"Stranger Things" Season 2 References and Easter Eggsby IMDb-Editors | last updated - 8 months ago
"Stranger Things" Season 2 is packed with references to movies and TV series from the 1980s. Here's a selection that we spotted.
"Stranger Things" Season 2 is packed with references to movies and TV shows from the early 1980s, which foreshadow events in the series or pay loving homage to filmmakers. Here are a selection of references we spotted throughout Season 2. However, be aware there are spoilers ahead that reveal the fate of key characters and the outcome of the show. With that, let's head back to Hawkins in Oct. 1984.
"Dragon’s Lair" ("Chapter One: MADMAX")
At Hawkins' Palace Arcade, the boys are seen playing "Dragon’s Lair,” a video game where they play a knight attempting to rescue a princess from an evil dragon. The game was released in June 1983, meaning the kids might have spent a lot of quarters trying to beat it by Oct. 1984.
Merrill’s Farm ("Chapter One: MADMAX")
Merrill is a known name in the Stephen King universe, of which "Stranger Things" creators Matt and Ross Duffer are fans. So, when Hopper turned up at Merrill's Farm to investigate a rotting pumpkin patch, the surname rang an easter-egg bell.
The character John 'Ace' Merrill not only appears in the novel "Needful Things" but is the main antagonist in "The Body," the novella which was adapted as Stand by Me (1986) with Kiefer Sutherland in the role. Stand by Me, where four boys go on an adventure to find a missing child, was also an influence on the first season of "Stranger Things," notably when the kids are seen walking along train tracks.
Ominous Car Ride ("Chapter One: MADMAX")
When Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) is first seen driving her son Will (Noah Schnapp) to the mysterious lab in Hawkins, an overhead shot of the car driving through trees reminded us of the opening of The Shining (1980). We know the film (in addition to Stephen King’s story) was an influence on the Duffers because Dacre Montgomery, who plays series newcomer Billy Hargrove, told us at San Diego Comic-Con.
Reese's Pieces ("Chapter One: MADMAX")
While at Hawkins National Laboratory, Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) asks Will what his favorite Halloween candy is. His response, Reese's Pieces, is a nod to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), where the candy was used by Elliott to lure out and befriend the alien.
Cliff Diving ("Chapter One: MADMAX")
When Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) is being told off by his parents, his father comes out with the old saying: "If your friend jumps off a cliff, you’re going to jump, too?" This was, no doubt, a nod to Season 1 when Mike jumped off the edge of a quarry and was saved by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).
But we also recalled this scene from It (2017), when Wolfhard's character actually followed a friend in jumping off a cliff. What's with this kid and jumping off cliffs?
Millennium Falcon ("Chapter One: MADMAX")
When being forced to give away toys, Mike considers his Millennium Falcon, which Eleven memorably floated with the power of her mind in Season 1.
A deeper cut is the toy monkey he tosses in a box. This is the monkey that appears in the Duffers 'Monkey Massacre' production card after the credits of each episode.
Will’s Close Encounter ("Chapter One: MADMAX")
After the Byers family has gone to bed, Will wakes up and walks to the front door, which opens as light glows through the window. The scene is reminiscent of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), where a young boy is drawn to the light outside his front door and taken by aliens. The Duffers have also compared the obsessive approach of Joyce Byers to that of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) in Close Encounters.
"I’ll Be Back" ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")
If you didn't catch the nod in the first episode, Eleven is shown watching a clip on the TV of a trailer for The Terminator (1984). As previously stated, the events of "Stranger Things 2" begin during the opening weekend of the killer robot movie.
Channel hopping, Eleven also catches a moment of Susan Lucci on long-running soap "All My Children" (1970-2011).
Nancy and Tina ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")
In "Stranger Things," Nancy’s name was inspired by the lead character in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Nancy Thompson. In that movie, Nancy goes to her friend Tina's house for a sleepover, which ends in tragedy. So, it’s surely no coincidence that in "Stranger Things 2" Nancy goes over to Tina's house for a party. In this version, it's Nancy who gets covered in red.
Halloween Costumes ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")
At the house party, we spotted characters dressed like Johnny from The Karate Kid (1984); Alex Owens from Flashdance (1983); Rocky Balboa from Rocky (1976); Bluto from Animal House (1978); and what could have either been "Magnum, P.I." or Scarface (1983).
On the music side, we spotted someone dressed like Madonna from the "Like a Virgin" era, while Jonathan mistook a girl dressed like Siouxsie Sioux as a member of KISS.
Horror Characters ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")
While out treat-or-treating, Will becomes separated from his friends and is frightened by a hat trick of creepy characters: a wolfman, a creepy clown, and Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise. Jason only got the hockey mask in Friday the 13th Part III (1982).
"Bright Light, Bright Light" ("Chapter Three: The Pollywog")
When Dustin adopts a strange new pet, he discovers it reacts badly to bright light and is transformed if it is fed – much like the creatures in Gremlins (1984), which was executive produced by Spielberg.
Dustin uses a 3 Musketeers bar to feed the creature, which reminded us of how Chunk befriended Sloth in The Goonies (1985) by sharing his Baby Ruth bar, even though that film was released a year after the events of "Stranger Things 2."
Mr. Baldo ("Chapter Three: The Pollywog")
In an attempt to help Will, Bob talks about the nightmares he had as a child. These featured Mr. Baldo, a creepy clown who would extend a fat white glove and ask: "Hey, kiddo. Would you like a balloon?"
Despite the fact that Stephen King’s "It" was not published until 1986 (two years after the events of "Stranger Things" Season 2), this sure sounds like Pennywise the Clown, who enticed a young boy to his death with the words: "Hi, Georgie … Do you want a balloon?"
Plus, when Bob didn't act afraid anymore, the nightmares stopped. Pennywise fed on fear and was defeated when the children were no longer afraid of him.
"Anne of Green Gables" ("Chapter Three: The Pollywog")
Hopper’s bedtime story for Eleven is "Anne of Green Gables," the story of an orphan girl, sent to an elderly brother and sister by mistake, who charms her new community with fiery spirit and imagination. Reading the part about her mother foreshadows Eleven's investigation into her own origins.
Road Warrior ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")
When Max meets Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) at the Palace Arcade, employee Keith (Matty Cardarople) calls her "Road Warrior," a nod to the second Mad Max movie, The Road Warrior (1981). Fittingly, in a later episode, Max gets behind the wheel of a car and lives up to her nickname.
You Goonie! ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")
It's clear the Duffers are fans of The Goonies (1985), a movie about a group of small town kids setting out on an adventure, based on a story by Steven Spielberg.
So, it was a great nostalgia nod when Sean Astin, who played Goonies leader Mikey, joined the series as Joyce's new boyfriend, Bob. As if to cement the connection, Joyce asks Bob to help her decipher Will’s drawings and "Find the X," to which he replies: "What’s at the X? Pirate treasure?" The Goonies, of course, used an old map marked with an 'X' to hunt pirate treasure.
Incidentally, filming on The Goonies began on Oct. 22, 1984, meaning a 13-year-old Sean Astin was in front of the camera over the same Halloween during which "Stranger Things 2" takes place.
The Evil Dead ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")
There are a few references throughout "Stranger Things" to Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981), of which the poster was on Jonathan's wall in Season 1. In this season, Eleven looking under the floorboards of the cabin in the woods could be a nod. But the image of a swing swaying in front of a house and the vines that pin down Hopper are more blatant references to the horror classic.
Also, the moment in "Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer", when the camera zooms toward the Byers house, recalls a scene from The Evil Dead.
Burke ("Chapter Six: The Spy")
Casting Paul Reiser was a clear nod to his questionable company man character, Carter Burke, in James Cameron's Aliens (1986). The connection is never more clear than when his "Stranger Things" character, Dr. Sam Owens, is watching the deaths of his soldiers on security monitors as they are surrounded by beeping red dots on radar – much like the events of Aliens.
In a bonus Aliens reference, before the soldiers enter the central chamber, one uses Cpl. Dwayne Hicks line from Aliens and tells the others: "Stay frosty."
Eleven the Jedi ("Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister")
When Eleven moves a large container in a train yard, with encouragement from her long-lost "sister" Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), it reminded us of Luke Skywalker attempting to move an X-Wing with help from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Later, El uses her power to nearly choke a man to death, much like Star Wars villain Darth Vader.
"Punky Brewster" ("Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister")
When Eleven confronts the man who gave electric shock therapy to her mother, he is watching family comedy series "Punky Brewster.” The choice is notable as the show is about a young, abandoned girl who is eventually adopted by a grouchy, older man – much like El and Hopper – and this episode has Punky talking about going to the doctor and being tormented by a giant needle.
Jurassic Park ("Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer")
With the Hawkins lab under siege by creatures, Bob volunteers to get the power back on, reprogram the systems, and unlock the doors. It recalls Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), when Samuel L. Jackson heads off to get the park "back online."
In addition, both Chief Hopper and Jurassic Park's Muldoon (Bob Peck) utter the same line: "Where are the breakers?"
Christmas Lights ("Chapter Nine: The Gate")
Early in the finale, Steve and Nancy go looking for space heaters in the Byers' backyard and pull out a set of Christmas lights. These played a significant role in the first season, acting as Will’s way to communicate with his mother, Joyce, from the Upside Down.
The Exorcist ("Chapter Nine: The Gate")
There are numerous nods to horror The Exorcist (1973) throughout "Stranger Things 2," dealing as it does with a youngster possessed by a malevolent demon. But the connection is perhaps most clear in the finale as Will is tied to a bed, while his skin changes color as the demon comes close to the surface.
A further reference sees Will communicate via Morse Code when he can no longer speak. In The Exorcist, Reagan (Linda Blair) makes the words "Help Me" appear on her own skin.
Dark Phoenix ("Chapter Nine: The Gate")
When Eleven uses her powers to close the gate, we couldn’t help but think of the Dark Phoenix storyline of the "X-Men" comics in which Jean Grey unleashes her ultimate powers of telekinesis. The fact that El levitates and is surrounded by flames connects it even more.
As a more timely reference, it could also be seen as a nod to Stephen King’s Firestarter (1984).