Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 2 Easter Eggs That Slipped By You

If it wasn't obvious, this article contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4.

The epic fourth season of "Stranger Things" has come to a close and we are still processing the countless Easter eggs, references, and call-backs throughout one of Netflix's most popular series ever. Whether it's paying homage to classic horror films or finally giving fans the much-needed explanations for everything that's happened since the beginning, the Duffer brothers' latest installment reaches new heights. By the end, it also reaches new depths with the Upside Down merging with the real world in the season's ominous final scene.

The latest volume of "Stranger Things" finally reveals that the true villain was, in fact, Vecna, aka One, aka Henry all along. When Eleven infiltrates Max's psyche to get to Vecna, she is ultimately overpowered and imprisoned in his mindscape where he forces her to watch as he executes his master plan. As Vecna details his origin story, we discover that he's the mastermind behind everything that's happened since the beginning — the creation of the Mind Flayer, the army of Demogorgons, and the Spider Monster that stole Eleven's powers. Given that Season 5 isn't expected until 2024 (via GQ), fans are left wanting much more. So, we dove deep into Vol. 2 of "Stranger Things" Season 4 to find every Easter egg that might have slipped by you.

Horror inspirations

It's no secret that the creators of "Stranger Things" love to pay respect to horror classics with the numerous references they sprinkle throughout the series, and Season 4 is no different. At one point, Joyce and Hopper come across a Russian lab of tanks filled with Demogorgons for experimentation, and the scene is almost identical to one in "Alien: Resurrection" — a 1997 movie that, just like "Stranger Things," co-stars Winona Ryder. However, the Duffer brothers didn't stop there. There are several other nods to the "Alien" film franchise throughout the season, such as Paul Reiser's use of the word "kiddo." Burke, Reiser's character in "Aliens," also makes frequent use of the patronizing nickname. Additionally, the style in which a demodog chases Hopper through the hallways of the Russian prison is reminiscent of the many scenes in which Xenomorphs chase characters through prison hallways in "Alien 3."

Moving on to the "Halloween" franchise, Max and Eddie both don replicas of the infamous Michael Myers mask, and the writers managed to reference John Carpenter's slasher classic in Vecna's death as well. Following their attack on the Upside Down from multiple vantage points, the gang manages to weaken Vecna enough to take him out with a shotgun. However, when they go to look at where his body would have landed, it's gone, quite a bit like what happens after Michael Myers gets repeatedly shot in the first "Halloween" film from 1978.

References to the Stephen King horror classic, "Carrie" appear throughout the season as well, like when El gets bullied in front of her whole school and when Max's happy memory of the Winter Ball is ruined by blood-filled balloons. The Duffer brothers have confirmed that when planning this season, they focused a lot on "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Hellraiser" and the "It" miniseries. They also said they modeled Vecna after Pinhead from "Hellraiser." And, of course, Robert Englund plays Henry's father, Victor Creel, which means Vecna's dad is pretty much Freddy Krueger. 

Eddie Munson is based off a real crime case

When speaking with Netflix's Tudum, the Duffer brothers hinted at the fact that Eddie Munson is inspired by a specific person who was a Dungeons & Dragons fanatic and metalhead just like Eddie. A tweet from Netflix Geeked confirmed that Eddie Munson is loosely based on West Memphis Three member Damien Echols. A writer and artist these days, Echols was one of three teenagers convicted (under highly dubious circumstances) of the 1993 murders of Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, in what the media considered at the time to be satanic rituals.

Echols had a tendency for dressing in black and listening to heavy metal, which led the community to ostracize him and believe he conducted spiritual practices with ties to witchcraft and satanism. "Something we really wanted to get into this year was the Satanic Panic," Ross Duffer shared. The term "Satanic Panic" refers to a period in the '80s and '90s when society began blaming its various ills on the influence of heavy metal music and fantastical imagery from escapist entertainment like Dungeons & Dragons. Advocates of the Satanic Panic were specifically concerned about supposed satanists harming or "sacrificing" small children. 

The West Memphis Three were released from prison in 2011. Echols went on to become a New York Times bestselling author and produced a documentary about his experience. When describing the character of Eddie, Matt Duffer said, "What's sad about his narrative is that the people who get to know him love him, and the people who don't have judged him horribly." #JusticeForEddie

Hopper the barbarian

Those final two episodes of Vol. 2 are extremely action packed, but did you notice a familiar weapon amid all of the chaos? As revealed by David Harbour on his personal Instagram page, the sword used by Hopper to slay the Demogorgon in the final episode is actually the same Atlantean sword famously used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the "Conan the Barbarian" films. Harbour describes the prop as both "heavy as hell" and "a tremendous honor to wield."

Fans also pointed out some foreshadowing to this epic sword battle that came in the first episode of Season 4. When we get a glimpse of Mike's bedroom, a poster for "Conan the Barbarian" can be seen hanging on his wall. This tiny Easter egg probably wouldn't have meant anything to you prior to the finale episode with Hopper. Schwarzenegger himself actually admitted to still owning the legendary sword and keeping it in his office. When asked if he still had the sword back in 2010, the actor and onetime Governor of California confirmed that he, in fact, did.

The most metal concert in the history of the world

Eddie plays a vital role in the final moments of the fight with Vecna by sacrificing himself for the greater good. In what might not literally be "the most metal concert in the history of the world" but is definitely the most metal concert in the history of the Upside Down, Eddie shreds to Metallica in order to distract the Demobats.

The song Eddie performs, "Master of Puppets," is of clear significance. Given the way Vecna tends to toy with his victims by forcing them to relive their worst fears and traumas, Vecna is basically a metaphorical master of puppets. Metallica actually reposted the clip on their Instagram page, praising the show for how well they incorporated the song. They admit to being "totally blown away" by the final product, even revealing that "some folks were able to guess the song just by seeing a few seconds of Joseph Quinn's hands in the trailer." Eddie's fate sadly seemed to be written in stone from his first appearance. If you look closely at Eddie's arms, you'll see a tattoo of bats as well as another tattoo of a hand controlling a puppet on strings — direct connections to the circumstances of his inevitable death.

The Duffers strike back

The Duffer brothers sat down with Collider and revealed that they have taken a lot of inspiration from the "Star Wars" franchise. "We always have wanted to do an 'Empire Strikes Back' ending," said Matt Duffer. "We tried to do [that] with [Season 4]. Where it's the sense of loss." "Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back" is known for its shocking ending where the bad guys more-or-less prevail. Sadly, Vecna likewise kind of prevails when the Upside Down leaks into the real world of Hawkins, Indiana.

There's also a similarity between Eleven and Luke Skywalker — both characters abandon extensive training sessions against their mentors' wishes in order to help their friends. In Luke's case, his decision leads to the loss of his hand and Han Solo being taken prisoner; in Eleven's, her attempt to intervene in Vecna's plan leads to Max's coma, blinding, and possible paralysis. But one must not overlook the moment when Murray utters one of the most famous lines from the entire "Star Wars" franchise: "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Pulp Fiction

We might be stretching here, but from what we can tell, there are a few possible references to the Quentin Tarantino classic "Pulp Fiction" throughout Season 4 of "Stranger Things." Maya Hawke, who plays Robin, is the daughter of Uma Thurman, who famously played mob wife Mia Wallace. At one point shortly after Steve, Robin, and Nancy all narrowly escape Vecna's grasp, Robin says "I don't believe in a higher power or divine intervention. But that was a miracle." It could be a coincidence, but that line sounds a lot like what Jules Winnfield says to Vincent Vega shortly after a hail of bullets shot at point-blank range misses both of them entirely.  

The possible "Pulp" references don't stop there. In Episode 6, the gang finally gets ahold of Eddie, who is on the run after people begin to believe he is responsible for killing the kids around town. When they ask if he's okay, he responds, "Pretty goddamn far from okay." At one point in "Pulp Fiction" Marsellus Wallace responds to the same question with "Pretty f***ing far from okay."

Although, since "Pulp Fiction" is a '90s movie and not from the '80s, maybe this is all in our heads. 

Back to the Future

There are tons of references to the classic Michael J. Fox '80's movie throughout "Stranger Things," specifically during Season 3. However, the show might be indicating that it is not finished with time travel as a plot device. In Season 4, viewers learn that Henry Creel despises the social construct of time, believing he was always destined to transcend his human form and rise above the mediocrity of hours and minutes and years. To this effect, his victims always come in contact with a grandfather clock when they are under his hypnosis and about to die.

Following the fight against Vecna, the Upside Down quite literally begins to seep into the real world. There are four cracks that meet in the center of Hawkins and open a portal to the other dimension, converging right in front of a clock tower. This clearly isn't a coincidence considering Vecna's fixation on clocks and time. In "Back to the Future," the clock tower is pivotal in Marty and Doc's ability to travel back to their own time period. Could the Duffer brothers be giving a shout-out to the era-defining '80s cinematic adventure once again? This scene also causes us to wonder if the final season of "Stranger Things" will rely on time travel. Given that Vecna is able to show Nancy the exact fate of Hawkins before it happens implies that Eleven may be able to access different time periods as well.

Tom Cruise

There's no denying that Tom Cruise was an '80s heartthrob following his roles in "Risky Business" and "Top Gun." It's safe to say that Cruise had a dedicated fan base back in the day, and Nancy Wheeler was most definitely a member. Not only does Nancy have a Tom Cruise poster stuck on her wall as of the very first season and mentions him on several occasions — her and Steve actually dress up as "Risky Business" characters for Halloween back in Season 2. Robin briefly teases Nancy about her poster in Season 4, which hangs in the exact same spot as it does in Season 1. A Reddit user also pointed out the visual similarities between Steve from "Stranger Things" and Steve from "The Outsiders," played by Cruise. Clearly Nancy has a type ... and we can't blame her.

When the gang gets together to plan their attack on Vecna, they decide to stock up on weapons at a store called The War Zone. When Eddie points out an advertisement for the place, we see the company's logo takes clear inspiration from the "Top Gun" logo. Mason Dye, who portrays the unhinged jock Jason, did an interview with the "Steve Varley Show" and explained that Tom Cruise was the main inspiration behind his character. "I sat down with the Duffer brothers and [producer] Shawn Levy and they were like, 'Okay, Jason is just Tom Cruise from his '80s movies.' So I just went back and watched 'Risky Business,' 'Top Gun,' like all his '80s movies a week prior to filming."

The number four

In the final episodes of the season, viewers learn that there is a large significance surrounding the number four. Not only does a clock chime four times whenever Vecna is about to claim another victim, but he also requires exactly four victims to enact his plan. In order for the Upside Down to break through to the regular dimension, Vecna needs to create four portals, which ultimately results in the four cracks seen in the final scenes of the season. While all of this is explicitly explained throughout the series, there are some additional references that aren't as noticeable.

The main characters are all split into four distinct groups — the Hellfire gang in Hawkins, El and Papa in the training facility, Hopper and Joyce in Russia, and Will and co. in California — making this the first season where characters fight the main antagonist simultaneously from different locations across the globe and other sides of the dimensional barrier. If you were so inclined, you could theorize that the importance of the number four could relate to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but we can only hope more explanations unfold next season.

Subtle and unsubtle references

One of the best parts about "Stranger Things" is dissecting the countless Easter eggs and background details scattered throughout. For example, while the Hawkins group scrambles to find music to bring Nancy back from Vecna's mindscape, we catch a glimpse of Eddie's bedroom. If you look closely, his walls are packed with posters from various heavy metal bands ranging from Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Massacre, Judas Priest, Slayer, and Kreator; proving he is a true metalhead. 

An example of subtle symbolism occurs during the moments of Brenner's death in the desert. As the camera pans over him, he can be seen in a crucifix pose, most likely mirroring the Christ-like way in which he viewed himself. However, the camera then flips the image upside down in order to evoke the evil that Brenner truly created by bringing Vecna into this world.

When the Hawkins kids go to The War Zone to stock up on weapons, they quickly pass by a bulletin board covered with Wanted posters for all the members of the Hellfire Club, showing that most of the town has succumbed to satanic panic by this point. During this same visit, Robin catches a glimpse of her school crush Vickie, who is sadly getting cozy with some guy. Meanwhile, there are uncanny similarities between Vickie's wardrobe and the look of Molly Ringwald's character in "Sixteen Candles," which would have been released about three years earlier, implying that Vickie is a John Hughes fan.