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Since Stranger Things first took off as a beloved series and meme generator in summer 2016, fans all over the world have awaited each new installment with bated breath. Stranger Things 3, aka Stranger Things Season 3, is the first time we’ll see the gang outside of a school context. It’s summertime, baby, which can only mean plenty of teenage shenanigans ... and, y'know, new monsters. This is Hawkins we’re talking about.
Discerning exactly what will happen in an upcoming movie or new season of a show is now an internet pastime, with fans dissecting trailers and zooming in on every pixel of a new poster to look for hints or easter eggs. And because of the space Stranger Things occupies on the internet, it seems fair to say it gets more attention than most of its peers. This results in an enormous amount of theorizing and debating over what could happen next.
Netflix has already dropped a ton of clues about Season 3, and while it's fair to assume the Duffer brothers are looking to pull the wool over our eyes with some of these promos, there are some theories out there we can’t help but agree with. A lot of this stuff makes sense.
Others? Not so much. Anything about Hopper’s daughter, Sarah, beyond her being dead seems like a long shot at this point, though we mainly just wanna strike down any lingering theories about Eleven being Sarah. We know she's not. They are two different little girls. And the shady new journalist in town? Probably not one of the other numbered kids a la Eleven and Eight, as other mysteries can exist outside the MK Ultra experiments — though that doesn't mean he wasn't affected by them in some way.
Also, the rats in the promos being demodogs in disguise? Not so sure about that one, either. Though there is another, far more plausible theory for the rats. Read on to find out more.
01. The Byers are thinking about leaving Hawkins
One Reddit user pointed out on r/StrangerThings that one of the Season 3 trailers "Shows Will crying looking at a picture of him and his friends in their ghostbusters costumes, and Hopper telling someone that he wants him/her to feel like this place can still be his/her home." This could go a few ways, but if we assume Will is crying over more than his and his friends' lost innocence and the passage of time, it could mean something a bit more shocking. A move, maybe?
Whether Hopper is talking to Eleven or Joyce (or someone else) in that moment is up for debate, but if it's Joyce he's speaking to, then he might be trying to convince her to stay. In Hawkins, Joyce lost her marriage, her son (for a while), her mind (for a while), the same son again (for a while), and her boyfriend. If anyone else had been through half of the stuff Joyce Byers and her kids have experienced, they'd have left already.
A Season 1 rewatch will only convince you of this theory more, as Lonnie (Joyce's dud of an ex-husband) spends quite a bit of time trying to convince Joyce and Jonathan to leave Hawkins and move to the city. While Lonnie very much sucks, you have to admit it: He has a point.
02. Watch out for Billy Hargrove
In the final trailer for Season 3, Will Byers asks Eleven, "What if he never left? What if we locked him out here with us?" We presume he's referring to the Demogorgon/Mind Flayer. "He'd want to attach himself to someone again."
Cue a quick cut to Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), Hawkins' resident bully who played the B-grade villain in Season 2. It seems Billy has an even bigger role to play this time around, perhaps as the Upside Down's latest ambassador/plaything.
Given Billy's been a large focus of Season 3's marketing, it would make a lot of sense. Before that final trailer, fans were already considering Billy as having a larger role this season. The trailer really just proved it.
Speaking of the monster...
While this theory was also part of a larger, different one, its best point comes when the theorist points out that the new monster from the trailers "has huge legs, but has smaller legs attached to them." Whether or not the Demogorgon is possessing Billy Hargrove, we have to give credence to the idea that this new monster might very well be comprised of a human and a huge number of rats.
Season 3 is expected to be gnarlier than ever before. Multi-specied amalgamations of flesh seem to line up with that promise.
04. The mall
There are a lot of ideas floating around about the brand new Starcourt Mall that's been teased so much in the Season 3 trailers and first looks. While we know it'll star as the Hawkins kids and teens' new favorite place to be this season, we also know something nasty will go down at some point.
From the trailers, it seems there's gonna be at least one showdown at the mall with some kind of monster. A big, growly monster that enjoys stalking teens.
A lot of theories assume there’s something more going on with Starcourt than '80s mall culture and the death of local businesses.
Why on earth would someone build what seems to be a premiere mall in Hawkins, Indiana? There's gotta be some dastardly ulterior motive with this thing. Whether that means another government agency (either involved with the Hawkins Lab or the new Lynx Corp) has shown up to experiment on and torture more children or do other shady ish, one thing is for certain: This mall is definitely more than it seems.
Given Hawkins Lab’s love for underground facilities, it seems fair to say there's probably something nasty underneath Starcourt Mall.
05. Dustin and Hopper
Season 2 was a bit of a breakout season for Gaten Matarazzo's Dustin, whose personality shone through more and more and who developed a long-lasting friendship with Steve Harrington. What a lot of people seem to have forgotten though was that moment in the Season 2 finale in which Dustin was sprayed in the face by one of the tentacle-looking vines in the tunnels. He freaked out in the moment (as did we), but there didn't seem to be... any... side effects?
And we know stuff happens when a person gets sprayed by those vines! When Hopper breathed it in, he passed out and woke up disoriented. Nothing like that happened to Dustin. It might have been because he was a kid (and is, therefore, more immune or something?) or it might have been because he was wearing goggles and didn’t get as big a dose, but something has to happen here, right? Right.
Some people online seem to think that because of the spray, Dustin and Hopper now share a link with the Upside Down. So, count 'em, that means Dustin, Hopper, Will, and Eleven are all connected to the Upside Down, the Mind Flayer, and all the other associated creepy crawlies. That's a lot of potential doors back into our world.
Even if Eleven closed the original gate, it seems the Mind Flayer might still have a lot of options.