When Stranger Things debuted on Netflix in the summer of 2016, it became an almost instant phenomenon. The supernatural show, which is set in the 1980s and follows a group of pre-teens as they battle evil, took the nation by storm with its delightful mixture of nostalgia for the sci-fi/fantasy tales of Steven Spielberg and the horror stories of Stephen King. Never have a telekinetic little girl who can barely speak, a group of D&D playing geeks, a monster with no face and a super shady government lab been cooler.

After Season 2 hit the service in October 2017, Stranger Things continued to be one of Netflix's most talked about shows, so it was no surprise when the freaky drama got picked up for Season 3 on the streamer. Here's everything we've learned so far about what's coming next to Hawkins, Indiana.

When Will Stranger Things Season 3 Debut?

As of mid August 2018, Stranger Things has only been filming on the next season for about four and a half months, but at least we can say when fans can expect to see the completed batch of episodes pop up on Netflix. While fans have certainly been hoping that Season 3 would show up sometime this fall, an '80s-tastic teaser that was released in mid-July gave everyone the impression that there would actually be no new Stranger Things in 2018. A couple of weeks later, Netflix confirmed that that would, indeed, be the case, as Season 3 is scheduled to drop sometime in the summer of 2019. Netflix's Vice President of Original Content Cindy Holland noted that the delay was due to Shawn Levy and the Duffer brothers' desire "to deliver something bigger and better than what they did last year. And so they really want to take the time to get it right." Season 1 debuted in the summer of 2016, so while this is going to feel like a long wait, it will at least get us back on the original release schedule.

What Will Stranger Things Season 3 Be About?

So, what will the focus of Stranger Things be this time around? The short answer to that question right now is that we don't really know. As could be expected from a town with a precarious connection to the Upside Down and a pissed off deadly being like the Mind Flayer just waiting around to try and get another foothold in the town, there will undoubtedly be some crazy supernatural shenanigans going on that lead our heroes to take action. And, while the Duffer Brothers have said that they don't intend to do a spinoff that focuses on Kali, the other known Hawkins Lab experiment survivor, they have said they might bring the character back. So, we might get more Kali in Season 3. Aside from that possibility, we'll just have to wait and see, especially since David Harbour has been cut off when it comes to show secrets.

Speaking of David Harbour, though, while the actor is now much more tight-lipped than he used to be, he has given us some hints at to what we might expect from Stranger Things Season 3. He has alluded to the season being very specific to 1985, the year that it will take place in, and noted that watching some of the popular movies from that year would probably go a long way toward preparing fans for the upcoming episodes. Some big sci-fi and fantasy movies came out that year, so any (or all) of them could be influences for the next season. While he didn't talk specifics about those movies that will play a part in the season, Harbour did mention that the Chevy Chase comedy Fletch would, somehow, also be important to Season 3. So, it looks like we've got some work to do to piece together what might go down next summer in Hawkins.

How Many Episodes Will Stranger Things Season 3 Have?

While we don't have much concrete info yet on Season 3 of Stranger Things, we do at least know the episode count. It was recently revealed that there will be eight episodes in the next season, which matches up with Season 1, but is one episode less than Season 2. While that may seem like a huge bummer, let's all remember that what ended up being the extra episode of Season 2 took Eleven on the journey that led her to Kali and one of the most divisive episodes of the series to date. So, maybe the slight reduction in episodes means there will be no one-offs that take us away from the main action in Hawkins, and also that we'll get all our favorite characters battling supernatural weirdos together the whole season long this time around.

Hopper

Life hasn't been easy lately for Hawkins' Chief of Police. After helping to get Will out of the Upside Down in Season 1, Hopper was tasked in the second season not only with becoming a father figure to Eleven, but fighting even more supernatural critters and keeping Will from getting taken over by the Mind Flayer. Now that Hopper is officially Eleven's adoptive father, he'll certainly be even more invested in keeping her safe in Season 3. It also looks like we'll get to see how Hopper handles some real domesticity, and it sounds like a very real possibility that he'll find himself with a love interest this season. Aside from that, we know that David Harbour, who plays Hopper, wants to see the show get into his backstory more or do anything that will let Hopper take out some of his pent up aggression by punching lots of bad guys.

Eleven

Everyone's favorite telekinetic teen had a very different arc from Season 1. While Mike was desperately trying to contact Eleven after her disappearance at the end of the previous season, we found out that she had been hidden away by Hopper in his granddad's remote cabin in an effort to keep her from being reclaimed by the new crew at Hawkins Lab. She spent quite a while locked up there, and was not happy at all about not being able to see Mike, or anyone besides Hopper, for that matter. As a result, the two got into some heated arguments where Hopper learned that it's very hard to punish a kid who can move shit with her mind. When she finally broke his rules and left the cabin, not only did she locate her mother and aunt, but Kali, who taught her to harness her anger and would have turned Eleven into even more of a killer than she already is. In the end, Eleven was able to save the day again by closing the rift between worlds, but the Mind Flayer is pissed and might now have its sights set on her when Season 3 rolls around.

Will

Oh my goodness. Poor, poor Will Byers. Even after he finally got back home to the Rightside Up version of Hawkins and was no longer being chased by the Demogorgon, we knew that things were not going to be smooth sailing for Joyce's youngest son once he threw up an extra-dimensional slug during some creepy alone time in the bathroom. And, sure enough, Season 2 of Stranger Things saw Will have recurring visions of the Upside Down that became more and more intense, as it was finally revealed that he was being used and slowly taken over by the Mind Flayer, who wanted (badly) to get into our world. It took a lot of work to get him free from that monster's control, but his friends and family prevailed, and the very good news for Season 3 is that the Duffer Brothers don't plan to have Will be the focus of all the supernatural craziness in town. So, while he'll still likely feel obligated to help solve whatever mystery awaits, he won't be in any more danger than his friends this time around.

Lucas

Most of Season 2 saw Lucas dealing with his annoying and disapproving little sister, Erica, and trying to connect with newcomer Max, which was made difficult not only by the boys' need to keep the events of the previous year quiet, but also by the constant scrutiny the new friends were under thanks to Max's step brother, Billy. Lucas was able to finally win the redhead over by telling her everything about Will and the town (and then showing her proof that it was all real), and just in time for Max to really help the group overcome the season's supernatural obstacles. After surviving Billy, and some tricky life or death situations, these two danced at the Snow Ball, and shared a kiss on the dance floor, so it's possible they'll be a couple when Season 3 gets underway.

Mike

Mike had two main jobs in Stranger Things Season 2: trying to contact Eleven and becoming Will's main confidant as his issues with the Upside Down continued. While the early part of the season revealed that Mike hadn't given up on finding Eleven since she disappeared after stopping the Demogorgon at the end of Season 1 (he'd tried to contact her 352 days in a row with his walkie talkie), he was soon too busy to try once Will began seeing visions of the Mind Flayer and revealed just how messed up he still was to Mike. Of course, it didn't take long for the fight to save Will to take over Mike's life once again, but, luckily, during this process Eleven showed up just in time to keep the group from getting killed by a pack of Demodogs. A couple of months later, Mike and Eleven also shared a kiss as they danced at the Snow Ball, so, hopefully, Season 3 will see the two closer than ever.

Dustin

Poor Dustin. The boy took a bit of an emotional beating in Season 2. Not only did he make a pet of a dangerous Upside Down creature, and realize the error of his ways way too late to save the family cat, but his Three Musketeers-loving Demodog, Dart, died at the end of the season like the rest of his kind when Eleven closed off the portal to his dimension. Luckily, Dustin managed to make a new friend in the form of Steve, and he was also back in the good graces of his friends by the end. The unlucky in love kid even got a new 'do thanks to Steve in time for the Snow Ball, and was treated to a spin around the floor from Nancy. Now all Dustin needs are some better instincts when it comes to picking up strange critters, and hopefully Season 3 will go a bit smoother for him.

Nancy, Steve And Jonathan

Nancy was on a mission in Season 2 to finally bring some peace to her friend Barb's parents and also bring the folks of Hawkins Lab to justice for setting the events in motion that led to the shy high schooler's death. And, with a lot of help from Jonathan, she was finally able to do just that. Luckily for fans who could feel their sexual tension all the way back in Season 1, their work on Barb's case led to the two having sex a few days after Nancy's breakup with Steve. The final moments of the most recent season implied that Nancy and Jonathan were going strong as a couple, and that Steve was actually OK with her decision. Hopefully, this means that the three can actually be friends and continue to work together to help stop whatever strange-ass evil will be coming the town's way in Season 3.

Joyce

The past year has been tough on Joyce Byers. First, her son Will goes missing, then she realizes she can communicate with him through Christmas lights in her home, then she sees a monster and has to go to another dimension to get him back. Season 2 saw Joyce lose new boyfriend Bob after he heroically followed her into the living underground tunnels of Hawkins as she fought to keep Will from being completely taken over by the Mind Flayer. Will seems to finally be out of the creepy, extra-dimensional monster woods, and Joyce and Hopper are growing ever closer. We don't know what Season 3 will bring for Joyce, but we do sorta hope that she can finally get a little bit of peace (and maybe some Hopper-lovin') in between whatever beast slaying she's bound to have to do.

Martin Brenner

Matthew Modine's shady scientist, Martin Brenner, was suspiciously absent from Stranger Things Season 2 after playing a huge part in the first season. We last saw his character getting attacked by a truly pissed Demogorgon in Hawkins Middle School right after Eleven and the boys were able to escape. This led to many fans thinking the character was dead, but, as astute viewers of sci-fi or fantasy (or, even soap operas, really) will tell you, if you ain't seen the body they probably ain't dead. Season 2 saw former Department of Energy employee Ray Carroll tell Eleven and Kali that Brenner was still alive, and considering that Matt and Ross Duffer have said that they feel the audience deserves to actually see Brenner bite the dust, it sounds like that info is correct and we could very well see him make a return in Season 3.

Robin

As of late August 2018, the only new character we've gotten a look at is Robin, who'll be played by Maya Hawke. As you can see above, the teaser for the new season brought us our first glimpse of Robin, who will work in the Starcourt Mall food court at Scoops Ahoy with Steve. Robin is billed as an alternative girl who's not very happy with her boring life (which makes total sense when you have to wear a uniform like that to work), but will soon find more excitement than she might be able to handle when she stumbles upon a big secret that was never meant to be known. This character was called one of the new leads by a report in Variety, so it seems that knowledge of this secret will lead to Robin being around quite a bit in Season 3.

Other Characters

Now, here's where things get a bit divisive when it comes to the fans and Stranger Things characters. While new additions to Season 2 like Joyce's doomed boyfriend Bob (R.I.P. Literally...) and Lucas' little sister Erica eventually came out of the season as fan favorites, others like Billy and Kali were hated to within an inch of their fictional lives. Bob, obviously, will not be showing up again, and we don't know right now what kind of role there might be in Season 3 for Billy and his sister (and apparently Lucas' new girlfriend) Max, but we do know that we'll be seeing Erica and Kali again.

The Duffer Brothers have confirmed that Erica was also popular with the writers, and that while working on Season 2 they were constantly looking for ways to bring the character in more, but simply didn't have enough time to fit Lucas' annoying little sister into more of the storyline. We don't know right now if she'll only be used to offer up more insults to Lucas and his friends, or if she might actually play a real part in whatever monster-hunting missions the gang will surely get up to. Either way, you can count on Erica being around more in Season 3.

Kali was a major part of what ended up being the most hated episode of Season 2, "The Last Sister," which was Episode 7. In it, Eleven left the action in Hawkins behind to travel to Chicago to try to find the only other test subject of Brenner's that she knew of, and she found Eight, now going by Kali and hanging out with quite the band of degenerate criminals. And, that was just fine with Kali, since she was, understandably, angry at being experimented on and had taken it upon herself to start killing anyone she could find who'd been a part of that program. She even tried to get Eleven to kill Ray Carroll, forcing the young girl to go to some dark places. The Duffer Brothers have revealed that they feel Kali's story isn't really wrapped up, so it's looking like we're sure to see her in some capacity in Season 3.

Recently, we've also learned that Season 3 will give us some new characters in Hawkins, as well. Mayor Larry Kline has been described as a handsome, smooth-talking politician who's also pathetic and self-serving, and I can already see this guy becoming Upside Down food at some point during the season. Kline will be played by The Princess Bride and Saw star Cary Elwes. The kids will also befriend a woman in her 70s, Patricia Brown, who doles out advice as she works in her garden. Patricia could turn out to be an ally, but she's already getting the evil-Upside-Down-denizen-hiding-in-plain-sight side eye from me. Last, but not least, Stranger Things will introduce us to Bruce, a messy, overweight, sexist and morally corrupt reporter. Jake Busey (Starship Troopers, Ray Donovan) has signed on to portray Bruce. And, it sounds like this is exactly the kind of character who could survive the events of Season 3, while someone we've come to love bites supernatural the dust.

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