North Carolina natives noticed something when they first began watching Netflix’s hit series, Stranger Things, a 80s cultural phenomenon that took the world by storm when it first released. Something was familiar to North Carolina, specifically, some of the names used in the series were similar to places in a town called Durham. But little did everyone else know just how many secret North Carolina easter eggs were hidden in the show, that is, unless you’re familiar with the city.
2 hours northeast of Charlotte, Durham is the 4th most-populous city in North Carolina and is akin to a university city, with North Carolina Central and Duke University both residing there. When the show aired, most people didn’t realize that the Duffer Brothers are actually from North Carolina’s very own Durham.
While the fiction world of Hawkins isn’t real and wasn’t filmed in North Carolina, instead filmed in Georgia, namesakes in the city have been given to fictional places in Hawkins. The intersection where Will goes missing in Season 1 is detailed by Mike as, “where Cornwallis and Kerley meet,” a reference to an actual intersection in Durham. Located not too far from that intersection is the neighborhood, Loch Nora, where the kids go trick or treating.
Inspired by their childhood, the Duffer Brothers sought to create something that appealed and gave homage to their childhood in Durham as well as their love for older 80s movies. The town of Hawkins, the fictional town where the story takes place, has a mixed DNA comprised of Steven King’s small towns, towns set in 80s movies, Atlanta, and closest to the Duffer Brothers heart, Durham.
Places like Jordan Lake are switched around in the series as not so discreet references, like when the series calls the location Lake Jordan, and even less subtle references, like Bullock’s, a BBQ joint in Durham.
For anyone interested in a video tour of Durham’s references in Stranger Things, TikTok creator Molexik visited many of the iconic locations himself.
Right now, film production in North Carolina is in a little bit of a lull. After the iconic filming of Iron Man 3, production of future films in North Carolina came to a screeching hot because of lawmakers ditching an incentives program that would help filmmakers recoup some of the money spent in the state. Thankfully, since even before the pandemic and furthered by it, it’s looking like 2021 was the biggest return to production in the state we’d seen.
“Hopefully one day” [we’ll] film “Stranger Things” in their home state, Duffer said. “We would love to give back to the community if we could.”