9 Easter Eggs Hidden In Stranger Things Season Three

Origonaly writen for theculturecrossing.com here.

Hawkins, Indiana has played host to many supernatural happenings over the past few years. From alien dimensions to telekinetic powers, Stranger Things packs a paranormal punch. One of the show’s strengths is weaving pop-culture Easter Eggs of the 1980s into the world of Hawkins. All whilst sprinkling some plot seasoning throughout the series, Season Three was full of these.

As we all anticipate Season Four, join us as we discover 9 Easter Eggs hidden in Stranger Things Season Three.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen Stranger Things, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

1. The Elm Street door

When Eleven goes looking for Heather, the missing lifeguard, she ventures to her home. The door is a replica of Nancy Thompson’s family home in 1984’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’.

Whilst the house number differs slightly from 1428 to 1438, the symbol and the framing is a direct homage to Wes Cravens 80s genre-defining slasher. The comparisons entwine perfectly too. Craven pioneered the fear of teens vanishing at the hands of a supernatural being. Whilst the Duffer Brothers have played on this since season one with Will’s disappearance.

Craven played on the fear that the child isn’t safe in their own home and at constant risk of possession or even death. Stanger Things use this same fear throughout the seasons, dating back to Will’s initial vanishing and funeral.

This specific scene also features Eleven and Max arriving at the house and quizzing Billy about Nancy’s whereabouts. The conclusion of this encounter reveals that Billy is possessed by the Mind Flayer. It recognises Eleven from the showdown at the end of season 2. This is one final Craven-ism as his infamous villain was known for his possession and shapeshifting. Krueger, like Billy, was a threat to the protagonists as he had, or was the host to something inhuman and highly powerful.

2. Cates, the cardboard cut out

Season Three sees Dustin return to Hawkins from summer camp. This is when he reveals he has a girlfriend called Suzy. He claims that she is prettier than Phoebe Cates, the actress best known for her role in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

This reference to 1980s romance and adolescent lust crops back up later in the series; when Robin is trying to get Steve a job at the video store. Steve tumbles in into a cardboard cut-out of Cates as Linda Barrett before propping it back up and admiring it in comical fashion.

The first bonus Fast Times reference is in the form of the song ‘Moving in Stereo’ by The Cars. It’s the soundtrack to the slow-motion pool scene’ in the 80’s romantic comedy. Quite possibly the most replayed scene in cinema thanks to its pubescent audience. But, it’s also played in Season Three when Billy walks to the pool in his lifeguard uniform. It’s a nod to the risque film of the era whilst establishing Billy as the local heatwave heartthrob.

The second bonus Fast Times reference is the car Billy drives. His bad boy 1979 Chevy Camaro is the exact same car used in the 80’s teen flick and is very on-brand for the lifeguard lothario.

3. Peter and the plot twist?

Season Three saw the most emotional moments of the show so far. “The Battle of Starcourt” gave us the tear-jerking scene of Eleven reading the letter left for her by Hopper.

However, there may have been an audio Easter Egg planted that relates back to Season One…

The scene in season 3 includes Peter Gabriel’s cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes”. The same cover of the song that features in the season 1 episode “Holly, Jolly” when Will is still believed to be dead. This could be a subtle hint that Hopper isn’t dead and is set for a return… only season 4 will tell.

4. The Kaufman shout-out

Much like the Elm St reference, the is an ever more subtle hint at horror in Stranger Things Season Three with it’s Easter Eggs. Kaufman Shoes is shown in the Starcourt Mall, a likely nod to Philip Kaufman, who directed the 1978 classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

As the Mind Flayer is partial to a spot of body-snatching themselves, its only fitting the director of the seventies scream-fest got their own spot in Hawkins.

5. Suzie and the book

Suzie is teased throughout Season Three, as we aren’t actually sure if Dustin’s girlfriend exists or not. But when she is revealed, she’s shown reading a book, a quiet contrast to the insanity taking place in Hawkins.

The book that Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) is reading is Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard Of Earthsea. A tale of a young boy who accidentally releases an evil entity into the world thanks to his magical powers. Sounds a lot like a recap of Season One, and a flex of a reference for the eagle-eyed viewers.

6. Romero references

Another horror film used in Season Three is Day of the Dead when Mike, Will, Lucas, and Max are watching the film’s opening scene. This film begins with a dream sequence in which Lori Cardille’s protagonist imagines a wall of grasping hands. Using the most memorable images from the film establishes it as an intentional reference.

Day of the Dead was the third of George Romero’s Zombie trilogy (following Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead). It follows scientist and solders in an underground bunker, trying to fight a Zombie horde. The characters of Stanger Things are seen watching the film following a Blackout in Hawkins. The abandoned town resembles neglected Florida in Romero’s third Zombie outing.

A sign is also shown outside the theatre suggesting the film was a preview screening. This sets the film in Stanger Things cannon as Day of the Dead wouldn’t open nationally until later in July that year.

7. Murray’s phone number

Conspiracy nut turned heart-warming loon, Murray is a treat in Season Three. But he is also involved in a meta crossover Easter Egg. In Episode Six, Murray’s phone number (618-625-8313) is shown on screen. If you call it goes straight through to the characters voicemail.

Completely true to form, Murray, can be heard yelling about his mother and shouting about Joyce Byers before referring to the caller as a parasite. “If this is Joyce, Joyce, thank you for calling, I have been trying to reach you. I have an update. It’s about, well, it’s probably best if we speak in person. It’s not good or bad, but it’s something.”

Could this be another teaser for Hopper’s return in Season Four? Is he the American in Russia? IS IT BARB? … Probably not.

8. Ryder references

Getting even more meta, is the blink and you’ll miss it a reference to Winona Ryder’s filmography. Deep in the centre of Scott Clarke’s model is the grave from Beetlejuice.

This is an extra subtle nod to Ryder’s work of the time, yet the setting of season 3 actually predates Beetlejuice by 3 years. We shall see if season 4 holds even more Winona-isms.

9. The hair tie from Hopper

The blue hair tie is a subtle but highly useful prop throughout Stranger Things. Once belonging to Sara, the daughter of Hopper who died before season 1, it can be seen on Hopper throughout both Season One and Season Two. Prior to the Snow Ball, he gives it to Eleven and she is seen wearing it throughout Season Three.

To solidify its significance Hopper can be seen playing with it on her wrist before the two separate in the mall for their individual life-threatening missions. Unsure if the two will ever meet again, the blue hairband is the unspoken symbol of family between them both.

Some honourable mentions

Stranger things Season Three saw so many Easter Eggs hidden in plain sight, it deserves some extra shout outs.

Karen Wheeler’s raunchy books

During the pool scenes, Karen Wheeler can be seen reading Johanna Lindsey’s brand new novel “Tender is the Storm” which was released in 1985. In Season Two Karen was shown reading “Heart of Thunder” in the bath. This is the prequel meaning that the character is following the instalments of romance novels each series. 10 points for continuity.

Canadian eye candy

The subtle subtext is discreetly revealed regarding Eleven in Season Three. This is in order to develop the character into a more independent teen. This includes her love for Canadian pop stars. Mike and Eleven are shown listening to Corey Hart’s 1985 hit “never surrender” in her room. A cassette of fellow Canadian pop Rocker Bryan Adams is also shown in her room, in keeping with the theme that Eleven was fond of the Justin Beiber’s” of her day.

The pair are seen kissing to it in June of 1985 (Mike and Eleven, not Bryan Adams and Corey Hart… that would be a completely different show), and is another accurate reference to the times as it reached No. 3 on the American charts that summer.

Max and the movies

Much like Elevens character development, Max is given the same subtle treatment to add more depth for the viewers looking for it. In episode 2 Mall Rats’ her bedroom wall shows a poster for John Carpenter’s 1982 film The Thing. As this would have been a cult film at the time, it gives Max some edgy interests whilst referencing the seasons’ plot. The Thing sees a parasite taking over its host, mirroring the narrative of Stranger Things once again.

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