Rumours on TikTok have sprung up recently that The Duffer Brothers and Netflix have retroactively edited Stranger Things to make Jonathan Byers appear less of a creep. This has not been helped by the Duffers admitting that they did (or plan to) make a small edit to an earlier episode so it wouldn’t look like they had forgotten Will Byers’ birthday.
In an interview with Variety on June 2, 2022, the Duffers opened a can of worms by saying; “I think what we’re going to do is we’ll go and George Lucas it. We’re thinking his new birthday is going to be May 22nd [a change from March 22nd], because “May” can fit in Winona’s mouth [in the Season 2 scene where Joyce says the date of Will’s birthday]. So that would be us George Lucasing the situation.”
This has led a section of the fandom to believe that the Duffers are “George Lucasing” all sorts of things willy-nilly throughout the four seasons of Stranger Things. But of course that’s not true. The rumour that the season one episode where Jonathan spies on an undressing Nancy was re-edited to make it seem less creepy has been disproved.
Ethan Anderton of SlashFilm has done some investigating, using physical media to come to the rescue. He has the first season on Blu-ray and has compared the scene to the one on Netflix, and concludes that no change has been made. The Duffers also tweeted on July 26; “no scenes from previous seasons have ever been cut or re-edited. And they never will be.”
There is some debate over whether older movies should have offensive material edited out or be left intact. When Disney Plus launched, the decision was made to leave old movies – which can have racist and sexist depictions, among other issues – as they were, but to include a warning that provides context; “this program contains negative depictions or mistreatment of people/cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”
Anyway, it seems as though the Duffers do want to rectify Will’s birthday continuity, but aren’t going to reactively make changes that make characters seem more ‘pure’ or ‘good’ than they are.
While we wait for the fifth and final season of Stranger Things, check out our review of the season four finale.