If your a fan of Stranger Things, it’s safe to say that the show has plenty of iconic and well known episodes. We decided to make a list of our top picks ranging from all three seasons. I was hard for me to decide because I honestly love all the seasons. I know that “The Lost Sister” episode (Season 2 Episode 7) was not well received and while it’s not in my top 10 list, I personally don’t find that episode that awful. My only personal gripe with it was it ruined the pacing of the season, especially given the fact the previous episode ended on a massive cliffhanger. People act like it’s the worst episode ever and it’s really not in my opinion. I’ve seen far worse. In it’s defense, I think that episode served as a key element in Eleven finding out where she felt she belonged and I personally hope they bring Kali back. I know most people won’t agree but I found her to be interesting. Just not her forgettable band of misfits. They were just cringe. Sorry Duffer Brothers. Moving on, this list overall consists of the episodes that stuck out the most to me personally. It’s easier to rank the seasons than the episodes but I thought doing a Top 10 list would be a fun either way.
#10-The Vanishing Of Will Byers (Season 1 Episode 1)
Starting at #10 is the episode that started it all, The Vanishing Of Will Byers, and it remains one my favorites because it’s what got me into Stranger Things. It is the episode that set off the chain of events for the show we know and love today. The first season in general has a really good balance of mystery and horror to it, and this episode really embraced those elements. This episode manages to capture your attention and really leaves you begging for more by the episode’s end, which ends with Will, Dustin and Lucas encountering Eleven in the woods.
#9-The Case Of The Missing Lifeguard (Season 3 Episode 3)
Moving onto #9 is the 3rd episode of Stranger Things 3 entitled “The Case Of The Missing Lifeguard” which focuses mostly on the mysterious disappearance of lifeguard, Heather. After Eleven notices some suspicious behavior regarding Billy and Heather, her and Max set out to find out the lifeguard’s whereabouts. This episode ramped up the pacing and also had an overall darker tone of horror compared to previous seasons. By the episode’s end, Billy (possessed by Mind Flayer) recognizes Eleven as being the reason for the gate being closed which not only raises the stakes for El’s safety but also gives us a deeper insight into the Mind Flayer’s disliking for Eleven.
#8-The Bathtub (Season 1 Episode 7)
At #8 we have the penultimate episode of Season 1 known as “The Bathtub”. This episode serves as the beginning of the third and final act of the season. This is the episode where Hopper, Joyce, Nancy, and Jonathon unite with the party to learn of Will’s location. The scene with Eleven in the void (via the sensory deprivation tank) looking for Will was so well done and the part where they showed Barb was super chilling and added in on that element of Science Fiction and Horror. Very well done episode and sets up the events of the final episode with a nice little jump scare at the end.
#7-The Sauna Test (Season 3 Episode 4)
At #7 we have the 4th episode of season 3 known as “The Sauna Test”. In this episode, the gang sets up a trap to bring out the Mind Flayer in Billy via a hot sauna. Let me say, the acting between Millie Bobby Brown and Dacre Montgomery was so well done and the scene where Eleven is fighting Billy off was nerving to watch. Once again, they mixed the element of mystery and horror very well. I felt this episode served as the beginning of the 2nd act of the season by increasing the pacing and moving the main mystery of story forward. Easily one of my all time favorite episodes for sure.
#6-The Mind Flayer (Season 2 Episode 8)
Rounding out of the Top 5, coming in at #6 is the 8th episode of Season 2, “The Mind Flayer”. This episode picks up from the cliffhanger ending of episode 6, where the demodogs attack the lab and basically kill half of the scientists at the lab. I love this episode because it ramps up the stakes and the pacing. We also see the group unite at the end and of course the iconic ending of Eleven saving the group from the demodogs. This is the episode where the group tries to communicate with Will (who is being possessed by The Mind Flayer) and the acting with Wiona, Finn, and Charlie trying to make Will remember who he was, is one of the highlights of the episode for me. It was very well done, hit many emotional strings (the death of Bob still makes me angry to this day, he’s basically the Barb of Season 2), and set up the events for a satisfying and epic finale.
#5-The Spy (Season 2 Episode 6)
Moving onto out top 5 at #5, is Season 2 Episode 6 “The Spy”. It was hard to choose this episode over “The Mind Flayer” but I think the twist ending and cliffhanger was enough for it to rank at #5. This episode reveals that Will is being used as a spy for “The Mind Flayer”. Under The Mind Flayer’s control, Will ends up leading several of the scientists to their unfortunate demise and ends with the cliffhanger ending of the demodogs about to attack the lab. This episode also features the team up of Dustin & Steve who later form a team with Max and Lucas. This is the episode where we also discover that there is an army of monsters that instantly ramps up the stakes from the first season.
#4-The Bite (Season 3 Episode 7)
Coming in at #4 is Season 3 Episode 7 episode “The Bite”. Normally I’ve noticed with Stranger Things, the final 3 episodes usually have the most action and twists. This episode in particular has a mix of horror and action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. This episode features the battle between the group and the mind flayer creature (made out of melted people) who proceeds to bite El’s leg. Additionally this episode features the adventures of Robin, Steve, Dustin and Erica trying to escape the Russians at the mall and of course Hopper, Joyce, and Murrary trying to find the gate. I thought the overall cinematography and action sequences in this episode were really solid and as a whole, the episode was intense to watch. Very well done.
#3-The Upside Down (Season 1 Episode 8)
Rounding out the Top 3, we have the Season 1 finale “The Upside Down” (Season 1 Episode 8). This episode perfectly tied up the season and while ending on some loose ends, felt like a satisfying conclusion to the overall story arc. The fight scene between the kids and the guards from the lab was insane to watch. The goodbye between Mike and El before she makes the monster along with herself disappear left us with the question on if she was alive or not. We all know she obviously was. The subplot of Joyce and Hopper venturing into “The Upside Down” was creepy and one of my favorite parts because we learned more about this mysterious dimension. This episode also managed to dive more into Hopper’s backstory along with the tragic loss of his daughter added a new retrospect on his character that we didn’t have before. Finally, the ending twist of Will coughing up the slug allowed there to be a tease for a sequel, although I still have a million questions of what went down during his week in “The Upside Down”. Either way, this episode deserves to be in the Top 3 for sure. A great conclusion to the story we had during the first season.
#2-The Gate (Season 2 Episode 9)
In second place we have the season 2 finale (Season 2 Episode 9) titled “The Gate”. This episode serves as the conclusion to the second season and focuses on Eleven closing the gate to the upside down. I loved this episode because it tied up all the loose ends from the first season. The gate is closed, Eleven & Mike are united, Max stands up to Billy, and the overall remaining arc from the first season comes to a close. I honestly felt like this was a perfect end to the season, which is why I was confused where a third season would go. The scene where El closes the gate in front of “The Mind Flayer” was well done and Millie in general did a great job.
#1-The Battle At Starcourt (Season 3 Episode 8)
Coming in at #1 is the season 3 finale “The Battle Of Starcourt” (Season 3 Episode 8) in which the group faces off against the Mind Flayer while Hopper, Murray, and Joyce go to close the partially opened gate underneath the Starcourt mall. I loved this episode as a whole, despite Season 3 having some faults. The tone of blockbuster and horror gave the finale an epic feel and leaves you on the edge of your seat, wondering what surprise is going to happen next. The ending is kind of depressing as we are led to believe that Hopper is dead and the Byers alongside Eleven move out of Hawkins. It’s an emotional driven episode that also gives us the redemption of Billy, who sacrifices himself to save Eleven from being killed by the Mind Flayer. It’s a fun and emotional ride, giving the story arc a somewhat satisfying conclusion. I think due to the special effects and risker stakes, this deserves to be #1. It’s just a great finale overall and the Duffer Brothers did a great job with it as a whole. I still think the Season 2 finale offered a better sense of closure but Season 3’s production quality and story telling was enough to win the top spot for our chart. The mid-credit scene was also a fun little touch to add that gives us an idea for next season although I’m kind of confused as to where a 4th season is going to go. I guess we shall see. I’m being safe and keeping my expectations low.
What episodes of Stranger Things are your favorites? Give us your top 10 episodes in the comments below!