Here Are The Most Iconic Pop-Culture Easter Eggs In ‘Stranger Things’ So Far
From 'The Goonies' and 'Aliens' to 'Jurassic Park' -- 'Stranger Things' has ALL the pop-culture nostalgia hidden in it.
Stranger Things is a series that is as much about nostalgia as it is about the actual story.
It unashamedly borrows heavily from the books and movies that inspired it (predominantly by Stephen King and Steven Spielberg), and peppers explicit and implicit references to them throughout the show.
Watching it is literally like going on a pop cultural Easter egg hunt.
Before Season 3 drops, let’s take a look back at some of the most interesting references and details from pop-culture and film that the show has given us so far…
I am still in shock that #StrangerThings actually starts up tomorrow I can’t even handle myself. Like omg it’s almost time. OMGGGGGGGGGG.
My body is ready for all the fan service, shipping, and 80s references purely to evoke childhood nostalgia. 😍😍😍
— 🎮Femtrooper🎮 (@thefemtrooper) July 3, 2019
E.T. Phones Home
In Series 1, there were a lot of references to Eleven as E.T., leaning into the idea that she was an alien to the boys (as a girl, as someone with powers, and as someone who had grown up isolated in a lab).
Some obvious examples of this are when the boys first discover Eleven with their flashlights, just as Elliot did with E.T., and also when they dress Eleven up in a pink dress and wig, which a lot of fans connected to the way Gertie dresses up E.T.
One ongoing criticism of Stranger Things is that it references Spielberg etc too much. It's not an entirely invalid point, but it's worth noting that Spielberg himself is in debt to other films. The end of Raiders is Kiss Me Deadly. The flying bikes in E.T. is Miracle in Milan.
— Paul Bullock (@apaulbullock) July 3, 2019
The bike riding scene where Eleven uses her powers to flip the enemy’s van also connects with the iconic moment E.T. causes the bikes to fly. The E.T. references continue in Season 2, when we see Eleven donning a sheet in a bid to go trick or treating disguised as a ghost — the same costume used by E.T. in the movie.
When The Night Has Come
Stranger Things doesn’t make a lot of direct references to Stand by Me, but the whole thing has the ~vibe~ of it, especially Season 1 when the friendship of the four boys is introduced.
One overt reference it does make, however, is the use of the train tracks, particularly in the scene where Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Eleven walk along them, and also the one in Season 2 where Steve and Dustin walk along them and bond over Farrah Fawcett hair spray.
Goonies Never Say Die
Stranger Things is absolute rife with The Goonies Easter eggs.
In Season 1, a lot of Dustin moments echo iconic Chunk scenes (such as his discovery of the pudding stash), and there are a lot of visual references to shots in the movie.
Season 2 really steps up the Goonies game, though, by having actual original Goonie Sean Astin play Bob. They even sneak in a Goonies reference from him, when he says “what’s at X, pirate’s treasure?”
Aside from Bob, the season also calls back to The Goonies in the scene where the kids and Steve travel into the tunnels below Hawkins — right down to Steve’s red bandanna, which mirrors the one worn by Josh Brolin’s character in the movie.
It Was Aliens
Another iconic piece of pop culture Stranger Things references a lot is the Aliens franchise.
In Season 1, the scene where Hopper and Joyce go into the Upside Down particularly connects with the movie, from the suits they wear down to the sucker they find lodged on Will’s face/down his throat.
Like with The Goonies, Season 2 adds a layer of meta to the show by featuring an Aliens actor — Paul Reiser as Dr Sam Owens. A few scenes featuring Dr Owens are direct references to his character in Aliens — including the scene where he’s introduced, and the scene where he watches the soldiers descend into the Upside Down.
Even though it’s not actually from the ‘80s, that didn’t stop the Stranger Things creators from weaving some Jurassic Park nostalgia into the show.
This is most noticeable in Season 2, such as when Steve is surrounded by Demo-dogs while the kids cower in the bus and experience some very narrow escapes, echoing the velociraptor chases from Jurassic Park.
Another striking example is when Bob risks his life to make it to the circuit breakers and restore power to the lab — a clear homage to the iconic Jurassic Park scene.
It’s Called Foreshadowing, Hunny
Not every Easter egg on Stranger Things is a reference to external influences.
They also point to their own material in clever ways. For example, in the first episode in Season 1, Will says, “the Demogorgon. It got me”, which obviously foreshadows his plot. Meanwhile, Nancy tells Barb’s mother that she’s at the library, and Barb’s body ends up being found in the Upside Down version of the library.
In Season 2, the rivalry between the pumpkin patch operators is referenced on the front page of a newspaper seen in the very first episode of the season.
Meanwhile, in perhaps the most moving Easter egg, we see Hopper wearing a blue hairband on his wrist throughout Season 1, that we later learn belonged to his daughter. Then in the Season 2 finale, Eleven is wearing it around her wrist at the Snow Ball.
Brb crying forever.
Stranger Things Season 3 is streaming on Netflix tonight. Catch up here.