All The Retro Easter Eggs We Spotted In ‘Stranger Things’ 3
'Alien'? 'Terminator?' 'Back To The Future?' There's just... so many.
Stranger Things 3 is out, and with it comes the requisite game of “spot the reference”.
The first two seasons of the show were laden with nostalgic Easter eggs, and this season is no different. If anything, there’s more!
It’s set in the summer of 1985, and the kids are growing up and maturing into moody and makeout-obsessed teens. The pop culture homages reflect this slight shift in tone.
Here are some of the standouts from the season (spoilers below, obviously)…
#StrangerThings not holding back on the 70/80/90's movie references this season: Die Hard, Terminator, Alien, Halloween 2, The Fog, Signs, Jurassic Park, Jaws,True Lies, Invasion of Body Snatches, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dawn of the Dead, Midnight Run, The Blob & so many.
— ㅤnαkul.ㅤ (@itsNaCool) July 6, 2019
Fast Times at Starcourt Mall
The introductory montage to the season’s primary location, Starcourt Mall, isn’t just a chance to show off the set and costume designers’ impeccable attention to detail.
It’s also a direct reference to the mall sequence in the opening shots of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Steve Harrington’s ridiculous Scoops Ahoy uniform also seems to be a nod to Brad Hamilton’s humiliating pirate outfit from the movie. And not only does Dustin repeatedly compare his girlfriend Suzie to Fast Times star Phoebe Cates, Steve also manhandles a cut-out of Cates in her iconic Fast Times swimsuit during the scene at the video store in the final episode of Stranger Things 3.
— Demi (@TravelingNerd88) July 5, 2019
Dawn Of The Demo-Zombies
While the possessed Hawkins townspeople aren’t exactly zombies in Season 3, they definitely exhibit zombie-like behaviour at times.
Stranger Things 3 really leans into the Dawn of the Dead parallels — especially with the mall setting.
The most explicit example of this is the way Robin and the others slide down the middle of the escalator. There’s also the fact that Will mentions a zombie horde in the boys’ D&D game earlier in the season, continuing the tradition of their game foreshadowing the events of the show.
And, of course, the movie the boys sneak into is Day of the Dead, the follow-up movie to Dawn of the Dead.
Halfway through, and given how it cribs from 'Invasion of the Bodysnatchers', 'Dawn of the Dead', 'Natural Born Killers' and more of my favourite things, I think #StrangerThings might be the best one.
— Mark Donaldson (@Oldmankrondas) July 8, 2019
Last Action Heroes
This season of Stranger Things plays with some iconic action movie references.
The most obvious — and perhaps a bit too obvious — is the Terminator-esque character Grigori. His style and demeanour are very clearly meant to mimic Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator.
Even his injuries towards the end of the season echo those the T-800 sustains in Terminator 2. Just to really ram the reference home, when Hopper asks Mayor Kline who the mysterious figure is, Larry responds with “Arnold Schwarzenegger”.
But The Terminator isn’t the only action franchise that Stranger Things 3 derives inspiration from.
Erica’s trip through the air vents is very Die Hard, as is Grigori’s comment to Hopper that “policemen have rules”.
— Rafael Ω Ataide #ReleaseTheSnyderCut (@raffaelataide_) July 5, 2019
It wouldn’t be Stranger Things without some Aliens references.
The Upside Down creatures have been influenced by the Aliens franchise from the beginning, and the human goo monster in Season 3 is no different. There’s even the moment where the creature attacks Nancy and gets very close to sucking her face, which closely mirrors the iconic shot of Sigourney Weaver in Alien 3.
— #StayWatchin | Larry McAllister II (@LARRYTRON) July 9, 2019
The Dread Mayor Kline
Stranger Things 3 continues the very meta casting the show has become known for.
It started with ‘80s and ‘90s queen Winona Ryder in Season 1, and picked up with Sean Astin (Goonies) and Paul Reiser (Aliens) in Season 2.
For Season 3, we’ve got ‘80s/’90s dream boy Cary Elwes as seedy Mayor Kline — you probably know him best as Westley in The Princess Bride and Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. If you want to really stretch it, you could also see the casting of Maya Hawke — Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman’s daughter — as a continuation of the meta theme.
At the very least, the use of Weird Al Yankovic’s ‘My Bologna’ seems like a nod to Winona Ryder’s famous ‘My Sharona’ scene with Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites.
i finished stranger things 3 not knowing mayor kline was dread pirate roberts adfadsfadlk;asd pic.twitter.com/bK9gAfywCF
— ✨ (@tessssaaaa) July 8, 2019
And All The Rest
This is far from an exhaustive list of references in Stranger Things 3, but to include literally everything means we’d be here all week.
The other significant pop culture moments worth mentioning are less subtle references and more obvious call-outs within the Hawkins universe. For instance, there’s the very funny Back to the Future sequence, which perfectly grounds the season at a specific point of time — the actual opening weekend of the movie.
There’s also that instantly iconic Never-Ending Story scene using the titular theme song from the 1984 adventure movie.
— ً (@b0llv) July 7, 2019
Then there are the callbacks to Stranger Things itself.
Murray’s joke about vodka and his matchmaking abilities reference his Season 2 scenes, while Steve’s realisation that his life is “bullshit” is a nod to Nancy’s drunken break-up tirade in Season 2.
And, in the most moving detail of all, not only is Eleven still wearing Hopper’s daughter’s hairband, as she has done since Season 2, we also see her finish Season 3 wearing one of Hopper’s shirts. Just to make us all cry that little bit more.
Stranger Things season 3 is streaming on Netflix.