The Duffer Brothers have plenty of inspiration for their sci-fi horror Netflix series. In an interview with Collider, Matt and Ross Duffer explained what Star Wars did for the Stranger Things season 4 finale. More specifically, they took inspiration from Empire Strikes Back for the epic conclusion. Spoilers are ahead.
“We always have wanted to do an Empire Strikes Back ending,” said Matt Duffer, “which we tried to do with [Season 4]. Where it’s the sense of loss.”
With the deaths of Eddie (Joseph Quinn) and Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine), along with the “earthquake,” it was a bittersweet end that would lead into the final season. So, it makes sense how Star Wars influenced Stranger Things with this sense of victory and loss all at once. Similar to Empire Strikes Back, there is a glimmer of hope while a feeling of dread as the people of Hawkins watch spores fall from the sky, signaling not only the end of the series but possibly the end of humankind if they were to lose this war against Vecna.
“We knew we wanted to end with spores falling in Hawkins,” Matt said about what Star Wars did for the Stranger Things season 4 finale. “I don’t remember how early in the process [we wanted that], but pretty early in the process. Like I said, we were very much inspired by Empire Strikes Back, that ending where they’re looking out the window. We knew we wanted to end on the backs of our characters as they’re looking out towards this dark supernatural plume that was spitting out these spores all over their town as they’re facing this evil, that has not retreated, but very much coming in an aggressive way into their town. We wanted to hand at the notion of war, and a supernatural war coming to Hawkins.”
Star Wars Sets Up Stranger Things Season 5 after Season 4 Finale
The goal for the Duffer Brothers was to set the stakes higher than ever. We have had deaths and destruction before, but now, it looks like the whole town will see what has been happening. If this was Empire Strikes Back, the last season would be its Return of the Jedi.
“The goal of this [Season 4], unlike other seasons, like Matt’s saying, is that sense of anticipation where you’ve set up what the stakes are, which is something we haven’t done for other seasons,” Ross Duffer said.
Star Wars is not the only influence of Stranger Things. When watching the series, you can spot all sorts of inspirations from E.T. to Indiana Jones to getting Freddy Krueger vibes from the central antagonist, Vecna. It has always worn this on its sleeve, so fans should expect to see other pop culture influences for the fifth season.
Netflix dropped the latest season in two batches. It is uncertain if it will go down that road or use another release model for the final season. We also don’t know if it will up the runtimes as the fourth season had every episode over an hour, with the finale being two-and-a-half hours to tell its story and give a sense of scale.