Everyone’s favorite Netflix sci-fi horror series returns for a third season this summer. Stranger Things Season 3 will bring us back to the fictional Hawkins, Indiana for a new terrifying adventure against the otherworldly forces of the Upside Down.
With less than four months to go until the new season is released, Netflix’s marketing has gone into full swing, complete with a new trailer.
When will Stranger Things Season 3 return? How many episodes will there be? What have the kids been up to since the end of Season 2? Is the Mind Flayer still stalking them from the Upside Down? What sort of interdimensional horrors await the gang on their next terrifying adventure?
Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things Season 3, from new plot details to episode titles, mixed in with plenty of realistic speculation. Be sure to check back soon as we continue to update this page with new information.
When Is the Stranger Things Season 3 Release Date?
A trailer released on December 31 announced that Stranger Things Season 3 will be released on July 4, 2019.
How Does Stranger Things Season 2 Set Up Season 3?
Most of Season 2 involved battling the Shadow Monster (or Mind Flayer) that exists in the Upside Down as it tried to corrupt and invade the real world. The interdimensional rift at Hawkins Lab grew bigger and bigger, allowing demodogs to move into Hawkins proper. The Shadow Monster even invaded Will’s body.
Ultimately, Hopper and Eleven were able to close the gate and save Hawkins, but her epic display of power might’ve attracted the attention of the Shadow Monster more than ever before. As part of a deal Hopper made with Dr. Owens, the Sheriff was also able to formally adopt Eleven as Jane Hopper, legitimizing her identity as more than just a government experiment.
The utterly charming final scene of Stranger Things 2 takes place at a school dance where Mike and Eleven shared a kiss while Lucas and Max also get together. But looming over them, just a half-dimension away in the Upside Down, was the Shadow Monster watching closely.
Is There a Stranger Things Season 3 Trailer Yet?
Yes! On March 20, Netflix released a full trailer for the new season. There are plenty of obvious ‘80s vibes, but it also sets the scene for one crucial summer as the Hawkins kids continue growing up.
Not only does the trailer show off a horrifying new beast, but it also teases some kind of infection from the Upside Down that infecting people, all while a corrupt new mayor has a huge mall constructed in the town.
This new trailer comes long after Netflix released a “commercial” for the Starcourt Mall in July 2018 that teased Starcourt Mall, a new setting for Season 3.
Because this is the summer of 1985, Steve has graduated from high school and now works in an ice cream shop at the Starcourt Mall food court, which explains his appearance in the mall commercial alongside a new character played by Maya Hawke.
What Is the Plot of Stranger Things Season 3?
Here’s the official synopsis from Netflix:
In mid-1985, when the box office was dominated by the presence of Back to the Future, Mike and Eleven have developed a romantic relationship, as have Max and Lucas. However, one year after the defeat of the Mind Flayer, things are not all that they seem in Hawkins. The town has a new leader, the morally corrupt Mayor Kline, whose administration supported and presided over the construction of the new Starcourt Mall. With the Fourth of July approaching, strange things start to happen: Lucas’ sister Erica discovers a mysterious new threat, and a lifeguard at the community pool suddenly disappears, triggering fear in those that still have the events from the previous year still fresh in their minds.
During PaleyFest in March 2018, Stranger Things executive producer Shawn Levy confirmed that Season 3 would take place a year after Season 2 during the summer of 1985. He also revealed that the romantic pairings of Eleven-Mike and Max-Lucas remained steady. So we’ve known those details for awhile.
In Worlds Turned Upside Down, a companion book to the Stranger Things TV series, Levy also said, “We ended Season 2 with a clear signal that the Shadow Monster was not eliminated, and maybe he’s even identified his foe. And that darkness, and the battle that it requires, only grows in Season 3.” We can safely assume that this “mysterious new threat” has something to do with the Mind Flayer.
Much like how Season 2 riffed on the release of the first Ghostbusters movie, Season 3 is aiming for something closer to traditional horror in its focus on movies from directors like John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing), David Cronenberg (The Fly, Videodrome), and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead). Does that mean zombies, mutants, or murderers? Who knows.
What Characters Are New or Returning in Stranger Things Season 3?
All of the young actors are returning for Season 3, including Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Sadie Sink (Max), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), and Noah Schnapp (Will). There’s also the teenagers Dacre Montgomery (Billy), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan), Natalie Dyer (Nancy), and Joe Keery (Steve). Adult actors Cara Buono (Karen), Winona Ryder (Joyce), and David Harbour (Hopper) also return.
On May 19, Netflix released a ton of new, moody character posters for all of the returning Stranger Things characters that promise more than fun and fireworks this summer. Each of the characters looks older, wiser, and have gotten new mid-‘80s wardrobes for Season 3. We’re particularly intrigued by Eleven’s character poster which shows her looking more horrified than the others as if she can see what’s coming down the pike to Hawkins.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed that some newcomers include Maya Hawke as “a woman on a collision course with a dark secret in Hawkins.” Jake Busey plays “a Hawkins Post journalist with questionable morals,” and Cary Elwes “is playing Mayor Kline, described as a slick and sleazy politician.”
Busey tells Inverse that his role on Stranger Things Season 3 is a “big one,” adding that his character has “a sick sense of humor.” In another interview with MTV, he revealed that he mostly interacts with the older kids, specifically Nancy and Jonathan, after Jonathan gets a job working as a photographer at the same newspaper.
Bonus: Co-creator Matt Duffer reportedly said at Vulture Festival in November 2017 that Season 3 might include the return of Kali, Eleven’s older “sister” who also has her own powers.
How Many Episodes Are in Stranger Things Season 3?
TV Line reported in February 2018 that Stranger Things 3 would be eight episodes long, and Netflix confirmed the news on December 9 with a new video revealing the episode titles for all eight episodes.
By comparison, Season 1 also had eight episodes and Season 2 had nine, so fans can expect a story of similar length.
What Are the Episode Titles for Stranger Things Season 3
Here’s the full list of episodes:
- “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 do the Stranger Things Season 3 Episode Titles Reveal?
It might not reveal much, but this list does offer a couple of hints. “The Mall Rats” seems to confirm that the new Starcourt Mall teased in an earlier trailer will play a major role in Season 3, especially since it also features in the season’s final episode.
The last two episodes, particularly “Bite,” might also hint at a zombie theme. Stranger Things co-creators the Duffer brothers previously revealed that Season 3 will take inspiration from Night of the Living Dead-director George Romero. The film’s sequel, Dawn of the Dead also takes place in a mall. Coincidence? We think not.
It’s also pretty interesting that a clip released on May 20, titled “Summer in Hawkins,” shows Dacre Montogomery’s Billy as the new Hawkins community pool lifeguard that makes all the housewives swoon. Could this clip be taken from Episode 3, “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard”? And if so, if Billy the missing lifeguard in question?
A Retro Partnership Will Figure Into Season 3
On May 21, Coca-Cola announced that they would be reviving the New Coke flavor, originally (and unsuccessfully) launched in 1985, the same year that Stranger Things Season 3 is set. In addition to bringing New Coke back to market for a limited time, it was confirmed that New Coke would be appearing in multiple episodes of Season 3.
On May 22, Coca-Cola released a fake commercial for New Coke featuring Stranger Things characters Lucas, Max, Eleven, Mike, Steve, and Dustin. You can watch the retro goodness below.
How Can We Pass the Time Until Stranger Things Season 3?
Perhaps the best way to pass the time while we all wait is with a new Stranger Things-themed Dungeons & Dragons starter set, featuring a brand-new fantasy adventure akin to the one that Mike creates on the show: “Hunt for the Thessalhydra.” A newly-released prequel novel called Suspicious Minds also details the personal history of Eleven’s parents.
There’s also a prequel novel, Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond that chronicles what happened to Eleven’s real, original parents.
Stranger Things 3 will be released on Netflix July 4, 2019.