How Stranger Things & The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can lead you to a better life.

If you haven't finished the second season of Netflix's Stranger Things then you should really question your life and what you have accomplished in it so far. Joking, obviously, but the narrative of your own life story will improve if you check it out. 

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Season 2 begins with the world of Hawkins being at a stasis.

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The boys are back to their normal shenanigans and Eleven is out of the picture

remaining safe holed up in Hopper's cabin. 

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The action rises when a mysterious force inhabits Will

unfolding a puzzle for the rest of the characters to solve. A quest begins when the boys and Joyce join forces with Bob to solve the puzzle of the map that Will draws.

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The climax comes to a head

in season 2 during episode eight when all the character's begin to work together. Bob Newby, 'Superhero', steps up and sacrifices himself for the cause.

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The action falls when Eleven and Hopper return to the lab and Eleven closes the gate.

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Season 2 of Stranger Things ends as the world

of Hawkins returns to a stasis once again. The boys are back in school at the Snow Ball dance.

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Mike and Eleven


reunite on the dance floor and share one final kiss. 

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The spring of 1990 brought the first 'live-action' version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the big screen and it was the highest grossing independent film of all time. 

Similar to the cast of Stranger Things, the Turtles encounter a problem that they must solve.

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A rise in crime in New York City alerts news reporter

April O'Neil and she connects it to a growing gang known as the Foot Clan.

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The action rises

when April is attacked by the Foot, but is saved by Raphael who takes her back to their home. Splinter explains their origins and introduces her to Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo.

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The turtles take April home and they return to find their home ransacked and Splinter missing.

After a heated argument between Leonardo and Raphael, Raphael goes up to the roof of April's building and is attacked by dozens of Foot Clan members.

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The Climax is reached when Casey and Danny free Splinter,

and the Turtles face off against Shredder, who outmatches them.

Taunting the Turtles, Shredder claims to have killed Splinter, causing Leonardo to attack him. 

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Splinter then faces Shredder.

Splinter tries to spare him, but Shredder attacks and he falls into a garbage truck. Casey turns on the trash compactor and crushes Shredder.

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The police arrive and arrest the defeated Foot Ninjas.

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Casey and April meet and they kiss.

The kiss is met with cheering from the Turtles and a cheering 'cowabunga'.

Netflix's period piece darling Stranger Things drew an estimated 15 million viewers for its premiere episode. It's viewership ran close par with network shows during the week of it's release.

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The growing phenomenon of the show leads us to look back.

Being set in the early 1980's, nostalgia seeps out of every episode with it's full-size vans, upright arcade games, banana seat bicycles, cigarette smoking, and the hair. Oh the hairspray involved. Don't forget the cans of Schiltz. Bring on the hangover.

Nostalgia comes with a certain amount of reflection. By taking a look back in time, we realize that what remains present is the need for story.

Through storytelling we gain the knowledge of what life is about, how to live it, and who we are as individuals.  

Fast forward six years from the setting of Stranger Things in the humble and quiet Hawkins, Indiana to the east and we have The Teenage Mutant Ninja Mutant Ninja Turtles set in crime ridden pre-Giuliani New York City. 

Skip past the hair, the wall paper, and the sentimentality and focus on the theme that connects Stranger Things & The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

3 focal points stand out:

     1. Characters

     2. Sacrifice

     3. Journey

Characters are at the forefront. Strong, driven, and idealistic voices lead the action packed plot lines along in both franchises leaving the audience with little to ask for.

The characters of Stranger Things & The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are eerily similar. 

Central to both storylines is a messiah-like character who saves the day when all is lost. They share the commonality of having a band of brothers that fellowship and blunder and fall towards growth in themselves and their world.

Even the villains are alike. A leader with henchmen who do most of the work allowing them to show up only when necessary.


Eleven & Splinter

What Eleven and Splinter have in common is their ability to provide salvation to their stories. Without their central character each story would have no beginning or end.


Developed in the Hawkins Lab, Eleven was experimented on for her inherited psychokinetic abilities. After escaping from the lab she helped Mike, Lucas, and Dustin find Will in season 1 and close the gate and save Hawkins in season 2 (stranger things).


Master Splinter is the teacher and adoptive father of the Ninja Turtles. Trained in the art of Ninjutsu, Splinter is mature, serious, and protective. Splinter steps up and takes Shredder out (TMNT).


Mike & Leonardo 

Mike and Leonardo are born leaders. They are the decision makers of their groups and they remain calm and direct a path for safety. 


Mike is the leader of the group of his friends. He's the one that brings Eleven into the fold in order to save Will and he eventually falls for her and the one that keeps the group on track (stranger things).


The leader of the Turtles, Leonardo is brave and decisive and the almost perfect hero. He keeps his brothers in line throughout and steps up to the challenge when Shredder stands in their way (TMNT).


Lucas & Raphael

Lucas and Raphael are cut from the same cloth. They are driven and determined and angry. They could be leader's like Mike and Leonardo, but their attitude and the lack of ability to control limits their effectiveness. 


Lucas is quick to act. He challenges Dustin and Mike. He jumps at choices. When the new girl Max arrives he is the first one to approach her.


Raphael is the most violent of the turtles. He fights and argues and lacks patience for the ways of the ninja. Raphael's tempter often gets the best of him (TMNT).


Will & Donatello

Will and Donatello are the sensitive ones of the group. Their smart and creative and are often times protected by the other members.


In season 1, Will was captured and brought into the upside down. In season 2, the upside down and the Mind Flayer flipped the script and inhabited him. 

Will is a quiet kid. He doesn't use many words, but his eyes could tell a thousand stories. He has lived twice the life of his friends and knows things about Hawkins that no other resident does: something is wrong and Will one of the keys to answering it. 


Donatello is the team inventor. He is always tinkering with something creating new gadgets for the group. He's smart, detail-oriented, and introverted (TMNT).


Dustin & Michelangelo 

Dustin and Michelangelo bring the fun. Dustin with his 'purr', if only you could name the wookiee-like noise that he makes, and Michelangelo with his boyish like antics. There is no shortage of games and play with this two. Often times their maturity, or lack of it, is a fault--but they make up for any shortcomings with their charm.


Dustin exhibits a certain ambiance or aura or openness that puts him in certain situations that others are unlikely to get themselves into. He gains two friends that would have been absurd in season 1: a demogorgon and Steve.

A tad bit dorky, a whole bit naive, but all the way fun Dustin is a key character to Stranger Things and without him Hawkins wouldn't be the same. His extroverted creativity and drive for research are a great asset to the team. 


Michelangelo is the smallest of the Turtles and the least mature. He's is creative and enthusiastic about all kinds of things especially pizza. 

Michelangelo loves the real world and dreams to be a part of it (TMNT).


Steve & Casey Jones

Steve and Casey are at first outsiders, but their willingness to conform to ways outside of their respective 'norms' is what redeems both of their characters. 

Don't sleep on their weapons of choice. Their baseball bats, Steve's barbwired version is sweetly reminiscent of The Walking Dead's Negan and his 'Lucille', and Casey's selection of sporting goods would make the bank account of a Big 5 salesman happy.


In season 1, we observe an unlikable Steve. He's a tyrant who bullies anyone in his path. With a change of character in season 2, Steve redeems himself by letting Nancy go and placing his focus on the safety of her little brother Mike and the group. He famously says, "I may be a pretty shitty boyfriend, but turns out I'm actually a pretty damn good babysitter."

Steve's hair and charm and heroism is as much apart of his character as his bat. Life handed him lemons, but he turned it into lemonade as he became one of the most heroic characters of Stranger Things (stranger things).


An isolated man Casey longs for community. As he befriends April and the turtles he proves he is ready for a fight and shows that he is capable with his arsenal of sporting goods. 

Confident and brave, Casey is ready to compete with whatever the Foot Clan brings and he shows he is up for the challenge (TMNT).


Joyce & April

Joyce and April are mother's to their groups. They look after the boys and the turtles and will do anything to protect them. At their best, they act as Moma bears protecting their cubs and will stop at nothing to get at the root of the problem.


A struggling single mother Joyce lacks finances, but makes up for it with her work ethic and do whatever it takes tenacity.

As the mother of the troubled Will, Joyce attempts to help in any way that she can, and in doing so she displays strength like no other (stranger things).


Local news reporter April stumbles into community with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which opens up a world of surprise and opportunity. She becomes a friend of the Turtles and Casey Jones doing what she can to fight Shredder and the Foot Clan. 

April is smart and attractive and investigative as she aids the Turtles in their quest to rid New York City of crime (turtlepedia).


The good can only be as pure as the bad are evil. Show me the villains!


The Shadow Monster & Shredder

The Mind Flayer and Shredder are the antagonists of their respective worlds. Hated, but feared and respected both provide a fight for their paired protagonists. Without them there would be no story--that would be no character development. Any story is as only good as it's bad guy is bad and the Mind Flayer and Shredder don't disappoint. 

     The Mind Flayer

The Mind Flayer, also known as the Shadow Monster is a malevolent manufactured entity inhabiting the Upside Down and spilling into the town of Hawkins.

The Mind Flayer inhabits Will controlling him and threatening the rest of the characters. "The history of the Mind Flayer prior to October 1984 remains a mystery. Exactly how long he had existed for, and how and why he came into existence, is unknown" (stranger things).


Shredder is the leader of the Foot Clan and is a master in Ninjitsu. He wants to destroy the Turtles and Splinter. 

Shredder's is cruel, heartless, and doesn't care about anyone but himself. He is covered in razor blades giving him his name and making him appear difficult to attack (TMNT).


Demo-dogs & The Foot Clan

The Demo-dogs and the Foot Clan are mindless cogs in a machine that they don't control. Motivated by outside controlling forces they act on the impulse of their leader.


Demo-dogs are the adolescent versions of Demogorgons that have yet to reach full maturity. They obey the Mind Flayer, and make up part of his hive mind (stranger things).

     The Foot Clan

The Foot Clan is a gang led by The Shredder as they mindlessly obey his order. The Foot Clan consist of a multitude of faceless ninjas who exist to do battle and fall rather easily (TMNT).


Billy & Bebop

Billy and Bebop are window dressing at best. Billy's handsome exterior and Bebop, an anamorphic warthog hybrid beast, act in supportive roles supplementing the fight against their respective protagonists. 


Billy comes to Stranger Things in season 2 and instantly begins to challenge Steve demonstrating skill and strength over him. Billy also made Steve unnerved by giving him questionable advice about girls in general and that "there are always other bitches".

Billy seems to challenge two characters in particular: Steve and Lucas and he does so because they might be the ones that provide most difficult resistance.


Bebop acts as Shredder's henchman following his command and lead. He's as strong as he dumb, but brut strength without emotion can be a formidable opponent (TMNT).



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In season 2 of Stranger Things when the world of Hawkins when things got bad enough there was only one person who could save the day. Reminiscent of the season 1 finale, Eleven had to face the demon's of the upside down and stop the upside downs attack. 

In TMNT, after Splinter has been captured, the boys make their stand against the arch-villain Shredder. But, turtle after turtle falls short and it begins to look bleak.

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Splinter takes care of business and Shredder's threat is eliminated.

Eleven and Splinter solidify themselves in the role of savior.


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Stranger Things is ultimately a story of some kids and their journey. Together through adolescence, navigating their families, and against the outside evil forces of the upside down.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a story much the same. Four brothers fumble their teenage years through New York City and band together to fight crime and defeat Shredder and the foot clan. 

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It's in realizing the themes that we find in the stories that we hold dear that we can begin to take away more than just entertainment from our favorite shows.

Life is full of characters that we encounter. They all have different powers, as in Stranger Things, and they all wear different masks as shown by The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but we realize is who we choose to surround ourselves greatly affects the outcome of our story. As well as our character changes its shape to the difficulties that we face or the 'evil' that we have to overcome.

Sacrifice's come at different times in life and sometimes there is no other way than to make them. Sacrifice's are made in both Stranger Things and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And these aren't solely made by the messiah characters. Dustin and Steven make sacrifices when they let go of their love for a girl who has chosen another. The turtles rescue an unruly Raphael when he is trouble. Hesitation or question or fear should not stop us from making a sacrifice for the greater good when we know that it is necessary. 

Life is a journey and a long one. The strongest part of both Stranger Things and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the quest that they contain. The characters must band together and through comradely and sacrifice they fight together to defeat their evil. 

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Tell stories. Love. Laugh. And eat pizza. 

Life is all about character and sacrifice and the journey contained within. 

Oh yeah, and nougat. It's all about the nougat.

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So there you go. 

And if you think this went a little far into the rabbit hole of a comparative investigation between the Stranger Things & The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles just remember that you were the one that read it all the way to the end. 

Guess that means I did ok. Hopper dance.


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