Stranger Things Season 4 Takes Place Six Months After Season 3

While we've waited for three long years in the real world for "Stranger Things" season 4, the characters who fight against the Upside Down have only experienced six months. Half a year has passed in-canon in "Stranger Things" since the battle at the Starcourt Mall, and all of our favorite characters have experienced some real change. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) moved to California with the Byers family after her adoptive father, Hopper (David Harbour) disappeared while helping Eleven close the portal opened by the Russians, for starters, and the rest of the kids have all really grown up. Most of them are in high school now, which means the adventures are going to probably stop being kid-friendly. It also pushes us further along into the 1980s, which opens up a whole slew of fun references to dig into.  

So this is growing up

We're traveling from the summer of 1985 to the early months of 1986, and the teens are looking forward to their spring break. In the trailer, Eleven tells Mike (Finn Wolfhard) that they're going to have the "best spring break ever," but that's pretty unlikely given the way their lives have unfolded so far. We see Mike visiting with the Byers in California, which means we might travel forward a bit to that spring break in order to reunite them. The rest of the gang is back in Hawkins, figuring out high school, playing Dungeons and Dragons with a new dungeon master (Joseph Quinn), and just trying to move on with their lives in the wake of so much otherworldly tragedy. 

While the 1980s setting has provided the Duffer brothers with plenty of nostalgia to work with, 1986 is a particularly interesting year because there are several real-life tragedies that could potentially tie into the fictional world of "Stranger Things." The Soviets launched the Mir space station in February of that year, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in April. We know that Hopper is somewhere in Russia, so these Soviet historical events could come into play. On the lighter side of things, 1986 is a big year for movies that inspired "Stranger Things," including James Cameron's "Aliens" and Rob Reiner's "Stand by Me," and teen movies like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Pretty in Pink." 

Ironically, this is the shortest time jump between seasons despite it being the largest gap between their releases. The first two seasons had a whole year pass between them, and there was a nine-month gap between seasons 2 and 3. Then again, the insanity at the end of season 3 feels too important to jump all the way away from, and the characters are still dealing with the fallout of what happened under the Starcourt mall. 

We'll find out exactly what happened in those six months and how our favorite supernatural-fighting teens are handling it when "Stranger Things" returns on May 27, 2022.