Stranger Things season 5 release date, cast and plot as production begins

Terminator star Linda Hamilton has joined the cast of the Netflix hit

Eduardo Franco as Argyle, Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers in Stranger Things
Eduardo Franco as Argyle, Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers in Stranger Things. (Netflix)

The fourth season of Netflix’s creepy hit Stranger Things took the world by storm in summer 2022.

The first batch of nine episodes, released in two parts, wowed viewers with their ambitious storyline involving the formidable Vecna. They also introduced instant fan favourites like Dungeons and Dragons guru Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), and propelled Kate Bush back to the top of the charts thanks to the use of her iconic Running Up That Hill in a plot involving the grieving Max (Sadie Sink).

Following an epic season finale, eager fans have been piecing together what might happen to the citizens of Hawkins in the show’s fifth and final season.

Read more: All the upcoming Stranger Things spin-offs

So, what do we know so far?

Stranger Things season 5 release date

Season five of Stranger Things was announced in February 2022 but for now, the show has yet to enter production which means it’s currently unclear when it will reach our screens.

An outbreak of COVID-19 delayed production shortly after the series was first unveiled, with the WGA strike and subsequent SAG/AFTRA strikes delaying the show’s start date even further.

The delay was confirmed via a tweet from the Duffer Brothers. “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.”

Production officially began on season 5 on Monday, 8 January, with the show's social media account sharing a picture of the cast altogether and announcing it was the case. The caption read: "THIS IS A CODE RED STRANGER THINGS 5 production has officially begun!!!"

Stranger Things season 5 cast

At Netflix's TUDUM fan event it was confirmed that Linda Hamilton had been cast in the show in an as-yet-unconfirmed role.

Speaking in a video announcement revealing the news, Hamilton shared: “I don’t know how to be a fangirl and an actress at the same time. I’m gonna work on that.”

US actress Linda Hamilton poses during a photo call to promote the film Terminator: Dark Fate in London on October 17, 2019. - Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprise their iconic roles in the forthcoming sixth installment in the Terminator franchise in Terminator: Dark Fate. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Linda Hamilton has joined the cast of Stranger Things season 5 (AFP via Getty Images)

Hamilton will be joining the show’s core cast who will also be returning. This includes Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven, Finn Wolfhard’s Mike, Noah Schnapp’s Will, Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin and Caleb McLaughlin’s Lucas.

Natalia Dyer's Nancy, Priah Ferguson's Erica, Charlie Heaton's Jonathan, Maya Hawke's Robin and Joe Keery's Steve are also expected to return, although Sadie Sink's Max is still up in the air following the climactic events of season four which left her in a coma.

Unfortunately, Joseph Quinn's fan-favourite Eddie Munsen is unlikely to be back considering his fate in the last series however, his absence is said to play a big part in season five's story, with the surviving cast feeling "huge repercussions."

Campbell Bower's Vecna will also show up, setting the scene for a memorable final showdown.

Stranger Things season 5 plot

Jamie Campbell Bower is the terrifying Henry/Vecna. (Netflix)
Jamie Campbell Bower is the terrifying Henry/Vecna. (Netflix)

Very little is known about the plot of the fifth season, as fans were keen to keep the final two episodes of Season 4 spoiler-free. However, the show’s creators, The Duffer Brothers, have given snippets of what to expect, assuring the fans that 'a lot of it is pretty well mapped out'.

“We learn a lot every time we make a [season],” Matt Duffer said in an interview with TVLine. “We’ve learned a lot just working with all of our new actors and the ones that we’ve worked with for a long time over this year (during Season 4 filming) so I’m sure it’ll change a little bit from that outline”.

A statement in February in 2022 confirmed that the show will end with Season 5, and one thing that seems to be confirmed is that the plot will move forward in time, as opposed to the yearly jumps of current seasons.

Vecna in Stranger Things S4 (Netflix)
Vecna might have been stopped, but he wasn't defeated. (Netflix)

“I’m sure we will do a time jump,” says Ross Duffer, who also says the initial plan was to shoot season 4 and 5 back-to-back. “There was just no feasible way to do that” he reflects on the situation.

Fans who are fully up-to-date with season four will know that by the end of the finale, Max was still lying in a coma in hospital and Eleven was unable to access any of her thoughts or memories to communicate, suggesting that she might not recover.

Eleven and Hopper were reunited at their cabin in the woods, but with a mass exodus from Hawkins (most residents believe Vecna's carnage was an earthquake, with rumours of a satanic curse attached) it's possible that other key characters' families could be preparing to leave.

Vecna/Henry/One is not fully defeated yet and promised a more global reign of terror to come, which was supposed to be kick-started by Max's death before Eleven, whose powers are back and stronger than before, managed to keep her just hanging onto life.

Noah Schnapp is Will Byers. (Netflix)
Noah Schnapp is Will Byers. (Netflix)

During a recent profile of Will Byers’ actor Noah Schnapp, Variety spilled a few more details about how his real-life coming out moment will impact new episodes.

“I think the way I act in Season 5, honestly, might be a little different,” explained Schnapp. “I will be fully aware of who I am. Knowing all of that about myself and being able to invest that in my character, I’m honestly just excited.”

Meanwhile, Ross Duffer confirmed that Schnapp’s character will come into his own in the series’ final outing: “Will really takes center stage again in 5.

“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.”

Over on Stranger Things' social media pages, a photo of the script for the season's first episode was teased in early November, revealing the first episode title: 'The Crawl.'

While speaking to The Guardian about the new Stranger Things stage show, the Duffers discussed a few extra details about the show’s final outing, comparing it to “season one on steroids.”

Matt added: “It’s the biggest it’s ever been in terms of scale, but it has been really fun, because everyone’s back together in Hawkins: the boys and Eleven interacting more in line with how it was in season one.”

The pair also confirmed that the show will close out its primary storyline: “And, yes, there may be spin-offs, but the story of Eleven and Dustin and Lucas and Hopper, their stories are done here. That’s it…” they explained.

Why the time jump?

The young cast are looking a lot older in season four. (Netflix)
The young cast are looking a lot older in season four. (Netflix)

While there may be storyline issues to contend with, part of the Duffer Brothers’ decision to include a time jump in the fifth season is the show’s young cast.

It’s been seven years since Stranger Things debuted, but in the show’s timeline only three years have passed in four seasons (starting in 1983 to most recently 1986). As such, the gap between the characters’ age and the actors who play them is beginning to show.

Read more: 10 things you might not know about Stranger Things

Millie Bobby Brown recently expressed shock that Eleven is supposed to be fourteen in Season 4 (the British star is currently 19). It’s not the only big gap, however: Caleb McLaughlin is five years older than his 15-year-old character Lucas, while 31-year-old Joe Keery’s character, Steve, is believed to be between 18 and 19.

Season four saw Nancy and Jonathan preparing to head off to college, but with Jonathan secretly not applying for the same college that Nancy is expecting to attend together and Steve making his lingering feelings for Nancy clear, there could be some big changes once the older kids leave high school.

The time jump should also clear up exactly what happens to Max after being left in a coma by Vecna.

Is Stranger Things season 5 the final season?

STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022
(L-R) Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner in Stranger Things. (Netflix)

In February, The Duffer Brothers confirmed that Stranger Things will reach its end with Season 5. In an open letter shared on Netflix’s blog, the duo revealed that this is the run they always envisioned for the show.

"Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things," they wrote. "At the time, we predicted the story would last four or five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four, but — as you'll soon see for yourselves — we are now hurtling toward our finale. Season 4 will be the penultimate season; season 5 will be the last.”

While speaking to The Guardian, the Duffers discussed the difficulties of sticking the landing when it comes to ending a popular show in a satisfying way.

“The nine hours that precede the ending can be amazing,” reasoned Ross, "but if you stumble at that one-yard line, people will never forgive you for that. And they’ll forget the previous nine hours of awesomeness! So it’s amazing what they will forgive if you score a touchdown at the end.

He added: “Endings of shows are like opening a restaurant in terms of the success-failure rate – there’s an 80% failure rate, I’d say... But I think one very particular way to fail is to attempt to appease everybody. We have a huge variety of fans that span a huge age range and I’m sure they have all their own ideas of how they want the show to end.

"But we’re not consulting social media on this. Then you just hope and pray that it resonates. But it was funny: once we got there, it just felt right and we’re going to go for it!”

That may not be the last we see of the show’s universe, however, as Ross Duffer teased a spin-off show in an interview with Variety.

STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Tom Wlaschiha as Dmitrti, Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman, Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, and David Harbour as Jim Hopper in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022
(L-R) Tom Wlaschiha as Dmitrti, Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman, Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, and David Harbour as Jim Hopper. (Netflix)

Likely to begin production as Season 5 is winding down, Ross Duffer teased “The reason we haven't done anything is just because you don't want to be doing it for the wrong reasons, and it was just like, 'Is this something I would want to make regardless of it being related to Stranger Things or not?' And definitely.

"Even if we took the Stranger Things title off of it, I'm so, so excited about it. But it is not… It's going to be different than what anyone is expecting, including Netflix."

Stranger Things season five is coming soon. Seasons 1-4 are available now on Netflix.