Photo: ‘Stranger Things 4’
Ever since ‘Stranger Things’ aired on Netflix back in 2016, it has taken over the world with its influence on pop culture and its impact as a television series. The young actors were catapulted into stardom and their characters became iconic trademarks – even if you’ve never watched the show, you still know who Eleven is.
With the fourth season just finishing up, it’s the perfect time to acknowledge the best (and the worst) characters this nostalgic show has created.
Stranger Things – The Worst Characters
Let’s start off with the not-so-favorable ones…From the start of this season, it’s instantly easy to hate bully ringleader, Angela, and golden boy turned self-righteous jerk, Jason. No hate to the actors, as they did a great job playing the human antagonists of the season. With monsters and other dimensions occupying our main characters’ attention, it can be easy to forget that they are still kids who also have to deal with normal teenage growing pains. Angela and Jason fill in those gaps by pushing the typical desperation all kids have to fit in and be popular. The characters are still some we love to hate, and it’s impressive how annoying they can be.
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Another character we love to hate is Dr. Brenner, AKA Papa, AKA the biggest gaslighter on the show. Played by Matthew Modine, Brenner is a man of science motivated by enhancing the world, though he does so by raising an army of telekinetic children because what could go wrong with that? Modine has a strong presence on the screen, and his scenes with Millie Bobby Brown showcased both actors at their best. But no one can ever forgive Papa for what he did and what he continues to do, which earns him a spot on the “worst characters” list.
Moving on, this one hurts. It’s unfortunate that the character of Mike has declined in popularity and is the subject of many complaints this season. Mike is one of our OGs and hammered in the emotional beats for the earlier seasons. For season four, there were just some character decisions and dialogue that didn’t exactly line up with the Mike we know and love. With the exception of the first episode, Mike is away from Hawkins to visit Eleven and Will, but his visit does not go as smoothly as one might hope. His “fall from grace” is a tragedy and is by no means the fault of Finn Wolfhard. The whole California crew of Mike, Will, and Jonathan just don’t get enough focus this season. They still have memorable moments, but with so many storylines and characters squeezed into this season, there isn’t enough room for everyone to feel the most fleshed-out.
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‘Stranger Things 4:’ Welcoming New Additions
Onto something more positive, season four also introduced us to some wonderful fan-favorites. ‘Stranger Things’ brings in fun, new characters every season who are easy to like and easier to love. The first character to love was cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham, played by Grace Van Dien. Despite being new, Chrissy was a center point for the opening episode and set everything in motion for the rest of the season. All plot points aside, Chrissy was also just a sweet character who deserved better. The biggest fan-favorite of the season has to be Joseph Quinn’s Eddie Munson. Eddie, the resident “freak” of the town, stole everyone’s hearts with his charisma, goofy nature, and the compassion he has underneath all his theatrics. Eddie also gave the world the best television metal concert when he played Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” in the Upside Down. The scene between Eddie and Chrissy at the beginning of the season made us fall in love with both characters and provided one of the most wholesome moments in a show filled with supernatural creatures who want to break all your bones. It is thoroughly incredible for a show to get us to fall in love with new characters so quickly.
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We didn’t just love the new characters in Hawkins. That love expanded all the way to Russia, when we followed Hopper’s storyline to be introduced to Dmitri “Enzo” Antonov, a Russian prison guard. Though it was hard to trust him at first, Enzo, and his friendship dynamic with Hopper, brought fresh insights into the world of ‘Stranger Things’ and brought emotional gravity to the Russian storyline. Once again, having so many different storylines was fun, but at times could feel overwhelming or leave audiences favoring one storyline over another. Having Tom Wlaschiha’s new character provided more weight and interest to this particular story.
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Last, but certainly not least, in the realm of favorite new characters is Argyle (played by Eduardo Franco). Argyle was mainly comic relief for the California crew, but his comedy was pure gold. Not to mention, the character also found a way to help with the plot, giving him even more purpose. The silly-stoner vibe may not be for everyone, but Argyle was such a fun character to watch and made a great addition to season four.
The Ones We Will Always Love
There are some characters we will always love. I think Dustin Henderson is one of the beating hearts of the show. Back in season one, he was probably the easiest kid to like because of his kind nature, intelligence, and Gaten Matarazzo’s performance. Over the years, Dustin has gone from being a lovable sidekick to being a driving force in solving the mysteries of this world. He’s the genius who comes up with plans and gets the story going, and he’s a true MVP for season four. You can’t talk about Dustin without talking about Steve (Joe Kerry). Steve went from being a stereotypical boyfriend with a bad streak to being the mother hen of the group. He’s a protector and a fighter who risks everything for his friends and looks good doing it. Steve and Dustin’s friendship with one another is one of the most precious things to have come out of ‘Stranger Things.’ They seem like an odd pairing, but it works so well and despite all their bickering, you know they would die for one another.
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The other MVPs of the season would have to be Sadie Sink’s Max and Caleb McLaughlin’s Lucas. Both actors have been praised on their performances this season and bringing their characters to the forefront was a stroke of genius. Max’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ sequence was arguably the best sequence in the entire show and seeing her face her past traum
a and strengthen her relationships with everyone was inspiring. Lucas has felt like an underrated character for a while, and it was awesome to see his arc this season. He goes back to that classic desire of wanting to be popular and wanting to be appreciated, but he has to face what is really important in his life and leave behind the high school drama so he can help his friends.
The characters also make for one of the best couples of the show, bringing so much emotion and making us really care about their journey together. There are so many more wonderful characters; Eleven, Will, Nancy, Robin, Erica, Murray, Joyce, and Hopper are all strong characters in their own right and make the show as good as it is. ‘Stranger Things’ just wouldn’t be the same without any of them. It is a show that knows how to make an audience fall in love with the characters we see on the screen.
By Rachel Beltowski
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Rachel Beltowski is a screenwriter and film critic, with a passion for character-driven stories and thought-provoking themes. From adventure to horror, Rachel enjoys stories which take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and allow for personal expression that would otherwise go silent. Rachel was drawn to The Hollywood Insider’s dedication to individual perspectives and positive world impacts. The Hollywood Insider has provided a foundation for Rachel to share her insights and leap into the center of the entertainment industry. Rachel hopes to bring a fresh voice into the world of film and television, and share her love of stories with others.