With Season 4 of Stranger Things dominating everything from song charts to streaming numbers, it’s fair to say that Netflix’s flagship series has outdone itself this year – but what’s next? 

Without dropping too many spoilers, Season 4’s split release culminated in an ending that shocked and devastated several viewers in ways similar to Thanos’ Avengers: Infinity War snap. In the very same fashion, writer-director duo Matt and Ross Duffer, AKA The Duffer Brothers, have big surprises in store for Season 5, aiming to subvert audiences with what will be the series’ final season. 

What Will Happen in Season 5? 

Will Byers Stranger Things 

While Season 4 pit the cast against some of the series’ deadliest threats, Millie Bobby Brown felt that the series needed some serious culling. 

“Last night [at the premiere], we couldn’t even take one group picture because there were like 50 of us. I was like, ‘You need to start killing people off.’ The Duffer brothers are two sensitive Sallies that don’t want to kill anyone off. We need to be Game of Thrones,” she said earlier this May. 

While Season 4 did result in a truly emotional death, it’s fair to see that the cast themselves feel like it’s time for the core crew to face mortal consequences for cheating death across four seasons – so perhaps not everyone will make it out of Season 5 unscathed. 

Another interesting thread to follow in Season 5 concerns a theory held close by the fanbase ever since Season 1 aired in 2016 – that Will Byers is in the closet. The 80s were a time of turmoil, oppression, and revolution for thousands of queer folk across America – and now as the series progresses, we’ve seen Will exhibit feelings of isolation and fear regarding his relationship with his sexuality. 

Whether it’s tearful conversations with his best friend Mike, quiet moments observing Mike’s relationship with Eleven, or references from other characters such as Joyce, Will’s underlying tension has several allegories across the show. After all, the boy goes toe to toe with several terrifying supernatural entities, and still finds it hard to be himself with his best friends – for good reason too. 

Hopefully, this builds towards an emotional reckoning for Will – which perhaps resonates through his connection to the Upside Down, and allows him to finally seal away the horrors that have plagued Hawkins for so long. 

This is even more likely, given that the Duffer Brothers aim to use a time skip for their final season – giving plenty of room for Will to shape his future, and be the one to bookend the series. 

How Long Will Season 5 Be? 

Stranger Things 

Curiously, the Stranger Things seasons have released in a pattern of sorts, with the first and third seasons having eight episodes each, while the second and fourth featured nine each. 

This means that most likely, Season 5 will be eight episodes long – a point which the creators have discussed themselves. 

There’s also a few changes in runtime. The Duffer Brothers played the long game with this year’s season, with some episodes going past the 90-minute mark. 

“We thought Season 4 was going to be eight [episodes], and they were going to be regular length,” said Matt Duffer to Collider. “So if you had interviewed us before four, that’s what I would’ve said. I think we’re aiming for eight again. We don’t want it to be 13 hours. We’re aiming for more like 10 hours or something. I think it’s going to be longer than Season 1 because we just have so much to wrap up, but I don’t think it’s going to be as long as Season 4.” 

He also added that because Season 4 ends with a clear, known threat, Season 5 will be paced considerably quicker. 

When Will Season 5 Release? 

Stranger Things 

Arguably the most important question of all, release date estimations are also the most unclear as of right now. 

Season 1 premiered on July 15, 2016. Season 2 released 15 months later on October 27, 2017. Season 3 followed up 20 months later on July 4, 2019, while Season 4 took the longest – a 35-month slog that was lengthened largely due to the pandemic.

The writers aim to take a little time off before beginning again. “We’re going to take a little vacation in July,” Ross Duffer added. “And then we’re going to come back. I know that the writer’s room is going to start in that first week of August.” 

Following the average wait time of two years, we’re likely to see the final season kick off in mid-2024.  

Plenty of time for a rewatch, huh?  

In the meantime, however, fans will be kept busy with a whole lotta’ theorizing, an in-the-works spinoff series, a theatre production, and even a new production house named Upside Down Pictures. With these resources, Netflix and the Duffer Brothers aim to release a new live-action adaptation of Death Note, and a Stephen King miniseries adaptation of The Talisman, co-created with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. 

(Featured Image Credits: Netflix)