The Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things premiered in 2016 on Netflix. Its innovative approach to supernatural horror and science-fiction themes reinvented the genre. Its narrative is thoroughly engaging, but Stranger Things owes a lot of its commercial and influential success to its ensemble cast. With the fourth season on the horizon, there’s no better time to get properly acquainted with the talented actors behind the loveable characters. Here is a rundown of the main cast and characters in Stranger Things.
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
Millie Bobby Brown achieved acclaim for her role as Eleven, legally known as Jane Hopper, a psychokinetic and telepathic teenager and experiment of Hawkins Laboratory. Eleven has substantial popularity as a character amongst Stranger Things fanatics.
Brown made her feature debut as Madison Russell, the lead role in the monster film Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and reprised the character in the sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). She also starred in and produced the Netflix mystery film, Enola Holmes (2020).
Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler
Finn Wolfhard is most known for portraying Mike Wheeler, a loyal, innocent, and prototypical ’80s teenager. Mike spearheads the teen-led operation to uncover the mysteries behind Will Byers’ disappearance.
Another recognizable role for Wolfhard is his portrayal of Richie Tozier in the film adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, It (2017), and its sequel, It: Chapter Two (2019). Additionally, he played Boris Pavlikovsky in the drama film, The Goldfinch (2019), and provided the voice of Pugsley Addams in The Addams Family (2019). Wolfhard made his directorial debut with the comedy short film, Night Shifts (2020).
Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
An irreplaceable addition to the Stranger Things cast, Joyce Byers, played by acting sensation, Winona Ryder, financially struggles as a single mother to her two sons, Jonathan and Will Byers. Tremendously benevolent, Joyce will do whatever it takes to protect those that she cares about.
Ryder made her film debut in Lucas (1986) and gained notoriety with her performance as Lydia Deetz in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988). Furthermore, Winona Ryder rose to prominence with major roles in Heathers (1989), Mermaids (1990), Edward Scissorhands (1990).
For portraying her Stranger Things character, Joyce Byers, she has received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations.
David Harbour as Jim Hopper
Another beloved Stranger Things character is none other than the small-town cop, Jim Hopper, portrayed by David Harbour. Hopper is the Chief of Police in Hawkins, Indiana and soon became the adoptive father of Eleven.
Harbour gained recognition for portraying Jim Hopper as part of the Stranger Things ensemble cast, which led to notable roles within blockbuster franchises such as playing the title character in the superhero film, Hellboy (2019) and “Red Guardian” in Marvel’s Black Widow (2021).
Before that, David Harbour had supporting roles in the likes of Brokeback Mountain (2005), Quantum of Solace (2008), and The Green Hornet (2011).
Noah Schnapp as Will Byers
Noah Schnapp, originally auditioning for Mike Wheeler, landed the role of Will Byers, a troubled teenager whose disappearance is the plot focus of Stranger Things‘ debut season. Will was abducted by the Demogorgon and taken to another dimension known as The Upside Down.
Schnapp’s significant film roles include his first on-screen portraying Roger Donovan in Steven Spielberg’s historical drama, Bridge of Spies (2015), and providing the voice of Charlie Brown in the animation, The Peanuts Movie (2015).
As Will Byers, he won the Choice Summer TV Star award in 2019 – a title which he currently upholds.
Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson
Within his friend group, including Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair, Eleven, Will Byers, and Max Mayfield, Dustin observes unity amongst his peers; he is often the voice of reason and subsequently resolves conflict.
Dustin Henderson is portrayed by Gaten Matarazzo, who began his career on Broadway as Benjamin in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and as Gavroche in Les Misérables. Moreover, besides starring in Stranger Things as a fan-favorite character, Matarazzo hosts the Netflix show, Prank Encounters.
Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair
Lucas Sinclair is initially a supernatural cynic following his encounter with Eleven; Lucas is the plausible and pragmatic member of the friend group, attesting to his wariness around Eleven and reluctance to believe in otherworldly forces. Sinclair is another invaluable character within Stranger Things‘ stellar cast.
Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas, previously performed on Broadway as Young Simba in the musical, The Lion King, but McLaughlin made his feature film debut in 2020, starring in Ricky Staub’s Concrete Cowboy alongside Idris Elba and Jharrel Jerome.
In 2017, McLaughlin won the BET YoungStars Award, and in 2018, he won Outstanding Performance by a Youth at the NAACP Image Awards.
Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler
Nancy Wheeler is the hyper-intelligent and studious former girlfriend of Steve Harrington and current girlfriend of Jonathan Byers. She has tremendous amounts of bravery and resolve in the face of danger, going to great lengths to save those in need.
Natalia Dyer’s first screen role was as Clarissa Granger in Hannah Montana: The Movie in 2009. In 2011, she appeared in The Greening of Whitney Brown. Afterward, she starred in the indie film, I Believe in Unicorns, which premiered in 2014 at SXSW.
Following her starring role in Stranger Things, in 2019, Dyer starred as Coco in the Netflix horror film, Velvet Buzzsaw. Nancy Wheeler was a stand-out for viewers from the get-go and Dyer remains an admired member of the Stranger Things cast.
Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers
Jonathan Byers, the older brother to Will Byers, is an independently introverted soul and misunderstood social outcast. Jonathan is family-oriented and a fond lover of animals, given that he cried for a week after his father forced him to shoot a rabbit on a hunting trip.
In 2015, Charlie Heaton made his acting debut with the ITV crime drama series, DCI Banks, playing the role of Gary McCready. Following the recognition, he guest-starred in BBC One’s medical drama series, Casualty, as Jason Waycott.
Following the success of Stranger Things, Heaton was cast as Samuel “Sam” Guthrie / Cannonball in Marvel’s New Mutants (2020).
Joe Keery as Steve Harrington
At the beginning of Stranger Things, Steve Harrington was known as a stereotypical popular boy with a terrible personality. He bullied Jonathan Byers and was a bad influence on his at-the-time girlfriend, Nancy Wheeler. As the show progressed, Steve became more likeable and showcased his redeeming qualities.
Before his breakout role in Stranger Things, Joe Keery appeared in KFC, Domino’s, and amiibo commercials, and had roles in Empire and Chicago Fire. His first appearance in a full-length film was in Stephen Cone’s indie, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party.
After earning credit for portraying Steve Harrington as part of the Stranger Things ensemble cast, Keery’s formerly unlikeable “bad boy” character led him to even greater heights. He starred in major roles in Spree (2020) and Free Guy (2021).
Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield
Last, but certainly not least, Max Mayfield, the newcomer to the friend group, becomes Lucas Sinclair’s girlfriend. Max is a tomboy and has many interests that are “unconventional” for girls, but her headstrong personality makes her exceedingly likeable.
Max is portrayed by Sadie Sink, whose most recent role was Ziggy Berman in the Netflix horror film trilogy, Fear Street (2021). Before that, Sink has acting credits on Broadway in Annie and The Audience. In 2019, she starred in Netflix’s horror film, Eli. Upcoming projects include starring in the American Drama Film, Dear Zoe, as Tess DeNunzio, and a psychological drama film, The Whale.
Stranger Things is scheduled to return in Summer 2022.