There aren’t many guarantees in life, but getting Stranger Things 3 on Netflix is one of them. Standing at the intersection between fanbase appetite and narrative freedom, the Duffer Brothers have created a fantastical (and terrifying) universe that they can explore for years to come. In a likely five-season series, Stranger Things 3 will only be the halfway mark before an already-confirmed season 4 and potential season 5, but it probably won’t arrive on Netflix until late 2018.

For now, the only question that matters is when Eleven and her loyal companions will return. Though producer Shawn Levy has guaranteed the next season, there’s no word on its premiere date. Some new scripts are in place, the core cast is locked in, but filming likely won’t begin for another six months.

More: Stranger Things’ Dungeons & Dragons References Explained

Though the Mind Flayer loomed large over the Snow Ball, creating what seems to be an obvious entry point for the next season, Matt Duffer insisted that the plot won’t be so seamless. As he told The Hollywood Reporter, “Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn’t. Our kids are aging.” As the pre-teens enter adolescence, Duffer seems to concede that Stranger Things 3 will pick up well past the closing shot of the sophomore season.

Stranger Things Season 2 Review Chapter 1 Will Cant Escape the Upside Down When Does Stranger Things 3 Premiere?

While we don’t have an exact date for the third season, educated guesses put Stranger Things around the 2018 holiday season, and not a day sooner. After the first outing in Hawkins took the streaming world by storm in July of 2016, it took over a year for Stranger Things 2 to return. The sequel season was green-lit before the original even aired, implying that the scripts and cast were ready to roll.

Audience demand is at fever pitch, and Netflix will surely put Shawn Levy and the Duffer Brothers in the Upside Down if they don’t deliver by the end of next year.

As for major plot points and the adventures to come, the creatives behind Stranger Things have total carte blanche for season 3. Rather than telegraphing Will Byers’ forthcoming troubles (and his curious slugs), the Duffers ended Stranger Things 2 with a feeling of dread, not a promise of what’s to come.

As the Duffers told SlashFilm

Last year, we had a lot of little cliffhangers at the end of the season. We didn’t want to do that again. We didn’t want to box ourselves in for season three. We wanted to be able to start season three on a very clean slate. It felt totally unnecessary, when we had the Snow Ball. Once we had the Snow Ball, we didn’t know [if we wanted to do] anything else as an ending.

The table is set for Stranger Things 3. While we’re more than a year away from the next chapter, new updates, announcements, and even trailers are headed your way. Last year’s Super Bowl featured the first Stranger Things 2 teaser, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for another one in January.

Next: Stranger Things 2 Ratings Revealed?

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