‘Stranger Things’: The 1 Way Season 3 Will Be Different From the Previous Two

Stranger Things Season 2 feels very much like a movie sequel, and like a sequel, it repeats a lot of what the original did well. The protagonists again have to stop a monster from the Upside Down, Will is again in peril, and the characters are again split up into several groups with each having their own separate storylines.

Season 3 is already in the works, so how many of these beats will creators Matt and Ross Duffer repeat for the third time? Well, in an interview, they’ve suggested that there’s one major way that Season 3 will be different from the others. But before we reveal the biggest change happening in Season 3, let’s first take a look at everything else we know about the third season of Stranger Things — skip ahead to page five to see how it will be a lot different than the others.

Season 3 might be the penultimate season

The gang dressed up in Halloween costumes.

Stranger Things Season 2 | Netflix

Even though Stranger Things is one of the most popular shows currently airing, the Duffer Brothers want to quit while they’re ahead and not overstay their welcome. For that reason, Season 3 might actually be the penultimate season.

Back in August, Matt and Ross Duffer told Vulture that there will be a third and fourth season but that the show will likely end there, with Ross Duffer explaining, “We’re thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out.” Producer Shawn Levy later told Entertainment Weekly that there’s still a possibility of a fifth season, but he said it’s very unlikely there would be a sixth.

Either way, this is not a show that seems like it will continue for that much longer. So Season 3 will probably start setting the pieces in motion for the ending rather than setting up threads that will be around for years.

It probably won’t air until 2019

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in 'Stranger Things' holding two fingers up to her forehead.

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things | Netflix

It remains to be seen when Season 3 will drop on Netflix, but it almost certainly won’t happen in 2018. Fans will recall that there was a break of 15 months between Season 1 and Season 2. That isn’t because there was a long hiatus between making the seasons but just because Season 2 took that long to produce. Season 2 also consisted of one more episode.

Assuming Season 3 takes as long to make as Season 2, it would premiere in January 2019. As of Dec. 2017, the Duffer Brothers were still in the writing process, which basically rules out a 2018 premiere and means that January 2019 might even be a little early. Plus, actor David Harbour told Variety that he doesn’t think the show will come back until 2019.

There will be a time jump

The kids in 'Stranger Things' looking scared.

Stranger Things | Netflix

There’s a jump in time between Season 1 and Season 2 of Stranger Things, with Season 1 wrapping up in December and Season 2 opening in October of the following year. Similarly, Season 3 will feature a time jump. The Duffers confirmed this in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. They didn’t specify how long the time jump will be, but it sounds it will probably be about as long as the previous one, meaning Season 3 would open towards the end of 1985.

A big part of the reason for this is just because the child actors are aging so fast. The kids already look a lot older now than they did when they shot Season 2, and they’ll look even older by the time production for Season 3 gets underway. It, therefore, would be rather jarring if Season 3 picked up with everyone leaving the Snow Ball yet the kids were all clearly a year older than when we last saw them. So the plan is to be to have every season feature a time jump roughly equivalent to the amount of time that passed in real life. 

The Mind Flayer won’t be the villain

The Mind Flayer seen from behind clouds.

The Mind Flayer is this season’s new villain. | Netflix

By the end of Season 1, the main villain, the Demogorgon, had been defeated. This created room for Season 2 to introduce a completely new villain in the Mind Flayer, a mysterious giant monster from the Upside Down. By the end of the season, Eleven has closed the gate between Earth and the Upside Down. But the Mind Flayer has not been dealt with at all, and as the final shot implies, it continues to be a threat that is watching over the characters.

So we all thought that the Mind Flayer would probably be back in Season 3. But it sounds like that’s not the case. In an interview with Glamour, producer Shawn Levy said that in Season 3, the characters will be “dealing with forces of evil that are new.”

Will won’t be the main person in peril again

Will seen inside the arcade

Will might be saving other characters for a change. | Giphy

There’s at least one other way that Season 3 of Stranger Things is expected to be a lot different than the first two. Season 1 was all about trying to find Will, who we learn was taken to the Upside Down and needed to be rescued. In Season 2, Will returns home, but he’s hardly safe, and he’s targeted by the Mind Flayer and possessed in the latter half of the season. So in both Season 1 and Season 2, Will is the main target and is the one in peril who requires saving.

It doesn’t sound like that will be the case with Season 3, though. Matt Duffer recently told Variety, “I think we need to give Will a breather, though, because he’s been through it two years in a row.” When asked who is going to be the victim in Season 3, Duffer said that it’s too early to say and that they’re still in the writing process.

It’s always possible that the Duffers will completely change their minds and make Will into the victim for the third time, but at the moment, it seems like they’re planning to steer clear of that as to not repeat themselves. This could also allow for Will to have some moments of heroism in Season 3. 

Noah Schnapp thinks Will isn’t out of the woods just yet

Will holding up his arm and shivering in fear.

There’s more to worry about next season. | Giphy

Although the Duffer Brothers say they intend to give Will a breather, the actor who plays him isn’t so sure. Noah Schnapp told The Hollywood Reporter that he thinks the Mind Flayer isn’t through with Will, saying, “I personally think it’s not all out of him. I feel like it can’t be. There’s this massive monster taking over all of Hawkins, and all you have to do is light a few fires and turn on a few heaters, and he’s gone? It just doesn’t make sense to me, really.”

Schnapp is just speculating the way that any fan of the show would, though, as he hasn’t seen any scripts for Season 3 yet. Still, the sentiment that Will isn’t totally back to normal is one that many viewers share. It could be that Will is still going to experience some difficulties in Season 3 but that he just won’t be the primary victim. It’s also possible that Will won’t be targeted by the Mind Flayer again until Season 4 and that Season 3 will deal with another threat entirely.

Some fans think Dustin is in trouble next year

Dustin sitting in a bus.

Dustin could be a victim as well. | Giphy

So if Will isn’t the main target in Season 3, who will be? One theory is that it will be Dustin. After all, towards the end of Season 2, Dustin was sprayed in the face by an Upside Down creature while exploring the caverns. Hopper himself also got sprayed while he was exploring on his own, so is it possible one or both of them will be the targets next year? Well, when asked about this directly, producer Shawn Levy recently said that “You might assume that, but you would probably end up being wrong.”

So is it possible that the target could be Eleven herself? As frustrating as it was to see her separated from the group for much of Season 2, it’s understandable why it was necessary, as there being a member of the team who has superpowers kind of lowers the stakes a bit seeing as she can just easily get them through most situations. So with Season 3, Eleven could be weakened somehow like Will is in Season 2, or perhaps she will even be targeted by Eight, who was introduced as another superpowered young girl in “The Lost Sister.”

Finally, the Duffers could decide to change up the formula entirely, not having one person be the main victim and allowing all the characters, especially the kids, to work together for the first time. We’ll find out what’s next when Stranger Things returns to Netflix, likely sometime in 2019.

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