‘Stranger Things 5’ Updates: First Photo, Filming News and More – Hollywood Life

‘Stranger Things 5’ Finally Starts Production: See the Cast Photo & Get All the Latest Updates

'Stranger Things' fans, season 5 is officially underway! Production has started on the fifth and final season. Get all the latest 'Stranger Things 5' news.

Reading Time: 15 minutes
Stranger Things
View gallery

The release of Stranger Things 5 is still a ways off, but we got a major update in January 2024. Netflix announced on January 8 that season 5 production has officially begun.

The streaming service included a black and white photo of the cast assembled in a room as they prepare to film the final season. The photo included cast members Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Charlie Heaton, Natalia Dyer, Joe Keery, Cara Buono, Maya Hawke, Linda Hamilton, Amybeth McNulty, Jamie Campbell Bower, Priah Ferguson, Brett Gelman, and the Duffer Brothers.

Volume 1 of season 4 dropped on May 27, 2022, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Volume 2 was released on July 1 ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. Season 4 arrived nearly 3 years after season 3 debuted in 2019. The Stranger Things crew went head-to-head with Vecna in the game-changing season 4 finale, but their fight with Vecna isn’t over yet.

Stranger Things
The ‘Stranger Things’ season 5 cast. (Netflix)

Season 5 was supposed to start filming in 2023, but it was delayed due to the writers’ and SAG-AFTRA strikes that put Hollywood on hold. Stranger Things will be filming for a chunk of 2024, so it’s likely we’ll have to wait an entire year for the final season to premiere.

Despite all the love for Stranger Things, all good things must come to an end. On February 17, 2022, Netflix announced that season 5 would be the final season of Stranger Things. HollywoodLife has rounded up all the latest news we know about the fifth and final season.

All About ‘Stranger Things’ Season 5

Stranger Things will be coming full circle in the final season. The focus will be back on Will Byers in Stranger Things 5“Will really takes center stage again in 5,” Ross Duffer told Variety for Noah Schnapp’s Power of Young Hollywood cover story, which was released on August 7. “This emotional arc for him is what we feel is going to hopefully tie the whole series together. Will is used to being the young one, the introverted one, the one that’s being protected. So part of his journey, it’s not just sexuality — it’s Will coming into his own as a young man.

Just as filming was about to get underway in May 2023, the Duffers released a note on the official Stranger Things writers’ page and gave an update about the status of season 5. “Duffers here. Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then — over and out. #wgastrong,” the Duffers tweeted.

The Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 1 after negotiations broke down between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which includes companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney. The members of the WGA are asking for increased pay, better residuals, staffing requirements, and clarification about the use of AI. Almost two months later, SAG-AFTRA also went on strike. As of August 2023, both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are still on strike.

On March 21, 2023, the Stranger Things writers’ Twitter account gave a little (but exciting) morsel about the fifth and final season. “Season 5 is like if season 1 and 4 had a baby. And then that baby was injected with steroids,” the tweet read.

During his March 2023 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Gaten Matarazzo admitted that it’s going to be bittersweet to say goodbye to the show. “There’s kind of an excitement there because you always want to wrap it up and see how these characters are going to finally develop one last time, and how they’re going to finish their journeys. But also there’s like a deep fear. Not only has it been amazing, but it’s been pretty great job security for a while. Back to freelance,” he said.

When it comes to what he wants to see happen in the final season, Gaten said, “I’d love to see a good launchpad for growth. I’d love to see these characters thrive and move on from the trauma they’ve endured over the past few years.” You ain’t kidding. 

In January 2023, Noah Schnapp revealed that Stranger Things season 5 would start filming in May 2023. He was asked during a TikTok Live session if the season 5 shooting schedule would interfere with his schooling at the University of Pennsylvania. “I’m done with school in May, and starting to shoot in May,” he said.

During Stranger Things Day on November 6, 2022, the season 5 premiere episode title was announced. The premiere is officially titled “Chapter One: The Crawl.” The first episode of the final season is written by The Duffer Brothers.

Stranger Things
The script for the ‘Stranger Things’ season 5 premiere. (Netflix)

On September 20, 2022, the Stranger Things writers confirmed that the grid for the fifth and final season is “complete.” They revealed all the major plot points of season 5, but the entire photo was blurred to prevent spoilers. It appears that, as of right now, season 5 will consist of 8 episodes. Episode 7 is going to be a big one. A portion of the plot is blacked out along with the blurring to keep anything from leaking.

The Stranger Things writers revealed on August 2, 2022, that the writers’ room for the first and final season was officially underway. “Day 1,” the tweet read. The writers also included a photo of a whiteboard with just the Stranger Things 5 logo written on it. Ross Duffer previously revealed that the writers’ room would start in August. “We’re going to take a little vacation in July,” Ross told Collider. “And then we’re going to come back. I know that the writer’s room is going to start in that first week of August.”

When Netflix announced that season 4 would be split into two volumes, the streaming service also included a letter from the creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, a.k.a. the Duffer Brothers. While they wrote that season 4 would be “bigger than ever,” they noted that “it’s also the beginning of the end.”

Their letter continued: “Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things. At the time, we predicted the story would last four to five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four, but — as you’ll soon see for yourselves — we are not hurtling toward our finale. Season 4 will be the penultimate season; season 5 will be the last.

Stranger Things
The letter from the Duffer Brothers about the final season. (Netflix)

There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things; new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes. But first we hope that you stay with us as we finish this tale of a powerful girl named Eleven and her brave friends, of a broken police chief and a ferocious mom, of a small town called Hawkins and an alternate dimension known only as the Upside Down. As always, we are grateful for your patience and support.”

The Duffers have always been adamant that Stranger Things wouldn’t go on for seasons and seasons. However, season 4 was never intended to be the end of the hit Netflix series. “Season 4 won’t be the end,” Ross told The Hollywood Reporter in August 2020. “We know what the end is, and we know when it is. [The pandemic] has given us time to look ahead, figure out what is best for the show. Starting to fill that out gave us a better idea of how long we need to tell that story.”

Stranger Things director and EP Shawn Levy fully supports the decision by the Duffer Brothers to end the show with season 5. “Well, we never wanted to run on fumes and we wanted to only tell as much story as the brothers saw and feel with clarity,” Shawn told Screen Rant in March 2022. “So it’s been clear for a while that they know exactly where we’re headed and this is the arc. We wouldn’t want to stick around for one moment beyond that vision and the clarity of that voice. So rather than focusing on that sad day that happens who knows when, the end of season 5, I’ll just once again reaffirm what I’ve told everyone, which is it has been a long-ass wait for season 4. But I swear to God, the world will realize it’s worth it.”

In an interview with E! News in September 2022, Shawn revealed that the final season “will definitely be more Hawkins-centric.” He didn’t reveal anything about a premiere date but did promise that season 5 “ain’t gonna be smaller” than season 4. “Our ambitions remain pretty high,” Shawn also said, “and the way the audience has grown along with the cinematic scope of the show, I don’t expect that we’re going to mess with that approach going into season five.”

Millie Bobby Brown
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in season 4. (Netflix)

‘Stranger Things’ Season 5 Cast

As for the confirmed cast of season 5, we expect to see the cast members who survived season 4 back. That means Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Natalie Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Winona Ryder, and David Harbour will be back for the final season. The new season 5 confirmed we’ll be seeing Brett Gelman, Amybeth McNulty, and Cara Buono again as well.

Linda Hamilton
Linda Hamilton at CinemaCon. (JA/Everett Collection)

At Netflix’s TUDUM event on June 17, Arnold Schwarzenegger helped reveal on stage that his Terminator co-star Linda Hamilton would be joining the cast of season 5. “I’m excited that I can announce that my old friend, a fantastic actress, a badass, is joining the Netflix family, in one of my favorite shows, and I know you love this show, too.

Linda sent in a video and confirmed the exciting news. “I don’t know how to be a fangirl and an actress at the same time. I’m going to work on that. So good to see you, Arnold. Let’s get dinner soon. And everyone else, I’ll see you in Hawkins.” The Stranger Things Instagram account also shared a signature upside-down photo of Linda as they posted the news.

HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Cara Buono in February 2023 about the fifth and final season. She hopes to see more dinners at the Wheeler house before the show bids farewell for good. “I hope that there are more of like, in season one, there were a lot of family dinners,” Cara said. “And I loved when the kids came over for dinner… so I hope there’s at least one big dinner at the Wheelers where the kids come over and there’s a lot of awkward stuff going on. That would be really, really fun.”

Jamie Campbell Bower hinted at Vecna’s return in the fifth and final season. Vecna’s not going down without a fight. “He’s pissed, he’s properly vexed,” Jamie told NME in August 2022. “I don’t think he’s slunk off licking his wounds in misery. He’s rebuilding, and he’s out for blood. It’s like, you’ve really f**king pushed the buttons now, that classic Jason Voorhees thing – you’ve made a big mistake.”

Maya Hawke talked about the fate of her character Robin Buckley in season five. “Well, it’s the last season, so people are probably going to die. I would love to die and get my hero’s moment,” she told Rolling Stone in September 2022. “I’d love to die with honor, as any actor would. But I love the way that the Duffer Brothers love their actors. The reason that they write so beautifully for me and for everyone else is because they fall in love with their actors and their characters, and they don’t want to kill them. I think that’s a beautiful quality that they have, and I wouldn’t wish it away.” Maya also said she’d only do a spinoff with Joe Keery, who plays Robin’s BFF Steve Harington. “He’s so funny and wonderful and smart, and he’s got great boundaries. He’s an excellent coworker, and I would do anything with him.”

Madelyn Cline, who stars as Sarah Cameron in the Netflix series Outer Banks, appeared as Tina in Stranger Things. She told Cosmopolitan that she would “one thousand percent” return for the final season.

Jamie Campbell Bower
Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna. (Netflix)

Stranger Things Season 5 Release Date & Plot

The fifth season does not have a release date yet, but it will likely premiere in late 2024 or 2025 since filming has just started.

“I’m not sure we’re ready to say yet a start date for shooting,” Matt Duffer told TVLine in June 2022. “But a lot of it is pretty well mapped out.” The Duffer Brothers know that expectations are high when it comes to how the show ends. “The ending is the hard thing,” Matt said. “That’s obviously the stressful thing. We really want to stick the landing.”

Fans can likely expect a time jump between seasons 4 and 5. The timeline of Stranger Things is much slower than the real world, so a time jump will bring the kids closer to their actual ages. “I’m sure we will do a time jump,” Ross told TVLine. “Ideally, we’d have shot [seasons 4 and 5] back to back, but there was just no feasible way to do that.”

As for the plot, Matt revealed on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that season 5 will be “moving fast.” He explained, “Characters are already going to be in action, they’re already going to have a goal and a drive, and I think that’s going to carve out at least a couple hours and make this season feel really different.” He later added, “It’s going to be Return of the King-ish with, like, eight endings.”

As for the runtime, the Duffer Brothers admitted that they “don’t expect” the final season’s episodes to be as long as the ones in season 4. Every season 4 episode was over an hour, with the last 3 episodes being well over 1 hour and 20 minutes. However, the series finale is the only episode that could end up as long as a full-length movie.

The final season will be set entirely in Hawkins, after splitting up the cast into three separate groups in season 4. “We wanna go back to a lot of the things we did in season 1,” Matt also revealed in the interview. “A lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season one–there’s something nice about coming full circle.”

On the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Matt that season 5’s trajectory is “actually pretty blurry” at the moment, but “the last 30 minutes of it are pretty clear in our heads. So if we can make the journey entertaining, I think that we have an end that will hopefully satisfy. You can’t satisfy everyone, but the hope is that it’s something that feels right for this story.”

‘Stranger Things’ Run So Far

Stranger Things became a global phenomenon when it premiered on Netflix in 2016. The series catapulted the young stars to superstardom, and they have grown up before our eyes.

Following the success of the second season, the cast reportedly scored major pay raises for season 3 and beyond, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The cast was divided into “different pay tiers” with Winona and David making up the “A tier” that earned them up to $350,000 an episode. The “B tier” included the younger stars like Finn, Gaten, Caleb, and Noah, who started making $250,000 an episode. The “C tier” featured the older kids — Natalia, Charlie, and Joe — who began making $150,000 an episode in season 3.

David Harbour
David Harbour as Hopper in season 4. (Netflix)

At the time, it couldn’t be confirmed exactly what Millie was making. After making $30,000 per episode alongside Finn, Gaten, and Caleb, Millie separated herself from the rest of the cast during renegotiations. For season 3, Millie was at least making $250,000 like her fellow young actors, but sources told THR she could be making as high as $350,000 per episode or in her own tier of $300,000 per episode.

What Happened In Season 4?

Stranger Things season 4 introduced the show’s biggest bad yet: Vecna. The Upside Down was created after Eleven battled Henry Creel, who also happened to be One, the first child to be experimented on by Dr. Brenner. When Eleven was a child, Henry/One posed as Peter Ballard at the Hawkins Lab. Once he gained Eleven’s trust, he betrayed her and killed the other children at the lab.

Henry/One faced off against a young Eleven, and she opened the first gate to the Upside Down as she tried to destroy him. Henry/One didn’t die when he was thrown into the Upside Down. Vecna was born. Vecna is the one behind all the chaos that’s been wreaking havoc in Hawkins.

In Volume 2 of Stranger Things season 4, the Hawkins crew (with Eleven’s help) tried to take down Vecna. In the midst of this fight, Eddie sacrificed himself and died in Dustin’s arms, Eleven infiltrated Max’s mind, Jason and Lucas got into a brutal fight, and Max was nearly killed by Vecna. Joseph Quinn became an instant star after his breakout performance as Eddie Munson. Even though Eddie died in season 4, many fans hope that Eddie will return in season 5. “He feels kind of gone, it feels pretty hard to bring him back, I’d say, but, I don’t know,” Joseph told Access about possibly returning.

Shawn Levy spoke about Eddie’s possible return in an interview on the 2022 Emmy Awards red carpet. “A lot of people can’t even handle the thought of a season five without some excuse for Eddie present, he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Highly unlikely, but we hear you world. We know you’re obsessed with Eddie. So are we.”

Stranger Things
Eleven takes on Vecna in Volume 2. (Netflix)

Joyce and Hopper finally kissed and got out of Russia with Murray. They returned home where they reunited with their kids. However, the current state of Hawkins is borderline ruin. Max did die for a moment before she was brought back to life by Eleven. Max’s death allowed Vecna to get that fourth kill he needed to open the last gate. The faultlines created by the 4 collided at the center of Hawkins, creating massive openings to the Upside Down. The end of the season 4 finale showed the effects of the Upside Down creeping in on Hawkins, and the biggest fight for Eleven and the others is still ahead. Meanwhile, Max is in a coma after her confrontation with Vecna.

“Now that I’m here in Hawkins, I can feel him,” Will said to Mike about Vecna. “And he’s hurt. He’s hurting. But he’s still alive. It’s strange, knowing now who it was this whole time, but I can still remember what he thinks and how he thinks. And he’s not going to stop. Ever. Not until he’s taken everything. And everyone. We have to kill him.”

What Comes Next After Season 5?

The Duffer Brothers’ letter about season 5 left fans with hope that there could be spinoffs in the future, and Matt and Ross haven’t ruled out expanding the Stranger Things universe. In fact, there is a spinoff officially in the works.

“We have some ideas,” Matt revealed to SFX, according to NME. “In terms of if we were to do any sort of spinoff, or any continuation of Stranger Things, for us the bar was always, ‘Is the idea exciting enough that we feel the pull of wanting to do it again?’ ” He added, “I want to feel the pull of ‘God I really want to do this. I feel really, really excited about this.’ So that’s why we’re being careful about what that is and whether we move forward with it or not.”

Ross stressed that “the key for us is that it needs to feel like its own distinct thing, not that we’re just retreading what we’ve already done… I do think we have something pretty exciting, so we’ll see.”

In July 2022, the Duffers revealed on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that their spinoff is going to be “1000% different” from Stranger Things. “I’ve read these rumors that there’s gonna be an Eleven spinoff, that there’s gonna be a Steve and Dustin spinoff, or that it’s another number. That’s not interesting to me because we’ve done all that. We’ve spent I don’t know how many hours exploring all of that. So it’s very different.”

Noah, who plays Will Byers, is totally down for a spinoff. “I know I am – and I’m sure everyone else is – up to do whatever. And we’ll definitely be back for spin-offs and whatever else they can throw at us,” he told SFX.

Joe Keery
Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Sadie Sink, and Gaten Matarazzo in season 4. (Netflix)

Shawn told Collider in August 2021 that he is aware that “there is an interest and a real voracious appetite for any offshoot, any other iteration format or extension of the franchise, the characters, the mythology. And certainly, those conversations are hardly evolved, but they’re also not non-existent.”

As for a Stranger Things movie, that remains to be seen. However, some of the episodes of season 4 are feature-length. “[Episodes] 7 and 9, in particular, are movies,” Matt told The Wrap. “And nine is a long movie.” Ross admitted that the season 4 finale is “over two hours. It’s a big one.” However, there will be a stage play, set “within the world and mythology of Stranger Things,” according to Variety.