Stranger Things 3 is coming, and it’s bringing with it some of Hawkins, Indiana’s best friendships.

Specifically, Steve and Dustin will continue to be a bromance for the ages, even as Steve gets a job at the new mall’s boat-themed ice cream shop and makes friends with new girl Robin (Maya Hawke). 

Gaten Matarazzo confirmed the return of the duo to EW, saying there will “definitely” be more of the two together, and that’s just one fun fact we’ve compiled about the upcoming season, which finds the whole gang enjoying their summer and preparing to start high school in the fall, with a brand new mall in town that looks like it might not be the safest place in the world. 

Creators Ross and Matt Duffer have described the third season as “unapologetically fun” as well as “horrifying” and “intense,” while David Harbour told us last year that it’s “awesome” and “risky,” so consider us both excited and afraid of what’s to come when July 4th arrives, along with the brand new season that we’ve been waiting for now for a year and a half. 

Below, you’ll find everything we currently know about the new season, from why we had to wait that long to the friendships we’re in for to the list of movies the season was inspired by. 

Now everybody, let’s go to the mall! Today!  



Why You Had to Wait

You won’t see Stranger Things season three until summer (July 4th, to be exact), a long wait after season two, which came out around Halloween 2017.

“The Duffer brothers and [EP] Shawn Levy have worked really hard,” Netflix’s Cindy Holland told press. “They understand that the stakes are high, they want to deliver something bigger and better than what they did last year, so they really want to take the time to get it right.”

“It’s going to be a fantastic season,” she continued. “It’s gonna be worth the wait.”

Holland also said that “nothing has changed with respect to Stranger Things. It’s a fantastic season, there are more special effects and I think it’s gonna be a really exciting season, but it just takes a little more time.”


Fun, Yet Horrifying

The Duffer Brothers said the new season will be a “wild mix of tones.” 

“We would say that this is our most unapologetically fun season,” Ross told EW. “Yet at the same time, it is also our most horrifying and intense season. It’s this wild mix of tones that we think really sets this season apart.”

David Harbour also used the words “awesome” and “risky” when he talked to us in 2018.

Expanding the World

David Harbour had some very curious things to say about how the show is using the ’80s and taking things in a new direction. 

“This season they just came up with this arc and this idea that’s so original and so new that and so fun,” he told us. “What I can tell you is this, like you see season one you see season two and we’re playing with the same alphabet of these ’80s epics, but we’re kinda throwing out the model again and sort of expanding these characters in ways that you wouldn’t expect them to go in, so that’s what I love about it, is that you have these characters in this show that is clearly working and yet the Duffers are continuously interested in exploring the limits and taking risks and we take a lot of risks this season so there’s a lot of new relationships that get set-up and a lot of new devices and a lot of new cinematic influences.” 

“There’s a lot of in the ’80s that we have yet to explore and I think we’re starting to play with a lot more of that stuff and so it’s risky,” he continued. “You’re not doing the same old thing where Gilligan is stuck on the island and you gotta figure a way out. Every season the characters get deeper and more rich and sillier and more fun and it just broadens. It’s a much broader season and I would say if you are interested in really thinking about what we could explore I would look at the movies in 1985 cause we are specific to our seasons and to our influences.” 



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Style Evolution

“Eleven’s style has escalated,” Millie Bobby Brown told E! News, referring to the “bitchin'” makeover her character got at the end of season two. “It’s the summer of love, which means definitely more romance between our lovely couple ‘Meleven.'” By “Meleven” she means Mike and Eleven, naturally.


New Faces

Maya Hawke will play Robin, Steve’s coworker at the ice cream place in the new mall in Hawkins. In addition to Hawke, the cast of season three will also include Jake Busey as a journalist named Bruce, and The Princess Bride veteran Cary Elwes as Mayor Kline.

The mall, specifically the ice cream show Scoops Ahoy, will play a big part in the series’ third season.


Meet Mayor Larry Kline

Cary Elwes, the iconic star of the ’80s classic The Princess Bride, plays Mayor Kline, a guy who really loves the new Starcourt Mall, where a lot of the action takes place this season. 

The mayor is described as a politician who is more focused on his own image than serving the people of Hawkins.

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Halfway There?

The Duffer Brothers are still waffling on exactly how long the series will go, but four seasons seems to be the idea so far.

“I think, you know, four to five seasons is likely where we’ll end up, but who knows?” Ross Duffer told us at the premiere. “I mean, none of this official, and we know where we want to go. We’re trying to figure out still how long it’ll take to get there, so we’ll see.”

Matt Duffer added, “It’s hard, like four seems short, five seems long. So I don’t know what to do.” 


Another Time-Jump

Season three starts the summer before high school, an extremely transitional time for any kid. 

“The kids are growing up,” Matt Duffer told us. “But it’s good, it makes the story evolve.” 

“We wanted to explore the theme of change,” Matt told EW. “The season takes place during the last summer before high school. The kids are growing up, and that transition is going to be messy and awkward and painful. Are they able to grow up without growing apart?”



Welcome to High School!

Get ready for high school, nerds. Yep, the kids will be entering high school in season three, as Matt confirmed on Beyond Stranger Things. (“We will be needing new teachers!” director Shawn Levy said.)

And fans can look to the final scene, set at the Snow Ball, for clues as to what’s ahead for our group of kids, according to the show’s costume designer, Kim Wilcox, who said their outfits are signs of  who they “might be becoming” in future seasons. 

“It’s a bunch of kids who are just on the cusp of becoming adults, it’s their first time at a lot of these things,” she told us. “There’s a little bit of awkwardness, but it was really fun to see where each boy’s personality might take us in the fitting, see what was right for them.”

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Wanted: Eleven

Though she eventually saved the day, Eleven’s big hero moment in the finale may come back to haunt her…as she seriously pissed off that monster.

 “This thing is very aware of Eleven,” Ross said during Beyond Stranger Things. “I would be worried about Eleven. You slammed the door on him.” Millie Bobby Brown simply exclaimed, “I’m screwed!”

Aside from dealing with monsters and closing gates, Eleven will also be facing—gulp!—being a teenage girl. “It’s a little bit of a complicated dilemma with everyone wanting her to live a somewhat regular life,” Matt said. “She’s becoming a teenager with increasingly intense powers. I could see a lot of things going not so well.”


The Shadow Monster’s Goal

The Duffer Brothers are still keeping the big bad’s ultimate goal a secret, but Matt did tell Vulture, “It’s implied that it wants to take over Hawkins, and continue to spread beyond that. In that way, it’s very much like a virus that could take over the whole planet.”

“Eleven closed the Gate, but the Mind Flayer is still alive in the Upside Down,” Matt Duffer told EW. “It will find another way into Hawkins.… It’s just a matter of time.”


More Numbers!

After meeting Kali (aka Eight), fans can expect to meet more of the children that were experimented on in future seasons. “I can’t imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight,” Levy told us at the premiere. “I think we’ve clearly implied there are other numbers.”

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More Billy!

Dacre Montgomery stole many scenes as Billy, Hawkins’ new resident bad boy and the show’s human villain. But he was actually supposed to have a “bigger role” in season two.

“We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything,” Matt revealed to Vulture. “There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three.”

As for that now-iconic cookie moment with Mrs. Wheeler? Everyone is hoping for a hook-up in season three. “I feel like the word needs that,” Levy said during Beyond Stranger Things.

“I think it’d be hot…Ted is not satisfying her,” Matt said, with Ross adding, “She’s lonely, if you notice she always has a glass of wine!”


More Erica!

Speaking of scene-stealers, let’s all take a moment to bow down to Erica, Lucas’ sassy little sister, played to perfection by Priah Ferguson. Originally, she was only supposed to appear in one scene, but after filming it, the Duffers kept finding ways to add Erica. 

“There is no version of season three where Erica doesn’t have a majorly expanded role!” Matt told Vulture. “She’s got to. She’s too good.”


Jopper FTW?

Is that Joyce and Hopper’s ‘ship name? Anyway, their chemistry will continue to be on display in future seasons, after Bob’s (Sean Astin) death. “There’s definitely something there. Part of it is that they’re comfortable with each other and they’ve known each other for a long time,” Ross told Vulture. “In my mind, Hopper still has some growing to do before that can happen. But [the chemistry] is definitely there.”

And Jopper’s No. 1 stan is Hopper himself, with Matt saying, “David [Harbour] is really into the idea of a Joyce-Hopper relationship.”

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Love Triangle Continues

By the end of season two, Nancy seems to have chosen Jonathan over Steve, who became the world’s favorite babysitter. But judging from the lingering look Steve gives Nancy in the finale, the complicated romance situation between the three seems far from over.

“I don’t think it’s the end of the story,” Joe Kerry told us. “But I do think that the second season was a lot about him growing up and learning how to put people before him a little bit more. I don’t think it’s over… I think how they leave it is realistic.”


The Bromance Lives On

Steve and Dustin will continue to grow their friendship in season three, Gaten Matarazzo told EW. 

“That’s what I really like about Matt and Ross: They know what fans like and they roll with it,” he said of bosses the Duffer Brothers. 



All signs point to Max and Eleven being best friends instead of enemies in season three. The trailer’s got them hanging out and dressing up and eating ice cream together, and even the show’s Twitter account tweeted their new character posters together with, “One friendship can change everything.” 

“We are excited to maybe see some more of those two together, moving forward,” Matt Duffer told HelloGiggles. “You can’t play note over and over again. I think the idea of their relationship evolving in some ways, definitely. Something we’re interested in.”

“They won’t be enemies. They won’t be enemies forever,” Ross said. “We’re excited [to] spend more time with Max and develop her in a way…we’re sort of scratching the surface on this season of what I think she’s capable of.”

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Jim "Big Elephant" Hopper

Chief Hopper is now raising a teenager with superpowers and a boyfriend, which is bringing him closer to Joyce but isn’t helping with his health. 

“It thrusts him into a discussion with Joyce [Winona Ryder]. She’s able to offer me some advice on how to deal with being a single parent and how to, like, you know, stop being so damn controlling,” David Harbour told EW. 

It also seems that parenthood has softened him, in a way. 

“This season, Hopper does a lot of really big, like, action-y things,” he said. “But he’s fatter than you’ve ever seen him and less capable of hurting people, but a little more capable because he’s just like a big elephant.”

“I mean, Hopper, in season two kinda became more of a father and he got a little softer in a way that was great, kinda opened him up and we’re gonna get back to a little bit of the squash-buckling Jim Hopper from season one where he was going around punching people, which I think we missed,” Harbour told us last year. “So that’s very gratifying to play too but along with his new father thing that he has with Eleven, it’s great.”


The Episode Titles

Netflix revealed eight titles for the upcoming season:
“Suzie, Do You Copy?”
“The Mall Rats”
“The Case of the Missing Lifeguard”
“The Sauna Test”
“The Source”
“The Birthday”
“The Bite”
“The Battle of Starcourt”


What to Watch

The Duffer Brothers gave EW a list of all the movies that inspired this season, so get your popcorn ready: 

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
The Thing
Romancing the Stone
Midnight Run
Indiana Jones
Jurassic Park
The films of David Cronenberg

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Stranger Things 3 will premiere July 4, 2019 on Netflix. 

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