Season 3 of Stranger Things proved that the show can only get better with each season. But when will it all end?
I’m still reeling from how hilarious, fun and sad Season 3 of Stranger Things was. Every single person in that show did their job, and did it excellently, and it’s so great to see how far all the characters have come from when we first met them in season 1. They’ve grown up quite a bit since their only worries were D&D.
Eleven is actually having a childhood, although she and Mike are also starting to explore the thrills of adolescence. Will had a rough start in the last two seasons, but he’s finally had some time to breathe, and is now aware of how things change, whether or not there are supernatural forces involved. Lucas is a little bit less of a drama queen and is now a self-proclaimed relationship expert, along with a much friendlier Max, and Dustin is a BOSS AND A HERO and that’s all I have to say about him.
(And I could go on a whole rant about how great Steve’s character development has been, too, but I’m going to restrain myself.)
The kids act different, and look different. I’m now enjoying watching all the kids’ interviews on YouTube and laughing at their shenanigans, but it’s undeniable that they’ve visibly grown since filming. They’re real teens now. And I’m becoming aware that the fandom is going to become just one big empty-nester collective at some point.
Which got me wondering: how much longer will this show last?
I don’t want it to end, obviously, but it’s worth thinking about. The actors are growing up, and can’t keep making this show forever. Netflix has had a three-season policy for way too many of its shows as of late, cancelling One Day at a Time, Santa Clarita Diet and (cinematic masterpiece!! groundbreaking!!) Sense8. Of course, none of these shows were Stranger Things, which recently broke Netflix’s streaming record. But Netflix is unpredictable in its cancellations, and who knows what they have planned?
But I don’t expect a sudden cancellation to be more likely than a more natural end… one where the Duffer brothers decide the story has come far enough and that the actors are grown up enough, and that the show needs to come to an end. Here are my theories of at what point that could happen, and how it would play out for the characters (and for us, the sad fandom.)
No more seasons
THIS ONE SUCKS, I KNOW. It’s also definitely not going to happen This show is way too valuable to Netflix.
But let’s think about it anyway. In interviews, the cast seems particularly tight-lipped about whether or not there’ll be a fourth season. That could be due to either Netflix not yet renewing the show, and therefore the cast doesn’t want us to get our hopes up, or get their hopes up themselves. Or it could have also been another strategy to keep us wondering if the main characters were going to survive the season. Which, well… I can see why they would try to do that.
But the story clearly isn’t over yet. For example, and spoilers below:
Will’s moving away would have been drawn out a lot longer, and we would have seen how each character moved on with their life. Instead, we got a goodbye, but one that really didn’t feel definitive. There are still more adventures ahead.
So, no. It’s not ending after this. There will at least be…
One more season
There is some pretty clear evidence that this may be the case. Back in 2017, the Duffer brothers seemed pretty certain that they had a defined ending in mind. “We’re thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out,” Ross said, and the Vulture writer implied that by then, the main characters would all be on their way to college.
That would imply quite a few years in between season 3 and season 4, since in season 3, the characters are only 14. But with Will and Eleven moving away, maybe the years in between would add further tension to the plot — how has everyone changed while they’ve been away? Would the show end with them setting off for college together, or splitting up again to go their different ways?
Two more seasons
But it seems kind of drastic to skip at least three years into the future for a next season. And the Duffer brothers weren’t 100% sure that they would stop at a season 4, either. They toyed with the idea of five seasons for Stranger Things, or maybe more?
It might be more interesting to see the kids navigate high school like Steve, Nancy and Jonathan did, now that they’re so well-equipped to deal with terrible danger, without the need to wrap everything up all in one season. The kids all have slightly more mature mentalities than their peers at this point, due to everything they’ve seen, so they could really become an unstoppable team once they are able to drive (even if it’s with a learner’s permit — can you imagine Steve letting Dustin drive his car, and freaking out the whole time?).
As we moved onto a season 5, the teens will definitely look way older, and their characters will have to start thinking about the future. We all know Will is going to art school, while Dustin is definitely going into something science or tech… what does that mean for the future of their friendship? Will the group truly leave D&D behind them, or will they learn to value the joys of games in adulthood?
The risk in this scenario, of course, would be that the Duffers would have to come up with wilder and wilder stories, because with each season, they keep trying to make the Upside Down’s reach bigger. Back in 2017, they were already having doubts: “We just have to keep adjusting the story, though I don’t know if we can justify something bad happening to them once a year.”
We had a Cold War conspiracy this season. What would two more seasons bring, if the story keeps getting bigger? Would fans feel like the story jumped the shark if it got too out of hand?
But knowing the Duffers, they wouldn’t write two more seasons if they didn’t know they could make it good. And two seasons would give the show a chance to wrap things up with a real bang, as the kids become more and more independent and skilled in killing creatures from the Upside Down (and making us cry with their feelings).
More… or maybe a revival
To be honest, more than five seasons in total seems like a stretch. The actors are going to eventually want to move on, and we wouldn’t want the story to get stale, as much as we adore the characters. And we can’t possibly expect this story to go beyond the beloved 80s.
HOWEVER… if the show ends with the kids’ graduation, it would be perfectly natural to have a revival, five or ten years later! Imagine the main gang in their late 20s/early 30s, plus Steve, Nancy, Jonathan and Robin (now with their on families, probably!) and of course Erica, probably conquering college like the boss she is. What if some event brought them all back to Hawkins, and a new adventure unfolded?
It would be very reminiscent of It, which would fit right in with the 80s theme Stranger Things is so dedicated to capturing. It would also give the story the ability to get even more intense than it has been so far, with an all-adult cast (unless some of the older characters already have kids!)
Two seasons and a one-season revival would be the ideal scenario for me, I think. But who knows? Netflix might do the unexpected.
I hate thinking about Stranger Things coming to an end, but it’s interesting to reflect on what different amounts of seasons could mean for the story and the show’s overall quality. I think that at this point, the cast and crew have shown us that they know how to make Stranger Things impress us at every turn, and I don’t think the ending will be any different.
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