Stranger Things has once again proven itself a show full of brilliant details. And plenty of these incredibly interesting background details, callbacks, Easter eggs, and movie references (and yes, many of those references are to 80s movies) that many a viewer might have missed on his or her initial binge of the season. And who knows? Maybe this list will be a good reason for anyone to give another watch to what many are calling the darkest season of Stranger Things yet. What better reason to watch it again?! But be warned. For anyone who still needs to catch up to this season, major spoilers await.
10 Phoebe Cates
Actress Phoebe Cates is mentioned a few times in the show, with Dustin calling his girlfriend Suzie “hotter than Phoebe Cates”, which anyone from the 80s would know is high praise. And there's an easy-to-spot cardboard cut-out of her in the season finale. But a more subtle reference to her role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High happens with Karen Wheeler, Mike's mother. And this is a scene that specifically references Ms. Cates' pool scene, aka the only reason anyone remembers Fast Times at Ridgemont High. When Karen comes out of the pool to talk to Billy, the same song plays that accompanied Cates in her iconic pool scene, Moving in Stereo can be heard. No red bikini involved this time, but Karen's one-piece suit would still look amazing even in the 21st century.
9 Stacey's Comeuppance
While Eleven and Max are enjoying themselves at the shoe store, El falls over in her new high heels, causing a few girls who see this to roll their eyes. El later spots these girls in the food court and uses her powers to blow up an Orange Julius that the girl with the frizzy red hair was holding.
A keen-eyed viewer might have recognized this girl as Stacey, who rudely turned down Dustin at the Snow Ball in season two (no Neverending Story theme for her). Whether it was comeuppance for making Dustin cry or her horrible hairdo, it was well-deserved.
8 Using Good English
Season three's first scene in Hawkins is set in Eleven's bedroom, where a now teenage Mike and Eleven are making out to Never Surrender by Corey Hart. The introductory pan shot actually shows the cassette laid down next to Eleven's stereo, and then goes past a book titled Using Good English as it moves to focus on the newly hormonal couple. This is a nice detail and a book that probably helped bring Eleven's vocabulary from "bad men" to "I dump your ass." And it's a heartwarming thought that Hopper helped her learn English with this book at night before dinner and Miami Vice.
7 Weaponized Farrah Fawcett Hairspray
In one of the first scenes in season three, the gang tricks Dustin by having Eleven bring his toys to life. To defend himself in this Night of the Possible Toy Story Shout-out scenario, Dustin comes packing with a bottle of Farrah Fawcett hairspray. One startling surprise later, cue hairspray meeting Lucas' eyeballs.
The Farrah Fawcett hairspray is the same product Steve told Dustin about in season two, resulting in the bird nest on Dustin's head during the Snow Ball. It's good to see that Dustin continues to rock the spray even after the dance. One can hope he took a bottle to camp with him.
6 The Mews Bobblehead
It's nice to see that Dustin's mom loved Mews so much that she now keeps a bobblehead to honor her memory. And in the scene where Dustin's mom is driving him back home from summer camp, this orange tabby cat bobblehead is visible on her dashboard.
This bobblehead is a clear reference to the Henderson's tabby cat who was eaten alive by d'Artagnan in season two. Even though another cat was brought in to replace her, it's sweet that Mews wasn't forgotten.
5 The Endless Summer Poster
In Max's bedroom, there's a poster for The Endless Summer. This documentary followed two Californian surfers traveling the world in search of killer spots for them and their boards. This Easter egg helps to expand Max's character, showing her nostalgic love for her home state. It might also be a personal connection to her stepbrother Billy, with later episodes showing him to be a former surfer with a potential career in the making if not for his abusive father.
Another California phrase that comes out of Max's mouth is "Gag me with a spoon," which she utters when coming across Billy's Penthouse magazines. This colloquialism is often attributed to valley girls from the 70s and 80s, used to express annoyance or disgust.
4 The Halloween II Hospital
Close inspection will reveal that when the kids stop by Hawkins Memorial, the local hospital shares the same logo as Haddonfield Memorial, the hospital where Laurie is taken in Halloween II after her confrontation with Michael Myers. If Stranger Things decides to introduce a character based on Michael Myers, that would be a season more than worth the watch.
3 The Telephone Extension Tag
In one scene in season three, Karen Wheeler answers a phone call in the kitchen, then yells that it's for him. Mike picks up on another phone extension and Karen, exemplary spy mom, doesn't hang up. This enables her to listen to the entire phone call, with him in the dark as long as she doesn't cough or sneeze. 80s kids were pros at the silent hang-up after listening to vital gossip. Karen obviously needs practice at this, as she blows her cover almost instantly. But can someone blame her after hearing Mike's blatant lies?
2 E Pluribus Unum
The title of episode six refers to a classic Latin phrase. The phrase "E Pluribus Unum" translates to "Out of many, one." Sometimes it translates more loosely as "one from many." E Pluribus Unum was once the motto of the United States of America and refers to the formation of this single nation from the union of thirteen smaller colonies. This phrase is the traditional motto of the United States, as well as being a reference to the many hosts combining to form the main monster of season 3.
The title also refers to the Flayed, the many hosts under the Mind Flayer's possession, going to the Steel Works where they are melted down and combined to form the incarnation of the monster that would challenge Eleven.
1 Daisy Bell
At the end of episode two, Steve Harrington uses the music on a horse machine to discover that the Russian transmission that he, Dustin and Robin intercepted went out locally. The piece of music on the machine is Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two), a popular 1892 song written by Harry Dacre and heard in plenty of movies and shows throughout the years.
Perhaps the best-known example is 2001: A Space Odyssey, where Bowman deactivates the circuits controlling HAL's intelligence. The rogue AI slowly sings the song on his way out. Said classic scene was itself a reference to the earliest demonstration of computer speech synthesis in 1961. This demonstration was an IBM 704 at Bell Labs singing Daisy Bell. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke witnessed this demonstration and referred to it in the 1968 novel and the film that followed.