Oof. A bit late on this one (Thanksgiving threw a wrench into my writing ability), but a little wait never hurt nobody. We are back with Part 2 of the Stranger Things 2 Character Rankings! You can read Part 1 right now to catch up. Today, we’ll cover the top 10 characters, notably missing Dustin (who is the worst, do not argue with me) and featuring a couple newcomers that are 80’s legends.
Before we get into it, let me restate the system used to rank them:
“Each character will receive four scores, rated 0-10: Heroism (they save the day? Help the squad beat the demogorgons?); Problematic (how many problems do they cause? Is their character inherently problematic in the sense they may be racist *cough* Billy *cough cough*; an inverse score for this, as the more problematic, the lower the score); Watchability (when they are on screen do you long for them to be off? When off screen, do you dream of them riding in like Gandalf at the climax of Two Towers?); Loyalty (are they loyal to those around them or who they work for?); and Plot Importance (are they integral to the plot moving along? Are they proactive, or simply reactive where the plot causes their actions?). Those four will be added and doubled, to give us a nice score out of 100. But we’re not done yet. Once that score is found, they receive a 0-10 bonus based on “How dope they are?”.”
Voila, let’s jump in and see how things shook out.
Nancy starred in the worst turn of fan service ever. Her season being solely devoted to her seeking out justice for Barb (because of the whole ridiculous #WhatAboutBarb shit from season 1) hurt her quite a bit. Jumping from her apparently not devoting enough grief and sorrow over Barb’s disappearance to being completely overtaken by it a year later is flat out stupid. Nancy deserved a better storyline than just pleasing annoying fans by giving late justice for a lame character and being so clearly forced into a fan fiction-y relationship with Jonathan. No one picking Jonathan over Steve. FOH.
Luckily, Natalia Dyer performs one of the greatest drunk girl scenes of all time, and for that, she theoretically deserves all the points. Unfortunately, we deal with technicalities here. And, thus, Nancy ends with only 68 points. She is heroic in that she aids in booting Hawkins Lab from town (but…does she really???), is problematic in keeping Jonathan from his family, kicking the wheels on telling the true story of what happened (hey, Nance, for Eleven’s sake maybe stop?), and most egregiously, messes with Steve’s heart.
Final Score: 68/100
Feather rufflin’ time. Based on the response to Part 1, not a lot of people are fans of Lucas. Looks like Billy has a bunch of burner Reddit accounts.*
Lucas grew a ton this season. I know there’s a chunk of watchers that think Caleb McLaughlin can’t act or is very one-note, but the character growth was a welcome one in my eyes. Whereas season 1 was a very Mike and Eleven oriented story, Stranger Things 2 successfully created decently interesting stories and development for the other three crew members, with Lucas making the biggest jump. We see more of his family life, he takes on a bigger role within the group (although, the group is mainly divided), and he gets his own romance. I hope they continue to let him grow, and hopefully McLaughlin adds a bit more to his acting repertoire to level the character up.
Lucas is not very heroic, I will admit that. He tags along on the heroic events with the main crew, but he doesn’t do anything too important as an individual. As I said before, the main group is divided for most of the season. That’s his fault. Not a good look. Points docked for being a bit problematic and unloyal, sharing the real story with Max and ultimately letting his crush drive the friends apart. He’s more watchable than most but doesn’t exactly shine bright. Ultimately, it’s hard for any of the main squad to fall too far in the ratings due to their importance to the story, but Lucas is definitely only a little above Dustin’s problematic, annoying ass when it comes to points.
Final Score: 69 (nice)/100
*JK. Bless you Redditors, I love the responses to our posts here and the interactions. Even if you are all wrong about Lucas.
What a little nugget Bob is. Rudy/Samwise/Goonies Kid #1/Whatever his name was in 50 First Dates comes into the season as the new and very safe love interest for Joyce. He is a lame seeming guy, but shows very much compassion for the family, clearly trying hard to make it work. At the start of Stranger Things 2, he seems like he will be unbearably annoying. But, that annoyance resolves itself with more development and understanding of the character.
Bob, although literally a teddy bear in a human’s body (but, like, one of those teddy bears that also makes noise and it’s kind of annoying cause a young child has squeezed it one too many times so now it just goes off randomly and you’re about ready to set it on fire but then you look at it and it’s kind of still cute somehow…anyway, that kind of teddy bear), does end up causing some harm. Giving one of the worst pieces of advice of all time to Will and essentially exponentially increasing the danger and urgency of the season, he almost cemented himself in everyone’s shithouse. Some people even thought he was an evil sleeper agent! I knew from the start he was just an affable man that was significantly out of his depth in this other-worldly situation, trying to step up and be a father figure to a kid who for some reason acts super weird all the time. In Bob’s mind, that weirdness means an unease about the relationship he has with Joyce, and by helping the kid confront that he may be seen as a more manly presence worthy of acceptance. Unfortunately, he is wildly wrong with his advice, but Bob more than makes up for it.
He helps decipher the map that Will is drawing, which ends up saving Hopper’s life. He volunteers to go figure out the computer system, successfully does so, and aids in the escape from Hawkins Lab. While it may have been obvious he was going to die from the start and while his heroism at the lab was undoubtedly going to end in tragedy, his willingness to put himself on the line for a kid who hasn’t shown interest in him, a cop who his girlfriend might be interested in, and his girlfriend who wouldn’t be entirely open with him is heroism unlike most other instances in the show.
RIP Bob. A harmfully innocent balance of stupid and smart.
Final Score: 73/100
7. Dr. Owens
80’s star number two!!! Paul Reiser is a baller. Seeing him taking over the role of evil scientist was worrying at first, but the OG makes the character stand apart from a blatant government villain. Dr. Owens is a phenomenal addition to the secondary character set, allowing viewers to have a human target for their disdain at what is happening in the town but also offering up a differently stylized character. Owens represents a morally grey area, one who is tasked with understanding the Upside Down and what it has done to the people of the town, how it can benefit his employer, all while being forced to fix the problems created by his predecessor and trying to rectify the situation poor Will has been put in. When another doctor suggests letting Will die, Owens stands up for him and refuses to allow it to happen. That is the instance that most people probably accepted him as a “good guy”, but Reiser’s portrayal allowed viewers to suspect more empathy in his character even in the cases of him seeming evil.
Owens is pretty heroic, aiding in ridding Will of his terrible possession (I know, he didn’t technically but he helped), helping the town get rid of it’s Upside Down problem (for now), helping everyone escape from the lab, and most importantly getting Eleven a fake birth certificate, allowing her to live a (somewhat) normal life. Fairly problematic seeing as he works for the shadowy organization that created this hellhole, not exactly loyal, but being immensely watchable helps Owens boost high in the rankings.
Final Score: 75/100
Another character I wish I could drop to the bottom. For all the praise she gets, Winona Ryder kinda sucks ass at acting. I don’t know if its her voice and the way she talks or what, but I cannot stand her. Yet again, though, my own rules have foiled my personal preference.
Joyce was originally lower, thanks to me being the point giver, but amid discussions with others over certain points of her character she rose high. Joyce is undeniably loyal to her family and no one else. She won’t even tell Bob what is going on, the one man who has helped her reach happiness, normalcy, and stability in her life. But she is ride or die for her children (mainly Will) and will drop into severe insanity at his tiniest hiccup, like most mother’s out there recovering from an experience with aliens and possessed children. In an odd way, that overbearing and protective quality also makes her a bit problematic although not enough to make much of a difference. She’s important to plot, mainly cause she forces the action when something goes wrong with Will and is heroic in forcing the issue to save Hopper, but I get my sweet victory in her watchability rating. Argue with me if you must, but you’re a liar if you say you enjoy her on screen.
Final Score: 76/100
Welcome to the dream team. The top 5 are undisputed champions, and start with quite possibly the best actor of them all. Noah Schnapp is a goddamn powerhouse. And who would have thought?! Even though he is one of, if not the, most important aspect of season 1, he’s barely in it! If I had done this after season 1 released, he might be down in the dumps near Karen frickin’ Wheeler due to lack of even being present.
Back to his acting though. Will is allowed to shine in so many ways this year. There is the obvious instances of showing the pain and possession (that scene in the shed deserves 100 Emmy’s) but more cutting are his scenes of trying to feel normal. Schnapp helps add depth to Will by showing subtly that everything isn’t alright in a sea of people acting alright. He desperately wants to feel like the average kid and get back to playing D&D with his friends, but he isn’t able to escape the terror of what happened. And you see it in every scene, whether it’s the in-your-face ones like the arcade or quieter ones with his friends and family.
Will is a problem. Not through any fault of his own, but he is the main reason there are problems for our cast of characters so the kid gets a nasty low score in the problematic region. This also means he ranks number one in plot importance, as he moves this shit along every step of the way. He gets a few heroic points for his showcases of battling his inner demon, mainly helping in cryptic ways, like the tapping of fingers a la morse code or his drawings to find Hopper. And, as most of this section stated, Will is crazy watchable. Stranger Things 2: The Muthafuckin Noah Schnapp Showcase.
Final Score: 86/100
I know, I know. Mike didn’t do much this season, other than mope and get angry at Max for being the Duffer Brothers way of putting in a girl character to replace Eleven. But, Finn Wolfhard deserves residual points for being the second best part of season 1 and outside points for delivering lines like a comedic genius in IT.
Stranger Things 2 wise, however, he stays loyal as hell to Will and Eleven, remains heroic thanks to that loyalty (albeit less than season 1), and stays at peak watchability, only dropping a point due to being a bit dramatic. Mike is still one of the best on the show, and if season 1 were fully considered he would be even higher (so, like, one spot). Hopefully ya boi gets a bit more to do in season 3, now that he has his boo thang back.
Final Score: 89/100
THE KING STEVE.
Fuck all the people who acted like Steve wasn’t amazing in season 1. “Oh my god, he’s made such a turnaround from the mean bully he used to be, me oh my”. Shut up. Steve made his full development in season 1 and just continued it here.
Steve is, not even kidding, one of the greatest characters ever. An actually accurate portrayal of how high schoolers act, especially in the light of popularity, and how not every single boyfriend in a show or movie has to be one of two archetypes: Super perfect nice always doing the right thing handsome man, or, super rude hot sometimes charming jock that is mainly a douche. Steve starts as that douchey guy, shows a bit more, and makes a full turn into realizing his mistakes, saving the day, and being a good boyfriend when all is said and done.
Season 2 just enhances it, and in better ways. He still should be a bit angry that his (now ex-)girlfriend went off and boned some other dude (Steve isn’t that perfect that anger will never happen to him again), but he acts like a real person. He shows passion and love for Nancy, disdain for her overly drunkenness, sadness and madness over her “bullshit” rant, and remorse over some of his actions. Steve is a real person, one of the most real characters I’ve seen despite being in an unrealistic sci-fi show. You can sympathize with him and be angry at him at different points, all for fair reasons. He makes mistakes, redeems himself, is honest and forward, reluctant and disappointed, vulnerable and strong, and everything else an actual high school kid would be.
Part of his more mainstream appeal now is his 1) out of this world amazing hair, and, mainly, 2) his funny banter with the kids. He makes Dustin watchable this season in his babysitter role and excels in the banter as a reluctant, confused popular guy would have in an interaction with a loser friend of his girlfriend’s brother. Steve finding a new role in the group (forced in probably, clearly thanks to how likable the character and Joe Keery are) is welcome. I want him to stick around, and it made sense he would, I just hope the babysitter nonsense isn’t overkill from here on out.
Steve is one of the more heroic characters, whether you want to consider his heroic actions as taken willingly or unwillingly, and is pretty damn loyal. Steve causes next to no problems and is the most watchable character, and would be by far if it weren’t for such a great cast. His only downfall is that he really is only reactionary to the plot. He doesn’t do much that moves it forward. Steve: Number one in my heart, number three in this unfair technical ranking.
Final Score: 94/100
The dynamic duo tie for first, ending just below the perfect score mark. While everyone loved the pairing of Steve and Dustin, Hopper and Eleven was a much better one overall, in terms of characterization, plot importance, and emotion. Even though almost all their scenes together were intense, I want a sitcom set on them two stuck in that cabin. It would be electric.
Eleven didn’t get as much to do this season, since, y’know, she wasn’t allowed outside. And once she was outside, her storyline was the worst of the season (even worse than Dustin and Dart). But, Millie Bobby Brown is a goddamn star and Eleven is such a cool character that even getting stuck plodding through some of her backstory (did anyone really care? I hope not, cause that shit doesn’t matter) didn’t drop her far. She is still undeniably fun and intriguing to watch, loyal except for a bit of a hiccup with running away (that is all but made up for by meeting her friends again and immediately going to save them all from a terrifying monster no questions asked), obviously heroic, and is as equally important to the plot as Will. Eleven finally getting allowed to be in public and hopefully have some more fun will do wonders for an already number one character.
Hopper is just a workhorse. He’s equally heroic to Eleven despite having a lack of superpowers and being outmatched by what the real villain is. He commits to finding the secrets of the Upside Down, protecting everyone he knows, and never shies from the opportunity to confront the evil front and center. Hopper does feel a bit problematic in keeping Eleven locked up all the time and pretty consistently being the least punctual person ever (my man, I know there’s some big things on your mind but maybe go hang with your quasi-daughter who is hellbent on getting out of that cabin you keep her in).
I mean, commit to something and keep your word, man. Eggos don’t stay warm forever. And you see how much syrup she uses! Get home and maintain your syrup quota. Only gonna be a loss to his wallet by missing dinner and TV time that often.
Loyalty is a given considering he is devoted to saving this lame town and getting Eleven a normal life someday. David Harbour is great and makes a character who could simply come across as super-manly typical sheriff become much more. That PTSD is hinted at, the losses he’s incurred with his family are shown, and you consistently see the effort he puts in to doing the right thing and being a good father figure while still being able to see he isn’t perfect and can’t keep it up all the time. He has a fuse, and it’s nice to see it go off from time to time. We’ll no doubt dive deeper into Hopper’s past and what happened with his actual daughter in the future, which will only let him expand into an even better character.
Season 3 will no doubt see Hopper and Eleven break that 100 point threshold. I’ve gotta run and figure out a way to keep them below it.
Final Scores: 99/100
Hope you enjoyed reading! Please send all disputes to the comment section, @ us on Twitter, or comment on Facebook. May we all be blessed with hair like Steve and dance moves like Hopper.