We don’t know much about the origins of Demogorgon or the details of the Upside Down, but we do know what goes on behind the scenes!
From details about the stellar cast and best characters to truths about production of the hit TV show, here are 41 Stranger Things facts that are so surprising, they’ll turn your world Upside Down…
1. Millie Bobby Brown is British
There are a few facts about Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) that some of you probably weren’t aware of. Did you know that she’s a British starlet, born and raised in Spain? When she was seven-years-old, her parents decided to apply her to acting school in L.A. Since then, they’ve resided in the U.S.
Bonus fact? Charlie Heaton who played Jonathon is British, too!
2. She Actually Shaved Her Hair!
You’ve got to rate a 12-year-old who’s brave enough to shave her hair! Millie was nervous about getting the chop so the directors told her to “have the mind-frame of Charlize Theron in Mad Max”. Props to her! Although she didn’t shave it for season 4. Eleven’s famous buzzcut in the latest season was a wig!
3. Stranger Things is Based on Real Life (Kinda)
Ok, don’t jump the gun – there aren’t any Demogorgons or kiddos with superpowers in real life, but there is a certain part of the series’ plot that’s based on reality. The Duffer Brothers were reportedly inspired by “The Montauk Project,” from the early 80’s, which was an experiment involving time travel, warfare and children being kidnapped. Creepy, we know!
4. The Cast Can Sing!
Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Millie Bobby Brown can sing! Millie regularly posts singing videos on YouTube while Gaten used to star in Les Miserables. Their voices are incredible – Gaten’s, in particular, will blow your mind!
5. Steven Spielberg Inspired the Makers of the Show
It’s no surprise that Stranger Things is full of classic movie references! The show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers said they were inspired by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and John Carpenter when creating the original Netflix show.
6. Stranger Things was Rejected Over 15 Times
Yep, you read that right! In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Duffer Brothers revealed that the show had been rejected by several networks between 15-20 times.
Apparently, they didn’t like that the show centered around children, but wasn’t targeted to kids. “You either gotta make it into a kids show or make it about this Hopper [detective] character investigating paranormal activity around town,” one network told them.
7. Dustin Has a Disorder Called Cleidocranial Dysplasia
Gaten Matarazzo has a rare disorder called cleidocranial dysplasia which affects his teeth and bones. As a result of this condition, he wears fake teeth. Gaten has proudly used his celebrity status to raise awareness about his disorder. What’s crazy? Gaten’s condition apparently lost him 100 roles!
8. Auditioning for the Role of Eleven Was “Complicated”
You’d think auditioning for the role of Eleven would be simple considering she hardly spoke and just stared blankly in the first season. In fact, it was “complicated” according to Millie. At Comic-Con in 2016, she said:
“I didn’t actually have to stare, I cried a lot in the audition. All I said was, ‘It’s behind you!’ and that was it. It was complicated, I auditioned multiple times. I auditioned once by myself, and then I auditioned on tape, I Skyped with the Duffers, and then I flew to L.A. and actually met Finn (Wolfhard) and the Duffers, and then I found out I had to cut all [my hair] off and I got the job.”
9. The Kids Had Great Chemistry Before Filming the Show
The kids are great friends behind the scenes, too! They quickly got to know each other and created a bond by texting each other in a group chat before filming called “Stranger Texts.” When it came to filming their first scene together (the Dungeons and Dragons scene), their chemistry was “electric”.
“Our boys flew through the scene effortlessly and energetically, and their chemistry was electric; they felt like they had known each other their whole lives,” the Duffer Brothers told EW.
10. Eleven’s Nose Bleeds are Real (Kinda)
The nosebleeds Eleven suffers from on the show aren’t actually CGI’d as many would assume. As a matter of fact, the actress squirts a fake blood formula into her nose before filming! The blood is only CGI’d when they’re in a rush.
11. The Cast & Crew Had to Watch 80’s Movies
Before starting the show, the kids and writers were asked to watch more classic films like The Goonies and Poltergeist – all movies that would later inspire Stranger Things.
20+ Best ‘Stranger Things’ Quotes Ever
12. The Main Title Was Inspired by 70’s and 80’s Movies
Stranger Things is very reminiscent of 70’s and 80’s movies, even down to its opening credits. Apparently, the main titles were inspired by the work of Richard Greenberg, the designer behind titles like Alien, Superman, The Goonies, and The Dead Zone.
13. Stephen King Spotted Millie in 2014
Millie Bobby Brown’s talents were spotted early on by Stephen King! He was so impressed by her performance in Intruders, that he tweeted about her back in 2014! Millie was always meant to shine!
14. 906 Boys and 307 Girls Auditioned for a Role
It took a lot of youngsters to find the right cast! According to ‘The Unofficial Stranger Things A-Z’ book, 906 boys and 307 girls auditioned for a role in the hit TV-series! What a great casting they chose! What’s more interesting? In their auditions, the kids were told to read scripts from the classic 80’s movie, Stand by Me.
15. The Demogorgon Needs a Lot of Work
It’s always fun (and scary) seeing the Demogorgon’s face open wide like it does. Apparently, it takes 27 individual motors to do the job. In fact, the mechanism that controls the costume is hidden in a small backpack within the suit!
16. Gaten Actually Carried Millie in Season 1!
Can you believe Gaten really carried Millie in the season one finale?! That little man has strength! Apparently, Finn Wolfhard (Mike) couldn’t do it, so Gaten offered his little helping hand!
17. Robin has Famous Parents
In real-life, that is. The actress who plays Robin is the daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke! That’s right! Now we bet you can’t unsee it – Maya Hawke looks and sounds just like her superstar mom! No wonder she’s got bags of talent!
18. Eleven’s Death Scene was the Funniest to Film
Apparently the funniest scene the group filmed was Eleven’s death scene at the end of season one. They couldn’t contain their laughter – much like us when scrolling through these hilarious Stranger Things jokes!
19. There’s a 30-Page Document Dedicated to The Upside Down
Want to know more about the Upside Down? Ask The Duffer Brothers! They supposedly have a 30-page document that explains it all, as well as the Demogorgon. As Ross Duffer explains, “we have all this stuff that we just didn’t have time for, or we didn’t feel like we needed to get into in season one… We have that whole other world that we haven’t fully explored in this season, and that was very purposeful.”
20. Eleven Was Inspired by E.T
Now, this makes total sense! Apparently, Eleven’s performance was inspired by E.T! When starting out the production of season one, Millie was told to act similar to the iconic alien character. That would explain her alien-like tendencies!
21. Gaten Matarazzo’s Voice Change Disrupted Filming
Gaten Matarazzo’s voice changed so much during the filming of season one, that they were unable to use him for additional dialogue recording (ADR) at the end of production. #TeenProblems
22. Caleb McClaughlin Made Fashion Orders
Caleb McClaughlin, the actor who plays Lucas, was very keen on nailing the 80’s outfit! So much so, that he requested to wear a camouflage bandanna during the show – as seen in the final three episodes of the first season!
23. Sadie Sink is Scared of Horror Movies
It’s crazy to think a Stranger Things cast member is scared of horror movies, right? The show is so full of frightening scenes! Believe it or not, the actress who plays Max Mayfield is actually super scared of any blockbuster that’s horror-related and prefers “psychological thrillers” instead.
24. Millie Bobby Brown Actually Floated in That Kiddie Pool
Eleven really did float in a kiddie pool – there were no special effects! The show’s runners followed Mr. Clarke’s instructions precisely. Did you know that over 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt were dissolved into that pool?! There was so much salt that Millie Bobby Brown “started getting dizzy”!
25. Nancy and Jonathan are Dating in Real Life
Indeed, we have a real-life Stranger Things love story! Actress, Natalia Dyer and actor Charlie Heaton are dating in real life – they’ve been together since 2017! Turns out, great things do come out of chasing Demogorgons!
26. The Makers Made Sure to Give the Show That Vintage Look
Want to know how they achieve that vintage look throughout the series? Stranger Things is shot on a digital cinema camera with an added layer of scanned film grain. That’s probably what makes it one of the most expensive TV shows!
27. This was Shannon Purser’s (Barb) First Acting Role
Did you know that Stranger Things was Shannon Purser’s (Barb) first acting role? It’s a shame we had to see her go so quickly! But we’ll always recognize the star in her future movie and TV roles! She also starred in Riverdale!
28. Steve Had an Alternate Ending
Wondering what sent Nancy back into the arms of Steve at the end of the first series? The Duffer Brothers revealed that they had no original plans to reconcile the two at the end of the season. The actor that played Steve was very “likable and charming” that they ended up tweaking his character and giving him an alternative ending. He was actually meant to be killed off at the end of season one!
29. A Van was Actually Thrown into the Air
One of the best scenes in Stranger Things was in season one when Eleven flipped a van over into the air. Well, Tell Tales Online can reveal that the scene was very much real. Not, the Eleven part, of course.
Special effect coordinator Caius Man told Buzzfeed, “We towed one [van] down the street, and the van had in it two nitrogen cannons, two nitrogen sleeves that fired a high-density plastic slug out of the bottom of them to push it up into the air.”
30. Millie and Dacre Montgomery Lost their Voices
Eleven and Billie’s confrontational scene at the end of season three resulted in the actors losing their voices. There was so much screaming going on during that particular moment, we’re not surprised at this juicy behind the scenes fact!
31. Millie Wants Eleven to Get Married
It’s not the ‘happy ending’ you’d expect from a show like Stranger Things, but Millie Bobby Brown hopes that her character El gets married to Mike when it all comes to an end.
The actress told Glamour UK, “She loves Mike–I want them to get married. That’s what I need. I need a wedding scene for Stranger Things, period. Eleven in a wedding dress and her going, ‘Sorry, my nose is bleeding. It’s a white dress.’ Doesn’t it just seem like it would fit?”
32. Millie’s Emotions Were Real During that Hopper Scene
Were you also teary-eyed when Eleven read through Hopper’s letter at the end of the third season? Millie Bobby Brown done a great job depicting her emotions. That’s because the actress hadn’t rehearsed that scene at all – she demanded that she read the letter for the first time when actually filming the scene!
33. The Duffer Brothers Scared Noah Schnapp’s Mom with a Dead Body
This may be savage, but working on the Stranger Things set makes you do these kinda things. Apparently, the Duffer Brothers freaked Noah Schnapp’s mother out in an epic prank by showing her Will’s fake corpse.
“We immediately took Noah’s mom aside, told her we had something to show her, and led her into a dark closet where we had propped up this frighteningly realistic corpse of her son. She was startled at first, and we felt like maybe we crossed a line… But after the initial shock, she loved it,” the producers told EW.
34. Season 4 Took Years to Film
Perfection certainly takes time! Season four of Stranger Things is said to have taken almost two years to film.
“With nine scripts, over eight-hundred pages, almost two years of filming, thousands of visual effects shots, and a runtime nearly twice the length of any previous season, Stranger Things 4 was the most challenging season yet, but also the most rewarding one,” the Duffer Brothers said in a public letter.
35. Most of Vecna Was Created Without CGI
Say what?! Indeed, 95% of Vecna was actually created without computer-generated imagery or other post-production techniques, according to the Duffer Brothers. “I would say it’s 95% practical,” Matt Duffer said. The actor who plays Vecna had to sit through a prosthetic process of five to nine hours!
36. Little Holly is Played by Twins
Little Holly is played by twins Anniston and Tinsley Price. Most of Holly’s scenes were improvised, too! According to The Duffer Brothers, “When Holly watches the family argue in in “Chapter One”… When she gets upset by Dustin and sinks into her chair in “Chapter Two”… When Joyce asks if she saw something in the wall and she confidently replies “yes”… None of that was scripted.”
37. ‘Running Up That Hill’ Topped the Charts
It’s not everyday a 40-year-old song tops the charts in 2022! Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) dived straight to the number one spot on the Billboard Top 10 after being Max’s song of choice on the show. What’s crazier is, the song only peaked at No. 30 upon its release back in 1985!
38. Victor Kreel is…Freddy Krueger?
Only horror movie enthusiasts would have noticed this! The actor who played the imprisoned Victor Kreel in season four is none other than the same guy who played Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films!
39. You Can Call Surfer Boy Pizza
That’s right! You can hear the lovable Argyle right through your phone if you dial the phone number that was visible on the side of his car.
By calling this number, fans can hear Argyle say a great many fun things including, “Surfer Boy Pizza, this is Argyle speaking. We make everything fresh here at Surfer Boy, except for our pineapple, which comes from a can, but I still recommend slapping some juicy pineapple on.”
40. Joseph Quinn Really Played the Guitar
Eddie Munson’s guitar-playing scene in the Chapter 4 finale will go down in history for being so epic. Believe it or not, the actor, Joseph Quinn really did play Metallica’s Master of Puppets on the guitar during that scene.
He revealed that The Duffer Brothers asked him during the early stages of filming if he knew how to play the instrument – “I was like ‘Are you serious?’ They were like, ‘Yeah.’ And I thought ‘OK.’ So I went and bought a guitar and then practiced manically for months until we ended up shooting the thing,” he said.
41. The Show’s Artist Unveiled the Early Designs for Vecna
Concept artist Michael Maher Jr shared the early designs for Vecna to his social media accounts and, boy, are they scary. Much scarier than the final design, we’d say!
We’re sure there will be more strange and surprising facts about Stranger Things that’ll unfold as the seasons go by. Keep up with Tell Tales to stay updated!
This article was originally published in September 2016.
The Best ‘Stranger Things’ Merchandise for Fans