Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things 4
You Probs Missed These Easter Eggs Hidden In Stranger Things 4

Mind = blown.

by Ani Bundel
Originally Published: 

Stranger Things 4 is the biggest season of the show yet. It’s got the most extensive main cast, with 21 characters. It’s the longest by far. (Volume 1 clocks in at 9 hours, 7 minutes; Volume 2 will be 3 hours, 54 minutes, bringing the entire season to just over 13 hours.) Furthermore, Stranger Things 4 has the most easter eggs and references in the series’ history.

Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things 4 follow. Stranger Things has always been heavy on cultural references. The first season is regularly described as “Steven Spielberg does Stephen King,” bringing to mind Spielberg’s kid-centric heartfelt films from the 1980s mixed with the pinnacle of King’s horror novel writing.

Although the early seasons happily mentioned everything from Season 1’s X-Men #134 to Seasons 3’s New Coke reference, nothing has reached the level of Season 4’s barrage of references. Part of that comes from the show’s change of setting. California brings in West Coast culture that Hawkins wasn’t privy to, while Steve and Robin’s job at the video store is an opportunity for the show to go hog wild in the props department. And that’s not even including all the horror elements that the show feels freer to revel in now that the cast are older.

Here’s a rundown of every single easter egg and reference that one person could find in Stranger Things 4.


Family Video Was A Real Store


Blockbuster may have been the most ubiquitous, but Family Video, founded in the late 1970s, was the place for rentals in the more rural areas where giant chain box stores don’t reach. It also outlasted Blockbuster; the final stores only just closed in March 2022.


The Family Video References

The series goes wild in the Family Video scenes:

There’s a Weird Science (1985) poster in the window that’s double-sided.

The posters inside the store include The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), and Basket Case (1982).

There’s a giant The Last Dragon (1985) standee in the corner. Other smaller standees seen include Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985), Pete’s Dragon (1977), and Gremlins (1984).


Double VHS Cassettes

Before DVDs could hold hours and hours of movies, movies that were longer than two and half hours came on Double VHS. Doctor Zhivago was initially three hours and 33 minutes. (The directors’ cut is three hours, 40 minutes, but that didn’t come out until the 1990s.)


“Be Kind, Rewind”

Erika quotes this phrase that was famously affixed to every VHS tape rented from Blockbuster.


Rink-O-Mania Is Based On A Real Place


Though “Rink-O-Mania” doesn’t actually exist, “Skate-O-Mania” does. The southwestern roller rink opened in the 1980s and is still operating today, and it’s where Stranger Things 4 was filmed.


Eddie Munson = Eddie Munster

Eddie Munson’s name is a play on Eddie Munster, who was a werewolf and part of a family of “freaks,” just like the Hellfire Club.


Eleven’s Door

This one’s super sweet. When Mike comes to see Eleven after the roller rink debacle, her door is open three inches, just as Hopper asked her to keep it in his letter at the end of Season 3. (She then confirms this at the end of Volume 2, telling Hopper she listened to his advice.


Noah’s Alan Turing Project

The Duffers and Noah Schnapp both insist Will Byers’ sexuality is up for interpretation. But for those looking for clues that come down on the side of him being in the LGBTQ+ fam (and that his speech to Mike was his own feelings), check out the science project he’s carrying as he and Eleven walk to class. His poster and diorama proclaim his hero is the brilliant Alan Turing, whose codebreaking helped save the Allies in WWII, but it didn’t stop the U.K. from persecuting and jailing him for being gay.


Argyle’s Ocean Pacific Affinity

Argyle asking if Mike wears Ocean Pacific isn’t a pretentious thing. Hippies favored the West Coast clothing line; in high schools, it was a silent symbol that you either smoked or had pot for sale.


Max’s Kate Bush Moment

Max’s escape from the Vecna in the Upside Down isn’t just set to Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” The scene with her running through a red nightmare environment is actually a recreation from the song’s 1980s music video.


Eddie’s Jacket Patches & Tattoos

Eddie’s jacket is a reference fest of all the cultural markers a hair metal-loving fan of Dungeons & Dragons would be into. There’s the Motorhead logo (RIP Lemmy), the WASP logo, and the very deep-cut Dio backpatch. (Dio was the former singer for Black Sabbath and Rainbow, and his solo album covers were all D&D references.)

Also, Eddie has a tattoo of a swarm of bats on his elbow, foreshadowing that he’ll die at the bites of demo bats. He also has a skeleton puppet, which hints at the Master of Puppets scene.


Lucas’ Jersey Number

Lucas’ basketball jersey is No. 8, an homage to Kobe Bryant’s original number when he first signed with the Lakers.


Joyce’s Reeboks

Joyce has worn Reeboks in every season. However, this season takes it a step further, as Eleven’s diorama tribute to Hopper is in one of Joyce’s Reeboks shoe boxes.


Chrissy’s Blue Eyeshadow

Blue eyeshadow (and blue mascara) was huge in the mid-1980s, especially among the trendy popular girls, so it’s no surprise it shows up on both Chrissy and Eleven’s bully, Angela.


Nancy’s Jewelry Box


A callback to Eleven in Nancy’s room from Season 1, when Robin walks into Nancy’s room, she does the same thing Eleven did, picking up the jewelry box and staring at the little ballerina spinning inside it.


Barb’s Return

The Duffer brothers will never live down taking out Barb. After dedicating Nancy’s entire storyline to it in Season 2, it’s now her trauma memory for Vecna to play with in Season 4, Volume 2.


Erika’s Critical Hit

When Erika beats up the jock bullies, she yells, “Crit Hit!” the same thing she yells when the dice rolled and she won the D&D game, bringing the two events full circle.


Joyce’s Job

Viewers might be a little confused by Joyce’s job, but encyclopedia telemarketing was a real thing in the 1980s. Encyclopedias were still a staple of every household, and phones made selling them from home easier than carting use stacks of books around door-to-door. It was one of the earliest work-from-home positions.


Victor Creel’s Freddy Krueger Moment

Although Robert Englund (who formerly played Freddy Krueger) does not turn out to be Vecna haunting children's dreams, he does get a Freddy Krueger moment. His character Victor Creel’s fingernails scratch his chair arms like he thinks he has those knife glove hands from the Elm Street films.


Pennhurst Asylum Was A Real Place


It would have been a bit of a haul from Hawkins to Pennhurst, but the asylum was a real place — just located in Pennsylvania. It closed in 1987 and is now a Haunted House.


The Microfilm Room

Ever wonder how people looked up old newspaper articles before the internet? They were stored in libraries on miniaturized filmstrips known as “microfilms” and needed a specialized reader. Nancy and Robin are in their library’s microfilm room in the scene when Nancy shows her the article on Victor Creel.


The Silence Of The Lambs Reference

The Silence of the Lambs wasn’t released until the 1990s. However, that scene in which Nancy and Robin walk down the cavelike basement hallways to see Creel is a direct callback to Jodie Foster’s character visiting Dr. Hannibal Lecter.


Hopper’s Prison Location

All the scenes set in Hopper’s prison camp were filmed in an actual former Nazi prison camp. It’s not located in Siberia though — it’s in Lithuania.


Yuri’s Heroism at Damansky

The Sino-Soviet border conflict, where Yuri’s heroic feats of derring-do supposedly happened, was a real historical event. The seven-month clash lasted for most of 1969 and brought the world's two largest Communist countries – China and the U.S.S.R. – to the brink of war.


Satanic Panic


In the opening episode, Eddie reads an article from Newsweek about Dungeons and Dragons being viewed as a gateway to Satanism. That was a real fear in the mid-1980s, and the media played up the idea of heavy metal, fantasy stories, and horror as somehow “un-Christian” and “un-American.” Jason’s response to Vecna’s rampage is also a play on how rural towns reacted to the unexplained at the time.


The Hellfire Club

Since the long-ago reveal that Season 4’s first episode was titled “The Hellfire Club,” fans have assumed Eddie’s D&D posse is referencing the X-Men. In the comics, the Hellfire Club is made up of antagonists who try to use Jean Grey’s powers as a weapon, a reference to Eleven’s sitch. It’s also a reference to Dustin’s X-Men comic from Season 1, which is issue #134, in which Grey gains her Phoenix powers.

But it also references a second historical club, more suited to Bridgerton. The original Hellfire Club was established during the Regency era, a federation of exclusive male-only clubs that catered to upper-class rakes, of which the likes of Anthony Bridgerton and Simon Basset would have been members.


The Case Against Eddie Was Based On A Real Trial

The Duffers confirmed this season’s victims were based on a real true-crime case, that of West Memphis Three member Damien Echols. Echols was convicted of the 1993 murders of Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, which the prosecution claimed were for satanic rituals.



The device Dustin tells Eddie they used to hack into the Hawkins police files is his own “Cerebro.” Cerebro is a device in the X-Men comics used by Charles Xavier to detect distance mutants in need.


The Lord of The Rings Reference

The Lord of the Rings movies might have made not “simply walking into Mordor” famous in the 21st century. However, in the 1980s, fantasy book readers already knew going into Mordor was a bad idea. “The Shire is burning” is a reference to the “Scouring of the Shire” chapter, which was famously cut from the films, putting Eddies reference square in the realm of the books (which is why Steve def didn’t pick up on it).


The Stephen King Reference


Lucas is reading The Talisman to Max at the hospital. The 1984 horror novel co-written by Stephen King and Peter Straub is an homage to Stranger Things’ Stephen King Inspo. (It also happens to be on the list of works the Duffers are planning to adapt for Netflix. Nice tie-in.)


The Watchmen References

The other primary reading for fantasy nerds was the recently released Watchmen comics. Multiple references compare Henry Creel’s transformation into Number One/Vecna with that of Jon Osterman into Dr. Manhattan, including the scene in which Henry is trapped in the blue-lit room that looks much like the space Dr. Manhattan created. Also, the endless grandfather clocks are a reference, as Manhattan was obsessed with time since his father was a watchmaker.


The Little Shop of Horrors Poster

Detail-oriented viewers might protest that Will Byers having a The Little Shop of Horrors poster on his wall is historically inaccurate; the movie didn’t come out until Christmas 1986. But look closer, and you’ll release it’s not the movie poster; it’s the one from the 1982 hit Broadway musical. Will would love that musical — it’s about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who gets involved with an evil creature that takes over his life. Also, the Demogorgon’s face has a surprising resemblance to Audrey II.


“Water Gate”

Dustin references Nixon and Watergate in the early going, a throwback to Season 2 when his mother was the town Leftist and the only one with a “Mondale 1984” sign in her yard. He also nicknames the opening to the Upside Down under the lake “Water Gate,” a literal translation of the famous scandal.


Vecna’s Horror Inspo

Obviously, Vecna plays on Nightmare on Elm Street with the dream sequences that take out children, and Wayne Munson compares him to Mike Myers, but there’s also a major Hellraiser vibe going on with Vecna’s lair in the Upside Down. His preying on fears and insecurities is totally Pennywise from IT. The makeup artist was also inspired by the Night King in Game of Thrones. And finally, the burning of Vecna is straight out of Halloween.


The Rainbow Room


The Rainbow Room references how popular rainbows were in 1970s children’s decor. (The rainbow flag didn’t become firmly associated with the LGBTQ+ movement until the late 1990s.)

But there’s also an easter egg for the eagle-eyed in Episode 7: The rainbows painted on the wall of the Rainbow Room in the final showdown between Eleven and One are reversed. Hers is right side up, red on top, purple on the bottom; his is upside down, purple on top, a foreshadowing of where she’s about to send him.


Ms. Kelly’s Files On The Stranger Things Staff

As Max looks through Ms. Kelly’s files and finds Chrissy and Fred’s folders, two more labels are visible for “John Bonaccorse” and “Ray Brown.” Watch to the end credits, and fans will see those names repeat. Bonaccorse is listed as the second assistant director, while Brown is a key grip.


Callbacks To Earlier Seasons

The final two episodes of Stranger Things brought several moments from earlier seasons full circle.

  • The Snow Ball scene is from the Season 2 finale.
  • Eleven remembers multiple scenes with Max from Season 3, including their mall shopping trip, hanging out in her room, gossiping about Mike, and the parting scene from the Season 3 finale.
  • Joyce flashes back to Bob’s death in Season 2, when Hopper says he’s going to fight the demo dogs.
  • The Mike Myers mask disguise Eddie wears was Max’s from Season 2’s Halloween episode.
  • During Max’s passing, Moby’s “When It's Cold I'd Like to Die” plays. The song may strike fans as out of place, and it is. (It was released in 1995.) But it’s the same song that played in Season 1’s Hopper flashback to when his daughter passed from cancer.
  • The image of the Mind Flayer that Henry saw in the Upside Down is Will’s exact drawing from Season 2.
  • Eleven’s Eggos are still on the table when they go to Hopper’s house to clean it up in the finale.

Movie References

Here’s a rundown of all the films directly referenced in the first seven episodes:

  • The Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983): Dustin recites Han Solo’s famous “Never tell me the odds” line in the first episode. In Episode 8, Murray recites Han’s “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
  • Also, Sullivan’s entrance to the underground bunker is staged like Darth Vader’s entrance to Leia’s ship in the opening Star Wars: A New Hope scene. It’s one of many callbacks to Star Wars in the final two episodes. There’s Eleven lifting the tank the same way Yoda lifts Luke’s ship, Eleven insisting she must go to her friends even though her training isn’t complete, and Max’s coma has her with her arms up like she’s frozen in carbonite.
  • Police Academy 3 (1986): When Jonathan says there are showtimes for Police Academy 3, he’s talking about opening weekend. The film debuted in theaters on March 21, 1986.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): There are multiple references, including the flashcard game Brenner plays with Ten in the opening sequence and Dustin’s “I’ve Been Slimed” patch on his backpack.
  • WarGames (1983): Mike recognizes the newfangled sound of dial-up internet, thanks to watching this Matthew Broderick classic.
  • ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1981): The phone booth in Hawkins High is adorned with “ET, Phone Home” graffiti.
  • Jaws (1975): Will has a Jaws poster in his room.
  • Goonies (1985): Lucas’ reference to playing the piano correctly to open the Upside Down in the Creel House is a direct reference to the bone organ scene.
  • The Muppet Movie (1979): Suzie has two posters from this Jim Henson classic in her room.
  • The Evil Dead (1981): There’s a poster of the Sam Raimi classic in Jonathan’s room.
  • Nightmare on Elm St. (1984): Casting Nightmare star Robert Englund as Victor Creel is a significant callback. But so is Vecna’s calling card of haunting children in waking nightmares.
  • Halloween (1978): Eddie’s dad Wayne compares Creel to Mike Myers, a joke since that’s the horror character from the *other* franchise.
  • Carrie (1976): Both scenes of Eleven being bullied, first in the roller rink and then in the lab, are callbacks to Carrie, the horror film in which a girl with psychic powers has her abilities triggered by her peers laughing at her. Carrie is also referenced in the Snow Ball scene when the balloons start exploding with blood.
  • Aliens (1984) Sullivan’s orders to search Brenner’s underground lab are directly taken from Aliens. An accident? Maybe, except Paul Riser (who was in Aliens) keeps calling Eleven “kiddo,” the same thing he called Ripley in that movie.
  • Red Dawn (1985) The famous “The USSR takes over America” film from the mid-1980s is directly referenced by Dustin and Eddie’s outfits for the Upside Down battle.
  • The War Zone ad in the paper is a cross between Top Gun (1986) and Rocky II (1979)
  • Conan The Barbarian (1982) Hopper’s sword that he wields against the Demogorgon looks much like Conan the Barbarian’s sword. That’s because it’s the same sword.
  • Alien Resurrection (1997) The Demogorgons in the holding tanks call back to the third movie in the franchise. No, it’s not from the 1980s, but Winona Ryder starred in it, making it a surprise reference.
  • Pulp Fiction (1994): Robin’s line about “I don’t believe in religion but that was a miracle” is a straight homage to Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, the film Maya Hawke’s mother, Uma Thurman, starred in.

Celebrity References

Steve McQueen: Yuri likens the 1970s action star to Hopper. McQueen was famous for starring in The Great Escape, a movie in which a character constantly attempts to escape a prison camp.

  • Steve McQueen: Yuri likens the 1970s action star to Hopper. McQueen was famous for starring in The Great Escape, a movie in which a character constantly attempts to escape a prison camp.
  • Hulk Hogan: There’s a Hulk Hogan trading card hanging in the cab to LAX. In Episode 8, Joyce and Hopper find and wear Hulk Hogan shirts.
  • Weird Al: Eddie notes Dustin was wearing a Weird Al t-shirt when they met.
  • Tom Cruise: Nancy has a poster of Tom Cruise on her wall.
  • Elvira: There’s an incongruous poster of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, in the church refuge where Hopper stays.
  • Madonna: Not only is Tammy Thompson dressed as Madonna from her “Like A Virgin” era to sing the National Anthem, but later on, Dr. Owens says Eleven is “bigger than Madonna” in the science world.
  • Ozzy Osborne: Eddie compares Steve to Ozzy Osborne for taking out the batlike monster in the Upside Down. (In reality, the bat Ozzy bit the head off of was already dead.)

TV References


Stranger Things characters watch a lot of TV. Here are all the shows this season references.

  • Thundercats (1985): Jason watches the kiddie cat-alien cartoon the morning after Chrissy’s passing.
  • Misfits of Science (1985): Max is watching the early Courteney Cox one-season superhero series.
  • CHiPs (1977): Jonathan calls the Cali cops “Ponch and John,” the two main characters from Erik Estrada’s hit crime drama.
  • Sherlock Holmes (1984): Dustin’s mom must love PBS because that (very bad) Sherlock Holmes line Dustin recites is straight from the Jeremy Brett-starring TV series that aired on Mystery! in the mid-1980s.
  • The Muppet Show (1978): Robin, Vickie, and Steve all reference the hilarious bad Muppet musical numbers from the variety show in the first two episodes.
  • Ewoks (1985): Will and Mike watch the Ewoks spinoff TV series cartoon, itself a spinoff of the animated film, which is a testament to how bored they are because it was awful.
  • The montage in the finale is cut the same way the montages in The A-Team were.

Song References

Will Byers notably has a poster on his wall for R.E.M. Michael Stipe didn’t officially come out until the 1990s, but the alternative rock band was part of gay culture during this era.

Metallica’s album Master of Puppets came out on March 3, 1986, and would have been the album a metalhead like Eddie would have had on repeat.

The search through Nancy’s room for a song to snap her out of Vecna’s hold also brings up many artists, including Madonna, Blondie, David Bowie, and The Beatles. Also, the tape Eddie holds up while screaming, “THIS IS MUSIC,” is Black Sabbath.

Beyond Kate Bush being on replay and the “Master of Puppets” lyrics (not to mention the rest of the songs on the soundtrack), there are also a ton of “songs about dreams” in the “listening room” in Creel’s asylum:

  • “I’ll See You In My Dreams”
  • “Red Sails In The Sunset”
  • “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams”
  • “Moonlight Serenade,” originally titled “Now I Lay Me Down to Weep”

Pot References

Perhaps because no one from the first three seasons made sense to fill the standard high school stoner character, both Season 4’s new characters, Argyle and Eddie, do. They also bring a bunch of pot jokes.

  • Cheech & Chong: The comedy duo’s stoner movies are more associated with the 1970s, but their last one came out in 1985. All of them are in Reefer Rick’s rental history.
  • “Pass The Dutchie”: The British boy band’s stoner classic plays when Argyle smokes up Suzie’s older sister, Eden, in the van.

Food References

From Eggo waffles to eco coolers, 1980s-era foods are always somewhere in Stranger Things.

  • Jif: Joyce is a choosy mom who chooses to send Hopper Jif.
  • Skittles: Bribing Holly with Skittles was brilliant — the originally British candy was brand new to the states in the 1980s.
  • Coca-Cola Classic: One of my favorite tiny updates to the “crushing a Coke can” scene from Season 1, this time, it’s a Coca-Cola Classic can Eleven is focused on, an acknowledgment of the New Coke failure, despite Lucas singing its praises.

Toy References

Stranger Things loves pulling out 1980s-era toys. Here are the major ones spotted in this season:

  • Magic 8 Ball: Number 10 likes using it to communicate.
  • Rubik’s Cube: There’s one on the counter in Family Video that Robin’s been playing with.
  • Holly’s Lite Brite: The Hawkins crew uses it to communicate.
  • Nintendo with Duck Hunt: The best Nintendo Entertainment System came with the arcade favorite Duck Hunt.
  • Paperboy: The show’s opening moments are of a paperboy tossing newspapers at houses in a careless manner, a direct reference to the era's video game.

Hair References


And finally, just about everyone’s hair is a reference of some sort.

Hooper’s shaved head is reminiscent of Eleven’s shaved head in Season 1.

  • Eddie’s hair is MTV hair metal.
  • Mike’s hair appears to be him trying to imitate Eddie’s mullet.
  • Eleven’s hair appears to be her trying to imitate the Joyce shag.
  • Argyle’s hair is West Coast stoner chic.
  • Lucas’ hair is Kid’n’Play.
  • Nancy’s hair is Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing.
  • Chrissy’s hair is Olivia Newton-John in Grease.
  • Jason’s hair is Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
  • Robin’s hair is Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club.
  • Vickie’s hair is Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club. Also, the hat she wore in the Army supply store was straight out of Ringwald’s wardrobe in 16 Candles.

Stranger Things Season 1 through 4 Vol. 1 are streaming on Netflix. Vol. 2 arrives on Friday, July 1, 2022.

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