It’s safe to say that the kids of Stranger Things have been through a lifetime’s worth of horror, but some of the smaller, more human moments in the show are even more tragic than being attacked by an unstoppable inter-dimensional demon. That’s what some eagle-eyed fans are pointing out in one particular Season 4 oversight. As if Will Byers’ strained relationships with his one-time besties wasn’t sad enough, fans have noticed that the second episode in Season 4 completely ignores Will’s birthday.
To get the full breadth of this discovery, let’s flash back to Season 2: Joyce recalled a story about Will’s birthday, mentioning that it takes place on March 22. At the time, that seemed like a throwaway detail... until a date card in Season 4 revealed Mike traveled to California on March 22, 1986 to see Will and Eleven. During the episode, not a single person (including Joyce, Will’s own mother) even so much as mentions Will’s birthday. Though Will sports a sad face when Mike doesn’t greet him with enthusiasm at the airport, even he doesn’t mention his own birthday. Later in the episode, Will tags along as the third wheel to roller-skate with Mike and Eleven — name a worse way to spend your birthday.
Fans put two and two together, immediately taking to the internet to fact-check. One TikTok user created an edit that links the two instances together, flashing from Season 2 to Season 4 as Will’s mother talks about his birthday.
As it turns out, Will’s forgotten birthday was not intentional. In an interview with Variety, showrunners the Duffer Brothers cleared up the mix-up and sheepishly admitted to their mistake. “How do you respond to this?” Ross said before Matt finally admitted, “The honest response is, clearly like the characters in the show, we also forgot about Will’s birthday.” Honestly, it’s hard to decide whether it’s better or worse that everyone forgetting about Will’s birthday was just a sad coincidence and not an intentional plot point.
Thankfully (or not-so-thankfully), the oversight doesn’t mess with the plot of Season 4, Volume 1. Though the thought of forgetting Will’s birthday made fans sad, there is enough action to give them something else to talk about.
Netflix will release the second volume of Stranger Things Season 4 on July 1.