“Stranger Things” has become Netflix’s latest smash hit.
The first season of the series, set in the 1980s, from brothers Matt and Ross Duffer (“Wayward Pines”), which is set to return for a second season in 2017, follows the disappearance of a young boy and the monstrous chain of events it launches in the small town.
Not only does the show star iconic ’80s actress Winona Ryder, but it introduces a whole new cast of kids viewers can’t help but fall in love with.
It’s not hard to see why fans have taken so passionately to “Stranger Things,” which borrows heavily from the era’s most beloved movies including “E.T.” and “Stand By Me.” The more devoted viewers are tearing apart every scene, finding new clues and developing wild theories.
But in case you’re a little behind or just plain don’t want to watch all eight episodes (or maybe monster stories just scare you too much), Business Insider has created this quick recap of all the major plot points.
Here’s everything you need to know from the first season of “Stranger Things” (spoilers galore, of course):
‘Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers’
A monster is loose: It’s 1983. In an isolated laboratory in Hawkins, Indiana, some kind of monster has escaped from its holding cell and is killing whoever gets in its way.
A boy goes missing: Young Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) and his friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) are playing an intense role-playing game. The game is cut short by Michael’s mom. Will, Dustin, and Lucas grab their bikes and leave for home.
While racing, Will separates from the other guys and finds himself close to the laboratory when he senses something is following him. When he gets home, he finds that his mother and brother aren’t home. Sensing that the monster is still after him, Will runs to a shed behind the house, arms himself with a gun, and holds his ground. None of that helps. With a flickering light, poof, Will is gone.
The next morning, Will’s mom, Joyce (Winona Ryder), and older brother, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), discover that Will isn’t home. She decides to report Will missing to the police chief, Jim Hopper, a mess of a man.
He insists on speaking with Joyce’s ex-husband – Will and Jonathan’s father – but she is sure Will would never go to him. She insists that he look outside her family for Will’s abductor.
A young girl with strange powers is on the run: Meanwhile, a young girl named Eleven arrives at Benny’s Diner. Her head is shaved, she’s wearing a hospital gown, she has limited speech, and she’s ravenously hungry.
After Benny feeds her, he calls for social workers to come and pick her up. But instead of the social workers, armed agents arrive to take Eleven. In the end, Benny is killed, and somehow Eleven fights off the agents and escapes.
Worlds collide: Tired of waiting for the police to do something, Will’s friends decide to search for him on their own. That’s when they meet Eleven.
Joyce gets a phone call. Despite the static, she swears she can hear Will breathing on the other end.
‘Chapter 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street’
- Curtis Baker/Netflix
Eleven knows where Will is: The boys bring Eleven back to Mike’s house. They can’t tell his parents about her because they weren’t supposed to be out at night looking for Will. Plus, Eleven says that “bad people” are after her.
As Eleven becomes more comfortable with the boys, she shows them some of her powers, closing Mike’s door with her mind. After recognizing Will from a picture, Eleven tells the guys he’s hiding from a monster.
While hiding in a dark closet from Will’s mother, a scared Eleven flashes back to being dragged into a dark cell at Hawkins Laboratory.
Another strange call for Joyce: Joyce gets another phone call, which she believes is from Will. The lights go nuts and the walls start to warp.
The monster claims another victim: Mike’s older sister, Nancy (Natalia Dyer), has started a relationship with one of the cool guys at school, Steven (Joe Keery). He’s always trying to have sex with her, and asks her to join him and and another couple for a pool party at his house. A sexually naive girl, Nancy asks her best friend, Barb (Shannon Purser), to come along.
Meanwhile, Jonathan is taking photos in the woods when he happens upon Steve’s house and realizes that his crush, Nancy, is at the pool with a few friends. For some reason, he takes pictures of the teens splashing about.
When the others go upstairs to hook up, Barb stays at the pool. Soon she finds herself being pulled away by the monster.
‘Chapter 3: Holly, Jolly’
- Curtis Baker/Netflix
The Upside Down world: We find out that Barb (along with possibly Will) is stuck in some kind of world based on the one we live in. It looks like our reality, but it’s darker and emptied of furniture. Barb is apparently running from the monster.
Nancy comes clean on Barb: After trying to buy some time to find Barb on her own, Nancy finally tells her mom that Barb is missing.
Eleven’s terrible life: While the boys are at school, Eleven explores Mike’s house. Different things bring back memories of her life in the lab.
A scientist named Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) is behind the testing, but also acts as a father figure to Eleven. She’s asked to move things with her mind. At one point, she’s forced back to her cell and ends up killing the men who took her there.
The search for Will goes cold: Chief Hopper wonders if Will’s disappearance has something to do with the strange secrecy surrounding Hawkins Laboratory. He talks his way into the lab and finds very little. But upon watching security footage from the night Will disappeared, he realizes there’s no rain in the footage. That’s strange because there was a big storm that night. Hopper begins to think Brenner may know more than he’s admitting.
Convinced that Will is using the electricity and phone lines to speak to her, Joyce has hung up hundreds of Christmas lights all over her living room. Some correspond to an alphabetical grid, kind of like a Ouija board, that she’s written on the wall. It seems to work.
She asks Will if he’s alive, and the lights indicate “yes.” Then she asks him if he’s safe and the answer is “no.” Things go haywire and something looks to be stretching into her walls. Will is on the run.
Meanwhile, the boys ask Eleven to lead them to Will. When she brings them to his house, they go crazy on her. They don’t understand that he could very well be right there, but in the Upside Down version.
They then hear sirens and follow them to a quarry where they see a body being pulled out of the water. It looks like Will.
‘Chapter 4: The Body’
Is Will dead? Not if you ask Joyce. She isn’t convinced by the body sitting on a metal slab at the coroner’s office.
First, she thinks she’s already spoken to him through her lights, so he can’t be dead. And second, the coroner’s office wasn’t able to show her his birthmark. She refuses to sign a document stating that the body is Will’s.
Joyce’s certainty drives Hopper back to the coroner. He finds out that a state-assigned coroner did Will’s autopsy instead of the regular coroner and senses something is fishy.
He violently takes out the guard and sticks a knife into the body that’s supposedly Will’s. Stuffing is inside; the body is a fake. Hopper decides it’s time to go back to the laboratory.
Eleven makes contact with Will: Joyce isn’t the only one connecting with Will. Eleven has figured out how to use the boys’ walkie-talkies to find him. When she connects with him, they hear him singing The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” the song Jonathan introduced him to.
The search for Barb heats up: Steve finds out Jonathan took pictures of them while they were hanging out at his house. For that, he breaks Jonathan’s camera and tears up his pictures.
From the pieces of photos, Nancy discovers that Jonathan had taken a photo of the monster that might’ve taken Barb. And Jonathan realizes that it may have also taken his brother.
Eleven’s powers have a limit: The boys bring Eleven to school. She sees Mike’s bully and steps in and stops him in his tracks until he pees his pants. Clearly, her powers are strong, but they take a physical toll on her.
‘Chapter 5: The Flea and the Acrobat’
Hopper uncovers a conspiracy: Chief Hopper returns to the laboratory and finds the opening to the Upside Down world, but he’s captured by Dr. Brenner’s henchmen, drugged, and left to sleep it off at his trailer. As soon as he wakes up, he searches the trailer for a bug and finds one.
He also finds out that the state police found Barb’s car at the train station. Hopper is sure there’s a conspiracy to hide whatever is going on at the laboratory that relates to the local missing children. And he lets Joyce know that she’s been right all along.
A rift forms between Eleven and the boys: Eleven agrees to lead the boys to an entrance to the Upside Down world and Will. But she’s hit with memories of her own experiences with that other world and decides it’s too dangerous, so she takes them in the wrong direction.
When they figure it out, Lucas turns on Mike for defending Eleven. And just as they begin to fight, Eleven lifts Lucas into the air with her powers and slams him back to the ground. When the dust clears, Lucas wakes up but Eleven is gone.
Nancy and Jonathan find the opening to the other world: On their own search for the opening to the Upside Down world, Nancy and Jonathan scour the woods. As it’s getting dark, they find a bloody, dying deer.
Just as they’re about to show it some mercy and kill it, something quickly grabs it from them. It’s the monster.
In confusion, the pair separate and Nancy finds a hole in a tree with gooey slime around it. She decides to go inside and finds herself in the Upside Down world. But there’s something else in there with her. Hearing her screams, Jonathan searches for her.
‘Chapter 6: The Monster’
Nancy escapes the monster: With the monster on her trail, Nancy finds her way back to the hole in the tree. Jonathan tracks her down and helps to pull her out from the hole just in time.
Not wanting to be alone, Nancy asks Jonathan if he could sleep over at her house. Steve comes by and sees Jonathan there.
The next day, they run into Steve, and he isn’t happy. He spray-paints the word “slut” on the movie theater’s marquee for everyone to see. Jonathan gets into a fight with Steve over it, which is broken up by police. Steve and his crew get away, and Jonathan ends up arrested.
Eleven returns to the fold: Alone, Eleven walks the small town and enters a supermarket when she gets hungry. She causes a scene, breaking windows with her powers and waking out with several boxes of Eggo waffles.
Meanwhile, Lucas is still angry and refuses to make up with Mike and Dustin. Lucas goes alone to the Hawkins Laboratory to find an opening to the Upside Down. And the other boys set out to find Eleven.
While searching for Eleven, Mike and Dustin unfortunately run into the school bullies. Brandishing knives, the bullies chase the boys to the quarry. One bully pulls a knife on Dustin and says he’ll cut out his teeth if Mike doesn’t jump into the quarry, which is a long way down. To save his friend, Mike agrees to jump.
Thankfully, Eleven arrives. She saves Mike by stopping his fall with her powers and bringing him back onto the cliff. She then mentally tosses one bully and breaks the other’s arm, then tells them to run. Mike and Dustin happily welcome her back to the group.
While staking out the Hawkins Laboratory, Lucas sees Dr. Brenner and his men jumping into their vans. It looks serious, so he uses his walkie-talkie to warn Mike, Dustin, and Eleven that they need to hide.
Joyce and Hopper track down a woman who could be Eleven’s mom: Joyce and Hopper seek out a woman who took part in Dr. Brenner’s testing program and later sued him.
The sister of the woman, who can’t speak, explains that she did take part in the tests and didn’t know she was pregnant at the time. And although the sister says the woman had a miscarriage, the woman insists that she actually had the baby, who had special abilities, and Brenner took it from her. That baby could be Eleven.
‘Chapter 7: The Bathtub’
The teams combine forces: Dr. Brenner and his henchmen arrive at Mike’s house, so the boys and Eleven have to avoid them.
Meanwhile, one of the bullies is at the police department with injuries and a tall tale about Eleven’s powers. Luckily, he’s talking to Hopper, who decides he needs to get a hold of Mike right away.
After Hopper rounds up Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy, they discover Brenner’s agents are searching Mike and Nancy’s house. Using a walkie-talkie, they get a hold of the boys as they’re hiding out in a junkyard from Brenner’s henchmen. Hopper arrives just in time to save the boys.
And for the first time, everyone looking for Will (oh, yeah, and Barb) have joined together.
Eleven’s bathtub: In flashbacks to Brenner’s experiments on Eleven, we see he used to immerse her in water and ask her to use her mind to communicate or manipulate objects.
Eleven tells the group that she thinks she can locate Will and Barb by using a sensory-deprivation tank. So the group relocates to the school gym and MacGyvers a bathtub for Eleven using a whole lot of water and tons of salt.
It works, and Eleven is able to search the Upside Down. Sadly, she discovers that Barb is dead. But she finds Will alive and hiding.
It’s time to kill a monster: Meanwhile, Hopper and Joyce break in to Hawkins Laboratory to enter the Upside Down from there, but they’re caught by Brenner’s henchmen.
But Jonathan and Nancy come up with another idea. Before the fight with Steve, they were going to trap the monster out in the woods and had already bought the supplies for that plan. So they decide that if they can lure the monster to Joyce’s house, they can probably kill it there as well.
‘Chapter 8: The Upside Down’
Hawkins Laboratory: Things are not going well for Joyce and Hopper. While Dr. Brenner is in one of the offices trying to convince Joyce that he’s a good guy, Hopper is taking a few Taser shots from Brenner’s henchmen.
But they’re able to strike a deal. In exchange for Hopper’s and Joyce’s silence, Brenner will allow them to enter the Upside Down to look for Will. Brenner, of course, probably doesn’t believe they’ll make it back out.
Once inside, they discover strange eggs, and later that Will’s hiding place has been destroyed. He’s not there.
Eventually, they find him. After pulling some crazy tentacle from his throat, Hopper administers CPR and Will breathes again.
Joyce’s house: Having booby-trapped the place to the nines, Jonathan and Nancy intend to lure the monster out with blood, then kill it by setting it on fire. But Steve shows up and finds himself drawn into the plan when the monster suddenly arrives.
The traps work and the fire is set, but the monster doesn’t seem to be going down. After putting the fire out, the monster is gone. But is it dead?
The school: The boys and Eleven have been waiting at the school for news from the others. But Brenner and his men have arrived, and they want Eleven back.
Chased down a hall, the kids find themselves trapped on both sides by Brenner and his agents. Already weakened by her time in the Upside Down, Eleven uses her powers to take out several of Brenner’s people. She passes out. Brenner then arrives to collect her as his men grab the boys.
Then the lights begin to flicker. The boys realize that the bloody scene has attracted the monster’s attention, and it’s there. Brenner’s men turn their attention to shooting it down, and the boys escape with Eleven.
Eleven’s last stand: But the monster wins the battle against Brenner’s firepower and tracks down the kids. With Eleven passed out, the boys try to stave off the monster’s attack by launching rocks at it with Lucas’ slingshot.
But Eleven awakens, pins the monster to the wall, then says, “Goodbye, Mike,” before using the last bit of her power to blow herself and the monster to smithereens – or so it seems.
One month later: The boys, including Will, are back to playing their role-playing game at Mike’s house. Jonathan arrives to pick up Will, and we discover that Nancy is still dating Steve.
Hopper rushes out of the police Christmas party and drives to the forest to place Eggo waffles in a food chest – presumably in case Eleven is still somehow alive.
Back at Joyce’s house, the family sits for dinner. But Will goes to the bathroom and coughs up some kind of slug into the sink as memories of the monster return to him. He’s clearly keeping a dangerous secret.