Design, Television

View the Ultimate Gallery Of Cultural References In ‘Stranger Things’

Check out the Netflix show's best nods to horror and the 80s

Stranger Things References

Part of what makes the Netflix hit ‘Stranger Things’ so engaging is the show’s enormous affection for its time period (the show is set in 1983). Likewise, the show pays dutiful homage to the tropes and canon of the sci-fi and horror genres. ‘Stranger Things’ creators Matt and Ross Duffer utilize a variety of tools to provide 1980s period detail and nod towards the show’s sources of inspiration (kids-versus-creatures films The Explorers, The Monster Squad, and The Lost Boys come to mind, as well as Stand By Me). Among those tools are set decoration, score, dialogue, wardrobe and casting.

Some of the period details in season one are easy to miss, so I’ve compiled some of my favorites below. The gallery includes some of my favorite details from season one of ‘Stranger Things.’ ‘Stranger Things’ is a Netflix original series.

Set Decoration and Props

Blondie Autoamerican calendar

Above: Blondie Autoamerican calendar on Nancy Wheeler’s wall.

Stephen King Cujo

Above: Stephen King’s face appears on the back of a copy of Cujo. “I love that book,” says Sheriff Hopper, “that’s a nasty mutt!”

he-man man at arms

Above: He-Man ‘Man-At-Arms’ figurine seen in Lucas’ bedroom in multiple scenes (also here).

stranger things set design

Above: Barbara’s super-sweet ‘Designer Series’ Trapper Keeper

Stranger Things period detail

Above: David Hasselhoff appears in ‘Knight Rider’ on the television screen in Mike’s living room.

stranger things set decoration

Above: Mike Wheeler’s poster of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Above: El watches ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’

stranger things 1980s

Above: Jonathan Byers’ poster of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead.

stranger things dungeons and dragons

Above: Vintage Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rulebook.

stranger things basement

Above: poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing seen in the Wheeler’s basement in multiple scenes.

Stranger Things props

Above: being a child in the 80s meant being traumatized by a Ouija Board at some point.

‘Stranger Things’ Title Sequence

Stranger Things title sequence

The typography of the title sequence is based largely on old Stephen King paperbacks. Matt Duffer told Empire Online, “When we were developing the title sequence, I think we sent 30 paperback covers to the people who were making the title sequence. I think 20 of them were Stephen King.” Note the similarities of the ‘Stranger Things’ logo typography to the following examples:

Stranger Things Stephen King

Casting and Wardrobe

steve harrington stranger things

Perhaps the show’s many nods to the past put me on high alert, but I was reminded of so many genre classics while watching ‘Stranger Things.’ For example, sinister-perfect boyfriend Steve Harrington (right) is cut from the same coif as Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street. ‘Stranger Things’ character Jonathan Byers (Will’s older brother) bears a resemblance to Terminator 2‘s Edward Furlong. And when it comes to ‘Stranger Things’ young “weirdo,” Eleven, the precursors are almost too numerous to mention: the character brings to mind the telepathic protagonist of Stephen King’s Firestarter, trauma survivor Newt from Aliens, and the eponymous government experiment from 1985’s D.A.R.Y.L. (the film with the best acronym of all time: “data analyzing robot youth lifeform”).


‘Stranger Things’ is a wonderfully inventive and original show. It’s a testament to its loving authenticity that it conjures all of these nostalgic references.

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