(outline) Season 1 Ep- 1
OPENING IMAGE– Sound of an emergency alarm goes off in a Laboratory. We see a scientist running away from something unseen and dangerous chasing him. The scientist runs inside an elevator and waits for it to shut. A low growling is heard above him. The unseen entity captures him.
SETUP/ORDINARY/ NORMAL WORLD- We meet Will and his friends (Mike, Lucas and Dustin) who are in midst of an intense game of Dungeons and Dragons at Mike’s house. They have been at it long and have already crossed 10 hours of playtime. Mike’s mother comes to the basement and breaks the game. She asks them to leave.
The boys pack up and go their separate ways. On the way back, Dustin challenges Will for a race. Will wins and leaves Dustin Behind.
INCITING INCIDENT- On his way home, Will goes through a restricted area. This is when he sees a strange, dark figure. Will freaks out, fumbles and leaves his bike behind as he starts running towards his home.
The unknown creature follows Will. Scared, Will goes to the shed where he loads a rifle and waits by the door. But this is not where the creature comes from. The camera pans to the increasingly blinding light bulb before panning back to reveal Will is gone.
CREDITS/ TITLE – STRANGER THINGS CHAPTER 1- THE VANISHING OF WILL BYERS
Chief Jim hopper is introduced. Cynical, world-weary, beaten down by tragedy and simply going through the motions. He chain smokes his cigarettes, drinks and pops pills as he puts on his sheriff’s uniform for work.
Meanwhile, at Wills house, we are introduced to Will’s mother Joyce. She is running late for work. Will’s older brother Jonathan is making breakfast. Both are overly worked individuals struggling to make ends meet and keep the household running. Joyce asks Jonathan where Will is. Jonathan replies that he might still be in bed.
Joyce goes to wake Will but doesn’t find him in his room. Jonathan is not sure if Will was back home the night before because he was working an extra shift for extra cash. He asks Joyce to check with the Wheelers if Will stayed back at their place.
Joyce calls them but Mike’s mother informs her about Will Leaving from there place at 8pm the previous night.
A sub-plotline takes us into the world of their school, where Mike, Lucas and Dustin are bullied by some bullies. Nancy (Mike’s elder sister) is introduced. A smart, diligent straight girl figuring her path to adulthood. Her best friend creeps up from behind as Nancy enters the school and asks if the Steve (the coolest guy at Hawkins high school) called her. She blushes and tells her that they made out. Nancy opens her locker. she has a note from Steve.
Nancy and Steve meet in the school’s restroom where Steve Harrington is introduced. Confident, charming effortlessly popular. He wants her but Nancy has to leave for her class. They decide to meet at maple late evening Around 8 PM.
(Call to adventure) We cut back to Jim hopper entering his station. His associate informs him about Joyce.
(Refusal of the call) Joyce, hyperventilating, complains to Jim about her missing son. Jim who is not serious about his jobs tells her to take it easy. He calmly tells her to not worry and that nothing can go wrong in this no crime town. Pissed off, Joyce orders him to get out and find her son. (Break into act two/ Crossing the threshold)
(Test, enemies, allies/ B story) Back at the laboratory, a group of scientists are seen examining something. Inside the laboratory we see a deformed mutating structure growing fast.
The scene shifts to a (lost looking) figure, in a medical robe, staring at a restaurant from afar. The figure is revealed to be a young girl who sneaks inside the restaurant to steal some food but is caught red handed by the chef.
Meanwhile at Hawkins school, Dusting, Lucas and Mike approach their professor after class and are eager to know about the newly installed radio communication device in their school.
The professor takes them to the room where the device is kept. The kids start playing around with it when the principal comes there along with a cop and calls them out.
The kids inform Jim about the previous events before Will’s disappearance. They also mention the road (Mirkwood) Will takes on his way back home. Jim, concerned about their safety, warns them to not go looking out for their friend.
Joyce on the other hand goes to the makeshift club house the kids had made in the forest. She reminisces over old memories of her endearing interaction with will.
Back at the restaurant, the chef feels sorry for girl and offers her food. They have a difficult time communicating as the girl doesn’t know many words or is selective about what she says. The chef sees a tattoo on her hand- it’s the number ’11’. Worried, he calls child protective service.
While he is on the phone the camera pans to a noisy table fan by the girl’s side. Eleven looks at it for a second. All of a sudden the fan comes to an abrupt stop. It’s clear from this that Eleven has special abilities.
(Approaching the inmost cave) While looking around for clues, Jim hopper finds Will’s bike which he brings it back to Joyce. Inside the Byers house, Jim notices a mysterious scratch mark on one of the walls. He traces his steps back to the shed where he hears a strange sound. He tries to investigate. This is when the light bulb starts flickering. Sensing the weirdness of the situation, He decides to organize a search party to find Will.
Mike along with his friends plans a search for Will. Will’s mother does not allow this. An argument ensues over the dinner table where she ends up grounding Will. Nancy, who was supposed to meet Steve is also grounded because of Will.
In a conversation during the search operation, it is revealed that the Jim Hopper’s child died a few years back.
Despite of being grounded Mike sneaks out and rallies up with his friends to look for Will. While sneaking out Mike notices Steve trying to sneak inside Nancy’s room.
(Ordeal/ Bad guys close in/ All is lost) Back at restaurant, a woman disguised as a member from the social service shoots the chef. Eleven is confronted by the officials. She uses her abilities to take 2 of the officers down and escape.
At Mike’s home, Steve tries to get close to Nancy. At first, Nancy is uncomfortable with the way he is coming on to her. Steve takes a step back and convinces her that his intentions are pure and that he really likes her.
(Resurrection) At Will’s place Joyce and Jonathan console each other by reminiscing over better times. This is when the phone rings. Joyce answers it and hears Will’s distorted voice followed by a growling sound. The phone is cut short after a moment after which Joyce breaks down.
(Resolution) The kids, while searching for Will in the forest meet eleven. The end and the beginning of a whole new adventure.
( Note- As a form of an exercise you can try flipping the premise or the setting. You can even change the motivation and intentions of characters, the gender, the timeline, the genre etc. This will help you to explore and find a completely new story. What are you waiting for? get that blank page out and bleed your brains out. Have fun)
Download screenplay PDF of stranger things pilot episode here-