Stranger Things is one of the most suspenseful and action-packed series airing on television right now. It’s impressive, really, considering about half of the series’ main characters are children under the age of 14. But season after season, the smash hit Netflix series proves that it’s one of the best in the game when it comes to delivering amazing action sequences and shocking twists.
Unlike typical action movies and other action-packed procedural series, however, Stranger Things boasts a unique kind of character-driven action, due in large part to the strength of its own cast of characters. Whether a child, a teenager, or an adult, the series’ characters are all incredibly strong in their own way, each having their own distinct roles and journeys. Here, we take a look at the ten most badass characters the series has introduced so far.
10 Murray Bauman
Sure, Murray might not be your conventional action hero character, but there’s no denying that the series’ resident conspiracy theorist is a total badass in his own right. In the series’ second season, it was Murray’s dogged pursuit of the truth regarding Barb’s disappearance that led to the truth about Hawkins Lab being exposed.
In the third season, it’s Murray’s keen skills with Russian translation that allow Hopper and Joyce to learn the truth from Alexei about the current Russian experiments. He also manages to get the three of them into the Russian base with those same skills and proves that he’s also quite handy with a rifle.
9 Max Mayfield
It’s easy to write Max’s character off as a brat since she’s got one of the more aggressive personalities out of the group of children in the series. But across both of the seasons she’s appeared in, Max has revealed herself to have her own secret badass streak, despite the struggles she’s experienced in her own upbringing.
In the second season, Max drugs her abusive older brother, Billy, and threatens to beat him with a bat if he doesn’t start to shape up his act. And in the third season, when Billy is possessed by the Mind Flayer, she stands her ground, fearlessly facing him down and trying to get through to him on multiple occasions, no matter how afraid she is.
8 Nancy Wheeler
The Nancy Wheeler we leave at the end of Stranger Things 3 is practically a completely different young woman from the Nancy we met way back in the series’ pilot. Originally introduced as a total good girl with a secret desire to break free from what’s expected of her, Nancy soon revealed her investigative nature, hunting monsters with Jonathan and wielding a bat and gun alike.
Over the years, she’s grown quite skilled in fighting monsters, exposing large scale conspiracies, and tackling sexism in the workplace. In the third season, she even gets a few action sequences of her own, fighting men possessed by the Flayer and squaring off with the slimy beast itself.
7 Bob Newby
When Bob was a high school student in Hawkins, he was known as Bob the Brain. But as the second season of Stranger Things showed, even the nerdiest of boys can grow up to be a total unexpected badass. After spending most of the second season as the supportive and geeky boyfriend of Joyce Byers, Bob became the hero everyone needed as the season neared its end.
As a crisis arose at Hawkins Lab that could only be solved by someone with a familiarity with computer programming, Bob rose to the task and saved the day, braving certain death in the form of invading Demodogs to ensure the safety of the Byers family and friends. Though he tragically lost his life in the process, Bob secured his place in the history of the show as Bob Newby: Superhero.
6 Billy Hargrove
It was practically impossible to like Billy Hargrove in the series’ second season. A one-note bully with a real penchant for sexism and racism, Billy was one of the series most underdeveloped characters. But the third season changed everything. In Stranger Things 3, Billy was possessed by the villainous Mind Flayer, serving as its new human host.
Multiple times throughout the season, Billy challenged the strength of the Flayer’s hold, letting his own personality and psyche peer through in desperate attempts to communicate. At the season’s end, Billy finally broke free of the monster’s grasp, physically fighting the enormous beast and giving his life in an attempt to save the nearby children, including his own step-sister, Max.
5 Will Byers
For three years, Will Byers has been fighting the control of Demogorgons and Mind Flayers alike, routinely proving himself to be one of the strongest characters in the series in the process. In the first season, Will survived the torture of the Upside Down, beating all the odds. In the second season, he endured being possessed by the Mind Flayer, surviving the beast’s otherworldly control and letting his family know he was still there all along.
And in the third season, despite taking more of a backseat role, Will continued to prove that his strength and skills were one of the series’ most valuable assets, as his understanding of and connection with the Mind Flayer were immensely valuable.
4 Joyce Byers
From day one, various characters have questioned Joyce Byers’ fitness as a parent. But again and again, Joyce has shown that she’s one of the only characters in the series who has been totally paying attention and one of the only parents in the series who will go to any lengths to keep her child safe. Her strength and badassery in the series’ first season are unparalleled, whether in chewing out her jerk of an ex or venturing into the Upside Down to save her son.
In the second season, she stormed Hawkins Lab to demand answers for her son and took on the leadership role in the essential exorcism of the Mind Flayer from Will. And in the third season, she showed that she has what it takes to cut it as Detective Byers, beating up Mayor Kline and kicking ass and taking names while undercover.
As one of its many homages to decades past, Stranger Things 3 introduced the character of Grigori, the Russian assassin assigned to take out characters like Alexei and Jim Hopper. A total homage to The Terminator, Grigori was ruthless, aggressively physical, and skilled at wielding most any kind of weapon.
Aided with a badass wardrobe, including leather and bulletproof vests, as well as a motorcycle for a quick getaway, Grigori is the first character that the series has introduced who has truly felt like nothing more than a killing machine. It’s ironic, then, that he winds up being killed by a machine. But the path of destruction he weaves throughout the season changes the show forever.
2 Jim Hopper
As the Chief of Police in Hawkins, Jim Hopper undergoes one of the biggest transformations in the series. When the show begins, he’s bumbling and clueless, weighed down by self-loathing and alcohol addiction. But as he becomes aware of the corruption and conspiracy going on in his own backyard, Hopper quickly gets into action hero mode and never really looks back.
He knocks security guards out without so much as a second thought and mows down the monsters of the Upside Down and evil foreign scientists alike. He beats the crap out of the corrupt Mayor Kline, refuses to give in during brutal interrogations at Hawkins Lab, protects his found family with his life, and heroically sacrifices himself to ensure the safety of those he loves.
Eleven may have had a truly terrible upbringing, but as a result of being trained to be a weapon of super-powered destruction, this little girl has routinely shown herself to be a pint-sized powerhouse. She has killed countless people throughout the series’ run, all without raising a finger. Her telekinetic abilities may cause her to have a bloody nose, but the blood she has shed far outnumbers it.
She’s killed corrupt agents of Hawkins Lab and Russian guards, and she’s defeated Demogorgons, Demodogs, and Mind Flayers alike. She’s risked her life on countless occasions, even straining herself to the point of physical exhaustion and harm, all so that she can keep her friends and newly found family safe.
NEXT: Stranger Things: 10 Things That Make No Sense About Eleven