Captivating audiences from the beginning, Stranger Things is probably the most famous show on Netflix, and one of the most popular of all time. With witty writing, mind-blowing monsters, and an exceptionally talented cast, the series has already become a classic, and it has only aired two seasons at this time.
Like most shows, characters and their relationships are one of the most intriguing and important aspects, and few series write and portray relationships as well as Stranger Things does. This show has bonds that make audiences swoon, as well as the dynamics that are very deserving of hate. Stranger Things manages to write relationships in an absolutely intriguing way, so let's take a look at five of their best, and five of their worst.
10 Worst: Steve Harrington and Nancy Wheeler
Steve was not always the fan-favorite babysitter that everyone loves. What makes his evolution so well-done and interesting is the fact that he was little more than a stereotypical hot-headed jock in the beginning of Stranger Things.
In season 1, Steve was not given much of an arc outside of his relationship with Nancy. Their dynamic was quite dysfunctional, as they simply weren't compatible with each other. They're romance, which ended early on in season 2, may not have been a fan-favorite, but it did play a part in Steve's eventual evolution into becoming one of the most heroic characters on the show. For that, everyone is grateful.
9 Best: Joyce Byers and Bob Newby
Season 2 revealed a romance between Joyce and RadioShack manager, Bob Newby. Their relationship had developed offscreen but was nonetheless adorable. Joyce's previous relationship was with Jonathan and Will's father, Lonnie, who had been very abusive. So to see her develop a romance with soft-spoken Bob was simply very sweet.
Bob was the founder of the Hawkins Middle AV Club, a task he accomplished himself by starting a fundraiser. He was a shown to be a sweet, down-to-earth guy, and was supportive of Joyce at every turn. Tragically, Bob met his demise before season 2 concluded, but fans will never forget this superhero and his beautiful relationship with Joyce.
8 Worst: Lucas Sinclair and Max Mayfield
Stranger Things usually exceeds its' audience's expectations by creating intense, original storylines, characters, and relationships. In most cases, Stranger Things manages to break stereotypes and put an intriguing twist on tired tropes.
But when it came to the dynamic between Max and Lucas—and in fact, the entire introduction of Max Mayfield's character—the Duffer Brothers kind of dropped the ball. Max was introduced in Stranger Things' second season, and with her came a collection of overused tropes that felt out of place in such a progressive series. Lucas and Max's relationship was fraught with cliches, especially with the fact that the very notion of their bond presented a rift between Lucas and Dustin's friendship. This love triangle was not needed, nor was the ultimate relationship itself.
7 Best: Will and Jonathan Byers
The friendships between the main boys—Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will—is undeniably great. It's endearing to watch and it contributes a lot to the nostalgic vibe that Stranger Things is so well known for. But a frequently unappreciated bond is that of brothers Will and Jonathan Byers.
These two's dynamic has been a focal point throughout the series, but due to the fact that Will has disappeared into the Upside Down multiple times, the brothers have not gotten a lot of screen time together. It would be beautiful to see more focus on developing this brotherly bond in season 3.
6 Worst: Karen and Ted Wheeler
The parents in Stranger Things tend to take a backseat. Mike and Nancy's parents, Karen and Ted Wheeler, are no exception. But that doesn't make their relationship any less cringe-worthy. Though they have been married for years and have three children, Ted and Karen seem to be completely absent from each other's lives. Their marriage has gone stale, and Stranger Things commonly portrays them as being a couple who have fallen out of love. The nature of their relationship infuriates Nancy, and their ignorance puts them in line with so many stereotypical parents from kids' shows and movies. Unlike Lucas' parents who have only been onscreen together once and managed to capture fans' hearts, Ted and Karen are tired and depressing.
5 Best: Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper
Being one of Stranger Things most intriguing relationships, Joyce and Hopper's dynamic is definitely a fan-favorite. Having known each other since high school, the familiarity between these two served to make their relationship all the more endearing. In season 1, Hopper played a big role in saving Will from the grasp of the Mind Flayer. The multiple intense rescue missions throughout the entire series have strengthened Hopper and Joyce's relationship and brought them together as very close friends. It's safe to say that nearly the entire Stranger Things fanbase is hoping for something more between these two in the upcoming season.
4 Worst: Mike Wheeler and Eleven/Jane Ives
With the better part of their cast being made up of adolescences, Stranger Things provides its share of teen angst and drama for the young adult demographic. Mike and Eleven are both major characters in the series, and their relationship is an integral aspect of many storylines.
But their relationship did not need to be romantic in order to be important. Their friendship was endearing, but Stranger Things went beyond that to portray a romance between two twelve-year-olds, and sometimes watching that can just be uncomfortable. Not every relationship needs romance to be significant.
3 Best: Nancy Wheeler and Jonathan Byers
Capturing fans' hearts from their very first awkward interactions in Stranger Things' first season, Jonathan and Nancy definitely have one of the most iconic, adorable dynamics on the entire show. They bonded over their tumultuous adventures in the Upside Down.
Nancy and Jonathan's dynamic is one that Stranger Things has been building on since the very beginning. They had the chemistry, the adorable awkwardness, the longing gazes, and soon became a fan-favorite couple. Their romance blossomed in season 2, touching the hearts of viewers everywhere. Seeing them in an established romantic relationship is one of the most anticipated aspects of the upcoming season.
2 Worst: Joyce and Lonnie Byers
Lonnie was established as an antagonist early on in Stranger Things by being so absent from his sons' lives that he doesn't even respond when Joyce calls him with the news that Will has gone missing. Throughout season 1, Lonnie was revealed to be extremely disrespectful and abusive toward not only Joyce but both Jonathan and Will, as well. Not only is he a horribly vile man to his entire family, but Lonnie also manages to temporarily block off the portal in Joyce's house that leads to the Upside Down, making it impossible for Will to escape. Though Lonnie was on the show briefly, he managed to cause a lot of turmoil, and it was heartbreaking to watch Joyce have to endure that.
1 Best: Jim Hopper and Eleven/Jane Ives
Jim Hopper has one of the most tragic backstories on the show. Having lost his young daughter to cancer and then having his marriage fall apart as a result, no one can deny that Jim is very deserving of a happy ending. In season 2, it's revealed that Hopper has taken Eleven in, living with her in a secluded cabin to keep her safe. The two have grown close, and it's clear that Hopper is protecting Eleven as if she were his own. Their surrogate father/daughter relationship is completely adorable, and Stranger Things writers did the arc justice when they had Hopper officially adopt Eleven at the end of the season. With all that they've both been through, the fact that they've found family in one another is absolutely beautiful.