stranger Things 5 was the last run back in February 2022, giving us ample warning that they are going to finish this story.

Then came Stranger Things 4, which felt bloated and full of storylines that didn't matter. Things were saved (only to be blown up) by the 4-hour drop known as Stranger Things 4 volume 2. There, Hawkins was ... well, we'll explain below.

Because while we know Stranger Things season 5 is coming to Netflix eventually, it seems like we have a long time to wait. Enough time to cancel the streaming service at least once or twice, even. 

Of course, consider this your spoiler warning for Stranger Things 4, including the events of volume 2's finale.

Stranger Things season 5 release date speculation

Jamie Campbell Bower as Henry Creel, who is behind Millie Bobby as Eleven as she undergoes tests in Stranger Things

(Image credit: Netflix)

Trying to out Stranger Things' previous release dates can be tougher than trying to win a mind fight with Vecna. Fortunately, we've already got word from inside about when to expect Stranger Things 5 release date to drop. 

David Harbour (Hop himself) told British GQ (opens in new tab) about the plans that are already in place, revealing "I think we’ll [shoot] next year. They’re finishing writing it this year, and they need to prep and stuff, so hopefully it’ll be this year," Harbour says. "But I think that’s the plan. So it’d probably come out mid-2024, based on our track record."

There you have it, folks, expect to wait two whole years for Stranger Things season 5.

Stranger Things season 5 plot

The big plot of Stranger Things 5 is simple: the end of the world has reached Hawkins. Vecna's four gates have opened, draining the color out of Hawkins and replacing parts of the city with a volcanic hellscape. The giant spider-like monster is coming for humanity, and this is (or at least seems like it is) the war that Dr. Brenner and Dr. Owens warned Eleven about.

Inside of that story, we'll see Eleven's continued fight with Vecna/Henry/001, who is also haunting Will Byers in a particular way. We need Will to play a role in defeating Vecna, so his story isn't just being the tragic and likely-closeted-gay character whose experience is defined by pain.

We also rounded up all the questions Stranger Things Season 5 needs to answer.

David Harbour as Hopper in Stranger Things 4

(Image credit: Netflix)

Now that the couplings of Hopper and Joyce and Robin and Vickie are finally at clearer points, we have one remaining love-triangle to examine. Nancy, Steve and Jonathan exist in an uneasy tension, and Jonathan's secret acceptance to Lenora Hills Community College will likely complicate things further. If Nancy and Steve start hooking up while he's out of town, we bet Jonathan is going to be Vecna's next target.

Dustin will likely start off Stranger Things season 5 mourning the loss of Eddie Munson (though this Stranger Things 4 fan theory is giving some hope that Eddie could come back), but we're unsure if anyone outside of the gang will be. This will likely put Dustin in a more emotionally fragile state, while the rest of Hawkins sees him as a conspiracy theorist.

Stranger Things season 5 cast speculation

Going back to Hawkins, and staying there, kinda means we're committed to the core group of Stranger Things characters we've come to know and love. This is why we don't expect to see Tom Wlaschiha play Dmitri Antonov in this next run. His story is told.

As for who we expect, Stranger Things 5 could not happen without our favorite (increasingly older) kids. That means Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), a possibly-comatose-or-blind Max (Sadie Sink) and Will (Noah Schnapp) all better come back. Oh, and we need to know what movies Lucas has been bringing to the hospital to "screen" for Max. 

We've also tracked how the Stranger Things kids have aged over the years, in case you need a clearer look at how much aging can happen in around six years.

(L to R) Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield and Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair are lined up in Stranger Things 4

(Image credit: Netflix)

Then, you've also got guaranteed returns for the slightly older crowd, as Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Robin (Maya Hawke) all survived season 4. That said, we don't know if Jonathan and Nancy's relationship will make it to the series finale. Naturally, the eldest chaperones to the Upside Down Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) are givens. For Dustin's sake, we hope Lizzy Yu is back as Suzie Bingham.

From the list of secondary characters, we need Erica (Priah Ferguson), Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) and Murray (Brett Gelman) to all show up for Stranger Things season 5. Owens could have blown up in the NINA lab explosion, but that wasn't shown on screen. We could see Argyle (Eduardo Franco) return, but he seems less likely, as he's based out of Lenora Hills in California, not Hawkins. 

Robert Englund as Victor Creel in the Stranger Things season 4 trailer

(Image credit: Netflix via YouTube)

Robert Englund could easily come back as Victor Creel, since his son Henry aka Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) is still alive in some manner, as Will Byers told us. And, yes, we expect Bower to reprise his role. 

Stranger Things season 5: Who's dead?

Joseph Quinn as Eddie Munson in STRANGER THINGS

(Image credit: Netflix)

Sadly, we don't expect to see a whole lot more of Joseph Quinn as Eddie Munson. The Duffers have confirmed that he is definitely dead (opens in new tab). So is Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine). Jason Carver (Mason Dye), the rich kid at school, who put a target on the Hellfire Club and its leader, is also dead and unlikely to return. 

E! News (opens in new tab) reports that Ross and Matt Duffer want to do more with Grace Van Dien, who played Chrissy, Hawkins High's lead cheerleader and one of Vecna's victims. It would take some supernatural play at work to bring Chrissy or Eddie back for Stranger Things season 5.

Stranger Things season 5 will be shorter (except for the finale)

The most-maligned aspect of Stranger Things 4 was how it felt bloated. Fortunately, Matt Duffer has said they expect season Stranger Things 5 to be shorter. Speaking to Happy Sad Confused podcast (opens in new tab), he explained that this season will hit the ground running and be short on pre-amble. 

"The only reason we don’t expect to be as long is, this season, if you look at it, it’s almost a two-hour ramp up before our kids really get drawn into a supernatural mystery ... You get to know them, you get to see them in their lives, they’re struggling with adapting to high school and so forth, Steve’s trying to find a date, all of that. None of that is obviously going to be occurring [in season 5]," Duffer said.

Except, that is, for the final episode. Duffer added, "We’re more likely to do what we did here, which is to just have a 2.5-hour episode."

Henry T. Casey
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 seven 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.