Stranger Things season 4 trailer

Stranger Things season 4 is bringing back the Upside Down ... but it's going to take awhile. Co-star Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike, recently revealed that the Stranger Things season 4 release date might not be until next year. In the meantime, fans can theorize over leaked set photos, like the ones showing something big happening at Hawkins High School.

Yes, Stranger Things season 4 might not be coming soon, but there are plenty of reasons to stay excited for the return of the series. We've already seen new cast members filming scenes and got an all-too-brief teaser trailer that hinted at the return of beloved sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour).

Stranger Things season 4 release date: When will it air?

Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix

Netflix hasn't given us a date for Stranger Things season 4 yet, but its latest earnings announcement makes us think the new season will wait until the new year. In a letter to investors, Netflix noted "We anticipate paid membership growth will re-accelerate in the second half of 2021 as we ramp into a very strong back half slate with the return of big hits like Sex Education, The Witcher, La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist), and You." We're betting Stranger Things season 4 is a big enough property that it would have made the list, were Netflix sure it was coming that soon.

Word about a delay to 2022 was first signaled by Finn Wolfhard, who told Fanmio that "Season 4 ... it should be out sometime next year, hopefully."

Looking at past seasons release dates — Season 1 came out on July 15, 2016, the second season arrived on October 27, 2017 and the third season dropped on July 4, 2019 — we see a gap of one to two years per season. Not a lot to go on.

In the Before Times, we thought Stranger Things season 4 might arrive on Netflix as early as October 2020. But then production grounded to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that filming has resumed, it's more likely that season will arrive in spring or summer 2022.

Stranger Things season 4 cast

Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix

Expect the regular familiar faces of the younger teens: Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink) and Will (Noah Schnapp).

Young adults Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton),, Robin (Maya Hawke) will also return, as will Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour).

Also, there's no reason to expect Stranger Things season 4 won't include Erica (Priah Ferguson), Karen (Cara Buono) and Murray (Brett Gelman).

Eight new cast members have been reported by Variety, starting with the horror icon himself: Robert Englund. Yes, the man behind the Freddy Krueger is coming to Stranger Things. The report notes that Englund is portraying "Victor Creel, a disturbed and intimidating man who is imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital for a gruesome murder in the 1950s.

Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd), Eduardo Franco (Booksmart) and Joseph Quinn (Catherine the Great) fill out the other three new series regulars. Bower will portray Peter Ballard, who works at a local psychiatric hospital, Franco is in the role of Argyle, Jonathan’s new best friend, a pizza delivery guy who is also fond of marijuana. Quinn? Well, he's Eddie Munson, who we'll get to next.

Other new additions: Tom Wlaschiha (Game of Thrones) is playing Dmitri, a Russian prison guard, Sherman Augustus (Into the Badlands) is Lt. Colonel Sullivan, who is out to squash the evil out of Hawkins for good. Mason Dye (Bosch) is cast as the rich kid at school, Jason Carver. Carver leads a seemingly ideal life that's about to be torn apart — in proper Hawkins, IN fashion — by something mysterious. Nikola Djuricko (Genius) is Yuri, a Russian smuggler.

As for faces that might pop up from the past, Brenner (Matthew Modine), who "raised" Eleven in the Hawkins National Laboratory, is an important member of the Stranger Things lore. We'll get to him in the plot section.

Stranger Things season 4 spoilers and plot: What will happen?

Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix

Season three wrapped up on an extremely emotional note. Joyce, Will and Jonathan packed up their home in Hawkins and jumped in a removals van with Eleven in tow following Hopper's death (which wasn't actually a death).

"It's not all good news for our 'American'; he is imprisoned far from home in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka, where he will face dangers both human... and other," reads Netflix's official synopsis.

"Meanwhile, back in the States, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long buried, something that connects everything..."

Back to Joyce, Will, Jonathan and Eleven, we don't know where they're going but with a fourth season on the cards, they'll be back.

There's also one very big change: Eleven has seemingly lost her powers, unable to even lift her teddy bear off the top shelf of her wardrobe.

But we're with Mike. Her psychokinetic abilities will surely return. We hope. We think. Right? Guys?!

On second thoughts, maybe we don't want Eleven's powers to return if this fan theory is anything to go by.

Reddit user weedmonkey666 theorises that Brown's character could have been infected by that monster bite on her leg in season three and because of this, the Mind Flayer could turn her against the town of Hawkins: "If Eleven is infected, the Mind Flayer could control her like it did with Billy, Will and the flayed, to eventually destroy her or use her to get more control/spread."

While that makes sense in theory, the key evidence used to back it up is the fact that a shadow can be seen on Eleven's head in season three's final scene. Does it look like the Mind Flayer's silhouette or is it just a tree? Time will tell.

Then there's that scene right at the end. While the Gate looked like it had been shut, with another season (or two) to go, surely that's not the last we've seen of it?

The Soviets, despite suffering a colossal setback, are not done yet. They have a Demogorgon in captivity – is that evidence that the Gate hasn't been properly shut, but simply stalled? Or are Demogorgons able to open their own mini Gates/tears in the fabric of reality?

The Duffers revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that season four is "going to open up a little bit... not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plotlines into areas outside of Hawkins".

The teaser released on September 30 said: "We're not in Hawkins any more…"

One thing that we do know for sure is the title of the first episode of season four: 'The Hellfire Club'.

Is it the name of the teens' new crew? Or could it relate to the three new young'uns that the Duffers are bringing in?

Stranger Things season 4: Dustin & Steve spin-off?

Stranger Things' star Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) has been doing a lot of interviews lately, and just handed out some free ideas for Netflix. While talking with Entertainment Tonight (via Metro), he said "‘I think a Dustin-Steve spinoff would be good if it were in a weird niche format. Like, they didn’t do a full show of it, ... Like a WandaVision type thing or a web series type thing where on YouTube, there’s weekly episodes of little hijinks they get into, like every now and again, like a skit show. That’d be great."

Matarazzo also told Collider, when asked about the release date of the series, that "we still don’t know on day-to-day if we’re gonna be filming next week. ... there’s really no way to figure out when we’re gonna be wrapping." Which doesn't give us high hopes for a 2021 release.

He also noted that the Duffer Brothers (the series showrunners) have already finished the script — and aren't writing it as they go. Specifically, "This year, because of COVID, there’s no excuse for them not to have the [season] written completely," as "COVID hit and we only had like six episodes and so they were like, 'we might as well finish.'"

Matarazzo said that this allows the showrunners to "relish in directing in their day-to-day. There’s nothing else distracting them other than what we’re gonna do today while we’re directing ... now they can take their focus off of what the show is going to be about, and now that they know it, they can focus on how they’re going to deliver. And I think it shows."

Oh and speaking of scary, Matarazzo told Entertainment Tonight that Stranger Things is venturing into the most frightening area of all: adulthood. The kids are no longer just kids!

"When it comes to the tone of the season, it's definitely, I think the tone is definitely matured for sure, and I think they do that on purpose because I think they want their show to mature with their kids. As we are growing older as people, we have to grow older as characters," he explained.

"They're confronted by this issue, but they embrace it, and they use it to their advantage. And they don't freak out when we get taller or when our voices drop or anything like that. They use it and they use it as ammunition for their writing. It's incredible what they can do. Working with them, it's just exceptional. Always has been." Matarazzo also spoke with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, telling him that Stranger Things season 4 may be the "scariest" season so far, before saying "I was reading it and I'm like, 'They're going for it this year, that's pretty cool!'"

*****READ MORE: ‘The Kissing Booth 3’: Release Date, Trailer, Plot and Cast

Stranger Things season 4 set photos

Filming on Stranger Things season 4 has resumed after pausing due to the coronavirus pandemic. The latest set photos show a very grim view of what's happened to Hawkins.

The Twitter account best of stranger things has posted set photos of the cast, which reveal that there seems to be a new character played by Levon Hawke. He's the brother of Maya Hawke, who joined the show in season 3 as Robin Buckley (they are the children of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman). Could Levon Hawke play Robin's brother? Judging from the pictures, the character has a very punk rock vibe.

The Twitter account also posted images of Maya Hawke filming scenes with Joe Keery (Steve). Robin and Steve appear to work at a video rental store, a la Blockbuster. Also seen filming with them are Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Sadie Sink (Max).

More recent set photos reveal a run-down trailer park that could be the location of some scenes. One trailer home is covered with tentacles that look reminiscent of the Upside Down.

And the newest leaked set photos indicate something is going down at Hawkins High School, that requires military vehicles and some kind of tent.

Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter
Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix
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