All good things must come to an end—even Stranger Things. The hit Netflix sci-fi thriller, which first arrived in the summer of 2016, will conclude with its fifth season, which has no release date yet. The show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, announced the news with a bittersweet letter to fans on Feb. 17.
“Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things,” they wrote. “At the time, we predicted the story would last four to five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four, but—as you’ll soon see for yourselves—we are now hurtling toward our finale. Season 4 will be the penultimate season; season 5 will be the last.”
With Stranger Things’ season 4 now in the books (with quite the jam-packed finale), the wait for the next and final chapter is on. Here’s what we know so far.
When will Stranger Things 5 be released?
It’s too early to say, but we can look to past seasons for reference. As the Duffers say in their letter, it took almost two years to create the fourth season, which was released in two parts, on May 27 and July 1. While filming ST4 during the height of the pandemic and lockdown surely involved its own delays, producing a massive finale season will likely require a long wait, too. The earliest we can expect to see ST5 is likely late 2023, if not well into 2024.
David Harbour all but confirmed this theory. “I think we’ll [shoot] next year. They’re finishing writing it this year, and they need to prep and stuff, so hopefully it’ll be this year,” he told GQ. “But I think that’s the plan. So it’d probably come out mid-2024, based on our track record.”
What will the final season be about?
How do you sum up this epic story, one that transcends dimensions and stretches far beyond the borders of Hawkins, Indiana? The Duffers have a plan; we’re just not privy to it yet. We do know one thing, though: Expect tears.
“We do have an outline for season 5 and we pitched it to Netflix and they really responded well to it,” Ross Duffer told The Wrap in May 2022. “I mean, it was hard. It’s the end of the story. I saw executives crying who I’ve never seen cry before and it was wild.”
Actor David Harbour, who plays Hopper, had previously confirmed to Variety that he’d learned the season 5 ending and thought it “quite moving and quite beautiful.”
In the Duffer Brothers’ February letter to fans, they added, “There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things; new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes.” Might that mean a spin-off in the future? “But first we hope that you stay with us as we finish this tale of a powerful girl named Eleven and her brave friends, of a broken police chief and a ferocious mom, of a small town called Hawkins and an alternate dimension called the Upside Down. As always, we are gracious for your patience and your support.”
The showrunning duo also confirmed there would be no “reset” going into season 5. Matt Duffer told Empire, “Usually at the end of a season, we tie things up with a nice bow, before a little tease that says, ‘Hold on, something is unraveling.’ As we move into season 5, we won’t have to do that. There won’t be a reset from where we finish this season [season 4].” And the Duffers kept their word: Season 4 ends with a cliffhanger, as the Hawkins crew prepares for one last battle with the Upside Down.
Finally, we can expect Will Byers to finally come out of the closet. As actor Noah Schnapp confirmed to Variety, “it’s 100% clear that he is gay and he does love Mike,” later adding, “There’s so many different things they have to address. Obviously, we hope for a coming out scene, and I also want to see them address this connection to the Mind Flayer and how that fits into the world. And I’ve always been wondering, why was Will the first victim and the first one captured?”
Vecna also isn’t necessarily gone for good. Jamie Campbell Bower told NME, “I don’t think he’s slunk off licking his wounds in misery. He’s rebuilding, and he’s out for blood.” So that he could stronger than ever in season 5.
How many episodes will there be?
The Stranger Things writers hinted that there’ll be eight episodes when they tweeted a photo of a whiteboard separated into eight columns, each numbered from episode 1-8.
They later tweeted the first page of the script for season 5, episode 1 on Nov. 6. It’s titled “Chapter 1: The Crawl.”
The episodes will probably be shorter than season 4’s super-sized ones—except for the finale.
“The only reason we don’t expect to be as long is, this season [season 4], if you look at it, it’s almost a two-hour ramp up before our kids really get drawn into a supernatural mystery. You get to know them, you get to see them in their lives, they’re struggling with adapting to high school and so forth, Steve’s trying to find a date, all of that. None of that is obviously going to be occurring [in season 5],” Matt Duffer said on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, per Deadline. When it comes to the series finale, “We’re more likely to do what we did here, which is to just have a 2.5 hour episode,” he added.
When will season 5 be set?
Probably not immediately after the events in season 4, if that’s what you’re expecting. Ross Duffer told TVLine, “I’m sure we will do a time jump.” Which makes sense, given how quickly our lead actors are growing up. “Ideally, we’d have shot [seasons 4 and 5] back to back,” Ross added, “but there was just no feasible way to do that.”
He continued that “these are all discussions we’re going to have with our writers when we start the room up,” meaning the season was not yet completely written by the time of the June 7 interview. The wait is on!
Is Stranger Things season 5 filming yet?
Not yet, but we’ll get there eventually. The writers tweeted on Aug. 2 marking day one of the season 5 writers’ room, which means we have a bit to go before cameras start rolling. Still, the small update got fans excited.
Will there be a Stranger Things spin-off?
Yes. We just don’t know what it will be about yet. (Though Finn Wolfhard has apparently already figured it out.)
“There’s a version of it developing in parallel [to season 5], but they would never shoot it parallel,” Ross Duffer told Variety. “I think actually we’re going to start delving into that soon as we’re winding down and finishing these visual effects, Matt and I are going to start getting into it.”
Matt Duffer added, “It’s going to be different than what anyone is expecting, including Netflix.” Intriguing indeed.
Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, TV, books and fashion.