Long before this season of Stranger Things began, back before Season 2 even started filming, the Duffer brothers were comparing their series to Harry Potter. No, they're not able to do magic. No, there's no Dumbledore or Wizarding school. But the series will imitate the structure of the Harry Potter stories by doing an installment per school year, allowing the series to follow the kids as they grow up. With that comparison already in mind, the Stranger Things and Harry Potter connections this season should perhaps not be a surprise. But that doesn't mean Potterheads aren't freaking out anyway. Warning: This post contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 2.
The Harry Potter references are there throughout the entire series, but because this is 1984, the way the boys are consumed by their own set references.
Dustin, for instance, goes on and on about Will having achieved "trusight," which is a power used in Dungeons and Dragons. Mike references the Mad Magazine "Spy vs Spy" angle.
In Season 2, the Shadow Monster is mentally linked with Will. That means Will can sense it's thoughts, where it's going, what it sees. But as Will points out, that means the Shadow Monster can do the same though him. That's OK though, his friends assure him. Will is stronger than the Shadow Monster. He can spy on him, and tell the rest of the gang what's happening.
If this show was set 20 years later, in 2004, there would be a far more recent frame of reference the boys would be using, one that instantly popped into ever Potterhead's brain the moment Will talked about having a connection to the "evil" Shadow Monster. The link that Harry and Voldemort share via Harry's scar.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix would have come out only a year earlier in 2003, which is where this link via the scar become a running plot point, one big enough that Dumbledore even avoided Harry, lest Voldemort was spying though the kid's eyes.
Of course, he wasn't, and Dumbledore's fears were misplaced. Voldemort's arrogance was such that it never occurred to him to use the connection in this way, while Harry was reporting on Voldemort's moves to anybody who asked for the next three novels.
Perhaps having Dumbledore's wisdom would have behooved Mike and the Byers family to consider that the spying would go both ways. A bit more Dumbledorian caution might have made them consider how badly things could go if Will was not be able to control what the Shadow Monster saw.
Dumbledore worried Voldemort might use Harry against him. It never occurred to anyone, not Joyce, not Mike, not even Dr. Owens, that the Shadow Monster would order Will to walk the scientists of Hawkins Lab right into a trap, and then set the Demogorgon and demodogs on everyone else, including his own family. That is, until it was almost too late.
A little bit of Rowling wisdom goes a long way for everyone, it's too bad the boys were just a little early. We assume though, that when Dustin, Lucas, Will and Mike grow up, their kids are some of the biggest Potterheads around, following in their parent's footsteps. The only questions is, even as adults, would the four of them still sort themselves into their proper houses?
For the record: Here is my official sorting of the Stranger Things kids into Hogwarts houses.
All we can hope for is in Season 3, Eleven happens to stick her hand over a broom and yell "UP."