The Duffer Brothers exceeded all expectations with Stranger Things when the first season hit Netflix in 2016. The showrunners only continued to follow suit, giving us more and more of this crazy, hilarious and sometimes all too relatable '80s sci-fi in seasons two and three. One of the best things about the show? How much detail they really put into capturing both the essence of the world of science fiction and fantasy as well as both the good and bad parts of the '80s experience for both kids and adults. It's no secret that the Duffer bros, as well as director Shawn Levy and the rest of the Stranger Things crew, have worked hard to pay homage to the pop culture and lifestyles that so heavily influenced the show, and we've got a list of easter eggs to prove it.
Continuing on a great trend from the first two seasons, season three of the Netflix hit drops a lot of hints and references to past episodes, to other defining pop culture moments, and more. From movie references to season one and two callbacks, we see the characters play out big-time plots while including little nods to movies like The Lord of the Rings, Red Dawn, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and more. We could spend all day analyzing the amazing nuances of every little bit of season three, but here are 20 of our favorite easter eggs from the eight episodes that span season three. Check out our list below to see if you caught them, too!
This first easter egg is an obvious nod to awesome nerds everywhere. As Dustin drags his friends up a hilltop to set up his master invention, a radio that helps him communicate with his supposed camp girlfriend Suzie, it's clear why he named it Cerebro. The chunky and inefficient mobile tech doesn't exactly aesthetically resemble X-Men leader Professor X's mutant-finding helmet, but it certainly gets the job done when it's needed most. We love this connection to one of our favorite comic book creations, and the name is a perfect fit for this lover locator.
This blink and you'll miss it easter egg in "The Battle of Starcourt" is a call back to the first episode of the first season, and we love it. On the first season, Will goes missing after riding his bike down Mirkwood, a street that the gang can't help but relate to the magical, mystical homeland of Legolas the elf in The Lord of the Rings. Though they're more of a Dungeons and Dragons group, they don't always shy away from other nerdy references. As Dustin and the Scoops Troop head to the hill to give Cerebro one more try, he commands Steve to take him to "Weathertop" aka the hilltop watchtower that Aragorn hides his hobbit friends on in The Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully, Dustin was a little more successful on his hill.
On the first episode of the season, "Suzie, Do You Copy?", Hopper can barely get through his episode of Magnum P.I. as Mike and Eleven swap spit in the next room. Tom Selleck is breaking a lock and the Chief is about to break a neck. Despite spending most of his TV time distracted, Hop picks up on a few things and the next episode is sporting a flashy Hawaiian shirt for his not-date with Joyce. The shirt is a great nod to one of Hop's heroes and one of the most iconic '80s shows.
Whether or not you think Die Hard is a Christmas movie, it's definitely an inspiration for this season of Stranger Things. Despite not premiering until 1988, after the timeline in the show, the movie was and remains a defining part of the '80s pop culture and a necessary addition to the easter eggs. It's clear that Erica crawling through the air ducts of the Starcourt mall pays homage to Bruce Willis's adventure through the vents of Nakatomi Plaza, but we also love the direct nod on episode five. As Hopper holds his gun up ready to shoot, Russian villain Grigori says, "You're a policeman. Policemen have rules." This is an almost direct quote between John McClane and one of Hans Gruber's minions. We love it!
You may have missed this easter egg when the scene was released early, but we hope you caught it the second time around during your binge of season three. When Dustin returns from Camp Know Where, he isn't expecting a surprise from his best friends, or any visitors for that matter. That's probably why he grabs his Farrah Fawcett spray, courtesy of "Dad of the Year" Steve Harrington, as a weapon to use against the intruder. Unfortunately for Lucas, Steve didn't warn his children about the dangers of hairspray and eyeballs, but we assume he got it under control. There's nothing we love more than the Steve and Dustin dynamic, and we're glad it's going strong.
When Dustin tells the group he has a new girlfriend, the reactions are less than convinced, but he knows deep down that it doesn't matter. He has Suzie, and Suzie is like Phoebe Cates except way, way hotter. Phoebe Cates is, of course, a reference to the bathing suit-clad bombshell from '80s flick Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It's no surprise that Dustin would use the character as a comparison, and she pops up once again as a cardboard cutout in the last episode when Steve and Robin are looking for a new job at Family Video. Steve's movie choices aren't the best, but thanks to his best pal Dustin, he's got some knowledge to share.
On episode six of the season, "E Pluribus Unum," Murray Bauman reluctantly lets Hopper use his phone to call for military back-up because what other kind of call would he be making, right? While on the line, Hop gives out Murray's number (618-625-8313) and Murray, naturally, loses his mind. But what would happen if you called that number right now? Well, you'd hear this: "And if this is Joyce – Joyce, thank you for calling. I've been trying to reach you. I have an update. It's about – well, it's probably best if we speak in person, it's not good or bad but it's something." We have our theories about this easter egg, and we're not happy about having to hold onto them for another year.
Now stay with us here, because we've got a lot for this one. The Mind Flayer has gone all out this season in creating a suitable opponent for El and company, and that opponent is a massive blob of rat and human flesh. Gross. This evil hunk of junk calls back to numerous sci-fi and '80s flicks including The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Blob. We get human possession thanks to one very angry and sweaty Billy Hargrove, we get zombies, mutants and unidentifiable, sentient evil all in one. What's more, is the villain's relations to the Dungeons & Dragons monster, the gibbering mouther. This monster is a blob of eyes and mouths, that, of course, shoots chemicals from its mouth. Hello fertilizer! We can't get over the genius.
From policemen have rules to policemen doing whatever they want, we really get to see the range of Hopper's career, not to mention all the easter eggs he was gifted. After being stood up for his not-date with Joyce, the Chief decides to soothe his wounds with a little (read: a lot) of alcohol at Enzo's. When he tries to dip from the restaurant drink in hand, he's told that, ahem, that's illegal. Not so fast, sir. Just like Roy Scheider's character Martin Brody in Jaws, Hop says, "I can do anything I want. I'm the chief of police." We love the confidence, Chief, but we'd also love if you were sober when the Mind Flayer comes.
At the end of the seventh episode, "The Bite," the gang is reunited and thank goodness for that, but they've got a lot of catching up to do. The Scoops Troop have a full Red Dawn situation on their hands, people! We've had an idea of this since the opening episode, when we saw the Russian base attempting to open the other dimension, but now the forces that be have come to Hawkins. It makes perfect sense that Dustin would relate their situation to the 1984 movie since it follows a group of teenagers defending their town from invading Soviet Union forces. Sometimes kids just have to do everything themselves. It seems likes the Duffer Brothers just can't run out of perfectly related easter eggs to drop for season three.
Hawkins has a lot of problems, and in season three, a lurking Russian soldier/assassin named Grigori is one of them. He's on a mission and that mission is to end everyone in his way, namely Hopper. After their first encounter, Hop makes his way to the source of the problem, Mayor Larry Kline played by the wonderful Cary Elwes. When the Chief discovers that the Mayor has been working with the Russians, namely the one who attacked him, he gets right to interrogating (to put it lightly.) When he asks for a name, Mr. Mayor simply responds, "It's Arnold Schwarzenegger." We love this reference to The Terminator that pairs nicely along with the general creepy, violent vibes Grigori is sending out as he follows Hop and crew around just like the cyborg in question.
As the Scoops Troop reaches the peak of Weathertop, it's hard for them to miss the blazing lights coming from the Starcourt Mall as the Mind Flayer and his pawn Billy get ready to battle it out. Immediately, they run to the walkies and page for the "Griswold Family," their counterparts still at the mall. The Griswolds, of course, are the slightly dysfunctional starring family of National Lampoon's Vacation. The family faces a lot of obstacles on their vacation, which is an understatement for what our Stranger Things gang is going through. Between all of the siblings, the relationships, the adoptions and more, our crew is kind of a like one big family. All they need now is a station wagon.
When Dustin picks up the Russian transmission, he swears he hears more than words. He proves his point when he's walking past the horse ride at the Starcourt that is playing the same song. As they load the pony up with loose change, they can see that the song, "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built For Two)" by Bell Laboratories IBM 704, is a perfect match, which of course means the transmission has been coming from the mall all along. This is a nice nod to AI HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, who is programmed to sing the song when activated and who sings it one last time when deactivated for good. Though the circumstances in that movie are a bit different from what's going on outside the local Hawkins WaldenBooks, we love this reference to the epic sci-fi film.
Music plays an essential role in Stranger Things. It sets the mood, it identifies the decade, and ... it drops some hints. If you've been listening closely, you'll notice a common thread between seasons one and three, importantly surrounding some big-time "deaths." In the season one episode "Holly, Jolly," Will's "body" is recovered by the police to the tune of "Heroes" by David Bowie. Where else do we hear that same song? The end of season three, of course, after the loss of our beloved Chief Hopper. Does this mean this death is also a fake-out? We're praying to Ziggy Stardust that it is.
It doesn't take long for Robin to translate the Russian transmission coming through on Dustin's radio. She is fluent in four languages after all. "The week is long. The silver cat feeds when blue meets yellow in the west. A trip to China sounds nice if you tread lightly." How could you not figure out it's the mall, right? It all adds up. One fun easter egg in this big message? The light trek to Kaufman Shoes. This store is a nice nod to Invasion of the Body Snatchers director Philip Kaufman. The movie, as we mentioned above, plays an integral part in how the Mind Flayer works, and we love that the show gives a nod to its inspiration.
Dustin is on point when it comes to the walkie talkie names, as we've seen, and his own name is one of the best. Of course, he's going to give himself a cool name that shouts out to one of the most important nerd franchises of all time: Star Wars. Returning from Camp Know Where, he calls into his walkie, "Gold Leader returning to base," which was the name General Lando Calrissian used during the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Dustin isn't exactly the gambling con artist of the group like his walkie namesake, but we love the confidence and this ode to the galaxy far, far away.
If there's one person who knows a thing or two about a magnet, it's Mr. Clarke. When Joyce is experiencing some weirdness with the magnets on the Byers family fridge and at the store, that's just who she turns to. Mr. Clarke is spending his summer vacation over his model village, and if you look closely, you'll see a great easter egg in the miniature town: Beetlejuice's tombstone. Any fan of the 1988 comedy horror film knows that the poltergeist loves to dwell in Alec Baldwin's miniature town, haunting its streets (and destroying them.) It's all in the details, and the Stranger Things crew absolutely killed it with this one.
Just when you think things have taken a turn for the worse, our favorite TV crew leaves us an easter egg to remind us that there's always a way out. When the Scoops Troop get into a bit of a pickle (that pickle, of course, being getting trapped in an underground Russian government facility), things are looking grim. But if you notice a small green plant just hanging out underground, you've found a clue. This plant, an ode to the life-giving green plant in Resident Evil, is quaint reminder that no one's dying just yet. It's a hard-to-catch easter egg for sure, but we love a challenge and we love a show that gets better with each rewatch.
Hospitals aren't the most pleasant setting, and in a show like Stranger Things, it's not hard to imagine all the things that could go wrong in one. And wrong they do go when Nancy goes to visit Ms. Driscoll once again to confirm some mind flayer theories. Some Mind Flayer minions, namely her Hawkins Post superiors, show up to wreak havoc. This is an unfortunate mirror of Jamie Lee Curtis' battle with Michael Myers in Halloween II at the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. The final touch? Almost identical logos, a combo of the two H's and the M in each hospital's name.
While we're talking about the hospital, we'll end our list of easter eggs with a powerful one. As Nancy fights off the blob of rat guts, she gets an up-close look at the creature, eyeballs and all. On the floor and inches from death, the creature hovers over here ready to strike until Eleven and crew come and save the day. Does this scene look familiar? Of course it does. You've seen it before in the Alien franchise. Ripley played by Sigourney Weaver gets uncomfortably close to a creature of her own. We're happy to say that Nancy has a better outcome than her leading lady counterpart, but we love to homage to this sci-fi series.