Stranger Things has been causing a stir among horror fans since 2016 and has arguably been the most successful series in this genre since American Horror Story. With a long list of awards under its belt, Stranger Things has released the first part of Season 4, and fans are eager to see if the sinister storyline still has some potential after the way things ended in 2019.
The nostalgic element of Stanger Things is one of its best attributes, as viewers are transported back to their youthful days with a warm and...not so fuzzy feeling. The Duffer Brothers set a new standard for the horror genre with their introduction of hideously unique monsters within an intricate and terrifying setting, creating a whole new world for fans to immerse themselves in. Sadly, Stranger Things' popularity among viewers seems to be steadily decreasing over time, but thankfully, Season 4 part 1 has thrown a wrench in the works as it succeeds in revitalizing the horrific tale with plot twists that change everything fans' thought they knew about the Upside Down.
The Stranger Things Seasons are ranked according to data collected from Forbes and Rotten Tomatoes, assessed by both critics and audiences alike.
Updated July 11, 2022, by Levana Jane Chester-Londt: Even though the release of Stranger Things Season 4 Vol 2 nearly broke Netflix on 1 July 2022, this installment is one of the lowest Ranking Stranger Things Seasons, decreasing the overall score of the chapter (unanimous among the critics and audience alike).
After waiting five weeks for the last two episodes to air, expectations were possibly too high and viewers' overall consensus was unfortunately underwhelming, yet still more successful than most other series! It's safe to say that although most fans are heartbroken after the final episode, they are generally not disappointed with the quality of the Stranger Things storyline and anxiously await the fifth and final season, which will hopefully air in 2024.
5 Season 3 (Rating average: 87.5%)
New Major Characters:
- Robin Buckley
- Erica Sinclair
- Suzie Bingham
With a bit too much teenage drama for most viewers liking, Stranger Things Season 3 is generally considered to be the least successful installment of the franchise. This storyline is burdened by reestablishing relationship dynamics, leaving Will out in the cold. However, things heat up fast once the Russians show their interest in the Upside Down. Eleven's powers are pushed to their limits as it becomes apparent that she is the only one who stands any chance against the Mind Flayer's monsters, but it all turns out to be too much for the poor girl.
- The Mind Flayer
- The Hospital Monster
- The Spider Monster
This Season of Stranger Things went all out on the monster front, showering viewers with gruesome creations left, right, and center. As hands down the bloodiest season of them all, Stranger Things Season 3 reverted to traditional creature feature tropes, which apparently didn't sit well with most fans. Devastating deaths and dramatic disasters leave the group broken, and El joins Will and his family as they attempt to escape the memory of Hawkins.
4 Season 4: Vol 2 (Rating Average: 89%)
Even though the gang still find themselves separated, El and her friends plan to make their big move against Vecna/One/Henry by attacking him simultaneously from all sides. While Max, Lucas, and Erica (and unbeknownst to them, Eleven) team up to distract Vecna by luring him into Max's mind, Jason hasn't forgotten his vendetta against Hellfire and intervenes at the most inconvenient of times. Mike, Will, Jonothan, and Argyle watch over El's body in the make-shift sensory deprivation tank, essentially the cheerleaders offering constant support. Steve, Nancy, Robin, Dustin, and Eddie take things into their own hands and attack Vecna head-on in The Upside Down, with a guitar, a shotgun and some Molotov cocktails by their side.
To avoid a quick death by Demobat, Dustin and Eddie make it their mission to distract the winged beasts by putting on the most metal concert of all time. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Joyce, Hopper, and Murray take advantage of the Hive mind by attacking the Russian Demogorgons, hoping to inflict enough damage to slow Vecna down. Everyone's carefully planned operation naturally all goes awry and Venca gets the upper hand as viewers cover their tear-stained faces when two fan-favorite characters seemingly meet their end. And after everything is said and done, it appears that Hawkins is doomed for good, as the official gateway to the Upside Down.
With 235 minutes to work with for Season 4 Vol 2, the Duffer Brothers had plenty of leg room, but even then, many viewers felt that the ending is rushed. The first volume handles its extended episodes with greater delicacy, fleshing out the story in an intriguing fashion, but the last four hours or so attempt to tie up too many loose ends simultaneously. Many fans think that El's escape from the laboratory is drawn out tediously, whereas Hopper and Joyce's Russian adventures ended all too abruptly. That being said, most fingernails have seen better days after the thrilling, action-packed series of events set the sinister tone for Season 5 of Stranger Things.
3 Season 4: Part 1 (Rating average: 91.1%)
New Major Characters:
- Dmitri Antonov
- Peter Ballard/Henry Creel
- Eddie Munson
- Victor Creel
- Colonel Sullivan
- Jason Carver
Everything that fans know about Stranger Things is turned, well, upside down in Season 4: Vol 1 as a whole new spin is put onto the eerie events. Even though the Gate is supposedly closed, Hawkins is still haunted by supernatural activity, but now Eleven is no longer around to save the day. This season feels slightly disjointed, as Will, Mike, and Jonathan are off on their own adventure, leaving the others to rescue Max from Vecna's clutches.
In stark contrast to the previous installment, Stranger Things Season 4: Vol 1 does not portray many monsters; however, the influence that Vecna has on its victims is enough to scare the socks off anyone. The storyline is nostalgic, and not only in the eighties way. Eleven's experience exudes strong Carrie vibes, while Hopper reminds everyone of the cruelty that humanity is capable of. The Duffer Brothers have opted for longer running times to thoroughly flesh out the plot, leaving viewers with movie-length episodes to work with. An in-depth backstory is necessary for the abrupt changes in the narrative, so many agree that this drastic change was a smart choice. The epically disturbing plot twist in episode 7 leaves fans begging for more, but are left with just as many questions as Season 4 comes to a tragic close.
2 Season 2 (Rating average: 92%)
New Major Characters:
- Max Mayfield
- Billy Hargrove
- Dr. Sam Owens
- Bob Newby
- Murray Bauman
Eleven and Will take center stage as the most crucial elements of this storyline as fans get to uncover more details about the superhuman's past, and realize that Will may not be safe after all. Eleven decides to distance herself from the boys for their own safety and strikes up an unlikely friendship with Hopper, and then with another experimental prodigy, Kali. The boys also make a new friend in Max, but it seems that not all monsters come from the Upside Down, as her brother Billy earns himself the antagonist role.
- The Mind Flayer
- The Tunnel
Fans begin to question the virtue of their favorite characters, as Will and Eleven take a walk on the dark side and form destructive alliances. There is significantly more monster action in this season and viewers get the opportunity to watch Dart evolve from a slug into a Demogorgon (not to mention Steve Harrington's memorable battle with the beasts!) Some fans join Dustin in his admiration for the "cute" Dart, but many are not surprised when the lethal Demadogs begin to run rampant. Eleven returns to Hawkins just in time to close the gate as the connection between Will and the Mind Flayer is simultaneously severed.
1 Season 1 (Rating average: 96.5%)
The first and Best Season of Stranger Things is shrouded in mystery as viewers have no clue what to expect next, knowing very little about the mechanics of the Upside Down or how these youngsters could possibly find a way out of their disastrous predicament. The distinctive link between the unknown phenomenon and the classic Dungeons and Dragons game becomes more apparent, exciting nerdy fans throughout the world as they watch their favorite childhood past-time come to life.
- The Tunnel
Stranger Things Season 1 uses mystery as a tool to terrify viewers, as the element of the unknown is a predominant factor to intimidate the mind. The Demogorgon helped things along, having been plucked straight out of the depths of nightmares, and adding a face to the foreboding aura that emanates from the Tunnel. The romance element does feature in this season but does not take priority over the major storyline (as with Seasons 3 and 4). Instead, friendship and loyalty seem to be the major underlying themes after all the carnage is scraped away, ultimately producing the Best Stranger Things season thus far.
More: Stranger Things: 10 Fan Theories From Season 4 That Just Make Sense