Fans of Netflix's Stranger Things have been waiting for months to learn what's coming next for the unfortunate folks of Hawkins, Indiana. Season 2 ended on a killer cliffhanger that had the Mind Flayer looming over the Upside Down version of Hawkins Elementary, which was more than a little unnerving considering the majority of the Stranger Things cast was at the Snow Ball at Hawkins Elementary on the other side. Details about Season 3 have been scarce, but we now know how many episodes will be in the third season, and it's fewer than we thought. Stranger Things Season 3 will run for eight episodes.
Granted, eight episodes is only one episode shy of the Season 2 count, and it matches the episode count of Season 1. Still, the show used that extra episode in Season 2 to expand the world of Stranger Things, give Eleven some character development, and finally find a way to tie her back into the main plot in Hawkins. Not everybody particularly loved the "Lost Sister" episode, and it's undoubtedly the most divisive, but it did serve a purpose, and the Duffer brothers stood by their decision to send Eleven off on her own for a full episode. It stood to reason that Season 3 would get another order for nine episodes. Who wouldn't want an extra hour of Stranger Things action, given how long we wait between seasons?
The reduced episode count could reveal a little bit of what to expect in the third season. While we still don't know much about the plot other than that Will will get a bit of a break, eight episodes may mean that the plot keeps the characters together in one arc more than Season 2. The absence of Eleven from the rest of the characters aside from Hopper until almost the very last episode made the whole season feel somewhat disjointed and missing some of the magic from Season 1.
Eight episodes rather than nine may mean that Stranger Things won't include a bottle episode in Season 3 and (hopefully) keep Eleven in the mix. If Eleven is around, maybe Mike could even be more fun in Season 3! He wasn't exactly at his perkiest after spending the better part of a year calling out into the Void in the hopes that she wasn't dead.
Confirmation of the episode count isn't the only sign of progress on the Stranger Things front. TVLine also reports that Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, and Cara Buono will be back as season regulars. Production on Season 3 will kick off in mid-April at some point.
The bad news is that the mid-April production date means that we're in for quite a wait before we get to see any of the eight episodes of Season 3. Production on Season 2 began in November 2016, and the episodes didn't release on Netflix until October 2017. That doesn't necessarily mean we should plan on waiting 11 months after production begins for Season 3, but it could be a sign that mid-2019 is the soonest we'll get new content. Only time will tell. Who knows? Maybe David Harbour will start leaking spoilers again.
You can watch (or re-watch) the first two seasons of Stranger Things on Netflix now. For more viewing options, take a look at our midseason TV premiere guide.