‘Stranger Things’ Season 3: release date, trailer, cast, plot, episode titles, theories and more

Everything we know so far

Stranger Things Season 3 is here and boy has it been a long time coming. Read our episode recaps as we delve into season three

Episode recaps

Chapter One: ‘The First Day’

Chapter Two: ‘The Mall Rats’

Chapter Three: ‘The Case of the Missing Lifeguard’

Chapter Four: ‘The Sauna Test’ 

Chapter Five: ‘The Flayed’

See below for everything we knew about the series before its release.

Is there a release date for Stranger Things Season 3?

Wondering when Season 3 of Stranger Things is coming out? Netflix have now confirmed that Stranger Things 3 will debut on July 4. Just after midnight on January 1, the streaming service unveiled a brand new poster announcing the premiere date.

The poster itself sees Eleven and Mike holding hands while the entire gang watch a 4th of July firework display. Eleven and Will are the only ones looking back, while Dustin, Lucas and Max seem to be looking up at fireworks. You can see the poster below.

Following the unveiling of the poster, fans soon spotted a number of rats scurrying about in the foreground, leading to speculation that the new season could introduce a new menace of “demo-rats” (rat-like demogorgons) entering the town. Given that one of the upcoming episodes has been revealed to be titled ‘The Mall Rats’, the theory could hold weight.

More posters have then followed. Check out the latest offerings, which show Eleven using her telekenetic powers once more. Is a big role in the cards?

give a further look at the kids – who have grown up in front of our eyes.

Why the long wait for Season 3?

The waiting time between Seasons 2 and 3 is bigger than that of Seasons 1 and 2, leading some fans to wonder if the show had been cancelled altogether. But no, it has not – Stranger Things is definitely returning for Season 3.

Speaking during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills last July, Cindy Holland, VP of Netflix’s original content, explained: “It’s a handcrafted show. The Duffer brothers and Shawn Levy have worked really hard, and they understand the stakes are high. They want to deliver something bigger and better than what they did last year. And so they really want to take the time to get it right.”

Do we know episode titles for Stranger Things 3?

Yes, there will be eight episodes in Season 3 and below are the titles…

Suzie, Do You Copy?
The Mall Rats
The Case of the Missing Lifeguard
The Sauna Test
The Source
The Birthday
The Bite
The Battle of Starcourt

Has a trailer for Season 3 been released yet?

The first full trailer was released on March 20. The trailer opens with the gang surprising Dustin to welcome him home from summer camp (which doesn’t end well…) It’s summer in Hawkins and the gang are growing up but, from the looks of it, there will be plenty of action, and some whole new baddies. Watch below.

So what does that tell us about the upcoming episodes?

The trailers later scenes confirm that new locations will prove to be central to the gang’s woes. First, you’ve got the Starcourt Mall, where Steve and Dustin appear to have acquired jobs, being inhabited by another gory-looking creature.

Meanwhile, a horde of rats race through the July 4 fun fair put on by the town’s Mayor Kline – with Hopper looking concerned and what appears to be an assassin in a hall of mirrors.

Trouble appears to be brewing for Natalie and Jonathan, who look glum together in an undisclosed building.

As promised, it looks like the group – and specifically Will – have some issues to address. As Will reminisces, a voiceover from Mike says, “did you think, we were just going to sit in my basement? playing games for the rest of our lives?”

A short teaser was also released a day prior on March 19. It featured a horde of rats scurrying through what looked like an abandoned warehouse, all heading towards the same shadowy spot. “It’s almost feeding time,” the caption read. Watch it below now.

A teaser clip shared on May 20 shows Hawkins’ lifeguard, Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), being oggled at as he begins his shift at the local swimming pool.

Mike and Nancy’s mother, Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono) is especially taken by Billy in his swim shorts.

More new details have emerged about the plot, with the show’s co-creator and co-showrunner Matt Duffer who has spoken to EW about what fans can expect. He’s confirmed the action will take place in the summer before the kids enter high school, and that the new season will focus primarily on change.

He said: “We wanted to explore the theme of change…The season takes place during the last summer before high school. The kids are growing up, and that transition is going to be messy and awkward and painful. Are they able to grow up without growing apart?

“Eleven closed the Gate, but the Mind Flayer is still alive in the Upside Down…It will find another way into Hawkins…It’s just a matter of time.”

On June 20 the final trailer was shared. In it, we learn that Eleven closing the gate to the Upside Down once and for all at the end of season 2 didn’t quite work.

“You let us in and now you are going to have to let us stay,” says a disturbing voice as the camera cuts to nightmarish scenes. At one point Will says: “What if he never left? What if we locked him out here with us? He’d want to attach himself to someone again. A new host.”

Intriguing indeed….

When will Stranger Things 3 be set?

Producer Shawn Levy said that the next instalment of the show is likely to be set a year after season two’s conclusion – so, during the summer of 1985.

Are there any plot details for Stranger Things 3?

We had a lot of questions about Stranger Things 3 after the Season 2 finale but one thing we know for sure is that the show will extend past Hawkins in its third season. “They’re going to have to get the fuck out of this town,” co-creator Ross Duffer told Vulture in an extensive interview back in summer 2017.

We’ve already seen that happen occasionally before: the divisive episode ‘The Lost Sister’ from Season 2 saw Eleven branch out and hang out with fellow telekinetic wonder Kali – AKA Eight. Chances are this was an important step to establishing a storyline outside the show’s usual setting of Hawkins, Indiana.

But as the ominous final scene of Season 2 suggested, the Mind Flayer could still cause them hassle. According to The Duffer Brothers,”they’ve shut the door on the Mind Flayer, but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, it’s very much aware of the kids, and particularly Eleven. It had not encountered her and her powers until that final episode. Now, it knows that she’s out there. We wanted to end on a little bit of an ominous note.” Job done, then.

The creators have also revealed that the new season is influenced by Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Ross said: “We would say that this is our most unapologetically fun season. Yet at the same time, it is also our most horrifying and intense season…It’s this wild mix of tones that we think really sets this season apart.”

Meanwhile, David Harbour has teased that the final episode of Season Three will take things to an extremely emotional level.

According to Digital Spy, the 44-year-old actor said: “You get to see a lot of that throughout the season and it’s very unexpected what happens in the end and it’s very, very moving.

“I think episode eight is the most moving thing we’ve ever shot.”

Hopper has previously told Digital Spy that he knows how the season ends, saying: “I know the end of the story, and I think it’s beautiful.”

In an interview with Good Morning America, Mille Bobbie Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard and Sadie Sink gave some more clues about what fans could expect from Season 3. Matarazzo perhaps gave the most revealing response, saying: “It’s definitely gorier, which is pretty cool. ‘If you don’t like gore stuff, I mean, watch it anyway. It’s not for the faint of heart, as some would say.”

Stranger Things‘ Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown

What will happen to Eleven in Season 3?

Speaking to Variety, Millie Bobbie Brown gave us some insight into what will happen to Eleven. “It’s really a coming of age for her and understanding what being a normal teenage girl is,” she said. “It’s a beautiful storyline for Eleven this season.” N’aww.

Eleven’s controlling father Papa reared his head briefly in season two, hinting that he could return in 3 as the show’s big baddie. Eight, meanwhile, also looks like she’s set herself up as a baddie as she uses her power for some not-so-wholesome endeavours.

Millie Bobby Brown also revealed in a May 2019 interview with Entertainment Weekly that Eleven’s character “evolves greatly”.

“And I can say is it’s spreading fast. And that’s all I can tell you,” Brown said.

The statement sounds ominous. And the phrase “spreading fast” doesn’t sound good in the world of Stranger Things….

Will Hopper’s daughter play a role in Season 3?

Star David Harbour – who plays Jim Hopper – suggested to Insider that a long-held fan theory about his daughter Sara (it’s thought she died in Hawkins Lab) could be true. When the similarity between where Hopper was seen slumped in a stairwell in season one and where Dr. Owens was found hiding in Season 2 was pointed out to him, Harbour responded: “It is the same location. So that’s interesting. Or it’s a similar location.”

Could we find out more about Hopper’s daughter in season three?

Harbour has also said that Hopper’s fatherly relationship with Eleven will become more complicated as the season unfolds.

“Their relationship is going to get far more complex, because, you know, things happen to girls and boys when they’re 13 and 14… a lot of changes go on in the body and in your social life, and I don’t think [Hopper’s] going to handle watching her become a woman in front of his eyes very well. That’s horrifying for him – maybe even more so than fighting inter-dimensional monsters.”

Will we see more of Steve and Dustin in Season 3?

Executive producer Shawn Levy has said that we’ll see more of Steve and Dustin together in the new season, that’s for sure. “In season two, it was all very cute and there was a funny factor to it because it was unexpected, but now that it is expected, I want to see them connect more and be more familiar with each other,” Levy told Glamour. “I want them to have a connection like they’ve really had a connection for a year – like they’re brothers.”

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family is so important

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What role will Will play?

Will, who was the focal point of Season 2, is unlikely to have such a pivotal role, according to Levy. “We’re going to give Will a break,” he told Glamour. “We’re not going to put Will through hell for a third season in a row. He’ll be dealing with stuff, but he won’t be at rock bottom the way we forced the amazing Noah Schnapp to play.”

Stranger Things deaths

Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers

Which classic TV shows and movies will Stranger Things 3 pay homage to?

Speaking at a special screening of Stranger Things back in August, Harbour revealed an unlikely source of inspiration for Stranger Things 3: the 1985 comedy Fletch, which starred Chevy Chase. The caper has apparently provided the Duffer Brothers with some creative ideas for the new season.

Harbour told Variety: “The Duffers are so specific each year with the movies… and Fletch is one movie we get to play around and have some fun with this season, which you wouldn’t expect from Stranger Things and you wouldn’t expect from the Spielberg universe and you certainly wouldn’t expect from a darker season.”

Are there any plot spoilers?

A new set of plot spoilers for Season 3 have been released into the wild via the medium of an official companion book to the show, Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down. 

The Shadow Monster, aka The Mind Flayer, from Season 2 is definitely returning. In the book, author Gina McIntyre reveals how much of a threat the Mind Flayer will be in the series’ future: “The Mind Flayer hasn’t lost interest in Hawkins either…The tentacled creature continues to loom near Hawkins inside the Upside Down, and its malevolent influence isn’t absent from the new season.”

Stranger Things action figures

The gang’s all here

According to a new piece with Collider where time has been spent on set and with the crew, actress Dacre Montgomery has promised that there will be a lot more of Billy in the new season: “I think the sound bite that I would give you is, you can expect a hell of a lot more of Billy this season.” Th season also features flashbacks to Billy’s childhood, with a 12-year-old actor playing younger Billy.

Montgomery also told Collider about an insane “25-page scene” with Millie Bobby Brown and some of the other kids  that director Shawn Levy shot over four days. “It apparently felt like a closed set because the location was so contained, the crew so small, and the scene so intense,” Collider report.

Will the whole cast return for Stranger Things 3?

The main cast of Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) and Will (Noah Schnapp) will all return, as will a lot of the supporting cast: Winona Ryder (Joyce), David Harbour (Hopper), Natalia Dyer (Nancy), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan), Joe Keery (Steve) and Sadie Sink (Max),

Beyond Season 3? That’s where it gets tricky. If you hadn’t noticed, the kids are pretty much everywhere right now – from talk shows to playing guitar on stage with Mac DeMarco. So as the kids turn into teens, there’s likely to be some kind of ambition beyond the Stranger Things comfort blanket for the precocious cast. There could be scheduling conflicts in the future.

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this right here… is my person 4eva ❤️

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Will Kali return for Season 3?

Linnea Berthelsen (who played Kali/Eight in Season 2) told NME that she “doesn’t know yet” if she will return for Season 3, but would “love to,” if asked. “I have no idea. I’m really a big fan of Matt and Ross, who create the show, and I just really want to see what they do with this storyline,” she said. “If they’re gonna bring Kali back, I have no idea. I think we should just be excited for the show, for season 3, and see what they’re gonna bring.”

The Duffer Brothers seem keen for her to return though. “I would say chances are very high she comes back” Matt told an audience at Vulture Festival LA in November 2017.

Will Season 3 feature more of Erica?

One person we know we will definitely be seeing more of is Lucas’ younger sister Erica, who stole the show in season two. “I love Erica,” Matt Duffer told Yahoo!. “Erica wasn’t even supposed to be in [season two] as much as she was. We fell in love with this girl.”

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer added. “That is the fun thing about the show — you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’ — that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

Priah Ferguson, who plays the character, seems well up for it, too. “I hope Erica could partner with Lucas and fight off the Demogorgan with Eleven, Mad Max, and the whole cast,” she told Teen Vogue. “I feel like her just snooping around in Lucas’s room – I feel like that’s a little bit of a clue. But maybe not.”

Any new characters being introduced for Stranger Things 3?

Yes! That Hashtag Show recently announced that there will be at least three new characters in the show for season three – here’s a bit of casting info on them:

“Mayor Larry Kline: Described as a classic, 80’s style slick politician, Kline is described as pathetic and driven only by his own interests. The studio is looking for a male, 40s-60s, to fill the role.

Bruce: A morally compromised news reporter in his 50s, Bruce was described as outwardly sexist, overweight and bedraggled.

Patricia Brown: Patricia seems to be filing the role of the sweet, neighborhood elder. The studio is looking for a woman in her 70s for the role which will see her spending a lot of time tending to her garden and offering her advice to the neighborhood kids.”

An additional new character by the name of Robin, who Netflix described as “an “alternative girl” (yes, that is her actual character description), will be played by Maya Thurman-Hawke.

Another potential spoiler may be in the revealing of a new villain via IMDB – in the form of Soviet Russia. One IMDB member noticed a series of new casting information which read “Russian solider”, “Russian Officer” and “Russian Goon” although these were eventually changed to remove “Russian.” There is growing speculation about the roles and how these will impact on the plot.

Yep. Cary Elwes and Jake Busey will join for Season 3: Princess Bride star Elwes will play Mayor Kline, while Starship Troopers‘ Busey will portray Bruce.

Busey spoke more about his character in an interview with SyFy. “I play one of these filthy, rotten journalist-types!” he joked. “Nah, I’m a local journalist with a sick sense of humour. They had to add an element [of humour] to the show, so it’s a new angle.”

How many more seasons of Stranger Things will there be?

Gaten Matarazzo has teased how long Stranger Things could last in a new interview with The Telegraaf. He said: “I know that [with] Matt and Ross, their goal is not to go as many seasons as possible…It’s to go until they finish their story, and I’ve heard the magic number is either four or five. We just finished up three – three is not the last one planned.”

On November 19, during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Millie Bobby Brown hinted that Season 3 will not be the last season. Colbert asked the actress if the photos the she shared of herself crying after Season 3 wrapped meant that her character, Eleven, is killed off.

She responded: “No! I’m just a very emotional person. When it comes to my closest people, like, I’m not good at goodbyes.” Brown then reiterated that the photos were taken on the last day of the season’s filming. “Of the season, not the show,” she emphasised, “The season.”

Judging by the comments by the Duffer Brothers to Vulture, they’re “thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out”. So as Season 3 progresses, we’re likely to see some kind of end-game for the show starting to rear its head.

Will there be any Stranger Things spin-off shows?

Stranger things have happened, but speaking to NMELinnea Berthelsen – who plays Kali, AKA Eight – doesn’t think that the Season 2 episode ‘The Lost Sister’ is a set-up for a spin-off show.

“I don’t think so,” she admitted. “I love the rest of the gang, I think it would be so much fun to see more of them, but I honestly don’t think so.”