If you finished Stranger Things season 4, Volume 2, and need something, anything, to fill the Hawkins-shaped void in your heart: Don’t worry, we made you a list.
From mysteries solved by kids on bikes, to alien invasions, bloody revenge against high school bullies, and teenagers being murdered via waking nightmare – there’s something in here to satisfy nearly every single thing you miss about Stranger Things. Some of the shows were short-lived early 2000s hits, others were campy ’80s slashers that did not shy away from blood and guts, and some are modern-day Netflix faves that you’ve heard all about but have yet to watch. Scroll on down to see our selection – but be warned, there are spoilers for Stranger Things ahead as we discuss the similarities between each show.
Eerie, Indiana (1991-1992)
When Stranger Things first debuted, many were quick to draw comparisons to the short-lived (and severely underrated) NBC series Eerie, Indiana. The show follows a preteen named Marshall Teller (Hocus Pocus star Omri Katz) who moves to the tiny town of Eerie, Indiana, and while accompanied by his best friend Simon, uncovers a plethora of insanely bizarre happenings like a Tupperware brand that can keep humans fresh, a pack of dogs that want to take over the world, a Children of the Corn-esque cult, and a still-living Elvis Presley.
Plus, Jason Mardsen (voice of Max Goof and other beloved characters from your childhood) plays an Eleven-ish character named Dash X, an extraterrestrial teen with no memory of his family, hometown, or real name who ends up helping Marshall and Simon solve some of Eerie’s strangest mysteries.
A late-90s spin-off series, Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension stars follows friends Mitchell (Bill Switzer) and Stanley (Daniel Clark) as the two encounter a Stepford Wives-esque cult, a skincare cream that turns people plastic, and a Sandman character a la Freddy Kreuger who keeps the entire town awake with horrifying vivid nightmares.
The Zack Files (2000-2002)
Based on the children’s books by Dan Greenberg, The Zack Files follows the paranormal adventures of Zack Greenberg (Robert Clark) and his best friends Cam (Jake Epstein), Spence (Michael Seater), and Gwen (Katie Boland), who attend the prestigious Horace Hyde-White School for Boys. Similar to Eerie, Indiana, the boys encounter ghosts and aliens, but they also time travel to 1912, get sucked up by a household vacuum while cleaning Zack’s room, and end up switching bodies with the school bully. The friend group has Mike, Will, Dustin, and Max vibes for sure, though there aren’t many scenes of them rolling up to save the day on bikes.
The title is also a little meta: every adventure is written down and entered into The Zack Files, a ledger kept by Spence who hopes to someday win the Nobel Prize by proving that paranormal activity exists.
The Outer Limits (1995-2002)
The Outer Limits is a ’90s reboot of the original 1960s Twilight Zone-esque sci-fi anthology series of the same name that famously began with the intro, “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture.” Each episode features a different director, cast, and premise, some of which are adapted from stories by George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, and Harlan Ellison.
While we recommend giving the original series a watch, the 1995 version (which ran for seven seasons) feels a little more akin to Stranger Things. Many of the episodes take place in a laboratory, not unlike the secret one in Hawkins where Eleven spent most of her early youth. Experiments are conducted, sometimes by corrupt government officials, and they are often met with fatal results.
Under the Dome (2013-2015)
Imagine enjoying a nice quiet life in your quaint small town when a giant, transparent dome appears, effectively cutting you off from the rest of the world, and there aren’t any nuclear weapons in the world that can break the barrier. Vital supplies and goods start to diminish, no one knows what’s going on, and the town descends into dystopian chaos. Oh, and it’s aliens by the way.
Maybe it’s a stretch, but the whole town-trapped-under-a-mysterious-glass-dome thing is a bit reminiscent to the Upside-Down-bleeding-into-Hawkins-and-now-everything-is-dying thing. Just a bit. Sure, we haven’t seen how the residents of Hawkins are going to retaliate now that particles of the Upside Down are literally snowing all over the town and causing everything to rot and decay but I feel like it’ll be a similar story to Under the Dome: the residents split into groups and decide to take matters into their own hands, determined to solve the mystery once and for all.
So Weird (1999 – 2001)
So Weird was Disney Channel’s answer to The X-Files. For the first two seasons, the series follows a teenager named Fiona Phillips (Cara DeLizia) who has frequent paranormal encounters while on tour with her rock-star mother Molly (played by the one and only Mackenzie Phillips) who decides to get back into the rock and roll scene after the death of her husband and Fiona’s father.
Season one starts off with Bigfoot and alien encounters, but later the series delves a little darker – especially for a children’s show – with Fiona encountering a terrifying three-headed demon while trying to solve the mystery surrounding her father’s death. Season three gets even weirder, with a Wicker Man-inspired episode that involves the townspeople attempting to bury early 2000s heartthrob Erik Von Detten alive with beeswax.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House follows five adult siblings (Vicotira Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Elizabeth Reaser, Michael Huisman, and Kate Siegal) plagued by guilt, greed, addiction, and trauma – seemingly all stemming from their upbringing in Hill House. Flashbacks contrast with the present day and continue to build leading up to the night in 1992 when the family fled the mansion for the last time.
If you enjoyed the horrors of the Creel House and have ever wondered how much therapy Eleven and co. are going need to need when they get older, this is the show for you. It’s not for the faint of heart – just look up “The Bent Neck Lady” – and is an incredibly emotional ride, one that may very well leave you sobbing after every single episode. It’s also, like Stranger Things, on Netflix.
Archive 81 (2022)
The show, described by some as a mashup of Blair Witch Project and Rosemary’s Baby, starred The Getdown’s Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner, an audio archivist hired by a mysterious company (in a creepy, remote facility that feels just a little bit like Hawkins lab) to restore a collection of burnt videotapes from 1994. The tapes in question contain grad student and filmmaker Melody Pendras’s (Dina Shihabi) documentary project about an apartment building that suspiciously burned to the ground. As Dan becomes more and more engrossed in Melody’s story, he finds himself diving deeper and deeper into dangerous waters – and there’s no turning back.
There’s nostalgia for a bygone era, a dimension called The Otherworld (not unlike The Upside Down), a vicious demon monster hybrid thing, and some Reddit users have also theorized (opens in new tab) that Stranger Things and Archive 81 take place in the same universe. That a crossover could’ve been possible – had Netflix not pulled the plug on Archive 81 after the first season.
Freddy’s Nightmares (1988-1990)
Do you miss seeing Vecna lure teens to their untimely deaths by creating a hyperrealistic nightmare that focuses on their deepest shame and innermost traumas? Then Freddy’s Nightmares is for you! It’s an anthology series with a different story each time – though the main throughline is Freddy Kreuger and all the sinister (albeit creative) ways he wreaks havoc. The pilot episode begins with Freddy on trial for murder which is, uh, a little implausible given that he’s technically a spirit…but it’s a good, campy set-up for a slasher series about bad things happening to good people and even worse things happening to terrible people.
Each episode is introduced by Robert Englund himself, who, if the Vecna and Freddy Kreuger comparisons weren’t enough, makes an appearance in season 4 as Victor Creel.
It’s a “coming of rage story.” Fourteen-year-old Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur) happens upon a Good Guy doll at a garage sale and thinks it’s the perfect addition to his art project. As it turns out, the doll is possessed by the soul of vicious serial killer Charles Lee Ray aka Chucky. So what happens when a closeted teenager with an abusive homophobic dad and a plethora of high school bullies reluctantly joins forces with a homicidal maniac? Well, you’ll just have to watch and see. Eleven might have bashed Angela’s head in with a rollerskate, but what Jake ends up doing is just a tiny bit worse.
Because the show is part of official Chucky canon, Brad Dourif returns as the voice of Chucky and Jennifer Tilly reprises her role as Tiffany Valentine aka the eponymous Bride of Chucky. Plus, pop culture icon Devon Sawa (aka Casper the Friendly Ghost, Stan from Eminem’s Stan, yeah) does double duty as both Jake’s awful father and his more normal, yuppie-adjacent uncle. (Though he’ll be returning in season 2 as a brand new character).
American Gothic (1995-1998)
This forgotten cult classic, which stars Gary Cole and a young Sarah Paulson in one of her earliest roles, asks the question: What if the town sheriff (Cole) was a serial killer with Cenobite-like supernatural abilities who physically murdered your sister and psychologically murdered your stepdad but plot twist – he’s actually your biological father. But don’t worry, your sister (Paulson) will come back as a ghost and help you control your own supernatural powers so you can eventually attempt to fight your dad to the death.
Needless to say, American Gothic is off-the-wall bonkers – but in the best way. Lucas (the aforementioned sheriff) and Caleb (Lucas Black) have a father-son relationship that is not unlike that of Brenner and Eleven’s. It’s strained, complicated, messed up, forced, and it involves a lot of screaming and running down long hallways.
Locke & Key (2020–)
There’s a haunted house and a whole bunch of magical keys, one of which allows you to simply walk into another person’s mind (sort of like what Eleven does when she enters Max’s memory of the Snow Ball), another that allows your soul to temporarily leave its body so that you can communicate with ghosts, and even a key that lets you control another person’s actions when inserted into a music box. With how powerful these keys are, it would be a shame if they fell into the wrong hands. Well, good thing there’s a demonic entity lurking about in the house that is trying to get its hands on the keys for nefarious reasons.
Friday the 13th: The Series (1987-1990)
Okay, so it doesn’t take place at a summer camp and the main villain isn’t Jason Voorhees (nor does the series ever make any mention of him) but misleading title aside: Friday the 13th: The Series is a creepy little fantasy series about cursed antiques and the terribly power-hungry people who come to own them.
When Micki (Louise Robey) and Ryan (John D. LeMay) inherit an antique store from former stage magician and occult expert Jack Marshak, he neglects to tell them that their inheritance comes with a devil’s curse. Each episode centers on a different cursed antique and the villain who owns it. Some of the most most “fun” cursed items include a scalpel once owned by Jack the Ripper that guarantees a successful surgery at the hand of the owner only after it’s been used to kill, a transport beehive that turns bees into vampires, and a jack-in-the-box that drowns people. Each episode has a satisfying ending where Micki and Ryan defeat the bad guys and recover the item, so not a lot of emotional devastation over here (especially if you need a break from crying after watching Dear Billy).
Castle Rock (2018-2019)
Writers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason got together one day and thought, “Huh, what if we based some new characters off of the main characters in some of the most beloved Stephen King novels and made them live in one big fictional town in Maine and kind of had to interact with each other?” The result is Castle Rock.
Jane Levy plays Jack Torrance’s niece, who much like her uncle, is an aspiring writer. Bill Skarsgard plays an inmate being secretly held prisoner at Shawshank State Penitentiary. Annie Wilkes even shows up in the second season, played by Lizzy Caplan (aka Janis from Mean Girls) and Yusra Warsama plays a Somali doctor who gets hired as the medical director of the hospital in Salem’s Lot. Yeah.
Invasion seems to pop up on every “shows like Stranger Things” list, and while the two shows aren’t very similar, it’s still for good reason. Inspired by the 1956 sci-fi horror film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, orange-glowing amphibian-like creatures (referred to as “the lights”) emerge from the eye of a hurricane. Several people go missing, but when they come back, something about them is… different. They’ve been cloned – and their real body, now a corpse, is off floating somewhere in the Florida Everglades.
There were several other alien-invasion-hits-small-town shows, airing at the time, like CBS’s Threshold and NBC’s Surface, but Invasion stood out for its exceptional acting (with the most notable performance being from a pre-fame Elisabeth Moss) and overarching theme that humans are inherently terrible to each other – whether they’ve been possessed by an alien or not. Homestead, Florida is a lot like Hawkins, Indiana: they’re both cursed.
All of Us Are Dead (2022–)
Navigating high school is bad enough without a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaking out. There’s no food, no water, and the government has cut off all communication. So what do they do? They band together and get real resourceful, from playing music through the school’s intercom system in order to distract the zombies to jacking the archery team’s equipment and arming themselves with a bow and arrow. There’s also a really cute hamster in the science lab that gets infected with the zombie virus and becomes a zombie hamster, and I think that’s worth a watch in and of itself.
Finished Stranger Things season 4? Then be sure to check out our guides to Stranger Things season 5 and the Stranger Things season 4, Volume 2 ending. We also have a deep dive on everyone who dies in Stranger Things season 4, Volume 2.