Alright, my fellow time-travelers, let’s strap on our neon fanny packs and journey back to a decade that defined a generation—the ’80s! Get ready for a nostalgia overload as we delve into the world of ‘Stranger Things’ and uncover the top 10 epic ’80s references that have been slyly sprinkled throughout the show. Whether you were rocking leg warmers in the heyday or just getting a taste of the retro vibes, this trip down memory lane is bound to make you feel like you’re living in a John Hughes movie.
1. The Dungeons & Dragons Odyssey
Before we even set foot in Hawkins, Indiana, we’re treated to a scene straight out of ‘E.T.’ A bunch of kids are huddled around a table, throwing dice and battling imaginary creatures. Yep, you guessed it—it’s Dungeons & Dragons, the quintessential ’80s game that had us all dreaming of defeating Demogorgons and saving the realm.
2. Eggo Extravaganza
Who could forget Eleven’s affinity for Eggo waffles? But did you know that the Eggo obsession goes beyond being a tasty snack? It’s a tribute to the era when microwaves were all the rage, and convenience foods like Eggo waffles made life easier—and way more delicious.
3. The Ultimate ‘E.T.’ Tribute
When Eleven decides to transform into “normal” clothes, she dons a pink dress and a blonde wig. It’s more than just a disguise; it’s a direct nod to the iconic scene in ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ where Elliott and E.T. take flight on a bicycle against the backdrop of a full moon. It’s a wink to Spielberg’s magic that’s etched into ’80s pop culture.
4. The Mall: An ’80s Icon
Starcourt Mall isn’t just a setting—it’s a character in its own right. It’s like taking a step into a time capsule of ’80s mall culture. From the neon lights to the fashion stores and even the “Scoops Ahoy” ice cream parlor, it’s a tribute to the hangout havens that defined the era.
5. Neon Lights and Synth Beats
Speaking of neon lights, the show’s creators didn’t stop at visuals. The synth-heavy soundtrack is a nostalgic throwback to ’80s music, particularly the works of John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream. Every eerie note and pulsating synthesizer takes us straight back to a time when synthesizers ruled the airwaves and added an otherworldly touch to our favorite movies.
6. ‘Back to the Future’ Vibes
Remember the movie theater in Hawkins? It’s not just a backdrop—it’s a treasure trove of ’80s movie references. Among the posters for ‘Day of the Dead’ and ‘The Thing,’ there’s also a nod to ‘Back to the Future.’ The Hill Valley Theater marquee mirrors the very one from the iconic film, inviting us to relive the magic of ’80s cinema.
7. Phone Home, Anyone?
When Dustin and Suzie’s duet of “The Never Ending Story” graces our ears, it’s more than just a musical moment. It’s a tribute to ’80s cinema and the song that united Elliott and E.T. in another Spielberg classic. The heartfelt and slightly off-key performance pays homage to the genuine connections that ’80s movies often celebrated.
8. ‘The Thing’ Goes Upside Down
In season one, we’re treated to a spine-chilling nod to John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing.’ The Demogorgon’s attack on the Byers’ house mirrors the infamous dog kennel scene from the movie, where the creature assimilates its victims. It’s a moment of horror that honors an iconic film and adds layers of meaning for those in the know.
9. ‘Ghostbusters’ Gear-Up
Remember when the boys suited up in their ‘Ghostbusters’ costumes for Halloween? It’s more than just a cute moment—it’s a love letter to the ’80s classic that turned proton packs and Slimer into pop culture icons. It’s a testament to how ‘Stranger Things’ weaves references seamlessly into its narrative, capturing the essence of the era while creating something entirely its own.
10. Blink and You’ll Miss It: The X-Men Cameo
The X-Men arcade game in the Palace Arcade isn’t just a prop—it’s a hidden treasure for fans of ’80s gaming. Blink and you’ll miss it, but that cabinet is a nod to the arcade boom of the era and the beloved games that defined our afternoons.
As we journey through the ’80s references of ‘Stranger Things,’ it’s clear that the show isn’t just a tale set in the past—it’s a love letter to an era that shaped countless childhoods. Whether it’s the flickering lights of the arcade or Eleven’s transformation into a ‘bike and moon’ moment, the show’s creators have masterfully woven together a tapestry of nostalgia that resonates with both old-school fans and newcomers alike. So, buckle up and get ready to take a wild ride through time as ‘Stranger Things’ brings the ’80s back to life!