The Worst Episodes of Stranger Things: When Hawkins Went From Strange to Strained

Stranger Things, the Netflix original sci-fi thriller, has taken the world by storm since its debut in 2016. With its 80s nostalgia, supernatural elements, and a cast of lovable characters, it’s no surprise that the show has amassed a dedicated fanbase. However, even the best shows have their missteps, and Stranger Things is no exception. As a fellow TV show enthusiast, I’ve taken it upon myself to compile a list of the worst episodes of Stranger Things. So grab some Eggos and settle in, because we’re about to dive into the Upside Down of disappointment.
Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister

Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister

Release Date: 2017-10-27

Stranger Things Season 2 had a few hiccups, but Episode 7 was definitely the weakest link. Eleven leaves Hawkins and discovers a group of outcasts who are on a mission to avenge the wrongs they’ve experienced. While Eleven’s journey to find her place in the world is an essential part of the series, this episode feels more like a spin-off than a continuation of the story. The characters are underdeveloped, and their motivations are unclear, making it hard to empathize with them. The episode is a departure from the show’s signature ’80s nostalgia and sci-fi elements, making it feel like a different show altogether. And let’s not forget the cringe-worthy moment when Eleven’s “sister” tells her to “channel her anger” and punk music starts playing. It’s a disappointing episode that doesn’t add much to the overall story. As Eleven herself would say, “It’s stupid. It’s like beyond stupid.”

Chapter Two: The Mall Rats

Chapter Two: The Mall Rats

Release Date: 2019-07-04

“Stranger Things” Season 3, Episode 2 is a snooze-fest that deserves a spot on the list of the worst episodes of the series. The episode is a jumbled mess of storylines that don’t really go anywhere. Nancy and Jonathan’s investigation into a story about rats exploding leads to a dead end, while Steve and Robin’s secret mission to uncover a Russian code is painfully slow and uneventful. Max and Eleven’s shopping trip is the only highlight, but even that feels like filler. The only interesting plotline is Billy’s hallucinations, which only get a few brief scenes. The episode is forgettable, with no iconic quotes or memorable moments to speak of. Save yourself the time and skip this one.

Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard

Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard

Release Date: 2019-07-04

In the third episode of Stranger Things Season 3, we witness a lackluster attempt at character development and plot advancement. The episode revolves around the search for Billy, a character who has been previously established as unlikable and insignificant. Meanwhile, Will declares a day without girls, a shallow attempt at capturing the essence of pre-teen boyhood. The supposed comic relief comes from Steve and Dustin’s stakeout, which is neither funny nor engaging. Joyce and Hopper’s return to Hawkins Lab feels like a retread of previous seasons, lacking any real surprises or revelations. Overall, this episode fails to deliver any memorable moments or substantial plot progression, earning its place on the list of worst Stranger Things episodes.

Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy?

Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy?

Release Date: 2019-07-04

As a die-hard fan of Stranger Things, it pains me to say that the first episode of Season 3 falls flat. Sure, we get a glimpse of the kids growing up, landing summer jobs, and getting their first taste of romance, but where’s the excitement? The episode is slow-paced and lacks the supernatural elements that we’ve come to love about the show. The only thing remotely interesting is Dustin’s radio picking up a Russian broadcast, but even that doesn’t pack the punch it should. As Will senses that something is wrong, we’re left wondering when the real action will start. In short, this episode is a snooze-fest that fails to capture the magic of Stranger Things. As Jim Hopper would say, “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation,” but this episode left us with nothing to contemplate.

Chapter Five: The Flayed

Chapter Five: The Flayed

Release Date: 2019-07-04

Season 3 of Stranger Things had its highs and lows, but Episode 5 definitely falls into the latter category. The episode centers around the group splitting up to investigate strange occurrences happening around Hawkins. While Nancy and Jonathan’s story arc falls flat, it’s the scenes at the old farmhouse that really drag on. The tension that the show is known for is almost non-existent and instead we’re left with predictable jump scares and cringe-worthy dialogue. Even the usually reliable Steve and Dustin’s storyline at the mall feels like filler. As Dustin puts it, “This is really bad, isn’t it?” Yes, it is, and unfortunately, it’s one of the worst episodes of the entire series.

Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak

Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak

Release Date: 2017-10-27

“Stranger Things Season 2 – Episode 2” is a slow and uneventful episode that adds little to the overall plot. The characters are still reeling from the events of the previous season, with Nancy grappling with the guilt of Barb’s death and Mike desperate to find Eleven. However, the episode fails to deliver any real tension or excitement, instead opting for a drawn-out and meandering plot. One notable scene sees the boys dressing up as the Ghostbusters for Halloween, but even this feels like a forced attempt at nostalgia. Overall, “Stranger Things Season 2 – Episode 2″ is a forgettable episode that does little to advance the story or engage the audience.”

Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum

Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum

Release Date: 2019-07-04

Stranger Things Season 3 Episode 6, titled “E Pluribus Unum,” is a lackluster addition to the series. The episode revolves around Dr. Alexei, who reveals the Russian’s secret project – a machine that can open a portal to the Upside Down. Meanwhile, Eleven finally discovers Billy’s whereabouts, only to find him possessed by the Mind Flayer. The highlight of the episode is Dustin and Erica’s rescue mission, which feels more like filler content than an essential plot point. The episode lacks the suspense and intrigue that Stranger Things is known for, making it one of the worst episodes of the series. As Eleven says, “I can’t just sit here and do nothing. That’s not who I am.” Unfortunately, this episode falls flat and fails to capture the essence of the show.

Chapter Five: The Nina Project

Chapter Five: The Nina Project

Release Date: 2022-05-27

Stranger Things Season 4 – Episode 5 is a disappointing installment that fails to deliver the excitement and thrills we’ve come to expect from the show. In this episode, Owens takes El to Nevada to confront her past, but the storyline falls flat and fails to capture the audience’s attention. Meanwhile, the Hawkins kids search a crumbling house for clues, but the scene is lackluster and fails to build any real tension. The only notable moment in this episode is when Vecna claims another victim, but even this feels forced and predictable. Overall, Stranger Things Season 4 – Episode 5 is a weak episode that fails to live up to the show’s high standards. As iconic character Jim Hopper would say, “We’re not in Hawkins anymore,” and unfortunately, that’s not a good thing in this case.

Chapter Three: The Pollywog

Chapter Three: The Pollywog

Release Date: 2017-10-27

“Stranger Things” Season 2 is widely considered as a great follow-up to its highly successful debut season, but not every episode can be a winner. Episode 3 falls flat with its uneventful plot and lack of suspense. The episode centers around Dustin’s adoption of a mysterious creature, which turns out to be a slug-like monster that starts to grow rapidly. Meanwhile, Eleven’s storyline feels like a filler as she becomes increasingly impatient with her isolation. Even the addition of Bob, played by Sean Astin, couldn’t save this episode as his advice to Will to face his fears felt clich√© and predictable. With no major revelations or exciting moments, Episode 3 is definitely one of the worst episodes of “Stranger Things” Season 2.

Chapter Seven: The Bite

Chapter Seven: The Bite

Release Date: 2019-07-04

Season 3 of Stranger Things was a fan favorite, but Episode 7 was a major letdown. Titled “The Bite,” the episode takes a detour from the main plotline and focuses on Eleven’s sister, Kali, and her gang of outcast punks. The episode lacks the charm and nostalgia that made the show so beloved in the first place. Kali’s character is underdeveloped, and her powers are less interesting than Eleven’s. The episode also features a cringe-worthy montage set to “The Warrior” by Scandal. It’s safe to say that this episode is the weakest of the entire series, and fans were relieved when the show returned to its roots in the following episodes. As Hopper would say, “This is ridiculous.”

Chapter Five: Dig Dug

Chapter Five: Dig Dug

Release Date: 2017-10-27

“Stranger Things” Season 2 had some great moments, but unfortunately, Episode 5 was not one of them. Nancy and Jonathan’s plotline felt like a filler, as they teamed up with a conspiracy theorist to uncover the truth about Hawkins Lab. Meanwhile, Eleven’s search for her mother and other test subjects fell flat, lacking the excitement and intrigue of her previous adventures. Even “Bob the Brain’s” heroic attempt to solve a technical problem failed to save this lackluster episode. As Hopper would say, “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation,” but Episode 5 just left us feeling bored and contemplative about how much better the show could be.

Chapter Four: Will the Wise

Chapter Four: Will the Wise

Release Date: 2017-10-27

“Stranger Things” season 2, episode 4, titled “Will the Wise,” is a forgettable and slow-paced episode that fails to live up to the show’s high standards. The plot revolves around Will’s illness, which leads to disturbing visions and hallucinations that put him in danger. Joyce tries to help him by seeking the help of a new character, a conspiracy theorist named Bob, but it only leads to more confusion and frustration. Meanwhile, Hopper investigates the strange events happening in the town and uncovers some shocking revelations. However, the episode lacks the suspense, horror, and nostalgia that made the first season a hit. The only redeeming quality of “Will the Wise” is Eleven’s storyline, where she discovers a hidden cabin and learns more about her past. But even that subplot feels rushed and underdeveloped. As Eleven herself says, “I’ve been stuck in this cabin for almost a year, and I’m done being stuck.” Unfortunately, the same can be said about this lackluster episode.

Chapter Six: The Dive

Chapter Six: The Dive

Release Date: 2022-05-27

As a die-hard Stranger Things fan, it pains me to say that Season 4, Episode 6 is one of the worst episodes of the series. The episode revolves around a rescue mission behind the Iron Curtain, which honestly feels like a poor attempt at recreating the intensity of previous seasons. The addition of a hacker character feels forced and out of place, making the plot even more convoluted. Even Steve, one of the show’s most beloved characters, can’t save this episode as he takes one for the team in a cringe-worthy scene. The lack of any real character development or meaningful plot progression makes this episode a forgettable one. As Eleven would say, “friends don’t lie,” and I have to be honest – this episode falls flat.

Chapter Four: The Sauna Test

Chapter Four: The Sauna Test

Release Date: 2019-07-04

As a die-hard Stranger Things fan, it pains me to include an episode from my favorite show on a list of worst episodes. However, episode 4 of season 3, titled “The Sauna Test,” falls short of the usual excitement and nostalgia that the show is known for. Sure, we see the gang back together to face off against the evil Mind Flayer, but the plot feels repetitive and lacks any real surprises. Even the iconic line “You can’t spell America without Erica” from fan-favorite character Erica can’t save this lackluster episode. The only bright spot is Robin’s discovery of a useful map, but it’s not enough to salvage the episode from being a forgettable addition to an otherwise fantastic season.

Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street

Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street

Release Date: 2016-07-15

“Stranger Things” season 1, episode 2, is definitely one of the worst episodes of the series. The episode centers around Lucas, Mike, and Dustin trying to communicate with the girl they found in the woods, Eleven. However, this plotline feels tedious and drawn-out, lacking the excitement and intrigue that made the first episode so captivating. Meanwhile, Hopper questions Joyce about her mysterious phone call, but even that storyline feels slow and uneventful. The only standout moment in this episode is when Eleven uses her powers to flip a van over, but even that feels like a cheap attempt at action. Overall, “Stranger Things” season 1, episode 2, is a snooze-fest that fails to live up to the hype of the first episode.

Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat

Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat

Release Date: 2016-07-15

Episode 5 of Stranger Things Season 1 feels like a filler episode with no real substance. Hopper breaks into the lab, but it’s a slow and dull process. Meanwhile, Nancy and Jonathan confront the force that took Will, which ends up being a forgettable and lackluster encounter. The boys ask Mr. Clarke how to travel to another dimension, but this scene feels like it’s only there to set up future plot points. Overall, this episode lacks the excitement and suspense that makes Stranger Things great. As Dustin says, “This is a wrist rocket, it’s totally badass.” Unfortunately, this episode is anything but badass.

Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero

Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero

Release Date: 2022-05-27

Stranger Things Season 4, Episode 3 is a snooze fest. The episode follows Murray and Joyce as they fly to Alaska, which is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Meanwhile, El faces serious consequences, but the stakes never feel high enough to keep us on the edge of our seats. Robin and Nancy dig up dirt on Hawkins’ demons, but their investigation feels like a rehash of previous seasons. The only redeeming quality of this episode is Dr. Owens delivering sobering news, but even that can’t save it from being a forgettable filler episode. As Hopper would say, “Jesus, this is boring. Boring, boring, boring.”

Chapter Six: The Monster

Chapter Six: The Monster

Release Date: 2016-07-15

“Stranger Things” Season 1 was a nostalgic and thrilling ride, but Episode 6 was a bit of a letdown. The episode mainly focuses on Jonathan’s search for Nancy in the Upside Down, which unfortunately results in a lot of repetitive shots of him wandering around in the dark. Meanwhile, Steve is also searching for Nancy, but his character development takes a frustrating turn as he becomes more of a stereotypical bully rather than a complex character. The only saving grace of the episode is Hopper and Joyce’s investigation into the lab’s experiments, which adds some much-needed intrigue. Overall, Episode 6 is forgettable and fails to live up to the high standards set by the rest of the season. As Hopper would say, “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation,” but this episode is not worth contemplating.

Chapter Seven: The Bathtub

Chapter Seven: The Bathtub

Release Date: 2016-07-15

“Stranger Things” Season 1 was a thrilling ride that kept audiences on the edge of their seats, but Episode 7 left a lot to be desired. Eleven’s quest to find Will fell flat as she spent most of the episode locked in a room, unable to use her powers. Meanwhile, Lucas’ warning about the “bad men” felt repetitive and unnecessary. The highlight of the episode was Nancy and Jonathan’s efforts to show the police the footage they captured of the Demogorgon, but even that felt like a drawn-out subplot. As the season’s penultimate episode, “Stranger Things” Episode 7 failed to deliver the same excitement and intrigue as its predecessors, making it one of the worst episodes of the series.

Chapter One: MADMAX

Chapter One: MADMAX

Release Date: 2017-10-27

“Stranger Things” season 2 was a highly anticipated follow-up to the beloved first season. However, the first episode failed to live up to expectations. As the town prepares for Halloween, we see a high-score rival shake things up at the arcade. While this might have been an exciting development, it ultimately falls flat. Furthermore, a skeptical Hopper inspects a field of rotting pumpkins, which is meant to be a spooky scene but instead feels dull and uninteresting. There’s nothing memorable or iconic about this episode, making it a clear contender for the worst episode of the series. Even die-hard fans of the show would be hard-pressed to find anything redeeming about this lackluster start to the season.