Is 'Stranger Things' plagiarism?

Latin American Post looks at the accusation of the Netflix show from all the angles

Is 'Stranger Things' plagiarism?


Hollywood, like any creative industry, is not safe from plagiarism, or from plagiarism accusations. Perhaps you do not know about it, but it is possible that your favorite show has been accused of being a ripoff of someone else’s idea, and not the person who created it. This time, the Duffer Brothers, known for producing the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, have been sued for plagiarising a short film by Charlie Kessler.

The similarities:

Kessler argues plagiarism based on an anecdote, which the Duffer Brothers’ lawyer has denied, which according to Variety goes as follows: “He alleges that he pitched the idea to Matt and Ross Duffer, the co-creators of the Netflix sci-fi hit, when they met at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. Kessler says the idea went nowhere at the time, but the Duffer brothers used it as the germ for “Stranger Things,” which debuted in 2016”. As Rolling Stone reported, in the filed lawsuit, Kessler writes that after pitching the idea, “ later presented them with the movie's ‘script, ideas, story and film’”.

Like the Netflix series, “Montauk” tells the story of a boy disappearing close to a sketchy government lab. Although it is only 6 minutes long, Kessler argues that it was a project that he intended to take further, which is why he spoke to the Duffer brothers about it in the cited Tribeca Film Festival party, 4 years ago.

Both creative projects could be based in the same book:

However, neither “Montauk” nor “Stranger Things” are the first creative project to tell a story like that. “The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time”, a book published in 1992 written by Preston Nichols and Peter Moon, is a nonfiction book which, according to GoodReads, “chronicles the most amazing and secretive research project in recorded history”. It is believed that the United States Government conducted secret experiments in a military lab called Camp Hero, in Montauk, a small town in Long Island.

The Stranger Things production team has admitted that the show is based in these stories, and in this book, which leaves ground to argue that Kessler is not being truthful. Besides, the Duffer Brothers’ lawyer has responded to the lawsuit, stating that:  "[Kessler] had no connection to the creation or development of Stranger Things. The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Mr. Kessler's short film nor discussed any project with him”. Therefore, attorney Alex Kohner has declared that Kessler’s claims are “completely meritless”.

Other popular shows accused of being plagiarism:

The website mojo.com compiled the following list of popular TV shows accused of ripping off other projects:

  1. Lost

  2. Boardwalk Empire

  3. Breaking Bad

  4. Once Upon a Time

  5. Grey’s Anatomy

  6. Key & Peele

  7. Red Dwarf

  8. Dinosaurs

  9. Downton Abbey

  10. True Detective


Latin American Post | Laura Rocha Rueda