11 Throwback TV Shows To Watch If You Loved 'Stranger Things,' From 'The X-Files' To 'Twin Peaks'
The second season of Netflix's hit Stranger Things premiered on Oct. 27, and most fans finished marathon-watching the new episodes in a matter of days. The show's (unconfirmed) third season isn't likely to premiere until late 2018, and if you are bummed about the wait, you're going to need something good to watch in the meantime. Watch these throwback shows if you loved Stranger Things and need something to hold you over until the next season of the series premieres. Whether you're trying to learn more about aliens and the paranormal or you enjoy a good scare and horror movie fix, this list has all sort of spooky series that predate the popular Netflix show. Even if you're a scaredy-cat and are just on this Stranger Things train for the friendship story, there are plenty of fun series out there for you as well.
While the supernatural scares keep Stranger Things entertaining, it's the '80s nostalgia makes the show even more special. The Duffer Brothers, the duo who created the series, drew inspiration from many '80s and '90s films and television shows. These include everything from Stephen King's It, Stephen Spielberg's E.T., as well as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and even video games like Last of Us. The referential nature of the show is what makes it great, but it's also good news for fans who are looking for more material to watch after marathoning the second season. It's always interesting to revisit some of the influences of the show, and by watching their way through this list, fans might even pick up on references or themes in the Stranger Things seasons they didn't recognize the first time.
Here are some throwback TV series you can watch while you wait for the next season of Stranger Things to drop on Netflix.
1. 'The X-Files'
The X-Files was one of the longest-running science fiction shows on television, airing from 1993 to 2002. The series had a resurgence in popularity in the past couple of years when every episode was put on Netflix, and new episodes premiered on Fox in 2015.
The X-Files is an iconic series that the Duffer Brothers no doubt drew from when crafting the spooky world of Stranger Things. The show takes two FBI agents — a supernatural skeptic Dana Scully and her conspiracy-loving partner Fox Mulder — to variety of eerie small-towns where strange occurrences have happened. The lines of reality are blurred, and the two detectives never quite find out if there are alien or supernatural forces are at foot. If you live for suspense and aren't easily spooked, than this show is the perfect watch while you wait out Stranger Things.
2. 'Wayward Pines'
In this short-lived series created by Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan, a U.S. Secret Service agent finds himself investigating two missing people in Wayward Pines, Idaho. The town turns out to have more secrets than he imagined, and it turns out that the inhabitants might be trapped there and that the leaders of the town are up to something insidious. If you love the Stranger Things' fascination with bizarre Midwestern towns, this short series will definitely be a satisfying watch.
3. 'Twin Peaks'
The Sheriff has become an iconic part of Stranger Things, largely because actor David Harbour is so freaking charming IRL, but before John Hopper another charming detective won over our hearts. That was FBI agent and donut enthusiast Dale Cooper, played so perfectly by Kyle MacLachlan. This show has a cult following for a reason, and it resembles Stranger Things in many ways.
In Twin Peaks, Agent Dale Cooper travels to the logging mill town of Twin Peaks, must solve the mysterious death of high school student Laura Palmer. What begins as an ordinary crime procedural takes a turn into the supernatural, and Cooper soon discovers that there's more than meets the eye in this small town.
4. 'Freaks & Geeks'
Freaks and Geeks might not be even that spooky, but this comedy about high school may have inspired some of the friendships on Stranger Things. The show's premature cancellation is one of the greatest slights in television history, but this single season created by Judd Apatow and Paul Feig's remains influential. Sam Weir's band of misfits looks an awful lot like the kids of Stranger Things - sometimes truly, are we sure Dustin Henderson and Neil Schweiber aren't the same person? Also, Millie Kentner have have been the original Barb. If you love the funny friendship moments in Stranger Things, this show is a must-see.
5. 'The Twilight Zone'
The Twilight Zone, which first aired in 1959, is a predecessor to many popular supernatural series. Rod Serling wrote and hosted over 80 episodes of this genre-bending series, which combined science-fiction, horror, drama, and comedy in an unprecedented way. There are certain episodes that remain cultural touchstones, like "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and"Living Doll." The show holds up decades later, and many filmmakers and showrunners remain inspired by the stories first told on this series.
6. 'Battlestar Galactica'
If you love the science-fiction aspects of Stranger Things, this science-fiction thriller from the early 2000s is well worth a watch. While this series certainly had a more space-age concept than the small-town world of Hawkins, Indiana, the mystery and intrigue make it worth a watch. The series is a remake of the popular 1970s series, and follows the same premise. The robot Cylons have wiped out most of humankind, and the last people who escaped to space must. The twist? Cylons look exactly like people so nobody trusts anyone and nothing is okay. If you really need some suspense in your life, this show is the one to binge next.
7. 'Eerie, Indiana'
It will be more than a year until fans can return to Hawkins, Indiana, but this show takes place in another haunted town. Marshall Teller's parents move the family from normal New Jersey to Eerie, Indiana, which has a small population and things aren't as quaint as they seem. Marshall and his friend Simon are the only ones who notice that strange things are happening, and they try to prove to the adults that weird things are happening. This show, which first premiered in 1993, may have had some influence on the Duffer Brothers as they planned a small Indiana town of their own.
8. 'Ghost Hunters'
If you're trying to find more paranormal activity to keep you occupied before the new season, why not dabble in some IRL ghost hunting. This popular series, which wrapped its final series just last year, is just one of the many reality shows dedicated to seeking the spooky. In the years since, many spinoff series, like Destination: Truth and Finding Bigfoot have also been created. If you're looking for scary stories from around the world to stay entertained (and fully spooked), there's plenty of content out there.
This show, which stars a young Shiri Appleby, follows two high school students with a bod in a New Mexico town where strange occurrences are common. The town is where a UFO famously crashed in 1947, and in the year 1999 tourists still come from out of town to see the site. It turns out that one of the high school students is an alien, and their romance threatens to upend the alien gene pool. The CW is reportedly in the process of remaking the show, which is yet another reason to watch.
This British series followed the five teens given community service who find out they have super powers following an electrical storm. The show has lots of the elements that make Stranger Things so great: it's about a group of outcasts who (eventually, at least) become friends, mysterious circumstances, and trying to reconcile their supernatural experiences with normal teen years.
11. 'Amazing Stories'
This Steven Spielberg produced show was an episodic series that told horror, fantasy, and science fiction stories. It was critically acclaimed, and featured many prominent guest stars like Kyra Sedgewick, Seth Green, and Mark Hamill. It was nominated for 12 Emmys, and it is currently in development for a remake. The Duffer Brothers longtime love of Spielberg is no secret, so this show is definitely one to check out if you're hoping to investigate their influences.
It might seem like the next season of Stranger Things is lightyears away, but you can use this time to look back at the show's history, and appreciate how well-researched and referential the series truly is. There's plenty of sci-fi material out there to binge, and no better time to watch — and maybe invest in a night light).