27 Classic Movies Referenced In ‘Stranger Things’, According to The Duffer Brothers

“Without ‘IT’ there really would be no ‘Stranger Things.'”


One thing that was obvious to a lot of viewers from Season 1 of Stranger Things through Season 3 is that Netflix’s massive sci-fi hit is an original series constructed from references to other works. 

In fact, the show is a very specific set of references, dominated by the Steves—Stephen King and Steven Spielberg. In the video above, made for Wired, series creators Ross and Matt Duffer do the opposite of denying their inspiration—they carefully lay out exactly what parts of various movies they were thinking of when they created elements of the show. 

Wholly original entertainment is rare. Many things you love were inspired by or even kinda copied from previous works. Hell, even Shakespeare was cobbling together stories from histories available in his day as well as good lines his actors ad-libbed at the Globe.

Not that the Duffer brothers are Shakespeares. They are more like DJs remixing works to come up with something new. Below is the specific list, in alphabetical order:

1. Alien (1979)
2. Aliens (1986)
3. Altered States (1980)
4. Carrie (1976)
5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
6. Cujo (1983)
7. E.T. (1982)
8. Escape from New York (1981)
9. Firestarter (1984)
10. Frankenstein (1931)
11. Ghostbusters (1984)
12. Gremlins (1984)
13. Indiana Jones (all of them)
14. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
15. It (1990)
16. Jaws (1975)
17. Director John Hughes’ movies
18. Jurassic Park (1993)
19. Mad Max (1979)
20. Risky Business (1983)
21. Scanners (1981)
22. Stand By Me (1986)
23. Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
24. Super 8 (2011)
25. The Evil Dead (1981)
26. The Exorcist (1973)
27. The Thing (1982)

There aren’t too many surprises at all, especially the inclusion of IT, both the 1990 miniseries and the Stephen King novel. In Season 2, Sean Astin’s affable, doomed Bob Newby even mentions nightmarish clowns and living in Maine. In case it wasn’t too obvious. 

Wired went ahead and underscored some references with screengrabs from the show and movie—check that out here.