“She’s hotter than Phoebe Cates,” Dustin boldly announces to his friends about his girlfriend. Netflix’s original series Stranger Things gifts viewers with nostalgia every new season that arrives. On July 4, 2019, season three landed and was no exception. The pop culture fueled references from decades ago almost make you feel like you’re sitting on a brown flex steel sofa with a record player going in the background. Creators Matt and Ross Duffer have done a superb job at implementing nostalgic tropes since the series’ inception in 2016. Here are some of the easter eggs and references you might have missed.
Hopper Admires Magnum P.I.
Jim Hopper (David Harbour) plays the role of tough guy sheriff cop exceptionally well. He gives you flashes of intimacy, but not enough to make you question his toughness. In episode one, we see Hopper watching an episode of Magnum P.I.
The Tom Selleck series is about a private detective in Hawaii. Hopper’s watching the pilot episode when Magnum says, “Work the lock. Work the Lock. Don’t look at the dogs.” We later find our sheriff donning a Hawaiian print shirt just like his TV counterpart.
Dustin’s Girlfriend Mystery
In the first episode of the season, we find the crew hanging out, but Dustin isn’t there. He comes cruising back into town after returning from summer camp, where he found himself a new girlfriend. Upon his arrival, he tells all his friends how spectacular his lady is and even says she’s hotter than Phoebe Cates!
We finally get to see her in the last episode of the season, so if you’ve seen it and watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High we’ll let you be the judge.
Stephen King Inspiration
The evil Mind Flayer is despicable to look at in this show. In season two, it was nothing more than a floating entity trapped in another dimension. Now, it’s found a way to the real world, ready to terrorize our heroes.
Fans of Stephen King’s It might have spotted the eerie resemblance right away. The Mind Flayer looks strikingly like Pennywise’s final form of the cheesy arachnid, but better. That was years ago, so we hope they made a few improvements.
One Of Dustin’s New Toys
Not only did Dustin come home from camp with a new girlfriend, but he also brought along some new toys to play with at home. The primary item he brings back that ends up becoming an integral plot point is his massive radio satellite.
Another gadget he has is “The Slammer.” The hammer contraption is an ode to Gremlins when Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) creates a similar device. Dustin’s doesn’t look as powerful, but still.
New Coke, Is That You Old Friend?
In case you haven’t heard, New Coke is back in 2019. The company wanted to remarket this soft drink once more with the help of Stranger Things. The original marketing scheme was a failure in the summer of 1985, but the way Karen Wheeler sips it poolside during episode one makes you want to try it yourself.
New Coke primarily failed in the past because many preferred the original tasting formula. Coca Cola Classic ended up back on the shelves by the end of that summer.
Dacre Montgomery’s character, Billy, sure is the heartthrob. Working as a lifeguard, he manages to capture the attention of the women at the pool, even the moms, including Karen Wheeler. In his first scene, Billy is shown walking in slow motion as Mrs. Wheeler comes out of the water.
This scene is a direct reference to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It’s a nod to Phoebe Cates’ dream sequence where she comes out of the pool wearing the same color suit as Mrs. Wheeler. They even have the same song playing in the background (“Moving In Stereo”).
Eleven Against The Mind Flayer Gives Major Alien Vibes
Eleven (Milly Bobby Brown) has had to face some seriously tough opponents over the years. Nothing has been as terrifying as the Mind Flayer from season three. This season did a great job at showing how much stronger Eleven has gotten, but the Mind Flayer was no pushover.
The monster applies a tactic where it takes over someone else’s body with face-suction action. This ploy is a direct connection to the xenomorph trick used in the movie Alien.
Grigori IS The Terminator
Stranger Things 3 introduces a new character to help out the bad guys, and he’s the worst of them all. Grigori as they call him, the Russian enforcer is a reincarnation of the Terminator. He even receives a wound on the right side of his face!
Once he and Hopper grow to dislike each other, he becomes obsessed with finding the sheriff just as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character had the same passion for carrying out his mission. The resemblance is uncanny.
Same Logo, Same Initials
What’s a good Stranger Things season without slasher movie references? During episode five (arguably the scariest episode of the season), Nancy heads to the Hawkins Memorial Hospital to visit an ill older lady. Pay close attention to the logo of the hospital.
The “HMH” looks oddly similar to the logo used for the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital in Halloween II. It makes sense, as they share the same initials. They probably had the same graphic designers as well.
Homage To The Leader Of Mutants
It’s the third season, so by now, we all know how much of nerd each character is. We’ve known them to read comic books in the past, so this next reference fits the bill perfectly.
The amateur radio Dustin brings home from camp is not only massive, but it carries a cool name. After explaining the vast distances the connection can reach, Dustin reveals the name of it is Cerebro. That’s what Professor X calls his device that finds mutants in X-Men.
Hunt For The Egg
Days after the series premiered, everyone had a blast finding Easter egg, but the writers weren’t happy yet. On Twitter, Stranger Things writers tweeted out, “There’s a particular Easter egg in episode 2 of S3 that you haven’t found, first person to crack it gets a prize. Go!”
You would have thought that after four days of binge-watching someone would have guessed it. That same day they asked fans to figure it out, someone did. It was Beetlejuice’s tombstone.
Anyone Up For Some Jazzercise?!
In episode three, while Dustin and Steve need to figure out the big secret going on at the mall, they end up tailing a man who looks suspicious enough. The two follow him throughout the mall until he reaches his destination: he’s a jazzercise instructor!
Jazzercise went out of style so long ago, but now you can think of Zumba as the new jazzercise. Who would have thought dancing to funky tunes in tight spandex would go out of style?
The Mind Flayer’s Tricks
Ever since the Mind Flayer returned to the city of Hawkins, it developed an appetite for mind control and destruction. Its first victim was Billy, whom we witnessed get possessed in the first episode. Then, more victims came under the possession of the Mind Flayer.
When someone is under control, you can’t determine who is safe or who isn’t at least surface level. Stranger Things got this right out of the bag of John Carpenter’s film, The Thing.
The Neverending Story
It’s the last episode of the season, the fate of the city (and probably the world) is on the line, and Dustin makes his most important radio call. He finally gets through to his girlfriend after not hearing from her the whole season to ask her what the number to Planck’s constant is.
That number was vital to destroying the Mind Flayer, but Dustin’s girlfriend Suzie wanted them to have a duet. At first, he declines but gives in, and the couple sings “The Neverending Story.”
The Irony In Her Book
After finally getting across to his distant girlfriend Suzie, her introduction to the series is her reading a book. Not just any book, but A Wizard Of Earthsea. Trust us, the 1968 fantasy classic wasn’t a random selection.
In A Wizard Of Earthsea, you follow a young person with magic powers who accidentally releases an evil being into the world. Sounds a lot like Stranger Things if you ask us. Wait until Suzie meets her boyfriend’s friends in person.
Some Villains Die Hard
Hopper finally gets Russian brute Grigori right where he wants him in episode five, but things don’t go as planned. After sneaking up behind him, Hopper puts his pistol to the back of his head and threatens to shoot. That’s when Grigori calls his bluff and says, “Policemen have rules.”
As true as that statement might be, it isn’t a random line thrown out there. In Die Hard, Bruce Willis corners his opponent in a similar fashion to which he responds, “there are rules for policemen.” It isn’t a direct quote, but the scenes are almost identical.
Alexei Loves Woody!
At first, Alexei was nothing more than a scientist working for the bad guys. Once Hopper got a hold of him, he became a vital part of the story. Alexei grew an affinity for the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker while under Hopper’s command.
Woodpecker has a reputation for being a trickster, so we can confidently say that’s why Alexei “complained” about receiving the wrong flavored Slurpee before admitting he didn’t mind. He even won a stuffed version of Woodpecker at the fair. Some of the younger generations might not even know who Woody Woodpecker is.
Red Dawn In Hawkins
Stranger Things 3 goes full Red Dawn this season, and you might not have picked up on it right away. Once Dustin realizes there’s something fishy going on at the Starcourt mall, he enlists Steve to help him out, and Robin joins in as well.
The group cracks the mystery and eventually ends up outsmarting the Russians. This is a page straight from Red Dawn when Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey have to outsmart a group of militant Soviets.
The Flayed And The Dangerous
As mentioned earlier, the Mind Flayer had a plan that included possessing innocent humans in Hawkins. With Billy being the first victim, others started to fall in line, and there was soon a small army of them!
That whole ordeal is reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That movie revolves around the Cold War and the terror of the Soviet, collectivist invasion. When they’re all lined up ready for duty, it’s a scary sight to see.
The Thing Also Had To Go Through The Sauna Test
Stranger Things takes a lot from the classic horror movie The Thing but season 3 gave us a memorable take on the heat test. In The Thing, Russell MacReady tries to burn the “thing” out of people because he knows the monster likes the cold.
The kids take the same approach when it comes to the Mind Flayer that’s taken over Billy’s body. When they lock him in the sauna for the heat test, they’re taking the exact same approach.
That’s Some Risky Business
Tom Cruise fans might have caught this one right away, but if not this is a pretty cool retro throwback. On the night of Halloween, everyone’s dressed up and the cute couple decided to pay homage to an oldie but goodie Cruise film.
Steve and Nancy showed up to the party dressed as the main characters from Risky Business. They pulled off this Joel and Lana look quite well too. A perfect couple’s outfit that was very ’80s.
11’s Costume Wasn’t So Spooky After All
To keep 11 safe from the outside world and the “bad people” looking for her, Officer Hopper took her in to take care of her. The trade-off was that 11 wasn’t able to really go outside without strict supervision, so for Halloween, Hopper dressed her up in a sheet with holes.
This is the exact costume E.T. wore on Halloween when he went out to go trick-or-treating. The big difference here is that Hopper didn’t take the young girl out for candy!
Bob Is Basically A Goonie
Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) finds a new love interest for the second season of Stranger Things and his name is Bob (Sean Astin). Astin is also from one of the most well-known ’80s films, The Goonies, but he was just a young kid at the time.
Bob’s character story pretty much walks the same line as Mikey’s from The Goonies. For one, he figures out how to read the map, then he doesn’t want to depart from the tunnels until everyone is safe. Sounds familiar, right?
Very Indiana Jones
This reference was quick, so that made it harder to notice even if you were watching closely. Once Hopper lands in the tunnels where all the Demogorgon reside, he finds out that the Upside Down world is leaking into Hawkins.
Rewind to when Hopper lands. His hat falls off of him as he’s looking around in the tunnel with confusion. He then starts to run away, but not before grabbing his hat, Indiana Jones style. The Duffer Brothers said this was a last-minute decision they added in for a retro throwback moment.
A Touching Moment
Steve and Dustin became pretty good friends during the second season. Well, that was because they kind of had to start working together, but their bonding time brought them to the train tracks.
Steve and Dustin are out there leaving raw meat so they can try and catch the loose demodog that Dustin found in his home. They’re walking down the tracks just like the kids from Stand By Me. This is also the scene that brought these two characters closer together.
Will Byers had the power to see the upside down dimension thanks to the events that unraveled in season one. All that means is that he was able to see all the scary stuff that was in the other world but out in the real world.
This might be a late ’70s reference, but it was still buzzing and popular in the ’80s. Will looks out the open door very reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters flick. Both scenes have stellar execution.
The Demodog Meeting Dustin Came From An Iconic Movie
At the beginning of the season, Dustin discovers a baby demodog in a dumpster near his home. Unaware that it was a human eating creature, he decides to take it in and nurture it like a pet. This whole plotline stems straight from Gremlins.
He named the beast Dart and the two became pretty close. “I love Gremlins,” Matt Duffer told Vulture. “I also love Gremlins 2. I think it’s just a really great series. Aside from Will being possessed, that storyline was always baked into our first idea: a boy and his monster, Dustin finding a creature that will grow.”
Stranger Things really loves paying homage. Fans of St. Elmo’s Fire might have caught this one right away, but everyone else just thought Billy was just an ordinary character addition. Billy looked just like Rob Lowe’s character from St. Elmo’s Fire.
The miraculous mullet, the single earring, and the overall facial appearance hit the nail on the head. It’s almost frightening how close they mirror each other when you look at the side-by-side image of them.
He’ll Be Back
This is as ’80s as it gets. The Terminator came out on October 26, 1984, bringing forth a new trend in movie subject matter. The Hawk theater located in Hawkins showcased this movie as showing at their theater.
This probably would have been the exact weekend that the film came out in the show’s timeline too. If the kids weren’t so busy with dangerous activities, they probably would have been at the movies during opening night in true nerd fashion.
Not An Original Arcade Name
To start this season off, we see the boys hanging out at the Palace Arcade. It’s where fans get to meet one of the first new characters, Max, who later on becomes the love interest for Lucas.
Right away, fans get hit with a reference that might not have been that easy to spot. The name of the arcade comes from the 1983 movie WarGames. Ross Duffer said that this was his favorite ’80s reference from the opening episode.
Real Medical Breakthrough
On the front page of all the papers that parents from Hawkins seem to read you might have seen what looked like a random collection of words. “Baby Fae’s Baboon Heart” is on one side of the newspaper but this is a reference to a real thing.
It’s the story of the first successful infant heart transplant. The procedure took place in October 1984. That would make it line up perfectly with the time the second season came out.
The Boys And Their Iconic Costumes
One of the most obvious odes to the ’80s was what the boys wore as Halloween costumes. While Steve and Nancy paid homage to Tom Cruise and Risky Business, the Demogorgon hunters pulled off their best Ghostbusters impressions.
Yes, the Ghostbusters had to battle their fair share of creepy creatures, we’re going to say that the kids from Hawkins had to deal with a lot more dangerous monsters. They get a pass for sporting these retro outfits.
Another Goonies Reference
Earlier we discussed how Bob’s character arc is basically stripped right from The Goonies, so now let’s bring it back to another Goonies reference. When the kids and Steve make their way to the tunnels where the demodogs are, they all have their different set of protective gear.
This is where we notice Steve sporting the same bandanna that Josh Brolin had on. The Duffer brothers who created the series really wanted to bring in visual similarities with The Goonies to Stranger Things 2.
That’s The Same Camera!
Bob was an interesting character added into the series. He didn’t really seem like Joyce’s type, but he was the safe option after everything she had been through in season one. Bob worked at Radio Shack so he had all the cool gadgets.
Out of the many nice toys he had, the JVC GR-C1 might have been the best. Not only because of the name but because it was the same camera that Marty McFly used to record the travel test!
No Ordinary Max
Newcomer Max made quite the impression on the group of kids right away. In the first episode, they meet her at the arcade where she’s playing their favorite game in which Dustin and Lucas held the two highest scores.
Then, we notice that “MadMax” had taken over the top spot. That took the boys by total surprise. However, MadMax isn’t just her gamer name, it’s from the Mel Gibson films. One of the employees at the arcade even refers to her as “Road Warrior” which is another reference to the films.
Taking From Stephen King
Speaking of the creepy and huge Mind Flayer, did that thing look familiar to anyone else? This horrifying beast that stalked the Upside Down realm looked awfully similar to the monsters from Stephen King’s The Mist.
In that storyline, we see the creatures descend upon the city when the thick fog comes in. In Stranger Things, that’s pretty much the only thing that the Mind Flayer does, stalk through the fog. Still, it was a scary thing to behold.
For The Love Of Tom Cruise
Nancy showed her affinity for Tom Cruise early on in season two with her Halloween costume. Thanks to Cruise enticing women the same way Zac Efron does in this modern era, Nancy had to have him displayed on her wall.
He might not be as much as a heartthrob as he was back then, but he still attracts a decent amount of heart eyes from women. It was only right that Stranger Things had Nancy place the actor on her wall as a true symbol of the time period.
Classic Shark Attack
With the release of so many iconic movies in the ’70s and ’80s, the Duffer brothers had a lot to work with. From the Terminator to Indiana Jones, the audience of Stranger Things sure got a blast from the past.
One important film they had to include was Jaws. That’s why Will had a poster on his wall. Many of the kids from the show had great movie posters on their walls, but the Jaws one is probably the most classic.
Dustin And Duckie
Have you ever seen Pretty in Pink? Well, in the last episode of the season, Dustin becomes Duckie thanks to the situation that unravels at the dance. While Dustin and the boys attend the Snow Ball, everyone else seems to have someone to lean on.
While he goes to sit down and fight back tears, a beautiful girl (Nancy) notices him and approaches. She asks for a dance and Dustin’s night turns around drastically. The same thing happened to Duckie when he realized he wouldn’t get the girl of his dreams. It’s a pretty iconic ’80s moment.
A Special Exorcism
One of the most intense moments from season 2 of Stranger Things is when Will has to face an exorcism. The Mind Flayer was inside of Will, so those close to him had to endure this horrifying moment as they expelled the evil entity from his body.
The whole setup resembled that of The Exorcist. From the scary shrieks to the facial disfigurement, the possession was completely reminiscent of The Exorcist. People probably had nightmares thanks to that scene. Okay, you caught us The Exorcist premiered in 1973 but it’s still a cool reference.