Ever since the first season of Stranger Things aired, the show has been filled with incredible moments, from the sweet and tender moments to the high-stress ones that have you scream at your screen. Those moments work because of the writing but also because of the characters that inhabit the town of Hawkins. These characters have us come back year after year, delving into the world head first and falling in love with them at every turn. But there is one thing that the show has always excelled at – pairing those beloved characters together into dynamic duos. Whether it’s through friendships or romantic interests, Stranger Things knows how to create a partnership like no other.
But which one is the best of them all? Here are the ten best pairs of Stranger Things.
10. Robin and Nancy
Robin (Maya Hawke) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) did not meet until the end of the third season officially, but they were paired up for most of the first part of the fourth season. Connected through their relationships with Steve (Joe Keery), it was a dynamic that started with a lot of tension but, as the episodes advanced, one that evolved into some of the most memorable moments of the season. As opposites in many ways, they created a dynamic that was fun to watch, especially watching them lean on each other’s strengths and work together to learn more about what was happening with Victor Creel while also bonding over the stupidity of the boys they had left behind . They may not be a pairing we thought we needed, but it’s one that works efficiently and created some of the best moments of the fourth season.
9. Jonathan and Nancy
For the early seasons of Stranger ThingsJonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy were one of the main romantic couples alongside Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Their relationship started as a slow-burn, full of tension, and you could not help but hope they would admit their feelings to one another. Nancy and Jonathan worked well together and, because of their investigative nature, they drove a lot of the story forward by constantly trying to solve the mysteries that surrounded Hawkins. It was a dynamic that mirrored their personalities perfectly, and it was helped along by the chemistry that the actors had. While Season 4 does introduce some conflict in their relationship, it does not change the fact that their relationship helped the show immensely and created a duo that was so easy to root for.
8. Dustin and Erica
Dustin (Gaten Matarazzoand Erica (Priah Ferguson) might have been paired up only for one season, but they were a memorable duo. Together, Dustin and Erica had to play babysitter to a drugged-up team of Steve and Robin, but they also had to take on a group of Russians who wanted to open the Upside Down. It was an unlikely duo, especially since Erica was initially only introduced as Lucas’s (Caleb McLaughlin) sister but quickly became a fan favorite because of Priah Ferguson’s performance. So when it came to the third season, she had to be paired with others even if her only connection to them was through her brother, Lucas. Pairing Dustin and Erica together made sense; both had the same sarcastic sense of humor and played off each other well. It was short and sweet, but it was so memorable that it deserves to continue to be explored.
7. Eleven and Mike
The main relationship of the show – for better or for worst – Eleven and Mike defined the early years of Stranger Things. Their romance drove many of the characters’ interactions in the first few seasons and defined their external relationships. Eleven and Mike were the heart of the show for a long time, and while the show has stepped away from the two of them, they are still central to the story. Their relationship drives a lot of what both characters did, trying to save one another and help each other at every turn. Eleven and Mike might not be fan favorites like they were in the early seasons, but they are still a pair that works exceptionally well together and will do anything for one another. The conflict that the show has built between them in the fourth season is driven a lot by the way Mike has seen Eleven in Seasons 1 through 3, but it also shines a light on how much the two of them have helped each other and continue to be a central part of Stranger Things.
6. Eleven and Hopper
When Hopper (David Harbor) saved Eleven at the end of the first season, it quickly created a duo that would become the show’s beating heart. Their relationship drove much of Eleven’s actions, and Hopper’s love for her began to heal him. Since then, their relationship has evolved, forming the family that Eleven never had and giving Hopper a daughter to nurture after the loss of his own. The two trusted each other and, at its core, what made Eleven and Hopper special was their father-daughter relationship. What might have started as a simple rescue from Hopper turned into one of the most meaningful relationships of the show. Even in Season 4, it drives the plot forward for Hopper, even though they’re miles apart. Hopper believes he failed Eleven, and Eleven does everything to continue to honor his memory.
5. Lucas and Max
When Max (Sadie Sink) arrived in Hawkins, she got the attention of all the boys, but especially of Dustin and Lucas, who both wanted her attention. It was clear from the beginning that Max and Lucas were the pair that would end up together. Lucas and Max are the rocky relationship of the show, their relationship filled with breakups and makeups, but even with that, they continue to be one of the pillars of the show. No matter what happens, they always find a way back to each other and be there for each other even in the worst of times – nothing is more evident of that than how Lucas supports Max in Season 4. They might not be the flashiest duo, and they do not always see eye-to-eye, but they are always there for each other when they need it. It’s a flawed pairing, but that’s what makes them so fun to watch. They do not feel perfect, and they need to work on their relationship, and because of that, they feel real.
4. Max and Eleven
During Max’s first season, Eleven and Max barely interacted with each other, but during the third season, their friendship bloomed and gave us some of the best scenes of the series. Max and Eleven had mainly been connected through their friendship with boys; they were, after all, the only girls in the group. However, they were different in many ways, and their friendship became one of the show’s strong points. What started as a conversation mostly talking about being annoyed by the boys quickly evolved into a friendship. It was a breath of fresh air to see these two young women become close so quickly. It might have been the focus of one season only, with the two of them having no interactions in Season 4 so far, but it was different from most of the other pairings in the show. While many of the partnerships in the show center around solving mysteries, Eleven and Max are simply friends. It is not about the mysteries or the Upside Down – it is just two teenage girls becoming friends and leaning on each other. It is a dynamic that the show should revisit.
3. Hopper and Joyce
As the only two adults who realized that Hawkins isn’t that safe, Joyce (Wynona Ryder) and Hopper’s slow-burn romance is proof that sometimes taking your time is worth it. The two bickered and got on each other’s nerves, but over time, they found a way to see eye-to-eye, especially when protecting their kids. Their relationship evolved throughout the four seasons, from old high school friends when Will (Noah Schnapp) to them raising their kids together and finally having Joyce run off to Russia with Murray (Brett Gelman). The third season marked a change in their dynamic, leaning fully into the romantic pairing, as the two were trying to figure out how the Russians infiltrated Hawkins and what they were doing.
2. Steve and Robin
What was initially disguised as a potential new love interest for Steve actually turned into one of the strongest friendships of the show. When Steve confessed to Robin about his romantic feelings for her, Robin revealed that she was gay. It was in line with her character throughout the season, but perhaps still one that was surprising to many. This reveal put Robin and Steve’s friendship in a new light, and they formed a close friendship, one full of heart, sarcasm, and one-liners. Their dynamic became one of the show’s best, especially in the fourth season. Whether it was Steve encouraging Robin to go after her crush, trying to convince her that she is not crushing on a straight girl, or Robin always trying to help him out when it came to Steve finding his new girlfriend, their pairing gave us a friendship that never felt forced.
1. Dustin and Steve
If you had told anyone after the first season of the show that the pairing of Dustin and Steve would become the show’s most iconic pair, they might have called you crazy. And yet, three seasons later, Dustin and Steve are the team-up that has taken over the show. Paired up during the second season, it was a surprise how well they not only worked together but fed off each other’s personalities. The second season saw a lot of change in Steve’s character, showcasing another side of him that we had yet to see. A lot of that was because the show put aside the romance aspect of the character and instead focused on his platonic relationships. Instead of making Steve the villain like the first season initially made him out to be, the pairing with Dustin turned Steve into the group’s lovable-if-reluctant babysitter. Since then, he has been ready to put himself in danger for his friends. And this change in his character started when Dustin and Steve were paired up to tame D’Artagnan.