Stranger Things just released a major update about the final season

The beginning of the end.
stranger things
Courtesy of Netflix

Warning: Major Stranger Things spoilers ahead.

It’s official: production for season five of Stranger Things is officially underway. After a lengthy delay due to industry strikes, the cult Netflix show has shared an update with fans – even hinting at casting decisions for the final series.

Sharing an image of the cast with their scripts behind the scenes, the show's official social media feeds declared: “THIS IS A CODE RED… STRANGER THINGS 5 production has officially begun!!!”

The black and white photo shows the likes of cast regulars Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, David Harbour, Winona Ryder and Sadie Sink, who we can all assume will be returning to the series.

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Back in February 2022, the Duffer Brothers themselves announced that the fifth series of Stranger Things would be the last in an open letter shared with fans alongside season 4’s official poster.

"Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things," the duo wrote in their letter. "At the time, we predicted the story would last four or five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four, but — as you'll soon see for yourselves — we are now hurtling toward our finale. Season 4 will be the penultimate season; season 5 will be the last."

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“With nine scripts, over eight hundred pages, almost two years of filming, thousands of visual effects shots, and a runtime nearly twice the length of any previous season, Stranger Things 4 was the most challenging season yet, but also the most rewarding one,” the Duffer Brothers shared, calling the fourth season “the beginning of the end.” The duo also shared that the decision to split the season in two parts was due to its “unprecedented length” and to get it to fans “as soon as possible.”

The Duffer Brothers have served as the series creators and showrunners since Stranger Things premiered on Netflix back in 2016. Now, with a two-volume season 4 in the rearview, there's only one chapter left to focus on for our favourite group of Hawkins kids.

The Duffer Brothers also hinted that though Stranger Things may be coming to an end, its universe will not. “There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things; new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes.”

With the promise of so much and so little left on the horizon, we've gathered everything we know so far about Stranger Things season five, including release date, plot details, cast info, and more.

Below, check out everything you need to know about Stranger Things 5 and click on a topic to jump there directly:

Release date

Returning cast

New characters

Plot details (How will it end?)

Episode count


Potential spinoffs

Does Stranger Things season 5 have a release date yet?

Courtesy of Netflix

On August 2, 2022, the @strangerwriters Twitter account posted an update with only two words: “Day 1.” Pictured is a whiteboard with a hand-drawn Stranger Things 5 logo, and in the reflection of the white board you can make out a bunch of people seated around a table. The writer's room had officially begun, and Stranger Things 5 was officially in development. By September 20, the writer's room had finished grid-blocking the entire plot of the season.

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On November 6, 2022 — the date Will Byers vanished in 1983, which Netflix deemed Stranger Things Day — the team behind the series revealed the title of the first episode of the fifth and final season. “Season 5. Chapter one. The crawl. Happy Stranger Things day,” read the caption from the show's official Twitter account. Fans attempted to decode the title almost immediately, Googling “what is a crawl in DND” and scouring Metallica lyrics.

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Filming for Stranger Things 5 was intended to begin May 2023. However, during the first week of May, the Writers Guild of America officially went on strike after six weeks of failed negotiations for a new film and scripted TV contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. On May 6, the Duffer Bros. addressed fans on the Stranger Things writers' official Twitter account. "Writing does not stop when filming begins," they wrote. "While we're excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then — over and out. #wgastrong."

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Only a few weeks later, SAG-AFTRA, a union that represents actors across TV and film, voice actors, and other industry professionals, officially went on strike after four weeks of more failed negotiations with the AMPTP. Production was halted on both ends for over 140 days, until the WGA reached a tentative deal with the AMPTP on September 24, 2023. On September 27, the writers confirmed that development on season 5 had resumed with a short-and-sweet message written on an otherwise blank script page: “We're back.”

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Taking these delays into account, there is no confirmed or estimated release date for Stranger Things 5. Pre-strikes, the Duffer Brothers had assured fans that there would be a much shorter wait than the 3-year gap in between seasons 3 and 4. "The gap should be quite a bit shorter this time, due to the fact that we already have an initial outline, and we can't imagine there will be another six-month forced hiatus," the Duffer brothers said during an interview with Variety in the summer of 2022. How ironic.

Also pre-strikes, series lead Finn Wolfhard revealed to GQ that the show would most likely be released in early 2025 — at the earliest. Considering the visual effects the show demands, the in-demand schedules of the young cast of rising stars and the strikes, we probably won't get Stranger Things 5 until at least late 2024.

Which cast members are returning for Stranger Things season 5?

Courtesy of Netflix

Luckily for us, the majority of the main cast made it out of season 4 alive, and were present in the final scene of the season. That being said, it's safe to assume that most if not all of the main cast will return for season five. This includes Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Noah Schnapp (Will), Priah Ferguson (Erica), Natalia Dyer (Nancy), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan), Maya Hawke (Robin), Joe Keery (Steve), David Harbour (Hopper), and Winona Ryder (Joyce).

We bid farewell to Eddie Munson (played by Joseph Quinn) in episode 9, as he died a hero to save his friends and protect his town. The Duffer Brothers confirmed this character's death while appearing on the Happy Sad Confused podcast following the finale — yet, there's two other character demises from Volume 2 that may not actually have a nail in their coffins.

Max's fate is unclear

Max became a victim of Vecna's curse in the two-part finale, and was technically dead for a full minute before Eleven restarted her heart with her powers. The last we see of Max, she's hospitalised and in a coma. Eleven tries to communicate with her by searching for her mind, but there is, tragically, no response.

When asked about Max's fate while speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Sink was quick to point out that Max has a pulse and is technically still alive and present in the show. "I'm not sure where we're going and what Max's state is. It's definitely all up in the air right now," said Sink. "I'm just as excited as everyone else to find out where Max is and how she's doing."

Vecna's fate is also up in the air

Jamie Campbell Bower, who portrayed this season's villain Vecna/Henry/One, also hinted at a S5 return to EW, noting the scene where Vecna should be dead, but suddenly disappears. On August 29, JCB opened up further to NME, teasing that Vecna will most likely be back for season five, and he'll be back with a hell of a vengeance. “He’s pissed, he’s properly vexed,” said Campbell Bower. “I don’t think he’s slunk off licking his wounds in misery. He’s rebuilding, and he’s out for blood. It’s like, you’ve really f*cking pushed the buttons now, that classic Jason Voorhees [the iconic killer in Friday the 13th] thing — you’ve made a big mistake.”

Though Campbell Bower still hasn't confirmed whether he's signed on for multiple seasons, Will's mention to Mike that he could still feel Vecna's presence during the finale is almost confirmation enough. "I think Vecna and Will have a connection that’s yet to be explored,” continued JCB. “As a fan, I’d be interested to see more of that.”

Will new characters be introduced in Stranger Things season 5?

While speaking to IndieWire in August 2022, the Duffer Brothers broke down their rationale behind bringing new characters on the show and praised the adaptability and performances of actors brought on the series after season 1, like Joseph Quinn, Sadie Sink, Maya Hawke, and Dacre Montgomery. Though they avoid introducing multiple new core characters in a given season, the Duffer Brothers admitted that new characters can bring fresh ideas, just like new plot devices or new creatures to battle.

“I just like shaking it up, so we shake it up by changing the plot or adding in a new monster,” said Matt. “We’re doing our best to resist [adding new characters] for Season 5. We’re trying not to do that so we can focus on the OG characters, I guess.” With such a finite amount of time left with the OG Hawkins gang, it makes sense that the Stranger Things writers want to make sure that fans aren't left feeling shorted by the series finale. This means there might be a new face around town in Stranger Things 5, but don't count on it too much.

One of these new faces could be a love interest for Maya Hawke’s character Robin — but she’s not feeling too excited about it. ICYMI: season four ended with Hawke’s character, Robin Buckley, finally making a move on her crush, Hawkins High’s resident clarinetist Vickie over PB&J sandwiches. Though nothing was made explicit, the Duffer Bros were probably leveling the ground for a blossoming romance in the final season of the show, meaning Robin could officially get a girlfriend soon. However, there is a small caveat: Hawke is not entirely sold.

“I feel mixed about it,” the actor told Yahoo! Entertainment in June 2023 about the possibility of having an on-screen GF for Robin. “I feel like there’s that’s both a great thing, and I also love characters where their love life is not the centre of their existence.”

Instead of focusing on Robin’s purely romantic life, Hawke would love to keep spotlighting and centring friendship as part of her character’s arc, particularly her relationship with Joe Keery’s Steve Harrington. “That friendship with Steve is so special,” Hawke admitted. “Friendships have been carrying me through my life, and I think they’re really important, and they deserve their time.”

What will Stranger Things season 5 be about? How will it end?

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Stranger Things 5 will likely follow the Hawkins gang's final adventure as they team up to crack their biggest mystery yet: how to defeat Vecna once and for all. The Duffer Brothers previously told TV Line that there will be a time jump, and confirmed to Collider that the last season will primarily be set in Hawkins and the Upside Down — no more being split between Russia, California, and Indiana. The brothers have also revealed in multiple interviews that the main focus of season 5 will be to break down the mythology of the Upside Down, and finally provide answers to questions we've had since season 1.

The Duffer Brothers have also been clear that they're not entirely sure what this last season will look like, but they know for sure how it will end. “It's like that lighthouse blinking in the distance... while a lot of season 5 is actually pretty blurry, the last 30 minutes of it are pretty clear in our heads,” said Ross. "So if we can make the journey entertaining, I think that we have an end that will hopefully satisfy. You can't satisfy everyone, but the hope is that it's something that feels right for this story."

The creative duo previously told The Wrap that top dogs at Netflix shed real tears once they shared their ideas for the arc of season 5. "We do have an outline for season 5 and we pitched it to Netflix and they really responded well to it," Ross said. "I mean, it was hard. It's the end of the story. I saw executives crying who I've never seen cry before and it was wild."

It's been rumoured that David Harbour (Hopper) knows how the series ends, a piece of gossip that hilariously infuriates co-star Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin). And speaking of Dustin — for fans who were disturbed by the boy-genius seeming to be the only member of the group mourning Eddie's death, the Duffer Brothers also noted that Eddie will be honoured in the final season, and that his death will actually have "huge repercussions" for those who made it out of season 4 alive.

Some of the cast has started to tease the ending of the show, seemingly having gotten to peek at the script or story outline for the final season. While speaking to Forbes in January 2023, Noah Schnapp said that he's “very very excited for what's to come." “I think they did a great job with Will's character this season, and beautifully addressed everything they needed to,” said Schnapp. "The way they closed the show is just perfect — the story started with Will, and it’ll end with Will.”

Back in the summer of 2022, Noah Schnapp confirmed that his character Will was gay, and that Will was in love with Finn's character Mike. Six months later, Schnapp came out as gay on TikTok, much to the love and support of his fans, family, and castmates. Schnapp reflected on the impact Will had on his own self-actualisation in his August 2023 cover story for Variety.

“Once I did fully embrace that Will was gay, it was just an exponential speed towards accepting it for myself,” Schnapp told the publication. “I would be in a completely different place if I didn’t have Will to portray, and to embrace and help me accept myself. I think if I never played that character, I probably would still be closeted.”

“I think the way I act in Season 5, honestly, might be a little different," he continued. "I will be fully aware of who I am. Knowing all of that about myself and being able to invest that in my character, I’m honestly just excited.”

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In the same interview, Ross Duffer elaborated even more about Will's storyline in season 5: “Will really takes centre stage again in 5. This emotional arc for him is what we feel is going to hopefully tie the whole series together. Will is used to being the young one, the introverted one, the one that’s being protected. So part of his journey, it’s not just sexuality — it’s Will coming into his own as a young man.”

Talking to IndieWire in January 2023, Finn Wolfhard teased the ending of Stranger Things 5 and opened up about one of the biggest unanswered questions of season 4: how will Mike react to Will's romantic feelings? “I’m incredibly proud of Noah for coming out publicly like that. I think it was so incredible and brave,” Wolfhard said to IndieWire. “As far as the Mike and Will relationship goes, I always found it kind of funny, especially last season of Mike just being so clueless. I would imagine Mike is going to be totally accepting of Will, and I really want Will to have a really happy ending. And I think he will."

“What’s going to be so awesome about season five is that the Duffers are sort of trying to thread this needle of trying to get every character to have their perfect ending,” Wolfhard continued. "So I’m excited to see what ends up happening.” Us, too.

How many episodes will Stranger Things season 5 have?

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There isn't a total count of episodes yet, but while appearing on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Matt Duffer revealed that season 5 will be regular-sized, not super-sized like season 4 (which had a total runtime of nearly 13 hours). “The only reason we don’t expect [it] to be as long is, this season, if you look at it, it’s almost a two-hour ramp up before our kids really get drawn into a supernatural mystery," Matt said. "You get to know them, you get to see them in their lives, they’re struggling with adapting to high school and so forth, Steve’s trying to find a date, all of that. None of that is obviously going to be occurring [in Season 5]."

Season 5 will apparently start off with a bang, since there will be “less to ramp up." “Characters are already going to be in action, they’re already going to have a goal and a drive, and I think that’s going to carve out at least a couple hours and make this [final] season feel really different,” Matt explained to The Wrap. “I’m sure the wrap-up will be a lot longer."

While appearing on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Ross echoed this, joking that the series finale will have “like, eight endings.” One thing from season 4 will be repeated, though, and that's the film-length finale runtime. “We’re more likely to do what we did here, which is to just have a 2.5 hour episode,” added Matt about the series finale.

Is there a trailer for Stranger Things season 5?

Courtesy of Netflix

At the moment, there is no trailer for Stranger Things season 5. All we have are our powerful imaginations and all the tea that Duffer Brothers and cast members continue to spill.

Will there be spinoffs of Stranger Things?

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The Duffer Brothers have been hinting for years that this isn't the last of the Stranger Things universe, and as the end of the original series nears, they have more to share about expanding the franchise. "There's a version of [a spinoff] developing in parallel [to season 5], but they would never shoot it parallel," Ross said while speaking to Variety. "I think actually we're going to start delving into that soon as we're winding down and finishing these visual effects, Matt and I are going to start getting into it."

“The reason we haven't done anything is just because you don't want to be doing it for the wrong reasons, and it was just like, 'Is this something I would want to make regardless of it being related to Stranger Things or not?' And definitely,” said Matt. "Even if we took the Stranger Things title off of it, I'm so, so excited about it. But it is not… it's going to be different than what anyone is expecting, including Netflix."

The Duffer Brothers have also revealed that they would like to hand the spinoff to someone new. “The idea, ultimately, is to pass the baton to someone else, someone who’s hopefully really talented and passionate,” Matt added while on Happy Sad Confused. “Even the idea of Ross and I, say, doing a pilot and leaving it, it just feels silly to me. You really need to be there from the beginning to end. I think we need to find a partner to help us with that.”

But apparently, Finn Wolfhard took one guess at what the spinoff series was about and got it right. "Finn Wolfhard, he wasn't spitballing, he just went, 'I think this would be a cool spin-off,'" Ross shared with Variety. "And we were like, 'How in the world…?'"

This post will be updated as more news about Stranger Things 5 breaks.

This feature originally appeared on Teen Vogue.