Well this is near perfect timing isn’t it? With Stranger Things Season 4 recently arriving on Netflix, what better time is there to look back at the best Stranger Things episodes? Across 4 seasons, Stranger Things has become one of Netflix’s biggest shows thanks in no small part to a great cast and VFX work. Before I get into the list properly, here is some history about the show.
Stranger Things first debuted on Netflix in July 2016 and as mentioned above is in its fourth season. The show follows a group of teenagers living in 1980s Indiana and the strange things that occur around their town. Who could have seen that coming…. Anyway, imagine if there was an 80s nostalgia show merged with a Stephen King book. But even then that would be doing Stranger Things a grave disservice. This is mostly due to a great cast featuring Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard (awesome name) and David Harbour amongst others. Oh also, potential SPOILER warnings in place for Season 4 episodes. So without further ado, here are the best Stranger Things episodes.
10: The Body (S1, E4)
Kicking off the list of best Stranger Things is The Body. Now what makes this episode so good? Well, it follows the aftermath of a body’s discovery in the quarry. That doesn’t sound too interesting… until it could be Will’s. This leads to a wonderful, underrated relationship within Stranger Things between a newly made up El and Will. But in the end it’s Hopper that makes the chilling discovery that the body is made of cotton. Great episode and hook for the next episode.
9: The Sauna Test (S3, E4)
The Sauna Test is great for a number of reasons but mostly for Hopper and Joyce’s comedic turn in an otherwise serious episode about Kline working with the Russians. Just remember, this is in the 80s in America if you’re wondering about the Russian plot detail…. Anyway, the gang begins investigating Max’s brother to see whether the Mind Flayer is really back in Hawkins. Oh, also Dacre Montgomery’s performance is equal parts frightening and heartbreaking, alternating between both emotions at will.
8: The Bathtub (S1, E7)
Next up on the best Stranger Things episodes is The Bathtub. So what makes this episode so good? Well apart from the title, the opening of Eleven flipping over a van in a chase scene is brilliant. God, I love Millie Bobby Brown. Other highlights include the party members making up and coming together to work out what their pieces of the puzzle mean. Oh, also the scene of El using a sensory deprivation tank to locate Barbara and Will in the Upside Down is brilliant. Man, Will’s bravery to hide from the Demogorgon is fantastically shown…
7: The Spy (S2, E6)
Well, it feels about right to give some paradise for Stranger Things second season some love, especially when it’s the opener: The Spy. This episode is particularly fantastic because of how the A and B plot vary so wildly. For example, the A plot sees Will under the control of the Mind Flayer and now being a great danger to those around him. However, the B plot sees Dustin, Steve, Lucas and Max attempting to lure Dart to the junkyard. Unfortunately, they end up attracting several Demodogs as well. Very good tone variation here…
6: The Mind Flayer (S2, E8)
Speaking of the Mind Flayer, this episode is so good. The first half has a real horror film feel due to Will, Mike, Hopper, Joyce and Bob all being trapped in Hawkins Lab, along with Demodogs. Also, damn it Stranger Things wrenches your heart around like mad in regards to Bob… Anyway, the rest of the episode sees an emotional return for Eleven and the gang trying to free Will from the Mind Flayers control to no avail. Man alive, this is a great episode.
5: The Battle of Starcourt (S3, E8)
At the halfway point of the best Stranger Things episodes is The Battle of Starcourt. So, why is the episode so good? Well, for starters the shock plot point that part of the Mind Flayer robs Eleven of her powers. This leads to some lovely symmetry where the rest of the gang have to save Eleven, rather than the other way round. Also, the ending where Billy and the Mind Flayer trap the gang in the mall is a bit of a stupid move on their part. Sidenote, fantastic episode title…
4: The Gate (S2, E9)
Narrowly missing out on the top three best Stranger Things episodes is The Gate. And, in the grand tradition of TV series reunions, Eleven reunites with her friends…. And then they immediately split up. An entire season for that? Anyway, the rest of the episode is really good with Billy showing up for a fight, and the culmination of trying to extract the Mind Flayer from Will. Oh, also the emotional ending of Eleven finally getting to dance at the Snow Ball with Mike is fantastically heartwarming.
3: The Upside Down (S1, E8)
Kicking off the top three best Stranger Things episodes is The Upside Down. The season 1 finale is about the gang convincing Hawkins Lab workers to let them into the Upside Down to save Will. However, just as it looks like everything is going to work out, lab workers try to take Eleven back at the same time that the Demogorgon surfaces. Luckily, Eleven can use her power to vanquish it…. Whilst then disappearing herself. A near perfect episode and cliffhanger from Stranger Things here.
2: Dear Billy (S4, E4)
Aaah yes, a fantastic Stranger Things episode which helped start a Kate Bush gatekeeping argument on Twitter. Ignoring all the drama on Twitter, Dear Billy is a fantastic episode. This is mostly due to the culmination of Vecna’s spell catching up to Max. This is made 10 times better as she’s at Billy’s grave, reading a heartfelt letter, when it happens. The B plot sees the rest of the gang working undercover and finding out music is the key to breaking Vecna’s curse. And with the mention of Kate Bush gatekeeping, this ends up with the gang saving Max using Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’. Great song, great episode and not so great Twitter behaviour.
1: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab (S4, E7)
And the best episode of Stranger Things is…. The Massacre at Hawkins Lab. Being the final episode of Volume 1 of Season 4, there were high hopes and my goodness did it deliver. Firstly, the shocking revelation about who Vecna is leading to Eleven sending them to the Upside Down. Also, Vecna’s curse begins to take over several of the protagonists including Nancy amongst others. This leaves many of the protagonists trapped in prisons. Yet again, fantastic point to build your story on top of.
What are your favourite Stranger Things episodes? Let me know in the comments below!