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Stranger Things Season 5 Will Be a Thematic Culmination of All Previous Seasons

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Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer say they're aiming for the fifth and final season to have "a little bit of everything" as a thematic "culmination" of what's come before it.

As reported by Variety, the Duffer Brothers participated in an FYC panel discussion on Sunday night alongside director Shawn Levy and series stars Caleb McLaughlin, Priah Ferguson, Jamie Campbell Bower, Joseph Quinn, Eduardo Franco, and a virtual Millie Bobby Brown. At the event, the creative team behind the Netflix hit offered the first hints about what fans can expect from the show's highly anticipated fifth season.

When asked whether the final season will weave in any new horror legends or pop culture references, Ross said they're viewing Season 5 as "a culmination of all the seasons" with "a little bit of everything" from the past. He noted that Season 3 was the "big summer blockbuster season with big monsters" while Season 4 was the "psychological horror," but now they're trying to "go back to the beginning."

He acknowledged that the tone of Season 5 would likely end up being closer to that of the first season but "scale-wise," the last group of episodes will be "more aligned" with the fourth season. Season 4 allegedly had a per-episode cost of $30 million, making it one of the most expensive seasons in history — though it later became Netflix's first English-language series to pass 1 billion hours of watch time.

Matt and Ross previously hinted that the fifth season won't be as long as Season 4's 13-hour runtime, as there will be less to set up before the kids "get drawn into the supernatural mystery." However, the emotional stakes are not expected to be impacted by the potentially shorter season, as the team on the FYC panel revealed that some Netflix execs were in tears during the two-hour pitch for the final season.

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"Just as important as the supernatural, we have so many characters now, most of whom are still living," Ross said at the event on Sunday night. "It's important to wrap up those arcs because a lot of these characters have been growing since Season 1. So, it's a balancing act between giving them time to complete their character arcs and also, tying up these loose ends and doing our final reveals."

Netflix recently revealed that the final season's first episode is titled "Chapter One: The Crawl." The premiere is expected to drop alongside all (or at least most) of the other episodes on the same day rather than switching to weekly releases, though it's worth noting that Stranger Things 4 was split into two sets of releases, so that could be an option again.

Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance entertainment writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.

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