Stranger Things is a show about nostalgia. But like most nostalgia pieces it is a remix and a pastiche of its’ influences. And there are plenty. Season 3, the goriest but also most sentimental season, owes heavily to The Thing specifically and in general the work of 1980s Steven Spielberg when it comes to character development.
However, sometimes their influences are not worn so clearly on their sleeve. Now I have to admit, when I first came up with this idea I misremembered that there was a gigantic slime monster that sucked the joy out of people in the movie I was thinking of, but it turns out I was mistaking it for the first My Little Pony movie. Which is understandable, because My Little Pony is shouted out in the show, but the movie doesn’t fit in with the timeline.
Anyway, I believe that the story arc of the third season mirrors that of the first Care Bears movie. Stick with me tho. First of all it’s worth noting that the animated film was released in 1985, the year Season Three takes place. Considering the Duffer Bros are meticulous in immersing the world of their show in the time period, this synchronicity is a good starting point.
Then It Gets Weird
Both feature an amusement park, where major plot points unfold:
That may seem like a pretty mundane parallel, but we’re just getting started. Both also include a massive laser beam weapon that opens a gateway between worlds — and spends most of the plot requiring repairs.
And in case you still believe we are within the realm of coincidence, the antagonists of both are angry boys consumed by an evil force with the goal of converting others. They do so by draining the human qualities of out of them, leaving malicious angry shells. In fact, an underlying theme of both is the role of personal relationships, a need for human connection in a hostile world.
This also plays out in how the antagonists visibly change over the course of the plot, reflecting the weight of the evil they take part in. It’s even displayed similarly with terse scowls and sunken tired looking eyes. They don’t really want to be evil, but they can’t find a way out. In the meantime, they have turned so many people to the dark side it becomes apocalyptic. The endgame of both is to turn the entire world.
And Then After All That…
The climax of both involves appealing to the goodness in the angry boy, which escalates to a literal war for the boy’s soul. The boy is brought back but it is too late for that to defeat the actual evil. They have to close the gate the evil is coming from (a dimensional portal in one and a book in the other). Both involve a sideplot about finding and holding onto keys and then having difficulty using said keys.
Now am I saying you should go and check out the Care Bears movie? Ha ha ha no. Not at all.
You really shouldn’t. It’s not great.
Hey if this is your first time checking out my writing, feel free to follow and also browse my profile to see if there is anything else up your alley.