List Of 80s References In 'The Vanishing Of Will Byers' - Stranger Things, Episode 1

July 15, 2016 8:00 PM ‐ TelevisionStranger ThingsNetflix

This article is more than seven years old and was last updated in August 2020.

Stranger Things - The Vanishing of Will Byers - Episode 1

Dungeons & Dragons

After the show's dramatic introduction in Hawkins National Laboratory, we are introduced to the gang... Dustin Henderson, Lucas Sinclair, Will Byers who are with Mike Wheeler at his house playing the role play game Dungeons & Dragons. As well as being a topical reference to the 80s in its own right, it's also a homage to the 1982 movie 'E.T.', in which the lead characters are introduced while playing the same game.

Also in this opening scene we see a poster 1982 horror film, 'The Thing'. We later see a poster in Mike's older sister, Nancy's room, promoting Blondie's 1980 album 'Autoamerican'.

Ernest Hemingway

When we first meet Chief Jim Hopper in his trailer, a copy of Ernest Hemingway's 'The Old Man & The Sea' is visible on his table. This novel tells the story of a fisherman who's considered to be very unlucky. This foreshadows Hopper's own feelings as we learn in the net episode.

More From 'Stranger Things'

There's loads more from Hawkins on our 'Stranger Things' pages including playlists of music from the show, and you can test your knowledge of 'Stranger Things' with our trivia quizzes. Plus check out our complete 'Stranger Things' episode guide for all four seasons.

Lord Of The Rings & The Hobbit

When the boys are talking to Hopper about the disappearance of Will, they mention Mirkwood. This is a fictional name they give to a real road through woodland in Hawkins and is a reference to 'Lord Of The Rings' and 'The Hobbit'. We later learn that Will use Radagast as the password to get into his den in the woods. This is the name of a wizard in another of J.R.R. Tolkien's novels.

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Stranger Things Season Episode 1, 'The Vanishing Of Will Byers'

The scene featuring the Wheeler family sat at the breakfast table while Mrs Wheeler talks on the phone to Joyce Byers is a homage to the supernatural classic 'Poltergeist'. The family are similar in appearance to the Freeling in the Steven Spielberg movie and are sat in similar positions around the table.

This isn't the only reference to 'Poltergeist' in the episode. In a flashback Joyce tells Will she has bought him tickets to see the newly-released movie in the cinema.

The Goonies

Stranger Things Season Episode 1, 'The Vanishing Of Will Byers'

'Stranger Things' is often likened to the 1985 kid's classic, 'The Goonies', and it's easy to see why. Towards the end of episode one the boys ride their bikes up to the edge of the woods. The scene is very reminiscent to a scene in 'The Goonies' when the boys ride their bikes through the woods and pull up outside the Fratelli's hideout for the first time.


'Can't Seem To Make You Mine' - The Seeds
Hopper eventually arrives at the Hawkins Police Department where he finds out from Florence about the disappearance of Will. Will's mother, Joyce Byers is already waiting for him in his office.

'She Has Funny Cars' - Jefferson Airplane
We first met Eleven walking bare-foot through the woods, this 1967 song by Jefferson Airplane is playing in Benny's Burgers as she sneaks in to steal food, moments later the diner's owner, Benny Hammond, catches her.

'I Shall Not Care' - Pearls Before Swine
Benny makes Eleven a burger. This song is play when he sits down to talk to her and try to find out where she came from.

'Jenny May' - Trader Horne
This plays while Benny is on the phone and uses her powers to stop a broken fan in the diner that's irritating her.

'Every Little Bit' - Jackie James & Ian Curnow
Nancy is listening to this song while she's studying in her bedroom as Steve arrives by climbing through her window.

'White Rabbit' - Jefferson Airplane
This song plays while Eleven is enjoying some ice cream at Benny's diner when the government agent arrives, it continues as she runs and escapes the other agents.

'Africa' - Toto
The classic 'Africa' plays while Steve helps Nancy with her studies, which results in them making out on her bad.

On To Chapter Two

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