Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things 3 below.
“I’m actually terrified to open my mouth right now.”
When Stranger Things director and executive producer Shawn Levy spoke with Mashable following the release of Season 3, he had to have known we’d ask what comes next for the people of Hawkins.
What we didn’t expect? That, in spite of the show’s Game of Thrones-level secrecy, he’d confirm the answer is quite possibly, maybe, definitely, absolutely already out there.
“I’m already seeing a few online that may prove to be prophetic.”
“I am completely not at liberty to hint at whether some of these fan theories online are guessing correctly,” Levy began — before doing exactly that.
“I will say, every once in a while, there’s a fan theory that lands uncomfortably close to home. We saw that happen in advance of Season 3, and I’m already seeing a few online that may prove to be prophetic.”
May “prove to be prophetic” you say?!
OK. We’ll level with you here. We are having a bit of a hopeful Jim Carrey “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance” moment with this not at all specific and likely Netflix-approved clue.
But for one of the lead creators on the streaming service’s biggest series ever to slyly confirm that fans’ litany of thought-out theories and aimless guesses could be beating the series to the punch — notably, months before Season 4 even begins production — feels big, at the very least.
As Levy mentioned, numerous fan theories that emerged following the second season, including the latest iteration of the Mind Flayer and the introduction of Russian intelligence, proved to be true in Season 3. And as it stands now, that means any of the major Season 4 theories in circulation could turn out to be the accurate one (or ones) making Levy and his fellow Stranger creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, antsy.
But which one is it?
“Some fan theories are absolutely bonkers and really admirable in their creativity, if not their accuracy.”
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“From the very beginning, the Duffers, while not exactly having a precise roadmap, have had very clear markers, signature images, moments, and outcomes that [they’ve wanted to hit] and you’ve seen a lot of those,” Levy said of the way the series is planned out.
“But I’m always surprised by what gets picked up and what gets culturally sticky… Some fan theories are absolutely bonkers and really admirable in their creativity, if not their accuracy.”
Per Levy’s Twitter and Instagram presence, its clear the Stranger exec is well-versed in viewer discord. So, it’s probably safe to assume he’s seen many of the more popular theories floating around online. Namely, that Hopper isn’t dead. Because come on, he isn’t.
Of course, some of those theories seem more likely than others. (Ahem, “the Upside Down will be opened thanks to the Chernobyl disaster.”)
But it’s clear no matter which of our predictions turn out to be right that Levy and the rest of the folks behind Stranger Things will do everything they can to surprise us, even if we’re doing our best to outsmart them.
“I’m a fan just like everybody out there who is watching, and we feel a responsibility to our audience,” Levy said of the pressure to nail an eventual Season 4.
“But part of that responsibility isn’t giving [the audience] everything they asked for. It is giving them a new experience every season that feels loyal to the DNA of the show while upping the stakes. And I feel that we’ve done that now twice in a row with Season 2 and 3, and if we’re lucky enough to keep telling more chapters, you better believe that will be our North Star, our own fear of complacency, and our own determination to tell stories that honor our audience and how much love they’ve invested in our show.”
Game on, Shawn. See you on those Reddit threads — and then sometime in 2020.
Stranger Things 3 is now streaming on Netflix.