Stranger Things has a lot of references to different elements from the 1980s, even taking inspiration from some notable works from the decade, but it might have taken a bit too much from Stephen King’s IT. Stranger Things’ mix of horror and sci-fi has made it a huge success, as well as its attention to detail with everything 1980s. One of the biggest inspirations of the Duffer Brothers when creating the series was Stephen King – and it shows.
The Duffer Brothers have publicly shared that their influences go from the works of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and Guillermo del Toro, to films like Star Wars and the novels of Stephen King. The nods to King’s works have been pointed out by viewers since the first season was released, and the original plan the Duffers had for season 2 would have been a very obvious reference to one of his most famous books: IT.
A section in the Stranger Things production bible outlines the Duffer Brothers’ initial idea for a second season. Titled “Franchise Potential”, the section reads that after the events in the first season, Stranger Things (initially titled Montauk) would have had a time jump, now taking place 10 years later, in the summer of 1990. The kids are young adults and some of them don’t even live in Montauk (now Hawkins) anymore, but the “re-emergence of horror in Montauk will bring them back to their hometown”, where they will have to team up once again. Sounds strangely familiar, don’t you think?
IT is divided in two parts: 1958, which follows the Losers Club when they’re kids, and 1985, focused on the adult version of the group. By 1985, all the Losers except Mike Hanlon had moved out of Derry, and the return of IT (which re-emerges every 27 years) forces them to go back and join forces one last time to defeat this evil entity once and for all. Stranger Things wouldn’t have gone as far as making a time jump of 27 years, but the concept is the same as IT’s. In the end, the crew went on a very different route, but didn’t leave IT behind: Sean Astin’s character, Bob Newby, was introduced in season 2, and shared a story with Will about a clown that traumatized him as a child when he lived in Maine.
That detail alone has sparked a number of theories about Stranger Things being in the same universe as Stephen King’s IT and other novels, with the Duffer Brothers denying it and saying they were just using their own experience watching the IT miniseries. While having a couple of references to one of the most famous novels of the horror genre is a nice and fun addition to the series, taking the same concept for one of the seasons is not a good idea at all, and it would have probably backfired. Luckily, the Duffer Brothers saw that Stranger Things has a lot more to offer on its own and built a different story.
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