When Stranger Things 3 ended, fans were left in a daze. After three seasons of living through some severely traumatizing experiences in Hawkins, Indiana, Joyce Byers did the most sensible thing possible: She packed her kids up and moved. It's the kind of rational behavior rarely seen in TV series, especially ones like Stranger Things, which tie themselves so thoroughly to a time and place. But fans who are worried about this move affecting how Stranger Things will end should take heart, because the Duffer brothers, who created the show, know precisely where all this is going.
That's good news for fans, but it's even better news for Chief Hopper, who has also left Hawkins at the end of Season 3. Unlike Joyce, his exit from the small town was not in a car heading to live somewhere safer. Instead, he got out via a portal made by Soviet scientists and ended up somewhere deep in the USSR — aka dangerous territory for him.
That means, when Season 4 opens, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas will still be in Hawkins, along with Lucas' sister Erica. Mike's sister Nancy will be heading to college, while graduates Steve and Robin will continue to work retail. Joyce will have her family unit somewhere outside of Hawkins, perhaps in the Illinois suburbs, consisting of her sons Will and Jonathan, and Hopper's adopted daughter Eleven. Mike and Nancy, who are dating Eleven and Jonathan respectively, will probably help keep the latter two connected to what's happening in Hawkins.
But where will they go from there? The Duffer brothers aren't telling. But according to Matt Duffer, it's all plotted out. Speaking to Deadline, he said:
We’ve known the ending of the show for quite awhile. The honest truth is we didn’t know if we’d go beyond Season 1, so we like the idea of Season 1 that it could function basically as its own standalone piece, like almost as a limited series. But it had the potential to go beyond that. And if it were to go beyond that, we had an idea of where it would go. Yeah, and we have an ending in mind.
But things may still be adjusted, especially as the child actors who lead the series get older. As Ross Duffer explained:
The trick is, it takes us awhile to write these scripts. And so sometimes we’ll show up on set and go, ‘Oh my god, you sprouted up more than what I had in my head. I knew you were going to grow, but I didn’t think you were gonna grow that much.’ You have to adjust once you start filming.
Stranger Things Season 4 is expected to debut on Netflix sometime in 2021.