'Stranger Things': 7 Predictions for Season 3

Stranger Things S02 Still 6 - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Netflix

[Warning: this story contains full spoilers for the second season of Netflix's Stranger Things.]

After two seasons of struggling against monsters from another world, the community of Hawkins, Indiana, finally seems at peace...you know, except for the massive Mind Flayer lurking over the local middle school. Small thing, that. 

Clearly, peace won't last for too much longer within the world of Stranger Things — outside of the fact that the world of Stranger Things won't progress any further for quite a while yet. There's no news on when to expect season three of the Netflix breakout (indeed, the show hasn't yet been renewed at the time of this writing, even if it's an inevitability), and the way the second season ends on a mostly happy note (Mind Flayer notwithstanding) makes the next season of the series somewhat difficult to predict.

But we're in the bold predictions game, so bold predictions ahead! Here are seven developments we're expecting to see when Stranger Things resumes and plunges once more into the Upside Down.

1. Straight Outta Hawkins

There's a bigger world than the small town at the heart of Stranger Things. The Duffer Brothers even ventured out into that world through "Chapter Seven: The Lost Girl," an episode that really landed for some people and really didn't for others. Regardless of season two's execution on the idea, the Duffers are clearly interested in expanding the scope of the series. With that in mind, expect the show to drift off beyond Hawkins' borders at least partially in the season ahead, whether that's through Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) attending college, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) going off on campus tours, or Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) reuniting with Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) and finding more people from their shared past — including...

2. The Doctor's Back In

Matthew Modine's Doctor Brenner, aka "Papa," appeared briefly in season two, both in flashback and in hallucinatory form. The genuine article still lurks in the real world, however, according to what Ray Carroll (Pruitt Taylor Vince) tells Eleven and Eight. We're inclined to believe him. The Duffers have been an open book on the subject of Brenner's eventual return, stating that they would have killed him clearly on screen if they were going to kill him at all. It's our firm belief that Modine's mild-mannered monster will return before long, as soon as the third season of the series.

3. Ready Flayer Two

Another monster sure to resurface in season three: the Mind Flayer, the Lovecraftian lord of the Upside Down. Unless it's just one of many lords? Season two featured a single Mind Flayer, but is this creature just one of many? Does it answer to a single higher power or operate alongside a crew of similarly sized creatures? Remember that season one featured a single Demogorgon, small potatoes compared with the massive army of demo-dogs seen in season two. Stranger Things enjoys slowly pulling back the curtain as a means of escalating the threat level, which is why we're betting a similar tactic will be employed when it comes to the Mind Flayer — or Mind Flayers.

4. Billy's Getting Flayed

Speaking with THR, Dacre Montgomery made his hopes for Billy's future clear. He hopes the Hawkins High bully finds romance, and he believes Billy will plummet to new depths of darkness before he ever sees the light. What if Billy's love and hatred combine in the form of a single entity? What if Billy, like Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) before him, becomes a new vessel for the Mind Flayer? Imagine the cruel powers at Will's disposal, and now give them to someone as nakedly nefarious as Billy Hargrove. That's a lethal combination that would make even Tetsuo blush. 

5. Dustin the Wind

Given the final image of Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) dancing with Nancy, it's easy to remember the heart of the party fondly heading out of season two...but that would be forgetting a really dark possibility. In the finale, Dustin comes into contact with the same Upside Down spores that spewed forth onto Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) earlier in the season. It looks like Dustin's fine, but is it possible he's in for some side effects from his exposure to raw Upside Down material? Could he enter season three with something akin to True Sight, a la Will's season two journey? Could he be an antidote to any dark power someone like Billy might possess? Food for thought, but it's worth chewing on the idea that Dustin's already active imagination could enter overdrive in season three.

6. Hopped Up

As with Dustin, Hopper was coughed on, entangled in vines, and otherwise all up inside the Upside Down this season (and not for the first time, mind you) — so if Dustin's tracking for a some form of supernatural upgrade in the near future, Hopper's right there with him. The likelihood of both characters hitting season three puking pollywogs into sinks and otherwise having telepathic ability seems relatively low...but it also seems relatively awesome, so here we are, doing our best to will it into existence!

7. Steve Harrington Will Die

Here's something nobody wants, but we're calling the shot anyway: Steve won't make it out of season three alive. Barb (Shannon Purser) and Bob (Sean Astin) were the gut-punch deaths of the first two years of Stranger Things, and there are few ways to better up the stakes than the loss of a character who has been with us from the very beginning. Steve is at the top of the list precisely because he's become so lovable over the course of two seasons, not to mention that he lacks a clear direction as the series moves forward. He's supposed to go to college next year, right? He's not dating Nancy anymore, so his connection to the people hooked into the Upside Down conspiracy is tenuous at best, unless he and Dustin spend every single day between seasons developing their friendship further. The scenario in which Steve comes home from school for the holidays and gets drawn into the Upside Down one last time — sacrificing himself in the name of his friends — is all too real to consider. We will be very, very happy to be wrong on this one, but planting the flag just in case.

What are your predictions for season two? Sound off in the comments below, and keep following THR.com/StrangerThings for interviews, theories, deep dives and more.