The evolution of the Stranger Things title sequence has been revealed through a fascinating series of early versions. The second season of the megahit Netflix series has been out long enough to dissect every detail and analyze the good, the bad, and the polarizing – but most would agree on the quality of the opening titles. Combined with the show’s now-iconic theme song, its superbly retro title sequence draws you in like few series in recent memory, practically daring you to press that “Skip Intro” button.
Like any crucial element of a series in pre-production, the opening credits for Stranger Things went through some changes and several early drafts before Matt and Ross Duffer settled on the titles as they are known today. As you’ll see in the primitive editions of the main title, the first visions of it were much different.
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Check out a gallery of early versions of the Stranger Things title sequence below, as revealed in a new story by Vulture. Creative agency Imaginary Forces was the company behind the opening credits, and it took “months” for them to reach the final version despite already having the theme song to work off during the production process. Creative director Michelle Dougherty explained that they originally created some titles that evoked the ’80s, but as a modern take on the decade. The Duffer Brothers eventually decided that they wanted the title to be “something that could genuinely be mistaken for being created in the ’80s,” suggesting that Imaginary Forces look into vintage Stephen King book covers.
The Duffers were also interested in employing a “kinetic typography” effect, using slow-moving letters that gradually converge into the main title. It’s a technique that can be seen in ’80s classics like The Terminator. But interestingly enough, the creators pointed to an iconic movie from the ’90s for inspiration, as Dougherty explained:
“They referenced the Pulp Fiction title sequence, which is one long pullout on the screen. That’s where we ended up going … we were trying to go for a practical, optical look.”
Imaginary Forces and the Duffers worked together on coming up with the final font, which the brothers had worked on themselves before sending to the company for some final tweaks. They also debated between making the title red or blue and eventually, of course, settled on red. Much like the myriad fonts that were tried out, the color alone could have given Stranger Things’ opening credits a completely different feel. The process of creating the sequence sounds quite tedious, but the painstaking attention to detail resulted in one of the most compelling intros on TV.
Ultimately, the earlier versions of the credits did look too clean and modern to even remotely resemble a show that’s supposed to embody ’80s pop culture. The convergence of the theme music, kinetic typography, striking red font, and crackling film grain aesthetic made the opening sequence all the more memorable. It’s almost unfathomable how differently it could have looked.
Stranger Things 2 is now available on Netflix.