Stranger Things Cast: The Good, The Bad, And The Fallen Of Hawkins

The cast of Netflix's Stranger Things includes stars like Millie Bobby Brown, David Harbour, Winona Ryder, Sean Astin, Matthew Modine, Finn Wolfhard, and more.

By Michileen Martin | Published

Netflix‘s hit sci-fi horror drama Stranger Things may be set in a small town, but it’s got a big cast. When the series premiered in the summer of 2016, it reinvigorated the screen careers of some of its older stars while catapulting the prospects of its younger cast members into the stratosphere. In particular, young actors like Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, and Gaten Matarazzo became household names thanks to their spots in the story.

We have one final season of Stranger Things on the way, and we may see at least some of the cast reprising their roles thanks to spinoffs that are reportedly in development. All we know for sure is if that the show is going to spawn sequels and/or spinoffs, the newer projects will have a lot to live up to.

WARNING! There’s no way to go over this cast of characters without SPOILERS for Stranger Things.

STRANGER THINGS CAST – THE YOUNG ONES

Millie Bobby Brown – Eleven

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In all of the big sci-fi and sci-fi adjacent screen franchises active right now, few heroes are as complex as Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven. Brought into a clandestine government program in which her natural psychic abilities were weaponized, Eleven is the spearhead when it comes to the heroes of the Stranger Things cast.

Since first escaping the influence of Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine), Eleven has struggled to live as a normal girl but the threats from the Soviet Union, her own government, and the Upside-Down continue to demand she push her abilities to their limits.

There is a quiet menace to Eleven that distinguishes her from the many super powered heroes on the big and small screens. Eleven is one of the good guys and we all know it, but there are plenty of moments in the series where plenty of darker possibilities for the young hero are impossible to not imagine.

Finn Wolfhard – Mike Wheeler

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Few members of the Stranger Things cast have had their roles change quite as much as Finn Wolfhard’s in the part of Mike Wheeler. In the beginning of the series, Mike is the driving force behind getting the young heroes to not only ignore their parents and solve the mystery of their missing friend, but in the boys’ coordinated efforts to keep Eleven safe from the government.

With Mike spending most of his time in the most recent season either with Eleven out west or looking for her, he hasn’t had the same sense of leadership among the younger crew. The second half of Stranger Things finds Mike in more of a support role. Specifically, he’s there to be a somewhat shaky rock for Eleven.

Gaten Matarazzo – Dustin Henderson

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With a quick wit, a keen mind, and a pop culture reference always on the tip of his tongue; Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin became an early fan-favorite in the Stranger Things cast. While he’s not above your average shriek of terror, if one of the series’ original four Dungeons & Dragons-playing heroes is making wisecracks in the face of danger, there’s a good chance it’s Dustin. He’s also got a big heart that we’ve watched get broken too many times over the course of the series.

In the most recent season, Dustin’s part in things changes drastically. With Mike and Will out west–and Lucas drifting away from his nerd brethren into the jock circle–when things hit the fan in Hawkins in Season 4, Dustin is forced into a leadership role.

Caleb McLaughlin – Lucas Sinclair

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Caleb McLaughlin is both the skeptic and the voice of reason in the Stranger Things cast, at least as far as the younger heroes are concerned. As soon as someone like Mike or Dustin suggests something crazy and/or dangerous, Lucas is the first one to point exactly why it’s crazy and/or dangerous. As much as his buddies find it annoying, it’s likely that without Lucas, they never would’ve made it out of the first season.

In Season 4, Lucas finds himself at a turning point. With Jason and his basketball buddies starting a witch hunt for Lucas’ old friends, he’s forced to choose a side. It’s perhaps his love for Max that makes him willing to lock horns with Jason.

Noah Schnapp – Will Byers

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Noah Schnapp’s Will is an interesting part of the Stranger Things cast. Even though it’s Will’s disappearance into the Upside Down that gets everything going in the series, after the first episode you don’t see him a whole lot in Season 1.

With the heroes succeeding in rescuing Will, the Duffer brothers were left with the question of what to do with him. Rather than let him fade into the background, the series brought his character closer to the spotlight. Most recently, it’s been strongly implied that Will is in love with Mike, and is suffering in silence.

Sadie Sink – Max Mayfield 

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Sadie Sink‘s Max didn’t enter the Stranger Things cast until the second season, and she immediately injected some new flavor into the series. The firebrand connected with Eleven on a level the boys never could, and at the same time got both Lucas’ and Dustin’s puberty jumpstarted.

Season 4 pulls Max to a much more central role in the story. As the only potential victim of Vecna able to resist his power, Max becomes integral to defeating him.

Priah Ferguson – Erica Sinclair

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The addition of Priah Ferguson to the Stranger Things cast as Lucas’ younger sister Erica in Season 2 is one of the best decisions the Duffer brothers ever made. At first, Erica is just a hilarious contrast to the young heroes–insulting them at every opportunity and acting as tough as nails.

Eventually, it becomes clear that as much as she might trash characters like Dustin for being nerds, Erica wants in on the action. She not only wants in on their Dungeons & Dragons campaign, but in the more real life monster battles the gang is dealing with.

STRANGER THINGS CAST – THE UPPERCLASSMEN

Natalia Dyer – Nancy Wheeler

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Like her younger brother, Natalia Dyer’s Nancy Wheeler has seen a lot of drastic change since the first season of Stranger Things. Initially dragged by fans for choosing the wrong boyfriend and blamed for the death of Barb, Nancy has graduated to becoming one of the most badass warriors among the series’ heroes. When it’s time to arm for the war on Vecna in Season 4, it’s Nancy who knows the most about guns, how to get them, and how to use them.

A lot of Nancy’s Season 4 story revolves around which Stranger Things cast member she’ll end up with: Jonathan or her old boyfriend Steve. With Jonathan out west clearly considering his own changes, and Steve being nearby and working close with her and the rest of the heroes to stop Vecna, it’s looking more and more likely that — assuming they both survive the final season — the series will end with them being a couple once more.

Charlie Heaton – Jonathan Byers

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In the inaugural season of Stranger Things, Charlie Heaton is cast as Jonathan Byers, the classic artistic loner who has a thing for the popular girl–that popular girl being Nancy Wheeler. At the same time it’s Jonathan’s brother Will who goes missing in the first season, forcing him to fight to save his brother while also struggling to help maintain the Byers home.

In spite of Jonathan’s “crush” on Nancy going beyond infatuation and straying into stalker territory–as in he secretly takes photos of her from afar–they ultimately wind up as a couple. As of Stranger Things‘ most recent season, not only does the relationship between Jonathan and Nancy seem to be on shaky ground, but Jonathan’s main interest seems to have changed from photography to weed.

With Will facing his homosexuality, Jonathan also finds himself needing to focus a lot more on being a supportive older brother.

Joe Keery – Steve Harrington

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You could argue Joe Keery’s Steve Harrington is to the cast of Stranger Things what Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jaime Lannister was to Game of Thrones. Both characters are introduced as insufferable jerks we can’t stand, but both eventually become beloved protagonists’ in their respective series. By Season 2 Steve has gone from a bully and thoughtless boyfriend, to a kind of grumpy adoptive older brother to the younger heroes; particularly to Dustin.

Starting with Season 3, we get to see a new side of Steve when he befriends Robin (Maya Hawke). While at first, it seems like she might be a new love interest, it turns out Robin is a lesbian. Regardless, Steve bucks our expectations of the hormone-driven bonehead we met in Season 1 who would’ve no doubt forgotten about Robin as soon as she became “unobtainable,” and the pair prove to be best friends.

Maya Hawke – Robin Buckley 

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When Robin was introduced in Season 3 of Stranger Things, you could make the argument she was mainly in the cast to shine a new light on Steve. But as of the most recent season, Robin’s come into her own with her own struggles and stories. If Maya Hawke has her wish granted, however, she won’t be surviving the series.

Eduardo Franco – Argyle

With all the kids in the show getting older, Season 4 introduced a somewhat more mature source of comic relief in the form of Eduardo Franco’s Argyle. As a pizza delivery guy, Jonathan’s new best bud, and a connoisseur of a different kind of “bud”; Argyle is the newest, funniest, and mostly oblivious addition to the Stranger Things cast.

THE GROWN-UPS

Winona Ryder – Joyce Byers

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When we meet Winona Ryder’s Joyce Beyers in Season 1, it’s tough to put a lot of faith in her character. Even though she’s right about her missing son trying to contact her, she comes off as crazed, obsessed, and completely forgetful about her other son. But by Season 4 Joyce is one of the fiercest heroes in the Stranger Things cast.

In Season 4, Joyce makes the courageous–and arguably insane–choice to infiltrate the Soviet Union in order to save Jim Hopper (David Harbour). In 1986, the Soviet Union was a lot scarier to try to get into and out of then even the Upside Down.

David Harbour – Jim Hopper

When David Harbour enters the Stranger Things cast in Season 1, he isn’t in much better shape than his super-powered Russian in 2021’s Black Widow. His breakfasts usually include some form of alcohol and he’s about as friendly to the citizens of Hawkins as he is sober. But nothing changes him more than becoming an adoptive father to Eleven.

In spite of his willingness to sacrifice himself at the end of Season 3, he survives and is transplanted to the Soviet Union where he’s tortured by prison guards and ultimately expected to die in an arena battle with a Demogorgon. His previous experience with the monsters helps him survive and reunite with Joyce.

Brett Gelman – Murray Bauman

When we first meet Brett Gelman’s Murray in Season 2, he seems to be part comic relief and part “guy in the chair.” A shut-in conspiracy theorist, Murray proves a lot more open to believing the insanity going on in Hawkins than your average citizen.

In Stranger Things Season 4, we get a much different side of this cast member. Not only does he utilize his martial arts classes to beat the hell out of the treacherous Yuri (Nikola Djuricko), but he seems a lot more comfortable wielding a flamethrower than you might initially imagine.

Paul Reiser – Sam Owens

In Stranger Things‘ second season, Paul Reiser enters the cast as Sam Owens — a more conscientious alternative to Dr. Brenner. While he takes over the same operations in the Hawkins Lab, Owens is more interested in stopping the threats from the Upside Down and less prone to making the kind of amoral choices Brenner would.

We actually don’t know yet if Owens survived the events of Stranger Things Season 4. When the Nina Project was destroyed, Owens was inside the facility and we never see him emerge.

Cara Buono – Karen Wheeler

While her character may not be the most active in the Stranger Things cast, Cara Buono is unforgettable as Mike and Nancy’s mom Karen Wheeler. Though most of her time in the show is taken up reacting to her kids’ strange behavior, in the second and third season she enjoyed her own popular subplot involving a potential affair with the much younger Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery). She ultimately backs out, but is nevertheless devastated when she learns of Billy’s death.

Joe Chrest – Ted Wheeler

Perhaps no one in Stranger Things‘ cast personifies the word “oblivious” than Joe Chrest’s Ted Wheeler… or does he? While Ted usually only surfaces to stick his nose in a newspaper or say a few discouraging words at dinner, some fans–as reported by The Express–theorize the seemingly apathetic dad is secretly working for the CIA. If he is, we’ve only got one more season to see that revealed.

Rob Morgan – Calvin Powell

With most of Hawkins believing Jim Hopper died in the Season 3 finale, Rob Morgan’s Calvin Powell gets a promotion to take his place in Season 4. Unfortunately, Calvin doesn’t have the same luxury as Hopper in knowing what’s really going on in Hawkins. It puts him in a difficult position in Season 4, when he’s dealing with the twin threats of Vecna’s murders and violent mob violence encouraged by basketball star Jason (Mason Dye).

John Reynolds – Phil Callahan

If Hawkins has a Barney Fife, it’s John Reynolds’ Phil Callahan. He’s not exactly like the classic Don Knotts character, but if you’re going to pick a Hawkins cop to be a gullible nitwit who can easily get the wool pulled over his eyes by kids, it’s Callahan.

Randy Havens – Scott Clarke

Hawkins teacher Scott Clarke, played by Randy Havens, is one of the few characters who hasn’t been seen since Season 3, but whose absence thankfully has nothing to do with a grisly death. As the boys’ old science teacher and the faculty head of the AV Club, Clarke was one of the few friends the socially awkward heroes had in the early seasons. Since they’ve since graduated to high school, they no doubt have different teachers.

Tom Wlaschiha – Dmitri Antonov

Hopper never would’ve made it out of the Soviet Union alive without the help of the prison guard Dmitri, played by Tom Wlaschiha of Game of Thrones fame. It’s difficult to trust the prison guard at first, though he ultimately proves a lot more trustworthy than his contact Yuri. He’s caught helping Hopper and made a prisoner himself, and proves to be one of the few Russian prisoners to survive the fight with the Demogorgon.

THE VILLAINS

Jamie Campbell Bower – Vecna

In Season 4 of Stranger Things we learn that even though Jamie Campbell Bower wasn’t a part of the cast until the penultimate season, his villain, Vecna, was behind everything all along. Starting off as Henry Creel, aka One, he is transformed into Vecna after being defeated by Eleven.

The first truly coherent intelligence to emerge from the Upside Down, Vecna attacks his victims through their fears and doubts. Short of Eleven’s direct attack on Vecna, the only way anyone has so far found to resist his assaults is through Max’s method of listening to her favorite song — Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” — over and over again.

Matthew Modine – Dr. Martin Brenner

There may be those fans who don’t see Matthew Modin’s Martin Brenner as a villain, but it’s tough to deny the evil the scientist has done. You could argue there’s a lot of good that wouldn’t have happened without him–such as Eleven regaining her abilities in Season 4. But ultimately Brenner is an obsessed scientist who values scientific discovery over human lives, and the people of Hawkins would never have even found themselves in Vecna’s crosshairs without him.

Brenner seems to die in Season 4 of Stranger Things, but there’s reason to believe we’ll see him among the cast again. First of all, there’s the obvious possibility of flashbacks. Second of all, he seemed to have suffered a pretty conclusive death at the end of Season 1, and yet that death managed to not stick.

Andrey Ivchenko – Grigori

While both Hopper and Joyce survive Season 3 of Stranger Things, Andrey Ivchenko’s Grigori does everything he can to stop that from happening. In Season 3 we find out that–like the US government–the Soviets also have a secret project going on in Hawkins, and Grigori is dispatched to murder Hopper and Joyce when they get too close. He’s also the operative tasked with keeping the corrupt Mayor Larry Kline (Cary Elwes) in line.

We don’t see Grigori in the cast after Season 3 of Stranger Things. Hopper kills the assassin in Season 3 finale.

Catherine Dyer – Connie Frazier

Working for an unspecified government agency, Connie Frazier (Catherine Dyer) is ruthless in her pursuit of Eleven in the first season; including her murder of Benny (Chris Hammond), the diner owner who feeds Eleven when he finds her sneaking around his kitchen. Connie isn’t as lucky in the arena of resurrection as Dr. Brenner however. Her final appearance is in the Season 1 finale, when Eleven uses her abilities to crush her brain inside her skull.

Jake Busey – Bruce Lowe

With his constant verbal abuse toward Nancy at the Hawkins Post, it doesn’t take much not to like Jake Busey’s Bruce Lowe when he first shows up in the Stranger Things cast. But when he comes under the control of the Mind Flayer, Lowe goes from being a jerk to a genuine threat. Both for the good of Nancy’s life and the good of journalistic integrity in Hawkins, Nancy crushes Bruce’s head with a fire extinguisher in the middle of Season 3.

Michael Park – Tom Holloway

Like Bruce Lowe, Tom Holloway didn’t treat Nancy very well while she was working for him at the Hawkins Post. After he’s taken over by the Mind Flayer, one of his first actions is to fire Nancy and Jonathan because of their investigation. In the same encounter that sees Bruce’s skull crushed, Jonathan kills Tom by stabbing him in the neck with scissors.

Francesca Reale – Heather Holloway

It’s Tom Holloway’s Heather, played by Francesca Reale, who effects her parents’ takeover by the Mind Flayer. Unlike her father, Heather doesn’t leave the Stranger Things cast through a violent confrontation with the heroes. Instead, both her and her mother are absorbed into the body of the monstrous Flayer.

Cary Elwes – Mayor Larry Kline

In Season 3 of Stranger Things, Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride fame joined the cast as the treasonous Hawkins Mayor Larry Kline. Collaborating with the Soviets, by the end of Season 3 Kline is arrested and thrown out of office, but not before getting an epic beatdown from Joyce.

Nikola Djuricko – Yuri

No bad guy in the Stranger Things cast more embodies the villain you love to hate (but not really because you kind of love him) than Nikola Djuricko’s Yuri. Calling the peanut butter obsessed pilot a “double crosser” doesn’t seem to cover just how much he stabs Murray, Joyce, and Dmitri (and, by extension, Hopper) in the back while at the same time having exactly zero shame about any of it.

Mason Dye – Jason Carver

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Jason Carver (Mason Dye) isn’t the biggest villain in the cast of Stranger Things‘ Season 4, but he’s big enough. After the death of his girlfriend Chrissy (Grace Van Dien), the local basketball star becomes convinced that Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) is to blame and does a lot to get Hawkins’ population invested in a full-blown Satanic Panic.

And Jason’s fervor goes beyond mere words. While Eddie Munson escapes Jason’s “justice,” Carver beats Lucas to within a few inches of his life. Jason gets his, though, when a portal opens exactly where he’s standing and blows him to smithereens.

Sherman Augustus – Lt. Colonel Jack Sullivan

Lt. Colonel Jack Sullivan (Sherman Augustus) is one of the more enigmatic figures in the Stranger Things cast. All we know about him for sure is that he’s determined to stop everything that was unleashed in the Hawkins Lab, but unlike the heroes he’s more than willing to murder anyone–including children like Eleven–to make it happen.

THE FALLEN HEROES

Shannon Purser – Barb

Shannon Purser’s Barb wound up not being just an interesting outlier in terms of the Stranger Things cast, but in pop culture in general. In spite of showing up in only a couple of episodes and getting taken out early by the Demogorgon, Stranger Things fans latched onto Barb quickly, spawning a “Justice for Barb” online movement.

Dacre Montgomery – Billy Hargrove

For most of his two seasons on Stranger Things, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone calling Billy Hargrove a hero. Between his bullying and abusive behavior toward… well, pretty much everyone, and his possession by the Mind Flayer in Season 3, Billy makes a lot of enemies.

But in the Season 3 finale Billy redeems himself. At the last moment he turns on the Mind Flayer and gives Eleven time to escape. Sadly, he pays for his heroism with his life.

Sean Astin – Bob Newby

We seem set up to feel, at the very least, unsure about Sean Astin’s Bob Newby when we meet him in Season 2; if for no other reason than that he’s become Joyce’s love interest, and most fans had hoped Hopper would be filling that role.

But by the end of Season 2, Bob proves he’s more than just a nice guy. When Bob, Joyce, Hopper, Sam Owens, Mike, and Will are all trapped in the Hawkins Lab with hungry demodogs; Bob volunteers to restore power to the facility so everyone else can escape. Bob almost escaped himself shortly after, but was killed by the demodogs.

Joseph Quinn – Eddie Munson

In spite of only being introduced in Season 4 of Stranger Things, Eddie Munson manages to earn the most heroic last stand of the entire cast. In order to get Vecna’s attention, Eddie fills the Upside Down with his own rendition of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.”

The gambit works, but Vecna sends a swarm of deadly demobats after Eddie. Eddie leads the demobats away from Dustin and the gate to Hawkins, but he’s eventually overtaken and killed by the beasts.