Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Stranger Things season 3!
A couple of key characters die during the events of Stranger Things season 3. Considering Stranger Things has a large ensemble cast, it's not surprising that not every character makes it out alive every season. There have been upsetting deaths in the past but one particular season 3 storyline will cut viewers' to their cores.
Stranger Things has featured heartwrenching deaths in the past. Viewers had trouble letting go of Barb (Shannon Purser) in season 1, and in season 2, Bob Newby (Sean Astin) took over as the beloved character who was unjustly killed. The series has teased other deaths such as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Will (Noah Schnapp) but they have been reluctant to kill off members of their young cast. Season 3 is different as it seemingly killed off a long-time fan favorite who played an integral role since the show debuted.
In a show that involves other dimensions, advanced technology, and people with supernatural abilities, it's hard to believe that some characters are permanently dead. For now, there's no reason to believe any of the characters suffered a different fate other than what was insinuated on-screen. With that said, here's a breakdown of every character killed in Stranger Things season 3.
Main Characters Who Die
The first major character who dies in Stranger Things season 3 is Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour). While Hopper and Joyce (Winona Ryder) try to put in the keys to turn off the machine, the Russian operative appears to stop them. The men face off in a violent fight as time starts to run out. The fight takes them outside of the communications room and directly next to the machine. Joyce uses a belt to turn both keys on her own. Hopper kills the Russian but he doesn't have time to get back into the room. In the excruciatingly sad scene, Hopper gives Joyce a look of acceptance as she turns the keys, shutting the machine off which in turn incinerates the people by the machine, including Hopper.
Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) is the second key victim this season. After Billy falls victim to the Mind Flayer in episode 1, he becomes the leader of the Flayed. He goes after Eleven all season and eventually gets his hands on her in episode 8. Billy takes the severely injured El to the center of Starcourt Mall to hand-deliver her to the new monster. Before it can attack her, El's friends distract with firework grenades. During the commotion, El tries to break Billy by talking about his mother. It works because Billy regains control over his body so he stands up to the monster. He blocks it from getting El but pierces his body repeatedly. As Billy dies on the floor, he apologizes to Max (Sadie Sink).
Other Characters Who Die
Dr. Alexei (Alec Utgoff) gets killed during the Hawkins Fun Fair. He and Murray (Brett Gelman) leave the car to explore the fairgrounds while Hopper and Joyce are looking for the kids. Alexei gets tickets to play carnival games and Murray leaves him alone to get them food. The Russian excitedly goes to join his new friend while the relentless Russian operative shows up and shoots Alexei with a silenced gun. He falls in Murray's arms and he later dies when Joyce goes to check on him.
In order for the new Mind Flayer monster to grow in size and power, it needed the Flayed army. According to the reports in Hawkins, 30 people died during the tragic "mall fire." In reality, that meant these were the 30 Hawkins citizens that were infected by the Mind Flayer to serve as his army, and later, his body. The people turn into goo before they fuse to the monster. They are already dead at that point but the monster is also killed when Joyce closes the gate. Here are a few of the notable characters that became Flayed victims.
- Heather Holloway (Francesca Reale)
- Tom Holloway (Michael Park)
- Bruce (Jake Busey)
- Mrs. Driscoll (Peggy Miley)
A number of Russians find themselves on the victim list during Stranger Things season 3. In the opening scene, when the Key malfunctioned in Russia, the scientists surrounding the machine are killed. The same thing happens in the season's last episode when Joyce turns off the Hawkins machine. Eleven crushes the Russian security agents that were hunting Steve (Joe Keery), Robin (Maya Hawke), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Erica (Priah Ferguson) in Starcourt. Hopper also kills a few of the soldiers as he arrives through the elevator with Joyce and Murray. He then kills the Russian special agent that followed him for the majority of the season.