Tackling The Strange Tagline of Stranger Things

Lucy Latorre, Staff Writer

Ah, Stranger Things. It might not be the original Netflix Original, but it is by far the most well known. Millions of people all around the world were captivated by the Sci-fi-esque story, the creative characters, and the 1980’s nostalgia. So, after two more seasons, viewership thrived. Obviously, with this much viewership and such a compelling story, viewers were anticipating a Season 4 announcement as soon as they finished Season 3. With Season 3 leaving so many unanswered questions, fans were seeking relief. Where did Eleven’s powers go? How will the gang stay in touch after the Byers’s big move? Is Hopper alive or is everyone just grasping at straws? Well, rather than relief, the Season 4 announcement brought another, more important question. The announcement came with a Season 4 tagline: “We’re not in Hawkins anymore.” Well, if we’re not in Hawkins, then where are we?

Theory One: We’re In Russia

Russia played a huge role in Season 3 of Stranger Things, and if that cliffhanger at the end of Season 3 proves anything, the country will play an even bigger role this season. With the Demogorgons at their dispense and an American captive, there’s a great chance that Season 4 could be focused there. It also lines up with a known character being “The American,” and the gang back in Hawkins planning to break them out. The most common theory as to who “The American” is would be Hopper, whose death was immediately met with fans finding ways to reverse it. It does make the most sense, considering he “died” in a Russian base. He could’ve been captured, and Joyce just assumed he was blown up when she didn’t see him. Although, there are two other popular theories as to who “The American” is that would make for an interesting plot. 

Billy, whose death was also questioned, is one option since he has information on both the Mind Flayer and the gang in Hawkins. This theory is a little iffy, considering Billy died, and even if he actually didn’t, had a sudden change of heart in Season 3’s finale. If he is alive, why would Billy throw his friends under the bus after just saving them? 

The other theory, which fits better than Billy, is Doctor Brenner. During Season 1, Brenner was one of the main antagonists, but in Seasons 2 and 3, he was gone. While it seemed like he was killed by the Demogorgon, why would the most important aspect of Eleven’s story be killed off in the first season? Eleven’s sister even said she thinks he’s still out there. If Brenner is in fact “The American,” he can use his information on both Eleven and the Demogorgon to aid the Russians. 

Season 4 taking place in Russia would be an interesting switch, letting viewers see how the Upside Down affects places all over the world. Still, if the show throws away all the characters that make the show special in order to introduce new characters, it may lose its charm. Theory Two: We’re In The Byers’s New Town

Trouble seems to follow the Byers family, so it makes sense that they would find some in their new hometown. At the end of Season 3, the Byers took Bob’s advice and moved out of Hawkins, but with their luck, the problems of Hawkins will definitely follow them there. It does make some sense for some problems in the new town, considering the unsuspecting townspeople in Hawkins won’t be so unsuspecting if they keep getting yearly visits from monsters, but it might hurt the show overall. As great as it would be to see the Byers interact with a new setting, there is absolutely no way the writers will keep the other characters away for long. Even if it’s two plot lines, one with the Byers and one with everyone in Hawkins, the two would still have to meet eventually. The relationships between characters is too much of a staple of the show for it to be thrown away. 

The “combining plot lines for an epic final battle” storyline has been in every season, and continues to work, so it will most likely be prevalent again in Season 4. Doing it again, but this time with characters across the country would be a very interesting switch, one that could amplify tensions and limit communication. A combination of the two honestly sounds way better than one or the other. The payoff of the characters coming together for a big battle would be absolutely epic, even if the story technically would take place in Hawkins. If you ask me, for a payoff that awesome, some false advertising can be swept under the rug. 

Theory Three: We’re In Hawkins, But It’s Back In Time

The teaser trailer features an eerie clock on a tree, which has led many people to consider a time travel plot in the future of Stranger Things. It would be interesting, but choosing the method of time travel that would work best with the story can make or break it. There are a few popular methods show could take. 

There’s the “Time Turner” method, where the characters interfere with their own lives, which is always fun to think about on re-watches, considering it brings up a ton of confusing questions. Was that always the intention? Are the future versions of the characters just chilling on the sidelines of scenes, pulling the strings the whole time? Even though two Winona Ryders would be amazing, this method could cause too many plot problems. 

There’s also the “Endgame” method, where a trip back in time sets off a new timeline. Also very confusing. This one does have a glaring upside, though, because new timelines would prevent a butterfly effect or the characters meddling in their own lives. Still, it may be hard to follow the story if something happens in one timeline, but not in the other. Considering people are still confused as to how the Avengers handled time travel, this might not be the best option. 

Finally, there’s the method that most people think of, which just so happens to line up with the 1980s setting of Stranger Things, the “Back To The Future” method. In the show’s canon, the movie has already come out, considering Steve and Robin find themselves watching it during Season 3. This method can allow characters to see the past of Hawkins. Whether it’s going deeper into the secrets of characters, like a closer look at Hopper’s relationship with his daughter, Sarah, or diving into Eleven’s upbringing, this method of time travel could benefit the narrative. It would also add a whole other layer to the clock from the teaser, considering a clocktower plays a very important role in Doc and Marty’s journey. It may create more tension than the other two methods, as well. The gang will have to be careful that they do not change history too much, or disappear in their own time. The gang basing their adventure on beloved pop culture is not only adorable but a tie-in to the first season and the gang’s reliance on Dungeons and Dragons. While a time travel plot may not be widely well received on announcement, if done correctly, it may add a lot to the story. 

Theory Four: We’re In The Upside Down 

In the announcement video, the background and title slowly develop a familiar aesthetic: that of the Upside Down. For such an important part of the show, there has never been any information as to how and why the Upside Down exists. If the season were to take place mainly in the Upside Down, whether characters be trapped there or there on purpose, it would shine a light on a hidden part of the lore. Where did the monsters come from? How many portals are there? This could tie into where Hopper, Billy, and Brenner are, if it is not Russia. All three have some connection to creatures from the Upside Down, so maybe one or more of them is trapped there? 

Having the season’s focus be on the Upside Down could also keep the theme of the show taking place over major holidays. Season 2 took place around Halloween, and Season 3 took place around the 4th of July. Considering the fact that the Byers said they would visit at Christmas combined with the holiday season’s freakish amount of lights, an Upside Down season would fit perfectly during the holidays. Just imagine the characters communicating through an entire towns worth of Christmas lights! It would also be a good chance for Eleven to get her powers back in a climactic boss battle. With such a mystery surrounding the Upside Down, some more information will definitely benefit the story as a whole. 

Honestly, the whereabouts of this season could be a combination of some of these, all of these, or none of these at all, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Wherever, whenever, and however this season takes place, the characters and 1980s nostalgia that make the show what it is will still be there. While the world building may be under construction this season, the charm of the show will still be as enticing as it has always been. The writers know what works, and they know where to take the show, even if that’s not in Hawkins.