Before you read this it’s worth noting that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both seasons of Stranger Things, I think that the story ideas are exciting and keep you involved, the kids (And adults) are charming and incredibly talented and it has a good mix of suspense, horror and action. My only niggle with the series is how often I was reminded of other huge franchises and the obviously copied ideas and subnarratives.
Now I know we live in an age where there really aren’t many completely original ideas, however the obvious links between Stranger Things and other existing series/movies is pretty crazy when you start to notice them. Perhaps the obvious links were there on purpose to build the references up, but it does take away from the ‘unique’ story telling element.
I’m not talking about the obvious nostalgia such as when Mike pulls out a Millennium Falcon or the 80s arcade heavily referencing Dig Dug; I’m not even talking about the subtle hints such as Hopper grabbing his hat in an Indiana Jones-type fashion. I want to talk about the storylines and under-the-rug details that have been, dare I say it, copied from many other things we’ve all watched.
It’s also worth noting if you’ve not finished Season 2 there are slight spoilers in this article so best not to read on.
SPOILERS FOR STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2.
Still here? These are just a few of my observations/comparisons!
Will’s connection to the Shadow Lord = Harry Potter and Voldemort, and also any exorcism film ever.
When Will was first ‘possessed’ by the Shadow Lord and started to talk to his mum about him wanting to stay cold, I was immediately reminded of Potter’s connection to He Who Shall Not Be Named (Good ol’ Voldy!); this connection then developed in to Will seeing what it could see and feeling it’s pain, and even being controlled by him later on in the show. For me there were moments that felt like they were directly pulling scenes from Harry Potter (E.G When Will looked through the shadow monster and saw the vines). The expelling of the creature towards the end of the series has also been seen and done a million times before, although it was a shocking scene nonetheless, albeit a little bit same-y when compared to other genres and franchises.
Dartanian = A Gremlin..?!
This connection was a massive throwback to the 80’s era, and if it wasn’t supposed to be a callback to Gremlins, then questions should be asked to whoever the heck produced this scene – It’s simple. Boy gets a cute creature but is unaware that it’s a monster, cute creature changes into said monster becomes evil and brings it’s friends to kill everyone, causing havoc, finally ending where the creature maintains a connection to the boy in question. Need I say more? The proof is in the pudding!
Eleven = Elfen Lied’s Lucy
If you’re a fan of anime and haven’t watched or even seen a single clip of Elfen Lied strung somewhere on YouTube, then you need to (It’s absolutely fantastic IMHO); again the storyline is extremely similar and something I noticed in the first series; a girl named Eleven is kept in a form of facility and experimented on regularly because she has telekinetic powers. She escapes and doesn’t quite understand the real world, where she’s eventually forced to use her powers – This not only describes the beginning Eleven’s character arc, but also perfectly describes the beginning of the gory and somewhat messed-up Elfen Lied.
For those curious or squeamish of gore, let me lay down the beginning of Elfen Lied in comparison – A girl named Lucy is kept in a form of facility and experimented on regularly because she has telekinetic powers. She escapes and doesn’t quite understand the real world, where she’s eventually forced to– Wait, wait a second, we’ve already read this bit…
…See? The comparisons to other genres and franchises don’t end there however:
- Eleven being trained by Kali – Telling her to use her anger to make her stronger (Star Wars flashbacks, anyone..?).
The Demogorgons and Shadow Monster hugely reminded me of the Aliens’ own Xenomorphs, and their Queen. Especially with the idea of the hive mind collective.
The organisation controlling the town to hide something sinister which eventually escapes and causes havoc – Resident Evil’s Tyrant would fit well then…
As I’ve said, none of these pretty obvious comparisons took anything away from the series for me as I still thoroughly enjoyed all of it and can’t wait for season 3, but I just think that some of these similarities are hard to miss, and there is more than a soft story influence going on here. What kind of sublime or obvious references are you guys excited to try and identify in Stranger Things’ future seasons? Let me know down there in the comments!