After a long *long* wait, it's almost time for a new season of Stranger Things. At this rate, Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard will be in college by the time we get to Stranger Things 4, but w/e. We've rounded up some Stranger Things fan theories you need to read before starting the new season. Superfans have used every hint from the official trailer, the episode titles, and everything that's happened during the last two season to try and figure out what strange forces will be ruining these poor kids' summer vacations before even watching an episode. Things are about to get wild in Hawkins, Indiana.
People are pretty sure the Starcourt Mall isn't just a shopping complex. We couldn't have a television show about '80s teens on summer vacation without ~someone~ having a mall job, but PopSugar thinks Starcourt is being run by the new Lynx Corp. That would explain the season finale's title, "The Battle of Starcourt," and all of the scenes in the trailer that imply something very bad is going to be going down at the mall after hours. Theories that the mall was built where Hawkins Lab used to stand were proven false by an official map of the town, but that doesn't mean a big government facility couldn't move in under the new mall and make themselves at home.
Something else that clearly isn't right? This season's weird fixation on rats. There's an episode called "The Mall Rats" and a teaser trailer with a veritable fleet of rodents that the official Stranger Things Twitter captioned, "It's almost feeding time 🙃." I've gotta say, that doesn't bode super well for the Hawkins, Indiana Department of Animal Control. Glamour thinks these rats will be the titular nibblers in the episode "The Bite" and are carrying a disease from the Upside Down that will spread through the townspeople. Billy the Bully's strange arm veins and blackened pupils in the trailer make this theory seem pretty on-point.
Another hot take on this rat theory is a little bit grosser and a whole lot nerdier. Redditor MoretoNYthantheCity described their take on the season's Big Bad as the Dungeons and Dragons' Rat King monster. Ew. Commenters think this would be possible through the Mind Flayer's hive-mind abilities, but considering the popular theory that this season's D&D monster is actually a Gibbering Mouther, we have a slightly different take. The Gibbering Mouther absorbs people into its body to grow bigger with multiple eyes and mouths, a description that fits the monster we see in the trailer, which isn't exactly a Demogorgon. What's a rat king if not one rat absorbing many, many rats? Porque no Los dos!?
Say it ain't so! It looks like Joyce Byers is finally ready to get the hell out of town. After Will getting lost in the Upside Down, her horrible visions of season two, and her boyfriend getting eaten by a Demodog, Joyce has more than enough reasons to get out of dodge. Plus, Glamour points out that the Starcourt Mall will probably affect everyone who makes a living in retail, like Mamma Byers. At this point, all of the core families should probably consider running away from the giant underworld spreading under their town, but that would be a little too reasonable for television.
Another interesting insight from the folks over at Glamour: The core friend group doesn't seem like they're doing too well. The season three trailer puts a hefty emphasis on these kids growing up, but it sounds like they might be doing so at the expense of their friendship. Mike tells someone that they're not kids anymore, asking, "What did you think? We were just gonna sit in my basement all day and play games for the rest of our lives?" Those are fighting words, son. Putting this soundbite with pictures of Dustin feeling left out and Will tearing up while looking at old pictures is giving us PTSD from our middle school years.
ScreenRant points out that we actually have no idea what killed Hopper's daughter. We've seen him cry in a Hawkins stairwell over her death, and everyone assumed that her hair loss implied she had died of cancer. This author thinks her haircut wasn't chemo-induced hair loss but a callback to Eleven's short hair from her time at the Hawkins Lab. Questions we still have about what Hopper's arrangement with the FBI was on season one, concrete details about his daughter's death, and why he chose to become a father to Eleven make it seem like his daughter could have been a test subject as well.
There are a few theories as to who the men with guns in this fun house are and why they're here, but they all seem to circle back to Russian spies. Maybe it's just the state of our government at the moment that's spurred this TBT to the USSR, but Redditor KuropatwiQ noticed the agent that gets caught in an electrical storm during the trailer is wearing a Soviet GP-5 mask. IDK how exactly they noticed that, but it's a little too specific to be a coincidence. They think the spies are trying to make a portal gun to weaponize the Upside Down, which might help us uncover why the Upside Down was ever opened in the first place.
Reddit commenter FrostyDrink agrees that these Russians are trying to open the gate to the Upside Down, but they don't think these agents are trying to weaponize the portals. The Redditor noticed that there are over ten agents in the room when it explodes, making this seem like part of a bigger project, and their suits are ready for exploration. Another commenter joked that they might want to use the Mind Flayer to their advantage because they have no idea what's actually happening down there, but it could also just be like the Cold War space race of trying to discover a new frontier first.
This very, very long theory by jrt_01 can be summarized into a shorter TL;DR. Basically, they think the explosion caused by the Russians will allow part of the Mind Flayer to enter Hawkins and possess the new character played by Jake Busey, Bruce, who is shown to be looking a little off in the trailer. The Mind Flayer knows about Eleven and her powers after the season two showdown, it just accidentally possessed a much older test subject, Bruce, instead of its archnemesis. The original poster has tons of evidence from trailer stills, and it somehow ties into the whole rat thing, but this is the gist of it even though the full thing is worth a read.
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This Reddit user Zeotex thinks the Duffer Brothers told us everything we need to know about the Upside Down the first time viewers are introduced to it in season one. They realized there's a clock ticking in the background during episode five as Eleven enters the void which only gets louder at the end of episode six when Eleven approaches the Demogorgon for the first time. Apparently, there's a pretty prominent theory that the Upside-Down is just Hawkins in a terrible future and Eleven is traveling through time. Back to the Future is supposed to be an influence for season three, and all of the post's commenters just add more evidence to the idea that we've known what the Upside Down is all along.
Okay, so this one might be a bit of a stretch, but Redditor sagarwahal thinks that the three questions from season one's final Dungeons and Dragons campaign were foreshadowing a future plotline. Clearly, that didn't happen in season two, but they think that the throwaway lines could be referring to season three's plot. Because the boys are growing up, there will be some conflict about the gang not wanting to play D&D anymore, but that doesn't mean past games couldn't have been hinting at a future plot. The question "What about the weird flowers in the cave?" in particular could be referencing the strange plants that dust Hopper and Dustin while they're in the Upside Down, which could instigate this season's supernatural struggle.
Season two ended with the Mind Flayer still undefeated, lurking under an unknowing town and waiting to take its revenge on Eleven. Fans of Stranger Things have been hoping that this season, the Duffer Brothers will veer away from the oft-repeated "Eleven Saves The Day With Her Superpowers" storyline, which means the Mind Flayer will still be a threat in upcoming seasons. jimbo805 thinks we'll discover that the Mind Flayer can only be defeated in the Upside Down because past seasons will have shown Eleven fighting to keep the Mind Flayer out of our world, leaving the natural plot progression to be taking the battle into the Mind Flayer's world before closing the gate to the Upside Down one final time. This poster heavily hints that he thinks Eleven will end up on the wrong side of the gate when she closes it for the last time.
Reddit commenter JMAN0723 agrees with jimbo805 that season three needs to end on a darker note than the previous two seasons, and they predict that one of the core friends will be kidnapped by the shadow monster, setting up the plot for season four. They think that the victim will be Mike, as a part of the Mind Flayer's revenge on Eleven. If someone was kidnapped, the search and rescue would start immediately and likely there wouldn't be a large time jump between the end of season three and the beginning of season four. Another user pointed out there are rumors that filming for season four might start in Autumn 2019, which would mean a very small time jump and a very large possibility this theory is true.
From the start, fans have assumed that if Eleven is the eleventh test subject, there are ten other successful experiments hidden away from the world. Even though the arrival of Kali as test subject eight supported this idea, this Reddit thread is full of reasons why there aren't nine other superheroes waiting to be banded together and make a weird off-brand X-Men. Kali was likely one of the first experiments to not die or become riddled with mental problems from the testing, making Eleven the most powerful experiment and still one of a much smaller number of special children.
This Reddit theory on the origin of the Demogorgon is pretty dark for Stranger Things, but after comments from the showrunners and cast that season three will be more intense than anything we've seen so far, it's fair game. Even if there aren't ten other psychics traveling around unnoticed, there are probably a handful of characters we haven't been introduced to that share Eleven's gifts. This theory posits that one of these other psychics also found the Upside Down, wandered in unprotected, and was eaten by a leech. This leech than grew into a Demogorgon, explaining why it could travel between worlds with such ease while other creatures from below cannot.
We have no idea who Eleven's real father is, so it's about time we found out. It wasn't "Papa," and it isn't her adoptive father Hopper. It's tempting to assume this isn't part of some big conspiracy and that her parents, much like Rey's in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, were normal people. This Redditor believes that because we strategically weren't shown her father's name when Eleven's birth certificate is on screen, there's more to this story than a bout of bad luck. They think that Eleven's father was a volunteer in the MK Ultra program who had powers of his own, which would echo Drew Barrymore's father in Firestarter, a movie that the creative team has taken inspiration from alongside Carrie.
One Reddit theory wonders if Will was originally supposed to be a Hawkins Lab test subject. Viewers are led to believe Will was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was targeted by the Demogorgon, but Will didn't injure himself until after the Demogorgon was already following him, meaning it wasn't attracted to his blood. He could also see into the Upside Down before coming into contact with the Mind Flayer, making it possible that he carries the MK Ultra gene. Honestly, this isn't the strongest theory, but it does tie into the argument that the entire Byers family has True Sight...
This Redditor pointed out that three of the five people who communicate with the Upside Down in season one are in the Byers family, and one of them is Eleven. This made them wonder whether the Byers are directly related to the Upside Down somehow, which would explain why the Demogorgon found Will without being attracted to his blood and why Will could see it in the first place. Joyce is also able to feel Will's presence in her home when he's missing and how a window manifests in the Upside Down while two members of the Byers family just happen to be trying to break down a barrier, almost creating a gate. There's even more evidence the deeper you dive of little plot inconsistencies that could actually imply Joyce has a small amount of True Sight, which was passed onto her sons.