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Satan, Demons and the CIA: Unpacking Problems with Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’

Media & Entertainment Review
By Summer Lane

Image: Deposit Photos

Pop culture has traversed a darker and darker path over the last decade, particularly with the rise of online streaming platforms.

While horror movies and occult-themed television shows reach an all-time high during October (thanks, Halloween), themes of blatant Satanism, witchcraft, divination, and bloody, violent gore have been exalted to a whole new level of glorification in today’s everyday entertainment industry.

Like slowly boiling a frog, our culture is becoming desensitized to the core tenants of occultism. I can’t seem to go a single day without stumbling across a new show or album rife with satanic underpinnings, and it’s hard to brush off the recurrence as mere coincidence after being barraged with it on social media every day.

Don’t believe me? Let’s focus on what is perhaps Netflix’s most popular show: Stranger Things.

Spoiler alert: it’s not pretty.

Stranger Things: Great Story, Bad Content

In all transparency, I was completely obsessed with this show when it first launched. The show is undeniably well-written, well-paced, and well-acted. The Duffer Brothers are skilled storytellers, and their incredible ability to weave a tense and pulse-pounding tale was what drew me to the series in the first place. I simply could not stop watching – it was addicting!

And therein lies the danger of the show, particularly among younger audiences.

The plot focuses initially on the disappearance of a young boy, Will Byers, who has been stolen away into a shadow realm of the “Upside Down” in the 1980s. Thrown into the mix is a young girl, 11, who has escaped from a lab in true MKUltra fashion (I wish I were joking, but this is the actual storyline – the child has been experimented on her entire life by government scientists, and the term MKUltra is bandied about in the show like it’s NO BIG DEAL), and a group of young friends who are obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons. What ensues is an epic battle against a soul-eating monster that has broken through a crack between the Upside-Down reality and our current world, dragging children (and anyone else) back into the demon realm to consume their blood and souls (or something along those lines).

The show has become increasingly darker as the seasons have gone on, and while I tried to give Season Four a go just so I could review it, I couldn’t make it through the scenes of outright demonic possession and mutilation. Hard pass.

Stranger Things is heavily focused on bringing together the Upside-Down realm of demonic activity into the “real” world. Some examples:

  • The Upside-Down is very symbolic in the occult, signifying “as above, so below,” which is an occult maxim.
  • The show focuses heavily on the prospect of secret government agents abusing and experimenting on children to understand and harness their telekinetic powers for likely nefarious purposes.
  • A horrifying, faceless monster called “The Demogorgon” must be destroyed by 11’s telekinetic powers in Season One. Anyone who is familiar with Dungeons & Dragons is probably aware that the Demogorgon is also known as the all-powerful “Demon Prince,” per Vigilant Citizen.
  • There is a huge focus and fascination on the metaphysical and spiritual demonic realm that gives 11 her special powers; her powers are continually touted as cool and fun. The boys even liken it to having “superpowers.”
  • In the show, the mother of 11 (this is revealed in Season Two) has had her brain fried by government-sanctioned laboratory experimentation. The MKUltra program is named in the TV show and used as a plot device – like I said, I’m not even reaching here. The show includes it and uses it openly! Even Screen Rant has an article about it. When I first watched the series, I had absolutely no idea what MKUltra was. Now I do, and I find the open reference to it completely horrifying.

Season Four

Season Four of Stranger Things has been perhaps the most gory and horrifying installment yet. While the series itself, of course, is a horror story, it bounces from Goonies-like humor to showdowns between characters with comic-book-esque telekinetic powers. Like I said, the show itself is extremely well written – but it’s very scary and it is very occult.

According to Collider, Stranger Things Season Four forayed openly into 1980s “Satanic Panic” by introducing the concept of “Hellfire Club,” and teeing into themes connected to Satanic cults and ritual abuses that surfaced during that decade.

Take a look at an example of the merch that they’re selling with the show (notice that the model is throwing up the “Devil’s horns” symbol with her hand):

In the show, a character named Eddie makes light of the craze, playfully reading an article about the phenomenon. He reads, “The devil has come to America. Studies have linked violent behavior to the game, saying it promotes satanic worship, ritual sacrifice, sodomy, suicide, and even murder.”

Again, Dungeons & Dragons is used as the catalyst for much of the drama in Season Four (so, yeah, be very careful with that game, parents), cementing the characters around the game and using it as an allegorical parallel to the actual plot of the show.

Season Four’s villain, Vecna, is an absolutely horrific shadow monster that infiltrates victim’s minds, possesses them, levitates their bodies, snaps and mutilates their bones, and sucks their souls and lives out of them.

This part of the show is where I gave up watching it for the sake of reviewing – far worse than bloody, violent gore was the repeated depictions of demon possession and the permeating darkness it left behind for viewers.

Conclusion: Skip It!

I was really surprised at how far they pushed the line with the show in Season Four, but these days, it seems like anything goes in Hollywood. Satanism has trickled down from fringe horror films and into our most popular, mainstream shows on streaming platforms.

The show was first released in 2016, and I remember thinking that it was the best show I’d ever seen on a streaming platform. I loved the story, the characters, the humor, and the thrilling, escalating tension that put characters into constant life or death situations.

The issue with Stranger Things is that the Duffer Brothers are continually upping the ante with esoteric and occult symbology. They graduated from monster-hunting to demon possession. The show has grown darker and darker. Season Four even opens with a scene in which one of the main characters commits mass genocide against a group of very young children (like I said: extremely dark).

The first season is scary, yes. The seasons get a lot darker, though. As an adult watching the show, I didn’t think much about what I was consuming in 2016 except that Stranger Things was entertaining. Now, I would caution all parents to be extremely aware of what their kids are watching when they turn on Netflix.

In 2016, it didn’t even enter my mind that the underpinnings of the series were so blatantly Satanic. I would have scoffed at the idea – and frankly, even now I try my hardest not to look at everything and immediately make a judgement about it (because I don’t want to be that person).

And yet, the content speaks for itself. With a little discernment, it’s not hard to see that there is an agenda running beneath the surface of a show like Stranger Things. I believe the intent, ultimately, is to bring Satanism into the mainstream.

(See the above for a glimpse into the darkness of the show, in case you have to see it to believe it!)

Also, Stranger Things is NOT a kid’s show. It is a horror series that is obsessed with normalizing and popularizing the metaphysical, spiritual realm of Satan and his demons. It glorifies Hellfire Club and Satanic ritualism. It openly discusses the CIA’s MKUltra program, which is a terrifyingly blatant admission, coming from Hollywood, and points to the reality that yes – our government has done and likely continues to do very bad things to people. And apparently, this is such a well-known tidbit now that Hollywood is working it into the material for their own shows.

Isn’t that nice?

Stranger Things is especially problematic for children and even teens. Like most horror films, it asks the viewers to focus their attention on something that is very ungodly, and in fact, forbidden.

Revelation 21:8 gives this hefty warning:

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Isaiah 8:19-22 also states:

“When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.”

Satanism and Hellfire may seem glamorous and entertaining in shows like Stranger Things, but this type of stuff only leads to an eternal and terrifying end. God’s Word is very clear on this point, and we can bend ourselves into a pretzel trying to pivot away from it.

The temporary entertainment value of an occult show is not worth disobeying the commands of an all-knowing, all-wise, and all-loving God.

My advice? Kick Hellfire Club to the curb and instead take a trip down the straight and narrow, where the destination is the Kingdom of God.




The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team.




Actor Aaron Hale formerly had successful roles on Netflix in shows like “The Order” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” This week, he chatted with the Counter Culture Mom Show about the darkness of those shows and how Jesus saved him out of Hollywood’s shadow world!




Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 30 books, including the hit Collapse Series and Resurrection Series. She is an experienced journalist and columnist who reports on news within the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, she analyzes politics and policies in weekly op/Eds on The Write Revolution.

Summer is also a mom and wife who enjoys rural country living, herding cats, and gardening. She is passionate about writing about women’s issues, parenting, and politics from a theologically-grounded perspective that points readers to the good news of the gospel.

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