Stranger Things 2 continues to put the focus on the kids, but the adults also have roles to play — for better or for worse.
The second season of Stranger Things once again saw Eleven taking on the Big Bad, while the kids did more to save the world than most of the adults combined.
But not all the grownups on this show are completely terrible. Some of them, like Joyce, actually pay attention to what’s going on in their kids’ lives, while others, like Mr. Wheeler, spend most of their time napping while everything goes to shit.
We won’t be naming all the adults on the show. As much as I love Flo, she doesn’t have an immediate impact on the kids and what’s going on in Hawkins. We’ll be keeping this list to the parents of the main kids or grownups who affect the the story in some way.
Ranking the ‘Stranger Things 2’ adults from worst to best
17. Neil Hargrove
It should come as no surprise that Billy’s father gets the last spot on our list. He is, after all, an abusive bully who has turned his son into a spitting image of himself. There’s not much else to say about him, though chances are we’ll learn more in season 3.
16. Susan Hargrove
Mrs. Hargrove, Max’s mother, is hardly better than her husband. They’re newly married and clearly in love, but she’s also complicit in Mr. Hargrove’s treatment of his son. Perhaps she doesn’t know the effect it has on Billy, and by extension Max, but that’s most likely because she doesn’t want to know.
15. Ted Wheeler
Mike’s father isn’t a bad guy, but the reason why he’s so low on our list is because he’s fairly useless. He spent season 1 oblivious to the problems around him, and he pretty much just napped through season 2.
14. Officer Callahan
Neither one of Hopper’s deputies are going to win any awards, but Officer Callahan isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. He’s callous and a bit of a fool. It’s a wonder Hopper still has him on his team, but at least the man is good for some honest legwork. Now if only he had a little more empathy for the people of Hawkins.
13. Claudia Henderson
Don’t get me wrong — I love Dustin’s mother. She’s adorable and unintentionally hilarious, but she’s nearly as oblivious as Mr. Wheeler. She’s interested in her son’s life and she cares greatly for him (and her cat), but it’s a little too easy for Dustin to manipulate her into believing he’s not up to anything.
12. Mr. Sinclair
Lucas’ father doesn’t get much attention in season 2, but it appears as though the Sinclair household has a much more solid foundation than the homes of the other kids. Mr. Sinclair listens to his son and offers him some advice — the woman is always right, even when she’s not — though he appears more attentive to his newspaper than his family.
11. Mrs. Sinclair
Lucas’ mother also doesn’t get too much attention in Stranger Things 2, but we do see her taking care of the family and getting excited over her son’s Ghostbusters costume. At the very least, you can draw the conclusion that she’s a good mother who might be a bit harried but is ultimately grateful of her family. Hopefully we’ll see her a bit more in season 3.
10. Officer Powell
Officer Powell isn’t much of a step up from Officer Callahan, but at least he’s got a better head on his shoulders. He has the same disregard for the people of Hawkins, but seems to be better at hiding it. He’s not a complete idiot and trusts in Hopper’s judgments, even when his boss gets a little crazy.
9. Karen Wheeler
Mrs. Wheeler is a good mother who cares about her children, though we saw a lot more of that in season 1. The second season of Stranger Things showed an exasperated wife and a frustrated mother. She doesn’t know exactly what her kids are getting up to, perhaps because she’s too wrapped up in feeling sorry for herself.
8. Becky Ives
Becky didn’t believe her sister’s story about Jane and Brenner and the conspiracy about Hawkins Lab — but who can blame her? It’s an insane story, no matter that it happens to be true. Once she finds proof that Jane is still alive and has powers, she does whatever she can to help Eleven. Of course, El doesn’t appreciate that Becky called Hopper, but it’s probably better that he was contacted than someone from the lab.
7. Dr. Sam Owens
Dr. Owens isn’t the best guy in Hawkins, but he’s far from evil. Yes, he’s trying to keep what happened at Hawkins Lab under wraps and has a deal with Hopper to ensure that it does, but he’s also genuinely trying to help keep the Upside Down at bay. When Will is in trouble, he is the only doctor fighting to save the kid’s life. He stays behind while Bob escapes. He helps Hopper adopt Eleven.
6. Terry Ives
Eleven’s mother can’t do much in her current position — she’s one step away from catatonia, after all — but she does her best to help her daughter, as she did from day one. She broke into Hawkins Lab, where she was captured and tortured, in order to find her daughter. While she wasn’t successful, she did all she could at the expense of her own sanity.
But even though her brain is fried, Terry points Eleven in the direction of her sister, Kali, which ultimately helps Eleven realize what lines she’s unwilling to cross. This also leads to a better understanding of her powers, ultimately allowing Eleven to close the portal and keep the Mind Flayer our of their world.
5. Mr. Clarke
Mr. Clarke has been nothing but a bright spot in the kids’ lives since day one. He understands them in a way that most of the other adults don’t, which is probably due to the fact that he was exactly like them when he was younger. Granted, he doesn’t know anything about what’s actually going on in Hawkins.
However, he makes up for his naivete with his interest in his students and his practical knowledge of science. Mr. Clarke loves that the boys want to learn more than what he teaches them in the classroom, and they respond to that. More so, on more than one occasion his role as a teacher and his intelligence have come in handy.
4. Murray Bauman
Murray came into season 2 like a whirlwind. He certainly acted like a conspiracy theorist, but what happens when the conspiracy is true? Murray was spot on about Hawkins Lab, but he had no solid proof of what happened in there. Luckily for him, Nancy and Jonathan were ready to bust the whole thing wide open.
On top of his determination to solve the case, Murray has also proved to be quite insightful when it comes to relationships. Nancy and Jonathan have been dancing around each other since the events of season 1, and even though they clearly have feelings that go beyond friendship, both of them were too afraid to do anything. Enter Murray Bauman, the voice of the fandom.
3. Bob Newby
Love him or hate him, Bob actually had a huge positive influence on Stranger Things 2. He was a bit much in the beginning, and completely naive, but he had the best of intentions. Granted, his advice to Will about telling the monster to just go away ultimately got Bob killed, but hey — you can’t win them all.
Then again, if it weren’t for Bob, Hopper would’ve certainly been killed in the tunnels underneath the town. He was excellent at solving puzzles and he trusted Joyce enough to help her without knowing the full story. He even put his life on the line to open the doors so everyone could escape Hawkins Lab. He was an intelligent man, albeit an idealist — something that won’t help your survival rate in Hawkins, Indiana.
2. Jim Hopper
Hopper is a complicated man, and he was initially much lower on this list. I have to admit that I’m quite frustrated with Hopper in season 2. His angry outburst drove Eleven out of hiding and made the entire situation much more complicated. I understand that it’s not easy dealing with a young kid in that kind of situation, let alone when they have powers, but he needs to learn to see the world from her point of view.
Despite his inability to always connect with Eleven and what she’s going through, Hopper has the best of intentions. He wants to protect her, and he’s willing to make a deal with the Devil in order to do so. He doesn’t love working with Dr. Owens and Hawkins Lab, but if it protects the town, and more importantly Eleven, he’ll do what’s necessary. At the end of the day, you can count on Hopper to be the first one through the door with no regard to his own life.
1. Joyce Beyers
Are you surprised that Joyce is in the number one spot on this list? In relation to the other adults, Joyce is the most focused on the well-being of her children and is the most involved in the mystery of what’s going on in Hawkins. She is by no means a perfect mother, especially when we first meet her in season 1, but there’s no doubt she loves her kids.
It’s Joyce who knows something is wrong when Will first went missing, and Joyce who knew he wasn’t dead. She didn’t even believe it when they found his body. She never gave up hope that her son was alive, and that drove her and other residents of Hawkins to get to the truth. Once Will returned home, it seemed that all would be well, but Joyce knew better. And when it came down to saving her son’s life, she knew just how far to push it in order to get Will back.