That Stranger Things Lawsuit Can Apparently Be Disproven By The Duffer Brothers Already

stranger things hopper

This has been an interesting week for Matt and Ross Duffer, the creators of Netflix's hit horror drama Stranger Things. The brothers were hit with a lawsuit from a man claiming they'd stolen the show's central ideas from a pitch he'd presented them back in 2014. The similarities between the projects exist, but it seems the Duffers can now prove their innocence thanks to a series of email discussions focusing on developing the ideas that would later become Stranger Things proper.

Plaintiff Charlie Kessler claims that he had a meeting with Matt and Ross Duffer back in 2014, where he pitched a TV series based on his 2012 short film Montauk, which was about mysterious experiments, a missing child, and a small town cop trying to put it all together. One hiccup in Kessler's plan is that there are plenty of real-world conspiracy theories about alleged goings-on in Montauk, New York in the 1970s. And another big hiccup is that the Duffer brothers have email correspondence about Montauk experiments and otherworldly beings that predates any 2014 meetings.

According to TMZ, there is email proof that Matt and Ross Duffer had exchanged messages back in November 2010 that discussed developing a "paranormal" TV project with a "gritty eighties" approach, with the show's location specifically being Montauk, and the "Montauk experiments" directly getting mentioned. Skip ahead to October 2013, which is the date on a Google document that sets up Stranger Things' basic premise, which included a boy named Benny riding a bike away from his friend's house, where pizza and Dungeons & Dragons could be found, and being taken away into a strange world by an evil force. (The name Benny was obviously changed to Will for the finished product.)

Further, a pair of emails from February and April of 2014, which was before Charlie Kessler's meeting. Here, the Duffer brothers brought up how their project would have a "Stephen King feel," and the latter message even mentioned a location scout in Montauk. If all of this Montauk stuff sounds weird, do remember that Stranger Things was actually called Montauk whenever Netflix first ordered the project.

While there's probably no way to prove whether or not Matt and Ross Duffer had seen Charlie Kessler's short film, the emails dating back to 2010 would seemingly be a major bit of proof that Stranger Things' creators are not responsible for the specific claims laid against them. But, of course, that's for the courts to decide.

Matt and Ross Duffer are currently working on putting Stranger Things Season 3 together, and we can possibly expect to see it hitting Netflix in late 2018 or early 2019. Until then, jump over to our 2018 Netflix schedule for more streaming goodies, and you can head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.