Stranger Things season 3 plot synopsis and episode titles tease one big final showdown

Stranger Things season 3
Image credit: Netflix

The Stranger Things season 3 synopsis and episode titles are here. As they will soon prove, the third outing for the gang in Hawkins, Indiana is leaning heavily on the nostalgia of those sweet childhood summers where you didn’t have a care in the world. 

Except, things could still be shaken up in a big way: A possible friendship split, which was hinted at in a recent Stranger Things season 3 trailer, and a Barb-style murder mystery could be on the horizon. Then there’s the small matter of the Battle of Starcourt…

So, what to expect from Stranger Things season 3? The synopsis reads: “It’s 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana, and summer’s heating up. School’s out, there’s a brand new mall in town, and the Hawkins crew are on the cusp of adulthood. Romance blossoms and complicates the group’s dynamic, and they’ll have to figure out how to grow up without growing apart. Meanwhile, danger looms.”

“When the town’s threatened by enemies old and new, Eleven and her friends are reminded that evil never ends; it evolves. Now they’ll have to band together to survive, and remember that friendship is always stronger than fear.”

Lots to parse out there, namely the fact that the group sounds more fractured than ever, especially with Dustin and Lucas potentially involved in a love triangle with Max. However, it all sounds like things will be worked out by the time the finale rolls around. After all, this is the 1980s, and what better way to end with a schmaltzy reunion in the face of unfathomable evil?

In fact, we can go one better. The Stranger Things season 3 episode titles can help us chart out what’s about to go down in Hawkins circa 1985 and what might happen in the last episode. Here they are:

  • Suzie, Do You Copy?
  • The Mallrats
  • The Case of the Missing Lifeguard
  • The Sauna Test
  • The Source
  • The Birthday
  • The Bite
  • The Battle of Starcourt

While most of these are as generic as generic can be, episodes three, seven, and eight (yep, only eight episodes this time around) all stand out.

The Case of the Missing Lifeguard could just as easily be an Upside Down abduction in the style of poor Barb back in season 1. Who’s the only lifeguard we know? It’s Billy – and wouldn’t you just know it, the Stranger Things season 3 trailer also shows him with a bite on his arm.

Billy may yet end up being one of the (accidental) villains of the piece, but it’s clear that all roads lead to The Battle of Starcourt. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the new mall – where Steve works at Scoops Ahoy – in town.

Things should come to a head there in one final showdown between good and evil, and hopefully everyone’s worked out their differences before then. It’s not quite the Battle of Wakanda, but the Battle of Starcourt should turn things up to Eleven and have its fair share of fist-pumping moments. It’s going to be a summer to remember, that’s for sure.

The Upside Down is taking over. There's a Stranger Things Fortnite crossover in the works.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.