STRANGER Things operates on multiple levels.
If you wanna watch the show as a fun, sometimes upsetting, horror romp, you can.
If you want to watch it while keeping an eye out for all the references to '80s pop culture, you can definitely do that too.
And if you want to kick things up a notch and start theorising, well then, Stranger Things definitely lets you do that too.
While operating in the latter mindset, some fans have started to theorise that Stranger Things could take place in the same universe as horror writer Stephen King's It, a novel that came out in 1986 and has had a major yet subtle impact on the Netflix show's second season.
The major connection comes in the form of season two addition Bob Newby, played with heart by Sean Astin. In "Chapter Three: The Pollywog," Bob tells Will (Noah Schnapp) about a terrifying experience he had as a kid wherein a clown named Mr Baldo tried to give him a balloon. Sound familiar?
And, as you see in the tweet above, the timeline works out. Bob was a kid in the '50s, which is when the childhood scenes take place in the original novel It. And, as Bob reveals later in the season, his parents are from Maine - which is where It and every other Stephen King novel takes place.
Obviously Stranger Things and this year's It movie have a connection in the form of actor Finn Wolfhard, who appeared in both. As a sleuth uncovered on Twitter, he even said the same line in both projects:
Pretty crazy, right? But it's been pointed out by Stranger Things masterminds the Duffer Brothers that all those connections between Bob and It were intentional. Of course they were! That's what this show does!
"Well, we both have a problem with clowns," said Matt, speaking for his brother Ross.
"I've had it my entire life. I had it when I was really little, so when there were clowns at a party, it was a real problem for me. Then in 1990, we saw the It miniseries and Tim Curry's performance as Pennywise really messed me up. Like, it scarred me in a major way.
"It was one of the first true horror things I had seen, and I had not experienced Stephen King before. That was my first experience with Stephen King, so that was a really huge point in my life. It was two weeks, at least, of no sleep because of that. So yeah, I think [Bob's clown story] was really me describing something that just freaked me out. I didn't have that experience myself. I just had nightmares like that."
Matt Duffer downplays the fan theory, though, saying Mr Baldo and the Maine reference were just done as shout outs to one of the show's major influences.
"I'm sure we were just like: 'It would be cute if [Bob] suggests moving to Maine, right next to Stephen King.' Stephen King exists in this world. Some of the characters have read Stephen King. But Bob definitely does not read Stephen King. He's not interested at all in Stephen King because he hates that kind of story," explained Duffer.
While the Duffers don't intend for Pennywise to coexist alongside the Demogorgon, there are likely going to be fans watching the show looking for more clues about this horrific shared universe. And you know, Stranger Things is the kinda show that will probably keep those hints coming.
This story originally appeared in Decider and has been republished here with permission.