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Stranger Things is arguably Netflix's most unexpected smash hit that seemed to come out of nowhere and take over pop culture with Season 1 back in 2016. One of the biggest appeals of the series for many viewers has been the dynamic of the core kids, who were heading into high school by the end of Season 3, with the older teens already out of high school or heading into their senior year. Considering how Season 3 ended and some new casting reports, the question is: will the kids have way smaller roles in Season 4?
As a quick recap, Season 4 ended with the Byers (including a powerless Eleven) moving away from Hawkins, the rest of the kids still in Hawkins, Hopper believed to be dead, and the epilogue seemingly revealed that a lot of the Upside Down action moving forward will be set in the Soviet Union, where a mysterious "American" is in the mix.
Basically, the kids still in Hawkins -- a.k.a. Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Max -- are away from the main action and pretty much unconnected, as even a de-powered Eleven is almost certainly still going to be relevant to the mystery. Depending on when Season 4 is set, Nancy may be off at college, and Steve may have a job not requiring a sailor suit or a video store. There just doesn't seem to be much left in Hawkins, so why would much of Season 4 take place there?
This is where the new casting reports come in. TVLine reports that the Duffer Brothers -- who now have a deal at Netflix that extends beyond Stranger Things -- are looking to cast four new recurring roles, all male. Of these four, three are apparently teenagers, with only one an adult man. Of the younger trio, the show is said to be looking for a "metalhead," an arrogant jock, and a guy who would have fit right in with Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (which was one of the movies that influenced Season 3).
In previous seasons, a group of teenagers would have been more likely to interact with Nancy, Jonathan, and/or Steve than the prepubescent youngsters of the Hawkins Middle A.V. club, but Mike and Co. will be high schoolers by the time Season 4 picks up, considering the Season 3 epilogue was set in the fall. If Season 4 is set in the summer again, Nancy and Jonathan (and Robin) will be out of high school.
Could these three teenage guys be a sign that kids from elsewhere than Hawkins are going to get some of the spotlight? Will at least had to go to school somewhere, and it's possible Joyce was working to integrate El into society more after they left Hawkins. Even if these three are from Hawkins, their status as recurring means that they wouldn't just be one-and-done characters who barely get any screen time.
Of course, Season 4 doesn't have a premiere date, and is likely to be quite a ways off from going live on Netflix, so a lot could change between now and when fans finally get another look at the characters. My fingers are crossed that seasons begin to release more frequently, even if there aren't many seasons left. After all, the kids may be around 14-15 in the Stranger Things universe, but the kid actors are almost all older. If Netflix and the Duffer Brothers don't get a move on, the youngsters aren't going to be able to pull off looking young.
As for the new adult character said to be joining Stranger Things for Season 4, he'll reportedly be involved in a storyline set far from Hawkins, which could mean the Soviet Union or even the Upside Down. Only time will tell. For now, you can watch (or rewatch) the first three seasons of Stranger Things streaming on Netflix now.