It seems that Stranger Things was something of an anthology show, when originally pitched. With the season 2 premiere of Netflix's Stranger Things coming at fans in less than three months, it's fair to say that there have been few new seasons of Netflix original programming that carry this much hype in with them. It's not hard to see why that is though, as Stranger Things season 1 quickly became one of the biggest sleeper hits in Netflix history, after almost seeming to come out of nowhere - when compared to the huge marketing efforts attached to other Netflix efforts like House of Cards and Marvel's Daredevil.
This time out though, the promotion for Stranger Things' sophomore year has been immense, capped off by the Stranger Things season 2 Comic-Con trailer that proved beloved by most. Perhaps the most notable aspect of said trailer was the use of Michael Jackson's classic song Thriller, complete with the spoken sections by horror genre legend Vincent Price. However, it has since been revealed that the trailer almost didn't include Thriller, which in hindsight, definitely would've been a mistake.
Hindsight can be a powerful thing though, and it turns out that something much greater than usage of a single song almost went a different way. During an exclusive SDCC interview with SR, Stranger Things creators The Duffer Brothers discussed how the very concept of the series as a whole was almost completely different than the serialized story that fans are getting:
SR: Something I always heard about last season was that this was going to be an anthology. Stranger Things Season 1 and Season 2 were going to be completely different. Was there any truth to that or was it always going to follow the same story?
DUFFER BROTHERS: There is some truth to that. Yeah. That was when we were pitching it. That was true. Cause we looked at Stephen King’s IT and we liked that time jump that they made so we kind of pitched that as a way and then Netflix was really interested in it as a series. Because rightfully so! There were like, “I think people are going to fall in love with these kinds. We are going to invest so much time with them, we’re going to want to continue our journey with them.” And they were right. Once we started building a writers room and working on the show, we started to develop it and plan a multiple season arc.
Yep, it turns out that the adventures of Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven, the emergence of Chief Hopper as a hero, and the quest of Joyce and Jonathan to find Will all were originally meant to be told over the course of a single season. Thankfully, Netflix had the foresight to reject the anthology idea, realizing that the characters of Hawkins, Indiana would prove far too engaging for only 8 episodes. While TV history is littered with stories of executive-meddling hurting shows, this is one case where some preemptive meddling actually helped greatly.
That said, it's kind of interesting to imagine what other stories the Duffers might have given fans were Stranger Things to be coming into this and possible future seasons with a clean creative slate and a new batch of characters. Of course, there's no guarantee that people would still care once they found out their favorite characters from season 1 wouldn't be coming back. In the end, things clearly worked out for the best.
Stranger Things season 2 debuts October 27 on Netflix.