Stranger Things Season 2 Episode Titles: What Do They Mean?

Yesterday Netflix finally announced that they have renewed Stranger Things for a second season, and with it came a Stranger Things season 2 teaser trailer which revealed the titles of the nine episodes in the upcoming second season. Being that I love to speculate, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at these episode titles and try to predict what it might all mean.

Stranger Things season 2

Stranger Things Season 1 Episode Titles: A Look Back

But before we take a look at the episode titles of Season 2, maybe we should look back at the episode titles from the first season and what they meant:

  • The Vanishing of Will Byers: The title is a reference to the inciting incident of the series, with Will Byers going missing.
  • The Weirdo on Maple Street: A reference to Nightmare on Elm Street's title and also an episode of The Twilight Zone episode in which the real monsters are humankind. The title itself is either about Eleven, the young girl with a shaved head and supernatural powers, or Joyce who is seeing strange things in her home.
  • Holly, Jolly: A reference to the Christmas lights that Joyce strings around her home in an effort to communicate with Will.
  • The Body: In this episode, Hopper finds out that Will's body is a dummy.
  • The Flea and the Acrobat: The kids' science teacher tries to explain alternate dimensions and space-time by explaining that an acrobat that can only move back and forth across a tightrope and a flea that can go underneath and upside down.
  • The Monster: In this episode, the monster takes center stage as Jonathan saves Nancy by pulling her through the portal. Later, they buy supplies for a new plan to kill the monster.
  • The Bathtub: El is able to amplify her powers underwater and the kids come up with a plan to make a sensory-deprivation tank so El can search for Will and Barb.
  • The Upside Down: Hopper and Joyce enter the Upside Down to rescue Will.
  • Stranger Things season 2 episode titles

    Stranger Things Season 2 Episode Titles

    Moving on to Stranger Things season 2, the teaser trailer offers the following 9 episode titles:

    Madmax, The Boy Who Came Back To Life, The Pumpkin Patch, The Palace, The Storm, The Pollywog, The Secret Cabin, The Brain, and The Lost Brother.

    While it has been confirmed that those are the episode titles for the second season, we aren't 100% sure that this is the order. Most fans are pretty much assuming that to be the case, so we will approach it from that direction. What might these titles mean? Here are some guesses:

    Kilian Eng - Mad Max Fury Road


    The most obvious reference is probably to George Miller's 1979 film Mad Max. Does the plot of that film offer any clues to the premiere episode? The film is set in a self-destructing post-apocalyptic world, perhaps a metaphor for the Upside Down? Mad Max follows a father out for revenge for the killing of his wife and son, possibly a reference to Chief Hopper (David Harbour) who has lost not only his daughter but his surrogate daughter, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).

    We have been told that the episode opens up someplace outside of Hawkins, Indiana, surely expanding the word we will see in this upcoming season. The Duffer brothers have talked at length about how they have looked at the successful sequels, and 1981's Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is more acclaimed than the original. Also, note that the title is not "Mad Max" but one word "Madmax." There was no character named Max in the first season, the Duffer Brothers have said that four new characters will be introduced in the new season and we've learned that a girl named Max will be one of them.

    Stranger Things ending

    The Boy Who Came Back to Life

    I think where the season 2 premiere will be setting up this bigger expanded world, episode 2 will bring an increased focus on the Byers family. The title of the episode appears to be a reference to Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) who seemingly "came back to life" at the end of the first season when he was rescued from the Upside Down. The whole town assumed he was dead — there was even a "body" — so it should be interesting to see how it is explained that Will is back in good health. And we know that Will did not come back exactly the same as he once was, as the first season ends with him coughing up a gross slug creature and seeing flashes of the Upside Down. The Duffer Brothers have said this is something they want to explore in the second season:

    We love the idea that [the Upside Down] is an environment that is not a great place for a human being to be living in. Will's been there for an entire week, and it's had some kind of effect on him, both emotionally and perhaps physically. The idea is he's escaped this nightmare place, but has he really? That's a place we wanted to go and potentially explore in season two. What effect does living in there for a week have on him? And what has been done to him? It's not good, obviously.

    They have also hinted that it may affect more characters than just Will: "Three of our other characters were in there. They took off their helmets. Nancy was in there too."

    Stranger Things eggs

    The Pumpkin Patch

    The original story took place in November 1983, and the teaser trailer revealed that the second season will not jump in time too much — it will be set in 1984. But I wonder how much time has gone by. Has it been a couple months or almost a year? This title seems like a reference to Halloween, the season of pumpkins. Might our story take place in that season? I'm sure there are 100 1980s movies like ET that serve as visual inspiration for this choice. Also remember that the third episode of the first season, "Holly, Jolly," was also a season-themed title, and a great episode dealing with Joyce trying to communicate with Will via Christmas lights strung around her home.

    Or perhaps it's a reference to the eggs we saw in the Upside Down. We still don't know if the eggs we saw in the first season are the Demogorgon's offspring, but the concept artists have revealed that the monster was eating off of the eggs.

    Castle Byers

    The Palace

    This is a puzzling title. In the first season, Will created a makeshift fort called Castle Byers which he often used as a hideaway. It was the place his mother Joyce first looked for him when he vanished. Will hid out in the castle in the Upside Down until the monster found him and destroyed it.

    Or maybe "The Palace" is a reference to the Department of Energy building or a new government facility introduced in this new season? If we accept the Dungeons and Dragons analogy, maybe Will and his friends have to invade a new castle, but if so, what are they after?

    Stranger Things rain

    The Storm

    It seems like we may be in for a fall thunderstorm, but the question is how different does that become when you add the Upside Down to the mix? This is the halfway point of the second season, and things are sure to shake up. Remember that electricity can be affected by the Upside Down and maybe a thunderstorm is the result of something happening on the other side?

    The kids initially discovered Eleven during a big rainstorm. Might this episode mark their reunion with her character? Would the Duffer Brothers actually keep them apart for four episodes? The Duffer Brothers have left Eleven's whereabouts "purposefully ambiguous":

    Obviously something happened to her when she destroyed and killed that monster, and we don't know where she went. Hopper is left with this guilt because he sold her out. We wanted to leave it sort of mysterious exactly what he knows... Have there been sightings in the woods or is he hoping she's out there or has he already made contact with her? We don't answer any of that, but we like the idea of potentially putting her and Hopper together.

    And they have yet to confirm Eleven even reappears in the second season (but I would bet real money that she does).

    Stranger Things Barb dead

    The Pollywog

    A polliwog is a tadpole, the larva of a frog or toad, but I'm not sure that we'll see a tadpole in Stranger Things season 2.

    The sixth episode of the first season was called "The Monster" and was monster-centric. If I were to guess, I would say that the season 2 episode title might be a reference to the slug-like creatures that Will coughs up at the end of season one, and that can be seen sliming out of Barb's mouth when we discover her fate in the Upside Down. Remember, the slug creature that Will coughed up is probably on the loose in the Hawkins sewer system. What if it gave birth to more of those things? What if season 2 of Stranger Things is more of an homage to the 1980s creature horror films like Ghoulies, Critters, Munchies, The Gate, and Gremlins?

    In addition, a pollywog (spelled with a Y) is a term used to describe a sailor who has never crossed the equator. Maybe not having gone to the Upside Down becomes important in the plot of this season. Maybe Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is the "pollywog" and it's his turn to go to the Upside Down?

    Dr. Brenner from Stranger Things

    The Secret Cabin

    A secret cabin would be a nice place to hide something or somebody. Perhaps that's where Eleven is hiding out? I don't think the Duffer Brothers would make us wait until episode 7 to finally see Eleven again, but you never know.

    Stranger Things Eleven 11

    The Brain

    This might be the most ambiguous title from Stranger Things Season 2. The penultimate episode will very likely set up the final battle where our heroes must once again come face to face with the monsters from the Upside Down. Maybe the brain is a reference to a connected system on the other side? Or maybe it's a reference to the head of the ultra-secret government operations or their computer system? Maybe it's a reference to one of our heroes, who must outsmart this season's monster? Perhaps it's a reference to Eleven, who must use her now-more-advanced supernatural powers to... do... something.

    Stranger Things eleven

    The Lost Brother

    If this title were the first or second episode of the season, I would read it to mean that Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) goes missing as the inciting incident for this season. But as the title of the last episode of the season, it's more perplexing. Just as the first season returned a son, maybe Joyce loses another son at the end of the second season? Or maybe it's about Jonathan reclaiming his brother who has been lost to the Upside Down, even though he returned in physical form at the end of last season. Or maybe "lost" doesn't mean missing but "gone" as we discover Will's final fate.

    The series has yet to introduce any other brothers (although it sounds like the new character Max will have a brother, Billy). Maybe Eleven has a brother named Ten and this season is partly about the rescue of her sibling? We do expect to learn a bit more about the tests that were conducted on Eleven and the other children that came before (and possibly after her). I wouldn't be shocked if we were introduced to more kids with powers.

    Well there you have it, all my musings and guesses at what the Stranger Things season 2 episode titles might mean. Did I miss anything? Do you have a theory to contribute? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.