Stranger Things has been on our screens for 25 episodes, spread over 3 seasons. Over this time we’ve seen our favorite Hawkins residents encounter Demogorgons, Mind Flayers and spend time in the sinister Upside Down.
As we’ve watched the story of the residents of this small town in Indiana, we’ve encountered a roller-coaster of emotions. Stranger Things can have you laughing one minute and crying the next but which parts really tugged on your heart-strings? Here are Stranger Things 10 most heartbreaking moments, ranked.
10 Eleven’s Disappearance
At the end of season 1 Eleven vanishes. The moment is all the more heartbreaking when contrasted with events just moments before. She goes from kissing Mike at the Snow Ball, to fighting off agents trying to capture her.
After the Demogorgon threatens her friends Eleven steps in to fight it, and vanishes. While we later see Hopper leave some food in a box in the woods we don’t truly know Eleven’s fate until season 2 begins, leaving us on a heartbreaking climax. Even once we know Eleven is ok, we see that Mike has no idea. She remains hidden for most of the series, while we have to watch Mike’s heartbreak.
9 Will’s Possession
After Will came back from the Upside Down everyone thought the worst was over. Sadly this was not the case as the Mind Flayer got to grips with him.
Will arrives back with an unwelcome visitor, the shadow monster who is in his head. As season 2 continues, the destruction of Will’s mental health is heartbreaking to watch, as he begins to see terrifying visions.
The climax is when his mother has to exorcize the Mind Flayer from him, using a ridiculous amount of heat. While it ends well, the journey is difficult to watch.
8 Barb’s Demise
Barb never gets her chance to shine in Stranger Things. She vanishes early on after Nancy leaves her alone to spend some time with Steve after a party. The intention is that she goes home, except she never gets that far.
Witnessed by Jonathan, Barb’s disappearance is sudden and unexpected. The effect it has on Nancy, who is racked with guilt, lasts throughout the show. The final straw is when she’s finally found in the Upside Down and any hope that she’d follow Will out is quickly extinguished.
7 Brenner’s Experiments
Over time we learn more about Brenner’s lab beneath the surface of Hawkins. We see how he treated Eleven and eventually discover that she wasn’t the only one subjected to his experiments. While he considered himself a father figure, he was far from loving.
Eleven’s upbringing is both heartbreaking and sad. She spent her entire childhood in a lab, never even seeing daylight until she escaped. Every so often her misunderstandings send you right back to the realization that both her and Eight, known as Kali, spent years as lab rats.
6 Billy’s Redemption
Billy is characterized as a nasty guy from the start. He is incredibly mean to both his sister and to Steve. Bullying and aggressive we see a huge amount of anger and resentment in him. Over time we discover that the reason is due to his father and the abuse he hands out.
Eleven manages to connect with Billy, linking him back to his past and reminding him of the boy he was when his mother was still around. Tapping into his childhood memories leads to a redemption and Billy sacrifices himself to save Eleven and his step-sister Max, who he apologizes to in his final moments.
5 Bob’s Heroics
Bob Newby was a true hero. He came into Joyce’s life and brought sunshine and happiness. The pair were constantly laughing and he was a great role model for the boys. Hardworking and selfless, we all thought Hawkins could use more people like him. Then season 2 happened.
After resetting the breakers in the lab, so Joyce, Hopper, Mike and Will can escape, it looks like Bob has saved the day. He gets within feet of the door before he is dispatched by a pack of monsters, right in front of Joyce’s eyes.
4 Eleven’s Mother Terry
As part of Eleven’s journey in season 2 we meet her mother, Terry. We are shown flashbacks of Terry trying desperately to rescue Eleven from the lab but failing. She was caught and given electroshock treatment, resulting in life-changing effects.
The treatment has left her trapped and catatonic, stuck forever in her own head with only memories of Eleven, who she had named Jane. Her story is one of the most heartbreaking side stories in the entire series.
3 Hopper’s Ending
Hopper’s ending was one of the biggest shocks of season 3. While trying to destroy the machine holding open the gate Hopper ends up in the gate room, while Joyce is in the control room. He motions to her to destroy it, an act which will disintegrate everyone in the room he’s currently occupying.
This would rank higher if it wasn’t for the fact that we see no evidence of Hopper’s remains afterward. All we see is a final mid-credits sequence in which the Russians are talking about prisoners, including an American.
2 Eleven’s Heartbreak
Somehow Hopper’s end isn’t the most heartbreaking moment in the final episode. What’s much harder to take is the sequence in which Joyce hands over a note from Hopper to Eleven. The note was a speech, which he wrote but never managed to deliver. It talks all about their relationship and how much he cares for her.
Watching Eleven experience the heartbreak of losing the only decent father figure she’s ever known is one of the most heart wrenching and powerful moments in the show.
1 The Briers Moving
Season 3 ends with the Briers moving. Their entire home is packed up in a van and Will, Jonathan, Joyce and Eleven leave the town. This moment is one which we know will change the future of everyone’s lives forever.
It splits up Nancy and Jonathan, takes Will away from his friends and breaks up the newly reunited couple of Eleven and Mike. The gang isn’t all back together for a happy ending, instead, their future is uncertain and appears to be taking place in different towns. Heartbreaking.