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The Notable Error Almost No One Noticed In Stranger Things 3

Contains slight spoilers for Stranger Things season 3

The Duffer Brothers' sci-fi series-turned-global phenomenon Stranger Things has made headlines for all kinds of reasons since it premiered on Netflix in 2016: grown men slipping on pink dresses and carrying boxes of Eggo waffles to go as Millie Bobby Brown's Eleven for Halloween, the show shattering viewership records on Netflix, fans losing their minds over the shocking twists and surprising deaths that occurred each season — the list goes on. 

Stranger Things season 3 continues to be the internet-breaker it's always been, but recently, the beloved series has become a cause célèbre for a different reason: the new season included a notable error that slipped right past most viewers' eyes. 

Don't fret too much, friends — we aren't diving deep into major Stranger Things season 3 spoilers, but we will touch on some general story points from here on out. You've been warned!

Extremely perceptive Stranger Things fans spotted a continuity error during the fifth episode of the third season, which hit Netflix on July 4. The episode, entitled "Chapter Five: The Flayed," sees Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Will (Noah Schnapp), and Max (Sadie Sink) head to the hospital where Nancy plans on visiting Doris Driscoll (Peggy Miley), a woman linked to the season's big supernatural threat. While Nancy is busy investigating, the teens hang out in the waiting room, where Eleven uses her psionic powers to short-circuit the hospital vending machine and give Mike and Lucas a ton of snacks to share. Trying to win Eleven back after he acted like a real jerk to her, Mike gives her a few M&M's as a peace offering. Included in the colorful handful of chocolate candies is a red one — a color of M&M that didn't exist in 1985 when Stranger Things season 3 takes place.

Those born in the time when red M&M's have always been a thing probably aren't aware of the fact that Mars Inc., the makers of the candy-shell-coated chocolates, actually discontinued that particular shade of M&M in the 1970s and didn't bring it back until 1987 — two years after the time Stranger Things' third season is set. 

The reason for the discontinuation was the "red dye scare," which came in 1976 after the Food and Drug Administration published a study linking Red Dye #2 and Red Dye #4 to cancer and ruled that red dyes were not safe for consumption. Though Mars used a different red food dye to make its red M&M's, the company nonetheless replaced the red color with orange shortly after the FDA made its ruling in efforts to ease the public's mind, avoid consumer confusion, and keep business booming. Eleven years later, red M&M's came back. 

So unless Mike has some kind of power we don't know about, there's no way the red M&M he gave Eleven could have existed in 1985... unless Hawkins Memorial Hospital hadn't restocked its vending machine in almost a decade. 

This goof-up isn't nearly as distracting as Game of Thrones' infamous coffee cup gaffe that happened during its long-awaited eighth and final season. That incident involved a paper coffee cup (believed to be from Starbucks but really from a local café in Northern Ireland where the series was shooting) making it into the final cut of a scene without anyone noticing. When fans spotted the cup — which wasn't hard to miss considering it was in plain sight — they set social media ablaze with hot takes on the mistake. Many criticized the Game of Thrones production team for missing the cup, while others could hardly believe a series with such a massive crew and an enormous budget were oblivious to a coffee cup sitting on a table... in a castle.. during an era where no one in the country was drinking coffee and paper cups had yet to be invented. Others were furious over the fact that they had waited a year and a half for Thrones season 8, only to be subjected to such an egregious error. 

Comparatively, this blip in Stranger Things is small potatoes. The series gets so much right about the 1980s — from the soundtrack to the attire to the lingo to references to Heathers, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, The NeverEnding Story, and more — so this one error is definitely outweighed by everything else. And though Netflix and the Stranger Things team have yet to address the mistake, M&M's themselves have offered their own explanation for it all: "Clearly, in 1985 Red M&M's were around.... in the Upside Down."