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Stranger Things is one of the most popular TV shows. But before it became a hit on Netflix, the series’ creators, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, had given it a completely different title. 

‘Stranger Things’ was rejected dozens of times before Netflix picked it up

Stranger Things original title Montauk, Duffer brothers
‘Stranger Things’ Season 1 Episode 5 | Curtis Baker/Netflix

The TV series Stranger Things debuted in 2016 and became an instant hit for Netflix. But before the streaming giant picked up the sci-fi thriller, the Duffer brothers had shopped it around to several other outlets. 

As the Duffers revealed to Rolling Stone, various networks rejected their show concept nearly 20 times. And some of the TV executives who read the creators’ pitch couldn’t see a series about kids performing well. 

According to Matt Duffer, one executive told them: “You either gotta make it into a kids’ show or make it about this Hopper character investigating paranormal activity around town.”

But the brothers believed that if they made the police chief the main character, they’d “lose everything interesting about the show.”

Matt added, “There was a week where we were like, ‘This isn’t going to work because people don’t get it,'”

Eventually, the brothers hooked up with Netflix and were able to stay true to their vision. 

‘Stranger Things’ was initially titled ‘Montauk’ 

The Duffer brothers also revealed to Rolling Stone that the plot of the movie Prisoners inspired Stranger Things. Hugh Jackman stars in the 2013 film as a father searching for his daughter.

“It was taking that idea of a missing child and combining it with the more childlike sensibilities that we have,” Ross Duffer noted. “You know, can we put a monster in there that eats people? Because we are nerds and children-at-heart, we thought it was the best thing ever.” 

The two wanted to add a sci-fi element to their story. So they researched the real-life, Cold War-era CIA mind control experiment, Project MKUltra. And they incorporated themes stemming from the Montauk Project conspiracy theory. 

In the early writing phases, the show was called Montauk and took place in Montauk, Long Island. The brothers later changed the title to Stranger Things and moved the story to Hawkins, Indiana. 

What we know about the final season of ‘Stranger Things’


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With its summer 2022 season 4 premiere, Stranger Things heads into its final season. According to the Duffer brothers, writers will begin working on scripts for season 5 this August. 

“We’re going to take a little vacation in July,” Ross Duffer told Collider. “And then we’re going to come back. I know that the writers’ room is going to start in that first week of August.”

The showrunners didn’t share a Stranger Things Season 5 release date. But they revealed that the final installment will take place in Hawkins and circle back to focus more on Will. 

“Will’s going to be a big part and focus, is really all I can say of season 5, in his journey,” Matt Duffer said in a separate interview with Collider. 

Ross Duffer added, “[It is] setting up us coming full circle back to season 1. I think you’ll see that with a couple of the character arcs, not just with Will but also with Steve and Nancy and her relationship with Jonathan, where things are not fully resolved.

“The characters have maybe made steps, like in the case of Will, but that journey isn’t over yet,” he added. “All of that is going to play a huge role as we try to wrap this thing up next season.”