Stranger Things That Happened On The Set Of Stranger Things

If you grew up in the '80s, the Netflix original Stranger Things is not just a creepy, cool, utterly unique horror series — it's also a blast from the past. And if you didn't grow up in the '80s, well, Stranger Things might just make you wish you did. Excepting all the terror and death, exploding rats, and slimy monsters. If you haven't heard of Stranger Things, it's time to crawl out from the Upside Down and join the rest of us in binge watching this utterly bingeable series, starring a charismatic cast of teenagers, young adults, and Winona Ryder.

If you're already a fan, it probably won't surprise you to hear that the strangest things about Stranger Things aren't just what we see on our television screens. Plenty of strange things have happened on set, too, both during filming and off-camera. And because we know you can't get enough of this very strange show, here's a list of some of the strangest strange moments from the set of Stranger Things. Spoilers ahead.

Everything on Stranger Things is '80s. Everything.

Everyone loves the Stranger Things '80s vibe. Well, Gen-Xers do, anyway. And the producers have taken great care to make sure all the details are accurate — from Winona Ryder to those old rotary telephones to the shape of the Burger King logo to the exact same sheets that Stephen Colbert had as a kid. We don't know for sure, but we're guessing there must be a whole team of people on staff whose job it is to procure '80s memorabilia and make sure everything is precisely the same as it was back in the days of Ghostbusters, Duran Duran, and Molly Ringwald.

In fact, one might even say that the showrunners kind of go a little bit overboard when it comes to making sure all the details are accurate. "We genuinely live in the '80s world when we're on set," star Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) told Teen Vogue. "Everything, to the underwear that we're given. We get tighty-whiteys. It's everything you see is what you get." Now that is true commitment to detail.

One of the cast members got stuck in a chair

So if you're going to hire a bunch of kids to star in your television series, you kind of have to be prepared for some antics. Because kids are kids, and they do things like horsing around, flipping vans over with their minds, and getting stuck in chairs. And because these particular kids have grown up in a world where they're expected to share pretty much everything they do on social media (they don't actually live in the '80s, after all), a lot of the stuff they get up to on set is live-streamed or posted on YouTube.

In fact, Millie Bobby Brown counts one particular moment as one of the strangest things that's ever happened behind the scenes of Stranger Things. She told reporters about the incident at a roundtable interview with the press in Tokyo. "Noah [Schnapp] got stuck in a chair," she said. "I mean how do you get stuck in a chair?"

Happily, Schnapp was rescued from the boy-eating chair before it could drag him off to the Upside Down.

Millie Bobby Brown lost her voice more than once

If you've ever watched more than an episode or two of Stranger Things, you know the characters live in a world that's full of terrifying monsters that come from terrifying alternate dimensions. So there's a lot of screaming. And when screaming is part of your job description, well, all the lemon and honey in the world won't stop you from occasionally losing your voice.

Millie Bobby Brown told reporters that her voice suffered a lot during the filming of Stranger Things Season 3. "I lost my voice five times, five different times throughout the eight months of filming," she said. "I have to go back into the AVR room and start screaming." Which means she had to re-record her lines, specifically the screaming lines. Hopefully she brings a cup of honey and lemon along with her to the AVR room in the future. Or maybe Eleven's life will really calm down in Season 4. Ha.

And then there was the farting

We'll just say it: Adults don't usually create problems at work because they can't contain their farts. Not usually, anyway. But kids have no such hangups because kids think farts are hilarious, and also because kids are refreshingly if inconveniently unembarrassed about bodily functions.

In 2016, showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer discussed the ups and downs of flipping vans and working with child actors in an article for Entertainment Weekly. "Millie [Bobby Brown] was getting more and more frustrated with [her male co-stars]," they wrote. "Case in point: We're shooting a scene in the abandoned bus, and one of the boys decides to fart. More than once. It became so toxic in the bus that the crew had to temporarily evacuate."

Tactfully, no one has revealed the identity of the farter, although the moment was memorable enough that David Harbour (Hopper) also brought it up in a Reddit discussion. "They would sometimes fart during takes," he said. "Yup. Kids. Little human beings with big important jobs, farting during takes — I won't say which one. They were amazing, I am in awe of their talent."

A shoot had to be delayed because Millie Bobby Brown showed up covered in glitter

Children can also be unabashed, well, children. Showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer told NPR that at the age of 11, Millie Bobby Brown was an incredible actress with an instinct beyond what most kids that age are capable of. "But at the same time she's a little girl, too," Matt Duffer said. "You forget. You know, like the kiss with Finn [Wolfhard], who plays Mike, you know, there was a two-month buildup to that about how disgusting it's going to be, about how horrible and why did you write this in? So yeah, she's still 11."

But that wasn't Brown's only childlike antic on set — the Duffers also said she once delayed shooting for 45 minutes because of ... glitter. "One day she showed up on set and she [was] just covered head to toe in glitter. And she's like, 'I don't know where this glitter came from.' And it's like I'm not having this problem with any of my adult actors. David Harbour is not coming in covered in glitter." Buy hey, no one is saying it wouldn't have been kind of cool if he did.

One of the actors had occasional accent issues

Not every actor on Stranger Things is from the U.S., and one of the challenges of being a not-U.S. actor on a U.S. television show is that you not only have to learn your lines, you have to learn to say them with an American accent. That's not always so easy to do, even with the best voice coaching.

British actor Charlie Heaton, who plays Jonathan Byers, had a tough time with one word in particular. And it was especially problematic because it was one of the more important words he had to say during all of Season 1. "The number-one word that was challenging for him in his American accent, was 'Nancy,'" producer Shawn Levy told Vulture. "He probably screams that name 50 times in the season. So we would occasionally have to re-record Jonathan's dialogue to make his 'Nancy' pronunciations more American." Awkward.

Cold burgers and fries, anyone?

It seems like it would be fun to get paid to eat burgers and fries. Of all the excuses for consuming calories that our brains typically invent to make us feel okay about stopping at Jack in the Box, that one is at least legitimate. No burgers and fries, no paycheck. Cool.

The truth is, though, that eating burgers and fries for money isn't always what you've probably fantasized it is. In fact, Millie Bobby Brown told Bon Appetit that her burgers and fries scene was "the worst day in the world."

"I had to stuff my face with cold fries," she said. "They were so greasy. I had like three burgers, and I'd put them in my mouth, and they were cold. I was like, are you kidding me? I had a cup beside me, and I would say 'Eleven,' and then I would spit the burger into the cup and come back up."

Okay, but what about the Eggos, though? Surely there was some truth to Eleven's love of Eggos? Well ... "I liked them at first. I was like, 'Oh! This isn't too bad!' It was just the amount of times I was doing it — seven or eight times. ... And then I was like, 'Okay. Now I need a spit bucket. I'm going to throw up.'" Yes, that takes some of the joy out of those Eggo sundaes you were going to make when you watch the season finale. Sorry.

A 30-year-old woman played Will's dead body

There are a lot of complications to working with child actors, and one of them is that you can't always ask kids to do the same things you can ask adults to do. And one of the things you can most definitely not ask kids to do is float around in icy-cold water at 3 o'clock in the morning.

In the first season of Stranger Things, there's a scene where a body (that all the characters think is Will's body) is discovered in a quarry. According to Vulture, the crew originally planned to use a dummy but worried that it just wouldn't look real enough, so they found a stand-in to take over the role. "We asked a stuntwoman to go into that icy 3 a.m. water as Will Byers so that it would look maximum convincing," said producer Shawn Levy. The person chosen for the role was, in Levy's words, "a grown-ass woman" in her 30s. To complete the look, they dressed her in Will's costume and a short-hair wig. "She had to lay perfectly still," said Levy. "It was like 3 a.m. and really crazy cold. But that is what we ended up using."

The Duffers pranked Noah Schnapp's mom in the most insensitive way possible

Because part of the plot of Season 1 revolved around a lookalike dead Will Byers, the crew had a dummy that they used in a few scenes to portray the deceased Will Byers lookalike. But there is such a thing as being too close to your work, and it's clear that when your work involves creating dummies that look exactly like living actors that you should probably still try to be sensitive to those living actors' moms and dads.

In a 2016 Entertainment Weekly article, the Duffer brothers recall the moment when they got their "very own dead body of Noah Schnapp. ... If you have a dark side like we do, this was a creepy and fun present." Okay, so that's mildly disturbing, but then they did something that was a little ethically questionable. "We immediately look Noah's mom aside, told her we had something to show her, and led her into a dark closet where we had propped up this frighteningly realistic corpse of her son."

Wow, Duffer brothers, and it never occurred to you that maybe that was not a cool thing to do to someone's mom? "She was startled at first, and we felt like maybe we crossed a line, but after the initial shock, she loved it." Um, yeah. You probably crossed a line. Fortunately for the Duffers and their continued employment of Noah Schnapp, Noah's mom got over her initial shock and even seemed to enjoy posing for selfies with her son's fake corpse. Oh-kay.

Flipping a van is not easy, even without mind powers

You will be shocked to hear that Millie Bobby Brown possesses no actual mind powers, which means that epic van-flipping scene from the first season had to be done the old fashioned way: with explosives. In a 2016 Entertainment Weekly interview, the Duffer brothers called the shoot "a lot of fun ... and very stressful."

Naysayers on the production team told the Duffers it was impossible to flip a van that size that high into the air. The brothers kept pushing, though, until they were allowed to prove the concept in a parking lot. That went off perfectly, of course (because the cameras weren't rolling), but then they had to do it for real on location. Well, during the for-real shoot one of the explosives failed to explode and the van skidded off course into one of the cameras, destroying it.

That was bad, but the Duffers were undeterred. Their next task was convincing the producers to overlook the fact that the failed shoot had cost thousands of dollars so they could try it yet again. Fortunately, the second attempt turned out to be the money shot. "The van soared high into the air [and] our cameras captured it in all its glory." And you thought really good modern special effects could only be computer-generated.

David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown also fought off camera

Stranger Things Season 2 had some pretty epic fight scenes, and we don't mean the one between Steve and the demodogs. Hopper (David Harbour) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) duke it out in true father/daughter fashion. Meanwhile, all the kids in the audience are going, "Hopper is such a jerk!" and all the adults in the audience are going, "Hopper needs to get that bratty kid in line!" So just in case you thought watching Stranger Things would be a great way to bond with your family, think again.

Anyway according to Refinery29, it wasn't all acting. During a Stranger Things panel at Paleyfest in 2018, Millie Bobby Brown told the crowd that their off-camera relationship was just as volatile as the on-screen one. "We went through so many different emotions," she said. "...We get angry at each other, we would express our feelings on and off the set, and ... those scenes were so raw and real that the reward is the scenes."

And then there was the epic pranking

It will not surprise you to hear that there were some pranks on the set of Stranger Things. Because when you have a cast full of kids and they're not all on camera at the same time, there's going to be some down time, and they're going to get bored, and what better way to stave off boredom than to prank the people who are employing you. Now, most of us ordinary adult humans can't get away with that because we're not kids and we're also not stars who literally cannot be fired because we're the entire reason for the existence of the company. And that's all pretty fertile ground for pranking.

According to Business Insider, one of Millie Bobby Brown's most epic pranks involved feigning illness in the grossest way possible. "Our first [prank] we pranked the Duffers and we pretended that I was really sick," Brown said in a Facebook Live video. "We put water in my mouth and then [I] started puking up the water."

"That was a good prank," added Noah Schnapp. "They fell for it." Yeah, they may be superstars now, but they're definitely still kids. The Duffers, on the other hand, with their Will's-dead-body prank ... well, we're not sure what their excuse is.

And there was also some prank about a wedding venue or something

According to Business Insider, Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp also decided to prank their costume designer by making her think her wedding was ruined. Ha ... ha? At least, that's what it sounds like based on their giddy and only partially-coherent retelling of the prank.

Here's what we know: Schnapp and Brown called up Emily, their costume designer and impersonated employees from the venue where she was planning to have her wedding, and then (maybe) told her that the venue was no longer available? Despite their rather disorganized retelling of the prank, it does seem to have been very well-thought-out. They even prepared a script and some hold music. Schnapp pretended to be the venue's manager, and the prank was evidently so successful that Emily yelled at him, and then they had to apologize. Good times.

'Starcourt Mall' was the site of a horrific real-life murder

But maybe you really want to hear about creepy stuff that happened on the set. Horror films and shows always seem to go hand in hand with spooky on-set happenings, but in the case of Stranger Things, there doesn't seem to be much of that. Sadly, there was one extra-creepy, super horrible thing that is loosely connected to the production of Stranger Things. And it did happen on-set, although the set itself didn't technically become a Stranger Things set until five months after the incident.

According to Dread Central, the mall where Stranger Things Season 3 was filmed was the site of a gruesome and horrible murder. Nineteen-year-old Silling A. Man was found murdered in a vacant Subway restaurant inside the mall and worse, her body had been there for two weeks before anyone noticed. That's because the mall, which looks pretty much exactly like it looked in the '80s, is dying — the entire food court was vacant at the time, and so were many of the stores. Customers were rare, and there just wasn't anyone regularly visiting that end of the shopping center.

There's no happy ending to this story, but the murdered woman's boyfriend was eventually charged with the crime.

The directors played creepy music on set

Mood music is traditionally associated with romance, but on the set of "Stranger Things," eeriness is the standard. In Episode 3 of "Beyond Stranger Things," Gaten Matarazzo credits director Shawn Levy for the success of one of his scenes. He points out that Levy played music on set to help with direction, which Levy said was a great way to convey what emotions he wanted from actors. He first used it in Season 1 in a scene that required twin toddler actors — who both played character Holly Wheeler — to follow the moving Christmas lights with their eyes. He notes that verbal direction wasn't as effective for actors that young, but creepy music could do the trick. He also used music during a scene when the villainous Dr. Brenner carried Eleven's limp body down a hallway at the laboratory.

Joe Keery, who plays bully Steve Harrington, said director Andrew Stanton did the same for the climactic junkyard scene in Season 2. Stanton played the score to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" during scenes without dialogue, which Keery found helpful.

A writer played the Demodog that killed Bob Newby

If you think Hollywood writers are only skilled in writing, think again. In Episode 7 of "Beyond Stranger Things," Matt Duffer recalls a scene in which show writer Katy Trefery got her limelight. She was at the production set during the filming of Bob Newby's gruesome death at the hands of a "Demodog." Trefry was present to observe production and learn how the set works, which can be useful for a writer. The Duffer brothers realized her frame was perfect for a Demodog monster and enlisted her to act out the monster's movements. It required two and a half hours of fake-attacking actor Sean Astin. She was covered in blood and, no doubt, very exhausted but also reportedly honored to fake-kill Astin's character. The real Demodog was added in CGI later, per Insider.

Astin also enjoyed the scene, especially since he wanted his character to have a memorable and macabre death. He was aware that his character would eventually meet his end, so he wanted his demise to be worth it. Most importantly, he wanted Bob to die heroically. He asked the producers to model his death after Quint's from "Jaws," which made the scene more grisly than they had planned. The resulting scene was definitely grim, and they elected not to include one element that would've put the gruesome factor over the top: Bob spitting out massive amounts of blood in slow-motion.

Gaten Matarazzo wore fake teeth during season 2

The first time we learn about Gaten Matarazzo's cleidocranial dysplasia is when his character Dustin Henderson confronts bullies in Episode 1 of "Stranger Things." They cruelly call him "toothless" while he defiantly argues that his teeth would eventually grow in. The actor's rare genetic disorder, which affects the development of teeth and bones, was written into the show and allowed Matarazzo to bare his natural smile. But when Season 2 came around, the producers must have changed their minds. His character seemingly put in some artificial chompers or prosthodontics, according to Rutgers. And in real life, Matarazzo did, as well. Prior to the Season 2 release, Matarazzo told TMZ that he was wearing dentures.

Dustin's teeth seem to have a story arc of their own because, in Season 3, his front teeth are missing again. His explanation: no teeth makes for better kissing, or at least that's what his summer camp girlfriend, Suzie, told him (per Rutgers). Matarazzo's condition also results in supernumerary teeth, which means more teeth than what the average person has. In January 2020, Matarazzo announced on his Instagram that his surgery to remove 14 teeth was successful. He expressed hopes that it's the last surgery he needs.

Gaten Matarazzo's voiced changed so much he couldn't re-record his lines

There are plenty of issues that come from working with child actors, and the fact that they will eventually become adults is one of them. For a long-form series like "Stranger Things," which takes half a year to shoot for a season, the Duffer brothers were constantly worried about the changes their young actors might go through in that span. Caleb McLaughlin especially concerned them because, as a 14-year-old actor at the time of filming Season 1, he was already two years older than his cast mates.

The issue came to a head when production was over. The Duffer brothers noted that actor Gaten Matarazzo was growing quickly over the course of Season 1. It became a problem when it came time for ADR (automated dialogue replacement) during post-production because Matarazzo's voice had deepened so much. ADR is used to improve on already recorded dialogue by re-recording them after production, but Matarazzo's voice no longer matched the pitch he had during the early days of production. Luckily, as Matt Duffer notes, his growth changes are not noticeable in the final product, per Movie Maniacs DE.

Toddlers on set were scared of the monster

The Demogorgon, the main antagonist of Season 1, was a terrifying, nightmare-inducing addition for anyone watching the show. Its jagged teeth dotted inside its petal-like slimy face are enough to make anyone's skin crawl and send most people fleeing, especially toddlers. In an interview with Variety, the Duffer brothers admitted that the youngest people on set were petrified by the costume, which lay about the set when not worn by an actor. The director-duo wanted to create a monster through practical effects in order to invoke the 1980s horror films they were inspired by. They consulted concept artist Aaron Sims to produce a monster in the style of those used by H.R. Giger, Guillermo del Toro, and Clive Barker. Special effects company Spectral Motion built the costume, which included animatronic petals and limbs so that the monster could move on command. Sims also helped out with CGI and visual effects whenever the costume didn't suffice.

The Duffer brothers said it was comical to see the usually-frightening monster lying on a chair when not in use, but not everyone shared the same sentiment. The two actresses who played Holly Wheeler, as well as Millie Bobby Brown's little sister — all of whom were toddlers — were very unsettled by it. It wasn't until an adult on set convinced them that the costume was a good monster who hailed from Monsteropolis from "Monsters, Inc." that they were able to relax, per Variety.

Finn Wolfhard cued Millie Bobby Brown into their kiss

A first kiss between 11-year-olds might be romantic or awkward, and usually there's no in-between. And if it occurs in a film production with several onlookers and various takes, then it likely falls into the awkward category. When filming the Snow Ball scene at the end of Season 2, Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown had to withstand the eyes of dozens of extras and an uncomfortably hot gym in order to get their kiss on camera. And with each take, the people around them would awkwardly applaud, which Wolfhard and Brown said made the experience worse. Wolfhard remembered receiving high-fives, but they both preferred silence. Nothing, however, could've topped Wolfhard's unusual forewarning as he went in for the kiss. Right before he leaned toward Brown, he quietly said the words, "I'm coming in." He was able to say it without moving his lips too much, like a pro.

Brown revealed this information to the Duffer brothers — who were previously unaware of it — during Episode 1 of "Beyond Stranger Things." Surprised, they vowed to look at the scene again and considered re-editing it. The Duffer brothers brought up the incident in Episode 2 of "Beyond Stranger Things" when actors Sadie Sink and Caleb McLaughlin recalled their own kiss. The brothers joked that unlike Sink and McLaughlin's kiss — which required more than 10 takes — Wolfhard and Brown only required two, thanks to Wolfhard's alert tactic.