"Stranger Things" Season 2 References and Easter Eggs

by IMDb-Editors | last updated - 3 weeks ago

"Stranger Things" Season 2 is packed with references to movies and TV series from the 1980s. Here's a selection that we spotted.

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Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Natalia Dyer, Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things (2016)

Spoiler Alert!

"Stranger Things" Season 2 is packed with references to movies and TV shows from the early 1980s, which foreshadow events in the series or pay loving homage to filmmakers. Here are a selection of references we spotted throughout Season 2. However, be aware there are spoilers ahead that reveal the fate of key characters and the outcome of the show. With that, let's head back to Hawkins in Oct. 1984.

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Tom Cruise in Risky Business (1983)

Tom Cruise Poster ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) still has a poster of Tom Cruise on her bedroom wall, first seen in Season 1. The shot would have been taken around the time of Risky Business (1983). Her love of the film will come up again later.

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Dragon's Lair (1983)

"Dragon’s Lair" ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

At Hawkins' Palace Arcade, the boys are seen playing "Dragon’s Lair,” a video game where they play a knight attempting to rescue a princess from an evil dragon. The game was released in June 1983, meaning the kids might have spent a lot of quarters trying to beat it by Oct. 1984.

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Mel Gibson in Mad Max (1979)

MadMax ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

The name seen topping the high scores for arcade games "Dig Dug" and "Centipede" is MadMax, a reference to the iconic character, first played by Mel Gibson in Mad Max (1979). The boys later find out this is the new girl in town, Maxine 'Max' Hargrove (Sadie Sink).

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Dig Dug (1982)

"Dig Dug" ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

"Dig Dug" foreshadows a mission taken on by Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) later in the series. In the 1982 game, you play a character that digs down to eliminate underground-dwelling monsters

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Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

The film playing at the Hawk Theater is James Cameron's The Terminator (1984). "Stranger Things" Season 2 begins during the sci-fi action movie’s opening weekend. Released on Oct. 26, 1984, the movie would go on to take $78.4 million at the global box office.

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Kiefer Sutherland in Stand by Me (1986)

Merrill’s Farm ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

Merrill is a known name in the Stephen King universe, of which "Stranger Things" creators Matt and Ross Duffer are fans. So, when Hopper turned up at Merrill's Farm to investigate a rotting pumpkin patch, the surname rang an easter-egg bell.

The character John 'Ace' Merrill not only appears in the novel "Needful Things" but is the main antagonist in "The Body," the novella which was adapted as Stand by Me (1986) with Kiefer Sutherland in the role. Stand by Me, where four boys go on an adventure to find a missing child, was also an influence on the first season of "Stranger Things," notably when the kids are seen walking along train tracks.

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Courtney Gains in Children of the Corn (1984)

Corn Field ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

When Hopper heads into Merrill's corn field, we couldn’t help but be reminded of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn (1984), complete with creepy scarecrow.

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The Shining (1980)

Ominous Car Ride ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

When Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) is first seen driving her son Will (Noah Schnapp) to the mysterious lab in Hawkins, an overhead shot of the car driving through trees reminded us of the opening of The Shining (1980). We know the film (in addition to Stephen King’s story) was an influence on the Duffers because Dacre Montgomery, who plays series newcomer Billy Hargrove, told us at San Diego Comic-Con.

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Drew Barrymore and Pat Welsh in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Reese's Pieces ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

While at Hawkins National Laboratory, Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) asks Will what his favorite Halloween candy is. His response, Reese's Pieces, is a nod to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), where the candy was used by Elliott to lure out and befriend the alien.

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Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, and Sophia Lillis in It (2017)

Cliff Diving ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

When Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) is being told off by his parents, his father comes out with the old saying: "If your friend jumps off a cliff, you’re going to jump, too?" This was, no doubt, a nod to Season 1 when Mike jumped off the edge of a quarry and was saved by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).

But we also recalled this scene from It (2017), when Wolfhard's character actually followed a friend in jumping off a cliff. What's with this kid and jumping off cliffs?

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Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

Millennium Falcon ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

When being forced to give away toys, Mike considers his Millennium Falcon, which Eleven memorably floated with the power of her mind in Season 1.

A deeper cut is the toy monkey he tosses in a box. This is the monkey that appears in the Duffers 'Monkey Massacre' production card after the credits of each episode.

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Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future (1985)

Video Camera ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

Before the kids go trick-or-treating, Bob Newby (Sean Astin) shows Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) how to use his video camera. It's the same make and model that Marty McFly used to record Doc Brown's time-travel experiment in Back to the Future (1985).

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Roy Scheider in Jaws (1975)

Jaws Poster ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

In a further nod to Steven Spielberg, Will has the poster for Jaws (1975) on his bedroom wall, still there from Season 1. The image of a monster rising up from below foreshadows the fate of Will and his friends.

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Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Ann Jillian, and Frederick Koehler in Mr. Mom (1983)

Mr. Mom ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

Bob rents out a video of Mr. Mom (1983) for the Byers family to watch together. Written by John Hughes, the comedy marked one of the first films to star Michael Keaton.

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Cary Guffey in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Will’s Close Encounter ("Chapter One: MADMAX")

After the Byers family has gone to bed, Will wakes up and walks to the front door, which opens as light glows through the window. The scene is reminiscent of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), where a young boy is drawn to the light outside his front door and taken by aliens. The Duffers have also compared the obsessive approach of Joyce Byers to that of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) in Close Encounters.

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Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, and Pat Welsh in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Eleven the Ghost ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

When Eleven startles Hopper in her ghost sheet, it is another nod to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). E.T. is dressed as a ghost, complete with cut-out eyeholes, to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.

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Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson in Ghostbusters (1984)

"Who Ya Gonna Call?" ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

For Halloween, the boys dress as the Ghostbusters (1984). The movie was released on June 8, 1984, and went on to take a massive $229 million at the U.S. box office, second only that year to Beverly Hills Cop (1984), which took $235 million.

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Bill Murray in Ghostbusters (1984)

Slime ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

In a further reference to Ghostbusters (1984), Hopper is seen touching sticky ectoplasm on a tree and then wiping it off in a similar way to Venkman (Bill Murray) at the beginning of the horror-comedy movie.

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The Terminator (1984)

"I’ll Be Back" ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

If you didn't catch the nod in the first episode, Eleven is shown watching a clip on the TV of a trailer for The Terminator (1984). As previously stated, the events of "Stranger Things 2" begin during the opening weekend of the killer robot movie.

Channel hopping, Eleven also catches a moment of Susan Lucci on long-running soap "All My Children" (1970-2011).

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Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay in Risky Business (1983)

Risky Business ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

Nancy extends her love of Tom Cruise and the movie Risky Business (1983) by dressing as Rebecca De Mornay from the film. Her boyfriend, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), dresses as Cruise's character, complete with a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

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Johnny Depp, Heather Langenkamp, Jsu Garcia, and Amanda Wyss in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Nancy and Tina ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

In "Stranger Things," Nancy’s name was inspired by the lead character in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Nancy Thompson. In that movie, Nancy goes to her friend Tina's house for a sleepover, which ends in tragedy. So, it’s surely no coincidence that in "Stranger Things 2" Nancy goes over to Tina's house for a party. In this version, it's Nancy who gets covered in red.

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John Belushi in Animal House (1978)

Halloween Costumes ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

At the house party, we spotted characters dressed like Johnny from The Karate Kid (1984); Alex Owens from Flashdance (1983); Rocky Balboa from Rocky (1976); Bluto from Animal House (1978); and what could have either been "Magnum, P.I." or Scarface (1983).

On the music side, we spotted someone dressed like Madonna from the "Like a Virgin" era, while Jonathan mistook a girl dressed like Siouxsie Sioux as a member of KISS.

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Nick Castle in Halloween (1978)

Michael Myers ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

Out treat-or-treating, Max (Sadie Sink) scares the Dungeons & Dragons boys with her Michael Myers mask, from Halloween (1978). By 1984, there had been three installments of the horror franchise.

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Boris Karloff and Marilyn Harris in Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein's Monster ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

Waiting for Hopper to return, Eleven watches TV on Halloween and comes across this scene from Frankenstein (1931). It's not much of a stretch to see Eleven's struggle at determining whether she is the child or monster, created in a lab.

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Ted White in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Horror Characters ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

While out treat-or-treating, Will becomes separated from his friends and is frightened by a hat trick of creepy characters: a wolfman, a creepy clown, and Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise. Jason only got the hockey mask in Friday the 13th Part III (1982).

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Poltergeist (1982)

"They’re Here" ("Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak")

While using the TV to attempt communication with Mike, Eleven sits in front of a screen of static, much like a scene from another Spielberg project, Poltergeist.

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Sigourney Weaver in Alien (1979)

Mews ("Chapter Three: The Pollywog")

Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) appears to have the same breed of cat as Ripley from Alien (1979). Like Jonesy, in that movie, the imaginatively named Mews hisses when it senses dangerous alien life.

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Henry Thomas in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. ("Chapter Three: The Pollywog")

In yet another reference to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Dustin has a figure of the benevolent alien on his chest of drawers.

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Gremlins (1984)

"Bright Light, Bright Light" ("Chapter Three: The Pollywog")

When Dustin adopts a strange new pet, he discovers it reacts badly to bright light and is transformed if it is fed – much like the creatures in Gremlins (1984), which was executive produced by Spielberg.

Dustin uses a 3 Musketeers bar to feed the creature, which reminded us of how Chunk befriended Sloth in The Goonies (1985) by sharing his Baby Ruth bar, even though that film was released a year after the events of "Stranger Things 2."

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Bill Skarsgård in It (2017)

Mr. Baldo ("Chapter Three: The Pollywog")

In an attempt to help Will, Bob talks about the nightmares he had as a child. These featured Mr. Baldo, a creepy clown who would extend a fat white glove and ask: "Hey, kiddo. Would you like a balloon?"

Despite the fact that Stephen King’s "It" was not published until 1986 (two years after the events of "Stranger Things" Season 2), this sure sounds like Pennywise the Clown, who enticed a young boy to his death with the words: "Hi, Georgie … Do you want a balloon?"

Plus, when Bob didn't act afraid anymore, the nightmares stopped. Pennywise fed on fear and was defeated when the children were no longer afraid of him.

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Megan Follows in Anne of Green Gables (1985)

"Anne of Green Gables" ("Chapter Three: The Pollywog")

Hopper’s bedtime story for Eleven is "Anne of Green Gables," the story of an orphan girl, sent to an elderly brother and sister by mistake, who charms her new community with fiery spirit and imagination. Reading the part about her mother foreshadows Eleven's investigation into her own origins.

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Ted Danson and Shelley Long in Cheers (1982)

"Cheers" ("Chapter Four: Will the Wise")

As Eleven watches TV, we get a brief look at Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane (Shelley Long) on sitcom "Cheers." If the timings line up, this would be the episode "Sam Turns the Other Cheek," broadcast Nov. 1, 1984.

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Al Pacino in Scarface (1983)

"Push It to the Limit" ("Chapter Four: Will the Wise")

Steve's basketball practice is accompanied by the song "Scarface (Push It to the Limit)," an amazingly '80s song by Paul Engemann. As the song title suggests, it first featured on the soundtrack to Scarface (1983).

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Henry Thomas in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

A Load of Baloney ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")

In yet another reference to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Dustin lays a trail of baloney to lure out the pollywog, much like Elliott lay a trail of Reese's Pieces for E.T.

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Richard Dawson in Family Feud (1976)

"Family Feud" ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")

When Eleven finds her mother, she has game show "Family Feud" on the TV, hosted by Richard Dawson. The game show host would later play the antagonist in Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The Running Man (1987), based on a story by Stephen King.

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Mel Gibson in The Road Warrior (1981)

Road Warrior ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")

When Max meets Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) at the Palace Arcade, employee Keith (Matty Cardarople) calls her "Road Warrior," a nod to the second Mad Max movie, The Road Warrior (1981). Fittingly, in a later episode, Max gets behind the wheel of a car and lives up to her nickname.

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Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, and Jonathan Ke Quan in The Goonies (1985)

You Goonie! ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")

It's clear the Duffers are fans of The Goonies (1985), a movie about a group of small town kids setting out on an adventure, based on a story by Steven Spielberg.

So, it was a great nostalgia nod when Sean Astin, who played Goonies leader Mikey, joined the series as Joyce's new boyfriend, Bob. As if to cement the connection, Joyce asks Bob to help her decipher Will’s drawings and "Find the X," to which he replies: "What’s at the X? Pirate treasure?" The Goonies, of course, used an old map marked with an 'X' to hunt pirate treasure.

Incidentally, filming on The Goonies began on Oct. 22, 1984, meaning a 13-year-old Sean Astin was in front of the camera over the same Halloween during which "Stranger Things 2" takes place.

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The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")

There are a few references throughout "Stranger Things" to Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981), of which the poster was on Jonathan's wall in Season 1. In this season, Eleven looking under the floorboards of the cabin in the woods could be a nod. But the image of a swing swaying in front of a house and the vines that pin down Hopper are more blatant references to the horror classic.

Also, the moment in "Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer", when the camera zooms toward the Byers house, recalls a scene from The Evil Dead.

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Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Chief Hopper and the Temple of Doom ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")

When escaping the tunnels beneath Hawkins, Chief Hopper makes sure to grab his hat in a way that recalls Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).

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Brooke Adams in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers ("Chapter Five: Dig Dug")

When the vines are burned in the tunnels beneath Merrill's Farm, Will collapses and lets out a terrifying, open-mouthed, wide-eyed scream that reminded us of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).

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Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indy and Willie ("Chapter Six: The Spy")

In a further reference to Indiana Jones, Nancy and Jonathan talk to themselves in separate bedrooms before both emerging and spending the night together – much like Indy and Willie in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).

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It (2017)

Maine ("Chapter Six: The Spy")

While dealing with the ongoing insanity in Hawkins, Bob says to Joyce: "Kinda makes my idea of moving to Maine sound less crazy." This might not be such a good idea as Maine is the setting for many horror stories from the pen of Stephen King.

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The Endless Summer (1966)

The Endless Summer ("Chapter Six: The Spy")

The kids in "Stranger Things" all have posters in their bedrooms which say something about them. For Max, it is The Endless Summer, a surfing documentary befitting of the California girl.

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Paul Reiser in Aliens (1986)

Burke ("Chapter Six: The Spy")

Casting Paul Reiser was a clear nod to his questionable company man character, Carter Burke, in James Cameron's Aliens (1986). The connection is never more clear than when his "Stranger Things" character, Dr. Sam Owens, is watching the deaths of his soldiers on security monitors as they are surrounded by beeping red dots on radar – much like the events of Aliens.

In a bonus Aliens reference, before the soldiers enter the central chamber, one uses Cpl. Dwayne Hicks line from Aliens and tells the others: "Stay frosty."

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Mark Hamill in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Eleven the Jedi ("Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister")

When Eleven moves a large container in a train yard, with encouragement from her long-lost "sister" Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), it reminded us of Luke Skywalker attempting to move an X-Wing with help from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Later, El uses her power to nearly choke a man to death, much like Star Wars villain Darth Vader.

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Soleil Moon Frye and Sandy in Punky Brewster (1984)

"Punky Brewster" ("Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister")

When Eleven confronts the man who gave electric shock therapy to her mother, he is watching family comedy series "Punky Brewster.” The choice is notable as the show is about a young, abandoned girl who is eventually adopted by a grouchy, older man – much like El and Hopper – and this episode has Punky talking about going to the doctor and being tormented by a giant needle.

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Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Attenborough in Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park ("Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer")

With the Hawkins lab under siege by creatures, Bob volunteers to get the power back on, reprogram the systems, and unlock the doors. It recalls Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), when Samuel L. Jackson heads off to get the park "back online."

In addition, both Chief Hopper and Jurassic Park's Muldoon (Bob Peck) utter the same line: "Where are the breakers?"

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Winona Ryder in Stranger Things (2016)

Christmas Lights ("Chapter Nine: The Gate")

Early in the finale, Steve and Nancy go looking for space heaters in the Byers' backyard and pull out a set of Christmas lights. These played a significant role in the first season, acting as Will’s way to communicate with his mother, Joyce, from the Upside Down.

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Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, and Jason Miller in The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist ("Chapter Nine: The Gate")

There are numerous nods to horror The Exorcist (1973) throughout "Stranger Things 2," dealing as it does with a youngster possessed by a malevolent demon. But the connection is perhaps most clear in the finale as Will is tied to a bed, while his skin changes color as the demon comes close to the surface.

A further reference sees Will communicate via Morse Code when he can no longer speak. In The Exorcist, Reagan (Linda Blair) makes the words "Help Me" appear on her own skin.

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Sophie Turner in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Dark Phoenix ("Chapter Nine: The Gate")

When Eleven uses her powers to close the gate, we couldn’t help but think of the Dark Phoenix storyline of the "X-Men" comics in which Jean Grey unleashes her ultimate powers of telekinesis. The fact that El levitates and is surrounded by flames connects it even more.

As a more timely reference, it could also be seen as a nod to Stephen King’s Firestarter (1984).