Best ’80s pop culture references in Stranger Things

Stranger Things Production Stills - Winona Ryder and Sean Astin
Stranger Things Production Stills - Winona Ryder and Sean Astin /

What are the ’80s pop culture references in Stranger Things?

Stranger Things is set in the ’80s, and there are many iconic nods to the era. This brings back many nostalgic feelings and memories for the children of the ’80s. But what about fans of the series who didn’t live during this era?

For ’80s Day during Stranger Things Theme Week at Netflix Life, we listed some of the best ’80s references and moments from the series.

Check them out below!

Stephen King: The Stranger Things logo looks similar to King’s book cover texts from the decade.

The Goonies: Bob Newby asks “What’s at the X? Pirate treasure?” in season 2. The Duffer Brothers confirmed that this was a nod to the ’80s teen adventure film that Astin starred in.

IT: Bob Newby shares a story about a clown he encounters while living in Maine. Lucas carries a slingshot just like Beverly used on Pennywise. The Stephen King book was released in 1986.

Indiana Jones: Jim Hopper is fearless and even dresses like Jones. In season 2, he even goes back for his hat, just like Jones.

Temple of Doom: Max driving into the pumpkin patch is a shot for shot remake of Short Rounds drives in that movie.

Poltergeist:  Joyce uses Christmas lights to communicate with Will. Eleven using static to communicate, etc.

Empire Strikes Back:“It’s a trap” was uttered by Mike and Princess Leia also yells this to Luke. Lucas also calls Eleven “Lando” after she betrays them.

Jaws: Hopper is just like Chief Jim Brody.

Stand By Me: There are a bunch of good scenes walking on the train tracks.

ET: Eleven’s makeover, hiding from Mike’s mom, and riding around on bikes.

Alf: Dart eats a cat, like Alf.

Pretty and Pink: Dustin’s entrance at the Snow Ball.

Alien: Paul Rieser plays a similar character.

Rob Lowe: Billy’s look is a Lowe look-alike, and Lowe played a Billy in St. Elmos Fire.

Gremlins: Dart also started out cute until he turned into a terror.

Risky Business: Nancy and Steve’s Halloween costumes in season 2.

The Shining: Joyce’s use of the ax and Billy’s unpredictable nature were similar to Jack’s. 

Mad Max: Max uses this name for her top scores on the arcade games and Keith calls her “Road Warrior,” the title of the second movie in that series.

Back to the Future: The video camera Bob uses in the same model that Doc gives to Marty to film the Deloreaon’s first-time travel experience. Steve also references Michael J. Fox and calls him Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties.

Ghostbusters: The boys wear Ghostbusters Halloween costumes in season 2.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High: The Starcourt mall resembles the mall in that movie and Steve’s Scoops Ahoy costume is a nod to Brad’s uniform at Captain Hook Fish and Chips. “Moving in Stereo” by the Cars also plays.

This song plays as the mom’s lust after Billy in his red swimsuit while the same song played in Phoebe Cates’ famous scene in Fast Times while she was wearing a red swimsuit. Cates is also mentioned when Dustin describes Suzie as hotter than that actress.

New Coke: The mom’s at the pool enjoy cans of NEW Coke that promises a sweeter and better Coca-Cola. Lucas also references it later in Stranger Things 3.

Farrah Fawcett Hairspray: Steve shares his great hair secret with Dustin. This was a real product along with the Faberge Organics shampoo and conditioner.

Magnum P.I.:  Hopper trades his Indiana Jones inspired wardrobe and takes a lesson from Magnum with his Hawaiian shirts

The Neverending Story: Suzie and Dustin’s sing the movie’s theme song by Limahl

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Will looking out his house window at the lightning and red sky just like Barry did in that movie.

Die Hard:  “Policeman have rules.” In season 3, one of the Russians says that line to Hopper and was also used on John McClane in Die Hard.

There are MANY more ’80s references not mentioned above. The whole series is riddled with pop culture references and props that scream of an ’80s vibe. It is quite nostalgic for those of us who grew up in the ’80s.

What other references have you encountered while watching Stranger Things? Let us know in the comments below.