What would Stranger Things be without its amazing characters and villains? Very little, we dare say. The plot is amazing, mind you, but the heartwarming and badass range of characters we find along the way (as well as the deliciously villainous ones) are definitely what make the popular show so refreshingly great.
It certainly would be difficult to rank them from worst to best, but we’re about to give it a go. Here is Tell Tales’ list of the best Stranger Things characters ranked, starting from Angela, all the way to, well, we won’t spoil it for you…
Actress: Elodie Grace Orkin
We hate baddies like Brenner, but we hate bullies like Angela even more. There, we said it – she’s the absolute worst of the worst. We hate to see anyone mistreat Eleven, including this A-class mean girl.
She tormented El at school and purposely humiliated her for her own pleasure, so Angela had what’s coming to her – a perfect hit to the face with a roller blade. Go, El, go!
38. Colonel Jack Sullivan
Actor: Sherman Augustus
We didn’t see much of this villain, but when we did, our blood boiled with rage. Lt. Colonel Jack Sullivan blamed Eleven for the Hawkins murders and done everything in his military power to have her dead.
He wouldn’t be swayed, he wouldn’t back down and he was eager to make sure El never breathed another breath. Give up, dude. You’re not the one to save Hawkins from this madness!
37. Jason Carver
Died: Season 4
Actor: Mason Dye
There were oh so many antagonists in Stranger Things 4, and Jason absolutely tops them. The typical 80’s high-school jock who bullies nerds and thinks he’s always right, was actually quite frightening, to say the least.
He may not have had superpowers, but he had a strong motivation to hunt down Hellfire Club and even shoot Lucas. Too bad he died trying. We hope he finds Eddie and Chrissy dating in the afterlife…douchebag!
Died: Season 3
Actor: Andrey Ivchenko
Anyone who hurts or attempts to hurt our favorite characters is going to get a thumbs down from us. Other than the Demogorgon, Grigori played the main villain throughout Season 3 and what a douchebag he was.
In fact, the Russian killer was pretty damn scary with his Terminator antics, and all. Shooting poor Alexei and spurring the death (or disappearance) of Jim Hopper, we can’t help but dislike this mad and mean character for seasons to come.
35. Tom and Bruce
Died: Season 3
Actors: Michael Park & Jake Busey
Nobody likes a mean colleague. And nobody likes the Mind Flayer’s hosts. That’s exactly what reporters, Tom and Bruce were – combined! The two bullies who antagonized and undermined poor Nancy during her time at the Hawkins Post, soon got possessed by the Mind Flayer, turning them into monstrous beings.
Not only were these two hated for their mean spirits (and for firing Nancy and Jonathan), but also for turning into that bloody gooey beast at the hospital – Nancy and Jonathan took some serious hits!
34. Mayor Kline
Actor: Cary Elwes
Pathetic, sleazy and incredibly annoying. Mayor Kline deserved every punch he had coming to him by Jim Hopper.
Used as a pawn and cover-up for the Russian’s Upside Down shenanigans, this forgettable character certainly got on most viewers’ nerves. If only every irritating leader got the same comeuppance as Mayor Kline, right?
Actress: Linnea Berthelsen
Kali had the potential of being a great character, but her desire for bloody revenge and her wish to attract our wholesome Eleven onto her dark side made her rather difficult to like. Nonetheless, it was impossible not to feel for her and wish for her to find the redemption arc she deserved.
Badass and charismatic as hell, we don’t doubt she had the potential to climb up to the top 10 if she just stopped killing people!
32. Ted Wheeler
Actor: Joe Chrest
Mr. Wheeler is incredibly annoying at times, but his passive, sloth-like character is almost endearing in its own right. His interaction with his wife, who is the complete opposite of him, always makes for great comedy that we just can’t get enough of. He probably relates to many of our dads, too!
Actor: Matty Cardarople
We hardly saw Keith, but he was goofy enough to make us wonder why he wasn’t given more screen-time. The geeky young man who tried to get Nancy’s number out of Mike was introduced in a game arcade and oozed such an 80’s vibe, we hope to see him again soon, maybe in a longer scene!
30. Dmitri Antonov / Enzo
Actor: Tom Wlaschiha
Tom Wlaschiha who portrayed the Game of Thrones character, Jaqen H’Ghar, played the role of Enzo in Stranger Things 4, and boy was he an impressive guy.
The Russian prison guard turned out to be an ally for Hopper in their battle against the Russians and Demogorgons and proved himself rather intriguing and heroic. Here’s to hoping we see more of him soon.
29. Karen Wheeler
Actress: Cara Buono
Karen is much less tender than Joyce, but she has that kind of panicked affection for her children that we can only respect her for, especially with a husband as passive as Ted Wheeler and children as unpredictable as Mike and Nancy.
We love them, but few of us would want to be their parents while they’re off fighting evil monsters with baseball bats rather than being at school.
28. Claudia Henderson
Actress: Catherine Curtin
Mrs. Henderson is the overly positive, quirky mother we could only expect such an adorable character as Dustin to have. With her heart bigger than a house and a warm presence, she definitely counts as one of our favorite Stranger Things parents.
27. Mr. Clarke
Actor: Randall P. Havens
Mr. Clarke was the goofy, clever, slightly naïve, but all-around kindhearted teacher who helped the boys in their fight against evil throughout the seasons without even knowing it.
What we loved about Mr. Clarke is that even if he was quite quirky, the writers never turned him into a buffoon, and it’s obvious that the boys truly respected him.
26. Victor Creel
Actor: Robert Englund
Victor Creel didn’t have much screen time throughout Chapter 4, but his character played a crucial role in discovering the truth behind the evil in Hawkins.
The poor guy hasn’t only been wrongly imprisoned, but has had his face horribly disfigured and lost his entire family thanks to his cruel son. We don’t know much about Creel’s character, but one thing’s for sure – we feel tremendously sorry for him…
25. Yuri Ismaylov
Actor: Nikola Đuričko
As annoying as he was, there’s no denying he made you laugh, right? Yuri the Russian smuggler told really bad jokes at inappropriate times, had a thing for peanut butter (and cash!) and had a wheezing laugh that gave you nightmares.
He may have deceived Joyce and Murray by selling them to the Russians, but he ended up being quite the fan-favorite this season, thanks to his slimy, hilarious self.
24. Dr. Sam Owens
Actor: Paul Reiser
At first, Dr. Sam Owens was a tricky case as we were never really sure whether to trust him or not. But by the end of Season 4, he more or less proves himself as an ally, and there’s such an odd charm to his character, regardless of the horrible things he’s been a part of.
We guess this gives him the benefit of the doubt. Though we’ll definitely keep an eye on him (that’s if he survived the military attack)…
Actress: Gabriella Pizzolo
Ah Suzie, the so-called imaginary girlfriend of Dustin Henderson. Although purely a running joke throughout the third season, Suzie’s eventual appearance is rather enjoyable. She does help save the world after all, by cracking the Russian’s code and locating Nina.
Seeing her sing The NeverEnding Story with Dustin over their walkie-talkies was very much enlightening during what was a dark time in the series.
22. Billy Hargrove
Died: Season 3
Actor: Dacre Montgomery
Billy Hargrove was a difficult character to pin down, as he seemed to be suffering quite the abuse from his father in the second season – an attempt meant to garner our sympathy. His role in both series made him one of the most despicable protagonists and until his demise, was a long way from fan-forgiveness.
But, the once-was villain ended up making us feel sorry him as he battled against the horrid Mind-Flayer in Season 3. He may not be a character to be missed, but he will be remembered to say the least.
21. Dr. Brenner (Papa)
Died: Season 4
Actor: Matthew Modine
Other than Vecna, Dr. Brenner is the number one iconic villain. With his sullen, dignified cruelty towards Eleven, he definitely gave us the spooks. His villainous potential was never fully exploited until Chapter 4, with his reason for torturing Eleven finally revealed beyond the whole “I’m a bad guy doing bad stuff” malarkey.
The mad scientist who experimented on kids (and, erm, made them call him “papa”) was technically the root of all evil in Hawkins. Dr. Brenner was spine-chilling to say the least, and we couldn’t have been happier seeing him go at the end of Season 4.
Died: Season 3
Actor: Alec Utgoff
Poor Alexei. Just as we were beginning to like him, the Russian scientist got wiped out of the show. Kidnapped by Hopper and Joyce in Season 3, Alexei wormed his way right into our hearts, despite not even being able to speak English.
“Smirnoff” (as referred to by Hopper) was provoking indeed (but who wouldn’t be after getting the wrong Slurpee flavor?!), but it’s safe to say his childlike personality, infectious grin and obvious sense of humor will be missed!
Actor: Eduardo Franco
Just when we thought Steve had the best hair do’ of the series, Argyle came along in his Surfer Boy Pizza van. Jonathan’s stoner buddy provided some comic relief in an otherwise dark season and sincerely stole the show with his epic one-liners and goofy nature.
Going from serving pizzas (with pineapple, duh) to fighting a supernatural force, Argyle gave up his regular life to help out his friends. #MyDude
18. Bob Newby
Died: Season 2
Actor: Sean Astin
Stranger Things is inspired by 80’s movies, but it also features characters from films from that era, too! Bob was brought to life by the incredible Sean Astin whom any self-respecting 80’s movie fan will remember as a member of Goonies! Most of us will also remember him as Sam in Lord of the Rings.
Bob Newby, Joyce Byers’ goofy and kind boyfriend, was the caring father Will and Jonathan never had, and the zest of positivity Joyce needed in her life. Bob’s fate in Season 2 got us teary and so for us, he has joined Barbara in the list of characters who deserved so much better. #JusticeForBob!
17. Barbara Holland
Died: Season 1
Actress: Shannon Purser
Barbara was the ultimate fan-favorite during Season one and she remains a beloved character in spite of her absence in future seasons. Nancy grieving her throughout the second series reminded her of how much of a devoted friend she was, and how unfair it was of the writers to kill her off so early on.
We’ll never stop screaming justice for Barb, and we’ll even continue wearing a Barb t-shirt in memory of her, too.
16. Murray Bauman
Actor: Brett Gelman
Murray Bauman started off as a minor character, but he is by far one of the most agreeable surprises this season. A bit aloof, but hilariously sarcastic, he is also the one who manages to bring Nancy and Jonathan together in one of the best humorous scenes in Season 2 and for this, we feel eternally indebted to him.
His major contribution in Seasons 3 and 4 made his character grow on us just a little more. The “bald bastard” as Erica calls him, is actually an endearing character who never fails to make us laugh.
15. Jonathan Byers
Actor: Charlie Heaton
Misunderstood and broody, Jonathan Beyers remains a fan-favorite thanks to his big heart, his love for Nancy and his deep bond with Will. A bond which, like Joyce, brings him to do anything he can to help his brother, regardless of the danger.
He and Joyce bring a whole new definition to the word ‘family’, the kind that just doesn’t care if it takes defeating a giant monster and its babies to get their loved ones back.
14. Nancy Wheeler
Actress: Natalia Dyer
Nancy is the “shy school girl-turned-badass monster hunter” we all aspire to be! At first filled with self-doubt, but now quite certain of what she wants, we couldn’t love her character more.
In Chapter 4, Nancy proves herself braver than ever, as she hunts down Vecna and uncovers his backstory. I mean, you’ve gotta rate someone who faces the wrath of Vecna…and overcomes it!
13. Lucas Sinclair
Actor: Caleb McLaughlin
Lucas is the dose of skepticism and wisdom that the gang so often needs. He’s likable for his perfect cynicism and for his “go big or go home” sense of friendship – we wonder where the group would be without him…or his signature bandanna!
Thank goodness he had a change of heart in Season 4 when he *almost* decided to change friendship groups for Jason’s gang. His bravery was truly tested this season when he nearly died in order to protect Max. Good on ya, Lucas!
12. Joyce Byers
Actress: Winona Ryder
Not only can we not resist the fact that Winona Ryder, one of the most iconic actresses of the 80’s, is on our screen for eight hours each season, the actress also brings a special charisma to Joyce, a character as tender as she is badass.
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Willing to go to the end of the world for her son and those she loves, Joyce never stops to amaze us with her resourcefulness and determination to do what’s right, regardless of the evil facing her.
11. Will Byers
Actor: Noah Schnapp
Will Byers is the member of the gang that we saw the least of in Season one, but being more present in later seasons, he has definitely won our hearts. With the trauma he’s been through in all series, it’s difficult not to feel for him, especially since he seems like such a sweet boy without all this “antagonists possessing him to use him against his own family” business!
Plus, despite his obvious feelings for Mike, he still remains loyal to Eleven and encourages the couple to work on their relationship. Now, that’s a nice person.
10. Erica Sinclair
Actress: Priah Ferguson
Erica was a rather minor character who grew to become a lead favorite in Seasons 3 and 4. Her hilarious interactions with her fellow “nerds”, epic one-liners and her overall refreshing, screen-stealing presence has led this character to be one of the best on the show.
We’re super-glad she became one of the team in the recent series, and we sincerely hope she continues to play a major role in the future.
9. Robin Buckley
Actress: Maya Hawke
It’s always great to add another member to our favorite team of youngsters! Robin easily became a likeable character throughout the mere 8 episodes of Season 3, thanks to her brave, badass and relatable characteristics.
Steve’s ice-cream parlor colleague not only proves she’s extremely useful (by solving codes, fighting those Russians and entering the Upside Down), but she’s also grabbed viewers’ hearts by coming out to Steve. We’ll be mad if anything happens to her next season!
8. Mike Wheeler
Actor: Finn Wolfhard
There’s no doubt that Mike Wheeler is one of the best characters on Stranger Things. The front-man and formidable leader of the gang is loyal to a fault and is determined and generous, especially for his delicate age.
One could say that Mike is one of the most fleshed-out child characters on the show. It’s safe to say his relationship with Eleven makes him even more likeable, too.
7. Max Mayfield
Actress: Sadie Sink
Max started off as the newbie in town, but she’s now proven herself the perfect addition to the gang. With her kick-ass energy and her sass, her will to help others and protect her friends, she has managed to win Lucas’s heart and our own.
A super-cool BFF to have, Max proved her courage in Chapter 4 after becoming one of Vecna’s targets and showed bravery in the face of danger. Here’s to hoping she makes a full recovery in Chapter 5!
6. Sheriff Hopper
Actor: David Harbour
Hopper is like Joyce, incredibly likeable in his motivation to do right by Hawkins and to protect those that he cares about most. Especially Eleven for whom he becomes a surrogate father to.
His determination to keep her safe and protect the boys is also one of the many reasons why we love grumpy, kindhearted sheriff throughout all seasons. For some, he’s the father they wished they had and for others, he’s become a heartthrob!
Actor: Jamie Campbell Bower
A newcomer in Stranger Things 4, yet the root cause of it all. Chapter 4 finally explained the reasoning behind all the evil in Hawkins. It’s Vecna. Or shall we say 001? Or Henry? This monstrous being may have killed kids, taunted Eleven and tortured the citizens of Hawkins, but we have to admit he’s a great character and fascinating villain with an intriguing backstory.
Vecna is grotesque, extremely evil and downright frightening, but there would be no Stranger Things without him. A villain we love to hate, this guy is brilliant!
4. Eddie Munson
Died: Season 4
Actor: Joseph Quinn
We only met Eddie in Season 4 of Stranger Things, yet it feels like the goofy lovable rockstar has been around since the start. The super-nerdy metal-head stole our hearts from the moment we laid eyes on him in the Hawkins high-school canteen, wearing his signature Hellfire Club shirt and pulling hilarious faces.
Although he met his demise way too soon, Eddie proved himself a brave hero and loving friend. He was hilarious, unapologetically unpopular and a fitting member of the gang. This season’s breakout star will forever live on in our hearts.
Actress: Millie Bobby Brown
With her discrete, but headstrong personality; badass powers, kind heart, and amazing style (especially her punk makeover in Season 2), Eleven is by far one of our favorite Stranger Things characters here at Tell Tales.
One of the most unique protagonists on television, we couldn’t be more proud of the long, arduous journey she’s been through. Eleven’s perseverence in saving her friends, city and practically, the world, is extremely admirable, and what’s more, she’s played by the ever-popular and extremely talented Millie Bobby Brown!
2. Steve Harrington
Actor: Joe Keery
Steve Harrington has proven himself to be much more than the stereotypical high-school douchebag that Season one made him out to be. Since discovering the Demogorgon, good old Steve-o has turned into an empathetic and hilarious character.
He even manages to play a caring and badass babysitter for the younger kids. This has even turned him into an infamous Stranger Things’ meme – ‘Dad Steve’. Steve has by far had the best character development in the entire series and let’s not forget to mention that hair – it’s ICONIC!
1. Dustin Henderson
Actor: Gaten Matarazzo
Witty, clever, and by far the funniest member of the gang, Dustin, can only rank as the best Stranger Things character of all time. With his adorable smile, loyalty, and winning sarcasm, he has our hearts and our friendship forever.
Dustin is geeky and proud, and there’s never a dull moment when he’s around. In fact, he probably brings us some of the best scenes in Stranger Things! One of the most determined of his gang, we just can’t wait to see what this truly original character is going to come up with next.
Whether your list of best Stranger Things characters ranks differently in your mind, I’m sure we can all agree that, best or worst, each member of the Netflix show brings a little something that it just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Do you agree with our list? Or do you think that some rankings should be swapped? We all interpret TV shows differently, so let us know what your own list would look like in the comments below…
There are sections of this article that were written by Angela Stephanou.
This article was originally published in April 2018.