Millie Bobby Brown And More Stranger Things Stars Address The Distance Between Characters And Plots In Season 4

Stranger Things Season 4 Eleven captured
(Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things is finally returning with new episodes for fans who have been waiting nearly three years to find out what happens next after the defeat of the Mind Flayer and the “death” of Jim Hopper. While some questions – like whether or not Hopper survived – were answered over hiatus, Volume 1 of Season 4 will shed the light that viewers have been counting on since 2019. That said, it won’t be back to business as usual, with the storylines splitting up the characters between Hawkins, California, Russia, and presumably the Upside Down, based on the full trailer! Millie Bobby Brown, who of course plays Eleven, and more Season 1 veterans weighed in on all the distance in the fourth season.

Eleven will be in California in Stranger Things Season 4, after leaving Hawkins with the Byers family at the end of Season 3 in the wake of what then seemed to be Hopper’s death. The big California-themed trailer revealed that she’s heading to high school alongside Will, and they’re officially apart from The Party. Members of the cast spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets, and when asked what Season 4 is like for El and Will in light of the split with their friends thousands of miles away, Millie Bobby Brown shared: 

I think it's really nice to see our characters kind of out of that environment, out of that group to see what they are like not in Hawkins, because Hawkins has defined our characters in major ways, and to see them in California in a new environment, it's actually quite refreshing and gives our characters a bit of dynamic.

Brown’s perspective may be reassuring for fans who have been nervous about Eleven and Will (as well as Jonathan and Joyce) relocating away from the Hawkins action, as “refreshing” can only be a good thing for a show that is four seasons in. Although members of the cast previewed a change that will be “sad” for fans to see, critics seem to largely agree about what’s on the way!

The majority of The Party and the older teens (with the exception of Jonathan) seem to be sticking in Hawkins, with the mystery of the Creel House and its possible connections to Vecna. Natalia Dyer, who has played Nancy from the very beginning, shared her thoughts on Season 4 feeling different with all the split storylines and distance between them:

We started filming at the beginning of 2020. So, you know, our production got halted by everything that was going on, and we were lucky to be able to come back to work, which was amazing. Just that alone changed so much about how we filmed, and even just the order of how we filmed, so that was an interesting new feature.

The break between Season 3 and Season 4 likely would have been considerably shorter if not for the production shutdowns that affected the entertainment industry due to COVID, and the Duffer brothers revealed that the reason for the fourth season’s split into two volumes was to get some episodes to fans as soon as possible. (Plus, the episodes are extremely long.) Joe Keery, who plays Steve, agreed with Dyer's take, then said: 

Also just the distance of the plot, the storylines. Like, I don't think I even saw David Harbour [who plays Hopper]. It definitely felt like they had bitten off a lot more on this. They were going for something that was bigger, and you can kind of feel that the scales of things are a little larger.

Joe Keery not spending time with David Harbour on Season 4 isn’t surprising, considering one of the earliest reveals about the new episodes came with the footage of Hopper – alive and semi-well – being put to work in the snow of the Soviet Union. Posters for the season indicate that Joyce and Murray will be involved with Hopper’s storyline. 

Steve and Nancy will seemingly be joining forces with the younger teens, with even Erica joining in on the action. The members of the original Party are veterans of investigating anything and everything that has to deal with the Upside Down, although usually with the benefit of a friend with superpowers on hand to help out. Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin, weighed in on Season 4 feeling different with the distance:

I think every season just feels [different]. It feels different every single year. It feels like it grows so much.

Considering that the Demogorgon that wreaked so much havoc in Season 1 paled in comparison to the massive Mind Flayer in Season 3, fans can definitely agree with Matarazzo that the show has grown an awful lot! The Mind Flayer was seemingly defeated for good – or at least locked away in the Upside Down – at the end of Season 3, but all signs point toward a Season 4 that’s even bigger. Caleb McLaughlin, whose Lucas is on the basketball team when the show returns, shared his perspective: 

We’ve had three other seasons that are totally different from Season 1, so I think I'm kind of just used to change. The cast has expanded so much. Even the newcomers, it doesn't even feel like they weren't even here in Season 1. I think that's the best thing about our show is [that it's] not the same. It changes every time and evolves. Even this season, just not with the actors, but the camera crew, even the direction. The Duffers are even getting better. They're amazing. Even the writing, there's so much more depth to the story and just the vision of everything. It's amazing.

So, even though some of the characters with the strongest bonds will be separate for at least part of Season 4, the cast’s comments indicate that fans can look forward to something bigger and possibly even more thrilling than we’ve seen before. Plus, with nine episodes all reportedly running well over an hour, there’s plenty of time for potential reunions. After all, not even Stranger Things can keep the groups all separate for a full season, right? 

Find out when Volume 1 of Stranger Things Season 4 premieres on Friday, May 27 at 12:01 a.m. PT with a Netflix subscription. Volume 2 premieres just over a month later, on July 1. For some viewing options during the break between new episodes, check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).