‘Stranger Things’: 1 Way ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ Inspired the Show

Stranger Things is a science fiction show, however, it definitely owes a lot to 1980s horror movies. In fact, one of the creators of the show revealed it’s similar to A Nightmare on Elm Street in one major way. Here’s a look at the similarities between Stranger Things and the world of Freddy Krueger.

A Stranger Things logo with a black background
A Stranger Things logo | Chesnot/Getty Images

How one of the creators of ‘Stranger Things’ wants the show to be like Freddy Krueger

During an interview with The New York Times, Stranger Things co-creator and writer Ross Duffer said “We’re 10 or something, and we’re watching Evil Dead, which you don’t really see the humor in when you’re 10 years old. It was just terrifying. And same with A Nightmare on Elm Street, which is such a brilliant movie and such a brilliant concept.”

Series co-creator and writer Matt Duffer added “But what we were trying to do with Stranger Things is, it’s again, very ordinary, like Nightmare on Elm Street is very ordinary: teens, people that you understand and can relate to, and then this evil that you can’t even fully explain. And that’s what’s great about Freddy Krueger, and that’s also what’s great about Clive Barker’s stuff — there’s an inherent logic to that, but also it’s just weird. When you put that unexplainable evil with this very ordinary American life, to us, that was the scariest, because suddenly I’m going to bed, and I’m thinking, ‘Is Freddy going to push through the ceiling and grab me?’”

A Stranger Things trailer

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How the show is like the original ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’

There’s definitely some parallels between the first season of Stranger Things and the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Both feature a teenage character named Nancy and a deadly being from another plane of existence. Near the end of the first season, the demogorgon comes into the regular world, specifically Nancy’s house, for a climactic showdown. This is pretty similar to what happens at the end of the first Nightmare on Elm Street film. 

Is ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ more popular than ‘Stranger Things?’

Clearly, the creators of Stranger Things wanted to emulate A Nightmare on Elm Street. This raises an interesting question: Which franchise has been more successful in recent years? The most recent film in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise was the remake from 2010. According to Box Office Mojo, the film earned $115 million against a budget of $35 million. Despite its financial success, the franchise has remained completely dormant for over a decade.

A Nightmare on Elm Street trailer

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On the other hand, there are three seasons of Stranger Things with a fourth on the way. CNBC reports the third season of the show broke records by garnering 26.4 million American viewers on Netflix within its first four days of availability. Of course, the Nightmare on Elm Street series produced more material overall, including films between 1984 and 2010, a television series, comic books, and more. However, Stranger Things is definitely more popular right now.