[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from the first two seasons of “Stranger Things.”]
“Stranger Things” isn’t afraid to kill off certain expendable characters, but in Season 2, the show almost bumped off one beloved person even earlier. While fans were horrified to see nerdy good guy Bob (Sean Astin) become a snack for a pack of hungry demodogs in the penultimate episode, the Duffer Brothers had actually considered a different storyline in which he would’ve died much earlier… and at the hands of someone he knew.
On the Netflix after-show “Beyond Stranger Things,” the Duffers revealed that originally, Will Byers (Noah Schnapps) was going to become gradually evil as he was possessed, be fully evil by Episode 4, and then kill someone midway through the season.
“He was going to kill Bob,” Matt Duffer said, adding that it would’ve been the Mind Flayer working through Will. Poor Bob. It appears that no matter which script was used, he was doomed to die. But perhaps it’s better that he didn’t perish at the hands of Will, the young boy whom he befriended while dating Joyce (Winona Ryder). Instead, the Duffers wrote an ending that met with Astin’s approval to “let Bob do something heroic” before he perished.
Check out other fun takeaways from “Beyond Stranger Things”:
Eleven’s Delayed Reunion With Mike
Having Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) be apart until the second to last episode may have tried the patience of many fans, but they could’ve waited much longer. The Duffers had originally intended to have the two young lovebirds reunite at the Snow Ball, not with Eleven swooping in to save the day at the Byers household.
Dustin Led the Charge in Casting
The audition tapes the young cast sent in were predictably adorable (especially since Wolfhard’s tape was done while he was sick, sitting on his bed, and slightly out of focus). But it’s easy to see why the Duffers fell in love with Gaten Matarazzo from his tape and cast him first among all of the kids.
The Duffers didn’t know what to expect by working with a predominantly young cast, but they certainly didn’t think they’d be giving notes about the boys hitting each other. According to Matt Duffer, they had to ask the kids to “stop slapping each other before the take. It makes their faces red.”
Video Game Foreshadowing
The Duffers featured “Dragon’s Lair” and “Dig Dug” prominently for a reason. When Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Dustin (Matarazzo) argue about saving Princess Daphne in “Dragon’s Lair,” that’s foreshadowing for how they’ll fight over Max (Sadie Sink). As for “Dig Dug,” that game mirrors Hopper (David Harbour) digging and all the underground tunnels seen later in the season. It’s also the title of Episode 5, “Chapter 5: Dig Dug.”
That Stalker Song
Matarrazo referred to “Every Breath You Take,” the hit 1984 song by The Police that plays during the Snow Ball, as “that stalker song. It’s creepy. It’s creepy as hell.” But executive producer and director Shawn Levy pointed out that it’s also part of the theme of the hive mind and being observed. The Mind Flayer is always watching you.
Hawkins Gets Political
Since the season is set just before the 1984 presidential election, the Duffers included campaign signs for both Ronald Reagan and his running mate George Bush, and the Democratic opponents Walter Mondale with his running mate Geraldine Ferraro. Where these signs appear offers a bit of insight into the Hawkins residents.
“I don’t think it was such a huge discussion that the Wheeler house would have the Reagan sign,” said Ross Duffer. “Also it was such a landslide back then. Also then we were immediately like, well Dustin’s household, the Hendersons, are definitely going to go with the underdog.”
King Steve the Indestructible
In an earlier interview with IndieWire, Joe Keery had revealed he injured his back a little during the junkyard fight with the demodogs, but that’s not the only time he got hurt shooting the show. Later on during the fight between Steve (Keery) and Billy (Dacre Montgomery), Steve gets a plate smashed on his head.
“He got a breakaway plate to hit over his head, but it hit in the wrong spot,” Matt Duffer said. That meant that Keery’s reaction is genuine and that the shot could only be filmed once.
“I’d do it again,” Keery said.
Dustin’s Favorite Candy Bars
On the show, Dustin is mocked for liking Three Musketeers, but he insists it’s in his Top 3 favorite candy bars. This line is most likely taken straight from Matarazzo, who confirmed that it is indeed in his personal Top 3. The other two are Charleston Chew and Reese’s Fast Break. He’s certainly on brand when it comes to his love of nougat.
Twin Socialization Problems
The Duffers identified with Dustin not being popular at the dance and having an older girl giving him a pep talk.
“Our cousin Joanna had this similar conversation with me,” Matt Duffer said, adding that he had anxiety of being left behind socially because he and his brother Ross had to be “held back in kindergarten for that very reason… for trouble interacting with other children.”
Ross Duffer confirmed that they mainly interacted with each other, and that being held back was to force them to learn how to communicate with others.
There’s a scene where Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) eat lunch on the hood of the car, and that mirrors how the Duffers would often eschew the school cafeteria and just eat off by themselves in the parking lot during school.
The Unidentified Slug
Although Will flashes back to coughing up a slug into the bathroom sink when he hears about Dart, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he had coughed up a baby Demogorgon tadpole.
“Most people speculate about it, but don’t know for sure,” Schnapp said.
McLaughlin added, “It could be a vine or maybe a different species.”
David Harbour said that he ‘ships Joyce and Hopper because they’re “lonely and need each other.” Of course, if they did get together, that would make Eleven — the girl who closed the gate – and Will — the boy possessed by the Mind Flayer — siblings of sorts.
“That would be so weird,” said Schnapp to Brown. “I would never get in a fight with you.”
A Possible Billy-Mrs. Wheeler Hookup
Judging by the flirtation between Billy and Mrs. Wheeler (Cara Buono), the two characters could be heading for something far more hands-on.
“Karen is lonely,” Ross Duffer said. “If you notice, she always has a glass of wine with her. She doesn’t know Billy. She doesn’t know his personality, which is maybe an issue, but I don’t know if they’d do a lot of talking, so maybe it’s fine.”
The first two seasons of “Stranger Things” are currently streaming on Netflix.