'Stranger Things' Season 4 Release Date May Reference a Historic 1986 Event

It would be a big change for the Netflix show's current release schedule.

Introducing evil Russians into the world of Stranger Things might just feel like more 1980s nostalgia, but Season 3’s post-credits scene makes it clear that the Soviet threat isn’t going anywhere. With Stranger Things Season 4 expected to take place in 1986, the series could be setting us up for a huge USSR-centric plotline connected to one of the most historic events of the entire decade: the Chernobyl disaster. And that could have some huge ramifications for both the plot moving forward and the Season 4 release date.

First, it’s worth explaining how we know Stranger Things Season 4 will take place in 1986. In short, the Netflix show has an established pattern: Season 1 took place in 1983, Season 2 jumped forward to ‘84, and Season 3 is all about 1985. So it seems clear that Season 4 will focus on 1986, which means references to classic movies like Labyrinth and Top Gun. More importantly, however, 1986 is the same year that the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant malfunctioned, leading to one of the worst nuclear energy disasters in history.

So what does this mean for Stranger Things Season 4? Well, it’s conceivable that the series could rewrite history to connect the Upside Down to Chernobyl. Was the entire thing a cover-up for something even more sinister? Maybe Soviet scientists accidentally unleashed an Upside Down monster and decided to destroy it with a nuclear bomb.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Chernobyl is extremely far away from the Kamchatka facility we see at the end of Stranger Things Season 3. But who’s to say that the Russians don’t have multiple Upside Down-related facilities across the country?

That's one hell of a trek, even for the Mind Flayer.

Google Maps

As for what any of this has to do with Stranger Things Season 4’s release date, that’s where things get really interesting. Historically, Stranger Things has tied the release of new seasons to events happening in that season. For example, Season 2 arrived just before Halloween and featured a scene where the kids go trick or treating, while Season 3 hit Netflix on July 4 and features a Fourth of July fireworks show.

Based on the show’s release pattern (July, October, July), you might think Stranger Things Season 4 will revert back to Halloween. But if the new plot does connect to Chernobyl, then Netflix might have to move the release date up to April, when the nuclear disaster occurred (April 26, to be exact). In that case, we could be getting Season 4 way earlier than expected — though it could just as easily mean a delay until April 2021.

Either way, it’s exciting to imagine how Chernobyl could overlap with the events of Stranger Things Season 4, and if that means we get new episodes a little earlier, well, that’s just an extra bonus.

Stranger Things Season 3 is streaming now on Netflix.

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