All the A Nightmare on Elm Street References You May've Missed in Stranger Things Season 4

Discover all the bone-chilling ways Stranger Things season four paid tribute to Wes Craven's cult classic horror hit, A Nightmare on Elm Street.

By Alyssa Ray May 29, 2022 10:00 AMTags
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(Warning: the below features spoilers for Stranger Things season four.)

Stranger Things season four was certainly a return to the Netflix series' horror roots.

In fact, Stanger Things star Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington, warned E! News' While You Were Streaming that the new installment—out May 27—may be too "disturbing" for younger viewers.

"Kids will be scared," he promised at the time. "Kids will have nightmares."

And season four definitely lived up to the hype, as it introduced a new villain reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger.

Now, this isn't the first time that creators Matt and Ross Duffer have paid tribute to '80s horror classics. In previous seasons, we've seen references to JawsClose Encounters Of The Third Kind, Halloween, Day of the DeadInvasion of the Body Snatchers, and Poltergeist, among others.

However, this time around, A Nightmare on Elm Street was the muse, inspiring not one, not two, but six separate references to Wes Craven's 1984 slasher.

Stranger Things Kids Through the Years

Keep reading to find out all the ways Stranger Things paid tribute to A Nightmare on Elm Street:

The Return of Robert Englund

The first connection between Stranger Things and A Nightmare on Elm Street: actor Robert Englund.

Englund famously portrayed Nightmare on Elm Street villain Freddy Krueger in several of the franchise's films, including the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, 2003's Freddy vs. Jason, to name a few.

Englund returns to the horror genre in Stranger Things season four, playing Vecna's first victim Victor Creel.

Teens Haunted in Their Dreams

Much like Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Stranger Things season four villain Vecna terrorizes teens in their dreams. Yet, unlike Freddy, Vecna is able to eventually attack the terrified teens while they're awake.

Humans Turned Monsters

Another similarity between Freddy Krueger and Vecna? They both were human once.

As we learned in season four, episode seven, Vecna was originally Victor Creel's telekinetic son, before getting captured by Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) and renamed "001" or One.

Per a flashback, a face-off with Eleven at Hawkins Lab results in One being sent into the toxic Upside Down, resulting in his transformation into a humanoid creature.

Freddy had a similar backstory, as the movie reveals the ghostly killer was once a human child killer, who was burned alive by the loved ones of victims—leaving his charred spirit to seek revenge.

Wrongly Accused Teens

Stranger Things newcomer Joseph Quinn plays Eddie Munson, the leader of the Dungeons and Dragons group The Hellfire Club. While Eddie initially comes off like a total bad boy, it's revealed that he's actually a big sweetheart, who loves metal music and fantasy games.

Eddie—who witnesses classmate Chrissy get murdered by Vecna and is eventually accused of murdering the Hawkins High cheerleader—reminds us of A Nightmare on Elm Street's Rod (Jesus "Jsu" Garcia).

Like Eddie, Rod watches helpless as his girlfriend Tina is killed in her sleep by a mysterious culprit. He is later arrested for her murder.

Nancy Is on the Case

It can't be a coincidence that Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) is Vecna's target as season four, volume one comes to a close. Why do we think this? Well, because the final girl in the original Nightmare on Elm Street movie is also named Nancy (Heather Langenkamp).

Both characters are curious brunettes, who refuse to go down without a fight. While Nancy Wheeler's fate is up in the air in episode seven of season four, we're betting that she'll find a way to defeat Vecna, just like Nancy Thompson defeated Freddy Krueger.

Terrifying Blood

Nothing says horror scene like gallons of unexpected blood. Stranger Things seems to pay tribute to Johnny Depp's bloody death in A Nightmare on Elm Street by having Nancy Wheeler placed in an empty swimming pool as it fills up with, you guessed it, blood.

Watch the latest episode of E!'s While You Were Streaming Friday, Nov. 11, at 9 a.m. PT on Twitter @enews.