Season 2 of Stranger Things has finally come, and to celebrate, we at CBR collected our favorite memes about your favorite ode to the pop culture of the ’80s. The paranormal adventures of Eleven, Mike, Lucas, Will, and Dustin have garnered positive reviews from critics and acclaim from fans. Season 2 expands the mythos in unexpected ways and proves that the show has real staying power. At the same time, it answers many burning questions, but there are plenty of other articles for season 2 spoilers. You won’t find any in this list. That said, if you haven’t seen season 1, you might want to do that before you read this.
We’ve done articles about memes before, but this one is different. Stranger Things is like every ’80s meme come to life–a veritable demogorgon of memes. You see, memes play a big role in why Stranger Things has become such a sensation. If not for the compelling characters and excellent performances, the show would be little more than ’80s sci-fi pop culture memes. It’s H.P. Lovecraft and a whole lot of Stephen King and Dungeons and Dragons, with more ’80s references than The Wedding Singer. That’s Stranger Things. If you’re a Stranger Things fan, the following memes deserve your attention.
16. UNCANNIER THINGS
X-Men #134 is mentioned by name early in the series, making this meme pretty much inevitable. In the legendary Chris Claremont-scripted comic, Jean Grey kills herself to prevent her future evil self Dark Phoenix from committing mass murder on a global scale. It’s an obvious inspiration for Eleven’s powers, sacrifice, and general awesomeness. One of the many cool touches of this meme is, how the yellow and black combine to form the no-face of the demogorgon in the background.
Needless to say, Lucas would be none too pleased to see this meme. He believes that “she’s not a superhero, she’s a weirdo.” As Dustin later points out, Lucas feels jealous towards Eleven for monopolizing his best friend Mike’s attention. That’s another parallel, as Jean Grey creates divisions between once best friends Wolverine and Cyclops.
15. GAMER THINGS
There are several memes about Stranger Things and video games. There’s even at least one playable fan-made prototype out there. (It isn’t the one above.) We’ve selected this particular Stranger Things gaming meme for two reasons. One, it’s amazing. Two, it’s mildly but not distractingly anachronistic, just like some aspects of the show. For instance, Bleeding Cool documented the series’ mild anachronisms, such as “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night” playing in the supermarket in 1983, a year before the song was actually released.
Are the Neo-Geo-like graphics too good for 1984? Definitely. Did Netflix exist then? Of course not. Do either of these inconvenient facts detract from the meme’s awesomeness? Not in the slightest. This meme encapsulates the nostalgic feeling fans have while watching Stranger Things. If you want strict historical accuracy, perhaps you shouldn’t look for it in a show about telekinetic teenagers and parallel dimensions.
14. WINONA’S REACTION
Winona Ryder’s face at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild awards was a sight to behold. Her face went through a dozen emotions as her co-star David Harbour gave an impassioned politically charged acceptance speech. Apparently, she couldn’t hear the speech being given. Naturally, her intense reactions led to some equally interesting memes. The above meme uses a screencap from that night.
The meme’s text describes a phenomenon that many fans experienced when they sat down to watch “just one episode” of Stranger Things. It can’t be done. Every episode bleeds into the next. The fact that season 1 has just eight episodes makes it possible to binge it in its entirety in just one sitting. You sit down in the early evening to watch just one episode. Eight hours later the sun is rising, episode eight’s credits are rolling, and you’re wondering where the time went.
13. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Although you might think of Stranger Things as a show with great special effects, what makes it truly special are the performances. Even the people who can’t get into the show, those few-and-far-between unlucky souls, must concede that the performances and the dialogue are pretty powerful. This meme reminds us that, as cool-looking and as creepy as the Demogorgon is, the show’s biggest strength is its talented cast.
In this scene, Joyce talks to Will through a bundle of Christmas lights. It’s just Winona Ryder with a bundle of Christmas lights, and it’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch, an “emotionally impactful scene.” It only gets crazier. Joyce lines up the lights on a Ouija board that she painted on the wall. Will says he is, “R-I-G-H-T-H-E-R-E,” but then the lights flicker and the Demogorgon reaches out its long creepy arms.
12. MRS. BARBFIRE
Mrs. Doubtfire has more in common with Stranger Things than you might realize. Both are about things not being quite as they seem. Both tell the story of a parent’s grief over not being able to see their children. Both are pretty dang funny. But the funniest connection, as this meme points out, is how much Barb looks like Mrs. Doubtfire might’ve looked when she was a kid.
It’s absurd, of course, because there is no Mrs. Doubtfire, and never was. Mrs. Doubtfire is Robin Williams in old lady drag. The resemblance almost seems deliberate, it’s so spot-on. No doubt about it, Barb is an awesome character, and this meme isn’t about mocking her. On the contrary, it provides a happier explanation of her fate than the show does.
11. ELEVEN IS E.T.
Stranger Things draws inspiration from a lot of ’80s science fiction, including Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extraterrestrial. Eleven’s powers line up nicely with those of E.T., minus the glowy fingertip schtick. This meme takes the series’ homage to its dank extreme by situating Eleven in E.T.’s handlebar basket. In Stranger Things, she rides on the back of the seat, behind Mike, not on the handlebars and certainly not in a basket like the diminutive alien.
But wait! There’s more! E.T. famously makes Eliot’s bicycle fly in front of the moon. It’s such an iconic image that Spielberg later used it as the logo for his company Amblin Entertainment. Similarly, Eleven uses her powers to fling the Hawkins truck through the air, helping the kids escape on their bikes.
10. THE PHELPSIDE DOWN
At the Summer Olympics in 2016, Michael Phelps listened to angry music and grimaced to intimidate his opponents before a big event. A camera caught him doing it and the Phelps Face meme was born. For what it’s worth, the face worked. He broke his own World Records that day and destroyed the competition. Michael Phelps looks like he’s pouting, and you would be too if you lost your one true love while saving your friends (and perhaps your town) from the evil Demogorgon.
That’s how it happens for Mike Byers, who helps his friends defeat the Demogorgon only to watch as Eleven, his “one true love,” uses all of her power to make the monster disintegrate, making herself disintegrate, too. The fact that they’re both named Michael just adds to an already super-effective meme. The meme works even if you don’t know the backstory, though.
9. BACHELOR THINGS
The 2017 season of The Bachelorette resulted in a flurry of memes. This one transposes fans’ reactions to Eleven’s sudden disappearance with one of Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay’s emotional outbursts. Her face fits perfectly with fans’ feelings. Nobody wanted to see Eleven disappear, even if it made dramatic sense for the series.
Eleven went into the store, got her Eggos, and–perhaps accidentally, perhaps not–bypassed the registers. That’s when she was stopped by an employee. Then she used her powers to slam the doors and ran off into the woods to eat her shoplifted waffles right out of the box. This public use of her powers disturbs the store’s employees and shoppers. Worse yet, it draws the attention of the C.I.A. If the employee had just let the kid take the waffles, perhaps things would’ve been different.
8. THE TRUTH ABOUT GROUP CHAT
As CBR writers know, professional group chats are, in general, chaotic workspaces. At odd hours, as the herd thins, you might feel like you’re the only one there, alone in a vast empty space. Whether you’re using Slack, Groupme, or another social networking-enhanced workflow optimizer, a silent chat room can be pretty eerie. You type something and it just hangs there, unanswered.
Making matters worse, your question is probably pretty urgent. If it weren’t, you would wait until morning. The minutes feel like hours. Then, an account shifts from idle to active, only to go idle once again, like the Demogorgon toying with its prey in the Upside Down. There’s just one crucial difference between Eleven and us ordinary folks, though. She has MK-ULTRA-enabled superpowers, whereas you’re just struggling to make a deadline.
7. FRESHER THINGS
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air‘s theme song begins, “Now this the story all about how / my life got flipped / turned upside down.” In Stranger Things, sudden disappearances transform the lives of everyone in town. It’s also the story of how Will Byers’ life changed after he ended up in the Upside Down, a parallel dimension inhabited by the monstrous Demogorgon.
Fresh Prince‘s concept is a lot sunnier than Stranger Things‘, but that doesn’t mean there are no similarities between them. They’re both fish-out-of-water stories about a kid named Will. So it’s only appropriate that somebody drew a connection between the two shows. Granted, Hawkins, Indiana isn’t exactly Philadelphia, and the Upside Down is nothing like Bel Air, but it’s still a really funny meme.
6. NEGASONIC TEENAGE ELEVEN
Where Are They Now photo slideshows provide answers to the questions that really matter, questions like “Whatever happened to so-and-so from that one show you used to watch when you were a kid?” This meme parodies those slideshows by pointing out that Brianna Hildebrand, the actress who plays Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool, kind of looks like an older version of Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven in Stranger Things.
Deadpool famously changed Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s powers from the way they were in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men comic books. A clairvoyant weirdo in the comics, Negasonic Teenage Warhead wields fire and causes explosions in the movie. If you want to be a stickler about it, Eleven and Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s skill sets are quite different. Then again, it’s just a meme.
5. ROLL SAFE AVOIDS ELEVEN’S DISAPPEARANCE
Roll Safe is a meme of actor Kayode Ewumi pointing to his head. Usually, it’s paired with an absurd yet practical response to a common situation or problem. For many fans, Eleven’s disappearance at the end of season 1 episode 8 was too much to take. Sure, it made dramatic sense for the plot that defeating the Demogorgon would require all of El’s strength, but it’s still a harrowing episode.
So what’s the Roll Safe meme’s humorous remedy? It’s simple. Don’t watch it. Skip that episode, and it doesn’t happen. Assuming the twist has been spoiled for you already, why put yourself through the stress? It’s in keeping with the meme’s absurd yet practical gimmick, but would a true Stranger Things fan skip an episode? Probably not.
4. A MESSAGE TO STRANGER THINGS HATERS
In just one eight-episode season, Stranger Things inspired some fanatical responses. People couldn’t get enough of Hawkins, Indiana and its paranormal goings-on. This meme playfully expresses the disbelief that Stranger Things superfans feel when somebody says they’re not that into the show.
It features some great callbacks. For instance, Mike teaches El the term “mouth breather,” which she later uses to diss the employee at the supermarket. It’s pretty much the worst thing that you can be. “No Eggos for you” adapts the Seinfeld Soup Nazi meme, subbing in Eleven’s food of choice, Eggo waffles. Invoking the wrath of the Demogorgon and threatening to send someone to the Upside Down simply because they don’t like a show you like seems like a bit much, though.
3. AGENT SCULLY APPROVES
Now, there are many cool shows on Netflix — Mindhunter, Orange Is The New Black, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orphan Black, and Master of None, among many more. They could be asking about any of them, but for some fans, there’s Stranger Things and there’s everything else. That’s what this meme is about and why it’s so funny and rings so true. It’s as if the Duffer brothers based their show’s title on this moment from The X-Files.
You just know Dana Scully would be a Stranger Things fan, right? Stranger Things and The X-Files share more than just a target demographic and this awesome meme, though. They’re both tragicomic, character-driven shows about ordinary people’s encounters with the paranormal and the unexplained. Furthermore, they’re both exceptionally well-acted and thoroughly entertaining.
2. STRANGER SPOILERS?
The difficult part of being a Stranger Things fan is understanding that even your favorite characters can die sudden and terrifying deaths. Some fans really connected with Benny and Barb, only to watch them die. It seems that the Demogorgon can kill anyone it wishes to. Nobody is safe. While Stranger Things isn’t quite at the level of Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, season 1 has a higher body count than some viewers might’ve expected.
This meme echoes fans’ responses to a devastating rumor that circulated between seasons one and two. So which beloved character bites the dust? If you really want to know, you can check out one of the articles on Stranger Things season 2 spoilers, but we recommend you find out the old-fashioned way, by watching the show.
1. SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI THINGS
This meme combines Stranger Things with the JRPG phenomenon Shin Megami Tensei. Although it might not be your first thought as you watch Stranger Things, there are similarities between Shin Megami Tensei and Stranger Things. The Shin Megami Tensei series takes place during and after an apocalyptic event known as the Great Cataclysm. Granted, the events leading up to the discovery of the Upside Down and the Demogorgon aren’t quite on the same scale.
This meme refers to several characters and character classes in the series. Like the Chaos Hero, Lucas stirs the pot. The clarification at the bottom of the meme is hilarious, but it’s also crucial to the meme’s effectiveness. You see, Mike isn’t “the real hero,” Dustin is. Dustin is the peacemaker, the glue. Without him, the group would go their separate ways.
Which other Stranger Things memes have you seen, either before or after Season 2? Let us know in the comments!
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