Stranger Things has become a massive ensemble show during its six-year run, with more and more joining the cast. Here are the most important characters you need to know, all the way up to Season 4.
Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things, a horror epic that takes place in the small town of Hawkins, is filled to the brim with central characters and an amazing cast. From villains to heroes, and small kids to massive monsters, there is barely a character that doesn’t make an impact.
While this means that there is a wide range of characters for audiences to enjoy, it also means that it can be hard to keep track of everyone. And with Season 4 Volume 2 having just come out, it’s important to know who’s who, especially considering how amazing this cast of actors are at portraying their characters.
The Upside Down is filled with different monsters and demons, but it’s arguably more important to know who are the major players in the human world. So if you’re just getting into Stranger Things, these are the characters and cast members you need to remember.
WARNING! Slight spoilers for Stranger Things…
Eleven – Millie Bobby Brown
Even if you don’t watch Stranger Things, you probably know who Eleven, aka El, aka Jane Hopper is. Played by incredible cast member Millie Bobby Brown, Eleven holds powerful telekinetic and telepathic abilities, making her the biggest threat and biggest target for many of the series’ villains.
Eleven’s past is one of the biggest mysteries of the show, as we are still learning new things in Season 4. The series first kicks off when she escapes the secret government facility that she was held and raised in, and goes into hiding with a young boy named Mike and his friends. Over the course of the series, it’s amazing to watch her grow both in power and humanity as she meets new people.
Mike Wheeler – Finn Wolfhard
Mike is a bullied science lover and DnD Paladin when the show first begins. While Mike’s centrality to the show’s plot has changed over the past few seasons, he is arguably Eleven’s main link to the rest of humanity, since their romantic relationship spans the course of the show.
Mike is the one that finds her when she first escapes, and his main goal throughout the series is usually keeping his girlfriend safe, even when he has no special powers of his own. He also cares deeply about his friends, as when his best friend Will goes missing in Season 1, Mike is desperate to find him.
Dustin Henderson – Gaten Matarazzo
Dustin, being the bard of his friends’ DnD party, is arguably the main comic relief character of the show, and he usually has the funniest scenes. He struggles around girls, but the friendships that he manages to make across the series, including his team up with cool kid Steve Harrington, are arguably the most heart-warming parts of the show.
Dustin may be goofy, but he is still incredibly smart, and he loves science, even going to science camp over the summer in Season 3. He is also emotionally intelligent, as he helps keep his group of friends together whenever they argue, especially in Season 1.
Will Byers – Noah Schnapp
Will, otherwise known as Will the Wise to his best friends Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, is the crux of the whole first season, as his disappearance in the first episode puts all of the other events into motion. Will is quiet and gentle, and very good at hiding from the monsters that hunt him down. But he manages to grow in confidence over the course of the series, despite going through so many awful and terrifying experiences.
Now Will seems to be struggling with more internal problems, as it seems he may have grown feelings for Mike in Season 4. This plotline has caused some controversy amongst fans, but hopefully it will come to a satisfying conclusion in later episodes.
Lucas Sinclair – Caleb McLaughlin
Lucas, while loving his friends, and fulfilling his DnD role as Ranger, often stands apart from the group. He is the person most suspicious of Eleven when she first appears, which leads to several arguments. However, he is able to come to his senses, and he always manages to be there just in time to save the people he cares about with his trusty slingshot.
- Read More: Stranger Things Season 4: who is Vecna?
Season 4 sees him splitting off from the group again, as due to his basketball skills, he is growing in popularity at their new high school. But once more, he makes it back to the party to protect his friends, especially his on-and-off again girlfriend Max.
Max Mayfield – Sadie Sink
Max first appears in Season 2, and she instantly makes an impression. A tomboy and an avid skater, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind, which makes for some very fun interactions with other characters. The moments she has with her boyfriend Lucas – including all of the times she dumps him – are especially entertaining.
Max does tend to shut people out, as shown by her arc in Season 4 that culminates in one of the best scenes in the whole show, which has actually led to a Kate Bush song rising in the charts again. Max has had – and still has – a rough life, but it’s inspiring to see how she perseveres.
Jim Hopper – David Harbour
Jim Hopper is Hawkins’ police chief, who becomes the main action man of the series. Before the events of the show, he’s gotten lazy on the job due to there being no prior major incidents in Hawkins. However, when the time calls for it, he is able to step up and get to the bottom of, well, the stranger things that are happening.
While many viewers don’t like how his personality changed in Season 3, they can still enjoy his relationships with other characters such as the father-daughter relationship he develops with Eleven, especially after viewers discover his tragic backstory with his own daughter.
Joyce Byers – Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder’s casting was arguably the reason many people started watching the show, and her character Joyce did not disappoint. Joyce Byers is probably the most dedicated mother to ever exist. After raising her two sons on her own, when one of them goes missing she is determined to find him, even breaching into the supernatural to communicate with him.
She’s generally the character that isn’t afraid to look and act crazy in order to get to the truth, which makes her very interesting to watch, and it’s incredibly satisfying when everyone starts believing in her methods.
Nancy Wheeler – Natalia Dyer
Nancy Wheeler is a character that truly transforms as the seasons go along. She starts off as Mike’s snobby older sister, who is desperately trying to date the school’s most popular boy. But by the current season, she is a tough and determined investigative reporter who isn’t afraid to fight giant monsters with an array of weapons.
Nancy’s love triangle with Johnathan and Steve has been a talking point amongst fans for a long time now, but Nancy proves that she can easily stand on her own as a character. Her ongoing guilt over her best friend’s tragic fate in Season 1 alone is incredibly compelling to watch.
Steve Harrington – Joe Keery
Steve Harrington was initially meant to die in Season 1, but he became such a loveable character – thanks to the work of cast member Joe Keery – that fans would most likely riot if he were to die.
Steve transforms from the shallow popular guy at school to a brave and understanding figure, who spends most of his time babysitting the younger kids and keeping them out of trouble. He is very funny to watch, and his interactions with Dustin, Robin, and Erica in Season 3 create some of the most entertaining scenes in the whole show.
Johnathan Byers – Charlie Heaton
Johnathan Byers is Will’s older brother, so when Will goes missing, Johnathan is devastated. It doesn’t help that Johnathan also gets bullied at school, and harbours feelings for Nancy, who doesn’t really talk to him before they eventually team up to fight off the incoming danger in Hawkins.
Johnathan can be quite awkward and introverted, and arguably he doesn’t have much to do in later seasons. But it’s clear that he cares deeply about his family and would do anything to protect them, and his relationship with Nancy is always sweet to watch.
Robin Buckley – Maya Hawke
Robin joined the cast in Season 3, but her chemistry with Steve was undeniable, so she instantly became a household favorite. She is Steve’s sardonic co-worker at Scoops Ahoy, the ice cream shop in the mall, but the pair end up doing a lot more than just serving ice cream. And by a lot more, that means uncovering a secret Russian laser plot.
Robin is super smart, but she also has many funny moments due to her being awkward around other people, especially other girls. She only really feels comfortable around Steve, but she begins to go outside her comfort zone and make friends with other characters during Season 4.
Vecna is the newest Upside Down villain on the block, but he manages to stand out for his – somewhat – human origins, and how his past intertwines with other characters. Inspired by Freddy Kruger from Nightmare on Elm Street, Vecna is able to prey on the fears of his victims and put them into a trance state, where he gruesomely kills them.
Vecna is filled with a lot of mystery, and despite many of his twists already being revealed in Season 4, it’s both exciting – and terrifying – to guess what he is planning to do in the fifth and final season.
Erica Sinclair – Priah Ferguson
Erica is Lucas’ bratty younger sister, who ends up becoming a key cast member in Season 3 after abusing the Scoop’s Ahoy free ice cream sample policy all summer. She’s quick witted, nimble, isn’t afraid to bite back at those who bother her, and also happens to be a great DnD player.
Her and Lucas share a typical brother-sister relationship, meaning that they are always getting on each other’s nerves. She constantly teases his nerdy interests, despite being somewhat of a nerd herself. It will be interesting to see how their dynamic changes as the pair get older, but no doubt Erica will be just as entertaining as she has been so far.
Billy Hargrove – Dacre Montgomery
Stranger Things is known for it’s otherworldly villains, but one of the show’s most iconic antagonists is Max’s older step-brother, Billy, who arrives in Season 2. Billy acts awfully towards almost everyone around him, especially Max and her boyfriend Lucas.
Billy gets even worse in Season 3, when he becomes possessed by the Mind Flayer, and he turns into something that is physically terrifying as well as mentally. However, this does lead to viewers seeing more of Billy’s past, which makes him… not exactly likeable, but he does end up appearing more human than monster.
Dr. Martin Brenner – Matthew Modine
Dr. Brenner, known to Eleven as “Papa,” is an unsettling antagonistic character. While he has no major plots to take over the world, his grip over Eleven and other powerful people like her is always uncomfortable to watch. He runs the facility that Eleven was raised in, and while he initially seems to treat the children kindly, it’s apparent that he can turn to violence if they ever step out of line.
Brenner was a major problem in the first season after Eleven managed to run away, and he returns in Season 4 to help Eleven get her powers back, with some ulterior motives of his own.
Eddie Munson – Joe Quinn
Eddie Munson is a new character, appearing only this season. However, he has already become an MPV of the show, with his carefree attitude and rocker aesthetic. His first scene, in which he criticises the whole school during lunch, is enough to make him standout amongst all the other characters.
His interactions with other cast members such as Chrissy and Dustin are joyful to watch, despite the fact that not many things go well for Eddie this season. And of course, he has that iconic scene which involves battling the Upside Down with a sick guitar solo.
Barb Holland – Shannon Purser
If you’re unfamiliar with Stranger Things, you’re probably still aware of the phrase “Justice for Barb.” Barb was a character in Season 1 that really didn’t have fate looking out for her. She is Nancy’s best friend, but ends up getting ditched when Nancy is trying to start a relationship with Steve. Not only that, Barb then befalls a tragic ending at the hands of the season’s villain.
Despite only appearing in one season, her death still haunts the town and especially Nancy, who spends most of Season 2 trying to get justice for her best friend. Barb has even made a cameo appearance in the first volume of Season 4, so it seems like her story isn’t done just yet.
Murray Bauman – Brett Galman
Murray can be both a grating presences and an incredibly entertaining character. He joins the cast in Season 2 as a former investigative journalist, who gets hired to investigate Barb’s disappearance.
Murray clashes with Nancy, who knows the real truth about Barb, but the two end up working together to take down the organisation responsible for many of the supernatural problems which have affected Hawkins. Since Season 3, Murray has teamed up with Joyce and Hopper in order to deal with any Russian threats that the town and its characters have faced, and these team ups are always fun to watch.
Dr. Sam Owens – Paul Reiser
Sam Owens is a somewhat morally grey character, and it’s often hard to understand which side he’s on. He first appears in Season 2 as Will’s Doctor, when Will is still being possessed by the Mind Flayer. But it becomes apparent that he knows a lot more about what is going on, and he knows a lot about Eleven.
In comparison to the other doctors who knows about Eleven, Owens seems more concerned about the girl’s wellbeing. But he still demands her to help them battle against the great evil that is growing in Hawkins, as he knows that she’s the only one powerful enough to do it.
Argyle – Eduardo Franco
Argyle first joins the cast in Season 4, but he has miraculously survived to make it to Season 5. He is Jonathan’s California friend, and he perfectly fits the California stereotype. He is a very chill and philosophical stoner who works at a pizza diner, where he encourages his customers to try pineapple pizza.
Despite him barley knowing anything about Eleven’s powers and the Upside Down, he is immediate on board when he friends need him, and it looks like he will be a helpful ally in the upcoming final season.
Chrissy Cunningham – Grace Van Dien
Chrissy only appeared for a short time this season, but considering what happens to her, and how the entire town reacts, she’s likely going to be someone that fans of the show remember for a long time.
Chrissy is a popular cheerleader at Hawkins’ High School, but she initially seems quite a sweet and shy girl. She is clearly dealing with some mental health problems that have stemmed from a rough home life, and this all leads to her upsetting fate at the end of Season 4’s first episode.
This list of the Stranger Things cast will be updated as the series continues.
Season 4 of Stranger Things will conclude on Netflix on July 1st.