Every Character In Stranger Things 4 Ranked By How Useful They Were

Another season of "Stranger Things" has come and gone, and now we're left to spend the next two or so years debating plot points, speculating wildly, and fantasy booking our own storylines. The show's penultimate season was a huge undertaking, with longer runtimes, bigger monsters, higher stakes, and so many characters it was hard to keep track. 

Fortunately, we did keep track, and even took notes! 

The heart of "Stranger Things" has always been about joining forces and working together, but that doesn't mean everyone contributes equally. Not including the non-Joyce Byers parents who are consistently useless on this show or characters who don't exist to move the plot forward in any way, we (and by "we," I do mean "I") decided to rank all of the "Stranger Things" characters from season 4 based on how useful they were. Obviously, this list is purely subjective, but let's have a little fun and try to figure out whether or not this show needed that many new faces. (Spoiler alert: It didn't.)

Actual Spoiler Alert: This article has massive spoilers for all of "Stranger Things" season 4, but you should have gathered that from the title.

The Hawkins High School basketball team

In the grand tradition of jocks from the 1980s being the absolute worst, the non-Jason/Lucas players on the Hawkins High School Basketball Team desperately need to go to therapy, learn to think for themselves, and learn to call out their garbage friends when they're acting like absolute maniacs. 

Look, I get it. Guy-code loyalty is very much a thing, but in terms of usefulness, this basketball team spends an entire season getting in the way and being one-note pricks. I hope they all look forward to never leaving Hawkins, taking over their dad's car-rental businesses or whatever it is they do, and spending the rest of their lives having to accept that they peaked in high school ... except for Patrick. He is very dead thanks to Vecna. 

Honestly, Patrick could have gotten his own slot but other than dying at the hands of Vecna, he's just as useless as the rest of these buttholes.

The rest of the Hellfire Club

Gareth, Jeff, and Unnamed Freak (or Freak 1 depending on where you Google) are the members of Hellfire Club that we don't get a lot of time with. These rock and roll-loving, D&D-playing kids were totally wasted by this season, but I'm always going to root for the underdogs. The city of Hawkins thinks they're a cult and treats them accordingly thanks to some Satanic Panic-esque nonsense, but they're just some good ol' fashioned geeks trying to survive high school and make friends. They gave some of our favorites a new community in high school after the events of last season, but Gareth does rat Dustin out to the jocks. 

I don't want to give him too much crap though, because Jason is scary and I can't blame an already bullied teenager for breaking under pressure.


Hey, remember that girl who was mean to Eleven who is just the live-action version of Tammy from "Bob's Burgers?" Oh, you forgot about her because she appears in like two episodes and is just a cartoon mean girl and didn't even remember she had a name because this season had TOO MANY CHARACTERS? I don't blame you. She's only ranked this high because her confrontation with Eleven sets off her kidnapping storyline, and because she takes that roller skate to the face like a champ. If it weren't for the blood, I don't think she would have even cried. You get points for that in my book, kid.


Oh, you sweet and adorable band geek version of Molly Ringwald in "Sixteen Candles." Vickie doesn't get a lot of screen time this season, but she's given something positive for our precious Robin to focus on while the world around her falls apart. "Stranger Things" has a serious problem with adding way too many characters, but I doubt anyone will be upset if Vickie comes back next season as Robin's girlfriend and joins the crew to tackle this new version of Hawkins. Hopefully with less "peanut butter and peanut butter" weird gay subtext. 

Duffer Bros., please call me, an actual gay, and I will help you write subtext that isn't cringe. 

Fred Benson

No one respects journalists anymore, do they? Poor Fred Benson (Not to be confused with Freddy Benson of "iCarly") was Vecna's second victim, and his connection to Nancy Wheeler, unfortunately, helped the gang figure out how the mysterious deaths of Hawkins' teens were all related. Fred really did want to get to the bottom of Chrissy's death and deliver some quality journalism for the Hawkins High School paper, but he got a little too close to his subject and paid the ultimate price. 

RIP, Fred. You are not a murderer. I hope wherever you are, you know that.

Warden Hatch

I didn't know it was possible to hate the warden of a mental health facility more than Frederick Chilton in "Silence of the Lambs," but then Warden Hatch showed up and made Chilton look like the kind of guy you'd want to have a beer with. Hatch is a sexist jerk who gets off a little too hard on the power he has over his vulnerable patients, and does nothing but get in the way. Don't like you. Byeeeeeee!

Eden Bingham

Unbeknownst to us, Dustin's girlfriend Suzie Bingham comes from a pretty huge family, with her older sister, Ally Sheedy in "The Breakfast Cl–" err ... Eden, treated like de facto additional parents due to her eldest daughter status. 

When Jonathan, Argyle, Will, and Mike show up at her house looking for help, Eden doesn't kick them out and actually leads them to Suzie, while slipping away with Argyle to get high and get a little bit of respite from the chaos. Not only does she prove useful by keeping Argyle out of the boys' hair, but by granting them access to Suzie, they were all able to find the location of The NINA Project and find Eleven. Good on you, Eden!

Unnamed Surfer Boy Pizza Worker

Truly unbelievable to see an unnamed character rank so high, but Unnamed Surfer Boy Pizza Worker is a true MVP. 

When Eleven needs a sensory deprivation tank, Argyle takes them to the nearest Surfer Boy Pizza shop where this stoner hero willingly trades the availability of the shop's kitchen in exchange for the good kush. If this guy had been anyone else, Eleven likely wouldn't have been able to make it to Max in time and things could have ended way, way worse.

Lt. Colonel Jack Sullivan

Rule number 1 of "Stranger Things:" don't trust anyone that works for the government. Lt. Colonel Jack Sullivan is a mysterious military figure who blames Eleven for all of the problems in Hawkins, and orders her destroyed. He's a bad dude no matter how you slice it, but he doesn't have all the correct information. He tortures Agent Wallace, orders a SWAT invasion of the Byers' home, and he's only here to make matters worse. He is, however, directly responsible for the final events of "Papa," and that unfortunately does make him useful.

Jason Carver

Jason is torn up after the death of his girlfriend, Chrissy Cunningham, and decides to mourn her death in the unhealthiest way possible by enacting a season-long revenge plot. 

At first, I sort of felt bad for Jason, because he was clearly in pain following her loss. However, his actions throughout the course of season 4 prove that he's got way more issues than his girlfriend's death. He sparks up a moral panic that takes over all of Hawkins, launches his cronies to harass and hurt anyone that gets in his way, and pulls a gun on Lucas. 

He sucks. He sucks so bad. But he's an important antagonist that kept the non-Vecna stakes high back in Hawkins.

Agent Ellen Stinson

We don't know a whole lot about Agent Stinson, but she proves herself to be useful every time she pops up. She works under the tutelage of Dr. Owens and sends agents to the Byers Residence to serve as bodyguards to keep them all safe in case the military showed up to raid the house in search of Eleven. Well, they did, and Stinson spends the rest of the season trying to keep the family safe, and even helps reunite Hopper with El. 

Hopefully, we see more of her next season. It'd be nice to root for a good government worker for once.

Dr. Sam Owens

It seems rude to put Dr. Sam Owens so low on this list, but compared to how vital he was in seasons 2 and 3, he feels like such an afterthought this time around. Sure, he has a conscience and genuinely acts in (what he thinks is) Eleven's best interest, but at the end of the day, he is still treating her like a super weapon to defeat evil. His current life/death status is unknown so don't be shocked if he's in season 5, hopefully with more to do than show up, be the moral compass The NINA Project needs, and offer some occasional motivating soundbites.

Suzie Bingham

Suzie Bingham may not have saved the world in a similar sense to Eleven, but without her masterful ability to track down the location of The NINA Project, the boys would not have been able to find El. Even better, Suzie offers her help without being presented with the stakes of "Hey, the world is gonna end," and instead does so because she thought it would help Dustin get a new gaming console for his birthday. If there's anything I'm looking forward to most in season 5, it's Suzie's reaction to figuring out what Dustybuns has really been up to all this time. I also hope she fights her dad, because that guy sucks, too.


I love a complicated character, and Yuri is the king of complications. He's a Russian smuggler who at first seems to be a huge help for Joyce and Murray, but greed gets the better of him and he makes a massive heel turn by selling out the very people he was supposed to help. Fortunately, his plans blow up in his face when he's taken hostage by our American comrades, but he does get to redeem himself as a hero in the show's finale. He's also a great source of comedic relief, which is desperately needed in a season so bleak and depressing.

Victor Creel

Robert Englund is a national treasure, and his monologue telling the story of what really happened to the Creel family provides so much vital information for the gang to stop Vecna. Victor is the only survivor of his family's massacre and is deeply traumatized by what happened. As he tells his story to Robin and Nancy, he empowers them with the key to breaking people out of Vecna's world, and this poor man's pain becomes the key to understanding just what they're all dealing with. 

For someone who shows up for a one-episode monologue, he sure proved to be useful. 

Dmitri Antonov

Hopper, Joyce, and Murray are some tough cookies, but they wouldn't have been able to make it out of Russia had it not been for Dmitri Antonov aka Enzo. A true confidante of Hopper, Dmitri tries to help him escape for his own personal gain but becomes a legitimate confidante when he's arrested for treason and becomes a prisoner alongside Hopper. He proves vital during their escape from the prison and gave us all a Russian to root for.

Chrissy Cunningham


Chrissy Cunningham is a troubled cheerleader with a heart of gold, and one of the only people in Hawkins to show kindness to Eddie Munson. Unfortunately, she is the first of Vecna's victims after he unleashes a new reign of terror on the once-sleepy town and kicks off the events of the season. 

I hate to classify someone's death as "useful," but in the world of the show, she's the inciting incident. She deserved better and while it would absolutely be jumping the shark, I'd love it if Vecna had a weird undead army or something and we got more Chrissy. 

Unrelated: I will personally fight her fatphobic mom. It's on sight.

Mike Wheeler

Mike, my dude, what the hell happened this season?! Okay, I'm not blaming you. It's not your fault. But wow, the writers really didn't know what to do with you, did they? 

Mike ranks this high only because he's a main character, but just like Dr. Owens, he feels like an afterthought. Will and Eleven have great arcs in reference to Mike, but Mike is given absolutely nothing to do to justify their feelings about him. Finn Wolfhard is a fantastic actor but you'd never know it if you only watched this season. 

Give him more to do, I beg of you, Duffer Bros. He's SO important in seasons 1 and 2. Don't let him flounder in the finale. 

Lucas Sinclair

Thanks to his understandable desire to be popular and fit in at school, Lucas spends a good chunk of the season on the team "Bad Jocks Who Don't Change Their Jackets," but fortunately gets his s*** together and joins the cause. 

He is a huge reason why Max isn't killed during her first face-off with Vecna, he defends Hellfire Club when everyone accuses them of being Satanists, he helps hide Eddie from the town and the authorities, he takes watch over Max during the finale battle, and he manages to subdue Jason when he almost screws up everything. But man, that opening alliance with the basketball team really tanked his ranking on this list. 

The flat top is a good look, though. Keep that. I like it. 


Did Argyle spend the entire fourth season serving as stoner comedic relief? Yes. Did Argyle make sure that everyone was always fed on good 'Za and never once questioned the absolute ridiculousness the Byers boys threw him into? Also yes. DID ARGYLE COME IN CLUTCH WITH A HOMEMADE SENSORY DEPRIVATION TANK FOR ELVEN?! HELL YEAH, HE DID!! 

Mike and Will clearly hate Argyle's guts because he enables Jonathan's constant state of being high as balls, but the dude showed up when it counted and we simply must offer our respect. I weirdly hope he just up and moves to Hawkins for next season simply to experience the Midwest vibes.

Erica Sinclair

All hail Lady Applejack! Erica Sinclair is the queen of the "cinematic mouthy little sisters club," and now that she's 11 years old, she's finally old enough to join the team in a bigger capacity in their life-or-death adventures. Erica is vital in the battle against Vecna by keeping watch for Jason and the gang, who apparently have no problem beating up a little girl. God, they're such jerkwads. 

Erica rules. Always has. Always will. Can't spell America without Erica, indeed.

Jonathan Byers

Jonathan was sort of just there all season, but in vol 2, he finally stepped it up. His big brother speech to Will is quite possibly the most useful thing he's ever done in the show, solidifying himself as the surrogate big brother to queer viewers in unaffirming families everywhere. Will is being set up to play a massive role in the final season, and he needs Jonathan to be in his corner to support him. 

Jonathan wasn't a prominent figure this season and had this list been written before the drop of vol 2, he'd have wound up at the very bottom. Fortunately, he showed up when he needed to in the finale and he crushed it.

Joyce Byers

First things first, Winona Forever! But with that out of the way, Joyce didn't get as many badass mom moments this season as she usually does. She was a great help in believing Hopper was alive even when Murray wasn't fully on board, and she never gave up hope. When the three of them reunite in Russia, they become an unstoppable dream team, with Joyce keeping them all grounded. 

There's no passion quite like a mother's love, and she's willing to put her life on the line if it means keeping the kids safe.

Murray Bauman

Look, I know a lot of people hate Murray, but I don't. I love him. I love Murray! 

Brett Gelman brings so much personality to the character and without Murray, Joyce would still be in California wondering why the Russians mailed her a porcelain doll. His karate skills came in handy, as did his ability to imitate a Russian soldier. He's great for comedic relief, but most importantly, he knows his way around a flame thrower. 

Hell yeah, Murray. You're a real one.

Will Byers

As our own Valerie Ettenhofer so correctly pointed out, "Stranger Things" keeps failing Will Byers. The core of the first season, Will has since been treated like an afterthought the last three seasons, but it looks like the tides are finally turning. Will has consistently kept his feelings buried deep to maintain the status quo of the group, even to his own detriment. 

Will deserves better, and although he thinks Mike is the heart of the group, that's not true. It's him. Will is the heart. He is the love. He is the core of everything. But once again, Duffer Bros, PLEASE LET ME HELP YOU WRITE GAY SUBTEXT. You already forgot his birthday. Don't mess his queerness up next season.

Dr. Martin Brenner

Dr. Brenner is a real piece of work and I will not mourn his death in the slightest, but he deserves to be up so high on this list because he ultimately is the one that helps Eleven regain her powers. Sure, he does so under heinous circumstances and he pays handsomely for it, but he is unfortunately extremely useful this season. 

Look, I'm not happy about ranking him this high either, but I'm not going to pretend he wasn't really important this season. RIP Papa. Get bent.

Robin Buckley

Nepotism baby, be damned. Maya Hawke is the real deal. 

Robin more than earned her place in the team this season, with her best moment taking place in the Pennhurst Mental Hospital when she improv misogyny-shamed Warden Hatch in his office as a way to get to Victor Creel. Robin spends the season going against her better judgment and feelings of self-preservation to help the cause, knowing the fate of the world is at stake. Give Robin a girlfriend in season 5 or I riot!!!

Steve Harrington

This man never asked to be the father and yet here he is. Last season, he was the best babysitter in the land, and this time around he's graduated to the position of the official Daddy of "Stranger Things." Steve is here to pine after girls that don't want him and kick ass, and he's done pining after girls that don't want him. 

Steve plays second fiddle to final girls Nancy and Robin this season but still makes sure everyone is taken care of and safe. 

...He's gonna die in the series finale, isn't he?

Nancy Wheeler

This entire blurb could have just been a gif of Nancy with a sawed-off shotgun shooting at Vecna during the final battle. Nancy is done screwing around, especially after Vecna got in her head and left her alive to tell his story and warn the others. She goes into full final girl mode, and there's some real poetry that Nancy is the one who puts the final bullet into a flaming Vecna, who is heavily based on Freddy Krueger. I see you, Duffer Bros. 

Unrelated, please watch Natalia Dyer in "Yes, God, Yes" because she's really good and not enough people have seen that movie. Okay, bye. 

Jim Hopper

Two words: decapitated demogorgon. 

Hopper has managed to survive a Russian prison, get a message out to Joyce, escape the aforementioned prison, break back into said prison, and fight a Mind Flayer without the help of a superpowered kid and he lived to tell the tale. Hopper is at his best when he's in Hawkins, and I can't wait for him to be back. He made the stuff in Russia work, even if it was arguably the weakest plot of the whole season. Now, take Joyce on that date and stay nice to Mike.

Dustin Henderson

HENDERSON!!! Dustin Henderson was clearly supposed to play second banana to Mike Wheeler and serve as a goofy friend, but he once again runs away with the emotional arc of the season. 

Dustin never gives up, is constantly looking for solutions, stands by Eddie no matter what, and is even willing to face down hordes of demobats with him in the Upside Down. Dustin constantly puts himself in danger knowing it's necessary to defeat evil, and always stands up for the little guys. There's a reason that Eddie sees a lot of himself in Dustin because he really is the future of Hellfire Club. Dustin tells Eddie's uncle Wayne that he died a hero, because no matter the outcome, Dustin is always going to do the right thing. 

Except for, yanno, owning up to his bad grades. But he gets a pass for that.


"And if I only could, I'd make a deal with God and I'd get him to swap our places..." Max has the roughest season of our core characters, but her love of Kate Bush's music sent the real Kate Bush to the top of the music charts. Max is the center of one of the best scenes in the entire season and is the direct link the group has to Vecna in the Upside Down. Without Max, there simply is no season 4 for these kids, and given her fate at the end of the finale, I'm going to be sobbing until 2024 when the Duffer Bros. release me from this fresh hell and give me my skateboarding hero back. 


Henry Creel/Vecna/One

If there was an inverse of the holy trinity in the world of "Stranger Things," it would come in the form of Henry Creel/Vecna/One. Not only is he the big baddie of season 4, but it also turns out he's been the big baddie *extreme Sally Field in "Mrs. Doubtfire" voice* THE WHOLE TIME?! Vecna is useful in the sense that without him there isn't a show, but every inch of this season had his touch. He is everywhere and nowhere at the same damn time and made for the scariest villain in "Stranger Things" history yet. Can't wait until next season when he's just walking around Hawkins and making Mrs. Wheeler have really weird thoughts she doesn't want to process.


She came, she saw, she kicked Vecna's ass. As is the case with every season of "Stranger Things," Eleven proved as always to be one of the most useful characters in the show. Granted, she has superpowers so it's a bit of an unfair advantage, but she's been through a lot

Even more of Eleven's backstory was revealed this season, and after losing her powers, her dad, her papa, and having to deal with bullies at school, it's incredible she was able to pull it all together. Eleven is finally standing up for herself and she should be as proud of her growth as the audience is ... even though she definitely might have inadvertently caused the Upside Down.

Eddie Munson

The most useful character this season was Eddie Munson, who absolutely did not have to die and I swear to Eleven I will dropkick anyone who thinks his demise was some "poetic full circle" nonsense. 

The only crime Eddie Munson committed was being introduced in season 4, which sealed his fate from moment one. He spent his entire life in Hawkins battling monsters, and that's long before the gate to the Upside Down was ever opened. Eddie died so Hawkins could be saved, sacrificing himself for a city that didn't deserve him, and thereby saving all of humanity. 

I hope you're partying with the Iron Maiden mascot, wherever you are. The dungeon master of our hearts. RIP.