Stranger Things season 5 was set to start production very soon. David Harbour had even said shooting was set for June. That's not the case anymore, as the writers' strike continues.
Breaking with trends seen at other shows (more on that below) Stranger Things 5 will wait until the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike is over. Showrunners Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer explained it on the Stranger Things writers' twitter account.
Duffers here. Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then -- over and out. #wgastrongMay 6, 2023
The Duffers, who write, direct and produce on Stranger Things, tweeted "Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then -- over and out. #wgastrong."
The argument that "Writing does not stop when filming begins," as I'll explain below" is in stark contrast with how other shows are going about things.
So, while we pegged Stranger Things season 5 as having a mid-2024 release date, that window will extend further into the future as long as the writers' strike continues. Stranger Things fans are more than used to delays, as Stranger Things 4 was heavily postponed due to the pandemic.
The 2023 writers' strike is the first Hollywood strike of the streaming era, and the first since 2007. The East and West branches of the Writers Guild of America — which total around 11,500 writers total, began their strike on May 2, 2023. The main focus of this strike is residuals from streaming media such as Stranger Things, and the writers also voiced concerns that AI such as ChatGPT could be used to replace them.
Stranger Things isn't the only series impacted by the writers' strike. Nightly and weekly talk shows such as The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon are on pause until the strike is over, as is the upcoming Marvel movie Blade.
Analysis: Stranger Things is an outlier in the Writers' Strike
The Duffers' act of solidarity doesn't just mean Stranger Things season 5 will come later. It also means that the show will be produced with its entire staff working in harmony, once the strike is over.
That said, some of the biggest shows on TV will continue along while their writers lower their pencils. Variety reports that House of the Dragon season 2 will continue production without its writers. The outlet notes that the scripts had been finished. The outlet also reports that Andor season 2 production is continuing on as well.
That said different shows will be impacted in different ways by these calls to continue production. Variety reports that at Amazon's Prime Video, production for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 2 will continues without its showrunners/executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay (who made plans with the production team in case this were to happen).
For House of the Dragon, executive producer Ryan Condal is on set, but operating in a non-writing capacity. Andor's Tony Gilroy is conducting his on-set work in the same way.
For all of these shows, where scripts are such a crucial part of the story-telling — Andor and House of the Dragon specifically — working without your writers able to help make on-the-fly adjustments sounds incredibly difficult. Surprises on set always occur, and actors would likely have questions about the scripts.
But, because studios don't want to lose money, or have their shows delayed, these sets continue to produce. And it could lead to compromised quality, something Stranger Things season 5 is avoiding with its delays.