Who Was the Real Winner of Stranger Things 2?

A Definitive Ranking of Every Main Character's Performance This Season

By Sam Eichner ·
Photo: Netflix

Warning: This article contains spoilers.

If you’ve managed to binge Stranger Things 2 over the past week-and-a-half, you already know what happens. Poor Will gets possessed by a Shadow Monster. Dustin adopts a demadog. Steve Harrington becomes a full-on good guy. And Eleven once again returns to save Hawkins from an evil force, with a little help from Chief Hopper, Mike, Lucas and the rest of the gang—minus Jonathan Byers, who's still a real fucking liability. In the parlance of the ‘80s movies the show pays tribute to, the good triumphs over evil, love triumphs over hate and big hair triumphs over pretty much everything else.

And yet, as our heroes lavished in the adolescent bliss of the Hawkins Middle School dance, a nagging question persisted: Who was the real winner of Stranger Things 2?

To answer this inquiry, I separated each main character’s personal life and professional life (in this context, their contribution to defeating forces of evil from an alternate dimension). Then, I assigned a point value between -5 and 5 to their most significant actions in each category, which I added up to get that character’s total score for the season.

The rankings are below, from lowest to highest.


15. Jonathan Byers

Personal Life
-Drives drunk Nancy home (+2) and tucks her in tenderly (+1)
-Only ends up making a move on Nancy after he’s basically forced to by an inebriated journalist (-5); hooks up with Nancy (+5); ostensibly manages to pull out (-2, for unsafe sex)

Professional Life
-Sort of just goes along with Nancy as she executes plan to take down the lab without contributing himself (-4)
-Tries to get his mom to stop the exorcism because his brother is in pain (-3)

Total Score: -6


T13. Max Mayfield

Personal Life
-Crushes it at the arcade (+3)
-Can competently ride a skateboard (+2)
-Consistently isn’t let into “the party” (-2)
-Has Billy for a step-brother (-5)
-Tries to shake Eleven’s hand is totally fucking snubbed (-2)
-Kisses Lucas at dance (+5)

Professional Life
-Leads Billy to come find her and beat the shit out of Steve Harrington (-4)
-Stabs Billy with a syringe to sedate him, thus saving Harrington’s life (+3)
-Is generally kind of a liability (-4)

Total Score: -4


T13. Billy Hargrove

Personal Life
-Immediately becomes the most popular dude at Hawkins High (+3)
-Everyone thinks he has a great ass (he has a great ass) (+1)
-Seduces Mrs. Wheeler (+3)
-Takes out his anger at his father on Max (-5)
-Whoops Steve Harrington at basketball (+3) and beats his keg stand record (+2)
-Has a dope car (+1)

Professional Life
-Beats up Steve Harrington (-5)
-Tries to keep Max from Lucas (-3)
-Is totally just of no help at all in defeating evil (-4)

Total Score: -4


12. Dustin Henderson

Personal Life
-Befriends Steve Harrington (+3), to the point that he becomes his mentor on chicks/hair product (+3), the result of which gets him...pretty much nowhere (-5)
-Grows teeth (+1)
-Thinks purring is cool (-3)
-Strikes out with, like, three different girls at the Hawkins Middle School dance (-5)
-Gets pity dance from Nancy (-3); makes other girls jealous (+3)

Professional Life
-Lies to his boys about keeping Dart (-2), who ultimately eats his cat (-3); uses a hockey stick to slap-shot Dart into his family’s cellar (+3)
-Tries to make “demadogs” happen (+2); fails miserably (-1).
-Saves himself and Steve Harrington from Dart by feeding him a Three Musketeers (+4), which he just happens to have in his pocket (+1), which is weird (-1)

Total Score: -3


11. Nancy Wheeler

Personal Life
-Gets wasted at a party (-3), gets punch all over her dress (-1) and drunkenly reams out Steve Harrington for something that isn’t really his fault (-3)
-Breaks up with Steve Harrington (-5), because why would anyone break up with Steve Harrington?) and gets together with Jonathan Byers (-3, because what is Jonathan Byers’s appeal?)
-Pity-dances with Dustin at the middle school dance (+4), which she is chaperoning for some lame reason (-2)

Professional Life
-Executes plan to expose the lab that killed Barb (+5)
-Steps up and takes the extra gun from Hopper because Jonathan stood around looking clueless (+2)
-Stabs Will with a flaming hot poker to get him to stop choking his mom (+3)

Total Score: -2


10. Steve Harrington

Personal Life
-Discovers his love for Nancy is unrequited (-4); looses her to fucking Jonathan Byers (-3).
-Gets embarrassed by Billy during basketball practice (-3)
-Has his keg stand record shattered by Billy during party (-2)
-Takes Dustin under his wing (+2)
-Gets the shit beaten out of him by Billy (-3), but puts up a good fight (+2)
-Makes full transition into a good guy (+2)
-Still has one-of-a-kind hair (+5)

Professional Life
-Selflessly helps Dustin with Dart (+2)
-Pulls some pretty sweet moves to dodge a horde of demadogs and return to the safety of the boarded-up bus (+3)
-Is resistant to plan to distract demadogs and all-too-content to remain on “the bench” (-3)
-Saves Mike from some slithery vines in the tunnel (+3)
-Keeps his cool (+1)

Total Score: 2

9. Dr. Owens

Personal Life
-Orders a damn good-looking pastrami sandwich (+1)
-Is Paul Reiser (+1)

Professional Life
-Is trying to contain the evil lurking beneath the lab (+3), but is sort of complicit in it (-5)
-Doesn’t ever really help Will Byers at all; is generally a pretty shit doctor (-5)
-Selflessly hangs back in the lab to guide Bob out (+4)
-Manages to survive until Hopper gets back, and somehow only suffers a flesh wound (+4)

Total Score: 3


8. Lucas

Personal Life
-Gains Max’s trust (+2); wins her over Dustin (+1); receives a solid beating from Billy (-2); gets a kiss from Max at the dance (+5).
-Stinks from diving into the trash for an extended period of time (-1)
-Becomes increasingly beholden to creepy dude at the arcade who wants a date with Nancy (-1)

Professional Life
-Holds Max’s hand when she's afraid (+1)
-Has his walkie-talkie turned off by his mocking kid sister at a critical juncture (-1)
-Serves as lookout for Steve Harrington from the top of the bus (0; no points for being lookout)

Total Score: 4


T6. Will Byers

Personal Life
-Is called Zombie Boy by kids at school (-1)
-Has total panic attack during trick-or-treating (-1)
-Gets asked to dance by a random hottie at the middle school dance, as if the creators were all, like, hell, kid’s been through a lot, let’s throw Will a bone here (+3)
-Tries to choke his mom (-5)
-Is generally good at drawing with crayons (+1)
-Thinks Bob was generally an okay guy (0); lands on the right side of history w/r/t Bob’s character (+2)

Professional Life
-Gets possessed by the shadow monster (-5), which wasn’t really his fault (+5) or was it (-1)?
-Uses his drawing skills to create a map of the shadow monster’s network/tunnel/whatever (+3)
-Deploys morse code (+3) to deliver a message (CLOSEGATE) that was actually pretty fucking obvious (-3)
-Manages to survive an exorcism by heat lamp (+5)
-Gets dealt a bad hand throughout the entirety of the series, like, geez, sucks to be Will (-5)

Total Score: 6


T6. Eleven

Personal Life
-Eats lots of Eggo waffles (+1)
-Cries a lot into the psychic void (-3)
-Learns a handful of new vocab words (+1)
-Gets a “bitchin’” new hairstyle (+2)
-Kisses Mike at the dance (+5)
-Finds and subsequently loses her Mama (-3) and “sister” (-3) for reasons outside her control; still gets to have Hopper as her Dad, though (+4)

Professional Life
-Closes gate (+5), which she really should’ve done like three episodes earlier, right? (-1)
-Spares Papa’s lackie (+1)
-Whatever weird and ultimately pointless shit happens in episode 7 (-3)

Total Score: 6


5. Dead Barb

Personal Life
-Causes the breakup of Steve Harrington and Nancy from beyond the grave, which is what she wanted all along (+5)
-Still dead (-3)

Professional Life
-Becomes an accidental Hawkins martyr (+5)

Total Score: 7


4. Joyce Byers

Personal Life
-Dates Bob, who is kind of a loser at first (-1) but ends up being anything but (+2)

Professional Life
-Sees the shadow monster in the fateful trick-or-treat recording (+2)
-Ruthlessly exorcises the shadow monster from her son using janky heat lamps (+5)

Total Score: 8


3. Mike Wheeler

Personal Life
-Acts like a total sour puss during trick-or-treating (-1)
-Refuses to let Max into “the party” (-3)
-Stands by his boy Will even when he was possessed by an evil monster-virus and shit (+2)
-Freaks out on Chief Hopper (-2) before melting into his warm embrace (+3)
-Kisses Eleven on the dance floor. (+5)

Professional Life
-Makes Will realize he could spy on the shadow monster (+4); as a result, soldiers are led into a deadly trap (-4)
-Leads a dangerous expedition to draw the demadogs away from the gate (+5)

Total Score: 9


2. Chief Jim Hopper

Personal Life
-Takes in Eleven (+5)
-Demonstrates pretty good Dad-like dance moves to the musical stylings of Jim Croce (+1)
-Is always late for dinner (-1)
-Continually gives Eleven false hope (-3)
-Seems sneakily jealous of Bob (-2)
-Is going on “a diet” (+1) but still appears to be smoking a million cigs a day (-1)
-Cuts the TV cord so Eleven can’t watch it, which is the worst (-2)
-Gets to take a bite of Dr. Owens’s delicious-looking pastrami sandwich (+1)

Professional Life
-Leaves a trail of cigs in the Upside Down (+2), but gets ensnared down there pretty early on (-4)
-Leads Joyce, Will and Mike out of the demadog-swarmed lab (+3)
-Attempts to save Bob despite deep down wishing he were dead so he can make a move on Joyce (+2); fails (-2)
-Serves as Eleven’s bodyguard while she closes the gate (+3)
-Manages to secure a legitimate birth certificate for Eleven from Dr. Owens (+2)
-Is sort of the town’s emotional rock (+5)

Total Score: 10


1. Bob Newby

Personal Life
-Works at Radio Shack (-1)
-Loves bologna sandwiches (0)
-Gives sage advice to Will (+4), which unfortunately results in Will getting penetrated by the shadow monster (-1)
-Is dating Joyce Byers, who’s well above his station (+5)

Professional Life
-Deciphers Will’s drawings, which ultimately leads to the savior of Hopper (+5)
-Uses basic coding skills to unlock the doors to the lab (+5)
-Knocks over that goddamn mop while exiting the lab closet, thus leading to his being eat/suctioned to death by the demadogs (-3)

Total Score: 14

Bob is the new Barb. Bob is the winner of Stranger Things 2.

Sam Eichner

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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