The Stranger Things Season 4 Change That Will Be 'Sad' For Fans To See, According To The Cast

Stranger Things Lucas, Dustin, and Max
(Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things is finally on the verge of returning to Netflix with the first new episodes in almost three years, but Season 4 won’t be more of what fans got in the first three seasons. The major characters are split between distant locations, ranging from Hawkins to California to Russia, not to mention some possible journeys to the Upside Down. There’s a lot to be excited about, but according to the stars, there’s one change that “shakes up” the show and will make fans sad. 

The cast of Netflix’s sci-fi series spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets ahead of the Season 4 premiere. When I asked how life has been different for The Party back in Hawkins with Eleven and Will off in California, Sadie Sink – who plays Max Mayfield – shared:

Just having someone leave the party kind of shakes up the dynamic a bit. It feels different, and everyone's just in such different places heading into high school.

Although Max is one of the newer members of The Party, she bonded closely with Eleven during the course of Season 3, so El’s departure may have been harder on Max than anybody other than Mike. The absence of El and Will also comes right when the rest of the group is starting high school in Hawkins. Gaten Matarazzo weighed in on the relatability, and why fans might not be happy about it:

It's a pretty relatable situation. I think a lot of people had a good friend they had when they were younger, elementary, middle school, and moved away at some point. I had a couple. That was always rough, but usually you try to keep in touch. At the time [in Season 4] it's hard. In the '80s it's hard to keep in touch as well. So yeah, that separation is upsetting. It's sad for the group and it's going to be sad for people to see.

The Party has limited methods of communication as ‘80s high school freshman, and it’s safe to say that the distance between Hawkins and California is way too far for their walkie talkie ranges. Unless the Byers have their own tower like what Suzy had to save the day with Planck’s constant and The Neverending Story in Season 3, they probably aren’t able to keep in touch as much as they’d like. 

The early footage for Season 4 revealed that there’s another change in store for the members of The Party who stayed behind in Hawkins, with Lucas joining the basketball team. The others seem to be sticking with Dungeons & Dragons with the "Hellfire Club" rather than hitting the gym, but Lucas isn’t giving up on his friends. Caleb McLaughlin shared why Lucas wants to keep his friends despite the separation, saying:

I feel like he's trying to keep them because he still feels a part of them inside of him. They've been his friends forever, and he still feels like a nerd. But he wants to experience this new world with them. I don't think he wants to exactly dive into this whole new cool guy jock thing. I think they probably did have this conversation over the summer that was like, 'We're going to go into high school and we're going to be new and evolved people.' And when he got there, he was the first one to jump to it and he's really serious about it, but his friends were like, 'Nah, that's not who we are.' And Lucas was like, 'Whoa, maybe that's not who we are. Maybe we could just try this out and see what happens.'

The Party members were never exactly the most popular kids in the first three seasons, and Lucas at least isn’t going to need to take refuge in an AV room at Hawkins High. Whether or not the friendships between those who stayed behind in Hawkins survive the transition to high school – and whatever danger is in store courtesy of the Upside Down in Season 4 – remains to be seen. McLaughlin continued:

I feel like a lot of kids can relate to that, because when you go into high school through your adolescence, you kind of get lost and you forget who you are sometimes, and you have to remind yourself. You have to actually step outside the box to see and appreciate the person that you are and who you were.

While most fans probably can’t relate to monsters (including the terrifying new Vecna) wreaking havoc in real life, the change that comes with going to high school is something that plenty of viewers have experienced. Season 4 is going to deliver a new era of Stranger Things action, after the longest break between seasons in the history of the show.

Fortunately, that break is very nearly over. Season 4 of Stranger Things – which has many critics in agreement so far – premieres on Friday, May 27 at 12:01 a.m. PT on Netflix. The fourth season will release in two volumes, with seven episodes available to start. Volume 2 will be two movie-length final episodes. You can check out the series with a Netflix subscription, and don’t forget to visit our rundown of 7 things you need to remember for Season 4

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, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.