Stranger Things: How To Introduce A Character
Several terms can be used to describe Netflix’s Stanger Things; scary, heartwarming, nostalgic, and maybe a little overrated. But the strongest quality that has made the series so successful and has helped it earn its cult-like following is its 11 characters. Despite this high number of characters, it is fairly easy to get to know all of them before the end of the first season, which is just 8 episodes.
Stranger Things allows viewers to identify basic traits of each character once they appear on the scene. There was no need for any back story of any of the characters nor did they have to spend time trying to develop their traits and personalities.
The writers of Stranger Things, The Duffer Brothers, used a technique called The Character Bounce Effect. They use this effect in the first episode of the film to let the audience know who the characters are and how they play in the story.
Credit: Karsten Runquist
The season kicks off with the boys playing in their basement. The boys then break into an argument. This scene reveals that Mike is the one creating the conflict for the boys as he is the dungeon master. Dustin freaks out easily as they lose the dice setting him up as the comic relief. Lucas shows a sense of urgency from the way he argues, setting him up as the type of character he ends up being throughout the season.
Will does not have a sense of input, but relies on what the other boys say for his next move. This opening scene lasts about 45 seconds, but in such a brief period a fair amount is known about four of the seasons’ eleven characters. In this scene, characters are bounced off each other’s unbelief and perspective resulting in a greater understanding of who each character is, hence the term “character bounce effect”.
Although Chief Hopper doesn’t mentality go against anyone specifically, his opening scene leaves the audience with a clear sense of disappointment through his unhealthy habits and him ignoring the media on his way out the door.
The character bounce effect is also used in the two most important characters in the season; Joyce and Jonathan. These two gets into an argument over Jonathan not coming home and taking a shift while his mum was working the night before. Their argument reveals that Jonathan has a sense of caring for his family while Joyce is pretty anxious in dealing with her family considering how small the mistake was and how upset she got at the moment.
For Barb and Nance, the audience gets to know more about them when Nance brings up her relationship with Steve. Barb is worried that the new relationship will separate their friendship. Nance can be seen as unaware and possess a lack of understanding when arguing, while Barb exhibit disappointment and logic. These traits are evident in these characters in all 8 episodes of the season.
For Steve, he gets into an argument with Nance over going to class and the urgency of the situation. This reveals him as a jerk who has little sympathy for no one but himself.
Eleven gets across her perspective in any argument without even talking, this reveals how she makes connections with the other characters throughout the season.
Little is known about Dr. Brenner by the end of the season, this is not because he played a smaller role or didn’t get as much screen time. But in his case, the character bounce effect is used in the opposite way to give a mysterious vibe to a character. In his opening scene, he is surrounded by people who work for him and none of them go against his orders, therefore no opposite perspective was provided.
People’s true color is revealed when something they disagree with is brought up. And in the 30mins of the first episode of Stranger Things, this happens to every character through their interactions.
For season 2 to be as successful as the first season, these characters must be forced to deal with new things that are against their beliefs or new beliefs must be discovered about these characters.
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