The Best ‘Stranger Things’ Moments — Ranked
These moments gave us all the feels.
The third season of Netflix’s sci-fi horror series “Stranger Things” is streaming right now — but if you’re a big fan, no doubt you’ll probably have watched the whole thing already, at least once. With the hit show at the forefront of our minds again, here’s a look back at our favorite scenes since we were first introduced to the crazy world of Hawkins, Indiana, back in 2016.
So break out the Eggos, sit back and enjoy remembering the best moments from “Stranger Things.” Warning: Spoilers aplenty if you aren’t up to date yet.
30. Season Two’s Opening
The opening scene of season two took viewers by surprise, even if they had been forwarned by actor David Harbour, who plays Sheriff Jim Hopper (“The first five minutes, you’re not going to know you’re watching ‘Stranger Things,'” he told The Hollywood Reporter).
For starters, it wasn’t set in Hawkins and it didn’t feature any familiar characters. But it did — in true “Stranger Things” tradition — raise a bunch of new questions: Who is the badass girl in the van with the “008” tattoo and what are her superpowers? What was the masked gang stealing, if anything?
29. We Finally Love Alexei
The Russian scientist Alexei is the character we loved to hate throughout season three — until we realized that behind the badness was a good guy at heart, who loved cherry-flavored Slurpees and winning stuffed animals at the Fourth of July fair. But just as he’d won us — and the super-cynical Murray Bauman — over, he was taken down by a Russian hitman, and we were just as heartbroken as Joyce.
28. Steve Gives Dustin Dating Advice
You’d never think it from the start of season one, but Steve and Dustin became #BFFgoals as the series progressed. At the end of season two, while setting bait along a stretch of train tracks to try to pin down Dart the Demodog, Dustin asks Steve for advice on impressing girls. And boy, does Steve come up with the goods. Not only does he advise Dustin not to care about someone, even when he does, he gives him some awesome hair tips (four blasts of Farrah Fawcett hairspray —no more, no less — while the hair’s still damp).
27. The Emergence Of Eleven
As the most important character of season one, Eleven’s first scene has to go down in “Stranger Things” history as one of the best. Sporting a hospital gown, bare feet and a shaved head, she emerges from the woods and sneaks into Benny’s diner. In return for burgers, a T-shirt and a call to social services, Eleven uses the power of her mind to fix a noisy fan in the diner. When it turns out that the telephone call wasn’t such a favor after all — “Connie from social services” turns up and shoots Benny dead — Eleven goes on the run again. Hooked.
26. Will Smashes Castle Byers
By season three, most of Will’s buddies are growing up and getting more interested in girls than playing Dungeons & Dragons. But not Will. He’s going through a tough time, which culminates when he smashes his makeshift fort, Castle Byers (built by Will and Jonathan on the night of their parents’ divorce), to bits. Anyone who’s ever struggled with leaving their childhood behind — or wishes they could go back to those carefree days — is right there with him at that moment.
25. Bob Newby’s (Sort Of) Comeback
Fans of Bob Newby (Sean Astin) loved the start of season three, when the character briefly comes back to life in the form of Will’s drawing of him on the fridge with the caption, “Bob Newby, Superhero.” And that’s not all. After Joyce tells Hopper she can’t go out with him and stays home to eat dinner and watch “Cheers” alone, she remembers watching the show with Bob. That’s still not all. There’s a quick glimpse of Bob in the spot where he died. Heartbreaking all over again — but worth it.
24. Eleven’s Punk Makeover
Eleven’s moody, punk-rock makeover in season two takes her from Shirley Temple curls and an oversized flannel to slicked-back hair, cuffed jeans and leather bracelets — perfect for hanging out with a group of outcasts with dyed hair and mohawks. Hopper loves it (or at least, he tells Eleven he doesn’t hate her “MTV punk” look); Eleven loves it (she calls it “bitchin'”); we love it. Twitter went crazy for it as well. Of course, by now she’s changed in more ways than that, transforming from a lab experiment into a real person with plenty of agency.
23. Nancy Wheeler Channels Nancy Drew
After playing something of a bit part in seasons one and two, intrepid reporter Nancy Wheeler finally gets to shine in season three. Going against her supervisors’ wishes, she investigates the case of the diseased rats crawling all over Hawkins and gets to the bottom of it: they’re connected to the Upside Down, and coming together to form the Mind Flayer’s Flayed Army. Of course, Nancy has more to worry about that rabid rats — she’s also dealing with workplace harassment and sexual discrimination by her older male colleagues.
22. Bob Makes A Heroic Sacrifice
Poor Bob. After being Joyce and Will’s rock for season two, he comes to a grisly end. But until he takes his last breath, he’s still putting others first. He manages to restore power to the Hawkins lab (where he, Joyce, Will and Mike are trapped), but before he can escape with the rest of the group, he’s attacked and killed by an army of vicious Demodogs. Like many characters on “Stranger Things,” there was more to Bob than what first met the eye.
21. The Wheeler Women Bond
One of the most touching moments in season three is between Karen and Nancy Wheeler. In fact, their entire relationship is underrated. After some rocky times in the first two seasons, the mom and daughter finally reach a place of mutual admiration and understanding. After Nancy is fired from The Hawkins Post for investigating the rabid rats without permission, Karen gives her the encouragement she needs to keep pursuing the story: “Most people just stop trying, but you’re not like that. You’re a fighter.”
20. Robin Cracks The Code
In season three, Maya Hawke is a welcome addition to an already stellar cast. As Robin, she’s funny, smart and plays a crucial role in solving the Russian mystery. Her moment of glory comes when she translates the Russian transmission (“The week is long. The silver cat feeds when blue meets yellow in the west. A trip to China sounds nice if you tread lightly.”), has an epiphany in Starcourt Mall and realizes that it is identifying places in the mall that are being used as dropoffs for the Russians. At the same time, she realizes just how awesome she is.
19. Joyce Sets The Government Straight
Portrayed as by far the smartest person in season three, Joyce knows that in a town full of Upside Down monsters, there’s more to falling magnets than meets the eye. It’s difficult to choose her best moment, but the scene when she calls back the government after Hopper didn’t quite get the message across is definitely up there.
In another killer Joyce moment, she tells Murray Bauman, “We have had a very long day. We’ve been shot at, nearly blown up, walked god knows how many miles in 100 degree heat, stole a car, all while being chased by this gigantic psychopath, all so we could bring him to you because somehow you’re the closest person who speaks Russian, which I can’t believe but that doesn’t matter because unfortunately we’re here, so if you don’t mind, put that thing away, stop behaving like a jackass, and ask him what he’s doing that is making my magnets fall off my damn fridge! Please!”
18. Who Is ‘The American’?
As expected, season three leaves fans wanting more — and wanting answers. In the end credits scene, a prison guard in Kamchatka, Russia is told to leave “the American” inside his cell before taking the Russian who had been working with Alexei in the Hess house to an underground cage.
When a hatch inside the cage is opened, out comes a Demogorgon. There’s clearly more to come from the Upside Down, but what about Hopper? We don’t actually see him get vaporized after Joyce explodes the key, so could he have escaped? Is he the mysterious American? Bring on season four.
17. Nancy Dances With Dustin
The season two finale at the Snow Ball (the school dance) is a great episode for practically every character. One of the highlights is when Nancy, Mike’s beautiful older sister, asks the eternal dork Dustin to dance after noticing that he’s been blown off by every girl he approaches. The moment not only makes Dustin feel like the luckiest kid alive; it also proves just how much Nancy has grown since season one, when she did plenty of dubious stuff, like ditching Barb to go upstairs to Steve’s bedroom. It’s no wonder this scene was shared all over social media.
16. Jopper Gets Their Moment
The chemistry between Hopper and Joyce has been clear forever, but it takes a long time to come to anything. It continues to build in season three, until the sweet moment Joyce asks Hopper out to dinner and tells him he can pick her up. While there may not be any declarations of love before Hopper seemingly sacrifices himself to defeat the Mind Flayer, their conversation in the Russian base below Starcourt Mall says everything — if you read between the lines.
15. Robin Comes Out To Steve
No other “Stranger Things” relationship goes through as many transitions as Robin and Steve’s does in season three. From a starting point of mutual loathing, they gradually become frenemies, then possible love interests, before finding their sweet spot as true friends (and the latest trend in “Stranger Things” fan art).
Their best moment takes place on a public bathroom floor when Steve realizes that Robin’s earlier “obsession” with him wasn’t because she had a crush on him, but because another girl (Tammy Thompson) liked Steve, and Robin was jealous. Steve’s supportive reaction turns Robin’s coming-out moment into one of the show’s most tender scenes, peppered with humor.
14. Barb Is A Goner
While Nancy and Steve are getting it on in Steve’s bedroom in season one, the cautious, dependable Barb, waiting alone at the pool, is snatched by the Demogorgon and taken to the Upside Down. It’s a shocking scene, if only because Barb had so much potential. While she pops up throughout the rest of season one, via photographs and conversations, with Nancy tirelessly searching for her, there’s no comeback. As Eleven says, she’s “gone” — left for dead in the Upside Down with slugs coming out of her mouth. Poor Barb!
13. Billy Saves Eleven (And Himself)
One of the most hated characters through seasons two and three, Billy Hargrove did the seemingly impossible in the season three finale — he managed to get the audience (or a large chunk of it, at least) to remember him with fondness. We were some way there when we learned about his difficult life (abused by his father, abandoned by his mother, etc.), but we could only make the final leap when he sacrificed himself to protect Eleven from the Mind Flayer. Billy died a hero. We had to work hard to find his tender side, but it was there all along.
12. Eleven’s Triple-Decker Eggo Extravaganza
Every “Stranger Things” fan knows Eggo waffles and Eleven have a deep connection. So when Hopper needs to get back into Eleven’s good graces after a serious row about the importance of her remaining hidden, he knows exactly what to do. He layers whipped cream, Hershey’s Kisses and waffles not once, not twice, but three times over. And as if that’s not enough, he then tops the whole sugary shebang with Reese’s Pieces and jelly beans. The best part? As the soft-hearted police chief says, “It’s only eight thousand calories.”
11. Mike Jumps Off A Cliff
When Dustin and Mike are cornered by two bullies in season one, Mike literally has to take a leap of faith when a knife-wielding antagonist tells him to jump off the nearby cliff, or else Dustin will feel the wrath of his weapon. Mike jumps to save his friend, but luckily Eleven and her brilliant telekinetic powers have saved the day. She saves Mike (who floats in mid-air before levitating back to safety) and gives the bullies a taste of their own medicine.
10. Eleven Closes The Gate
The finale of season two ends on a high, with Hopper and Eleven penetrating the Hawkins Lab in one last attempt to block off the gateway to the Upside Down. This enthralling, emotional, powerful scene features the twosome dangling in a cage in mid-air. Hopper tries to fend off a horde of freaky beasts as well as protect his daughter. Meanwhile, Eleven summons all of her psychic strength to trap the shadow monster and seal the edges of the gate together. The whole season has been building up to this moment, and it’s clearly Eleven’s toughest feat to date — it leaves her bleeding from both nostrils for the first time.
9. Justice For Barb
Barb’s untimely demise took viewers by surprise and the subsequent outcry took the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, by surprise. The hashtag #JusticeForBarb started trending all over social media and the Duffers had to publicly promise closure.
“People get very frustrated, understandably, that the town doesn’t seem to be really dealing with Barb,” said Matt Duffer. Eventually, fans got their wish, and in season two John and Nancy forced Hawkins Labs to acknowledge the coverup of Barb’s death (to prevent revealing the existence of the Monster to the general public) and the kind-hearted nerd finally got the funeral she deserved.
8. Hopper Officially Adopts Eleven
The Hopper and Eleven storyline is one of the show’s sweetest. After keeping Eleven safe from the bad government guys for a year (as well as saying regular parent stuff like, “I want you to eat all the peas even if they’re mushy and gross”), the police chief gets to adopt her in season two, thanks to the string-pulling of Dr. Sam Owens. With a forged birth certificate naming Hopper as Eleven’s dad, they were able to continue building their father-daughter relationship in the open, not undercover. Hopper even managed to convince Owens to give Eleven a night out to go to the Snow Ball with her friends.
7. Dustin And Suzie Sing ‘The NeverEnding Story’
Nobody thought Dustin’s camp girlfriend Suzie actually existed, but she finally makes an appearance in the season three finale — and what an impact she makes. She comes over the radio waves from Salt Lake City, demanding that her “Dusty-Bun” sings a duet of Limahl’s “The NeverEnding Story” with her in exchange for the code Hopper and Joyce need to get through a locked gate in the secret Russian bunker.
Even Limahl was impressed by the rendition, telling Entertainment Weekly, “I’m so happy that 35 years later, I’m still around to be able to enjoy this.”
6. Eleven Reads Hopper’s Note
Possibly the single most heartbreaking moment in “Stranger Things” history is the scene when Eleven reads Hopper’s note. It’s no secret that Hopper is pretty lame at all the emotional stuff, meaning he struggles to tell Eleven how much he really cares about her. So he takes Joyce’s advice and writes an emotional speech for Eleven. It’s a speech he never actually gives; Eleven reads it in season three, after Hopper (presumably) dies.
“Keep on growing up kid,” he wrote. “Don’t let me stop you. Make mistakes, learn from ’em. When life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave. But, please, if you don’t mind, for the sake of your poor old dad, keep the door open three inches.”
5. Mike And Eleven Kiss At The Snow Ball
Like all awkward teenagers, Mike doesn’t know how to tell Eleven how he feels about her. Instead, they kiss at the school’s annual Snow Ball in the season two finale. It’s the moment many fans had been waiting for since the very first moment they met in season one. The friendship we watch grow throughout season one has finally developed into a romantic relationship, leaving us psyched to see what happens for Mileven in season three.
4. Joyce Talks To Will Via Christmas Decorations
Like all parents whose kids are missing, Joyce refuses to give up on getting Will back home in season one. Convinced her son is trying to talk to her, Joyce burns through two landlines before striking gold with a bunch of Christmas decorations. The expression on Joyce’s face when she is finally able to communicate with Will (one blink for “Yes” and two blinks for “No”) is one of the season’s best “aww” moments.) It also results in one of the most iconic images from the entire show — Joyce paints the alphabet on her wall and uses the Christmas lights as an Ouija board.
3. Goodbye, Hawkins
The ending of season three is an emotional one, with Joyce, Will, Jonathan and Eleven (the new addition to the Byers family, following Hopper’s disappearance) leaving Hawkins for good. Cue numerous farewells: Jonathan and Nancy, Will and all his friends and — the most painful of all — Eleven and Mike. It’s particularly bittersweet given the fact that Eleven has just dropped the “L” bomb. Will Mileven ever catch a break?
2. Goodbye, Mike
Of course, that’s not the only time Eleven has had to say goodbye to Mike. At the end of season one, when everything has gone haywire, Eleven takes a brief break from pinning the Demogorgon against the wall inside the school to turn back and tell Mike goodbye, before she sacrifices herself to the monster. We’re not crying, you’re crying. (Mike’s crying the most, obviously.)
1. Mike And Eleven Are Reunited
Season two is a serious test of patience for everyone waiting for Mike and Eleven to be reunited, but it finally happens, and it’s worth the wait, even if poor Mike had to endure almost an entire season of misery, unaware that Eleven was alive and well only a couple of miles away in Hopper’s cabin, and could hear all of Mike’s desperate walkie talkie calls to her.
Their reunion may be short (Eleven has important gate-closing business to attend to), but it’s incredibly sweet. Mike’s face, when he sees her walk into the Byers house, says it all.