Before we get into this, let’s go ahead and get the whole ~ SPOILER WARNING AHEAD ~ thing out of the way. To be completely honest, the recently released sequel to Stranger Things 1 is absolutely incredible and so worth watching spoiler-free. So, if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, just know that there will definitely be some spoilers below. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
With that said, if you’ve had the pleasure of binge-watching all nine episodes already, located below are 15 Easter Eggs, and fun, '80s-tinged throwbacks that you might have missed during your first run through the new season.
Matt and Ross Duffer, also known as the Duffer Brothers (the creators of the show), packed a whole lot of goodies into the candy-stuffed pillowcase that is their second foray into Hawkins, Indiana. So, let’s dive in!
15 Gamers Beware: Dragon’s Lair a Known Nightmare
If you weren’t an avid video-gamer in the 1980s there’s a good chance you haven’t experienced the sheer, unrelenting frustration that is playing Dragon’s Lair. This Laserdisc (wow, what’s that?) video game was released in 1983 and promptly took over arcades all across the country.
The game was a pretty hot commodity, which is why Dustin and co. were huddled around it in the first episode, screaming as the beautiful Princess Daphne slipped through their fingertips.
The Easter egg in this scene is Dustin’s exasperated complaint – he rages about the game being overpriced and impossible to beat. This was actually true back then! Unlike most other arcade games that were 25 cents a play, Dragon’s Lair was 50 cents and notably more difficult than Pac-man, Dig Dug, and all the other games combined. Sorry, Dustin.
But, despite the boys' frustrations, it's definitely one of the great examples of the Duffer Bros. staying true to the traditions of yesteryear and making sure even the arcade scenes were historically accurate.
14 Speaking of Princesses...
That arcade scene wasn’t just in place to illustrate how futile it was for young gamers to take on Dragon’s Lair back in the day. It also laid the groundwork for the inevitable love triangle between Dustin, Lucas, and Max that you see throughout the season.
Upon losing yet another 50 cents to the game, Dustin throws a bit of a fit to which Lucas responds smugly about Princess Daphne still being his. Lucas also arrogantly suggests that maybe someday Dustin will snag a princess of his own.
This little bit of foreshadowing comes to fruition later when Dustin sees Max and Lucas hanging out together in the junkyard pre-Demodog fight in episode six. The look on his face is absolutely heartbreaking and you can definitely sense that he’s green with envy upon seeing the newfound coupling before him.
But, Dustin classily concedes his defeat during the Snow Ball when Lucas and Max hit the dance floor in episode nine. And although he does find himself in tears at the Ball momentarily, Nancy gives him some older-sister-type advice and assures him that soon he will be the one getting the girl.
13 Come With Me If You Want to Live
Fans of the franchise were probably giddy when they noticed Stranger Things 2 kicks off the first episode right smack dab in the middle of, The Terminator's opening weekend. In fact, if you look closely, you can see the movie is actually playing at the Hawkins Movie Theatre in the background!
Sure, it may be a bit of passing trivia, but it’s just another example of the Duffers being really keen to what exactly was going on during that particular weekend in history. It’s also a way for them to give their extraordinary story of monsters, mind control, and inter-dimensional travel a bit of a gritty, realistic edge.
What makes Stranger Things as a whole such a captivating series is how well the world it exists in is developed. So, when you see that "the Terminator" is playing at the town movie theatre it really makes you think that maybe this story isn’t so farfetched after all.
12 Enter Emo Mike
Heartbreak is no joke, and when you’re in middle school, it can feel like the end of the world. You see this a lot in Stranger Things 2, specifically during Mike’s quest for his beloved Eleven. But, one of the most upsetting depictions of this is in episode one, when he’s packing up some of his old toys.
It’s sad enough watching him begrudgingly box up his stuff at his parents’ request, but it’s even sadder when you take notice of what he’s getting rid of. You may not remember this from season one, but when Mike is showing Eleven around his room, one of the first things she sees is the roaring Godzilla toy.
It’s the exact same toy he’s shown setting aside in this scene, along with the Millennium Falcon that Eleven famously floats around his room in Stranger Things 1. This is the Duffer Brothers’ heart-wrenching way of demonstrating Mike’s longing to have Eleven back, all the while being constantly reminded that he needs to move on from everything else that transpired in the first season.
Ugh, don’t worry, Mike. She comes back, we promise!
11 Even Netflix is Shook
so...— Netflix US (@netflix) October 28, 2017
Mike called Eleven every night for 353 days
In a tweet from a few days after the release of Stranger Things 2, Netflix expressed just how shook they were when they realized the significance of how many days Mike had been trying to reach Eleven.
When Eleven walks into the Byers’ home after her stint in Chicago (more on that later) in episode eight, Mike and her share a tender moment in which she learns Mike had been radioing her for exactly 353 days. This number seems arbitrary when you first hear it, but when you add 3 + 5 + 3, it totals 11!
Now, you may write this off as a coincidence, but it’s not the only time the number 11 makes its way into the show. For example, in episode five, Hopper radios Eleven at the cabin to say how sorry he is for their fight. When it cuts to the empty cabin, you see that the radio is on Channel, you guessed it, 11! How cool is that?
With as many subtle homages and references the Duffers make to the '80s in the show, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t sneak in some fun tidbits such as this one to give viewers extra details to chew on.
10 Bob Newby: Superhero, But Also Former Goonie
The inclusion of Sean Astin in season two’s cast was honestly one of the more obvious references that the Duffers made to '80s cinema and the many titles that inspired their show. However, it isn’t just Astin’s handsome and familiar mug that acts as a throwback to one of his previous films.
When he’s helping Joyce decode the meaning behind Will’s frantic scribbles in episode five, he quips and chuckles to himself, “What’s at the X, pirate treasure?”
At first, this seems like one of Bob the Brain’s infamous dad jokes, but what some viewers might not realize is that it’s a reference to the plot of Astin’s cult classic, The Goonies! Spoiler alert: it’s about a bunch of kids who try to save their neighborhood by acquiring the legendary pirate, One Eyed Willy’s, secret, buried treasure.
So, if casting Astin was the laying of this Easter egg, then this particular line of dialogue is the Duffers’ way of hatching it and acknowledging that they tapped him for the role for a reason.
9 The People Have Spoken, and They Want #Justice4Mews
So, by now, you’ve watched the season, you’ve watched little Dart grow up into a Demodog, and you’ve probably hugged your pets extra tight after seeing the fate of Dustin’s cat, Mews. And if you haven’t yet, just check Twitter and you'll see a legion of fans clamoring for #Justice4Mews.
But, what these same upset fans might not understand is that Dart is a lot more than just a cat-murdering, monster-to-be. Given the lore surrounding his name, he acts as one of the most multi-faceted Easter eggs in the entire season.
You see, Dart gets his name from d’Artagnan, one of Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers from the novel of the same name. In the show, his and Dustin’s favorite candy to eat is a Three Musketeers bar. And much like d'Artagnan in the original story, Dart is a bit of a young hothead who’s eager to grow up in whatever means necessary.
Clearly, the Duffer Bros. put a lot of thought into this critter’s name, and for good reason! He’s a huge part of the primary conflict of the story, and if it wasn’t for him, Dustin and the rest of the crew might not have made it out of the tunnels in one piece.
8 Demodogs, and Shadow Monsters, and Xenomorphs, Oh My!
Any fan of Alien, or its subsequent sequels will tell you that Stranger Things 2 borrows a lot from James Cameron’s highly influential series of films.
There’s the scene in which, much like Ripley, the Hazmat-suit-clad soldier is using a flamethrower to prevent the Upside Down from spreading further into our world; there’s Dustin’s cat who, unlike the cat in Alien, doesn’t quite survive to tell the tale; and of course there’s the radar screen sequence that depicts an onslaught of Demodogs closing in on Hawkins lab.
The lab scene in ST2 looks a hell of a lot like a scene in Alien in which one of the main characters meets his demise at the hands of a Xenomorph. In the movie, he shows up as a blip on the radar screen as he makes his way through the bowels of the spacecraft. All of a sudden another blip is shown closing in on him.
Fast forward a few seconds, and boom! One of the best jump scares in horror movie history. Which is why it’s no surprise a scene much like this one showed up in this season of Stranger Things.
7 The Exorcism of Will Byers
In what is one of the most terrifying scenes in Stranger Things history, poor Will Byers has to suffer through Joyce, Nancy, and Jonathan, struggling to rid his body of the influence of the Shadow Monster in episode nine. It’s a super painful scene to watch, but it’s also one that looks a bit familiar. And that’s because it’s an homage to 1973’s horror classic, The Exorcist!
Noah Schnapp, the boy who plays Will, does a phenomenal job during this sequence and really gives Linda Blair a run for her money. He screams at the top of his lungs, convulses, strangles his mother, and eventually vomits up a wispy, black, tangle of the Shadow Monster’s vines that have had a hold of him since the beginning of the season.
It’s truly a remarkable visual and an excellent retelling of an already famous cinematic moment. Someone give this kid an award!
6 Eleven, Please Don't Sit So Close to the T.V.
Eleven may have amazing psionic powers, but the appeal of her character, especially in season two, is that she’s not that much different from Mike and the rest of the party. She loves junk food, she spends her downtime glued to the television, and she gets in the occasional shouting match when she’s feeling especially misunderstood.
The main difference though is that while everyone else is binging Saturday morning cartoons, she’s surfing through the static trying to find Mike, her mother, and even her long lost sister Kali, a.k.a. Eight.
The static on the T.V. that Eleven uses to channel the people she’s looking for is actually a nod to the 1982 film, Poltergeist, in which a young girl communicates with the dead via the television in her living room. It’s a particularly scary movie, especially for it’s time, and one that is clearly celebrated by the creators of Stranger Things.
5 Maybe Lighten Up On the Bedtime Stories, Hopper
One of the earliest, big reveals in Stranger Things 2 is that Eleven has been holed up in a cabin with Hopper the whole time. It’s a realization that is quite shocking at first, but, upon seeing these two juggernaut characters sharing the same space, also a really welcomed surprise.
Their bond is developed almost immediately, and their brief falling out gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “temper tantrum.” But, there’s a moment of foreshadowing between these two events that’s quite notable.
When Hopper is shown tucking Eleven into bed early in the season, you can hear him giving what sounds like a heartfelt monologue about losing his mother. However, what some viewers might not realize is that he’s actually reading from an excerpt of, Anne of Green Gables.
This scene is absolutely brilliant as it acts as the perfect metaphor for Eleven’s own search for her long, lost mother. It’s even been suggested that this reading is what inspires Eleven to visit her mother and figure out how she became orphaned in the first place.
4 Hopper Welcomes a New Addition to the Family
Given their collective talent, it comes as no surprise that all of the Hopper and Eleven scenes are exquisitely emotionally charged. But, in the first few episodes that take place at the cabin, there's one super quick scene that's considerably more gutting than the others.
It's really easy to miss, but when Eleven and Hopper and prepping the cabin to be livable, you can see the police chief putting away a box with the name, "Sara," on it. If you think back to season one, then you know that Sara is the name of the daughter who he lost to cancer.
This Easter egg is exceptionally symbolic because it shows Hopper letting go of his past to make some room for his future. Even though no one will ever be able to replace Sara, Hopper can see that Eleven is going to have a really positive effect on his life, even when she's throwing books at him.
It also alludes to Eleven legally becoming his daughter at the end of the season! Now, if that isn't a happy ending, then we don't know what is.
3 One Kid's Makeover is Another Kid's Bad Omen
During easily the most divisive episode of the season, Eleven hops on a bus in search of her equally psychic sister, Kali. Critics everywhere had some choice words to say about this pilgrimage, but there’s one moment in particular that’s definitely worth a second glance.
While she’s kicking back in Kali’s hideout in episode seven, Eleven is shown watching the show, Punky Brewster. For those unfamiliar with this program, it’s about a girl who’s adopted by a foster family in Chicago (which is where Kali and her crew have taken refuge) and her jaunt through adolescence.
Given the Duffer brothers’ tendency to throw it back, some might consider it just a one off reference. But, if you investigate further, what you’ll learn is that the episode Eleven is watching is one in which Punky has a nightmare about, WAIT FOR IT, doctors!
And sure enough, enter Dr. Brenner from stage right to really put a damper on Eleven’s day. It’s a really clever Easter egg, not to mention a truly haunting reminder that Brenner might still be out there somewhere.
2 Every Breath You Take, the Mind Flayer Will Be Watching You
In the stunning conclusion to the season, you find the cast at the Snow Ball, finally getting to enjoy themselves. The dance itself is a very John-Hughes-style production chock full of first kisses, first dances, and hormones galore.
But, before the credits roll, you're smacked upside the head with one last shot of the Mind Flayer casting a shadow over Hawkins Middle School.
In probably one of the greatest teases for a following season, the Duffers remind the audience that although the good times roll, they are also fleeting. And they juxtapose this final image of the big bad with one of the most romantic songs ever to be written.
But, take a second to reread the lyrics to the Police's, "Every Breath You Take." Given what transpired over the last nine hours, do they now seem a little ominous? Well, they should. And that's because Duffer one and Duffer two chose that song for a reason!
In the second episode of Beyond Stranger Things, the after show, the creators mention that they picked this song not only for its emotive quality, but also because it reminds us that even though the Mind Flayer lost the battle, he will most certainly be back for the war. Spooky, huh?
1 Maybe Will Knew What Was Coming All Along
Lastly, let's take a quick look back to season one. In one of the very last scenes, you see Will spitting what appears to be some kind of weird, Upside Down-ian chunk of goo into the bathroom sink. They make reference to this throughout season two, saying it could possibly be a newborn Dart that he barfed up. But, they never conclusively say what it was.
But, one thing’s for sure: it’s definitely the perfect way to set up what was to come in Stranger Things 2. Not only does Will spend most of the season possessed by the Shadow Monster, but Dart also comes into play. So, either way, the primary conflict lies within Will and his arc throughout the season.
It might be a stretch, but if the Duffer brothers have taught us anything, it’s to be mindful of every little detail in the show. Sure, some are more significant than others, but sometimes even the smallest of Easter eggs can hatch into something truly incredible.