There are plenty of shows out there that can combine fantasy and horror, but none are quite like Stranger Things. When the first season became available to stream on Netflix in July 2016, the series quickly garnered praise for its intriguing storyline, characters, and visuals.
Each season has been able to match the quality of the previous one, and with the popularity of the show, a fourth season is almost a certainty at this point. While every installment has gotten positive reviews thus far, there are certain episodes that stand out over others, and some that possibly left fans wanting more. Here are the best and worst episodes of the show, according to IMDb's rankings.
10 Best: "Chapter Nine: The Gate" - 9.4
One of the highest-rated episodes of Stranger Things is the Season 2 finale. Season 2 pitted the gang against the Mind Flayer; the apparent ruler of the Upside Down. The episode picks up with Eleven reuniting with her friends before leaving with Hopper to close the Gate at Hawkins Lab.
The episode is cut into two other storylines: one showing Dustin, Lucas, Mike, Max, and Steve traveling through the Hive Mind’s tunnels, and the other showing Joyce, Jonathan and Nancy trying to rid Will of the Mind Flayer by exposing him to extreme temperatures. All of these storylines end with a satisfying conclusion at the annual Snow Ball, before the camera flips upside down to show The Mind Flayer in the Upside Down.
9 Worst: "Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister" - 6.1
The lowest-rated episode of Stranger Things is the seventh episode of season 2, called “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister.” This episode was a departure from what fans had come to expect from the series, with Eleven getting a solo episode showing her finding her long-lost “sister.”
Eleven was able to track down one of the other children from Hawkins Lab who was residing in Chicago with a group of outcasts. Kali, a.k.a. Eight, was the girl Eleven recognized from her vision, who could control what people saw with illusions. Many people believe the episode was an extra episode to the season that was unnecessary and didn’t add anything meaningful to the show.
8 Best: "Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt" - 9.4
Tied for first place is “Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt.” This episode is the final episode of Season 3, which includes an epic showdown between Eleven and the Mind Flayer. The episode has Steve, Robin, Dustin, and Erica driving to Dustin’s transmitter to help Joyce, Hopper, and Murray infiltrate the Russian Base. The rest of the gang gets trapped inside Starcourt Mall, where they face Billy and the Mind Flayer.
The episode has one of the most cinematic endings, with the kids fighting the Mind Flayer with fireworks, but it also has some of the most emotional scenes of the show, thanks to Hopper’s apparent death and the tear-jerking goodbyes from Eleven and the Byer’s family.
7 Worst: "Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy?" - 8.0
With the exception of “The Lost Sister,” Stranger Things has never dipped below an 8.0 on IMDb. Even though there isn't anything wrong with the remaining entries on the “worst” side of the list, they just happen to be the lowest-rated episodes of the series. With that disclaimer out of the way, the lowest-rated episode of Season 3 happens to be the season opener.
The episode packs in the comedy, with Hopper reacting to Mike and El’s relationship, but also takes a sinister twist near the end, when Billy is attacked by a creature from the Upside Down.
6 Best: "Chapter Eight: The Upside Down" - 9.3
While the Season 1 finale couldn’t top Season 2 or 3’s finale, the final episode of Season 1 made it into the top 3, according to IMDb. Season 1 of Stranger Things was mainly about the disappearance and rescue of Will Byers. In the season finale, Joyce and Hopper do manage to save Will by traveling into the Upside Down.
Eleven also succeeds in killing the Demogorgon, but in doing so, temporarily traps herself in the Upside Down. The episode also solidified Steve’s redemption, when he helped Jonathan and Nancy fight against the Demogorgon with the spiked baseball bat.
5 Worst: "Chapter Two: The Mall Rats" - 8.2
The second episode of Season 3 continues to show Billy being infected by the Upside Down. Max and El bond in this episode, after El decides to dump Mike. The pair go on a shopping spree, while Lucas and Mike talk about girl troubles and Will continues to get annoyed with his friends' new-found interest in the opposite gender.
Dustin and Steve also hang out in this episode at Scoops Ahoy, as they work with Robin to translate the secret Russian message. There’s not anything wrong with the episode, but it likely got a lower score since it was just continuing to set up the season.
4 Best: "Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer" - 9.3
A good portion of Season 2 episode 8 takes place inside Hawkins Lab. The Mind Flayer sends hordes of demodogs to Hawkins Labs, after the gang’s location is revealed through Will. Joyce sedates Will and then tries to escape with Hopper, Mike, Bob, and Dr. Owens. The episode shows the heartbreaking death of Bob Newby, superhero, who nearly escaped the lab alive.
After interrogating Will, the gang discovers that they can beat the shadow creature by closing the gate. Soon after, the Mind Flayer sends demodogs to the Byers’ residence after hearing their phone ring from inside the house, but Eleven saves the day.
3 Worst: "Chapter One: MADMAX" - 8.4
The beginning of Season 2 opens with the reveal that Eleven isn’t the only child with powers, as Kali causes hallucinations to flee from police officers. The episode continues with the gang scavenging for money to play games at the arcade. Dustin is shocked to see that someone by the name MADMAX has beaten his score on Dig Dug, someone who turns out to be Max Mayfield (played by Sadie Sink).
The episode also reveals that something is still wrong in Hawkins, with pumpkin patches starting to rot and Will seeing a spider-like creature in the Upside Down. Lastly, the episode reveals that Eleven is indeed still alive and living in secret with Hopper in his cabin, so that he can protect her from the government.
2 Best: "Chapter Six: The Spy" - 9.2
As the season continues to heat up, the doctors at Hawkins Lab discover that Will has a strange connection to the shadow monster, while Steve and his crew encounter a hoard of demodogs. The episode doesn’t have as much action as the next two episodes, but it successfully builds relationships between several characters.
Dustin starts to build a friendship with Steve after he recruits him to track down Dart. The unlikely friendship blossoms after Steve starts giving Dustin love advice, including the fact that he uses Farrah Fawcett hairspray. Nancy and Jonathan also make their way to Murray’s house, where the romantic tension between them finally becomes too much (which Murray predicted would happen).
1 Worst: "Chapter Two: The Weirdo On Maple Street" - 8.5
There are three episodes of Stranger Things that have scored an 8.5 on IMDb: “The Weirdo on Maple Street” (S1), “Trick or Treat, Freak” (S2), and “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard” (S3). “The Weirdo on Maple Street" takes this spot since it has the most user reviews, but that is likely because the episode has been out longer than the other two.
In the episode, fans get to find out a bit more about Eleven through a few backstories, while Hopper meets Joyce about a phone call that left her phone charred from a surge of electricity.