Here at The Bee we believe you can find the gospel in anything if you try hard, believe in yourself, and have an open mind—and the hit Netflix series Stranger Things is certainly no exception to this rule. There are literally thousands of biblical allusions in the first season of the popular show, but for the sake of time we narrowed it down to just the six most obvious. So here they are—the top references to God and the gospel in the hit homage to 1980s horror and adventure films, Stranger Things. (Warning: minor spoilers ahead.)
1.) The four boys represent the Trinity.
Dustin, Mike, Lucas, and Will are a clear reference to the three Persons of the Trinity. The way they relate to one another and probably exist eternally in a perfect dance of love and harmony is a clear nod to the Trinitarian Godhead. Will is probably a type of Christ, too, now that we think about it. Whoa, gonna have to rewatch the whole series now—mind-blowing!
2.) The monster represents Rob Bell.
A dark, demonic creature that resides in an eerie alternate dimension and feeds on living creatures? This one’s almost too easy. It’s author and speaker Rob Bell. Yes, the reference is a little too on-the-nose, but Bell is an essential part of the gospel story that needed to be included in some form or another.
3.) The Upside-Down is a clear reference to the United Methodist Church.
The Upside-Down is portrayed as a cold, dreary place with not a single soul to be found. That’s an obvious allusion to United Methodist churches around the nation. Uh-oh, we smell some angry Methodist emails coming your way, Netflix!
4.) Winona Ryder is just Winona Ryder.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, right? While some might find some kind of biblical imagery in Ryder’s character’s internal struggles and self-sacrificial search for her son, we didn’t see any of that in our fifteen binge-viewings of Stranger Things. Winona Ryder just represents herself in the broader gospel narrative. Though she could be a type of Christ too, if you want to stretch the details just a little bit.
5.) The theme song is a nod to Steven Curtis Chapman.
The show’s theme song is remarkably similar to Steven Curtis Chapman’s 1992 hit single “The Great Adventure,” and that’s no accident. Right from the title cards, the show is pointing viewers toward Jesus with its obvious homage to contemporary Christian music. Other Christian tracks from artists like Five Iron Frenzy, the Supertones, and Keith Green also make subtle appearances, which you can pick up if you pay close attention and keep your gospel glasses on.
6.) Police chief Hopper probably represents Christ.
The drunk, drugged-out sheriff with a shot at redemption immediately calls to mind the story of Christ. It’s amazing a secular show is so unabashed about broadcasting gospel messages like this! While most films only have one Christ figure, Stranger Things definitely has at least two, and we’ll almost certainly spot more during our sixteenth viewing of the show.
There are gospel themes in everything—movies, shows, songs, pancakes—literally everything. We trust you gleaned enjoyment, edification, and eye-opening brain explosions from our analysis of the top six gospel themes in Stranger Things.