Stranger Things season 4 was pretty great, but it wasn’t perfect — and one problem was that half the characters spent the entire season outside of Hawkins. Fortunately, Season 5 won’t repeat that mistake.
Speaking to the Happy Sad Confused podcast (via The Wrap), Stranger Things creators Ross and Matt Duffer confirmed they'll be bringing the series back to its roots with the final season. That includes keeping the action firmly set within the town of Hawkins, Indiana — with no galavanting off to California or Siberia for a side quest.
Anyone who's seen Stranger Things 4 Volume 2 will know that Hawkins is an important place right now. If you haven’t, be warned that spoilers for Stranger Things season 4 follow.
The season 4 finale saw Vecna succeed in his plan, despite opposition from the kids, by opening up four portals that stretch across Hawkins. These portals, as we saw at the end, allowed the Upside Down to start leaking into our world, seemingly infecting the town with decay from the other side.
Hawkins is the literal centerpoint of Vecna’s incursion, so taking the action elsewhere for season 5 would make zero sense.
Not that it made much sense in season 4, mind you. While the Hopper-in-Siberia storyline was key in bringing the Sheriff back to town, it dragged on an awfully long time. Meanwhile, the subplot involving Mike and the gang did little to add to the story — only functioning as a convenient escape route for Eleven when Project NINA was invaded by the military.
Meanwhile, season 4’s Hawkins-centered storylines were the highlight of the nine episodes. Even the truly insufferable characters — Jason and his gang, for instance — were integral to the wider plot. So the news that Hawkins will be at the heart of things from this point on is great news.
The Duffers also confirmed that season 1 will be the inspiration for how things are in the show’s final season. "We wanna go back to a lot of the things we did in season 1,” said Matt Duffer. “A lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season 1 — there's something nice about coming full circle."
Plus, because season 4 didn’t neatly wrap things up, season 5 will see our teenage heroes straight back into the action and dealing with the cliffhanger ending.
"For the first time ever, we don’t wrap things up at the end of 4, and so it’s going to be moving. I don’t know that it’s going to be going 100 miles an hour at the start of 5, but it’s going to be moving pretty fast,” Matt said.
As to whether season 5 will be quite as long as season 4's 13-hour epic, Duffer hinted that it might be a little shorter, explaining that “Characters are already going to be in action, they’re already going to have a goal and a drive, and I think that’s going to carve out at least a couple hours and make this season feel really different."
That said, you should still expect a lengthy finale, with Ross Duffer revealing that “We’re more likely to do what we did here which is to just have a 2.5 hour episode.”
While we still don’t know when season 5 will arrive, the Duffers confirmed the writer’s room will be opening back up in August and that they will be taking their time with the show’s conclusion — which will apparently be “'Return of the King'-ish, with, like, eight endings.”
Meanwhile, David Harbour, the actor behind Hopper, told GQ UK that he suspects the writing work will be finished before the end of the year, with filming in 2023 and a possible mid-2024 release date. That’s “based on [the show’s] track record,” so Harbour is only guessing — but we certainly hope we won't have to wait another three years for the conclusion.
Read next: The Duffer brothers have confirmed that the characters who died won't be returning for Stranger Things 5. We do also feel that Stranger Things season 5 might ditch the one thing we care about.
And we rounded up all the questions Stranger Things Season 5 needs to answer.
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Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.