It’s not unusual to wait a few months—or years—for the new season of your favorite show. For shows like Stranger Things, in which the hiatus between seasons spans several years, fans have a long time to wait. But will viewers’ enthusiasm die down before the last season releases?
The Content Drought
Between season releases, little to no new content drops, so fans must turn elsewhere. Sometimes this dry spell leads to bitterness, fighting, and eventual separation from the fandom. At the same time, though, creative fans work hard to create highly-desired content. Fan artists and writers help keep the fandom engaged during lengthy waiting periods, even without official recognition or pay.
The dry spell is often referred to as a “content drought.”
Luckily, some fans dedicate themselves to keeping the fandom alive with stories, theories, and artworks.
Talented fan writers bolster the passion and enthusiasm of fans by creating stories based on their favorite characters or relationships. These stories include missing scenes, canon-divergent plots, season 5 theorizing, and more. For example, fans of Mike Wheeler and Will Byers, affectionately nicknamed “Byler,” often write fanfiction to keep up the energy and optimism surrounding the future of the boys’ relationship on the show.
Some fans even make their own season 5 scripts, which are often up to par with the actual show. Reading these scripts give fans a small taste of what the next season might be like.
Reading stories strengthens fans’ love for the show and its characters, making them more likely to stay engaged during the “content drought.” The same can be said of artworks, which serve as phone wallpapers, blog backgrounds, story inspiration, and more.
During hiatus, fans also become attached to side characters that did not receive much screen time, such as Eddie Munson (pictured above). Some fans create entire headcanons and theories surrounding his life and possible resurrection on the show. Currently, the Eddie Munson x Steve Harrington (aka “Steddie”) tag on Archive of our Own is the largest collection in the Stranger Things fandom, with 13,118 works. Eddie is clearly a fan favorite, even despite his canonical death in the last episode of season 4.
There are many different sub-sections of the Stranger Things fandom, and many niche ways to get involved and stay engaged. It all depends on what your favorite characters are, who you ship, and what you’re hoping to get out of the final season.
Unfortunately, for some people, these interactions are not enough. More volatile fans often succumb to in-fighting, ship wars, and cancel culture—and this toxicity can be enough to drive people out of the fandom entirely. Additionally, low interaction from fans causes some writers and artists to drop their hobbies entirely.
However you interact with fandom, the most important thing is to always have fun! If the noise becomes a little too much, a mental health break may be in order.
An Evolving Fandom
By the time 2024 rolls around, the fandom will have undergone many more changes and events. It is impossible to predict how the landscape of fans will evolve, and who will be left by the time season 5 drops. In the meantime, fans can get content from their peers and, occasionally, from the Stranger Things team themselves. Small releases such as the Stranger Things puzzle game and new merchandise help to boost spirits. Recently, the team even revealed the title for the first episode of season 5: “The Crawl.” (For more information, click here.)
Hopefully, the penultimate season lives up to expectations and satisfies all fans! Until then, they will continue to fill in the gaps and let their imaginations run wild.