Even Stranger Things: Evidence that Stranger Things is More or Less a Goonies Revival

Disclaimer: Stranger Things (and Goonies) spoilers to follow:

The show Stranger Things premiered on Netflix this July and has recently reached a peak in popularity. The science fiction thriller takes place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980’s and explores the mysterious and supernatural disappearance of a young boy named Will Buyers - while also making tasteful homages to several 80’s classics.

Homages have been made to films like E.T., which features a lovable outsider trying to blend in by donning a blond wig while befriending a young boy and evading the government, and the Stephen King novel, Firestarter, which features a young girl with telekinetic abilities caused by her parents’ hallucinogen use. Both are pretty obvious references throughout the show.

Another film that many have claimed was referenced in Stranger Things was the 1985 classic, The Goonies, a heartwarming family film about a band of children searching for adventure and fleeing from a family of criminals obsessed with a fabled treasure. Being both an 80’s classic and a Steven Spielberg film, The Goonies seems deserving of a reference. But which part of The Goonies is specifically referenced in Stranger Things (S.T.)?

Nothing. There is no scene or plot that specifically resembles a moment from The Goonies. The reason why so many people are making this connection is because of the general goonie-vibes depicted in S.T.’s small-town group of four lower-class, outcasted boys who go on an adventure clad in 80’s attire.

The S.T. kids bear uncanny similarities to many of the goonies, and this conspiracist thinks that it’s not a coincidence. It’s evidence that S.T. is actually a Goonies sequel. For example, in the show, alternate dimensions officially exist, making it possible for S.T. to be an alternate universe of The Goonies.

Both groups of boys have more in common than a love of adventure; they each have a clear counterpart. Stranger Things’ Dustin is the most obvious. His exuberant personality, weight, crazy curly hair, signature embarrassing move (the bullies ask him to do “the arm thing,” comparable to the truffle shuffle), and his role of comic relief, make him an obvious Chunk.

Lucas, the sassy and skeptical friend who sometimes acts as a foil to the main protagonist, is reminiscent of Mouth. Like Lucas, Mouth has periods of disillusionment and cynicism, where he doesn’t believe their quest is worth continuing, but is ultimately loyal to the group.

Will, a character we see fairly little of, but who we know is creative, resourceful and inventive, is Data. His art is heavily inspired by pop culture, similar to how Data’s inventions were inspired by James Bond. Data is also quite prone to falling into things and finding himself in precarious positions. If anybody in The Goonies was going to be trapped in another dimension, it would be Data.

Protagonist Mike from Stranger Things matches with Mikey from The Goonies, and they have more in common than their names. Both are compassionate, obvious leaders who value friendship above all else, who often hold the group together and who gain a better understanding of their older siblings as the adventure unfolds.

Teenage Jonathan is Brand. Both are good older brothers trying to find a missing sibling, as well as outcasts with a hobby they’re passionate about. Both are bullied by an older male dating the girl that they’re into.

Nancy is Andy, the preppy girlfriend of the coolest guy in town, and her best friend Barb is the cautious and conservative Stef. Not only are Nancy and Barb’s names reminiscent of Andy and Stef, but all of the teenagers bear uncanny resemblances as well.

The most unique character in Stranger Things, traumatized and telekinetic Eleven, might seem difficult to match-up, but in actuality, El is obviously Sloth. The two are both lovable, nearly bald “weirdos” who love junk food and who the main protagonists are initially frightened of, but come to love as a friend and adopt as their own. Furthermore, both come from abusive backgrounds with some strange family dynamics. Both the Fratellis and El’s “Papa,” Dr. Brenner, try to regain the trust of their respective child and patient by appealing to their desire for family, but Sloth and El ultimately realize that they are better off without them.

The goonies got to Hawkins, Indiana by entering through the Upside Down, where Sloth, a being shown to possess supernatural strength, was able to tear time, just as El did. The tunnels under the restaurant where most of the film takes place is the Upside Down, evidenced by it being a dark environment which has some likenesses of their home (such as the wishing well). At some point in between entering the tunnels and reaching the pirate ship, the goonies must have crossed into the Hawkins dimension and split the time continuum.  

A major theme in S.T. is that the other side can communicate with energy, and there seems to be a lot of energy in those tunnels. In a scene where the goonies come across some pipes and bang on them to be noticed by the other world, they are miraculously able to bend pipes and even cause toilets to burst into the air, something small children would ordinarily be incapable of doing. Clearly this is a demonstration of them being trapped in the other dimension and using energy to communicate with their home reality in a desperate attempt to be rescued.

Despite the fact that none of the booby-traps in the tunnel were set off, a renowned explorer, Chester Copperpot, is found dead inside. He must have somehow entered the other dimension and been killed by the S.T. monster. A clue to this is the beetle crawling in his eye socket, similar to the insects on Barb’s dead corpse after she is slaughtered by the monster.

In a deleted scene from The Goonies, the titular characters are attacked by an octopus in the water surrounding the pirate ship. Although this scene did not make the final cut, a line was kept in the film where Data tells reporters, “the octopus was very scary!”. The fact that we don’t see the octopus, but the kids remember it metaphorically, explains how they left their usual plane of existence and saw things unbelievable to the unaffected people of Astoria.

Somehow, while in the Upside Down tunnels, the goonies created two timelines. In one, they are able to escape the Upside Down and return to Astoria, but at the same time, they managed to cross over dimensions and manifest as characters in Stranger Things. Although they have no memories of their other lives, the characters are drawn together as they rally to defeat the evil that keeps hunting them.

This theory is the only possible explanation for the many parallels between the two shows, even if it’s difficult to digest. My only hope is that this theory grows with the seasons of S.T. and is able to rival other compelling pop culture conspiracies. Many articles have asked questions about the S.T. finale, I have only one: Will the characters ever discover their true identities?