Sorry, Joyce, but it might be time to stop daydreaming about moving to Maine. A fan theory about your new favorite resident of Hawkins, Bob Newby, has the internet wondering if Stranger Things and It share the same universe, and the evidence is compelling. As The Telegraph found, a Stranger Things fan account on Twitter, @UpsideDownFacts, pointed out the similarities between the two tales of children facing down evil, and the argument for Pennywise and the Mind Flayer existing in the same world might just keep you up at night. Spoilers ahead for Season 2 of Stranger Things.
The theory all hinges on Bob and his memorable clown story from Stranger Things 2. During a car ride to school, Bob tries to help Will with what he believes is the young boy's PTSD from being "lost in the woods." He advises Will to face the monster that's haunting him and tell it to go away, because it worked for him when he had a recurring nightmare about a clown named Mr. Baldo as a child. According to Bob, his nightmares began when Mr. Baldo offered him a balloon, and they only ended when he confronted the clown, proving that it had no power over him. Oh, and all of this took place in Maine, in the '50s, because that's where and when Bob Newby, superhero, grew up.
If this all sounds familiar, it's because Bob's story is a riff on Stephen King's It. Now, King definitely exists in the Stranger Things universe, but as of yet, It doesn't. The book wasn't published until 1985, and Season 2 takes place over a few days in the fall of 1984. That means there's no way Bob could have read about Pennywise — and even if he could have, Bob makes it clear on movie night that he's not a horror fan.
If you've read the book, or seen either the TV or film adaptation of It, then you'll know that Bob's tale shares a suspicious amount of similarities with the story's plot. For instance, Pennywise lures little Georgie into his trap by offering the boy a balloon. It is also set in a small town in Maine, that could easily be the one that Bob grew up in and wants Joyce and the boys to move back to with him.
Perhaps the most unsettling piece of evidence is that Bob recalls the events as a dream. When It's Losers' Club grows up, they forget almost everything about their run in with the monster that feeds of the fears of children. That could explain why Bob remembers Mr. Baldo as a dream, and why he's a chicken when it comes to scary stories.
The Stranger Things writers have offered up their own explanation for Bob's clown fear, and it does have an It connection — just not one that would support the theory of a shared universe. On Wednesday, in an interview with Vulture, series creators Matt and Ross Duffer explained that their own fear of watching Pennywise in the '90s inspired Bob's advice to Will. In the interview, Matt said,
"We saw the 'It' mini-series and Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise really messed me up. Like, it scarred me in a major way. It was one of the first true horror things I had seen, and I had not experienced Stephen King before. That was my first experience with Stephen King, so that was a really huge point in my life. It was two weeks, at least, of no sleep because of that. So yeah, I think [Bob’s clown story] was really me describing something that just freaked me out."
Given how many pop culture references Stranger Things offers up, it's not too surprising that the show would get ahead of itself a bit with a sly reference to It. Still, there's something eerily perfect about Pennywise existing in the same world as the Upside Down. After all, he's not so unlike the creatures that Will, Eleven, and Mike have been facing for two seasons.
Until someone on Stranger Things actually reads the novel, then there's no harm in believing that Bob not only saved everyone's lives in Hawkins Lab, but he also faced down Pennywise. Because the best reason to get behind the idea that Stranger Things and It share the same universe is that it means Bob is an even bigger hero than everyone thought.