The Smart Way Stranger Things Creators Are Approaching Season 5 Differently From Previous Seasons

mike, eleven, and will at the roller rink in stranger things season 4 volume 1
(Image credit: Netflix)

As the character ensemble at the heart of Stranger Things has grown over the first four seasons, their respective worlds have gotten bigger (and I’m not just talking about their increasing understanding of the Upside Down). Our young heroes of Hawkins, Indiana, have made new friends and gotten closer with peers outside of Season 1’s foursome of Will, Mike, Lucas and Dustin. Matt and Ross Duffer have expertly woven in new characters, adding fan favorites like Sadie Sink’s Max and Joseph Quinn’s Eddie, to name just a few. As work begins on Season 5, however, the creators aim to change their approach somewhat, and in a really smart way.

The Duffer Brothers have found myriad ways to keep things interesting for Netflix subscribers since Stranger Things premiered in 2016: new relationships, new monsters, new music (just kidding — though Kate Bush can attest the new appreciation for some classic ‘80s tunes). Despite the success they’ve had introducing new fan-favorite characters each season, Matt Duffer told IndieWire that the fifth and final season likely won't go that route. He said: 

I just like shaking it up, so we shake it up by changing the plot or adding in a new monster. We’re doing our best to resist [adding new characters] for Season 5. We’re trying not to do that so we can focus on the OG characters, I guess.

It really does make sense to not introduce too many new faces at a point when trying to wrap a story. Not to mention they’ve already built up quite a large cast of characters at this point, and the Duffer Brothers know that the more stories they have to tell, the less time they can spend with each. Ross Duffer said as much, as he explained the thought process and risk assessment that has gone into creating the new characters. In his words:

Whenever we introduce a new character, we want to make sure that they’re going to be an integral part of the narrative. So that’s something with Eddie this season, where we go, ‘Well, we need a character here for this storyline to really work, and to give it the engine that is needed.’ But every time we do that, we’re nervous, because you go, ‘We’ve got a great cast of characters here, and actors, and any moment we’re spending with a new character, we’re taking time away from one of the other actors.’ So we’re just very, very careful about who we’re introducing.

Their job is made even more difficult by the relatively low body count accumulated during the series’ first four seasons. Sure, Stranger Things has featured plenty of deathone loss in particular will affect Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin in Season 5 — but the creators spoke to their intentionality when deciding their characters’ fates after Millie Bobby Brown criticized them for being too afraid to kill people off.

Hopefully fans will appreciate the Duffer Brothers’ renewed focus on the original characters, and I fully expect more passionate campaigns to pop up on social media to save their favorite characters, just like viewers went crazy ahead of Season 4’s final episodes worrying about our beloved Steve Harrington (Joe Keery).

We’ll still have to wait quite a while before we learn more about Stranger Things Season 5, but you can always give Seasons 1-4 a rewatch on Netflix, or check out these other shows to watch if you like Stranger Things

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.