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Stranger Things 3: the 5 fan theories you need to know about

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Gareth Watkins
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Stranger Things 3 poster

The hit Netflix series returns to our screens on this, the most all-American of days. But before you block out the weekend to binge, we run the rule over all the best fan theories swirling around Stranger Things season three

So if you’re not quite back up to speed on where we left the good people of Hawkins Indiana, it’s worth reminding yourself with our quick recap of season two. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

Now for the fun bit: fan theories.

The internet is never one to let things lie, so when a TV show as big as Stranger Things starts to drip feed fans with trailers prior to a release it only serves to add fertiliser to that fertile hive mind, producing a cornucopia of theories – some waaaaay out there (Bob is a vampire?), others pretty convincing. We’ve collated five of the best for you to mull over before you prepare for a weekend of binge watching.

Stranger Things 3: Bob a vampire? Well, he has the outfit
Stranger Things 3: Bob a vampire? Well, he has the outfit
  • Billy will be the new host

    Stranger Things 3: will Billy become a flaxen-haired lifeguard/monster?

    From this trailer it looks like everyone’s favourite bad boy Billy gets a nasty bite from something. Could it possibly have something to do with that nasty rat infestation, you think? Then the final trailer which sees Billy with a shall we say, distracted look in his eye, has led a lot of people to believe that the Mind Flayer has chosen the Lost Boy-lookalike as his new host.

    Alternatively Billy will be the new monster: having moved on from Demogorgons and Demodogs, we’ll get a Demodude. Reddit user PhoenixSkyStar says, “I definitely think Billy is going to be possessed somehow this season, but I don’t think he will [in] the same way as Will was before.”

    PhoenixSkyStar continues: “In season two, the part of the Mind Flayer that possessed Will is shown as black smoke… but, in the new season three trailer the same smoke is shown with a bunch of rats. So I think it’s going to possess the rats, and since one of the episodes of the new season is called ‘The Bite’, Billy is going to be bitten by one of the rats. But I don’t know, just a theory.” 

    Adding weight to this is the fact that there is another episode titled The Case Of The Missing Lifeguard, which if it is Billy, will be to the dismay of all the bored housewives of Hawkins.

  • A new character is also a victim of the Hawkins Lab experiments

    Stranger Things 3: is Bruce a Hawkins Lab alumni
    Stranger Things 3: is Bruce a Hawkins Lab alumni

    Joining the cast this season is Bruce (last name as yet unknown) a journalist for The Hawkins Post, described in the official promotional material as having “questionable morals and a sick sense of humour” – not likely to be a nice guy then. 

    But a counter theory to Billy becoming the host is proposed by reddit user User jrt_01, who puts forward the idea that Bruce could be an older experiment from Hawkins Lab – to account for the age difference he could be number one or two – and due to his telekinetic powers is the perfect vehicle for the sentient evil that is the Mind Flayer. Whatever happens, he certainly looks a bit peaky at 2.10 in the trailer

    A more convincing argument is that Hopper uncovers more evidence that his daughter is linked to the lab in some way, something that actor David Harbour alluded to in an interview with Insider way back in 2017.

  • A main character will die, whose name will start with B

    Stranger Things 3: please not Steve
    Stranger Things 3: please not Steve

    OK no one shout out Billy. If he is the host this season then he may well die, but people are only suggesting that the character who will die has a name beginning with B because so far Barb (Justice For Barb!) and Bob have died. Seriously the internet, what is wrong with you and initials? 

    However, we do know for sure, thanks to Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) who told Vanity Fair (while hooked up to a lie detector) that one of the main characters will die. He also let it slip during that same interview that Steve (and remember how close Dustin is to ‘Dad Steve’) “might die” for the characters. Cue reddit speculation and Twitter meltdown

    But the truth is it could be anyone and theories also abound about Karen Wheeler, for her outrageous Mrs Robinson-style flirting with Billy, Mike, simply because it’d be a shock if he did and Jonathan, just because he has terrible hair (our theory). 

  • The Upside Down is in fact the future

    Stranger Things 3: is the Upside Down the future?
    Stranger Things 3: is the Upside Down the future?

    The original date announcement first hinted at this as the world slowly tilted while the clock ticked down to midnight on New Year’s Eve 1985. Certainly the Upside Down does seem to be a mirror image of the town and rather than it being another dimension in space it could be another dimension in time, one where the Mind Flayer has won and sucked all the fun out of bloody everything. 

    Redditor KiryuinSaturn takes this a step further “One of my theories is that with Back To The Future coming out in July of 1985, [it was actually July 3 1985] and season 3 being set in the summer of 1985, it sets up the possibility that time travel might play a pivotal part in the season. What adds to my theory is the idea that the Upside Down could possibly be Hawkins in the future. There might be some other reasons that further support the theory but I haven’t thought about it all that much.” 

    No, well it’s a bit of a reach and if you haven’t thought about it much, we’ll park that one for now.

  • A zombie style outbreak takes over the town

    Stranger Things 3: trouble at t'mall
    Stranger Things 3: trouble at t’mall

    This theory ties up a lot of the other potential plotlines and is our current favourite. It centres around the town’s new Starcourt Mall, all those rats running around the city and again the titles of the episodes. 

    Firstly, the Mall is the new flagship of Hawkins, a crowning achievement for shady Mayor Kline, which some people are speculating is built upon the remains of Hawkins Lab and may just be a front for continuing research in secret. 

    Secondly, we all know rats spread disease and if the rats are being controlled somehow by the Mind Flayer (or even Billy as the Mind Flayer) then an outbreak of some sort of nasty rash seems likely. 

    Finally, the last episode title, The Battle Of Starcourt, hints at a big showdown at this shopping utopia which is reminiscent of the scenario in George A Romero’s 1978 Day Of The Dead where zombie’s overrun a shopping mall. The Duffer brothers are never shy of wearing their influences on their sleeve, we wouldn’t be surprised if this is the one theory that actually holds water. 

So not long now. Redditors are waiting with bated breath, fingers poised over their keyboards to be the first to claim that they called it. For the slightly less obsessed rest of us, Stranger Things season three is available to watch on Netflix today.

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Images: Netflix