19 'Stranger Things 3' Easter Eggs, From TV Show & Movie References To Subtle Callbacks
Spoilers for all of Stranger Things 3 ahead. Though the Stranger Things 3 plot may have been kept as classified as Russian intelligence, it's no secret that the Netflix series is unabashedly indebted to the '80s. So just as in previous seasons, there are plenty of Easter eggs in Stranger Things 3. And whether those be '80s pop culture references, callbacks to previous seasons, or even a few anachronistic details, fans will undoubtedly want to unpack them all. This list is a good place to start.
For its third installment, Stranger Things is in 1985 when Back to the Future just hit theaters, New Coke was released, Russians were the ultimate movie villain, and The NeverEnding Story theme song was an earworm that apparently inspired teen love duets. Cary Elwes, who joins the cast as Hawkins' mayor this season, hadn't starred in The Princess Bride just yet, but that doesn't stop him from taking Sean Astin's place as the show's token '80s icon.
There are plenty of other obvious' 80s nods throughout the season, but because you probably caught those, here are some of the more subtle details you may have missed, too. All that Mind Flayer chaos can be distracting.
1. 'Day Of The Dead'
Mike, Will, Lucas, and Max are able to sneak into see Day of the Dead at the Starcourt Mall movie theater, thanks to Scoops Ahoy's newest employee Steve Harrington. The movie is the third in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead franchise — just like this is the third installment of Stranger Things. A trailer for Day of the Dead also shows a zombie watching the movie in theaters just like the D&D gang does.
2. Sam & Diane In 'Cheers'
Not only did this Cheers flashback give you a glimpse of the dearly departed Bob Newby, but it also seems to acknowledge Joyce's other romantic relationship. The ultimate on-and-off couple of the '80s was Ted Danson's Sam and Shelley Long's Diane in Cheers. And Bob's comment, "I just wish they'd get back together again already," might be how you're feeling about Joyce and Hopper's will they, won't they tension... especially if you believe they had a thing in high school.
3. Busey Power
The casting of Gary Busey's son Jake Busey as newspaper bro Bruce could be a little nod to his dad's '80s film legacy (the elder Busey starred in Barbarose, Lethal Weapon, and Eye of the Tiger, just to name a few).
4. "Don't Mess Around With Jim"
Hopper is feeling pretty good about himself after he scares Mike away from El, so he rocks out to Jim Croce's "Don't Mess Around with Jim." The song was featured in The Greatest American Hero, which ran from 1981 to 1983. And while you may not have heard of the show, you should definitely know the theme song. The series' titular hero had superpowers from aliens and fought the Russians a few times. Considering how Hopper's story ends (RIP, Hopper?!), Jim is the greatest American hero this season. Plus, it doesn't hurt that he danced to this song in front of Eleven last season, which turned into one of the best memes of Stranger Things 2.
5. All Of Those *Real* '80s Stores
The Starcourt Mall features a number of real stores, including Sam Goody, Orange Julius, Waldenbooks, and Wicks 'N' Sticks. While you're there, don't forget to get your glamour shots and do an '80s-approved makeover like El and Max.
6. 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers'
Invasion of the Body Snatchers was originally a 1956 movie, but the remake from 1978 with Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy might have been more what the Duffer brothers had in mind when creating the Flayed. Nancy Bellicec and Elizabeth Driscoll were characters in the '70s version, and when you combine their names you get Nancy Driscoll — the name Nancy sports on her name tag while visiting the Flayed Mrs. Driscoll in the hospital. The director Philip Kaufman gets an acknowledgement too with Kaufman Shoes at the mall.
7. Hess Farms
The Russians have set up shop at Hess Farms for their Upside Down experiment in Hawkins. While not from the '80s, the last name of Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix's brothers in M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 film Signs was Hess and they owned a remote farm that got invaded by aliens — just like the Russians caused the alien-like Mind Flayer to invade Hawkins.
8. Fagin's Gang
After Nancy and Jonathan fight over them getting fired from The Hawkins Post, he's not interested in Nancy calling him from the hospital where Mrs. Driscoll is. He tells her he was out late "with Fagin and the gang" — Charles Dickens' infamous Oliver Twist character. Jonathan is referencing the classic novel since he doesn't come from privilege like Nancy and needed the job. Except in Dickens' book, Nancy was also part of Fagin's pickpocketing pack.
When Steve, Robin, Dustin, and Erica end up in the Russians' secret underground lab, they wonder what the green liquid that the Soviets are storing is. Dustin theorizes it's promethium. As Robin explains, Victor Stone's dad used promethium in the DC comics to turn his son into Cyborg. And if you're more of a Marvel fan, you'll appreciate that Dustin named his radio tower Cerebro.
10. Dr. Zharkov
While snooping in the underground lab, Steve and Robin get drugged by the evil Russian doctor Dr. Zharkov. But in the 1980 film Flash Gordon, scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov is on the side of good.
11. Lying Low Like Lee Harvey Oswald
Whether you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald really killed President John F. Kennedy or that there's a bigger conspiracy at play here, Oswald really did hide out in a movie theater as Erica and Dustin discuss. Oswald had also defected to the Soviet Union, so no wonder Kennedy's assassin was on Dustin's brain after the secret Russian underground lab.
12. Murray Bauman's Speech
Murray Bauman gives Hopper and Joyce a to-the-point talk about their feelings for one another just as he did with Nancy and Jonathan in Stranger Things 2. And you gotta admit he's pretty good, since later Joyce asks Hopper out (although they devastatingly never get to go). Murray also gets to confirm his Russian spy suspicions and drink more vodka, this time with Hopper.
13. Bradley's Big Buy
El returns to the scene of the crime where she stole Eggos in Season 1 when she holes up with everybody in Bradley's Big Buy to hide from the Mind Flayer. She even spends some quality time by the freezer containing her favorite food.
14. 'Back To The Future'
Mike and Dustin have their own Back to the Future moment as the film's score plays while they try to communicate via their walkie talkies. Meanwhile, Steve wonders why Alex P. Keaton's mom wanted to have sex with him.
15. Rambo Rage
In Rambo: First Blood Part II, Sylvester Stallone takes on the Russians and destroys some office equipment one-handed with a machine gun. Hopper takes John Rambo's style and applies it to actually kill some Russians. Soviet henchperson Grigori also has some Rambo and Terminator moments himself as he tracks down Hopper. (Terminator got a more direct shoutout in Stranger Things 2.) Another bonus Easter Egg? "Higher and Higher" from Ghostbusters II plays in the background during Hopper's Russian invasion improvisation.
16. The Griswolds
The fact that Nancy, Jonathan, Mike, El, Max, Lucas, and Will are given the radio code name "Griswold Family" would make Clark Griswold and his National Lampoon's Vacation family proud. And maybe, just maybe, the yuppy Todd who owned the Todfthr car was a reference to Clark's nemesis in 1989's Christmas Vacation.
17. Ursula K. Le Guin
Sci-fi has long been dominated by men, but Dustin's girlfriend Suzie gives a shoutout to the godmother of science fiction — Ursula K. Le Guin and her Earthsea series. Le Guin once wrote, "Please bring strange things. Please come bringing new things," so she may have also influenced the name of the show.
18. Family Video
With the mall destroyed, Robin and Steve seek employment at Family Video and are greeted by a familiar face — Keith, complete with his cheese puffs, who worked at the arcade in Season 2. Plus, there's a shoutout to El's own Drew Barrymore-Firestarter experience with the movie poster visible, and Phoebe Cates gets some screentime after many a reference in Stranger Things 3 via her Fast Times at Ridgemont High cutout.
19. Russian Risk
The post-credits scene travels back to the Soviet Union to Kamchatka, Russia. This scene is extremely important because it may be a hint that Hopper is still be alive (because who is the American in the prison??) and shows that a Demogorgon is still around. But it's also a reference to Risk. Kamchatka is a real-life Russian peninsula — and a coveted territory in the nerd-approved board game Risk.
Stranger Things manages to cram as much '80s pop culture as possible into each season. And it feels so good to be R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A with the Hawkins gang again in Stranger Things 3.