Cue the ominous grandfather clock — it's the beginning of the end for Stranger Things.
Season 4 of the Netflix original series left Hawkins in impending doom, with Vecna's mysterious disappearance looming over and fan theories running rampant. There's still so much ahead for Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the gang. Luckily, the wait for answers may end sooner than expected as Stranger Things season 5 brings about an official finale to the supernatural drama.
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Off the small screen, Stranger Things has earned a total of 13 nominations at the upcoming 2022 Emmy Awards airing on September 12, including for Best Drama Series. While we wait for the show's epic conclusion, here's everything we know about Stranger Things season 5's release date, cast, episodes, spoilers and more:
When is Stranger Things season 5 coming out?
Though there's no official release date yet or even a Stranger Things season 5 trailer, the Duffer Brothers spilled to Variety that the wait should be much shorter this time around, especially since they already know the premise of the fifth installment.
“We're going to take a little vacation in July,” Ross Duffer said in an exclusive interview with Collider. “And then we're going to come back. I know that the writer's room is going to start in that first week of August.”
In fact, Matt Duffer told TVLine in June that it's "pretty well mapped out." He added: “I’m not sure we’re ready to say yet a start date for shooting." In other words, there's no confirmation about when Stranger Things will come out but writing and filming will begin in the next few months.
Is season 5 the last of Stranger Things?
As much as it hurts to say, friends don't lie. The showrunners confirmed season 5 will be its last in a letter to Stranger Things fans as they wrote:
Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things. At the time, we predicted the story would last four to five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four, but — as you'll soon see for yourself — we are now hurtling toward our finale. Season 4 will be the penultimate season; season 5 will be the last.
How many episodes are in Stranger Things season 5?
Buckle up — the final installment means tying up a lot of loose storylines, a thought that occurred to Ross while writing the new season. He told Entertainment Weekly: "For the first time ever, we don't wrap things up at the end of [season] 4, so it's going to be moving. I don't know that it's going to be going 100 miles an hour at the start of 5, but it's going to be moving pretty fast."
What's more, the Stranger Things writers recently tweeted a photo of planning for the final season and captioned it, "Grid Stage." The teaser revealed a whiteboard divided into eight columns and organized by each episode, suggesting that the last season will have one episode less than its predecessor.
It's a step back from what fans expected after last season's extra, movie-length episode, but the creators offered up an explanation in August. "I don’t think the run times will be as extreme in season 5," Matt told The Hollywood Reporter. "We’re trying to return to the simplicity of the structure in season 1, with bigger scale and scope."
Though it may not be as lengthy as its season 4 counterpart, don't be disappointed — it seems like season 5 will jam in a lot of action. Matt said he still expects the final episode to be "pretty massive." Comparing it plot-wise to the over three-hour conclusion of Lord of the Rings, the Duffer Brothers reassured it will feature "like, eight endings."
Are there any Stranger Things season 5 spoilers?
One storyline sure to carry over is Will (Noah Schnapp)'s relationship with Mike (Finn Wolfhard). In July, the Stranger Things actor reflected on the finale with Variety. "I mean, it’s pretty clear this season that Will has feelings for Mike," he told the outlet. "They’ve been intentionally pulling that out over the past few seasons. Even in season 1, they hinted at that and slowly, slowly grew that storyline."
He added: "I think for season 4, it was just me playing this character who loves his best friend but struggles with knowing if he’ll be accepted or not, and feeling like a mistake and like he doesn’t belong. Will has always felt like that."
"All his friends, they all have girlfriends and they all fit into their different clubs. Will has never really found anywhere to fit in," Noah concluded. "I think that’s why so many people come up to me and tell me that they love Will and they resonate with him so much because it’s such a real character."
Aging out of adolescence, and of course, away from the Mind Flayer of it all, Will's in for a huge journey ahead. "Now he’s scared to come out and doesn’t know if they’ll accept him," Noah said. "And then Eleven is like his sister, but he doesn’t want to hurt her because if he says he likes Mike, that’s gonna hurt her feelings. There’s all these things running in his mind. So I kind of just have to make sure that I’m conveying the depth of all his traumas."
Like their onscreen characters, the real-life actors are growing up. The coronavirus pandemic set back production's timeline, which presented a major dilemma that the geniuses behind the hit Netflix series have started to think about.
“I’m sure we will do a time jump,” Ross told TVLine. “Ideally, we’d have shot [seasons 4 and 5] back to back, but there was just no feasible way to do that. So these are all discussions we’re going to have with our writers when we start the room up."
Season 5 definitely won't start like any other season. It will be "pedal to the metal from the opening scene," he added. Oh, speaking of, expect an emotional conclusion. "We do have an outline for season 5, and we pitched it to Netflix and they really responded well to it," Ross told The Wrap. "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."
The journey's bound to be a rollercoaster that the creators hope can satisfy in a way that's both entertaining and feels right. He added in the Entertainment Weekly interview: "While a lot of season 5 is actually pretty blurry, the last 30 minutes of it are pretty clear in our heads."
Did Stranger Things season 5 officially begin production?
Yes, it did. In an Instagram post shared on November 6, the show announced that production for season 5 had started and shared the name of the first episode.
"Season 5. episode 1. The Crawl," the show captioned the photo of the title page of a script. "HAPPY STRANGER THINGS DAY."
The news about the premiere episode comes after the Stranger Things writers did an unusual thing with the fans. In late August, they took to Twitter to ask TV-goers for their ideas for creating the final season. At the time, it was only revealed that season 5 would span eight episodes and there would be no time jumping for the main characters.
"Grid stage," the show's writers cryptically tweeted on August 25.
A few weeks later, the writers surprised their followers by following up on their request. Tweeting a pixelated photo of the same grid they shared a few weeks earlier, they revealed the planning stages were complete and they were ready to write the final season.
Who will be in the Stranger Things season 5 cast?
Hawkins' favorite group of misfits reunited at the end of season 4, and though there was some uncertainty surrounding whether Max (Sadie Sink) is dead — RIP Eddie (Joseph Quinn) — the Duffer Brothers confirmed she's very much alive. Here are all the other returning characters we can expect next season:
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler
Noah Schnapp as Will Byers
Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair
Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson
Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler
Joe Keery as Steve Harrington
Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers
Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
David Harbour as Hopper
Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley
Curious about where this leaves Vecna? When asked how the villain factors into the show’s final season, offscreen actor Jamie Campbell Bower told The Hollywood Reporter, "Let me put it this way: I know about season five. Take from that what you will." So, it's definitely not the last we'll see of his reign in the upside down ...
How to watch and stream Stranger Things season 5
Catch up on Stranger Things by streaming seasons 1 through 4 exclusively on Netflix. Subscriptions start at $9.99 per month. Grab your laptop and watch on the Netflix website. Or if you prefer to view on a mobile device, the Netflix app is available on smartphones, smart TVs and game consoles, among other platforms.
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