Caution: Spoilers Ahead for Stranger Things season 4!
There are plenty of familiar faces in Stranger Things season 4, and the Netflix series includes a few older and unexpected cast members from the show’s past. Now that the wait for another season of Stranger Things is over, fans around the world can see how Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Hopper (David Harbour), and others’ stories have developed. After telling a story almost entirely self-contained in Hawkins and The Upside Down for the first three seasons, Stranger Things season 4 moves beyond these two locations to include California and Russia as part of its narrative.
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The multiple locations in Stranger Things season 4 provide the show with a big enough landscape to include a plethora of returning characters. Eleven, Mike, Will, and Jonathan’s story is mostly contained to California, while Dustin, Lucas, Max, Steve, Nancy, and Robin remain in Hawkins. Hopper’s storyline in Russia ultimately brings Joyce and Murray to the foreign country as well. As all of these storylines converge around the growing threat Vecna poses, Stranger Things season 4 also introduces plenty of new characters. Eddie Munson plays a pivotal role in everything that unfolds in Hawkins, Hopper’s Russian guard Dmitri is involved in his escape plan, and Jonathan’s best friend Argyle joins the group in California.
Related: What Happens Next For Hopper, Joyce & Murray In Russia
With a cast as sprawling as this, the Game of Thrones comparisons for Stranger Things season 4 that became popular in the lead-up to the show’s return make a great deal of sense. However, these characters are also just the tip of the iceberg in terms of who appears. There are multiple other supporting characters throughout the season that add to the Stranger Things mythology. But since the show also has three prior seasons under its belt, there is also the opportunity for many other familiar faces to appear at different points—an opportunity Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 doesn’t waste.
Dr. Martin Brenner
Matthew Modine’s Dr. Martin Brenner returns in Stranger Things season 4. He was introduced during season 1 of the Netflix show as the director of Hawkins National Laboratory. Dr. Brenner is responsible for experimenting on several children, including Eleven. When one of these experiments went wrong and brought a Demogorgon to the lab, the chaos that ensued allowed Eleven to escape. This sent Brenner and the rest of his team into a frenzy to find Eleven and learn more about the dimension where the Demogorgon came from. He was eventually attacked by the monster and presumably died, but Stranger Things season 2 included a tease that he was still alive.
Brenner’s Stranger Things season 4 return comes at the very beginning through a flashback to 1979. This included showing an earlier massacre at the lab where Eleven was thought to have killed many of the other children. Stranger Things season 4 uses Dr. Brenner more later on in the season as part of Eleven’s quest to regain her powers. The show confirms that Brenner survived the Demogorgon attack in the process, and he ultimately is responsible for helping Eleven’s powers return through access to the Nina Project.
Stranger Things season 4 also includes a Billy Hargrove cameo. Dacre Montgomery joined the series during season 2, where he was introduced as Max’s older step-brother. A prototypical bad-boy, Billy and Max didn’t have a great relationship, as the abuse he suffered as a child carried over into his relationship with Max, but the strength of their bond was proven over time. Stranger Things season 3 turned Billy into a major villain for the series, as he was eventually possessed by The Mind Flayer. Billy ultimately had a redemptive end, as Eleven brought his consciousness back to control, leading to him sacrificing himself to save Eleven.
Related: Stranger Things 4: What Max’s Song Really Means
Despite the very definitive death for Billy in the real world, there was plenty of speculation he’d return in Stranger Things season 4. He was featured early on in the season thanks to Max having nightmares of the events, but that was thankfully not the full extent of his presence. Stranger Things season 4, episode 4 – titled “Dear Billy” – includes a powerful reunion between Max and Billy. Dacre Montgomery returns for a Billy cameo in Stranger Things season 4 as Vecna uses a vision of him to haunt Max. It might not be a role that gives Billy more to do in the show’s final season, but it does show the series’ attempt to make Billy’s Stranger Things death feel even more important.
Dr. Sam Owens
Another somewhat unexpected Stranger Things character return in season 4 sees Paul Reiser reprise his role as Dr. Sam Owens. He was introduced during season 2 as the new director of Hawkins Lab following the mysterious disappearance of Brenner. While Brenner was more of an antagonist for Eleven, Hopper, and the rest of the show’s main characters, Owens proved to be much more of an ally. He helped cover up the various battles with The Upside Down and the Russian invasion that culminated with the Battle of Starcourt. Owens even played a major role in helping Eleven and the Byers move out of Hawkins in the hope that this would help keep everyone safe and undetected.
Dr. Owens returns in Stranger Things season 4 to once again come to Eleven’s aid. After Vecna’s curse begins killing teenagers in Hawkins, Eleven becomes a prime suspect for the government due to her powers. While that puts Eleven in the crosshairs of the government, Owens intercepts her with the belief that she can help defeat the evil that is once again attacking Hawkins. This leads Dr. Owens to unveil his Nina Project and convince Eleven to work with him (and Dr. Brenner) to regain her abilities. Since his leadership of Hawkins Lab didn’t go well and led to him being fired, though, it was never a guarantee that he’d return in Stranger Things season 4.
Dustin’s girlfriend also returns for a supporting role, as Suzie Bingham (Gabriella Pizzolo) returns in Stranger Things season 4. She played a minor role in season 3 of the show in terms of screentime but was ultimately a huge help in saving the day by knowing Planck’s Constant. Since Suzie is Dustin’s long-distance girlfriend from camp, it was not known if she’d be part of the follow-up season. Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 confirms her involvement in the very first episode with a cameo before Suzie returns in a bigger capacity in episode 6.
Related: Stranger Things’ Nina Project Explained: Is It Time Travel?
Stranger Things season 4 also technically includes a cameo from Barb (Shannon Purser), the fan-favorite season 1 character. Barb played a massive role, particularly early on in season 1 as her disappearance led Nancy and Jonathan to partner up to find out what happened to her. This was how they eventually learned that Barb died from an attack by the Demogorgon in The Upside Down. The show’s handling of her death sparked a big fan movement asking for #JusticeForBarb. Barb’s role in Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 comes when Vecna forces Nancy to relive the moment of Barb’s death and see the corpse of her former best friend. It’s not exactly the appearance many wanted for Barb in Stranger Things season 4, as plenty of theories still hoped she survived somehow.
More: Stranger Things’ Number 1 Fully Explained
Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 is streaming now on Netflix.
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About The Author
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Cooper Hood is a news and feature writer for Screen Rant. He joined Screen Rant in late 2016 following a year-long stint with MCU Exchange, which came after first developing an MCU blog of his own. He graduated college in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Media & Public Communication, with a minor in Media Production. Cooper’s love for movies began by watching Toy Story and Lion King on repeat as a child, but it wasn’t until The Avengers that he took an invested interest in movies and the filmmaking process, leading him to discover the world of film journalism. Every year Cooper looks forward to seeing the latest blockbusters from the likes of Marvel, DC, and Star Wars, but also loves the rush to catch up on Oscar films near the end of the year. When he isn’t writing about or watching new releases, Cooper is a fantasy football obsessive and looking to expand his Blu-Ray collection – because physical media is still king! Follow Cooper on Twitter @MovieCooper.
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