24 Lesser-Known Facts About “Stranger Things”

Soon after its release in 2016, Netflix’s Stranger Things became extremely popular. This science fiction/horror show brings back the elements of ’80s  horror and thrill stories. Before being released, many networks were skeptical about its success because its central cast was to be comprised of both adults and kids in almost equal number. But now it is a favorite show for all age groups. To know some more interesting facts about Stranger Things, keep reading this article.

1. The series was originally known as Montauk, as the setting of the script was in Montauk, New York. Also, it was allegedly based on “Project Montauk”, a supposed secret government program involving the kidnapping of children for use in mind control experiments.

Montauk
Image Source: 1,2

While working on the script, the creator of the show, Duffer Brothers, decided to name it Montauk. They chose the name because according to the script the events all take place in Montauk, New York and Long Beach, California locations. Also, they were influenced by Spielberg’s film Jaws. In Jaws, Montauk was used for the fictional setting of Amity Island. But later, the brothers decided that they could not envision a real town in quarantine, so they changed the narrative and decided on a fictional town, Hawkins.

The Montauk Project was a series of secret U.S. government projects conducted at Camp Hero, or Montauk Air Force Station, on Montauk, Long Island. The purpose of this project was to develop psychological warfare techniques and exotic research including time travel. Stranger Things is allegedly based on the Montauk Project. Hence, the show was named Montauk in the beginning.(1,2)

2. Before being picked up by Netflix, Stranger Things was rejected by fifteen networks.

Stranger Things
Image Source: feber.se

In the beginning, Duffer Brothers prepared a script of the Stranger Things series along with a twenty-page pitch book. They pitched the story to fifteen cable networks, but all of them rejected it as they felt that a plot centered around children as leading characters would not work. They even asked the Duffer Brothers to make it a children’s show or drop the children and focus on Hopper’s investigation in the paranormal. But eventually, the whole season was purchased by the streaming service, Netflix, for an undisclosed amount.(1,2)

3. The font of  Stranger Things is the same one used in the Dungeons & Dragon Player’s Handbook from the late ’80s.

Font
Image Source: 1,2

When it was time to decide the title’s frontispiece and appearance, the Duffer Brothers were influenced by Stephen King’s novel, Firestarter. Using it they came up with a long list of potential alternatives. Finally, they decided on Stranger Things as it sounded similar to another Stephen King novel, Needful Things. Also, they used ’80s Dungeons and Dragon Player’s Handbook as an inspiration for the font used for Stranger Things.(1,2)

4. Duffer Brothers auditioned 906 boys and 307 girls to find the young leads. 

Actors
Image Source: www.theverge.com

The audition for Stranger Things was quite tough. Nine hundred and six boys and 307 girls auditioned for the role of Eleven, Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will. During the audition, the kids were asked to read classic scenes from Stand By Me. Finally, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin and Noah Schnapp got the lead roles. Since the kids didn’t know one another at first, they created a chat group before shooting. So, when they arrived in Atlanta for the shoot, all of them had already developed a close-knit bond.(1,2)

5. The filming of Stranger Things was done with a digital camera to create an “aged effect”. A film grain was used that was the same as film stock from the 1980s.

Effect
Image Source: www.inverse.com

Duffer Brothers wanted Stranger Things to be a tribute to 80’s cinema. So, they added a film grain to the footage to create an authentic “aged effect” of the 80s. Also, the Duffer Brothers wanted to add elements of a scare into the series which would be similar to the 1980s PG-13 movies. The 80s scary movies were much more about mood, atmosphere, suspense, and dread than of gore. That’s why Stranger Things has the slow dread feeling throughout the series.(source)

6. During high school, the Duffer Brothers considered themselves outcasts from other students. That’s why they found it easy to write about Mike and his friends, and Barb.

Geek
Image Source: 1,2

In the series, the four friends, Will, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, are characterized as school geeks who are bullied. The show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, had experienced the same situation in school. In an interview, they even claimed to have hated high school. So, they found it easy to write about these four friends. Also, their prior experiences helped a lot in writing the other characters such as Barbra, a.k.a. “Barb”.

For the villains, the Duffer Brothers took inspiration from Stephen King novels. According to them, King “always has really great human villains” that may be more malicious than the supernatural evil.(1, 2)

7. “MK Ultra”, the evil program featured in Episode 3 of Stranger Things, was a real life project run by the CIA.

MKULTRA
Image Source: vigilantcitizen.com

In Episode 3 of Stranger Things, “Holly, Jolly”, chief Hopper of Hawkins Police Department, examines microfiche of various newspapers. In one such scene, the title appears “MKULTRA EXPOSED”. Project MK Ultra was a real project in the U.S. and is also known to have been the CIA’s mind control program. It started in the 1950s and officially halted in 1973.(1,2)

8. Millie Bobby Brown, the actor who plays Eleven, kissed for the first time in her life on the set of Stranger Things. After her kiss, she said, “That’s kissing? That’s it? That sucked!”

Kiss
Image Source: giphy

The character of Eleven is played on-screen by twelve-year-old Millie Bobby Brown. In the last episode of Stranger Things, Mike kisses Eleven while his friends are away searching for food. While it was the first kiss of Eleven, it was also the first kiss of Millie too. In an interview, Finn Wolfhard, who plays the role of Mike, claims that when the director said cut after the kissing scene, Millie exclaimed that it sucked.(source)

9. When the series was released, a hashtag “#ImWithBarb” grew in popularity as many fans sympathized with her “misfit” character. People became so obsessed with Barb that Nancy Wheeler who plays Barb on-screen had to quit her day job.

Barb
Image Source: 1,2

Barbra “Barb” Holland is the best friend of Nancy, but, at the same time, she is portrayed as a geek and a misfit. When the Stranger Things series was released, people instantly connected with her character. So, after Barb’s untimely death, many hashtags started trending such as “#JusticeforBarb” and “#WeAreAllBarb”. Due to her increasing fandom, Shanon Purser, who plays Barb on screen, has to quit her job at a movie theatre. That’s because people kept dropping by the theatre to try to get a glimpse of Stranger Things‘ tragic heroine.(1,2)

10. In the show,  the Demogorgon has a defined silhouette because the Duffer Brothers wanted it to be recognizable anywhere. That worked and inspired a lot of fan art from those who watched the show.

Demogorgon
Image Source: www.youtube.com

In an interview, the Duffer Brothers have claimed that they wanted Demogorgon to be recognizable anywhere. So, while creating it, they made sure that it has a defined silhouette. The Demogorgon has such a simplicity that a twelve-year-old child watching it could sketch it. This vision of the brothers has led to much fan art on Twitter which they claim to be gratifying.(source)

11. The uniform and vehicles of the Hawkins Police Department are identical to those used in Jaws and Jaws 2

Jaws
Image Source: 1,2

If you compare Stranger Things with Jaws or Jaws 2, there are two definite similarities – the uniform and SUVs of the police chief from both shows. The Hawkins police chief’s tan uniform, triangle-shaped patch, and beige SUV are similar to Roy Scheider’s character’s equipment and clothing in Jaws and Jaws 2. These similarities also include the blue uniforms and trooper/sheriff style hats worn by the patrolmen which also matches the Amity Island Police uniforms from the Jaws films.(source)

12. The quarry scene in Chapter 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street is the same location used in The Walking Dead, Season 1 (2010), most notably Episode 4: Vatos. The quarry also appears in the Netflix movie The Fundamentals of Caring.

Quarry
Image Source: Netflix,2

In Chapter 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street of Stranger Things, Police Chief Hopper and others search a quarry area while trying to find Will. The same quarry has been used to shoot a number of other shows such as The Walking Dead (2010) and The Fundamentals of Caring. In The Walking Dead, the quarry scene appears in Season 1, most notably Episode 4: Vatos.(source)

13. The shot in Episode 7 where Hopper bursts into the bus to rescue the kids, was made to resemble the character in Indiana Jones.

Hopper - Indiana
Image Source: Netflix,2

In Episode 7, The Bathtub, Mike, Eleven, Lucas, and Dustin are trying to hide from the government agents, so they board and hide in a dilapidated bus. When the agents locate them, Chief Hopper appears and saves them. The scene where Hopper boards the bus with a gun was made to resemble Indiana Jones complete with the hat and gun.(source)

14. At the end of Episode 8, the kids try to kill the monster using a slingshot. This is very similar to the ending of Stephen King’s It

sling
Image source: giphy

At the end of Season 1 of Stranger Things, the Demogorgon enters the classroom the kids are in. To kill the monster, Lucas uses a yellow slingshot and aims for the creature’s open mouth. This scene is inspired by the ending of Stephen King’s It. In It, the adults attempt to kill the monstrous spider version of It with a slingshot and pieces of silver by aiming its head.(source)

15. When Will is trapped in the Upside Down realm, he communicates with his mother using light. This is similar to another movie, Poltergeist, where Carol Anne talked with her mother through television.

Communication
Image Source: 1,2

Some of the scenes in Stanger Things were inspired and include references to the movie Poltergeist. The name of the movie appears when in a flashback scene when Castle Byers Joyce surprises Will with tickets to see Poltergeist. The similarity between the two movies appears when both the trapped kids tries to communicate with their respective mothers in basically the same way as was done in the movie. Will communicates through light bulbs while Carrie Ann through a television.(source)

16. When Barbara is abducted, the song played during the scene is a hint to the opening of next episode and her outcome.

The ending scene of Episode 2 shows Barbra being abducted from poolside. At this point, The Bangles’ Hazy Shade of Winter begins to play, “Time time time, see what’s become of me?” The song hints to the plight of Barbra in the next episode which reveals that she has been pulled into the Upside Down.  The “Upside Down” is the world created by a rift in time and space with the look of a “hazy shade of winter”.(source)

17. The smiley face, yellow yo-yo used by Jonathan and Nancy to set a trap for the Demogorgon is a reference to smiley face in the 80’s horror classic The Howling (1981). 

Smiley
Image Source: Netflix,2

In Episode 8 of Stranger Things, Jonathan and Nancy set a trap for the Demogorgon. They use a yellow yo-yo imprinted with a smiley face as a trap signal. This scene is in reference to the smiley face stickers of the 80’s horror movie, The Howling. In The Howling, Karen is haunted by ubiquitous smiley face stickers, the first of which turns up in the phone booth, and then a second one on the door of the porn film cubicle.(1,2)

18. In Episode 3 of Stanger Things, the police chief comes to know about an experiment involving LSD and a patient. This scene pays homage to Stephen King’s novel Firestarter.  

Fire
Image Source: 1,2

Chief Hopper comes to learn about an experiment involving LSD in Episode 3: Holly, Jolly. The Duffer Brothers created this scene in homage to Stephen King. Stephen King’s novel, Firestarter, also features LSD which is used by Charlie’s father Andy during his college years. It is similar to Eleven’s mother being subjected to LSD while involved in the experiments of MK Ultra during her college days.(1,2,3)

19. The “Upside Down” world where the Demogorgon lives shares similarities with the video game Silent Hill (1999).

Upside down
Image Source: 1,2

The “Upside Down” is a dimension existing in parallel to the dimension inhabited by humans. It contains the same locations and infrastructures, but it is much darker, colder, and foggier. It is overgrown with tendrils and has decayed spores floating in the air. This dark world bears a striking resemblance to the 1999 video game, Silent Hill.(1,2)
20. Kellogg’s hit their highest stock prices four days after Stranger Things released.

Eleven Eggo
Image credit: Netflix

In the Stranger Things series, Eggo waffles are shown to be Eleven’s favorite food. Due to this, demand for Eggo waffles started increasing just after the release of the show. The Kellogg Company, who produces Eggo, had not been part of the production prior to the first season’s release. But recognizing the opportunity, they provided a vintage, 1980s Eggo television advertisement for Netflix to use in its Super Bowl LI commercial. Also, currently, The Kellogg Company is looking to become more involved with cross-promotion.(source

21. In Episode 3, the gesture that Eleven does with her head when breaking the man’s neck was Millie’s own idea.

Neck
Image Source: Netflix

In Episode 3 of Stranger Things when Eleven denies killing the cat, two men try to lock her into a room. But with her powers, Eleven opens the door and smashes one of the men into the wall. When the other man tries to stop her, she twists her head to the right which breaks his neck. This gesture with her head was the actress’s own idea.(source)

22. 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt was used to get Eleven to float in the kiddie pool.

Eleven
Image Source: imgur.com

In Episode 7, Eleven floats in a kiddie pool to establish contact with the dark world Upside Down. To make Millie, the actress who plays Eleven, float on the water, Epsom salt was used. About 1,200 pounds of salt was dissolved in the water.(source)

23. The Duffer Brothers have a thirty-page document about Upside Down containing the intricate details of the dark world which they will explore more thoroughly in Season 2.

Upside Down
Image Source: babylonbee.com

In an interview, the Duffer Brothers said that they have documented the world of Upside Down in a thirty-page document. It contains the intricate details of the dark world. Since Season 1 consisted only of eight episodes, they couldn’t portray every detail of Upside Down. Season 2 will feature the dark realm in greater detail than the first season.(source)

24. Due to the show’s growing popularity, the production team of Stranger Things has spoken to the production team of Games of Thrones for tips and advice to secure the filming sites for Season 2.

Part 2
Image Source: www.independent.co.uk

According to the show’s creator, the shooting of Stranger Things Season 1 was easy. This was because no one knew about it and keeping the suspense of endings secret was no problem. But now, the series has grown extremely popular and people are keeping track of every single thing. Hence, security of the filming site is of the utmost importance. For tips and advice on security, they have contacted the production team of another widely popular show, Games of Thrones.(source)

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