20 'Stranger Things 2' Characters Ranked From Worst To Best
Warning: This article contains spoilers… obviously. My advice would be to go away, finish the series, then come back and tell me whether I’ve got it spot on or badly wrong.
So, ‘Stranger Things 2’ is (sadly) in the books, and with that, comes a lot of material to unpack, digest, dissect and basically any other word that means to analyse the shit out of what we have seen.
The show is phenomenal, and while the amazing special effects and plethora of glorious 80’s pop culture references are enough to satisfy even the most casual of fan, really, it’s the wonderful characters and their development throughout the show that makes Stranger Things 2 so thoroughly rewarding and annoyingly addictive.
It’s been a while since it first landed on Netflix, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to have a stab at ranking the show’s most beloved characters, both new and old.
It’s completely scientific, absolutely definitive, and not at all subjective, so buckle yourselves in for a white-knuckle ride through Hawkins’ nearest and dearest.
Kali & Her Gang
I’m not going to pull any punches here, Kali and her gang of misfits was a pretty terrible – and mostly pointless – inclusion into this season of Stranger Things. Episode 7 added almost nothing to the show apart from a slight development in Eleven’s character that could have easily been handled in one scene, causing the story’s momentum to grind to a halt which was completely unnecessary.
It’s not Kali’s fault – she could have been a strong addition to the show – but disappointingly her character arc turned into a badly written and clichéd episode that would’ve been better suited to a Heroes/X-men spin-off.
The less said about the rest of them, the better.
Dart started off well enough when he was just a baby enjoying some nutrient-rich nougat, but sadly, he tailed off massively towards the end when he became a fully-fledged demogorgon. Dustin’s obsession with a monster that literally tried to kill his best friend one season ago was pretty stupid, as was Dart – a so called evil being – allowing the gang to pass him in the Upside Down Tunnels.
Also, killing Mews was not cool.
Nancy’s mom has got it going on. Throughout season two I developed a dangerously unhealthy crush on Karen Wheeler, which undoubtedly peaked when she answered the door to Billy in that sultry nightwear.
Oh, the sultry nightwear.
Despite her prudish and typically mumsy demeanor in previous episodes, that scene marked an interesting deviation towards a wilder Mrs. Wheeler – which I’m not afraid to admit greatly turned me on.
Billy, you are one lucky boy.
Another pretty pointless diversion in the story – this time for Nancy and Jonathan – the inclusion of Brett Gelmen as the bearded conspiracy theorist obsessed with uncovering the truth behind Hawkins’ lab did at least manage to bring a nice combination of weirdness and rationale to an otherwise bland plot point.
He’s also responsible for Nancy and Jonathan getting it on, so hey, every cloud.
Nancy’s desire to get to the bottom of the Barb saga is a bit of a drag, albeit one that appeased a load of #JusticeforBarb crusaders.
She has her moments – especially with Jonathan – but sadly, for most of the show, she’s overshadowed by bigger and better characters with more interesting storylines.
Jonathan suffers from many of the criticisms as Nancy does in the sense that he’s overshadowed by a more prominent younger sibling and wastes most of his time on a storyline that few of us actually care about.
He’s more likeable and charming than he is in the first season, but ultimately, he’s still resigned to an unrewarding romantic arc with Nancy while being surpassed by Joyce as the most able and useful guardian for Will.
Integrating a new character into a show that’s already well established is always going to be a difficult task, especially as the replacement of the nefarious “Papa”, but Paul Reiser’s Dr. Owens does a decent job of it.
Initially, you have the same disdain for him as many of the other Hawkins Lab scientists, but as the season progresses, you realise he’s actually a pretty good guy that’s just struggling to make sense of everything like all the other characters.
Max is a bit of an odd one to judge, largely because (depending on who you ask) she’s one of the most polarising characters in the show.
She’s cool, she’s tough and she plays video games, so for all intents and purposes she should fit seamlessly into the boys’ friendship group, but her scepticism about the Upside Down and the events of the first season, along with the trepidation of the group in allowing her to know anything of real value, kind of keeps her character on the periphery until fairly late on.
In the end she proves her worth, so hopefully in season three she’ll provide a much needed female balance to the male dominated “Dungeons and Dragons” party.
Supposedly an antagonist and rival to Steve Harrington, the mullet-rocking older Mayfield sibling somehow transitions from intolerable jock to lovable rogue before our very eyes.
Yes he’s a bully, yes he’s obnoxious and yes he likes to show everyone his hairless torso, yet I still found myself weirdly endeared to Dacre Montgomery’s character.
(Granted, I might be the only one.)
Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Steve Harrington-esque U-turn from him sometime in the near future.
Mike is the de facto leader of the gang and with that comes a lot of responsibility.
When Will is going through all that possession malarkey, Mike is the one who is there for him, reassuring his friend that everything will be OK and generally being the all-round dutiful BFF that we know he is.
Having said that, Mike comes across a bit of a dick at times in season two, particularly in his treatment of Max who he refuses to let into the group.
I get that he’s missing Eleven – and kudos for trying to stay in touch with her – but it’s your job to keep everyone’s spirits up, not wallow around in self pity.
Joyce is the surprise glue holding the whole story together, as it’s her persistence and refusal to give up on her son, Will, that really provides the biggest resistance to the Mind Flayer and the Upside Down.
Winona Ryder turns up the heat on the character this season, going from perennial worrier to all-out bad ass, so hopefully she’ll get a bit of a break from all the craziness in season three.
Something tells me that’s wishful thinking, though.
Season two was the breakout season for actor Noah Schnapp, given that for most of season one he was incapacitated in the Upside Down.
If you think about it, though, Will really is the main character in Stranger Things, as it’s his struggles and battles with the Upside Down that most of the story hinges on.
And this time around, he doesn’t disappoint, going through a frankly terrifying possession and exorcism yet coming out of it at the end like the little battler he is.
Surely he can’t go through the same shit for a third time?
Perhaps the real hero of the piece is this Cheeto-loving super nerd, who’s as hellbent on getting a date with Nancy Wheeler as the Mind Flayer is on destroying Hawkins.
(Although if it came down to bumping into him or a demogorgon down a dark alleyway, I’d have to plump for the demogorgon.)
Still, you can’t blame a guy for trying his hand with a girl who’s way out of his league – my experience as a hormonal teen were dominated by such efforts – which is probably why I feel such empathy towards him.
He also helps Lucas out in his hour of need so props for that too.
Season two was the season where Lucas came into his own.
In the first season, he took a bit of a backseat in proceedings while sometimes clashing with Mike and Eleven, but this time around, he’s matured into an assertive and intelligent leader who isn’t afraid to take the bull by the horns.
He’s also open-minded and wise enough to see the positives in allowing Max into the group, getting his reward at the end with a cheeky kiss from his fiery crush.
Way to go, son.
If season two was the season when Lucas came into his own, then equally, it’s the season where we were gifted the absolute bundle of joy that is his younger sister, Erica.
Erica provides a humorous and stark reminder that despite all of the crazy goings on, Stranger Things is ultimately about relationships and familial structures rather than anything supernatural.
She also proves that siblings couldn’t care less about the world ending – all they want to do is go in your room, take the piss out of you and your mates, and be as diva-ish as they possible can.
After watching the first episode of season two, I was pretty sceptical about Sean Astin’s character. He was affable enough, but I was concerned that after a while his overly nice, and sickly good-nature would start to grate on me.
After watching the series, though, I’m glad to admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Bob Newby is a certified super-hero, providing support to Joyce when she needs it most and trying his damned hardest to be the father figure that Will and Jonathan are crying out for.
After figuring out Will’s map and essentially saving everyone else’s life by sacrificing himself in the lab, Bob is a prime example that you should never judge a book by its cover.
The first season of Stranger Things was very much the story of Millie Bobbie-Brown’s character, but this season she got off to a decidedly slower start after being confined to Hopper’s cabin (although her relationship with him as a father/daughter dynamic is without doubt one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of Stranger Things 2).
Once the character does get going, watching Eleven’s struggles and eventual growth as she attempts to understand both her powers and where she came from, provides some of the most poignant and emotional moments in the history of the show.
Her reunion with Mike is teased throughout the season, and when it eventually happens, it’s a joyous and momentous occasion that was well worth the wait.
In a town filled with uncertainty and tension, one thing is a given: Chief Hopper will always be there to do the right thing.
Hawkins’ trusty sheriff is a beacon of light in an otherwise dark, and at times, hopeless, place, putting his own broken life to one side and acting in the interest of his townspeople.
He’s not always right, and he can be a little headstrong, but Hopper is the cop, protector, and in many ways, father figure of nearly all of the main children in the show who seem to lack a strong and dependable male figure in their lives.
He burdens a lot of responsibility, and without him, Eleven, Will, Joyce and the rest of the gang, would be pretty lost.
Unquestionably my favourite member of the group, Dustin never fails to provide some much needed comic relief at some of the bleakest moments in the show.
His mistake in taking Dart in was surprisingly naive, but I’m willing to let that slide for all the good that Dustin does throughout the season.
Forever a pillar of knowledge on mythical beasts, and always an authority on what course of action to take for the best, Dustin is perhaps the most fearless of the group members, throwing himself into the most dangerous situations whilst managing to inject some much needed humour into proceedings.
His bromance with one Steve Harrington is undeniably one of the most entertaining dynamics of the whole show, culminating in him taking a leaf out of his new mentor’s book with that not-so-secret Farrah Fawcett hairspray at the Hawkins High Snow Ball.
A lady-killer in the making, if ever there was one.
Come on, who else could it be?
Formerly an arrogant tool who was nothing more than an inconvenient obstacle to Nancy and Jonathan’s happiness, Hawkins High’s most desirable attendee has gone from the king of quiffs, to the king of redemption.
(He’s still the king of quiffs too, by the way. [Dustin you’re a close second]).
Let’s have it right, he was a pretty shitty boyfriend to Nancy in season one, but that’s the least of this monster-twatting, super babysitter’s worries now.
He selflessly puts his own pursuits to one side for the greater good, grabbing his nail-studded baseball bat to help out new bezzie Dustin when he needs him most, and stands up to resident bully, Billy, even if it means him getting his ass whooped.
Yep, it’s been quite the arc for ol’ Steve Harrington, and to misquote one of my favourite films: ‘he may not be the hero Hawkins deserves, but he’s the one it needs right now.’
What do you think of the list? Let us know in the comments!
Images via Netflix/GIPHY