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Stranger Things' First Few Episodes Boosted Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set Sales By A Staggering 250%

"Stranger Things" can be seen as a time machine for a whole new generation. The hit Netflix sci-fi horror series sees a small American town be subject to numerous supernatural phenomenons as a collection of its child and adult residents investigate further. Not only does the show feature a cast of strong characters and ever-increasing stakes, but its colorful interpretation of 1980s pop culture has helped it stand out, both nostalgically for those who grew up in the era and as a fascinating window to a bygone time for newer generations. Whether its characters are jamming out to The Clash or Kate Bush or talking about films such as "Back to the Future" or "Ghostbusters," the show's heartfelt view of the era's pop culture is part of what gives the show so much of its special identity. 

But what happens when an essential part of 80s nerd culture becomes an integral part of the show's plot? This is the case with the game Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy table-top role-playing game, which is featured heavily throughout the series, often played by Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and his friends. Not only do we see the show's characters play the game, but several elements of the game have influenced the name of several of the show's antagonists and plots. Unsurprisingly, with the massive hit the show continues to be, the game would simultaneously see its popularity skyrocket. But even the most powerful Mind Flayer couldn't predict just how mainstream it would become. 

DnD isn't only for the nerds anymore

Dungeons and Dragons has not only been an integral part of "Stranger Things," but its obsession with the role-playing fantasy game has translated to its audience. Between the show's first and second seasons, DnD would rise up to 20% in popularity with searches according to Google Trends, as well as another 50% between its second and third seasons (via Daily Dot). The already increasing popularity of the game would get another boost when the show's fourth season was released between May and July 2022. In the season, as our heroes enter high school, a few of them join the DnD group, the Hellfire Club, run by fan-favorite character Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn). With this association alone, the game once again saw a great increase in searches. In fact, by the first half of the two-part season, searches for Dungeons and Dragons starter kits went up by 250%, while searches on how to play the game itself went up by 600% (via Fansided). 

While the game has never had an especially difficult time finding an audience, with its best year occurring during the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 (via GameDaily.biz), there's no denying that the Emmy-winning Netflix series has had an impact on the awareness and popularity of DnD in recent years. And with the upcoming fifth season shaping up to be another major television event, it's more than likely that the once "nerdy" game will receive another boost in mainstream popularity.