Even if Stranger Things wasn’t a great show, it would still be a really cool nostalgia machine. Now that the second season is out on Netflix, fans are trying to figure out all of the easter eggs in Stranger Things 2 – and if you’ve binged it, you know that’s no easy task. Fans of this coming of age sci-fi show love to put together everything from Stranger Things art to fan theories about what’s going to happen in the coming seasons, and now viewers are focused on finding all of the references in season 2 of Stranger Things.
Trying to find all of the Stranger Things hidden references is like trying to trying to defeat the Mind Flayer: you’ll never be able to do it alone. These are some of the funniest, most intriguing, and flat-out coolest references in Stranger Things 2, but there are almost certainly more out there.
Bob’s Arc Is A Reference To The Goonies
Bob, Joyce’s fuddy duddy boyfriend, is played by Sean Astin, Mikey from the ’80s classic The Goonies. For many people this would be enough of a reference to call it day, but not for the Duffer Brothers. In Stranger Things 2, Bob’s story parallels that of Mikey’s: he figures out how to read a map and he refuses to leave the tunnels until the rest of his group is safe. If that weren’t enough, Bob straight up mentions pirate treasure before he helps decode Will’s map.
Steve And Dustin Walk Down The Train Tracks Just Like In Stand By Me
One of the best moments in Stranger Things 2 is when Steve and Dustin walk down a set of train tracks, just like the kids in Stand By Me. They’re leaving raw meat for the demodog Dart, but the real charm of the scene comes from their heart-to-heart about girls and hair products.
Eleven’s Halloween Costume Is E.T.’s Halloween Costume
To further push the point home that Eleven is an alien in the world of Hawkins, when she asks Daddy Hopper if she can go trick-or-treating she does so as a sheet ghost. This is the exact costume E.T. wears when he goes trick-or-treating with Elliott.
That’s two times in two seasons that Eleven has been dressed like E.T. Are the Duffer Brothers going to send her off in a spaceship in Season 3?
Hooper’s Hat Grab Is From Raiders Of The Lost Ark
This quick shot is so ’80s. After Hopper gets into the tunnels and discovers that the Upside Down is bleeding into Hawkins, he’s beset by some unsavory flower creatures. After dropping his hat Hopper almost runs away, but quickly grabs his hat a la Indiana Jones. According to the Duffer Brothers, this shot was a last-minute idea while filming.
The Terminator Is Showing In Hawkins
If you look closely, you’ll see that the Hawkins theater marquee is advertising James Cameron’s The Terminator. Since the movie premiered on October 26, 1984, that means season 2 takes place during the film’s opening weekend.
That Shot Of The Front Door Is Pure Close Encounters
There’s a shot in Stranger Things 2 in which Will opens his front door and looks out onto an apocalyptic red sky hanging over Hawkins. If that seemed familiar, that’s because it mirrors a shot from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In that scene, a young boy is abducted by aliens after opening his door to a nearly identical sky.
Steve And Nancy Wear Risky Business Costumes
Tiffany’s Halloween Party is full of fun ’80s party moments, and according to Steve, he and Nancy spent a lot of time on their couples’ costume. If you were trying to figure out what they were, it’s probably because you haven’t watched Risky Business in the last 20 years. Steve went for the classic Tom Cruise ’80s look, while Nancy went for one of Rebecca De Mornay’s more chaste outfits from the film.
Steve Wears Josh Brolin’s Bandana From The Goonies
When Steve and the kids go into the tunnels to set them on fire, he’s wearing the same red bandanathat Josh Brolin sports in The Goonies. Apparently the Duffer Brothers decided to lean into the visual similarities between their tunnels and the caves in the classic flick.
Will’s Love Of Reese’s Pieces Is A Tip Of The Hat To E.T.
The Duffer Brothers can’t resist giving props to Steven Spielberg, the O.G. of putting children in sci-fi danger. When Will visits Dr. Owens, he’s asked about his favorite Halloween candy. Will answers Reese’s Pieces, the candy that plays a large part in Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
The Newspapers Reference A Real Medical Breakthrough
If you keep an eye on the paper that all of the parents of Hawkins seem to be reading, you’ll see it has a front page story about “Baby Fae’s Baboon Heart.” That may look like a loose collection of words, but it’s actually a story about the first successful infant heart transplant. The procedure took place in October 1984, which would make it big news right around the time of Season 2.
Bob’s JVC GR-C1 Is The Same As Marty McFly’s
Is Bob cool or is he the coolest? Joyce’s new boyfriend not only works at a Radio Shack, but he owns and knows how to operate a JVC GR-C1. That’s the same video camera used by Marty McFly and Doc Brown to record the first big time travel test in Back to the Future.
The Radar Scene Nods To Aliens
There are a lot of nods to the first two films in the Alien franchise in Stranger Things 2, but no scene embodies that more than when Will sends a group of scientists to their doom in the tunnels below the lab. Hooper, Dr. Owens, and a group of scientists watch helplessly on the radar as the scientists – carrying flamethrowers just like in Aliens – are beset by a pack of demodogs. If that weren’t enough, someone says “Stay frosty” to the scientists before they take the elevator into the tunnels.
You Don’t Mess Around With Jim Is The Perfect Song For Hopper
There’s a super-cute flashback scene that fills the audience in on what Hopper and Eleven were up to in the interim between the first and second seasons. At one point they clean up Hopper’s family cabin to Jim Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.” The song is a total dad jam about how, well, you don’t mess around with a guy named Jim… which is exactly what a series of government agents, demodogs, and a spooky kid find out whenever they run into Hawkins Police Chief Jim Hopper. Can a theme song be an Easter egg? Sure.
The Scene Where Bob Unlocks The Gate Is Full On Jurassic Park
When Hopper, Joyce, Bob, and Dr. Owens realize that they have to flip the breakers to restart the computers and get out of the lab, the scene plays out just like one in Jurassic Park – once again proving that the Duffer Brothers should probably be paying Steven Spielberg royalty checks. A character even has to be talked through a dangerous journey via walkie.
The Tunnels Are Pure Aliens Set Design
The Upside Down has always had a visual similarity to the world of Aliens. It’s gross, there are creatures that blend in with their surroundings, and there’s no discernable light source. Plus, a vine-wrapped Hopper is eerily reminiscent of the colonists that the space marines find in Aliens, and when Eleven breaks out of the upside down she does so through a thin, slimy wall that looks similar to the walls found in the basement on LV-426.
Paul Reiser Is A Living Reference
Stranger Things 2 gets a major nostalgia bump with the addition of Paul Reiser to the cast. Reiser’s breakout dramatic role was in Aliens, in which he played a bureaucrat who endangered the whole crew because he only cared about the bottom line. Who else do you call when you want to put the same character in your tv show?
To make it more clear that Dr. Owens was a direct reference to Reiser’s character in Aliens, his name was originally just “Paul Reiser” in the script.
The MADMAX Reference Is Right There
Max’s Dig Dug screen name, MADMAX, is a reference to the lead character from the rad George Miller movie Mad Max and its sequels.
Bob Wants To Move To Maine
Bob’s brilliant idea for a fresh start is to move to Maine – you know, the charming state where every Stephen King book takes place. Maybe it’s for the best that he was eaten by demodogs.
Nancy Burns Will The Same Way Short Round Burns Indiana Jones
In the Season 2 finale, “The Gate,” Joyce, Nancy, and Jonathan attempt to purge the Mind Flayer’s virus from Will’s body by turning up the heat. They surround his body with space heaters and try to sweat the cold-loving monster out of the boy’s body. He freaks out and chokes his mom, and Nancy saves the day by burning Will with a hot poker.
This is pretty much exactly what happens in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. If you haven’t seen the darkest Indiana Jones film, it ends with Indie being hypnotized by a high priest and almost killing a bunch of kids. He’s stopped when his young companion, Short Round, burns him with a torch to shock him out of his trance.
Jonathan And Nancy’s Hook Up Is Straight From Temple Of Doom
According to the Duffer Brothers, they modeled the scene where Jonathan and Nancy hook up straight from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom:
“Nancy and Jonathan when they’re [going to bed], that’s Temple of Doom, that’s the whole bedroom dance. Leaving the bedroom, fighting, going back out, coming back, that’s Temple of Doom.”
The Junkyard Scene Is Full Of Spielberg References
Of course putting Steve, Dustin, Lucas, and Max together makes for one of the greatest scenes of Stranger Things 2. To trap Dart, they construct a bus fortress and prepare to catch the demodog in a ring of fire. What follows is basically a scene from Jaws, during which the kids talk about their lives and expectations while they stare out a window waiting for the monster to appear.
When Dart finally does show up, it’s flanked by two other demodogs that act eerily similar to the velociraptors from Jurassic Park – especially when one of them jumps up on Steve.
Will’s Exorcism Is Pulled Directly From The Exorcist
The last half of the Stranger Things 2 deals with Will being taken over by the Mind Flayer – which gives the show the perfect excuse to reference The Exorcist. From the facial disfigurement to the terrifying shrieks, Will’s possessed performance is pure Regan.
Dragon’s Lair Has The Same Structure As Season 2
For those of you who never had the privilege of sinking a bunch of quarters into Dragon’s Lair, the game the gang is playing in the first episode of season 2, the plot of the game goes something like this. A reluctant knight has to overcome his fears and go underground to a dragon’s lair and save a princess. This essentially mirrors the plot of Dustin, Lucas, Steve, and Max’s storyline: they have to overcome their fears to go underground into a creature’s lair so they can help save the Princess, who in this case is Will.
Dart Follows Gremlin Rules
Dart, Dustin’s pet demodog, is basically a mogwai. You shouldn’t get it wet, you have to keep it out of the light, and you’re not supposed to feed it after midnight. Presumably Dart was going to turn into a demodog the entire time, but it’s still interesting that things only went wrong once Dustin started feeding it Three Musketeers.
The Soundtrack To Eleven Running Away Is On The Nose
In episode 7, “The Lost Sister,” Eleven runs away to Chicago to find the girl from her mother’s memory. When she arrives, the scene is soundtracked by Bon Jovi’s “Runaway.” Later, when El and the rest of her sister’s gang of runaways take off to murder an ex-scientist, they listen to “Dead End Justice” by the Runaways.
The Girl That Flirts With Jonathan Is In Full Siouxsie Sioux Makeup
There’s a lot going on at Tiffany’s Halloween party, so you wouldn’t be faulted for not realizing that the girl who flirts with Jonathan while he searches for Nancy is in spot-on Siouxsie Sioux makeup. Sioux was the singer of ’80s goth band Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the fact that Jonathan doesn’t know this nods to just how un-hip he is.
The Demodogs Are Basically Xenomorphs
Depending on which scene you’re watching, the demodogs either act like velociraptors or the Xenomorphs from Aliens. The demodogs crawl across the ceiling while they’re running through the laboratory, and the sound that they make is pretty close to the high-pitched screech Xenomorphs make in Aliens.
Punky Brewster’s Dream Describes Eleven’s Season 1 Arc
Episode 7, “The Lost Sister,” follows Eleven as she finds Kali, the girl who was in Hawkins Lab with her, in Chicago. It turns out that Kali has been killing everyone who worked at the lab, and she brings El along to off a lab technician named Ray. When they find him, he’s watching an episode of Punky Brewster. If you listen closely, you’ll hear Punky tell her guardian that she had a bad dream about doctors. The whole thing oddly mirrors El’s relationship with Jim.
The Mind Flayer Is A Creature From The Mist
The Mind Flayer, the giant, evil shadow creature that stalks the Upside Down, carries more than a passing similarity to the creatures that inhabit Stephen King’s The Mist. In that story, Lovecraftian creatures stalk a Maine town when a massive fog descends. You could say that stalking through fog is pretty much the only thing the audience actually sees the Mind Flayer do.