Stand By Me
Probably the most blatant inspiration for “Stranger Things”, mostly because “Stand By Me” also revolves around four young friends that go on an epic journey together. During the course of this trek they are confronted with adult themes, while Chapter Four of “Stranger Things” is even called The Body, the title of the Stephen King novella that was adapted into “Stand By Me.” Just to hammer the point home even further “Stranger Things’” kids walk along a railway track just like their predecessors in the 1986 film, while Matt Duffer even admitted that during auditions for the show children read lines from “Stand By Me.”
[Images: Netflix/Columbia Pictures]
There’s quite a few nods to Stephen King’s 1980 sci-fi novel, which was adapted into a film in 1984. Not only do each of these stories include young female characters with pyrokinesis, but both characters are on the run from a secret government agency that is looking to control their abilities. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Charlie (Drew Barrymore)'s mothers also took hallucinogenic drugs as part of the experiments that gave their children supernatural powers. It goes even further, too, as Charlie’s dad and Eleven bleed from their noses when they use their abilities. Just look at the pic above for proof.
[Image: Netflix/Universal Pictures]
Eleven is also eerily similar to another of Stephen King’s creations Carrie, who was made famous by Sissy Spacek in 1976. In fact, like Carrie, Eleven actually has quite a few more strings to her bow than “Firestarter’s” Charlie, and they’re also both primarily nice children that only become violent when they are pushed.
[Images: United Artists/Netflix]
It’s not just the fact that Finn Wolfhard appears in both “Stranger Things” and the recent adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved 1986 novel. “It” and the hit Netflix show revolve around a group of unpopular kids that are routinely bullied, while their characters are even held up at knife point by their adversaries, too. There’s also the similarities between Pennywise and “Stranger Things’” Monster, both of whom come from completely different universes to ours and stalk kids. In the first episode Winona Ryders’ Joyce Byers even remarks to a defiant Will, who insists he is no longer scared of anything, “Oh yeah? Not even of … clowns?” I wonder who she was referring to.
[Image: Netflix/Warner Bros]
Only a tiny reference this one, but still definitely big enough for it to be highlighted. During Chapter Four of “Stranger Things” a security guard at a morgue is shown reading King’s 1981 horror novel about a rabid dog that starts to terrorize people. Just in case you didn’t notice it Chief Of Police Jim Hopper (David Harbour) then remarks, “That’s a nasty mutt …”
[Image: Netflix/Warner Bros]
Dacre Montgomery might only have just joined “Stranger Things,” as he will be playing Max’s step-brother Billy in the second season, but he has already revealed that even his character will have the obligatory connection to Stephen King. It’s a doozy, too, because Montgomery recently revealed that Billy was influenced by Jack Torrance from “The Shining.” Good luck filling Jack Nicholson’s shoes.
[Image: Netflix/Warner Bros]
Like “The Mist,” the peculiar goings on in “Stranger Things” all begin after a government experiment goes wrong and causes a bizarre monster to wreak havoc on Earth. More than that, the above image proves that the monster from “Stranger Things” season 2 even bears a striking resemblance to that from “The Mist,” too. Surely at some point it just becomes plagiarism.
Stephen King has blasted back into pop culture consciousness over the last few months in a huge way. Not only did “It” dominate the box office at the start of September, but “The Dark Tower,” “1922” and “Gerald’s Game” have each been adapted and released recently, too.
But there’s an argument to be made that Stephen King’s renaissance actually began back in July, 2016, when the first season of “Stranger Things” was put on Netflix. Ahead of the “Stranger Things” debut its creators, The Duffer Brothers, admitted that the legendary author influenced everything from the title font to key plot points and characters.
Even Stephen King spotted the similarities between his work and “Stranger Things.” So much so that after binge watching the Netflix series he decided to take to Twitter to commend The Duffer Brothers on both their constant references to his oeuvre and the show as a whole.
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Watching STRANGER THINGS is looking watching Steve King's Greatest Hits. I mean that in a good way.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 17, 2016
Now that season two of “Stranger Things” is upon us you can expect to see dozens more references to Stephen King and his stories over the upcoming batch of new episodes.
In fact, just last month The Duffer Brothers revealed that Finn Wolfhard’s participation in the adaptation of King’s “It” as potty mouth Richie Tozier already had an adverse impact on season 2 of “Stranger Things” because he couldn’t stop swearing while filming. Fingers crossed that The Duffer Brothers were able to curb Wolfhard’s expletives and that it didn’t bleed into the character of Mike Wheeler.
Either way, those associated with the show should be able to get over it. Because “Stranger Things” and The Duffer Brothers clearly owe a huge debt to Stephen King. You can remind yourselves exactly why by checking out our gallery above, which features all of the major references to Stephen King and his work over the course of “Stranger Things” so far.