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Stranger Things Season 5 Cast, Showrunners, Possible Plotlines And More Details

Fans the world over are preparing themselves for one last hurrah with their favorite Hawkins heroes as the hit Netflix series "Stranger Things" will come to a close with its fifth and final season. The show follows a group of kids and adults in a small American town during the 1980s who get entangled in an ever-expanding series of mysterious supernatural events. With each passing season, audiences have witnessed not only the rising stakes of these threats, but they”ve also grown to love the cast of insatiably wonderful characters. From single-season fan-favorites such as Alexei or Eddie to beloved mainstays such as Chief Jim Hopper or Eleven, the rich characters are what keep us coming back. 

This couldn't be any more obvious than with the show's most recent two-parter fourth season, which brought in record numbers for the streamer by breaking over a billion hours watched. With the critically acclaimed season having ended on a massive cliffhanger, the fifth is shaping up to be another major television event. What can fans expect from the upcoming episodes? Are any newcomers joining the cast? When will it be released? Well, go ahead and heat up a box of Eggo waffles as we dissect everything we know so far about "Stranger Things" Season 5. 

When will Stranger Things Season 5 be released?

Needless to say, we've been waiting a while to see "Stranger Things" Season 5. The series was supposed to start filming earlier in 2023, but the combined forces of the writers' strike and the actors' strike put the series on hold. However, now that the strikes are over, Netflix is putting the pedal to the metal, with filming beginning in January 2024. 

Speaking on the show's progress, Millie Bobby Brown went onto "The Jonathan Ross Show" in March 2024 and said they would be shooting for nine months. In other words, the series will most likely wrap in December, and then we're headed back to Hawkins sometime in 2025. Most previous seasons have hit Netflix around July, so we can probably expect a late spring or summer release here. 

When the show does return, it will reportedly consist of eight episodes, and Matt Duffer told Collider, "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." However, he's also implied the final episode might be pretty massive, telling the Happy Sad Confused podcast, "It's going to be 'Return of the King'-ish with, like, eight endings." Executive producer Shawn Levy has also said as much, telling Total Film magazine (via Variety), "It's major, major cinematic storytelling that happens to be called a TV series. 'Stranger Things 5' is as big as any of the biggest movies that we see."

What is the plot of Stranger Things Season 5?

"Stranger Things" Season 4 ends on a pretty massive cliffhanger where the Upside Down finally breaches the town of Hawkins. With the fifth season intended to be the last, it seems we're going to settle in for the grand showdown between Eleven, her band of friends, and the deadly forces of the Upside Down. 

Series creators the Duffer brothers, who already have the plot and finale outlined, expect "Stranger Things 5" to have a time jump, likely due to the once-child actors aging so rapidly. "I'm sure we will do a time jump," said co-creator Ross Duffer in a 2022 interview with TVLine. "Ideally, we'd have shot [Seasons 4 and 5] back to back, but there was just no feasible way to do that." 

The two have also said we'll learn more about the origins of Henry Creel, aka Vecna, in Season 5, telling Deadline, "It's something we will get into in Season 5. What happened to that program once Henry became involved and how [Dr.] Brenner evolved it into including multiple kids. We're going to go back and see some of that in Season 5."

Plus, we know for a fact what the first episode will be titled. On "Stranger Things" Day, the show's official Twitter account shared the cover page for the premiere script, which proudly boasts the title of "The Crawl." According to TVLine, some fans think this is a reference to a "Dungeons and Dragons" scenario, where players have to go on a "dungeon crawl" and navigate their way through a massive, labyrinth-like area while fighting evil creatures and trying to figure out puzzles. Sounds exactly like the kind of situation our "Stranger Things" heroes might find themselves in when Season 5 hits Netflix.

Who is starring in Stranger Things Season 5?

Needless to say, you can expect "Stranger Things" Season 5 to focus on the series' mainstays, a la Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), and Chief Hopper (David Harbour), among others. In fact, Matt Duffer told The Guardian that we should expect the season to spend a lot of time focused on the core characters. As the showrunner explained, "This season — it's like Season 1 on steroids. It's the biggest it's ever been in terms of scale, but it has been really fun, because everyone's back together in Hawkins: The boys and Eleven interacting more in line with how it was in Season 1."

Of course, while we'll see familiar faces likes Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, and Brett Gelman as Murry Bauman, we'll also see a few new characters as well. And one of them is going to absolutely rock. In the grand "Stranger Things" tradition of hiring '80s actors — a la Robert Englund and Sean Astin — Season 5 will be bringing in Linda Hamilton of "Terminator" fame. We don't know who she'll be playing at this point, but if a killer robot happens to show up, we know the "Stranger Things" kids will be safe with Sarah Connor around.

Who are the showrunners of Stranger Things Season 5?

"Stranger Things" is famously the brainchild of Matt and Ross Duffer. The brothers brought the show to life back in 2016, and they've been shepherding the sci-fi series along ever since. Now that the show is wrapping up, it's clear the brothers have big plans for the finale, although they're actually looking back to the past for a little inspiration.

While working on Season 2, the Duffers came up with a ton of ideas that didn't actually make it to the screen. Now, they're considering some of their discarded concepts and hoping to bring them back for the fifth season. "For Season 5," Ross Duffer said at WGFestival 2022, "we're pulling from a lot of those big Season 2 ideas. ... A lot of our big ending stuff has pulled from stuff that we thought was going to be in Season 2."

They've also both emphasized this season will heavily focus on the core gang of characters, and they're feeling the pressure of getting things right, with Ross Duffer saying, "You want to make sure that those arcs for everyone feels complete. So, it's quite a bit of work to do to just get all of those arcs working in conjunction with the narrative."

Who is directing Stranger Things Season 5?

Chances are good that in addition to serving as showrunners, the Duffer brothers will direct a handful of episodes. They've helmed installments in each season, and we're willing to bet they'll oversee both the opening and final episodes of Season 5, based on their prior work. We'd also assume that Shawn Levy will be involved as well. The "Free Guy" director has overseen multiple episodes so far, and even though he's busy with "Deadpool 3" at the moment, he's expressed great interest in returning to the Netflix series.

"It is really important to me to direct at least one episode in the last season," Levy told Collider in December 2022. "Part of why I feel so close to the Duffers and our cast is that I've been lucky to be involved directorially, which is a unique connection and creative intimacy. Anyway, it's very much my intention to direct at least one episode of 'Stranger Things 5,' and everyone involved is being really supportive and collaborative in figuring out the scheduling aspects of how I can do that."

At one point, it also seemed that Dan Trachtenberg of "Prey" and "10 Cloverfield Lane" would helm an episode. His involvement was announced in June 2023, but in December of that year, Hollywood insider Jeff Sneider reported that Trachtenberg was no longer involved. That hasn't been officially confirmed, but Sneider also reported another juicy directing detail. In his newsletter "The InSneider," he wrote Frank Darabont of "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Mist" could very possibly handle two episodes of "Stranger Things" Season 5.

What should you rewatch before Stranger Things Season 5?

"Stranger Things" Season 5 has a whole lot of loose threads to tie up. In fact, there are so many character arcs that need completing and storylines that need resolving that Season 5 might be confusing if you haven't rewatched the series recently. So it might be wise to head back to the very first episode and give the show another go. However, if you only have time to rewatch one previous season, you might want to check out Season 2.

Why's that? Well, when a fan mentioned their love for Season 2 on Twitter, the "Stranger Things" writers room account tweeted back with something very interesting: "I do think Season 2 is consistently underrated. Highly recommend a rewatch before Season 5..." That's incredibly intriguing. It looks like something that happened way back in Season 2 will have a major impact on the show's conclusion. Does it have something to do with Max since that's the season where she first showed up? Could we see the return of Kali Prasad (Linnea Berthelsen), El's psychic "sister?" Or perhaps it has something to do with Will Byers?

Season 2 was a big one for Will, as he was haunted by visions of the Upside Down before getting possessed by the Mind Flayer. Will his Season 2 trials and tribulations pay off here? Well, we know Noah Schnapp's character will be a major player, as he told Us Weekly, "There will definitely be another center point for Will in Season 5, and I think it's really exciting, and I'm definitely so excited to see what [the Duffer brothers] have in store. ... I think the story opened and started with Will, and I think ending it with him and circling back on that is a nice way for them to wrap it up."

Where to watch Stranger Things

Certain shows are basically ambassadors for the streaming sites and networks they call home. "Game of Thrones" and HBO are synonymous, "Grey's Anatomy" goes hand in hand with ABC, and when you think about the host of shows from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you automatically think of Disney+. The same is true for "Stranger Things" — it's without a doubt the most famous and most popular series that Netflix has ever produced. So if you want to go back and watch the adventures of Eleven, Hopper, Dustin, and Steve, you can check out all four previous seasons on Netflix.