Just in case the Christmas lights strung up on your living-room wall haven't let you know, we finally know when Stranger Things is coming back. (October 27—just in time to inspire your next Halloween costume.) And, per Netflix's new teaser announcing the show's return, 1984 "only gets stranger." Stranger than Season 1? Presumably so: Whatever channels portals opened to the Upside Down last season have no chance of closing in Season 2. Spooky.
That, of course, means that even more of the bizarre phenomena and denizens making their home in the Upside Down will likely find their way into sleepy Hawkins, Indiana. But considering the new teaser’s insistence on calling out the year 1984, it’s got to make you wonder what, exactly, from that year could be crossing over. Could it be that the real 1984 saw a similar crossover? Were the cultural curios and strange events of that year actually refugees from the Upside Down? The batch of jelly beans that made President Reagan accidentally “outlaw Russia forever” on a live mic, perhaps? The fire that consumed Michael Jackson’s hair while filming a Pepsi commercial? Or maybe one of these other blips in the history books. We may never know for sure—but that won't stop us from speculating.
The 1984 Summer Olympics
Following a US-led boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow, more than a dozen Eastern Bloc countries—led by everyone's favorite Cold War baddie, the Soviet Union—bowed out of the Los Angeles-hosted Summer Games. How could something so seemingly pedestrian be the work of the Upside Down? First, think back to Season 1 of Stranger Things, when one of the things Hawkins National Laboratory made Eleven do was spy on Russians—an action that likely led to their opening the portal. Then think back to the closing ceremonies of the ’84 Games, where a UFO landed on the field of the Los Angeles Coliseum and discharged a strange creature. A fake alien? Absolutely. But what if that fake alien was a real Demogorgon?
As Sumerian lore or Tobin's Spirit Guide might remind you, Zuul was the demigod—and minion of Gozer—who possessed Sigourney Weaver in 1984’s Ghostbusters. You know what else Zuul did? Tried to open a portal to another dimension. That just might explain why the Stranger Things kids are dressed up as the Ghostbusters in the Season 2 promos. Hopefully this time it'll go better than the Third Reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex supplicants.
One of the best shows to launch in 1984 (@ me), Punky Brewster followed its namesake, a young orphan who was adopted by the elderly manager of a building she squats in. Considering her love of overly bright colors and sunshine hair ties, it’s easy to understand why Punky would’ve made up a story about being abandoned by her mom and escaped the drab Upside Down to go live in the real world—if she doesn't have a foot in two worlds, why was she always wearing two different colored shoes?
If you believe Hasbro and Michael Bay (and Japanese cartoons and Marvel comics…), the Transformers came from Cybertron. But Optimus Prime and his coterie, who debuted in 1984, are vehicles (and, in some cases, boomboxes) that turn into robots and talk. If that’s not some alternate-reality fever dream conjured from a vast unknowable world, nothing is.
Born in 1984—like other ethereal beings Scarlett Johansson and Aubrey Plaza—McKinnon has an uncanny ability to do note-perfect imitations. How can she channel Hillary Clinton, Justin Bieber, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg so flawlessly? Because she’s channeling them through the same black space that Eleven can access, obviously.
While the fizzy debacle didn't hit stores until 1985, Coca-Cola was hard at work on the new formulation for quite some time beforehand. And just as the military's recovery of crash-landed UFOs jumpstarted technology that gave us microwave ovens and acid-washed jeans—that's right, right? Yeah, that sounds right—so too must the soda colossus have gotten its ill-fated recipe from a vending machine in the Upside Down in 1984. Feasting on poor Barb works up a powerful thirst, apparently.
A cute little Mogwai that you can’t get wet or feed after midnight, lest he turn into a legion of green monsters? Gizmo, aka Gremlin Zero, isn't from a #problematic curio shop at all—he's straight out of the Upside Down. Maybe if Will comes back, he'll bring the whole gang. Well, most of the whole gang. This guy can stay.
Who Said it? Luke Cage or Nic Cage
It’s surprisingly easy to get the two confused. Both are tall badasses known for saying outlandish things. So we threw some quotes at Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage in Netflix's new series, and asked him to guess who said them—Nic Cage or Luke Cage.