Season three of the spooky Netflix hit Stranger Things has now gone live, and I loved it. There's been no official announcement on a fourth season as yet, but with all the hype surrounding season three, it seems a foregone conclusion. Back in 2017, showrunner Ross Duffer told New York magazine's entertainment website, Vulture: "We're thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out."
Executive producer Shawn Levy went one step further last year, telling film and TV news site Collider: "Season four is definitely happening. [There is] very much the possibility [of more], but that's currently undecided."
Hear us out, though. We think season three is the ideal place to end the show. Not because we don't like it, but quite the opposite.
Read on, but be warned: There are major spoilers for the ending of Stranger Things 3 to follow, so if you haven’t watched it yet, come back after you've seen it.
Bye bye, Byers
From the very beginning of season three, Joyce Byers is thinking of leaving Hawkins. Frankly, we’re surprised it’s taken so long. Poor Will Byers has been a victim of the monsters from the Upside Down from the first moments of season one, and his mother, Joyce, and brother, Jonathan, haven’t exactly had a great time of it in Hawkins through the show’s three seasons, either. Finally, as season three draws to a close, Joyce packs up her belongings, gathers her kids and the newly orphaned Eleven, and bids farewell to Indianapolis’s creepiest town once and for all.
We don’t know exactly where she’s headed, but judging by the tearful farewells and the fact that returning to Hawkins is only mentioned for possible “holidays”, it’s probably quite a long way away. If much of your central cast upping sticks and leaving town isn’t a good reason to end the show, we’re not sure what is.
A significant death
Not only are three of the show's central characters – Joyce, Eleven and Will – leaving town, but a fourth, police chief Hopper, has presumably left the planet after being disintegrated by an exploding laser as he and Joyce successfully prevented the Russian baddies from reopening the portal to the Upside Down. That's a lot of crucial cast members missing if the show continues to a fourth series, and it simply wouldn't be the same without them.
Hopper’s moving speech
When Eleven reads Jim Hopper's planned speech to her, a speech that he never actually made in the show due to what we'll call his "anger issues", it's a tear-jerking close. Her adoptive dad, unexpectedly now giving her advice from beyond the grave, is unwittingly counselling her to get over his death and move forward.
She has to grow up, Hopper tells her, even though that may hurt, but he can't keep her trapped in the past. By continuing to a fourth season, the show would be doing the exact opposite of its own moving, final advice. The Mind Flayer is defeated, the kids at the centre of the show are reaching adulthood. Take your own advice, Stranger Things. Move on and leave us all wanting more.
Talking of the cast reaching adulthood, that's another reason to stop now. The central cast are all rapidly maturing, and the entire dynamic of the show and its lead characters would be changed unrecognisably if they were all adults. Season three very successfully dealt with the challenges facing our teen heroes as they move out of childhood, but a year from now? Maybe even two years from now, since that's roughly the gap between seasons two and three? It simply wouldn't be Stranger Things any more with an adult cast. As Hopper rightly asserts, it's time to move on.
Netflix has form for stopping while it’s ahead
Netflix is in a fairly unique position among broadcasters due to its financial model. There’s no pressure from advertisers to force it to drag shows out well beyond their sell-by date in order to keep revenue coming in. Netflix doesn’t even create its own merchandise.
According to a report by CNBC, all the merchandising tie-ins for Stranger Things, and there are many – including Baskin Robbins's USS Butterscotch ice cream, Burger King's Upside Down Whopper and Target's entire range of themed clothing – are licensed to the companies involved. That means Netflix has already had the money for the merchandise, and doesn't stand to gain further from a fourth season.
But we know there will be a fourth season
over whether the streamer's business model takes full advantage of the revenue available to it. But, as things stand, the financial pressure on Netflix's almost entirely subscription-based business plan to carry on is almost non-existent. The streaming service has previously cancelled critically acclaimed shows – including Marco Polo, at the time its most expensive production, and Sense8, after just two seasons, so it certainly isn't a stranger (excuse the pun) to the concept of quitting while you're ahead. Stranger Things should be the next addition to that list.
Of course, for all our valid reasons why Stranger Things should bow out on a high right now, we're almost 100 per cent certain it won't. If you made it as far as the post-credits scene at the end of the final episode of season three, you would have seen that those pesky Russians have an American locked up at a secret research facility in Kamchatka, where they also appear to be holding a captive demogorgon. We never saw Hopper's body during the show's dramatic closing moments, and we're fairly confident that this captive American will prove to be none other than Hawkins's chief of police, who somehow survived the destruction of the Russian laser.
Also, we learn over the course of the episodes that Will is still somehow psychically linked to the Upside Down, and there's no reason to assume that should change just because he leaves Hawkins. If the Russian villains can access the Upside Down from a lab in Kamchatka, it's a safe assumption that the Upside Down can still access Will in whichever small American town he settles down in next.
We don't know exactly how much more Stranger Things we can look forward to – Duffer says one more season, Levy says maybe more – but we're absolutely certain that, for all of our protestations, season four will be announced shortly.