Netflix's Stranger Things presented us with some fierce and loyal friendships throughout its three seasons. We see how our initial four friends (Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin) support and fight for each other. Other friends get added to the team, such as the powerful El and the blunt Max. While Season 3 focuses more on romantic relationships, the friendships still remain core to the show.
However, many of our characters are also in sibling pairs, too. Some of the sibling pairs have tight relationships, others don't. Some sibling pairs are extremely powerful or smart or capable separately, but may not team up often.
In ranking our sibling pairs and friendship pairs, we're looking not just at their powers, but their connection to each other. While our focus is on the kids and teens, we want to acknowledge that Joyce, Hopper, and Murray are adult friendship goals, too.
10 Sibling Pair: Max and Billy
Ranking lowest on our list is Max and Billy. Max spends much of her time afraid of Billy, and that's before he gets possessed by the Mind Flayer. Billy comes across as a bully, redeemed only by his sacrifice and the knowledge that he was abused. However, both Max and Billy are strong and valuable to any fight because they have an inner strength and an ability to fight through the fear.
When Max finds out that El saw Billy doing something terrible, rather than hide, she fights through the fear by investigating. Later, when El is hurt, Max knows how to take care of the wound. Billy, taken over by the Mind Flayer, still manages to retain a bit of himself, unlike the others who were taken over. It's because he's holding on to the memory of his mother at the beach that El can reach him.
9 Friend Pair: Will and Mike
Although we'd like to add the full team here, it's clear that Will and Mike share a tighter bond. In Season 2, when Will is back, Mike tries to protect him. Later in Season 3, Will calls out Mike for being distant and not as engaged as a friend.
Will's outburst affects Mike, and Mike gathers Lucas to find Will so they both can apologize to him. These friends care about each other, and we hope that they continue to be in touch even though Will has moved away.
8 Sibling Pair: Lucas and Erica
These two aren't particularly close but their relationship makes us laugh. While Erica can believe that all these incredible things have happened, she can't believe that her brother helped save the day. Still, both Erica and Lucas share two important strengths: bravery and ingenuity.
Though neither is supernaturally powerful, they both risk their own safety to help others. Initially, Erica does it for capital gain (limitless ice cream) but she seems to change towards the end of Season 3. Whereas Lucas may argue with his friends, he is still there in a heartbeat when needed. They both use their skills to help out others. Erica uses her math smarts, and Lucas uses his knowledge of firecrackers. Both of these skills came in handy in Season 3 during the final fights.
7 Friend Pair: Max and El
Season 3 gave us what we didn't know that we needed: a friendship between Max and El. We particularly loved their mall montage and the slumber parties. Max coached El in how to discover herself through her style and to figure out what she wanted.
In return El helped Max with Billy. Despite how awful Billy had been to Max, she still cared about him. El understood this and didn't give up on Billy, partly because of Max. They both complemented each other and their friendship was joyful and became loyal.
6 Sibling Pair: El and Eight (Kali)
Eight, otherwise known as Kali, is introduced in Season 2. She shows us that Hawkins Laboratory has been doing experiments on kids for a long time and that El (or Eleven) is not completely unique. This introduces new possibilities for more seasons. Who are the other test subjects? What powers do they have?
In terms of power, this sibling pair is obviously the most powerful. They are also bonded by their shared trauma. However, they recall only a limited amount of their time together, and they seem to have created better families out of their friends than with each other. They don't have that fierce loyalty and protection we see of the siblings who grew up together in a more traditional way. Still, we'd love to see their sibling connection develop more in another season.
5 Friend Pair: Nancy and Jonathan
While these two became a couple, they started out as friends. As such, they supported each other, fought the impossible together, and became stronger.
It's great to have seen both develop their survival skills as well as their ability to bypass fear in order to save the day. We understand why Will and Mike are strong; it seems to run in their genes, demonstrated by their older siblings, Jonathan and Nancy.
4 Sibling Pair: Nancy and Mike
Nancy and Mike don't appear to have that tight of a bond. However, they both have a similar set of morals, are willing to fight for the common good, and are keen investigators. At one point in Season 3, when Nancy confides to her mom, Karen, she tells her that most people would give up but not Nancy. She tells Nancy that she keeps trying because she is a fighter.
While we see this more with Nancy throughout her character arc, Mike is also a fighter and a natural leader. If these two would work together more often, we wonder what they could achieve.
3 Friend Pair: Robin and Steve
Robin was a welcome addition to Stranger Things and she and Steve work together. They bond over their work and their mission to save the world. Both can joke with each other as well as count on one another. At one point, Steve tells her that he likes her. However, Robin is not straight, and she comes out to Steve.
This vulnerable moment must have been hard for Robin, but Steve shows up as a friend for her--putting aside his own feelings. He is there for her, fully present, and they joke about the girl that Robin liked. It is a tender moment, one that not only shows how far Steve has come since Season 1, but also the beginnings of a great friendship.
2 Sibling Pair: Will and Jonathan
This sibling pair has the tightest bond of all the siblings. They care for each other and even separately, they are strong. Though quiet, Jonathan is willing to fight and protect. He is the ultimate big brother.
While many may think that Will is weak as he had to be saved in the first two seasons, he's probably the strongest of the crew (excluding El). He survived in the alternate world for a large length of time, protecting himself and figuring out a way to communicate with Joyce. In addition, he survived being possessed by the Mind Flayer in Season 2. Like Billy, he retained pieces of himself, meaning that he wasn't fully possessed. Later he retained knowledge of the Mind Flayer, which helped everyone in Season 3.
When they're together, it's clear to see how much Will and Jonathan mean to each other. Their sibling bond is a tight one, and for that primarily that reason, they are the best sibling pair.
1 Friend Pair: Steve and Dustin
No friendship can top Steve and Dustin's. It arrived somewhat unexpectedly, but by Season 3, we see how strong their bond is. Dustin returns from camp only to feel like he doesn't connect to the old crew. However, when he goes to see Steve, the joy they display in seeing each other shows that their friendship is strong.
Additionally, they work together well in figuring out codes (with Robin's help, of course) and in saving each other. These two have one incredibly beautiful friendship, one that can sustain despite time and distance. We hope to see more of it in the next season!