Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield in Stranger Things
The 13 Saddest Stranger Things Deaths, Ranked

From mild tears to high-key traumatizing.

by Ani Bundel

Since the Upside Down first opened, tragedy has rolled out in its wake. The press asks if Hawkins is cursed in every season of Stranger Things as the body count rises. But in a town where the body count will only increase by the end of Stranger Things 5, some deaths stand out more than others. So, let’s talk about the saddest Stranger Things deaths over the last four installments.

Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things 4 follow. The list of victims and murders predates the opening of the Upside Down in November 1983. Beginning in 1959, Henry Creel was already taking out innocent rabbits — and innocent humans. Alice and Virginia Creel perished at his hands, and his father was sent away for it.

But those deaths weren’t the only ones that affected Hawkins’ heroes before the show’s start. From Sarah Hopper dying of cancer as a child, leaving Jim a grieving father, to Eleven’s memories of her mother being dragged off, everyone comes to Hawkins with various baggage. Perhaps that’s why they can deal with what’s happening better than most would be expected to.

Here’s a rundown of those who the Upside Down has taken, ranked by how much it hurt.


The Mind Flayer’s Victims


Of all the collective murders of Hawkins’ residents, Season 3’s friends and neighbors who were possessed and then discarded by the Mind Flayer ranks at the bottom of the list.

Some were more sympathetic than others; for example, poor Heather Holloway didn’t deserve her fate. On the other hand, her father was terrible. Doris Driscoll was a paranoid old lady who never asked to be melted down to give the Mind Flayer a physical form. The death of Nancy’s sexist coworker, Bruce Lowe, may have given fans some satisfaction.

Since some of these deaths weren’t too heartbreaking, it was hard for viewers to feel sorry for the group overall. However, these small-time victims add to an overall tragedy, and therefore, they belong on this list.


Various FBI, CIA, & Federal Agents

The same can be said for many of the federal agents who have found themselves on the wrong side of a Demogorgon, demo dog, the Mind Flayer, or even Eleven herself over the last few seasons.

From Season 1’s Connie Frazier to Season 4’s Agent Harmon, these people varied from innocent victims to people who 100% deserved to suffer. Many of the unnamed scientists and orderlies may have just been following orders, but considering what they saw, it’s hard to consider them victims. However, the loss of life, as a collective, is a reminder of the sad waste this Upside Down experiment caused.


Martin Brenner


Dr. Brenner nearly died multiple times in this series, from One’s initial attack on the lab to the Demogorgon’s escape from the Upside Down. But the series kept bringing him back. He’s the architect of everything that occurs, and his demise is one the audience has waited for.

But that doesn’t mean his ultimate passing wasn’t a tragic moment. Though “Papa” never treated Eleven the way she deserved, and his entire experiment ripped children away from their parents, he did love the girl in his own twisted way. As the only parental figure Eleven knew other than Hopper and Joyce, she loved Brenner back, despite all he’d done. Brenner’s ending was a long time coming, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.


Alexei & Other Russians

In the same way Brenner’s passing gave fans a bit of a thrill, viewers were here for the deaths of many of the Russian characters introduced starting in Season 3, when the USSR got involved in trying to tap the Upside Down. Most had already seen what the Upside Down could do to people; their spycraft meant they knew about Brenner’s experiments and what happened in the Lab. But in their hubris, they assumed they could do it better. Some of those who died didn’t deserve much sympathy, like Ivan, Oleg, and Grigori. But those like Alexei were good guys, trapped in bad situations, and unlike most of those who were taken en masse, they fought hard for the side of right before they passed. Thanks, comrades.


The Kids In Hawkins Lab


Of all the minor characters whose fates weren’t deserved, the children of MKUltra were victims who are highly mourned — even the older bullies, like Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six. Never forget that hurt people hurt people, and these kids were merely taking back what little control they could find in their horrible conditions.

For all these kids, most of whom never knew their parents, their names, or where they came from, being decimated at One’s hands was the worst way they could have gone.


Chrissy Cunningham, Fred Benson, & Patrick McKinney

Unlike the Mind Flayers’ mass murder of Hawkins residents, Vecna was strategic in who he took out. His victims were traumatized teens, designed to horrify residents and get the attention of Will and Eleven.

It worked. But three kids who were already suffering lost their lives in the process. Chrissy, who could have been the perfect girl for Eddie, was gone too soon. Fred Benson, a poor dweeb who never got to blossom, was also taken too early. And Patrick, who so carefully hid his terrible home life, could never become heroically well adjusted. They all deserve a moment of silence.


Billy Hargrove

Of all the kids who maybe didn’t deserve what happened to them, Billy Hargrove is at the top of the list. Billy was a horrid jerk — self-centered, small-minded, and thoughtlessly cruel. But he was never given a chance, like Steve was, to see there’s a world bigger than himself.

Unlike Steve, who at least came from a stable family, Billy did not. His father was abusive, and he passed that physical abuse down to Max. And yet, when it came time to make a choice, to sacrifice himself to save Hawkins or greedily keep living, Billy did the right thing. That’s the real tragedy of his story. He could have been someone who found his inner hero when the going got tough. Sadly, that moment came too late.



Most Demogorgons, demo dogs, and demo bats are mindless predators who swarm on instinct. But one pup proved that nature versus nurture could make a difference. The demo dog Dustin raised from a hatchling, known as Dart, was a monster, let’s be clear. But he was a monster who loved his master, and his demise at the end of Season 2 was as heartbreaking as any innocent animal’s.




Do you know who never got justice? Mews.

Do you know who will never forget that Dustin sacrificed a cat for Dart’s dinner? This cat lady right here.


Barbara Holland

The outcry over the murder of Barb while Nancy abandoned her to hang with Steve was the original flashpoint taking Stranger Things from an undermarketed gem to a mainstream hit. It was an accident of fate. Viewers were tired of the trope of killing teenage girls — especially the ones who don’t have sex and make it home by curfew — and they took to Twitter and changed the course of the show.

To this day, the Duffers have not finished atoning for what they did to Barb. The entire Season 2 script was rewritten to create a “Justice for Barb” storyline, and Vecna uses images of the Demogorgon taking Barb to trap Nancy in Season 4, Volume 1. Barb’s been mourned enough by now, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve every tear shed.


Bob Newby

Bob Newby would never live to see the end of Season 2. It was right there in his affable nature and hilariously meta name. But Joyce genuinely loved him; he was the first happiness she’d found since Jonathan and Will’s father left.

Moreover, Bob’s passing was the kind of sacrifice a good man and father makes for his kids. No matter how much Jonathan and Will rebelled against Bob’s entire existence in their mother’s life, he was a force for good and a role model for them both to follow. RIP Bob.


Max Mayfield

Max is No. 2 on this list because she’s technically still alive, having been brought back by Eleven using the power of her happy memories. But Eleven didn’t bring her back completely. Max is in a serious coma, and it will likely take a miracle of Eleven’s powers to fix that.

However, it’s more important to remember Max’s survival was technically a resurrection. Vecna won. He got his fourth victim, and the gate between worlds is now open. Audiences should mourn Max, even as she breathes, knowing she did all she could to save Hawkins, and it still wasn’t enough.


Eddie Munson


This list shows Hawkins has lost a large swath of the population over the last four seasons. Each of those deaths is a tragedy in some way. But Stranger Things 4 marks the first time the gang lost one of their own.

Bob may have known about the Upside Down and fought it, but he was part of the adult crew, not the primary gang of kids. Barb never got to be part of the crew of outcasts; she was taken too soon. Billy was an antagonist until his final moments. Max is still alive, though barely. But Eddie, who filled a particular nerd niche for this group of high schoolers, was one of their own. He was the first recruit who never needed any evidence or persuasion that the Upside Down existed, as his life of fantasy reading prepared him for this battle. He spoke their language, shared their experiences, and fought beside them.

And he sacrificed himself to save Hawkins, even though Hawkins will probably never know or thank him. Blast a guitar riff for Eddie, friends. May his memory live on.