Much has been made of the countless references to Stephen King's work in Stranger Things, to the point where some people started to believe that the prolific author had actually been tapped to write some episodes in Season Two.
Unfortunately, the initial report has since been debunked as a hoax, but would it be such a stretch to imagine the King of Horror officially coming on board the project? After all, stranger things have happened - Ahem.
The Duffer Brothers And Stephen King Have Publicly Expressed Mutual Admiration
The Duffer Brothers were originally tapped to direct the It remake at one point, and the pair have spoken openly since of their undying affection for King's work. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the Duffer Brothers revealed that;
"The books of Stephen King were a big inspiration. It was those films and books that were such a big part of our childhoods. What made all these stories so great, and connected all of them, was that they explored that point where the ordinary meets the extraordinary. That’s what we wanted the show to do... You watch “The Goonies” and you felt like you were one of those kids going on one of those grand adventures. So, the goal was, could we capture that feeling?"
The love is clearly mutual if these tweets that appeared right after the show debuted are anything to go by.
It's undeniably sweet to see King and the Duffer Brothers expressing their mutual adoration online, but why stop there? Stranger Things already contains a vast number of references to the King of Horror's impressive bibliography - if the celebrated author decided to take an active role in the development of Season Two, King could directly weave Stranger Things into the shared universe that connects almost everything he's ever written.
How Could Stephen King's Shared Universe Link With Stranger Things?
As fans of Stephen King know, each of his stories are set in a multiverse that's connected via The Dark Tower, which serves as the nexus of all realities. Whether it's via quick references or recurring characters, King has deliberately set out to link all of his novels to create a huge network of stories and reality. The world of Stranger Things could easily become a part of this web.
The alternate dimension known as the Upside Down could easily be integrated into King's shared universe - the idea of rips in reality that serve as gateways is central to his work. These 'thinnies' are present in a number of King's stories, including The Mist and Lisey's Story, so it wouldn't be much of a stretch to explain the inter-dimensional travel in Stranger Things through this plot device.
In both Stranger Things and The Mist, government experiments result in breaches between different dimensions, allowing otherworldly creatures to enter our world on a murderous rampage. Eleven appears to possess the ability to travel through these 'thinnies', potentially taking her to realities previously explored in Stephen King's novels.
If Eleven and other characters from Stranger Things can move between worlds, some of Stephen King's most iconic creations could easily appear in Season Two as well, travelling through dimensions like the Upside Down.
Which Stephen King Characters Could Appear In Stranger Things?
In many ways, the most obvious character to include in upcoming episodes of Stranger Things is Pennywise the clown. After all, the Duffer Brothers were almost signed up to direct the It remake and the team behind the new version have admitted that Stranger Things has had a strong influence on their work.
Furthermore, the Demogorgon rises up from a portal located in the sewers, much like Pennywise does before he claims his victims. Joyce's clown reference in an early flashback could easily foreshadow an appearance from Pennywise himself.
Obviously, there would be a number of legal issues surrounding a cameo of this nature, but the Duffer Brothers could certainly place more It-related easter eggs in Season Two if King's on board. Central cast member Finn Wolfhard is also set to play Richie Tozier in the It remake - could this be a parallel version of his character Mike from another dimension close to our own?
Alternatively, any of the disturbing creatures from The Mist or The Langoliers could easily pass as relatives of the Demogorgon that have broken into our world through one of the aforementioned 'thinnies', possibly as a result of Eleven's inevitable return to our world.
We May Have Seen The Secret Government Organisation That Trained Eleven Before Too
Shady government organisations are a dime a dozen in sci-fi, having cropped up in the likes of Stephen King's work more than once, so it's no surprise that the agency that experimented on Eleven may seem familiar too. However, there are some specific aspects of the organisation featured in Stranger Things that resemble King's work far more closely than one might imagine.
In King's shared universe, a government agency known as The Shop appears throughout a number of his stories, including The Stand, The Tommyknockers and The Lawnmower Man. The agency features most prominently in Firestarter, where they experiment on a young girl in order to develop her psychic abilities.
Sound familiar? From the hazmat suits and the grey-haired scientist to the brain sensor used on both girls, the organisations that appear in Stranger Things and Firestarter are remarkably similar. Eleven even displays pyro-kinetic abilities at one point like Firestarter's Charlie, and both girls suffer from nose bleeds when they over-exert their powers. It wouldn't be much of a stretch then for the Duffer Brothers to reveal that their agency and The Shop are one and the same, if King came on board.
But Doesn't King Exist As A Real Person Within The World Of Stranger Things?
One of the main obstacles that could potentially stop Stranger Things from incorporating Stephen King's shared universe — aside from legality and King's own desire to do so — is that the author is specifically referred to on the show as a real person.
At one point, while discussing special abilities, Terry's sister asks Joyce if she's read any Stephen King and the state trooper at the morgue is seen reading a copy of King's famous novel Cujo.
However, if King's work did become part of Stranger Things, these references wouldn't necessarily be an issue. After all, King has actually referred to himself explicitly in his own novels, even starring in some of The Dark Tower books as part of what has to be one of the most meta-moments ever committed to paper, so a move like this would certainly have precedent.
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King's work is full of minor links to other stories connected within his shared universe, so any easter eggs that previously referenced the authors work could be expanded on further in Season Two of Stranger Things. The only real challenge here is the Duffer Brothers reaching some kind of agreement with the King of Horror.
Of course, shared universes between different properties are notoriously difficult to build, with Marvel's Spider-Man deal arising recently as a notable exception. Thus, the likelihood of Stranger Things actually combining with King's shared universe isn't particularly high.
Fortunately, if this doesn't happen, you can be sure that the Duffer Brothers will still continue paying homage to all things '80s in the second season and you know that means more King references won't be far behind.
Do you think Stranger Things could ever be combined with Stephen King's shared universe? And how do you think Eleven will return in Season Two? Let us know in the comments section below and check out this video of Eleven kicking ass and taking names to remind yourself of her general greatness.