Netflix boss suggests Stranger Things season 4 was shortened by pandemic costs

Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield in Stranger Things 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things season 4 was the longest season of the sci-fi series to date – clocking in at 13 hours in total. But Netflix boss Ted Sarandos has suggested it could have been even longer had it not been for pandemic-related costs.

Netflix confirmed Covid fees amounted to between five and 10 per cent of its $17bn content spend. As a result, some shows like Stranger Things had to be stripped back.

"If you did that all again and took that off the top you might even get a couple of extra episodes out of it," Sarandos explained to Deadline. "[Stranger Things] was probably affected as any because of the young cast and the size and scope of the production and the multiple locations that we shot in. It was a very expensive burden on the show to make sure that we could deliver it."

He added that the pandemic costs spent on the show were also one of the reasons it was split into two parts. Stranger Things season 4 Volume 1 featured seven episodes while Volume 2 only had two episodes. "One of the catalysts of splitting the season was how long it took to produce that show," Sarandos continued. "A lot of that was stalled because of early shutdowns of the production and being extremely careful with the cast of the show, early on in Covid."

Show creators the Duffer Brothers have already announced plans that Stranger Things season 5 will be slightly shorter. Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Matt Duffer said that they won’t have to waste any time getting into the storyline as it was already set up in the Stranger Things season 4 ending

However, the creators did confirm they still have plans for the final episode to be 2.5 hours. "I’m sure the wrap-up will be a lot longer," Matt explained. "It’s going to be Return of the King-ish with, like, eight endings."

Want more Stranger Things? Check out our guide to who died in Volume 2, the biggest Easter eggs we spotted, as well as our tribute to a fan-favorite character.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.