The fifth and final season of Netflix’s uber-hit, Stranger Things, is filming.
Naturally, that leads us to wonder what will happen next. Will Eleven get back to her waffle-eating ways? Does Will finally get a new haircut? And what about Enzo’s? What about Surfer Boy Pizza? WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PIZZAS??
While everyone else is out there spinning their wheels, I’ve uncovered a cheat code that lets me see just how things will go down.
As a show steeped in and essentially founded upon ‘80s pop culture references, I’m looking to the source code to find the answers. In order to find out what will happen in the future, we can simply look to the past.
Looking back to the movies of the 1980s, we might be able to predict some possible endings for Stranger Things’ final hurrah. Here’s what could happen based on ‘80s movies.
The E.T. version: Mike brings El back to life
In 1982’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, a child and an intergalactic alien share a psychic bond. After phoning home, E.T. comes down with a strange illness, as does his friend, Elliot. Yet E.T. appears to die (one of those spoilers I warned you about — 40 years seems like enough time though), while Elliot recovers.
After a tearful goodbye from Elliot, E.T.’s heart suddenly begins to glow, and bada bing, bada boom — back in business, baby!
If E.T. is to serve as inspiration for the Duffer Brothers, which surely it does on some level already, we’ll see Mike bring his supernatural girlfriend back from the brink of death.
The last two seasons have tested Eleven and Mike’s connection, but they clearly have a strong bond. In season 5 perhaps we’ll see this bond strengthen and become more telepathic, ala Elliot + E.T. Maybe El is even giving Mike a little bit of her power without realizing it.
I could see El making an ultimate sacrifice to defeat 001/Vecna. But hold up — she ain’t dead yet! A loving embrace from Mikein and that power she passed on is activated. Bada bing, bada boom — back in business, baby!
The Monster Squad version: Vecna and the Demogorgons are banished in limbo forever
The Duffers pretty clearly took some inspiration from this 1987 underrated black comedy/horror movie that I probably shouldn’t have seen when I was six.
The Monster Squad is a classic ‘80s tale of kids who discover the world is in danger, adults brush it off, and said kids have to save everyone by them damn selves.
It all centers on an amulet, one which contains a buttload of goodness. But about once a century, that amulet becomes vulnerable to destruction. So, lots of monsters want to destroy it when it’s vulnerable. There’s also some silliness involving a virgin having to say incantations, Van Helsing is somehow involved, and Frankenstein becomes a good guy (yeah yeah, Frankenstein’s monster, I know).
Finally, the kids are able to open a portal using the amulet and send all the bad monsters into limbo.
In Stranger Things, there’s already the concept of the portal and the desire for evil to take over good. That’s established. But what if to defeat Vecna, the kids stumble across something in one of their D&D books — oh, I don’t know, say an amulet of some kind?
I don’t know enough Dungeons & Dragons to name which amulet, because an Amulet of Health just ain’t gonna cut it here. But surely there’s one out there that gives Eleven extra powers, giving her that added strength so she can open up the Upside Down one last time, banishing Vecna/001 along with every Demogorgon and demi-beast to limbo forever.
And at the end, the adults will say something like, “Seems like you guys had a fun Halloween!”
The Robocop version: Max becomes a cyborg
Look, I didn’t say all of these predictions were good, I just said they’re based on ‘80s movies. And considering the Duffer bros grew up in roughly the same timeframe I did, I’m sure they saw the ultraviolent but ultra-badass cyberpunk/cop movie/stop motion blockbuster that is Robocop.
In case you didn’t catch it, that’s a portmanteau of “robot” and “cop”. You’re welcome.
In this 1987 movie, future Detroit resembles, well, modern-day Detroit. Decent police officer Alex Murphy is in Detroit, and thus gets tortured and murdered — but comes back as a robot cop. Bada bing, bada boom!
Season 4 of Stranger Things left Max Mayfield, aka Kate Bush’s sugar momma, mutilated. And, like Alex Murphy, Max was even dead for a hot minute there.
Perfect time for someone from the government or someone who wants to take policing corporate to swoop in with some radical new technology that not only helps Max, but allows her to kick some demon booty.
The Return of the Jedi version: 001/Vecna banishes the darkness from his mind and closes the Upside Down
We saw in season 4 how 001 felt a certain kinship with Eleven, even if he did exploit her to set himself free and, you know, do really bad sh**.
Still, there’s something there — perhaps a presence 001 hasn’t felt since …
And yes, Return of the Jedi is an ‘80s movie. It may not feature any neon clothing or whacky moments with girls in bikinis, but the Ewoks are just as ‘80s as the Care Bears.
Which leads us to the pivotal moment when Anakin Skywalker finally breaks through Darth Vader’s darkness. As he witnesses his only son (we assume) writhing in pain while Emperor Palpatine basically licks his lips, he lifts his Sith master and throws him into the depths of the second Death Star, ensuring the Emperor is definitely, DEFINITELY, dead. For sure dead.
What if 001/Vecna somehow grows just a spark of a conscious? Maybe he sees Eleven writhing in pain, ala Luke Skywalker, and suddenly some level of empathy drives him to realize that he’s kind of a jerk.
He could then use his powers to close the Upside Down. But in doing so, he drains his own energy so much that he ultimately dies…
And then season 6 is announced and turns out he’s not dead and has a secret army of millions of Demogorgons standing by.
The Teen Wolf version: Eleven stops using her powers because they’re too dangerous
When a boy reaches a certain age, his body begins to go through changes. For 17-year-old Scott Howard, that means turning into a werewolf.
Turns out it runs in his family, and his dad, like any good parent, figured he’d wait to tell him about that whole thing until after it already started happening and Scott almost killed a bunch of people. Or at least just weirded them out.
The cool thing about being a werewolf is that Scott can do everything better in wolf form — surf on top of cars, flirt with girls, and especially play basketball.
But in the end (and at the urging of his crush), Scott decides that constantly transforming into a mythical creature is just too dangerous. Who knows when wolf instinct will take over and cause him to put on sunglasses inside?
And guess what? Turns out, he doesn’t need the wolf. He drains a winning free throw in human form.
I could see Eleven and crew following a similar arc. Perhaps they learn that their big plan for defeating 001/Vecna, aka using Eleven’s powers, will also destroy the entire town of Hawkins and kill everyone in it.
But what’s this? Eleven realizes she doesn’t need her powers to defeat 001. She can use the power of caring — or, you know, she picks up a machine gun and just shoots him or something.
And I don’t know how the Teen Wolf reboot plays out because I refuse to watch that trash.
The Goonies version: One of the Demorgorgons turns out to be good and helps defeat Vecna
While if you were to yell “Hey you guys!” with your best Sloth impression in public in 2022 it would likely be a bit problematic, The Goonies remains an iconic film that essentially defined the ‘80s.
A key piece of the movie comes with the friendship built between the lovable Chunk and the monster-ish Sloth. Hey, candy solves a lot of problems.
Turns out the monster is a friend and essentially saves the Goonies from getting murdered by criminals — who also happen to be Sloth’s abusive family. And yes, the plot is that criminals are literally trying to murder children.
Stranger Things is already heavily embedded in Goonies lore. Fairly or unfairly, you can’t have kids in the ‘80s riding bikes or doing anything together and not think about Goonies. It set the stage for Stranger Things to become what is is today.
So why not give it a shout-out in the final season?
Imagine this — the crew is in Mike’s basement, coming up with a plan. As they plan they munch on some Milky Ways and Snickers (product placement opportunity here, Duffers).
That’s when a Demogorgon suddenly appears. But instead of attacking, it seems merely curious, smelling the air. Dustin has a eureka moment, and cautiously holds out a candy bar to the creature, who snatches it, eats it, and starts making friendly noises.
Eleven discovers she can communicate with it telepathically, and bada bing bada boom — Demogorgon on the good side!
This would actually be pretty interesting, as the Demogorgons apparently already existed before Eleven blasted 001 into the Upside Down. We see as much in Nancy’s vision in season 4. So, maybe they aren’t just the puppets of Vecna — if they can break free from his mind control.
And how satisfying would it be to see 001 taken down with the help of his little pet?
I’m not the type to just go out and make predictions for upcoming movies, shows, or whatever. But I am pretty confident that we’ll see some kind of influence from ‘80s film in the final season of Stranger Things.
And if I’m right on any of these … well, at least I put it in writing first.
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