Warning: This story contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 3.
Season 3 of Stranger Things premiered less than a week ago, but fans are already theorizing about what's next for El and the gang. One popular theory was recently outlined by Redditor Gamer_Nation, who explained why Stranger Things season 4 could tie in with one of the biggest tragedies in world history: the Chernobyl disaster.
The user points to the show's timeline pattern to predict when the next season will take place: Season 1 was set in winter 1983; season 2, fall of 1984; and season 3, summer of 1985 (Independence Day). This has lead many viewers to believe the upcoming season will take place in spring 1986, which is when the nuclear disaster occurred (April 26).
Gamer_Nation supports the theory with a couple of plot details, including the season 3 cliffhanger set in the Soviet Union.
"Post credit scene was in Russia. Chernobyl happened in Spring 1986," the Redditor wrote. "[...] Doctor Owens said that they use something familiar to convince the public to not look any further into the strange happenings. So did a nuclear reactor explode or did El have the greatest battle of her life?"
The theory suggests the deadly Chernobyl accident will be portrayed as a cover-up for some kind of supernatural disaster. Though this twist fits with the series' timeline, many fans are concerned it could downplay the severity of the real-life tragedy.
"I like it in theory but I feel like taking a real tragic event and making it part of the show would be a bit iffy," one Redditor wrote.
"First of all I like this theory a lot. I do wonder if they would fictionalize an important event like Chernobyl for the show tho," another wrote. "I’m aware there are many movies/books/video games etc. that have done this already, but I wonder if Netflix, being a major service, would risk the outrage of people being unhappy about what could be seen as trivializing such an important, relatively recent historical disaster."
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Stranger Things creators Ross and Matt Duffer shed some light on what's in store for season 4. The brothers said they have a general idea of where the story will go—somewhere completely "different."
"We have the big broad strokes. It's just now about filling in those lines in the details. We're pretty excited about where it's potentially going to go. Again, like we said, it's going to feel very different than this season. But I think that's the right thing to do and I think it'll be exciting," Ross said. "[...] Assuming there's a season four, obviously the question of who that American is in that cell and then also what they're doing with the Demogorgon, is a tease. That's obviously going to play a huge role in a potential season four."