Every Main Character In Stranger Things Season 4 Ranked Worst To Best

Spoilers for "Stranger Things" season 4 follow.

Following season 3's explosive finale, a lot has changed for Hawkins' monster slayers. "Stranger Things" season 4 opens with Eleven, Will, Joyce, and Jonathan living in the quiet suburbs of Lenora Hills, California. Joyce has adopted El, and tries to give her a "normal" life while secretly leading a mission to find and save Hopper. But things aren't going well for Eleven. As it turns out, closing interdimensional portals is easier than facing high school bullies. Season 4's El is adrift, furious, and lonely, and the rest of the Byers family isn't faring much better. Jonathan is torn about what the future holds for him and Nancy and is smoking a ton of weed to cope. Will feels isolated from all his friends.

Meanwhile, back in Hawkins, things are getting strange again. After a cheerleader named Chrissy is found dead in a trailer park, the local cops believe a murderer is on the loose. Everyone in town suspects that Eddie, the metal-loving D&D fanatic, killed Chrissy in a satanic ritual. However, Max suspects that the Upside Down might have brought a new Big Bad to town. Of course, she's right. 

While Eleven tries to regain her powers, the old gang reunites to uncover who (or what) is slaying citizens of Hawkins, with plenty of new and familiar faces coming along for the ride. But not every character makes the same impact. As you wait for "Stranger Things" season 4 volume 2 to arrive this summer, peruse our list of the latest season's major characters, ranked from the least to the most interesting.

16. Jason Carver

When we first meet Jason Carver, he seems a whole lot like season 1's Steve mixed with season 3's sadistic Billy Hargrove. Before Steve entered his beloved babysitting phase, he too loved basketball, partying, and picking on anyone he deemed a "freak." However, after spending more time with Steve, viewers saw his insecurity and fear of vulnerability, too. Even at his worst, audiences knew that Steve was aware of his shortcomings, and he ultimately sought to improve himself. Similarly, Billy acted like a bully to cope with the abuse he faced at home. In the end, he was simply terrified and lashing out.

Sadly, there isn't much more to Jason than what meets the eye, at least not in "Stranger Things" season 4's first installment. So far, Jason is little more than an Archie Comics-looking jock who's obsessed with getting vigilante-style justice on behalf of his murdered girlfriend. He personifies the dangers of a group-think mentality, motivating others to violently act out. Although it's darkly fun to watch Jason succumb to satanic panic — he genuinely believes that Satan is the cause of Hawkins' incredibly high death toll — his character deserves more depth. Perhaps Jason also needs to fight a monster to expand his close-minded worldview.

15. Angela

While Eleven always felt a bit out of place in Hawkins, she faces a high school bully for the first time in season 4 — and boy, Angela is brutal. The side ponytail-wearing popular girl delights in torturing Eleven. Even worse, like Jason, she shows no sign of remorse. At one point, Angela laughs about Eleven's dead father during a class presentation, making viewers wonder if Angela feels empathy at all.

Although having a human antagonist for Eleven introduces some compelling emotional stakes for our hero, Angela's motivations aren't clear. Based on what we've seen of Angela so far, she picks on Eleven just because she's the new kid. There are no clues as to why she targets El that could help us understand Angela better. While it's true that sometimes bullies have no reason for picking on certain people, it's hard not to see Angela as a shallow copy of a "Mean Girls" character. Hopefully, the second part of season 4 will go a bit deeper into the tension between Angela and Eleven, explaining why Angela acts this way. At least, we deserve to see how Angela changes (or not) after El's roller rink takedown.

14. Argyle

Of all the new characters in "Stranger Things" season 4, Argyle has the most potential. When we meet the weed-loving Argyle, he's a pizza delivery guy and Jonathan's new friend. Based on how high-strung Jonathan typically is, it's refreshing to see him hang out with a friend who encourages him to make room for some chill time. Jonathan has saved the town of Hawkins so many times that it's easy to forget that he's only a senior in high school, and lighting up in a van while listening to some killer tunes is exactly what he should be doing in his spare time.

Of course, it doesn't take long for Argyle to get looped into the battle with Vecna, and while he doesn't get too much screen time, it's a delight to see him join the world-saving adventures. At times, the show relies a bit too much on his weed smoking as a defining character trait, but now and again, the jokes land just right, and Argyle gives a harrowing overall season some goofy (and much-needed) charm. It'll be interesting to see how his bond with Jonathan changes now that he's a part of the monster-slaying efforts and not just a character used for comedic effect.

13. Mike Wheeler

While Mike has always been a bit clueless, this season he is stunningly oblivious to the emotional needs of those closest to him. Most of Mike's arc in the first half of season 4 revolves around him not knowing how Eleven or Will feel. Typically, Will is the one who points out these shortcomings to Mike, and in his absence it's easy to see how unaware Mike is about most things, making it hard to root for the former leader of the party. It takes Eleven breaking someone's nose at a roller rink for Mike to realize that she's not having a good time at her new high school. Yikes!

Mike's lack of social awareness made more sense in earlier seasons, as he was younger and lacked maturity. Watching Mike get dumped in season 3 worked well because we saw him learn that he can't take people for granted. However, this lesson seems to have been forgotten by season 4. Mike can't tell Eleven that he loves her or listen to Will open up about what's troubling him. Overall, it's hard not to see Mike's obtuseness as hurtful. Although the rest of season 4 might remind Mike to care more for his friends, he currently ranks low on the list for being a bad friend and romantic partner.

12. Lucas Sinclair

It's a high school tale as old as time: One day, one of your longtime friends becomes a popular kid, and you're not entirely sure how. In the context of "Stranger Things," it makes perfect sense that Lucas would fill this role. In earlier seasons of "Stranger Things," Lucas tended to be the last person to be looped into the otherworldly happenings. By contrast, on the basketball court, Lucas gets to shine. Of course, Mike and Dustin don't understand why the sport (or the recognition it brings) matters to Lucas, and they see this new side of their friend as a betrayal. As a result, Lucas fades into the background.

Because Lucas hangs out with the popular kids and is busy with basketball games, he's not around for much of the supernatural events in the first volume of season 4. Although his character has a compelling problem, viewers don't get to see him grapple with the pros and cons of having a new friend group on screen. That said, season 4 does establish how Lucas' basketball commitments have strained his relationship with Max, promising that the second part of the season will answer the questions we have regarding Lucas' loyalties.

11. Jonathan Byers

Jonathan is a mess. While he's always had a scruffy look and given off a nonchalant vibe, "Stranger Things" season 4 pushes Jonathan in an entirely new, aimless direction. The Jonathan that viewers previously knew carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He appointed himself the man of the house, fought monsters, and looked at life like it was a puzzle to solve. Most importantly, he took big risks for those he loved. In season 4, though, he takes a huge step back and enters maximum senior year mode. Throughout the first five episodes of season 4, Jonathan spends most of his time getting high.

However, this carefree attitude masks insecurities and unvoiced doubts. When Argyle asks if Jonathan is visiting Nancy (or vice versa) during spring break, Jonathan doesn't answer so much as waffle back and forth. As viewers, we know something is up with him, but it's hidden under a lot of smoke, making it more frustrating than intriguing to watch. Sadly, Jonathan's swerve into bad boy-like behavior isn't as compelling as it could be, as we don't totally understand why he's avoiding Nancy, himself, and any talk of the future. On the bright side, senior year doesn't last forever, so the second part of season 4 will likely show what Jonathan's indecisiveness will end up costing him.

10. Nancy Wheeler

While Jonathan is living in Lenora Hills, Nancy continues to work towards becoming a journalist. Now an editor at Hawkins High's school newspaper, The Weekly Streak, Nancy seems no less determined in either her professional or her academic life. When news of Chrissy's murder hits the airwaves, Nancy is first in line to report the scoop, even as everyone else around her warns her of the danger. Four seasons in, it's fantastic to see how Nancy has grown into a self-assured woman. Saving the world has only further convinced her that it's important to uncover life's darkest truths.

However, Nancy has also been struggling with her long-distance relationship with Jonathan. Despite the love they shared in previous seasons, it seems as if they've both grown tired of communicating with each other. There's definitely tension brewing between the pair, but it's unclear why. 

Although this romantic turn provides season 4 with an interesting conflict to explore, it seems strange that someone as confident as Nancy would tolerate such a fickle romance. While that choice feels like a step back towards an earlier version of Nancy, one who's more concerned with being likable and is reluctant to bring up potential problems, she still has some fantastic moments this season with Robin. Perhaps Robin can remind Nancy that she's worthy of love; we'll have to wait and see.

9. Will Byers

Does Will Byers ever get a break? While he's not the target of the latest Big Bad, season 4's Will is still having a rough go of it. After Hopper's supposed death, he moves halfway across the country with his family, and spends most of his time consoling the still-grieving Eleven. From the looks of it, he hasn't made any new friends, either. When Mike visits the Byers over spring break, Will tries to get some quality one-on-one time with his best friend, but to no avail. Will even calls Mike out on not communicating with him during their six months apart, and hints that he's been struggling with something, but is too upset with Mike to delve into the details.

Over the course of the first volume of season 4, the ever-compassionate and loyal Will once again becomes a sidekick. Instead of taking the spotlight, he teams up with Mike, Argyle, and Jonathan to figure out where Eleven was taken. Yes, as always, Will puts everyone else's needs ahead of his own. While there's still potential for Will to get more screen time in season 4, fans will have to wait for the final episodes to find out what's bugging Will. Hopefully, someone will finally give Will the attention he deserves.

8. Jim Hopper

Thanks to season 4's many teasers, "Stranger Things" fans knew that Hopper survived the battle of Starcourt Mall well before the season premiered. For the most part, Hopper's time in seclusion lives up to its hype. Although we've heard war stories from Hopper before, season 4 depicts Hopper as an aged veteran who's surviving by the skin of his teeth. Sure, he can fight, but he's not the strongest in the room anymore, and he has no backup. With punches, secret alliances, and mystery packages to deal with, Hopper must rely on his wits more than his brawn to survive.

David Harbour's Hopper feels worn-in and realistically tired, and the uncertainty over his future helps keep the time before his inevitable escape compelling. Although it would have been nice to see Joyce and Hopper unite sooner, season 4's first volume sets the stage for their reunion. Before they team up again, however, Hopper must realize that he needs Eleven and Joyce in his life more than they ever needed him.

7. Joyce Byers

Four seasons in and Joyce's career as a makeshift P.I. continues to charm. In "Stranger Things" season 4's first installment, Joyce levels up her investigation skills by embarking on an international journey. After receiving a mysterious package from Russia, Joyce concludes that Hopper is asking for help. However, the only person she lets in on this secret mission is Murray Bauman. Since most storylines in the early seasons of "Stranger Things" revolved around Joyce being unaware of what her kids were up to in the Upside Down, watching Joyce concoct her own quest without their knowledge is great.

To Joyce's (and the writers') credit, she's also — finally — the one in charge. While Murray helps Joyce with Russian and travel planning, Joyce is the undisputed mastermind. Hopper isn't arguing with Joyce about what actions she should (or shouldn't take), and knowing that he reached out to her for help is a promising sign of growth for their partnership. For once, Hopper trusts Joyce to save the day. As always, Winona Ryder delivers Joyce's incredulous wonder and fiery personality with ease, stealing any scene that she's a part of in season 4.

6. Eddie Munson

In the wrong hands, Eddie Munson would be intolerable. The leader of the Hellfire Club and a repeat senior, Eddie is a hodgepodge of counter-culture ideas wrapped up in spiky jewelry. He's a brash and proud social outcast who's always looking to shock others. However, Joseph Quinn's performance gives Eddie both a jittery anxiousness and also a vulnerable stillness, best shown when he chats with Chrissy. While Eddie is almost always dialed up to 11, Quinn goes to great lengths to emphasize the moments when even Eddie can't play the role of a rebel. Perhaps the best thing about him, though, is how seriously he commits to his role as a Dungeon Master, bringing the game to life with incredibly detailed set pieces, a theatrical flair, and lots of heart. It's easy to see why Mike and Dustin love him.

Watching Eddie interact with Robin, Nancy, and Steve is its own specific delight, as it quickly becomes clear that they all assume things about one another based on their high school antics. Thankfully, the Upside Down doesn't play by teen movie rules, paving the way for Eddie to emerge as a well-rounded character who's a natural addition to the party. The only downside to Eddie is it's hard not to wonder where he's been in prior seasons. He seems too clever and unlucky to have avoided stumbling on to something sinister much earlier in the show's timeline.

5. Dustin Henderson

Not much has changed about Dustin Henderson since we last saw him, and that's a good thing. Some young actors who are known for playing a comedic character in a television series age out of their charm, but "Stranger Things" star Gaten Matarazzo consistently provides what fans love most about Dustin: his pitch-perfect timing. Matarazzo delivers all of Dustin's quippy one-liners beautifully. Although Dustin has matured somewhat in season 4, he's never lost his class clown charm, and Matarazzo brings some much-needed levity to this show's darkest storyline yet. Whether Dustin is cracking a purposefully bad joke or feigning being upset at someone for his own amusement, he knows exactly how long to pause between punchlines. 

Of course, Dustin does his best work alongside Joe Keery's Steve Harrington. By this point, the show is self-aware enough to understand (and reference) the appeal of Dustin and Steve's team-ups, but that only adds to their compelling dynamic, as the two stars clearly enjoy being a part of the joke that is their unlikely pairing. The only downside about Dustin this season is that we've yet to receive another singalong with Suzie.

4. Steve Harrington

There's plenty to love about Steve in the latest season of "Stranger Things." Season 4, volume 1 shows Steve struggling to adjust to post-high school life, developing a deeper friendship with Robin, and continuing his self-appointed quest to ensure the kids of Hawkins don't die painful deaths. 

What works best about season 4 so far is how much time it spends on developing Steve and Robin's relationship. By listening to Robin, Steve learns what it means to be a queer ally. While he doesn't always get why it's so hard for Robin to ask out a woman in a small town like Hawkins, Steve tries to understand both his friend and the issues she faces. At the very least, it's beyond charming to watch Robin and Steve compare notes on dating and to see their earnest desire to play wingman for one another.

As an added bonus, Steve's interactions with Nancy are eye-opening. Six months after the battle at the Starcourt Mall, it seems like Steve might realize that has some lingering romantic feelings for Nancy. As the audience knows, Steve is not the same person that Nancy dated in season 1. While he hesitates to act on his feelings, Robin picks up on this tension, leaving room for later episodes of season 4 to explore how Robin pushes Steve to embrace his true feelings for Nancy. It'll be fun seeing what this more mature version of Steve does with those emotions. (Sorry, Jonathan!)

3. Robin Buckley

While it's fun to see Nancy and Steve reunite on screen, it pales in comparison to watching Robin's bond with Steve deepen in "Stranger Things" season 4. Robin and Steve could not be more different, and yet they balance each other out wonderfully. Robin is clever, antsy, witty, and adorably weird. Steve is confident, obtuse, and thoughtful. When they're together, they let their guard down and help each other overcome their doubts and fears — something that Robin definitely needs at this confusing time. Watching Robin navigate her queer identity in a small, religious town leads to some great character beats that only deepen the world that the Duffer brothers created.

The writers of "Stranger Things" could have easily let Robin's coming out scene in season 3 be the only thing we know about her romantic life. Instead, we learn some gossip early on in season 4: Robin has a crush. It's a dilemma that creates important moments of queer representation for the show. Before Robin, there were no confirmed gay characters in Hawkins. Even now, as far as we know, Steve is the only ally she has. The show is careful not to forget this. Robin is a jumble of nerves for a valid reason: She is terrified to be who she is, but she's working on overcoming those concerns. Hopefully, we see her get there in season 4 volume 2.

2. Eleven

"Stranger Things" season 4 puts Eleven through the emotional wringer. Not only do we see her palpable grief at losing Hopper, but we also get some glimpses into the trauma she accrued while being raised at Hawkins Lab. In addition, this is the first time in a very long while that Eleven hasn't had superpowers. Even when she couldn't understand how the world was misusing her, Eleven knew that no one could harm her. Now, however, Eleven worries that she won't be able to protect herself, and that infuriates her. It's heartbreaking to watch Eleven's literal powerlessness line up with her first experiences with her bully, Angela.

However, as the season continues, Eleven proves that she's not defenseless. When she's had enough of Angela's tauntings, she picks up a roller skate and breaks her bully's nose in front of their entire school. Incidentally, this action paves the way for her to reclaim not just her powers, but her lost memories as well. Everything we thought we knew about Eleven's backstory is incorrect, and season 4 explains why in an inventive way that strengthens El's overall arc.

The only drawback for Eleven this season is that her staccato speaking pattern can be grating. Season 3's El spoke more fluidly; it's unclear if Eleven regressed after losing Hopper, or if Millie Bobby Brown is over-relying on that particular quirk.

1. Max Mayfield

After Billy's tragic end in "Stranger Things" season 3, it was clear that whatever was going to follow would not be easy for Max. At the start of season 4, Max is processing a lot. She's coping with losing her brother and taking care of her mom, who works multiple jobs and is drinking too much to deal with her sudden loss. Meanwhile, Lucas has become a "cool kid," and Max can't connect with him anymore, and the friend group that she worked so hard to join in season 3 is spread across the country. Max's pain is so vast that it forges a link with season 4's big bad, Vecna, who feeds on sorrow and darkness. 

Max convinces the Hawkins teens that the Upside Down is not done with them. In fact, in Hawkins, Vecna is only getting started, picking off anyone in emotional pain. As Max, Sadie Sink turns in a heart wrenching performance that makes her easy to root for. We desperately want Max to see that we are more than the hardships we've endured in life, and Max's journey towards realizing that she doesn't need to fight her battles alone is the heart of the latest "Stranger Things" adventure, making her this season's MVP.