Stranger Things suffered yet another legal setback on the road to Season 3, but has the monster already been slain? New evidence seemingly precludes the possibility that Stranger Things was cribbed from a similar short film, and may invalidate the case.

It was only a few days ago that Montauk director Charlie Kessler claimed that Ross and Matt Duffer stole his story from a 2014 pitch; a case the Duffers’ attorney has since called “completely meritless.” The two projects did share a setting and story elements, but both were largely based on real-life rumors of government experimentation in Montauk, New York. That said, Kessler’s claim that the brothers lifted the idea in 2014 may have come back to haunt him, as TMZ says emails provided by the Duffers clearly outline the original Stranger Things pitch as far back as 2010:

In 2 emails in November, 2010, the brothers set out their vision … a “real,” “paranormal” “gritty eighties” show. In one of the emails, it specifically says the show is set in Montauk. There is a reference to “the Montauk experiments.”

Additional documents from 2013 and 2014 (but prior to the alleged meeting) also seemingly lay out several character names and story beats, and mention “a vintage Stephen King feel.” Netflix formally bought the Montauk pitch in 2015, but early planning convinced the Duffers to switch settings to the more familiar Hawkins, Indiana. As such, Stranger Things was born. It seems unlikely Kessler’s lawsuit will ever make it to trial, but you can actually watch a snippet of the Montauk short below:

In the meantime, production of Stranger Things 3 is gearing up, so stay tuned.

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