The wait for Stranger Things Season 3 is finally almost over after well over a year of hiatus, and Netflix just released a new trailer to finally reveal some of what's going to go down. A lot of plot details are still under wraps and may remain that way until 12:01 a.m. PT on July 4, but based on what we know from how Season 2 ended, pre-Season 3 interviews, official images, and the two trailers, we can make some educated guesses about the characters' strengths and weaknesses moving forward.
So, with the July 4 premiere date fast-approaching, read on for a rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of the Stranger Things characters going into Season 3!
Strengths: If there's an Indiana Jones equivalent in Stranger Things, then it is undoubtedly Hawkins Police Chief Jim Hopper. He has a lot going for him when it comes to facing villains, whether they're human or from another dimension. He's physically strong and an experienced fighter, and his status as police chief gives him authority and resources. Brave and committed to helping those he cares about, he has some experience with shady government figures. Also, he's wearing a killer 80s Hawaiian shirt in Season 3. That definitely counts as a strength, right?
Weaknesses: For all his talents and advantages, Jim Hopper is still just a man without any kind of supernatural powers, and his authority as a small town police chief is negligible compared to the military and government forces, and there's a fleet of official-looking helicopters flying into Hawkins in the trailer. The trailer also indicates that Hop is taking his new status as Eleven's dad very seriously. His drive to protect her could make him vulnerable in key moments. He has a lot more to lose now than he did back in Season 1.
Strengths: Is there any stopping Joyce Byers when it comes to protecting her children? The first season proved that she'll fight for her kids even if nobody believes her or supports her, and the second season proved that she has the fortitude to make difficult decisions for their greater good. Rather than breaking down for the rest of the second season after Bob died, she came up with the way to get the Mind Flayer out of Will and ruthlessly went about burning it out of him, even when Jonathan couldn't look anymore.
Weaknesses: Joyce is a valuable ally to have in figuring things out and forming plans, but she's not the strongest physical fighter. She and Hopper will seemingly be together for a lot of Season 3; she may want to leave the action to him. She can also get a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to her kids. Like Hop, her kids can make her vulnerable, thought it's worth noting that Hopper is the one who gave up Eleven in Season 1 to save Will while Joyce refused.
Strengths: Of the entire cast of characters, 14-year-old Eleven is by far the most powerful and almost certainly has the highest body count. Her powers grew substantially in Season 2, and she could be even stronger in Season 3. The new trailer shows her protecting her friends in her cabin, and she wants to continue fighting even though Hopper wants her to sit it out and keep safe. Willing to do just about anything for those she cares about, El could be the key to Season 3 as she was in Seasons 1 and 2.
Weaknesses: Again, Eleven is a 14-year-old girl, and she's had very little exposure to the outside world. Her limited social skills can lead to misunderstandings, and she too can develop tunnel vision. The guilt of opening the gate the first time stuck with her. The Mind Flayer also got a good look at her when she shut the gate in Season 2; if the remnant that stayed behind knows about her thanks to the hive mind, she would be its natural top target. And maybe government agents are still after her!
Strengths: Like Joyce, Mike is a great resource when it comes to planning but not so great when it comes to fighting, although he gets an A for effort for grabbing a candlestick for the showdown against the demo-dogs at the Byers house in Season 2. As the Dungeon Master who planned the D&D campaigns for the party and arguably the most mature of the kids, his strategic side has been key to fighting the darkness, and he could be less angsty now that he has Eleven back.
Weaknesses: Mike has a temper, and that has backfired on him before. He's not a strong fighter, and the newest footage indicates that he'll be in some seriously dangerous situations yet again in Season 2. All signs point toward Mike and Eleven being very close after all their time apart, to the point that his friendships with others might be suffering. Also, he may be the leader of the kids, but he's still a kid. Like Hopper, will he want to protect Eleven too much?
Strengths: Well, Will hasn't lapsed into a catatonic state of supernatural PTSD by this point, so that's a strength! The poor kid hasn't had the chance to help the heroes too much after the first two seasons, but he's resourceful. He lasted a long time by himself in the Upside Down, and he managed to give essential instructions to his friends even while possessed by the Mind Flayer. He also knows the Mind Flayer, and his knowledge could be key to fighting him this time around.
Weaknesses: Will presumably isn't much of a fighter, and it looks like he might still be connected to the Mind Flayer. The final trailer showed goosebumps rising on his neck like they did when the Mind Flayer was after him in Season 2. Could the Mind Flayer's resurgence take him out of commission again? He's in the thick of the action in Starcourt Mall in footage released so far, though, so he probably won't just be kidnapped or possessed for a big chunk of Season 3.
Strengths: Hey, nobody can wield a Wrist Rocket like Lucas, right? He deserves a lot of credit for going up against monsters with nothing but a fancy slingshot from the time that he was 12-years-old. Season 1 proved that he can keep his eye on the prize, and he wasn't wrong to distrust Eleven. Then Season 2 proved that he has arguably the best social skills of the party for how he welcomed Max without going overboard like Dustin or deliberately leaving her out like Mike.
Weaknesses: His reliance on the Wrist Rocket really could backfire one of these seasons, and he hasn't really had the chance to prove what he's made of on his own in action. He arguably was too trusting in Season 2 when he spilled the beans about Eleven and Season 1 to Max, as Mike was objectively right that this newcomer shouldn't be told. Lucas is lucky Max is smart enough to align with the good guys. Could his instincts fail him in Season 3?
Strengths: Dustin is very into preparation and research. He doesn't always handle the information the best ways, but nobody's perfect, right? Footage and promo images reveal Dustin wearing a "Camp Know Where" t-shirt, which suggests he was at some kind of science camp where he could have learned valuable new skills just in time for the Mind Flayer's return. His unconventional friendship with Steve continues as well. And hey, he knows how to bury a body! (R.I.P. Mews.)
Weaknesses: Dustin can let his personal feelings get in the way of his critical thinking, as we saw with Dart in Season 2. Arguably the least mature of the party, he seems like he'll be isolated from his actual peers for a lot of Season 3. He's usually pictured with Steve in Season 3 material, which may mean he spends more time with Erica and Robin than Mike, Lucas, and Will! Also not a strong fighter.
Strengths: Zoomers may not be D&D characters, but Season 2 proved they sure can come in handy! Max is brave and willing to stand up for herself and her friends. Season 3 footage and images also point toward Max and Eleven BFF-ing their way around Hawkins, and that can only be a good thing.
Weaknesses: Of the kids of the party, Max has by far the least experience with the strange things of Stranger Things. Assuming a huge supernatural threat didn't come to Hawkins to be vanquished between Seasons 2 and 3, she probably also hasn't witnessed Eleven using her powers for more than shenanigans. Could she wind up in over her head in Season 3? Or will living with Billy/The Mind Flayer put her in too dangerous a position?
Strengths: If there's a mystery that needs to be solved and/or a death that needs to be avenged, put Nancy Wheeler on the case! Smart and determined, Nancy is likely to continue down her investigative path in Season 3. Her relationship with Jonathan seems to be going strong, and she's more than a little handy in a high-stakes situation. She has great aim with a firearm and has a ruthless streak of her own, as she just went ahead and jabbed the possessed Will with a hot poker while Jonathan was freaking out.
Weaknesses: Nancy can be reckless when she's determined to do something, and she has a knack for winding up in dangerous situations while pursuing leads. If Stranger Things gives her a break from relationship drama, perhaps Season 3 will allow her to grow and show more nuance in Season 3. Maybe she and Mike can even have a conversation like siblings!
Strengths: Jonathan is willing to do pretty much anything to chase down leads, no matter how much personal danger that puts him in. Loyal to the people he cares about and talented with a camera, he and Nancy make a killer investigative team. He's a quieter force to be reckoned with than other characters, and he's the biggest and probably strongest of the good guys after Hopper.
Weaknesses: Jonathan lacks the willingness to do whatever is necessary even if it's unpleasant, as seen when he, Joyce, and Nancy were trying to burn the Mind Flayer out of Will in Season 2. He has a vulnerability when it comes to the people he cares about, and he's a bit less proactive than others of the heroes. He's also no Eleven, but his social skills aren't the best. Even Will seemed to think he had no friends in Season 2!
Strengths: Steve has the best hair in a hair-tastic series, and his instincts generally lead him in the heroic direction... eventually. He has a pretty open mind when it comes to companions, as he somehow wound up as the perfectly willing babysitter of the kids back in Season 2. His friendship with Dustin is clearly still going strong. He also provides some comic relief. Hopefully the nail bat makes an appearance! I'm dying to see him kicking ass with his nail bat while wearing his Scoops Ahoy sailor outfit.
Weaknesses: Part of what has made Steve so humorous (and valuable for the explanation of exposition) is that he rarely understands even a little bit of what's happening, but he's all-in anyway. Parallel universes and monsters from another dimension? Confusing. Monsters that need to be whacked with a baseball bat, lured with meat, and/or set on fire? Sure! It looks like he'll be a bigger part of the mystery in Season 3, though, and that may not play to his strengths. What makes Steve fun may also enhance his shortcomings in Season 3.
Billy Hargrove/Mind Flayer
Strengths: Billy doesn't really have too many strengths other than attracting the attentions of housewives and terrorizing children, but that will change once he's apparently possessed by the Mind Flayer. He won't have a crew of D&D-playing best buddies who will investigate what's happening to him. Seriously, will it even be obvious that Billy is more awful than usual at first? The gate is also shut, so the Mind Flayer can't be banished like he almost entirely was was at the end of Season 2.
Weaknesses: The good guys were able to exorcise the Mind Flayer once before, and they could theoretically do it again. Would any of them even feel bad if it came down to jabbing Billy with a hot poker? In fact, people could be more willing to kill an 18-year-old than they were young Will on the chance it would get rid of the Mind Flayer. Will also has some inside info on the Mind Flayer that could work against him, and Eleven will be a powerful enemy.
Strengths: Well, Season 2 proved that Lucas' little sister can totally steal scenes, and I'm crossing my fingers that we get to hear her call her brother and his friends "nerds" in that wonderfully disgusted tone of hers. Erica will be a recurring character in Season 3, and she'll come with a group of her own friends who are ready to get into the mix to save Hawkins as well. If she's anything like her brother, she could be valuable.
Weaknesses: Stranger Things never confirmed her age, but Erica will certainly be younger in Season 3 than the youngest kids were in Season 1. She and her friends may be much too young for the fight they're getting themselves into, especially since they won't have the D&D background or the superpowered friend to help them out.
Strengths: Robin is a new character for Season 3 who will work at Scoops Ahoy with Steve, and not a ton of details are available about her. We do know that she looks less ridiculous than Steve in the sailor outfit, so that's arguably a strength. Judging by her mockery of Steve for having children for friends, she could provide some comedy even as the danger comes to the mall.
Weaknesses: Well, Robin is a new character who seems like one of the good guys, so that immediately puts her in danger. Will Robin go the way of Bob? Maybe not, but she's at a disadvantage due to her lack of knowledge of what went down in Seasons 1 and 2. It's not like Steve is the guy to explain all the details of everything that happened! Maybe Dustin can do it.
The wait for Stranger Things Season 3 is almost at an end. Be sure to check out Netflix starting Thursday, July 4 at 12:01 a.m. PT to catch the new batch of episodes. Plenty of new offerings are coming to Netflix in the not-too-distant future, so you'll have options once you've finished Season 3 and have to start the (hopefully not-so-long) wait for Stranger Things Season 4.