Note: contains spoilers for Stranger Things season one and two.
From Game of Thrones to Two and a Half Men, there are TV shows that have soldiered on without their leads for one reason or another – and in some cases, it’s a decision that has paid off.
But Stranger Things‘ producers have no desire to travel down that risky road.
Show creators Matt and Ross Duffer are getting the gang back together for the upcoming third season because, let’s face it, there would have been riots in the streets if they had parted ways with a group of actors who have become firm fan favourites.
The old favourites
A number of cast members have recently been spotted filming in Atlanta, Georgia, but with the season not set to air till the summer of 2019, there’s a hefty wait before we can find out the significance of those sneaky paparazzi shots.
Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Sadie Sink (Max) and someone who we are almost certain is Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) can be all seen standing outside the Starcourt Mall in retro dress.
(Stranger Things season two)
There was serious doubt cast over the return of Will’s introverted older brother when the 24-year-old missed the Hollywood premiere of the show last year after being refused entry into the US for cocaine possession.
But the show’s costume designer, Kim Wilcox, assured fans that their concern was misplaced.
“Charlie is returning,” she told MailOnline.
“I think he’s a fine actor and he’s a great ensemble player and I think that in his work and in his presentation at Stranger Things two, myself and to everyone else, he is very professional and an incredibly generous human being, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t invite him back.”
Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy, was also spotted milling around on set earlier this month, and has confirmed that season three will be the show’s biggest yet.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Dyer said: “This year it feels very… big. I mean they all feel big, but this one feels maybe the biggest so far, so it’s been good.”
Joe Keery, who plays Steve, Nancy’s former love interest before Jonathan stole his thunder, also appeared with his fabulous barnet in a brief trailer back in July 2018, in which he is working behind the counter at Scoops Ahoy Ice Cream Parlour.
Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) doesn’t appear to be in any of the paparazzi shots, but you can breathe easy because his return has been confirmed.
And as for Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour), they are going nowhere.
Will and Jonathan’s mother was spotted filming with the Chief of Police in Atlanta over the summer and Hopper, true to form, had obviously been engaged in some serious combat, sporting a bloody gash on his forehead. We’d expect nothing less.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Harbour revealed that “the scripts are really great this year” and fans can expect “new directions” that see all of the characters “taking a lot of risks”.
“We’re all a little bit out of our comfort zone,” he added.
And how could we forget Max’s knucklehead older stepbrother, Billy?
Speaking to The Wrap, actor Dacre Montgomery said: “I feel like the Duffers are so great that they’re going to have all kind of things up their sleeves. I’m excited to see where it goes.”
We are excited too, particularly because fan favourite Priah Ferguson, who plays Lucas’s little sister Erica is also back on the bill. With only a few moments of screen time to her name so far, we can expect more savage takedowns from the show’s sassiest personality.
We also got a glimpse of new cast member Cary Elwes on set, who is playing Hawkins mayor Larry Kline.
Maya Thurman-Hawke, daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, has been cast as Robin. Described as an “alternative girl who is equal parts sharp and playful”, she “uncovers a dark secret” which will, no doubt, have vast implications for the town of Hawkins and everyone in it.
So with all of the main players confirmed, here’s everything else we know about Stranger Things season three – note to reader: Barbara and Bob are officially finito.
It’s time to move on, people.
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