While fans await the return of their beloved sci-fi show Stranger Things, Netflix has offered a road map to how and when the series will ultimately end.
With season four on the way, Netflix have confirmed that it will be the second last chapter in the show’s run, and that the final season will then follow on directly from it.
So what exactly does this mean for the residents of Hawkins?
Here’s everything we know so far.
Have the rumours of Hopper's demise been exaggerated? Picture: Netflix
What happened at the end of season three?
Stranger Things once again ended on something of a cliff-hanger with a season three finale that saw Hopper sacrificing himself to destroy the machine the Russians had built to access the Upside Down.
He appeared to have been killed by the explosion but, as nobody was ever recovered, it is equally possible that he was sucked over into the other dimension.
Alternatively, the finale’s post-credits scene revealed that a person named only as “the American” was being held by the Russians, and many have speculated that this could also be where Hopper ended up.
One character that does seem to be gone for good is Billy – after Eleven helped him to fend of the Mind Flayer by re-connecting him with his sense of humanity, the alien killed him.
We know for sure that Joyce, Jonathon, Will and Eleven have all packed up and left Hawkins so it’s unclear whether the next season will be set back there or take off to a new location.
So long to Billy and his brave, brave hair choices. Picture: Netflix
What is going to happen next?
From the latest reports, it appears that once the show returns, fans should prepare themselves for the final stretch.
The current understanding is that the show’s fourth and fifth seasons will serve as two halves of the same story rather than two distinct entries, meaning that the next season will really be the beginning of the end for Stranger Things.
None of this is certain so far but the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, have previously expressed a desire to end the show before it outstays its welcome and had specifically suggested that the fourth season might be its last.
Given that the fifth season sounds more like season four: part two, it seems they have more or less stuck to this plan.
The creators have also mentioned their desire to tell stories that stretch beyond Hawkins so it seems likely that Joyce and family’s decision to leave at the end of season three will stick going into the next season.
However, it is worth keeping in mind that all of this has yet to be officially confirmed so it’s entirely possible that this proposed timeline is actually off the mark.
There is no official word yet on when season four will arrive on Netflix but many are expecting it sometime in the later half of 2020 going by the previous seasons’ release schedule, although others believe it won’t be until next summer.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, The i.