- Stranger Things: The First Shadow adds new information and big reveals about the characters and lore of Hawkins, Indiana.
- The Stranger Things prequel play addresses major issues and provides insight into the timeline of the Upside Down.
- The stage show explores the strained relationship between Hopper and his father, Joyce’s creative aspirations, and the origins of Eleven’s powers.
Stranger Things spreads from the small screen to the stage with Stranger Things: The First Shadow, a prequel show that reveals new information about the characters and lore from the hit Netflix series. Set mostly in the late 1950s, the play depicts life in Hawkins, Indiana, decades before Will Byers and friends met Eleven and encountered the Upside Down. Although not responsible for writing the script for the stage production, the story for this new addition to the Stranger Things franchise did come from the minds of the Duffer Brothers, who created the original series.
Netflix has been incredibly open about the fact that Stranger Things: The First Shadow is no publicity stunt and genuinely adds to the official canon of the popular series. The world-building in Stranger Things has always been a factor in its engagement, but there are still many mysteries that have never been directly addressed throughout the show’s first four seasons. While Stranger Things: The First Shadow doesn’t answer them all, the prequel does address some major issues and features some big reveals regarding Hawkins, its residents, and the timeline of the Upside Down.
The final season of Stranger Things is anticipated to be released in Summer 2024, but there is a lot to resolve in the show’s final season.
9 Police Work Was Always Hopper’s Calling
The Hawkins police chief’s father was also a cop.
Jim Hopper’s relationship with his father is shown in Stranger Things: The First Shadow to be strained, but it’s clear the family occupation ran in his blood. When Henry Creel’s abilities start causing the inadvertent deaths of animals around Hawkins, Hopper leads an unofficial investigation into what’s happening. Although his technique and knowledge are sloppy due to his lack of training, Hopper’s natural talent for the job is hard to ignore. He qualifies as a police officer near the end of the play and starts working with his father, the sheriff of Hawkins, but takes a break to serve in the military.
Hopper and Eddie never had a scene together in Stranger Things season 4, but new prequel details revealed they interacted during a critical event.
8 Joyce Had A Creative Streak
The future mother of Jonathan and Will Byers also really wanted to get out of Hawkins.
Stranger Things: The First Shadow shows a young Joyce — then named Joyce Maldonado — attempting to take any opportunity to get out of Hawkins. One avenue she pursues is directing her school play to get a college scholarship. Although her main aim is a fresh start away from Hawkins, Joyce takes on the drama project with an impressive level of talent and determination. The older, downtrodden version of Joyce portrayed in Stranger Things speaks volumes given this new context. One of the most plausible explanations for her dashed ambitions could be her toxic relationship with and eventual marriage to her childhood sweetheart and father to her children, Lonnie Byers.
7 Victor Creel Had PTSD
His behavior during a flashback to the war doesn’t help his case.
During an especially dramatic sequence in Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Henry Creel loses control of his powers and starts damaging his surroundings. When Joyce and friends arrive at the Creel house as part of their investigation, they find Victor in the throes of a flashback to his service during World War II. The characters’ lack of understanding regarding what they’re seeing leads them to incorrectly assume the supernatural goings-on are his doing. Although their suspicions aren’t passed on to the police, the experience incriminates Victor further in the eyes of Joyce, Hopper, and Bob Newby.
Robert Englund has addressed whether he would return as Stranger Things’ Victor Creel in the series’ future, offering his thoughts on Victor’s fate.
6 Communicating Through Pop Culture References Transcends Generations
The original Stranger Kings kids were big comic book fans.
Much of the lexicon in the Stranger Things franchise is derived from the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. This is because one of the main groups of characters consists of avid fans of the game, and all the Dungeons & Dragons monsters referenced in Stranger Things are simply a way for them to communicate with each other regarding the supernatural activity they witness. Stranger Things: The First Shadow is set before the existence of Dungeons & Dragons, so the stage show’s producers needed a new way for the characters to connect.
Dungeons & Dragons was first published in 1974.
Staying within the same nerd-dominated realm, the characters in the prequel play use comic book shorthand to make sense of factors like Henry Creel’s powers and what’s happening to the animals of Hawkins. Although real-world characters like Wonder Woman and Captain America are referenced, there are also in-world properties mentioned. One of these is a comic book titled Astonishing Things, obviously a meta nod to the name Stranger Things. The theater where Stranger Things: The First Shadow is performed is also filled with framed ’50s-style posters for in-universe horror movies, fleshing out the possible other pop culture references the characters could have used.
5 Joyce & Hopper Are Meant For Each Other
Their chemistry during high school confirms “Jopper” was always a thing.
Despite some hints regarding their having feelings for one another in their teenage years, the Hopper and Joyce romance before the events of Stranger Things was always something of a mystery. Stranger Things: The First Shadow reveals the flirtatious friction between the two friends while students at Hawkins High School. With Bob Newby often tagging along as a third wheel, the trio devolves into disagreements, but they ultimately make good progress during their investigation. The prequel play heavily implies that if Joyce hadn’t been dating Lonnie Byers, she and Hopper would have become an item much sooner.
4 Bob Newby Has A Sister
Patty Newby is a new Stranger Things character with a connection to Vecna.
Patty Newby is a character created especially for Stranger Things: The First Shadow. Bob Newby’s adopted sister plays a prominent part in the stage show, as it not only shows her interacting with her brother but also connecting with the troubled Henry Creel. Henry and Patty bond due to them both feeling like outcasts. The trust that forms between them enables Henry to open up to Patty about his abilities, making references to various comic book characters to aid in her understanding.
Throughout Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Patty wants to find her birth mother — a goal she shares with Henry, who uses his powers to aid her. Despite succeeding in finding Patty’s mother, who works as a singer at a club, Henry’s undisciplined powers spiral out of control and cause injuries to those nearby. Patty reunites with her biological mother near the end of the play and survives the events in Stranger Things: The First Shadow, meaning there’s no reason she can’t appear in Stranger Things season 5.
Bob Newby was a viable candidate to receive a multi-season arc in Stranger Things, but the character was killed early for a justifiable reason.
All episodes of the first four seasons of Stranger Things are streaming on Netflix.
3 Albert Einstein’s Research Stumbles Across The Upside Down
The real-life scientist was involved in a fictional experiment in the Stranger Things universe.
The opening of Stranger Things: The First Shadow takes place even further in the past than the bulk of the play’s story. Military personnel discuss the minds behind their latest experiment, which toys with the idea of making their ships invisible. When one officer names the wrong scientist, another corrects him and states the research behind the experiment has come from Einstein himself. Although their ship succeeds in becoming invisible, it’s because it slips through to the Upside Down before returning with physically and mentally scarred passengers. Not only that, but one of the passengers has a strong attachment to an established character from the Stranger Things TV series.
Screen Rant has an exclusive preview Stranger Things: The Voyage #1, a dark, seafaring tale about an unlucky crew and their mysterious new passengers.
2 Dr. Brenner’s Father Went To The Upside Down
A military experiment indirectly led to the events of Stranger Things.
During a conversation between Dr. Brenner and Henry Creel in Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Brenner reveals his father was aboard a military vessel that briefly became invisible. When Brenner visited his broken father upon his return, the older man told his son of the horrors he’d witnessed during his time in the Upside Down. This is an intriguing glimpse into Dr. Brenner’s past.
It was the start of Dr. Brenner’s fascination with all things supernatural, and the reason he sought out children like Henry to investigate their abilities. Without encountering the suffering of his father, Brenner may never have looked for Henry, whose powers would have continued to cause trouble for Hawkins and its residents. Of course, as Stranger Things eventually reveals, Brenner’s guidance doesn’t stop Henry from hurting people.
1 Henry Creel Has A Unique Blood Type
Eleven got her powers from Vecna via blood transfusion.
Stranger Things viewers know that Eleven was not the first person to display supernatural abilities, as the show has revealed the other 10 subjects that came before her. However, the techniques used by Dr. Benner to impart all their powers have been shrouded in mystery until now. When a younger Brenner evaluates Henry Creel and his abilities in Stranger Things: The First Shadow, he discovers the boy has an unusual blood type that is not on record.
It’s unclear throughout most of the play whether the uniqueness of Henry’s blood is a symptom or the cause of the abilities he possesses. The issue is cleared up near the end of Stranger Things: The First Shadow when Brenner reveals he has administered a successful transfusion to 10 child subjects using Henry’s blood. The recipients of the blood, Eleven included, all gain the same powers as the host from which it was extracted. The special blood of the boy who becomes Vecna is central to all the events in the Stranger Things franchise, and it explains how Henry Creel got his powers.
Stranger Things: The First Shadow is playing at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End.
- Release Date:
- Finn Wolfhard, Joe Keery, Jamie Campbell Bower, Brett Gelman, Caleb McLaughlin, Maya Hawke, David Harbour, Matthew Modine, Priah Ferguson, Gaten Matarazzo, Winona Ryder, Charlie Heaton, Sadie Sink, Millie Bobby Brown, Joseph Quinn, Dacre Montgomery, Natalia Dyer, Noah Schnapp
- Fantasy, Horror, Drama
- Inspired by 80s pop-culture and elements of Stephen King’s works, Stranger Things is a supernatural action-drama TV series set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. When a young boy goes missing, his group of friends stumbles upon a young girl with telekinetic powers who recently escaped from a mysterious facility. They soon realize that she may be their only chance at stopping an impending doom that threatens to engulf Hawkins whole.
- Stranger Things
- Story By:
- The Duffer Brothers
- Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Paul Dichter, Kate Trefry
- Streaming Service(s):
- Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
- Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer