Stranger Things has continuously entertained viewers throughout its brief run of episodes, but the concept of diminishing returns kicked in almost immediately. Stranger Things Season 1 was just a smashing success. It was unique, fresh, and spooky, and it perfectly captured the 80s style. The casting was fantastic, and the young actors were great. Given that it was an ensemble cast, this was very noteworthy. Season 2, called Aliens to the original’s Alien even by showrunners, included some truly horrific sequences. It also included Bob Newby, the superhero, who was one of the most beloved and kind-hearted characters ever to appear on television. However, it lost its way at times, attempting to do too much.
Season 3? It was as if the Duffer Brothers hurled everything we liked about the 1980s into a wall and grabbed whatever stuck. Russian baddies and a clone of the Terminator? Sure. Is your neighborhood mall the center of the universe? Let’s get started. Crawl through air vents like Die Hard, but with a teenager instead of Bruce Willis? Yes, why not? Is this a tribute to The Thing? Actually, that was a good decision. Is there a secret Soviet base in the USA? Not at all? All three seasons have been praised by critics. Even the episodes thought to be the worst were frequently praised for use in other series. With the Fourth Season on the way, we thought it would be a good opportunity to narrow things down and select the top ten episodes in the series’ history.
Here Are The Top 10 Best Stranger Things Episodes:
10. The Monster – Season 1 Episode 6
Mike falling off a cliff, El’s psychokinetic rescue, Jonathan kicking the shit out of Steve, and our first glimpse at El’s mother, Terry Ives, are all defining events in this episode. “The Monster” is a title that works on numerous levels. Of course, the Demogorgon is really the monster, yet it’s merely a creature that eats according to its instincts. El considers herself the true monster because she is the one who created the creature in the first place.
That honor, however, should belong to Doctor Brenner, who recruits college students for his evil studies, which end in stupefied lives and kidnappings that transform children into statistics for lavish lab experiments. Steve has the potential to be a monster as well; his jealousy leads to life-threatening brawls. Or kids like Troy, who bullies Dustin to the level of holding him at knifepoint and almost forcing Mike to commit suicide. Mike and El’s reunion, which was overshadowed by Dustin, is now one of the series’ most famous moments, demonstrating the power of friendship.
9. The Body – Season 1 Episode 4
This chapter is an important turning point in Season 1, with slow burns and painful discoveries, in which Hopper and Jonathan, on separate roads, learn Joyce isn’t crazy, and Will could still be alive. In his quest for Barbara, Hopper discovers the fake body in the cemetery, and Jonathan connects with Nancy, who also has seen the monster without a face. When El transmits Will’s voice over the radio, Mike immediately recognizes that Will is alive.
There’s the classic scene where the boys dress up El, transforming her into the “perfect girl” as perceived by twelve-year-old boys, with terrible effects. Joyce tearing down her wallpaper and then seeing her terrified son screaming at her through a flesh-encased part of the wall is the finest scene. That last part gave me nightmares and adds to my great respect for this episode, which is incredibly emotional from beginning to end.
8. Will the Wise – Season 2 Episode 4
After the very first 3 episodes of Season 2, the tone shifts as both Noah Schnapp as well as Millie Bobby Brown have outstanding performances. Possession is a frightening topic to portray on screen, but it’s also the most dangerous since it’s difficult to do properly. Noah nails it with details that even Linda Blair in The Exorcist couldn’t pull off. There is still no jump scares here, only a creeping sense of unease as Will swings between being frightened and terrified, making strong requests, and walking around the home, confused.
When Millie comes back from following Mike in Episode 3, she and Hopper have a shouting war, which is one of the best scenes of the Season. As a result, she throws things at him and smashes windows in a psychokinetic tantrum. Will the Wise is an underappreciated Episode, owing to the lack of action, yet it’s almost as brilliant as the finales in terms of emotional performances.
7. Holly, Jolly – Season 1 Episode 3
Will’s body is retrieved from the riverbed, and Hopper, as well as the kids, have no reason to believe it’s a fake. Mike’s angry reaction to Peter Gabriel’s version of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” in which he blames El and runs home furious, is a unique piece of cinematic beauty. The entire show builds to this climax in a series of powerful scenes, beginning with Barbara’s death in the shadow world.
Like El’s reimagining of killing two guards at Hawkins Lab after being dragged back to her cell for denying killing a cat; Joyce’s advancement with Will, in which she wants to communicate with her kid using Xmas lights, and he tries to tell her to get out of the apartment as the Demogorgon breaks out of the bedroom wall. Stranger Things completely hooked me after this Episode. From this point on, I binge-watched the remaining episodes and haven’t looked back.
6. The Spy – Season 2 Episode 6
You might not expect it, but the one Episode in which Eleven does not appear is also one of the greatest. “The Spy” brings together a lot of fantastic elements. For starters, it was here that the charming Dustin & Steve bond blossomed. It was fascinating to hear them discuss female issues and hair products. Will is played superbly by Noah Schnapp, who gives a performance that leaves you fearing for and of him.
Will has been under the Mind Flayer’s control and poses a serious threat to those around him. Meanwhile, Steve, Dustin, Lucas, and Max try to lure Dart to the junkyard but instead end up attracting plenty of demo dogs. This side of the story has a more humorous plot to balance out the horror of Will’s situation. A series highlight is a moment in which Steve and the kids band together to combat the Demodogs. We also get a better look at Max as she ties with the team and tells Lucas about her past.
5. The Sauna Test – Season 3 Episode 4
In the Third Season, Stranger Things has a Village of the Damned kind of a feel. That was demonstrated once more in Chapter 4, “The Sauna Test.” This is the Episode in which Heather offers her family to The Mind Flayer, and they are transformed into pod people… or, more precisely, The Flayed, in the opening scene. That isn’t really what made this Episode stand out, although this is a lovely homage to previous horror and sci-fi films.
The title Sauna Test, as well as the battle that follows, are the Episode’s highlights. Realizing that Billy Hargrove is under The Mind Flayer’s command and recalling the creature’s thoughts towards heat from the prior Season, the gang decides to lock him up in a sauna and provoke a showdown. Perhaps, to their surprise, it works. Worse, Billy breaks free from the sauna, resulting in a struggle between Eleven and Billy/The Mind Flayer, with Eleven using her psychokinetic abilities to attack Billy and Billy The Mind Flayer displaying inhuman strength.
When Mike smashes the baddy over the back with only a pipe and Eleven throws him through a window, Mike gets his time in the limelight. It’s the fight that shines out much more than the Season’s finale showdown. The claustrophobic sensation, the sense of real risk, and the group working as a solid group were all brilliantly done. You also got to awe at Eleven’s abilities once more.
4. The Mind Flayer – Season 2 Episode 8
We probably got the best episodes of the entire franchise just before season two ended. The darkest event in Stranger Things history occurred in “The Mind Flayer.” As Bob, Joyce Byers’ adoring boyfriend, Sean Astin won our hearts. In this episode, he was the greatest hero, using his brains to help everyone escape a Demodog-infested Hawkins Lab. Unfortunately, he was unable to escape in time and was brutally murdered by the Demodogs while Joyce and her companions escaped. Although that is the reason we all remembered the episode, it is far from the only positive aspect of “The Mind Flayer.” The breakaway from Hawkins Lab was thrilling.
In the second part, Mike seems to have the idea that Will might know how to beat the creature that is controlling him, which sets in motion emotional torture in which Will is strapped down and beaten over by Jonathan, Joyce, and Mike in turns. Mike’s recollection of making new friends with Will during the first week of school is beautifully portrayed. Despite the fact that no shots are fired, the climactic standoff is tense. When the demo dog smashed through the window, I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.
3. The Battle Of Starcourt – Season 3 Episode 8
Stranger Things fans are divided into two groups: those who watch for the people and those who watch for the goosebumps. If you’re in the first group, the early episodes of Stranger Things 3 may have attracted you because of the teenage drama and teamwork. The final few episodes were definitely more your cup of tea if you wanted adrenalin and scary stuff.
The Mind Flayer, now a giant mountain of meat built from The Flayed’s bodily parts, was defeated by a reunited crew in the series finale, The Battle of Starcourt. At the very same time, Hopper puts his life on the line to help in closing the Russians’ attempt to open a passage to The Upside Down. Dustin’s long-distance lover turns out to be real, and she saves the day at a crucial point – not without embarrassing him.
Billy’s redemption, which was set up earlier in the season, might just be the coolest moment. It isn’t totally deserved, but it has a Boromir-like quality to it. In the course of shutting off the Russian experiment, Joyce appears to kill Hopper. The Mind Flayer’s body fails when The Upside Down is cut off from this reality. After a few months, the Byers family — Will, Joyce, and Jonathan — leaves Hawkins, bringing Eleven with them. In a season four teaser, we learn that Hopper very probably survived and is currently imprisoned in a Russian camp.
2. The Upside Down – Season 1 Episode 8
Stranger Things’ first season is a compact, tight, awesome feeling that doesn’t lose time and really doesn’t leave any of its most significant plotlines hanging in the build-up to its conclusion. That’s one of the things which makes “The Upside Down” so exciting to watch. Of course, the main aim is to save Will from the dark world where he’s been locked for the whole season, but the series accomplishes so much more in the process.
To save Will and restore him, Joyce and Hopper traveled deep into the Upside Down. For the majority of the Season, all fans wanted to spend more time in that realm. Steve also got his big heroic chance when he came with a barbed baseball bat to save Nancy & Jonathan from the Demogorgon. We wouldn’t have liked Steve as much if we didn’t see this scene.
We get the epic final battle against the Demogorgon, Mike’s recurring bond with Eleven approaches its peak in Season 1 and sets the stage for more growth in Season 2, Hopper’s struggle to make peace with his daughter’s death comes to the realization through rescuing Will, Joyce’s reunion with her kid, and so much more. And it all finally ends with the revelation that Hopper & Eleven are still linked in some way. It’s both a satisfying conclusion to the story we’ve been following for several hours and a lovely expansion of the universe that sets the stage for what’s to come. While the second series finale was fantastic in its own right, it couldn’t compare to this.
1. The Gate – Season 2 Episode 9
As their love blossoms, we finally see Eleven and Mike together. Furthermore, Hopper expresses to Eleven his actual father-like thoughts, and all he wanted to do was protect her, just as he couldn’t even save his kid, Sarah. As Eleven offered her all to shut the gate and defend her friends, the special effects continued to steal the show. Despite the pain she has undergone, Eleven realizes that her friends and Hawkins are her families in the Season 2 finale.
The Mind Flayer is defeated in the first part of the Episode, and the “gate” connecting our universe and the Upside Down is closed. As a result, Joyce and Will have some amazing, touching moments, as well as unique emotional moments for Hopper and Eleven. It also brings out the best in “Dad Steve,” as he assists the other kids in moving through the tunnels and distracting the Demodogs.
After this great battle, the gang finally meets at Hawkins High School for the holiday dance, and while it can feel a little like fanservice at times, this final sequence is wonderfully uplifting at every step. El’s sealing the gate is the series’ crowning achievement, but the Snow Ball conclusion is the series’ greatest sequence, with the four guys dancing to the scary ’80s stalker song “Every Breath You Take” to find the “perfect girl.” It’s so touching, so true, and more than I could have hoped for in the Second Season. Everyone has an emotional moment.