A Definitive Ranking of Stranger Things Characters

Who would be invited to your list of best Stranger Things characters?  We probably can all agree that “Papa” belongs in another kind of list. The kind you put people in before sending them to a maximum security prison. But what about those morally obscure Stranger Things characters? Irrelevant but annoying people like Ted? And even amongst the best of them, can we forgive Lucas for yelling at Eleven? Jonathan for taking pictures of Nancy? And something has to be done about the Barb situation.

Today, three of The Nerd League’s writers strapped on their ranking boots and got down and dirty with the townsfolk of Hawkins, Indiana. The Stranger Things characters had nowhere to hide. Who will be the fairest of them all? Scroll down to find out.

Stranger Things characters ranked:

23. Lonnie

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Absentee father who only cares about his son’s disappearance once he finds out he can make money off of a lawsuit = -100 points.

R: All fingers crossed that Lonnie gets eaten in Season 2. And/or Hopper punches him. And/or Joyce punches him. Honestly I just want to see him get punched.
M: Lonnie and the monster are going to run away with one another into the Upside Down and live miserably ever after.
G: I’ve been rendered speechless due to anger. Also he called his kid queer. I’m getting angry again.

22. Troy

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Might have actually gone through with murdering someone. Is runner up for most despicable human only because he is a child and might grow out of it one day = -90 points.

R: Troy deserved everything that happened to him. Punk.
M: After seeing his mother in the police station, I understand why Troy tried to knife up the boys for peeing his pants. The whole family is psychotic.
G: See, bullies have that redemption arc where you realize he’s the way he is due to circumstances, but then you see Eleven being a good person and all sympathy is gone.

21. Papa

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Abusive father,  yet in his twisted mind might actually be doing it for the “greater good” = -80 points.

R: Name one movie where a man in a suit with a shock of white hair has been one of the good guys. THERE ARE NONE. (If there are please let me know ASAP and I’ll fix this accordingly)
M: Never trust the men with white hair in suits. They torture children.
G: Apparently my mom finds this man attractive. Maybe she acquired vicarious Stockholm Syndrome.

20. Ted

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

All-around loser. Clueless, indifferent to his family, and believes the government should be trusted = -50 points.

R: The absent-minded father. No 1980’s homage would be complete without one.
M: Ted is as bored of his suburban life as the rest of his family is. He’s just not afraid to show everyone else.
G: Best and only line really, “What did I do?” Exist, Ted. That’s what. Oh, wait. He did say to trust the government, too. G-a-r-b-a-g-e.

19. Tommy & Carol (they’re really just one annoying unit)

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© Netflix

In desperate need of a life-changing tragedy to set them on a redemption path. Until then, ultimate jerks = -30 points.

R: Ugh these two. Maybe they’ll get eaten by the alien next season too.
M: I wish Tommy and Carol’s parents’ used condoms.
G: I hope Tommy and Carol continue to use condoms. (They think they’re Team Rocket, but no.)

18. The Monster

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Responsible for Barb’s death, possibly Eleven’s. Ruined the lives of all Stranger Things characters. Still, it might be just acting on monster instinct = -20 points.

R: There’s no way we’ve seen the last of the monster. Maybe it’ll come back and eat Lonnie.
M: The Monster looks like someone put a banana on a decapitated body and it became a Frankenstein-esque creature that just wants to find love.
G: I did feel like The Monster was just lonely and following his predatory instincts. It’s not like the monster chose to be a douche. But maybe he did?

17. James

Is irrelevant, but is the kind of irrelevant that makes you want to end it all = -10 points.

R: Every jerk needs a hesitant sidekick. James is exactly that.
M: James spends every night by the doggy door at his house. Fido never came home that one night. James was never the same.
G: Damn, that was dark. I’m just gonna see myself out of this one.

16. Officer Powell

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© Netflix

Actually irrelevant = 0 points.

R: I’m a bit indifferent towards Officer Powell. I was too distracted by Hopper and Officer Callahan’s glasses. Maybe we’ll see more of him in season 2?
M: Officer Powell is actually Turk from Daredevil. After stealing time traveling technology from MCU Doom, he travelled thirty years into the past to start anew as a cop in a small town.
R: Way to blow my mind, Matt.
G: While he isn’t much, he was the only buffer we had for Callahan’s inappropriate jokes.

15. Officer Callahan

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Makes a lot of inappropriate comments, is probably disrespectful at least six times a day, but has awesome glasses and took Troy down = 15 points.

R: Dear Stranger Things Costume Dept., GIMME THOSE GLASSES.
M: Officer Callahan is the Jean-Ralphio of Stranger Things
G: He’s the kind of douchebag that’s fun to be around when the douchebaggery isn’t directed at you. Exhibit A: when he puts Troy in his place.

14. Lucas

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© Netflix

Is part of the squad, wins at slingshot, but loses a lot of points for yelling at Eleven = 20 points.

R: Sure, he was a bit of a punk in the beginning when it came to Eleven but, as Dustin points out, all Lucas really is is jealous of Mike and Eleven’s friendship. Sadly, that jealousy makes him a downer for a good portion of the show (and a primary source of conflict). The second he strapped on that camo bandanna, Lucas started to redeem himself. And you know you were rooting for his mad slingshot skills to take down the alien.
M: Lucas reminds me of Han Solo. He complains and runs off a lot but you can’t help liking him a lot.
G: I take great issue with people who feel the need to put others down to feel justified in their actions. I didn’t like Lucas from the moment he said “I wouldn’t want her in my house.” Obviously, I did cut him some slack due to the fact that he’s a child and could grow out of it. And he did. And has mad slingshot skills.

13. Steve

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Steve Harrington’s an idiot, but he’s self-aware and helps take down the monster in the end = 30 points.

R: Steve is the Reggie Mantle of Stranger Things. If you don’t understand this reference then it’s time to go out and buy an Archie Comic. Trust me.
M: Steve is the suburban nightmare husband that Jonathan warned Nancy about. Sweet but quick to anger, a lovable shithead. I can’t wait for his death!
G: Steve was basic for seven episodes, and then he was like alright let’s kill the monster and became epic. However, he still needs to see himself out because Jonathan Byers is the real MVP here.

12. Barbara

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Only person who was graced with common sense in the whole show, yet somehow winded up dead. Wins pity points = 40 points.

R: Barb fits every 1980’s best friend stereotype and deserved much better than a slimy, probably very painful, death. M: Barb is a reminder to never try to stop a friend from hooking up because you’ll stab yourself and die in an alternate dimension. Be a wingman, don’t be Barb.
G: I could’ve easily been Barb. I was always the really conscientious friend. I don’t think conscientious people deserve tragic ends.

11. Will

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Is adorable, likes The Clash, but ranks lower because of lack of screen time = 50 points.

R: Will somehow managed to stay alive in the Upside Down which is mighty impressive since armed militiamen went through the portal and got eaten in a matter of minutes. Like his mother and brother, Will is a badass. No good can come of choking up alien slugs, though. It makes me nervous for him.
M: Every good memory of Will that I had was lost when they found him with that tentacle monster in his mouth. I haven’t been able to eat phallic foods since that scene.
G: How often do you eat phallic foods? And while Will had little time to win us over, he succeeded through his really sad on-going rendition of “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.

10. Karen

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© Netflix

Isn’t too much of a badass, but was really just trying to be a good mom = 55 points.

R: All Karen ever did was try to be a good mom.
M: “YOU CAN TALK TO ME! I CAN BE A COOL MOM” No, Karen, you’re just not cool enough.
G: All I have to say is that Karen is literally Lana del Rey as an 80s housewife.

9. Mr. Clarke

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© Netflix

Second kindest person in the whole show, plus was geeky and interrupted his date for the sake of the kids = 65 points.

R: Everyone has a teacher like Mr. Clarke at some point in their life. Maybe not who helps them to build an impromptu deprivation tank, but who is so invested in their students knowledge and curiosity that they change their lives. Four for you Mr. Clarke. You go Mr.Clarke. Also how bout that stache?!
M: The one character in all of Stranger Things who clearly has a genuine love for life and the people in it. I wish this guy was my teacher and I could interrupt his dates to get info on how to make a sense deprivation pool. Not that I’d need one! Stop staring at me reader! You don’t know my life!
G: I’ve always been accused of being the teacher’s pet, but it ain’t my fault teachers are the best! Just like the ST squad, I would’ve been calling up Mr. Clarke all day every day with all my geeky questions. I mean, I do do this in real life to this day.

8. Mike

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

The ring leader who didn’t want to lead anything. Tried to be as diplomatic as he could, but was ultimately overcome by his love for Eleven, which really just adds more points to his claim = 80 points.

R: Oh, Mike. So young. So in love. Such an excellent Dungeon Master.
M: Mike reminds me of a skinny, childhood version of me. Extremely nerdy and quick to fall in love with pretty people.
G: Mike reminds me of my best friend growing up, sans the romantic part. But basically I’m saying Mike is adorable and I love him. Definitely one of my favorite Stranger Things characters even if he’s kind of overlooked by the masses.

7. Nancy

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

She was going through teenage angst at the beginning and made a lot of bad decisions, but her redemption arc literally walked her all the way up here = 90 points.

R: Hermione Granger and Nancy would be best friends. Both are pretty, brilliant, have the cutest boys in school wrapped around their little fingers, don’t put up with any crap, know how to party, and don’t shy away from a fight.
M: Nancy’s the kind of badass you want to be good friends with. Just not best friends, you know. She’ll leave you to treat a hand wound while she kisses boys and you might get eaten by a monster in a dimension where no one can hear you scream.
G: Girl’s got aim.

6. Benny

Is the kindest person out of all the Stranger Things characters, but granted had no time to screw up = 100 points.

R: Oh, Benny. You fed Eleven french fries and thought you were protecting her. May you rest in peace.
M: Benny took a bullet for helping Queen Eleven. Take a minute to mourn a true hero.
G: Eleven’s Lancelot. Left us too soon.

5. Jonathan

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Does not score higher because his demeanor was questionable at the beginning, but lands high, high up because he made us all fall in love with him = 110 points.

R:  1) Jonathan Byers gets brother of the year award forever. 2) I can pinpoint the exact moment that Jonathan Byers won my heart. It’s when he and Nancy meet in the woods to go monster hunting. Jonathan brings a gun with him and when Nancy proves that she’s a better shot, he gives the gun to her. There’s no pouting or complaining. Nancy doesn’t have to fight him for it. It’s smart writing and makes his character even more likable.
M: Jonathan Byers could have totally ended up being a stereotype for creepy silent kid that murders small animals. I’m very happy he did not and became a caring badass.
G: Jonathan Byers showed up with a sad case of acne scars and a creepy demeanor and ended up being…the man of all of our dreams.

4. Hopper

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Has clearly made mistakes, but pulled himself together from a horrible past. Still, there is room for more mistakes that he may or may not have done already = 120 points.

R: From the moment he said, “mornings are for coffee and contemplation” to the moment he left Eggos in a lockbox in the woods, I loved Jim Hopper. He’s a man who clearly knows loss well. He lost his only daughter to cancer and his wife who has moved on with her life and married another man. Hopper drinks, pops pills, smokes like a chimney, and lives an overall lifestyle that is not healthy. But, when Will Byers goes missing, he pulls it together – for the most part – and manages to stay a step ahead of the bad guys for most of the show. HE’S GOOD AT HIS JOB! And as someone who loves troubled, caffeine fueled police officers, this is very important to me. I refuse to think Hopper might be a villain in season 2. REFUSE! (Also he looks super cuddly. Joyce needs to lock that down real quick).
M: I was going to say Hopper was the definition of dad bod cop but that seemed in bad taste. Instead, I’ll say he’s one of the absolute highlights of the show. You’ve got questions about the plot? So does Hopper and he is also not sleeping because of them!
G: When the show opened up to Hopper getting into his cop costume, I quickly dismissed him. I assumed he would be your regular screw-up cop who derails your investigation thanks to his bouts of anger and irrationality. Instead, Hop was one solid dude. That’s until he betrayed Eleven. Now, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt given that we have yet to figure out the whole story. The Eggos were a good sign, but it might still prove to be too little, too late if my queen is no more.

3. Joyce

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Is through and through a solid mother. Stands by her son even when everyone thinks she’s crazy = 140 points.

R: Joyce Byers is, hands down, one of the greatest portrayals of a hard-working, loving, determined mother to grace television in a long time. If you didn’t get a little choked up during the scene where Joyce was talking to Will through the Christmas lights, then you’re a cold-hearted individual.
M: Joyce Byers can speak to electronics and there’s monsters living in her walls. She also might have a history of mental illness and she is still the best parent on this show!
G: Think of Joyce holding Eleven while she tried to find Will and Barb through that weird impromptu pool. Think of Joyce demanding her advance, the telephone, and the pack of Camels. Joyce standing up to Lonnie. Think of Joyce getting Hop on his feet. Joyce is the epitome of BAMF.

2. Dustin

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© Netflix

He had no flaws, was the guiding light of all other Stranger Things characters = 150 points.

R: How can you not love Dustin? He likes chocolate pudding, science, and knows the difference between real Nilla Wafers and the fake ones. On top of all that, he spits the truth about friendship like a boss. For me, Dustin is the true heart of Stranger Things. He’s a precious cinnamon roll and needs to be protected at all costs. DO YOU HEAR ME, DUFFER BROS? AT. ALL. COSTS.
M: Dustin is the shining light at the end of the tunnel for me. He’s also made me call all of my friends Lando Calrissian when I’m upset with them.
G: Dustin brings all of the perspective into the friend group. He brings all of the perspective into the show. And he brings all of the perspective into our lives. Dustin is 2016’s messiah, or at least the messiah of the Stranger Things characters.

1. Eleven

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

Perfection = ALL OF THE POINTS.

R: Eleven transcends all lists. Give this girl her Eggos. And all the awards.
M: If you told me a year ago that I’d get a show with preteen Furiosa/Jean Grey fighting monsters, I’d call you crazy. Now, I just stare out the window everyday sobbing. Where did you go, Eleven? You saved us all but at what cost? AT WHAT COST, DAMN IT!
G: Let me redirect you to my rant on why Eleven is the queen of everything. And she better be alive, because if she isn’t I’m shoving Eggos down the throat of whoever is responsible.

stranger things characters ranking

© Netflix

This Stranger Things character ranking can now provide us with some illuminating data on the nature of the Stranger Things characters, or perhaps of how we humans perceive other humans. Here are our conclusions:

  1. Dads rank really, really low in this show. With the exception of Hopper (whose daughter is dead, so), every daddy is a train-wreck.
  2. Mothers, on the other hand, are topping the chart.
  3. If it weren’t for Carol, no woman would’ve made it to the bottom half of the chart.
  4. Eleven could be the goddess of her own church and we would probably follow it, especially if Dustin serves as her prophet.
  5. Bullying is never okay.
  6. Sometimes hipster glasses and sarcasm can save you from being a complete jerk.

Thoughts on our Stranger Things character ranking? Let us know who your favorite and least favorite Stranger Things characters are in the comments below!

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One thought on “A Definitive Ranking of Stranger Things Characters”

  1. Ronn Hague says:

    Check out Troy (Peyton Wich) in a short about bullying that was shot shortly before he landed the role in Stranger Things. https://youtu.be/F-kKVsXMMFE

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