How Stephen King Inspired Netflix's New Show Stranger Things

netflix stranger things

Mild spoilers for Stranger Things are below.

Netflix's new series Stranger Things has put the streaming service on the map in the horror genre. Thanks to a stellar cast, a creepy premise, and a slew of homages to the best of 80s movies, the show is a must-watch. As it turns out, the producers of Stranger Things were indeed inspired by the Master of Horror himself. Matt and Ross Duffer borrowed some elements from a Stephen King novella for one of the episodes of the first season, along with other more indirect homages, and they were pretty excited about it. Here's what the Duffer brothers have to say about their inspiration for the fourth installment of Stranger Things Season 1:

This episode is called 'The Body.' That's our not-so-subtle nod to Stephen King's short story The Body, which was the basis for Rob Reiner's classic film Stand by Me. We love that story and that film with all of our boyish hearts, and its DNA is written all over the show. (You'll see kids marching down railroad tracks in the next chapter because we couldn't resist.)

Matt and Ross Duffer's reveal to EW that they included nods to Stephen King's The Body certainly proves that they have good taste in horror. King knows how to craft a creepy story that has as many human moments as it does scares, and it's a method that works for page and screen alike. Stranger Things managed to strike a balance between character development and scares, especially when it came to the young cast (also similar to the short story and film adaptation). Horror can fall flat if it's nothing but chainsaw murderers and devil possessions and revenge hauntings; the human element is necessary, and the Duffer brothers bring it as well in Stranger Things as King has in many of his projects.

It's nice to see that Matt and Ross Duffer are open and enthusiastic about their love for The Body. The homage wouldn't be particularly fun if it only felt derivative of a tale that has already been told. They were paying tribute to the kids' journey of The Body rather than stealing from it. The young actors were one of the highlights of Stranger Things Season 1, and they delivered on channeling what was great about The Body and Stand by Me, and luckily had more stories to tell with these characters beyond just the events of this episode.

The kids of Stranger Things weren't the only actors who turned the show into a must-watch. Winona Ryder was fantastic in her first major role for the small screen. She made a gamble in trying out a new genre in a new medium, and it's safe to say that it was a gamble that paid off. There's no confirmation one way or the other at this point, but Ryder's co-star Matthew Modine has hinted that Stranger Things will be back for a Season 2. Matt and Ross Duffer may well get another full season to drop references to Stephen King's works.

And what did King have to say about the show?

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All eight episodes of Stranger Things Season 1 are available on Netflix for binge-watching now. Check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what you can catch on the small screen in the not-too-distant future.

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.