By Ashley Hoffman
October 1, 2019

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Stranger Things season 3.

Stranger Things season 4 is officially happening. At some unknown future date, which will not come soon enough for a dedicated fanbase, gates will be closed and opened and ambiguously sealed again. But rest assured, we will eventually get another fix of all the evil masterminds, slimy monsters, possessed children and heroic squads that fans have come to expect from the endlessly binge-able sci-fi series. Co-creators Ross and Matt Duffer also signed a multiyear film and series deal with Netflix, which is good news for those who like a little horror with their childhood magic.

“We’re not in Hawkins anymore,” the Stranger Things Twitter account shared on Monday as the show’s iconic red glowing letters flashed alongside that long-awaited number 4. Like the Vera Lynn song from season 3 says, “We’ll meet again. Don’t know where, don’t know when.”

While we know about as much about what we can expect from season 4 as we do about why Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) is such a great relationship counselor, we do have a few clues to go on.

Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season 4, from the cast to the release date to the plot.

When will Stranger Things season 4 come out?

While we don’t know the Stranger Things season 4 release date yet, we do know that Stranger Things stuck to a fairly consistent output schedule in the beginning. The first season dropped in July 2016, followed by the second season in October 2017, just in time for the Halloween theme. But fans had to wait even longer for Stranger Things season 4 to turn their lives upside down again. The third season dropped on Fourth of July weekend in 2019 with all of the fireworks, community pool antics and fair games associated with the peak of summer.

That likely positions the forthcoming fourth season for an arrival a couple of years from now. As for when Stranger Things will come to an end and we will have to say goodbye to Steve’s hair forever, it doesn’t seem like season 4 will be the final season. It’s apparently one of the streaming platform’s most popular original series, according to Netflix.

The show’s schtick is serving up ’80s nostalgia, with the first three seasons taking place in 1983, 1984 and 1985. We seem to be heading toward the end of the decade and the fall of the Soviet Union. Either way, viewers would willingly follow these kids into old age when, we can only imagine, Will will still be pushing to play Dungeons and Dragons.

When does Stranger Things filming start?

It’s still unknown when the cast of Stranger Things will start filming season 4. David Harbour, the actor who plays Chief Jim Hopper, was always good for a behind-the-scenes look, so it’s worth keeping an eye on his social accounts. But whether or not he will return remains to be seen.

What Stranger Things cast members will be returning?

Netflix hasn’t hinted at which key players, like Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard), are coming back, but the internet has some ideas.

The streaming giant has previously posted behind-the-scenes snapshots of the cast. While we can probably write off everyone’s favorite Slurpee sipper Alexei (Alec Utgoff), Robin (Maya Hawke) — another fan favorite — is already plotting some petty crimes for season 4.

“I don’t think that I’ve been confirmed or denied next year. I had such a good time doing the show. I hope to get to be in season 4 and that Robin gets to continue to grow and develop to use her brains to unravel and unveil the mysteries of the Upside Down because I think she’s really smart,” she told TIME in July.

Sadie Sink, Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp and Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things
Netflix

What about Hopper?

The third season saved one of its most devastating shockers for the very end: Chief Jim Hopper appeared to be dead, at least if you believe what his pals do. Sharp-eyed fans, naturally, suspect otherwise. There are plenty of fan theories that suggest he might have made it. Here are the two major Hopper theories:

First: During the end credits scene, two guards take a prisoner from a cell inside what certainly looks like a top-secret facility in Kamchatka, Russia, to use him as Demogorgon bait. The moment of greatest internet to viewers? One of the guards instructed the other to leave “the American” in his cell in favor of using a Russian prisoner as bait. “The American” could be anyone, but fans theorize it’s Hopper.

David Harbour as Hopper in Stranger Things
Netflix

And second: Other viewers spotted a potential escape route for the beloved cranky cop.

So to recap: Hopper is dead? Debatable. Missing? Definitely. Can the show live without him? By season 3’s end, people were not happy about his apparent demise. So hopefully he will return, because too many fans are dying to see him alive to keep rocking a shirt tucked into his pants — his idea of a cutting-edge look.

Is there a Stranger Things season 3 trailer?

There’s just this 30-second teaser trailer to get fans amped. Toward the end, we hear an ominous sounding grandfather clock, which definitely doesn’t sound like something from the Indiana homes we’ve come to know. We also get that demonic monstrous growl and some growths from the Upside Down.

 

Do we know anything about the plot?

Prior to the recent teaser drop that confirmed season 4 was officially happening, the Duffer brothers did let us in on some of the contents of the fourth season, saying it’s time to get out of Hawkins.

Like any good three-season relationship, there comes a time when one must ask: “Where is this going?” In the case of Stranger Things, the answer is: out of Hawkins. As the Tweet said, “We’re not in Hawkins anymore,” a clear nod to The Wizard of Oz, a reference you may have spotted in the Stranger Things season 3 finale (Suzie’s poster!). And recall that the interdimensional gates are scattered across the world. Alexei explained it all, and one key factor to getting around: location, location, location.

This checks out with what the Duffer told Entertainment Weekly back in July, when Ross Duffer said they basically had a rough outline for the next season.

“We don’t know a lot, but we do know a lot of the big broad strokes. At the end of season two, we knew about Billy. We knew that the Russians were going to come in. We didn’t know the mall and stuff, but again, we know these big broad strokes. That’s sort of where we are in season four,” he said.

“I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to open up a little bit, not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plotlines into areas outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer added.

I’m in. How can I stream Stranger Things if I want to catch up?

You need Netflix to stream the first three seasons of Stranger Things, and a one-month free trial is available for first-timers. Put aside time in your schedule because people tend to get sucked in by the mysterious nature of this series.

Write to Ashley Hoffman at Ashley.Hoffman@time.com.

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