The 10 best ‘Stranger Things’ episodes of all time –

The "Stranger Things" cast pose together at the season four premiere at Netflix Studios Brooklyn on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Since “Stranger Things” premiered on Netflix during the summer of 2016, the coming-of-age sci-fi series has exploded into a full-blown cultural phenomenon. Set in Indiana during the 1980s, the show follows the residents of a small town called Hawkins as they uncover government secrets and reality-bending supernatural threats that could threaten their very survival.
Apart from revitalizing ‘80s nostalgia culture and the cinematic stylings of Ambling Entertainment co-founders Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, “Stranger Things” has had a massive impact on general pop culture over the past six years. From the resurgence of Kate Bush’s 1987 hit “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” and its promotion of Dungeons & Dragons following the fanfare of its fourth season, it’s safe to say that the Duffer Brothers’ series has established its place in television history. But now that the latest season is available for your viewing pleasure, it’s time to break things down: Which episodes of “Stranger Things” are truly the best?
Stacker has taken a democratic approach to rank all 34 “Stranger Things” episodes, using data from IMDb. Rankings are based on each episode’s average IMDb user rating, with ties broken by the number of votes. So while you wait for the fifth and final season, read on to see where your favorite Upside Down escapades rank on the list as we break out the top ten episodes below.
#10. Chapter Four: The Body (2016)
– IMDb user rating: 8.9
– Season 1, episode 4
– Director: Shawn Levy
– Runtime: 49 minutes
During “The Body,” Joyce refuses to believe Will is dead and insists she can still communicate with him. The boys give Eleven a disguise and manage to pick up Will’s voice over Hawkins Middle’s A.V. club radio. This episode’s title is a nod to the Stephen King short story “The Body,” which inspired the film “Stand By Me.” In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the Duffer Brothers cited the movie as another major inspiration for “Stranger Things.”
#9. Chapter Seven: The Bathtub (2016)
– IMDb user rating: 9.0
– Season 1, episode 7
– Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
– Runtime: 41 minutes
“The Bathtub” refers to the makeshift sensory deprivation tank the Hawkins crew builds for Eleven to locate Will and Barb within the Upside Down. The episode ends with Will singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash to comfort himself in the other dimension, which recalls a flashback of Will and Jonathan listening to the song in episode two.
#8. Chapter Six: The Spy (2017)
– IMDb user rating: 9.1
– Season 2, episode 6
– Director: Andrew Stanton
– Runtime: 51 minutes
In “The Spy,” the Mind Flayer begins to use Will as bait, forcing him to lure local soldiers into a trap where they are killed by juvenile Demogorgons that the group has decided to call “Demodogs.” Elsewhere, Dustin and Steve begin to forge their unlikely bond as they hunt for Dart and his fellow monsters. This episode also marks the first time that Nancy and Jonathan actually get together.
#7. Chapter Nine: The Piggyback (2022)
– IMDb user rating: 9.2
– Season 4, episode 9
– Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
– Runtime: 139 minutes
“The Piggyback” is the longest “Stranger Things” episode yet, clocking in at two hours and 30 minutes. During the finale, Eleven enters a makeshift sensory deprivation tank in Surfer Boy Pizza in hopes of helping Max, who is using herself as bait while the Hawkins gang attempts to kill Vecna. During their plan, Eddie dies while fending off Demobats while, back in Russia, Joyce and Hopper finally kiss in the midst of killing off the prison’s Upside Down monsters. Although the Hawkins crew manages to hurt Vecna, Will reveals he is still alive. The villain succeeds in opening a gateway between dimensions and our heroes watch as the Upside Down begins to impose its vision upon our world.
#6. Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer (2017)
– IMDb user rating: 9.2
– Season 2, episode 8
– Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
– Runtime: 47 minutes
“The Mind Flayer” marks the death of Joyce’s boyfriend, Bob, who is killed by a Demogorgon while helping his friends escape Hawkins Lab. The group begins interrogating Will, who has been taken over by the monster, which Dustin refers to as the “Mind Flayer,” using his knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons.
#5. Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt (2019)
– IMDb user rating: 9.2
– Season 3, episode 8
– Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
– Runtime: 76 minutes
In the season three finale, our heroes mount their defense against the Mind Flayer, who hopes to bring Eleven under its control. Hopper and Joyce manage to close the Russians’ underground gate to the Upside Down, seemingly vaporizing and killing Hopper in the process. After Eleven brings Billy out of his haze, he sacrifices himself to save the group. The season ends with the Byers and Eleven moving to California while a mid-credits scene of a Russian prison with a mysterious “American” prisoner signals Hopper is still alive.
#4. Chapter Nine: The Gate (2017)
– IMDb user rating: 9.3
– Season 2, episode 9
– Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
– Runtime: 62 minutes
In the season two finale, Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy extract the Mind Flayer from Will using extreme heat, while Eleven and Hopper close the gate to the Upside Down. Eleven uses Kali’s advice to let her anger fuel her powers and manages to levitate for the first time. Using a faked birth certificate, Hopper legally becomes Eleven’s father. Later, Mike fulfills his promise from season one of taking Eleven to the school’s Snow Ball, where Lucas and Max also become a couple. The season ends on an ominous note as we see the Mind Flayer looming over Hawkins Middle in the Upside Down.
#3. Chapter Eight: The Upside Down (2016)
– IMDb user rating: 9.3
– Season 1, episode 8
– Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
– Runtime: 54 minutes
In the season one finale, Joyce and Hopper venture into the Upside Down to rescue Will. Meanwhile, Steve helps Nancy and Jonathan in their plan to lure the Demogorgon back to the Byers’ house. Ultimately, Eleven manages to destroy the monster, vaporizing both it and herself in the process. The season ends with Will throwing up a slug and flashing back to the Upside Down for a moment, indicating that his struggles with the other dimension are far from over.
#2. Chapter Four: Dear Billy (2022)
– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 4, episode 4
– Director: Shawn Levy
– Runtime: 78 minutes
“Dear Billy” sees Max fighting for her life after she’s marked for death by Vecna. The group manages to save her by playing her favorite song, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush. Meanwhile, Nancy and Robin visit Victor Creel (Robert Englund) in the asylum, where he claims that a demon attacked his family in a similar fashion to Vecna decades earlier. Season four has led to a massive rediscovery of Bush’s music, with the artist reportedly earning $2.3 million from her song being featured on the show.
#1. Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab (2022)
– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 4, episode 7
– Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
– Runtime: 98 minutes
Serving as the finale of season four, volume one, “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” reveals that Vecna is actually Henry Creel, a former Hawkins Lab experiment named One. Years earlier, Eleven tore One apart after he slaughtered her siblings and much of the lab’s staff, created the first gate to the Upside Down, and threw him inside it, creating Vecna in the process. Back in Hawkins, the kids help the teenagers escape from the Upside Down by opening the gate created in Eddie’s trailer, but sadly Nancy is captured by Vecna. Infiltrating the Russian prison, Joyce and Murray reunite with Hopper after he fights the Russians’ Demogorgon.
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