The Netflix series is not your typical television show. It really isn’t a television show at all; I don’t consider any livestreaming series to be “television” even though you watch it on a television set. You can watch YouTube videos on a television set, too, but that doesn’t make it TV. Hair-splitting aside, though, your standard television series gets something like 22 episodes per season. Series like STRANGER THINGS would qualify as miniseries-es at best. If it were a normal TV series we’d have something like 65 to 70 full episodes after three seasons. We really need to stop thinking of the show as a TV series, then, because after it finishes its five-season run—put “season” in quotation marks—it will have given the world content enough for one standard network television series. Just one.
The show, though, will be ending on the creators’ terms, and that’s a good thing. It will be ending not because the ratings have tanked, but simply because the story is completed. Said EP Shawn Levy: “…we never wanted to run on fumes and we wanted to only tell as much story as the [Duffer] brothers saw and feel with clarity. So it’s been clear for a while that they know exactly where we’re headed and this is the arc. We wouldn’t want to stick around for one moment beyond that vision and the clarity of that voice”. Most standard TV shows stay on the air long after they’ve jumped the shark, evidence of the law of diminishing returns. It’ll be nice that STRANGER THINGS won’t fall into that trap.