Spoiler alert: This list does assume that the reader has seen all of season three.
Stranger Things has become a streaming series phenomenon. Its third season broke records with over 40 million households streaming the show in the first four days of release. Fans love the relationships on the series as much as they love the mystery of it all.
Much of what makes Stranger Things so addictive is the way the characters pair up. The audience doesn’t just love to see the odd friendship develop (like that of Dustin and Steve) but romantic pairings as well. With much of the main cast as teenagers, there are quite a few relationships in the younger generation that have stakes just as high as a fight with a monster. Likewise, the adults of the series can find themselves with some serious relationship choices to make.
Not every relationship in the series is created equal. Some of the couples are real relationship goals, while others could never last. Here are the six best (and four worst) couples on Stranger Things.
By Billy and Karen, of course, we mean Billy and Mrs. Wheeler. Like many of the local moms in season three, Karen Wheeler enjoyed the view of Billy working as a lifeguard at the community pool. Unlike the other moms, Karen had the opportunity to do something about it.
Billy approached Karen about getting some private “swim instructions” from him at a local motel. Karen was tempted, but ultimately, didn’t meet up with him. That was probably the best decision she ever made. A mother of three, Karen’s oldest child is about Billy’s age. She really had no business entertaining the idea of a relationship with a teenager. It’s creepy.
The audience doesn’t even know the first names of these two characters yet. With Lucas as a main character, and his little sister getting an expanded role, perhaps we’ll find out what they are in season four.
Mr. And Mrs. Sinclair appear to be one of the most well-adjusted couples on the series. We don’t see much of them, but what we do see tells the audience that they pay attention to their kids, and that they encourage them to do their best. Sure, they don’t know that Lucas has been regularly fighting monsters or that Erica spent some time in a secret Russian lab, but let’s let these two preserve some sense of normalcy.
With Joyce’s past when she met Bob, trusting someone would be hard. In addition to not having a great relationship with her ex-husband, she’d also just got her son back after losing him to another dimension. That makes interpersonal relationships difficult, to say the least.
Bob didn’t let the strangeness in Joyce’s life keep them from getting close. He rolled with the weird and stayed supportive of both her sons. Once he had all the details about what Joyce and the boys went through, he didn’t hesitate to help. It’s too bad he sacrificed himself, but we’re glad Joyce had a little happiness while their relationship lasted.
Nancy And Steve sounded great on paper. Nancy had a crush on a guy who could break her out of her shell. Steve liked a girl who wouldn’t put up with him treating people badly. If they’d gotten together in season three, maybe things would have worked out for them.
As it stands, in season one, Steve wasn’t yet ready to be the good guy. He was too busy trying to impress his popular friends. In season two, Nancy was too wrapped up in her guilt for ignoring Barb. Though they shared the trauma of fighting the Demogorgon, they didn’t see eye to eye about moving on from it, and it made them ill-fitted to one another.
It was clear in the first season that Nancy and Jonathan would end up at least being close friends. His creepy photos of her aside, they obviously cared about one another. When other people made fun of them, they stood up for each other. They also helped one another with their missing loved ones.
Cut to season two, and they were the duo that did the most investigating of the weird circumstances in their town - and grew closer while they did. No matter how strange the information is that they found, they were always willing to help the other out. Even when not seeing eye-to-eye in season three, they found ways to compromise, and apologized for not understanding where the other was coming from. Their shared traumas have brought them closer together instead of pushing them apart.
In season one, when Nancy got her introduction to the popular kids in school, Carol and Tommy H. were part of her friend group. They were two of the people that hung out with Steve, and they happened to be quite the couple.
Carol and Tommy weren’t necessarily bad for one another, but they were certainly bad for everyone around them. Gossipy and sneaky, Carol talked about everyone she knew behind their backs. Tommy spread rumors about Nancy. They both made fun of Steve for even dating Nancy, and then teased him further when the two broke up. They were the kind of couple that could rule high school, but at everyone else’s expense.
Some fans might not love the Mike and El dynamic. After all, the two can be incredibly childish. It’s important to remember though, that they are children. Because of what she’s been through, El is a little further behind in social skills compared to her friends, and wouldn’t treat a relationship the same way a thirteen-year-old today would.
Mike and El, despite their naive behaviors and not understanding one another’s emotional outbursts, are incredibly sweet with one another. Most of what we’ve seen of their relationship involved Mike teaching El about the world around her and the two obsessively staying in contact. With season three, as they’ve gotten older, they’ve realized they can go their separate ways and still care about one another. Their relationship will surely evolve further in season four.
If Mike and El have evolved throughout their time on the show, Max and Lucas have only stagnated since they started dating. The two have some very bad ways of coping with differences of opinions.
Max decided that every time she doesn’t agree with Lucas, or she’s not getting her way, she’d just dump him. As a result, they’ve already broken up and gotten back together five times between seasons two and three. Lucas decided that every time he needed to get Max on his good side, he’d just buy her a present. With that attitude, the two don’t even seem to talk much.
Suzie doesn’t live anywhere near the rest of the group, so it’s unlikely fans will see much of her beyond season three, but she certainly made an impression. When Dustin came back from camp, his friends didn’t believe he found himself a girlfriend “hotter than Phoebe Cates.”
Dustin and Suzie had a lot in common. Both had a love for math and science and knowledge of ham radios to communicate across long distances. They both also clearly loved The Neverending Story, which made for one of the best sequences of season three. Dustin and Suzie might have a good chance of making things work despite only seeing one another once a year at camp.
This might be the one couple fans wanted to see the most. Joyce and Hopper had a history. They grew up together, but both married other people, before ending up single again a few years later. There was clearly a connection between them in seasons one and two. Season three could have been their season.
If only Joyce’s grief over losing Bob, and her preoccupation with the strange happenings of Hawkins, hadn’t left her standing up Hopper on their date, fans might have seen them finally become a couple. The duo made one of the best teams on the series. Despite their arguing with one another, they always supported each other’s goals. Joyce gave Hopper parenting advice while he helped her with her magnet problem. Joyce even finally agreed to a real date - right before Hopper sacrificed himself to close the gate between dimensions.
Luckily, fans can still hold out hope that Hopper could return in season four.