Stranger Things Season 4: The Most Revolting Closed Captions

Stranger Things season 4 is filled with gross sounds. And it’s up to the closed captioning to capture them in their fully gory glory.

Robin (Maya Hawke), Eddie (Joseph Quinn), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), and Steve (Joe Keery) in the Upside Down in Stranger Things season 4
Photo: Netflix

This article contains only light spoilers for Stranger Things season 4.

Stranger Things season 4 is a notable batch of episodes for Netflix’s epic sci-fi/horror series in just about every respect. It’s the longest season, with nearly each episode running over the 70-minute mark. It’s the biggest season, filled with budget-busting spectacle and awe. Most importantly, however, season 4 is also the wettest season of Stranger Things … that is if the closed captioning is to be believed.

That’s right, I’ve become part of the growing number of people who have chosen to be on the right side of history and watch their English-language programming with captions on. Closed captions (which merely refers to optional captioning that can be “closed” at the viewers’ control, and not a mandatory subtitle) really add an extra level of flavor to the streaming world. Sure, it’s one thing to hear a character grunt their way through a difficult situation, but it’s another thing entirely to have helpful text onscreen that reads “[Hopper grunts]” to really hammer things home.

Closed captions are an accessibility miracle, allowing for the deaf or hard of hearing to experience the full spectrum of an audio-visual piece of art. They’re also just a helpful little tool for anyone who wants to make sure they’re not mishearing a particular line or feel that text helps them engage with the material more. All closed captions are welcome but the captions on Stranger Things season 4 really go the extra mile. This is a graphic, at times outright gross, season of television, filled with bones crunching, eyes exploding, and tentacles swirling. Through it all, the closed captions catalog every revolting noise with an admirable attention to detail to go along with a truly vibrant vocabulary. 

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With that in mind, we decided to present our favorite gross closed captions from Stranger Things season 4 to highlight the increasingly important art of audio description. First, the honorable mentions…

Honorable Mentions

None of these are cracking the “main” list because they’re not gross per se. Still, they are amusing in their own right as they creatively capture the audio madness onscreen.

  • Episode 1 – [unsettling Russian folk music playing] – As Joyce receives her Russian doll from “Enzo”, the closed captions accurately describe the unsettling music that accompanies it.
  • Episode 4 [emotional gasp] – This is how closed captions describe Hopper’s pure joy upon eating out of a jar of peanut butter like Winnie the Pooh with a jug of honey
  • Episode 4 [sinister music overlaid with jaunty big band music] – This deftly captures the transition back to Victor Creel’s flashback of his nightmare at the Creel House.
  • Episode 6 [children clamoring] – How else to better describe the chaos in Suzie’s big Mormon household?
  • Episode 7 [orderly grunts] – I enjoy this one because of its potential for misinterpretation. This is not a grunt in an orderly fashion but rather the character known as the “orderly” (eventually revealed to be…someone else) grunting.
  • Episode 7 [Barb panicking] – And you thought Stranger Things was done torturing Barb!

And now onto the real grotesque masterpieces!

Everything’s Wet

As previously stated, just about everything in Stranger Things season 4 is so gosh darn wet. And the closed captions are more than up to the task of describing said wetness as vividly as possible. Notable examples include:

  • Episode 3 [wet rustling] – Our first proper introduction to Vecna in the Upside Down is sure to mention that his form and everything around him is wet with God knows what.
  • Episode 3 [distending wetly] – If only this were referring to Vecna. In reality, this one is describing Chief Jim Hopper’s bloodied, broken ankle as he attempts to yank his metal ankle collar over it.
  • Episode 4 [wet squelch] – After “wet”, “squelch” is regrettably the second most common audio descriptor in this season of Stranger Things. This one in particular describes the hellish experience at Creel House in the ‘50s.
  • Episode 5 [tentacles squelching wetly] – See what I mean? Everything squelches in this show – particularly Vecna’s abhorrent tentacles. 
  • Episode 6 [creatures biting wetly] – Lest you think Vecna is the only wet monster this season, even the Demobats bite into their victims with a liquidy vigor. 
  • Episode 7 [wet squelching] – Even the medical care applied to wounds is gross. This is the sound that a makeshift bandage makes upon being applied to Steve’s gnarled skin.
  • Episode 7 [Demogorgon feeding wetly] – You didn’t think only Vecna would have all the wet Upside Down fun, did you?
  • Episode 7 [fissure writhing wetly] – This is why we need closed captions. Such a vibrant description for the otherwise mundane Stranger Things activity of a gate opening. 

Bones Crunching And/Or Flesh Tearing

Stranger Things season 4 features wounds so brutal and so dry that they’ll have you positively begging to add some moisture sounds back into them. Alas, not everyone is lucky enough to experience Vecna’s wet justice. Examples include:

  • Episode 3 [flesh stretching] – Oh Hopper’s poor ankle. Sure, he may eventually make it out of his Russian prison, but how is this guy ever going to walk again?
  • Episode 4 [bone crunching] – Thankfully Hopper’s bones and flesh give as good as they get. For this sound describes an injury that our hero visits upon an unlucky Russian guard.
  • Episode 6 [bones cracking] – Number Two flexes his muscle (and his bones) as he lays waste to his peers in a psychic combat training exercise.
  • Episode 7 [bones crunching] – The Demogorgon gets his flowery hands on some Russian prisoners.

Creature Noises

Naturally, one of the disgusting sounds in Stranger Things season 4 comes from the Upside Down’s many critters. Though Vecna, the Demogorgon, and some assembled bats aren’t always wet or crunching bones, the noises they make are unsettling all the same. 

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  • Episode 6 [creatures chittering] – How better to describe the squeaky braying of a whole host of demonic bats?
  • Episode 7 [creature braying in the distance] – If the bats chitter and Vecna squelches, we don’t want to know what kind of Upside Down beast brays. 
  • Episode 7 [feral snarling] – This is our old friend the Demogorgon, and he is every bit as feral as Vecna is cold and calculating. 
  • Episode 7 [eldritch thrumming] – This doesn’t refer to a creature necessarily but rather the portal to the Upside Down that opens in Eddie Munson’s trailer. “Eldritch Thrumming” is such an evocative and chilling duo of words that it deserves highlighting.
  • Episode 7 [panicked chittering] – The poor rabbit that Henry Creel kills. 

All seven episodes of Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 are available to stream now. Volume 2 will premiere July 1 on Netflix.