In the latest lawsuit, Irish Rover Entertainment claims that the idea for Stranger Things was stolen from a screenplay called Totem.
Back in 2018, Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer were first sued over plagiarism claims. In the old lawsuit, writer Charlie Kessler claimed the Duffer Brothers ripped the plot of Stranger Things from his short film Montauk. The short premiered in 2012 and involved “top-secret government experiments,” similar to the plot of Stranger Things.
Kessler claimed he pitched the concept to the Duffer Brothers in April 2014 “as a full-blown series.” However, the Duffer Brothers did not contact him to pursue the idea any further. Nearly a year later, in May 2019, the lawsuit was thrown out altogether. After hearing the testimonies, Kessler decided that his screenplay had nothing to do with Stranger Things.
“After hearing the deposition testimony this week of the legal expert I hired, it is now apparent to me that, whatever I may have believed in the past, my work had nothing to do with the creation of Stranger Things,” Kessler said.
Now, it looks like Netflix and the Duffer Brothers are being hit with another copyright lawsuit. On July 15, a lawsuit was filed by Irish Rover Entertainment in California federal court. The lawsuit claims that Stranger Things has copied various things from Totem, a screenplay written by Jeffrey Kennedy.
The suit alleges that the Netflix show copied “plot, sequence, characters, theme, dialogue, mood and setting as well as copyrighted concept art” from the Totem screenplay. Kennedy came up with the idea for Totem following the death of his childhood friend Clint Osthimer who suffered from epilepsy.
“During their childhood together in rural Indiana, Osthimer and Kennedy dealt with the constant threat of Osthimer’s ‘personal demon,’ epilepsy, which created ‘lightning showers’ in his brain,” the lawsuit reads. “These lightning showers or seizures would send him to an alternate supernatural plane where the demon resided.”
Irish Rover Entertainment states that both Totem and Stranger Things are connected by a man named Aaron Sims. Sims worked closely with Kennedy on Totem. Then, Sims was hired to help create the concept art for Stranger Things‘ first two seasons.
In the lawsuit, the plots for both projects are compared. The filing states that one Totem character is “a little girl named Kimimela or ‘Kimi’ for short who has supernatural powers.”
“Kimimela helps her friends find the portal gate to an alternate supernatural plane and helps them battle the plane’s inhabitants; a dark spirit named Azrael and his army of Blackwolf.”
The lawsuit then compares the strikingly similar description for Stranger Things’ main character Eleven.
“In Stranger Things, one of the characters is a little girl named Eleven or ‘El’ for short who has supernatural powers,” the lawsuit says. “Eleven helps her friends find the portal gate to an alternate supernatural plane and helps them battle the plane’s inhabitants; a Shadow Monster and his army of Demogorgon.”
At this time, the Duffer Brothers have not publically shared their thoughts regarding the lawsuit. However, Netflix has released a statement addressing the situation.
“Mr. Kennedy has been peddling these far-fetched conspiracy theories for years,” the statement says. “Even though Netflix has repeatedly explained to him that The Duffer Brothers had never heard of him or his unpublished script until he began threatening to sue them.”
According to Netflix, Kennedy originally requested to be compensated for his alleged stolen ideas. After Netflix and the Duffer Brothers refused to pay, Kennedy filed the lawsuit.
“After we refused to give in to his demands for a payoff, he filed this baseless lawsuit. There is no shortage of people who would like to claim credit for creating Stranger Things. But the truth is the show was independently conceived by The Duffer Brothers and is the result of their creativity and hard work.”
Stranger Things’ fourth season is set to arrive sometime next year. The Duffer Brothers recently revealed the new season will include some “iconic” guest stars. As well, the show’s writers hinted at just how many episodes season 4 has.
What are your thoughts on Stranger Things‘ latest lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.