Could Stranger Things be set in the same universe as Stephen King's IT? Evidence from the second season of the Netflix series has suggested similarities to the plot of King's notorious novel. Sean Astin's Stranger Things character Bob Newby stands at the center of the IT connection.
It's no secret that the Duffer Brothers used the legendary author as inspiration while creating Stranger Things. The show relies on nostalgia, much of which pays homage to some of King's most popular work, and that trend is likely to continue in Stranger Things 3. The title cards that display before each episode even closely resemble the text used in King's novels. But does the King connection go even further than nostalgic influence?
Bob Newby made his Stranger Things debut in the show's second season as the boyfriend of Joyce Byers. He quickly became a fan favorite for his upbeat personality and positivity, even in the darkest times. Bob treated Will Byers as if the boy was his own son which made him even more admirable. As the audience got to learn more about Bob, an interesting connection was made to a certain antagonist featured in one of King's novels.
Bob Has A Serious Pennywise Connection In Stranger Things Season 2
At the start of season 2, it was evident that Will was having PTSD from his experience being trapped in the Upside Down. It also didn't help that he became a target of school bullies. Bob tried to ease Will's pain by sharing a story from his own childhood. He shared that he was once traumatized by an encounter with a clown named Mr. Baldo at the county fair. The interaction caused Bob to have constant nightmares but he eventually found a way to face his fears and make the terror stop.
On the surface, it seemed like Bob was just trying to share a personal story that felt similar to what Will was experiencing. But looking at the details, it almost felt like Bob was describing Pennywise, the clown featured in IT. Taking into account Bob's age range in Stranger Things, his clown story probably took place in the 1950s. Pennywise first terrorized the Losers' Club in 1958 so is it a coincidence or did Bob really come in contact with the dancing clown?
The Stranger Things Writers Have Denied It
To further add to the theory that Pennywise exists in the world of Stranger Things, Bob interestingly suggested to Joyce that they should move to Maine. The location happens to be the home state of King and the setting of IT. The audience quickly jumped on the notion that Bob must have some sort of connection to Pennywise but the Duffers have since debunked the popular theory. Matt Duffer stated in an interview with Vulture that Bob's clown story was merely included as a nod to their own experience after they first watched the IT miniseries.
"It was one of the first true horror things I had seen, and I had not experienced Stephen King before. That was my first experience with Stephen King, so that was a really huge point in my life. It was two weeks, at least, of no sleep because of that. So yeah, I think [Bob’s clown story] was really me describing something that just freaked me out. I didn’t have that experience myself. I just had nightmares like that."
Stephen King Exists In The World Of Stranger Things
Even though Stranger Things feels like a compilation of Stephen King's greatest hits, the author actually exists in the world of the show. King is namedropped by Terry Ive's sister Becky when she's visited by Joyce and Hopper looking for answers regarding Eleven. Becky asked them if they've read any Stephen King as a way to compare his stories to Eleven's unexplainable abilities.
Other characters in Stranger Things are probably King fans as well but not Bob Newby. If he still had memories of the haunting clown, he most likely wouldn't be a fan of King's work or any kind of horror for that matter. The fact that Bob stood up and volunteered for the deadly mission in the hospital at the end of season 2 proved just how much he learned to overcome his fears. It might not have been Mr. Baldo or Pennywise but a pack of Demodogs was just as terrifying.