Stranger Things Season 2's Best Sci-Fi & Horror Homages


WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the second season of Stranger Things, streaming now on Netflix.

Part of the reason for the runaways success of Stranger Things' debut season was its embrace of 1980s nostalgia, not only in its setting but in its loving tributes to science fiction and horror films of the era. And with the return of the hit Netflix drama this weekend, those homages continue, so we've pored over each of the episodes to find the seemingly countless callbacks and Easter eggs.

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Some of the references, like Sean Astin's joking nod to his role in The Goonies, are obvious, but others are a little more esoteric, although the Alien franchise and The Exorcist certainly received their fair share of love from series creators the Duffer Brothers.

Although we undoubtedly missed some of the allusions, we're pretty sure we caught most of them across the nine episodes in Stranger Things Season 2.


Stranger Things 2 boys playing Dragon's Lair

The episode's title, a reference to the nickname of Hawkins, Indiana, newcomer Maxine "Max" Hargrove (Sadie Sink), is also a clear nod to Mel Gibson's titular character from the Mad Max franchise.

When the boys are playing Dragon's Lair, Dustin's frustration isn't unfounded: That game was incredibly difficult, and pricey, costing 50 cents rather than the typical quarter, making it a risky proposition for young arcade enthusiasts in 1984.

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The Terminator is playing at the theater, having been released on Oct. 26, 1984.

Will's answer to the what his favorite Halloween candy: Reese's Pieces is a polite nod to Steven Spielberg's 1982 sci-fi fantasy classic E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, whose influences on Stranger Things are inescapable.

The scenes involving Will, Joyce and Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) are reminiscent to the first act of the influential 1973 horror film The Exorcist, specifically, in ineffective medical personnel working to determine what's wrong with a possessed Linda Blair.

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