List Of 80s References In 'The Pollywog' - Stranger Things 2, Episode 3

By Gareth Bellamy
October 30, 2017 6:00 AM ‐ TelevisionStranger ThingsNetflix

This article is more than five years old and was last updated in October 2018.

Compiled by the Higgypop Professor of the 1980s, Gareth Bellamy. He's so old, he can remember the 70s!

D'Artagnan In Stranger Things
After setting up the season and getting us to Halloween in the first couple of episodes, it's time to head on with the plot. Dustin appears to have found a new friend in his bin, what could it be?


Gremlins Mogwai Gizmo

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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.

We've probably all picked up the Gremlins reference here. Starting off with the title of the episode, Pollywog and Mogwai have at least a passing resemblance. Dustin's strange little pet has some similarities with the Mogwai, in that it doesn't like bright light, and also Dustin appears to feed it late at night. Gremlins, directed by Joe Dante, was released in 1984, but perhaps Dustin was too young to watch it. No good can come of this I tell you!



Less well-known as Gremlins, and released in 1986, Critters is often compared to Gremlins, as it features horrible little carnivorous aliens invading earth and wolfing down the locals for lunch. Let's hope that isn't what is going to happen here.

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The Xenomorph - 'Alien'

Cats are known for their heightened senses. In Alien, the 1979 space horror film from Ridley Scott, Jonesy the cat hisses as a massive xenomorph prepares to dispatch Harry Dean Stanton. As Dustin bring his new pet in the house, he gets a similar reaction from Mew Mew his cat. Listen to your cat, Dustin, it knows!

Blink And You'll Miss Them

Dustin's Retro Toys Stranger Things

As the camera pans from the sleeping Dustin to his chocolate munching pet, we see on Dustin's shelves…

ET – A plastic ET toy.

Odious Ogre – A Dungeons and Dragons figure, from the popular role playing game most famously depicted in ET, being played by Elliot's older brother and his friends.

Ghostbusters – Some kind of Ghostbusters certificate on his wall next to his proton pack.


Tim Curry Pennywise The Clown, It

Another Stephen King reference (we're sure he's the biggest influence on the plot of Stranger Things!) comes courtesy of the charming little story of Mr Baldo that Bob tells Will on the drive to school. “Hey kiddo, would you like a balloon?!?” is Mr Baldo's opening gambit, and no matter how much you love balloons, if watching horror films and tv series teaches us anything, it's that clowns bearing gifts should be avoided. Actually, gifts or not, avoid those red nosed freaks!

It was published in 1986 and then adapted for tv as a two part miniseries in 1990. It featured Tim Curry playing the role of Pennywise, one of many different forms a demonic, shape-shifting alien entity has taken, the 'It' of the title.

It received the honour of having a new version made this year, one that has very positive reviews, but for all that, if you want a scary clown, you need Tim Curry as Pennywise. Once seen, and heard, never forgotten.

Top Gun

Top Gun

This 1986 film is for many the first film that jumps into your mind when you hear the name Tom Cruise. Produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, and directed by Tony Scott, brother of Ridley, it's difficult to get a film that looks more 80s than this.

The rough and tumble tops off basketball game at Hawkins High featuring Steve and Billy casts our minds back to the famously homoerotic volleyball comp in Top Gun. Man on man action, sweat, having a bit of a friendly wrestle, who knows where this could end up?

Though their haircuts also made us think just a little bit about a basketball playing Werewolf played by Michael Jackson in 1985's Teen Wolf.

Radio Shack

Radio Shack In Stranger Things

Bob works in a Radio Shack store, which sounds decidedly American. Well, it was, but during the 80s, you'd also find a Radio Shack store on most UK High Streets. They sold electronic components, Tandy home computers, stereo and hi-fi gear, (including disco lights) and the kind of 'learn electronics at home' kits that well intentioned uncles might buy you for Christmas presents. If ever you've accidentally wandered into a branch of Maplin then you'll know the kind of thing.


The Mercy Brothers – 'Whistle On The River'. As Will and Bob drive to school.
This Canadian country band were active from 1957 to 1989, their middle of the range style of music seems to sort 'boring' Bob rather well.

Jim Croce – 'You Don't Mess Around With Jim'. Plays over the montage of Hopper and El clearing up their cabin.
The title of the song could well be Hopper's theme tune, seriously, would you go up against big Jim?

Tones on Tail – 'Go!' Soundtracking the basketball match.
A British band active from 1982-1984, formed as a side project from Goth super group Bauhaus by their guitarist Daniel Ash. You might be familiar with Go! As it was sampled by Moby for his 1990 dance hit of the same name, in addition to popping up on the soundtrack to Grosse Pointe Blank, a film which dabbles in a bit of an 80s throwback, and also stars Ghostbusters scribe Dan Aykroyd as a hitman.

The Psychedelic Furs – 'The Ghost In You'. Jonathan and Nancy eating lunch.
An apt track as many see it as a song about unrequited love, or at least love on the rocks. The Psychedelic Furs are an English rock band formed in 1977, and saw chart success in the early 80s. They get bonus 80s points for having their track Pretty in Pink used by uber-80s director John Hughes as the inspiration for his cult romantic film of the same name. Funnily enough, he also used their single for the soundtrack.

Ill Repute – 'Clean Cut American Kid'. Playing on a Walkman at school.
An American hardcore punk band from California formed in 1981. No, I hadn't heard of them either.

Al Casey Combo – 'Cookin''. Playing while Joyce calls Bob at his Radioshack store.
Another scene featuring Joyce and Bob, another break from the 80s synthy score to something more suitable to these 'old timers' eh? This funky track originally came out in 1964, so perhaps this track is meant to be something they'd be familiar with from their courting days!

On To Episode Four

  • 80s References In Stranger Things 2, Episode 4

    October 30, 2017

    Lots to get our teeth into plot-wise in episode 4. Will starts letting his mum into his world of pain, Hopper digs for the truth, Nancy and Jonathan pair up whilst Eleven makes an interesting discovery. That left less room for the 80s references, but what did they manage to shoehorn in?

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