In a move unlikely to surprise anyone, Netflix has officially announced that there will indeed be a fourth season of its mega-hit series . The announcement comes with its own brief teaser, featuring spooky imagery from the Upside Down and the phrase “We’re not in Hawkins anymore” as bells ominously chime.
(Spoilers for first three seasons below.
When we last left our plucky teenaged sleuths and their allies, they had successfully beaten back a third attempt by the so-called Mind-Flayer to escape the Upside Down and take over the town of Hawkins, Indiana, where the series has thus far been set. But that victory did not come without a cost: Eleven lost her telekinetic powers after being bitten by the Flay-Monster. And her adoptive father, fan favorite Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) sacrificed himself to save the town in the season three finale. Eleven is taken in by Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), and the entire Byers clan moves away from Hawkins—and really, who can blame them?
The teaser gives little away as to what season four will be about. But series creators Matt and Ross Duffer (collectively the Duffer Brothers) have hinted that season four will open up the storytelling to include plot lines outside of Hawkins, with the Russians and their captive Demogorgon be playing a major role.
A mid-credits scene following the third season’s finale hinted that season four will likely delve further into the as-yet-unanswered Russian question—namely, why were the Russians trying to open the gate to the Upside Down after Eleven and the gang went to such great lengths to close it in season two? The scene takes us to a secret base in Russia, where two guards approach a prison door. “Not the American,” one guard says. Instead, the guards drag off a Russian prisoner and lock him in a room with a captive Demogorgon, which proceeds to devour the screaming prisoner.
“The American” may refer to Hopper, since we never actually saw him die and no corpse was ever recovered. Alternatively, “The American” could refer to Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), the scientist who found and exploited Eleven in the first place. He supposedly died at the hands of the first Demogorgon in season one, but there’s a brief mention in season two that Brenner is still alive. Chances are, season four will find Eleven struggling to accept the loss of her powers and (one hopes) getting them back somehow.
A standalone episode from season two brought a runaway Eleven to Chicago, where she met Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), another young woman with special powers who was a subject in Brenner’s laboratory. There’s a good chance she will make a reappearance, and we may discover other similarly gifted characters as well.
The Duffer Brothers have said that they are likely to end after a fourth (or possibly a fifth) season. And they have just signed a lucrative multi-year film and TV development deal with Netflix, Deadline Hollywood reports, although little is known about the details. So the ending of one series is likely to herald the beginning of something new and, hopefully, equally compelling.
“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our relationship with Netflix,” the Duffer Brothers said in a statement. “From our first pitch meeting to the release of 3, the entire team at Netflix has been nothing short of sensational, providing us with the kind of support, guidance, and creative freedom we always dreamed about. We can’t wait to tell many more stories together—beginning, of course, with a return trip to Hawkins!”