Even casual horror fans have noticed similarities between Stranger Things and It. The Netflix series was obviously inspired by parts of Stephen King’s horror classic, and the two properties even share an actor in young Finn Wolfhard. But a frighteningly convincing fan theory says there’s an even bigger connection, as there’s evidence that Pennywise might exist in the Stranger Things universe.
The theory centers around Sean Astin’s Bob, aka the “Barb” of Season 2. In an early episode, good-natured Bob is trying to help Will deal with his nightmares, though at the time Bob has no idea of the truth of the Upside Down. In the car, Bob recalls his own reoccurring nightmare about a clown he’d met as a kid named Mr. Baldo. In his dreams, Mr. Baldo would offer him a balloon, and it wasn’t until Bob stood his ground in one dream and told the clown he wasn’t afraid that the nightmares stopped.
Sounds, uh, kinda familiar.
It’s not just that Bob’s dreams also involve a creepy clown. Bob is originally from Maine, where It is set. And he would have been a kid in the ‘50s, which would line up with Pennywise’s 27-year cycle of appearances. (The first part of the book actually takes place in the ‘50s, but the movie updated it to take place in the ‘80s.)
As to why Bob would be misremembering encounters with a demonic, shape-changing cannibal clown as mere nightmares? Well, in It, when people move away from the accursed town of Derry, Maine, their memories of the bad things that happen fade. They become almost dream-like. Perhaps this is what happened to Bob.
Ultimately, fan theories can connect anything to anything if they try hard enough, but this one is pretty fun to imagine. Now, the next question is, who would win in a fight? Pennywise or Stranger Things 2’s big bad, the Mind Flayer?
If you liked this article, check out this video on why an important book monster was left out of the movie It.