Ranking the first three seasons of Stranger Things

Stranger Things took the (streaming) world by storm back in 2016, when Netflix dropped the first season of the smash-hit sci-fi horror series. The show became an overnight success and has led to a further two seasons, with Netflix greenlighting a 4th season following the success of the third. The actors and actresses from the show have gone on to have stellar careers so far, and we’re not surprised.

If you’re anything like us, you marathoned each season of Stranger Things within a couple of days, social engagements be damned! For a long time, it was definitely the best show on Netflix, and we can’t wait for Season 4 to come out. So, in the meanwhile, we thought we’d rewatch each season (just because), and give you our ranking for how we feel the seasons should be judged. So, from worst to best, we rank the first three seasons of Stranger Things.

Ranking the first three seasons of Stranger Things

3. Season 2

The bronze medal position on our list has to go to The Duffer Brothers’ sophomore effort. Season 2 is a little more grown-up, as the kids reach that complicated patch in their lives. There are love interests, along with enemies, old and new. We tread familiar ground, but there is also a conscious attempt to move away from formula, and away from Hawkins. And we have to say, this is kind of to the show’s detriment. What was all that nonsense with Eleven running away and joining a street gang?! Still, the show goes out with a bang, and Sean Astin’s ‘Bob’ certainly goes from zero to hero.

2. Season 3

Now, many will disagree, but we enjoyed Season 3 more than its predecessor, and there are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, The Duffer Brothers upped the humor in this one, perhaps learning their lessons from the bleak depression of the second season. The characters of Robin, Steve’s co-worker, and Lucas’s sister Erica are a breath of fresh air. And Cary Elwes is on top form as a sleazeball mayor. There is still enough dark and disturbing stuff going on here (it’s stranger things), but there is certainly more levity. Hopper is on top form, and this might be El’s best season, as Max teaches her all about how to be a “normal” teenage girl. Oh, and the scene in which Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin duets Limahl’s ‘The NeverEnding Story’ with long-distance girlfriend Suzie might just be the best thing Netflix has ever aired.

Ranking the first three seasons of Stranger Things

1. Season 1

The one where it all began, and we make no apologies at all for ranking it at the top of the tree. Perfect tonally in every way; a captivating story, wonderfully acted, beautifully written, and impeccably helmed. This is the sort of original Netflix always wanted to do. More self-contained, with a focus on the Byers family, and the disappearance of Will Byers into the Upside Down. With twists, turns, and a gut-punch of an ending, this is truly compelling television, and a highlight in the Netflix back catalog. Everything about this season just works; plus, who knew Winona Ryder could act?!

If you haven’t watched Stranger Things, we recommend you get on Netflix and start the first season right away. Hell, even if you have watched it before, there is no reason not to start again, and take this unique journey with these wonderful characters all over again.