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SYFY WIRE Stranger Things

The 5 scariest moments in 'Stranger Things' (so far...)

We've ranked the five scariest moments from Seasons 1 through 3.

By Tara Bennett
Stranger Things Season 3 Eleven SCREENGRAB

It's been a long three years, but Stranger Things finally returns tomorrow for its fourth season on Netflix. The gang is now separated, but the threats in Hawkins, Indiana, just keep coming. The first three seasons of the series proved without a doubt that Hawkins is maybe not the zip code anyone would want to call home anymore. With the Demogorgons, the Mindflayer, the Upside Down and everything else that comes with the unleash of a parallel hell dimension, we totally get why Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) finally skipped town with Will (Noah Schnapp), Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) at the end of Season 3. 

As SYFY WIRE prepares for the return of the series, we turned back the clock to find the five scariest moments from the series from Seasons 1 through 3. And while there were a lot of great, terrifying scenes to choose from, we went with the ones that really changed the trajectory of the series, along with making us dive into the cushions of our couch. 

Season 1 

Episode 2, "Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street" & "Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly" — Barb Gets Sucked into the Pool

Barb gets attacked

Only two hours into the entire series, the stakes suddenly become deadly serious at the end of this episode. That's when sweet nerd Barb Holland (Shannon Purser) not only has to suffer being Nancy's (Natalia Dyer) third wheel at the cool kids pool party, but she's also stalked in the backyard by a Demogorgon. As she's sitting alone on the diving board contemplating her poor life choices, a single drop of her blood in the water triggers her disappearance that continues right into the next episode as she wakes up in the Upside Down version of the pool. The cold blue environment with the ash particles falling around her is chilling imagery. Period. But then watching Barb try to climb out of that empty pool, screaming for help as the Demogorgon titters and then drags her ruthlessly back into the depths is when the series let us know it wasn't playing. 

Season 2

Episode 3, "Chapter Three: The Pollywog" - Will Gets Possessed by the Mindflayer

In the early seasons of Stranger Things, one of the show's most potent secret weapons was putting little Will Byers in any kind of jeopardy. They might as well have flayed our hearts every time they made us witness poor little Will get terrorized by the entities in the Upside Down. One of the most upsetting of his attacks comes early on in Season 2 as we're all still wondering what the ramifications are going to be for Will's time in the Upside Down. When he's in the middle school, we get a pretty visceral answer as he sees the tendrils of the Mindflayer overcome the halls and chase him outside. He sees the multi-armed shadow monster hovering over the school and bravely tries to confront it by yelling, "Go away!" It doesn't. The tendrils turn to smoke and then violently possess him. iI's a terrible visual that lets us know his nightmare is nowhere near over and the threat is even bigger this season. 

Episode 6, "Chapter Six: The Spy" - The Demodogs Surround the Bus

Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) makes a huge blunder when he finds, and raises, a baby Demogorgon that quickly grows up to be a very adult and hungry Demogorgon. When it escapes, Dustin, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Steve (Joe Keery) devise a plan to trap "Dart" in the junkyard using the old school bus as a base of operations. Good idea in theory until a whole pack of Demodogs arrive in the yard and proceed to surround the bus, Cujo-style. The claustrophobia of the bus limiting their movements to escape and the relentless attacks by the pack make this one hell of a dire situation with plenty of jump scares. It sets up the attack pack as a huge danger when the action next moves to the Hawkins Lab. 

Season 3

Episode 6, "Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum" - The Spider Monster Assembles

stranger things 3

It's scary enough that the Mind Flayer is actively possessing residents in Hawkins this season, but when those victims are psychically summoned to become one with their master in a being known as the Spider Monster... that's some next level freakish for the series. In this episode, the many who are possessed come together in abandoned mill where they dissolve into puddles of goo which are then absorbed into the awful physical manifestation of the Mind Flayer. All tentacles, teeth and sharp claws, the disgusting bubbling glob of former flesh is a nightmare made real. Knowing it grows into a stronger "army" with every body it absorbs makes the mission to stop it nothing less than necessary. 

Episode 8, "Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt" - Eleven and the Gang are Stalked by the Mind Flayer

The Mind Flayer is the biggest it's ever been with the assumption of more bodies and it's rendered Eleven powerless. With her abilities out of commission, the entity traps them in the Starcourt Mall and proceeds to stalk them in a terrifying game of cat and mouse. Using Max's brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) as his possessed puppet, the chase stays personal as they all try to figure out how to separate him without dying. Barely making it out alive in attack after attack, the stakes of the battle are so piqued it genuinely leaves the audience wondering at several points if a few of the kids might not make it out alive. In the end, there's only one terrible sacrifice in the mall that must be made to win the war. It's still terrible to watch and the repercussions are sure to be felt into Season 4. 

Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 is available on May 27 on Netflix.