Horror master Stephen King once said that watching Stranger Things is like “watching Steve King’s Greatest Hits. I mean that in a good way.” There are dozens of references and homages to the author’s books sprinkled throughout the series: Eleven is a mashup of Carrie and Charlie McGee from Firestarter; the “Stranger Things font” is similar to the Needful Things cover; all the discussions happening along railroad tracks, like in Stand By Me, etc.
But the King book that had the biggest impact on co-creators Ross and Matt Duffer was It. “That’s probably the biggest,” Ross explained, “I think just because we’re the age of those characters when we’re reading it, so it’s not that his other books aren’t amazing, they were.” But, Matt continued, “That made probably the biggest impact on us.” It’s easy to imagine Will, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max, and Eleven forming a Losers Club, and not just because the actor who plays Mike (the wonderfully-named Finn Wolfhard) is also in It.
That isn’t the only connection between Pennywise the Dancing Clown and Stranger Things, at least according to a popular fan theory. One of season two’s most memorable new characters is Bob Newby, who loves working at Radio Shack and Joyce, in that order. At one point, he mentions that he grew up in Maine in the 1950s and that he’s terrified of clowns. Sound familiar?
It, the book, takes place in the 1950s, unlike It, the movie, which is set in the 1980s. But there’s a link to the decade of Stranger Things, too.
Bob also defeated his scary nightmare clown the same way the Losers Club beat their scary nightmare clown: by saying they’re not afraid anymore.
It’s a convincing fan theory, as far as fan theories go, and I wouldn’t put it past the Duffer brothers, who are extremely deliberate in their homages, to have intentionally slipped the connection into the show. But we won’t know for sure either way until Chief Hopper does the Pennywise dance.