The Scariest Moments Stranger Things Has Ever Given Us

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD for Seasons 1 and 2 of Stranger Things.

Stranger Things has proved that it knows how to deliver scares on the small screen, and the first two seasons were packed with moments that ranged from unexpectedly unnerving to totally terrifying. Between the monsters, villains, alternate dimensions, and experiments, there's always something creepy happening. Read on for our picks of Stranger Things scary moments that we'll still be thinking about even long after Halloween is over. We'll start with Season 1.

stranger things will byers gun

The Vanishing Of Will Byers

Stranger Things might have flopped if the first episode hadn't opened on a solid scare to hook viewers into watching the rest of the first season, and Will's terrified flight from the mysterious monster definitely delivered. The poor kid fell off his bike, ran into his house, locked the door, and tried to call 911. When that failed, he ran to the back shed to grab a rifle. Will did everything that he possibly could have to battle the monster, but it wasn't enough. The Demogorgon was too much and would not be stopped. Thus, Will Byers vanished and Stranger Things became a series worth watching.

stranger things barb death

Barb Meeting The Demogorgon

Love her or hate her, there's no denying that Barb had a rough ride in Stranger Things Season 1. After accidentally slicing her hand open on a can and dripping blood into the Harrington swimming pool, Barb was yanked into the Upside Down by the Demogorgon, and she was doomed right off the bat. She ended up in the bottom of an empty pool, and there was simply nowhere for her to run. Stranger Things spared viewers the grisly details of her death, but her screams were enough to paint the picture of what exactly was happening to her. Her death was iconic and horrifying, even if some might argue that she was denied justice.

stranger things eleven lab

Eleven Fighting Back

All of Eleven's flashbacks to her time under Dr. Brenner's care were pretty horrifying, but there's something truly unsettling about when she was punished for refusing to kill a cat. Two orderlies carried Eleven down the hall to her tiny solitary room while she desperately kicked her legs and screamed "No!" and "Papa!" When the goons dropped her on the floor this time, however, she had a surprise waiting. Before the door could slam shut, El used her powers to slam it backwards and send one of the orderlies smashing into the wall. She snapped the neck of the other, then fell to the floor. Brenner showed up to marvel at what she had done and carry her away.

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Joyce Byers in Season 1 had to deal with most of the people on the show thinking she was crazy for refusing to believe Will was dead. She finally succeeded with contacting him through strings of Christmas lights and an alphabet painted on the wall, and it was a huge triumph for her as Will began to spell out answers to her questions. The triumph took a terrifying turn when Will responded to her question of what she should do with three letters: R-U-N. The Christmas lights began blinking like crazy and the Demogorgon began to push through the wall toward her. It wasn't the biggest or most epic entrance of the Demogorgon, but the R-U-N really built the tension in a fabulous way.

stranger things will upside down

Finding Will In The Upside Down

When Joyce and Hopper ultimately located Will in the Upside Down, they weren't exactly able to just pick him up and tote him back to their dimension. No, they discovered him with what seemed to be a tentacle forced down his throat, and he looked pretty dead. The mere image of young Will with a tentacle down his throat was creepy enough; watching Hopper pull the tentacle out as it squealed and then shoot it only made the whole scene more disgusting. At least Will was too out of it to remember having a tentacle down his throat.

stranger things eleven demogorgon showdown

The Final Showdown

After the Demogorgon survived being whacked by a nail bat, trapped in a bear trap, torched, and shot by soldiers, it was beginning to seem like the monster couldn't be killed, and the kids might have been doomed once they found themselves trapped in a classroom with it. Lucas' valiant efforts with his Wrist-Rocket came to nothing, and the Demogorgon was stalking to kill them... until it was blasted back by Eleven, who had already looked on death's door thanks to her exertions in dropping a bunch of Brenner's men. Lights were flashing, El was screaming, the Demogorgon was screeching, and it made for a nightmarish scene that was as scary as it was awesome.

Now, let's head into Season 2.

stranger things mind flayer will

Will Standing His Ground

Who would have guessed that Season 2 would somehow be worse than Season 1 for poor Will? Plagued by nightmares of the Upside Down, Will decided to take Bob's terrible advice and stand his ground against the Shadow Monster/Mind Flayer. Bob hadn't known that Will's nightmares weren't really flashes back, and nobody could have predicted what would happen next. The creature enveloped Will, trapping him and smothering him completely. He was totally unresponsive in his physical body as his mom and friends tried to wake him up, and his mind was already being affected by the hive mind of the monster.

stranger things hawkins lab hopper

The Spy Springing A Trap

The Mind Flayer took up residence in Will for a while before anybody realized that he wasn't entirely in control of his actions. By the time Mike connected the dots, it was too late for a lot of people. The Mind Flayer via Will sent a bunch of Dr. Owens' scientists down into the tunnels to a central area where they would be surrounded and massacred by demo-dogs. The creatures then turned tail and raced back to Hawkins Lab, where they broke through the not-so-unbreakable glass to commence massacring all the people like an Upside Down version of Jurassic Park. It's only thanks to Bob's heroics that anybody even survived the trap, and he was sadly killed right when he was on the verge of escape.

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Billy Dropping By

In the grand scheme of Stranger Things, the biggest bads are obviously the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer and the demo-dogs. Still, high school bully Billy is responsible for one of the scariest scenes of the entire series, as he dropped by the Byers house in search of his stepsister. He found Steve and only Steve on hand to protect the kids, and things escalated quickly when Steve tried to deny that Max was inside. Billy managed to get his hands on Lucas for a few scary moments, but the fight soon returned to Billy vs. Steve. Billy gained the upper hand and began to pummel the crap out of Steve's face in a terrifying frenzy. He almost certainly would have beaten Steve to death if not for a quick-thinking Max and a handy vial of tranquilizer.

stranger things will possessed by mind flayer

The Mind Flayer Wouldn't Release Will

After the characters came up with the idea to slam the gate on the Mind Flayer to cut off its connection to the demo-dogs, they ran into a problem: since the Mind Flayer was still patched into Will, closing the gate would kill Will as well as the demo-dogs. Joyce came up with a solution that involved burning the Mind Flayer out of Will's body, as Will had revealed earlier that "he" likes it cold. She, Nancy, and Jonathan cranked up the heat on Will, but the Mind Flayer wouldn't let go without a fight. The scene progressed like a twisted exorcism that involved stabbing a 13-year-old with a hot poker after he began to strangle his mom. Young Noah Schnapp deserves some kind of award for his performance in this scene, as it was almost difficult not to be concerned for his health.

stranger things eleven gate

Eleven Closing The Gate

The entire climax of the Season 2 finale was pretty scary. Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy took Will to Hopper's cabin to try and burn the Mind Flayer out of him, and a battered Steve took the kids down into the tunnels to try and draw the demo-dogs away from Hawkins Lab so Eleven and Hopper could infiltrate without getting eaten. Everything built to the showdown between El and the Mind Flayer at the gate, and a lot was riding on El to slam the gate shut. She managed to do it by channeling all her rage and levitating herself in a truly unnerving sequence, but she wasn't able to do it without attracting the attention of the Mind Flayer, which will probably be very bad for her and her friends in Season 3.

stranger things mind flayer snow ball

The Mind Flayer Visiting The Snow Ball

For a few minutes, it really seemed like Stranger Things was going to give Season 2 a happy ending. Sure, Bob was dead and Steve was bummed about Nancy, but Hopper was distributing hugs like it was his job, and the kids were having fun at the Snow Ball. In fact, everything was so upbeat that the lyrics to "Every Breath You Take" didn't even seem that creepy as the song played for the dancing middle-schoolers. Then the camera panned out of the gym, and we got a look at the Upside Down version of the middle school. The Mind Flayer stood over the Upside Down gym, making it clear that the creature is ready and willing to strike back at the kids who trapped him back in the Upside Down. It made for a killer hook for Season 3, and we can only speculate about what's to come at this point.

Both seasons of Stranger Things are available streaming on Netflix. For your other viewing options, take a gander at our fall TV guide. Be sure to check out our breakdown of 9 Stranger Things details you may have missed in Season 2.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).