Which Stranger Things Characters Will Die in Season 5?

Someone's gotta go in Stranger Things' final season. Sorry! Here are the likeliest candidates.

STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers, Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven, Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, David Harbour as Jim Hopper, Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, and Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler in STRANGER THINGS.
Photo: Netflix

This article contains spoilers through Stranger Things season 4 and The Walking Dead.

To kill or not to kill? This is the question so many shows with large ensemble casts wrestle with as the tensions rise and the stakes become fatal deeper into the series. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones took great pleasure in cutting down leading players like blades of grass in the springtime sun. It kept viewers on their toes, but it also hindered the strength of the respective casts. When too many fan favorites are whacked, it tests the loyalty of the people watching at home and the skills of the writers and directors to form a coherent story with the crumbs that remain.

Stranger Things weighs in on the other end of the spectrum. The Duffer Brothers have kept essentially every cherished character locked into the show from the debut season to the most recent one. Even with a variety of villainous antagonists and the central evil of the story (Vecna) ominously hanging over Hawkins, the best deaths the series can muster are fake outs (Hopper’s cliffhanger at the end of season 3) and one-season guest stars (Eddie Munson’s at the end of season 4).

A dramatic, fulfilling death scene for one of the O.G.s feels almost required for season 5 to deliver a sensical and thrilling climax. Millie Bobby Brown expressed a desire to kill more characters, and the same sentiment should sound the alarm for the Duffers right now. These Stranger Things characters are most likely to bite the dust when the Upside Down absorbs our lives for a final time in 2025 (fingers crossed for that release date!)

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7. Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin)

Lucas has always been involved in the outskirts of the central drama in Stranger Things. From fighting with Mike over Eleven’s position in their friend group back in season 1 to his loyalty to his girlfriend, Max, in season 4, Lucas gets sufficient screen time without ever getting an explosive A-plot.

Lucas’s arc starts to change in the show’s most recent episodes when he gets caught in Jason Carver’s (Mason Dye) crosshairs. Jason goes insane thinking that Eddie, Lucas, and the rest of the Hellfire Club need to burn for his girlfriend’s death (Chrissy Cunningham) in the fourth season premiere. Lucas fights off Jason and nearly sacrifices himself for Max in the process.

Lucas’s association with Max (they represent the most stable romance on the show) will keep him in grave danger as Hawkins continues to plummet into Vecna’s grasp. His courage means he also won’t run away from demise. It’s conceivable to see him receiving a hero’s exit in season 5. 

6. Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo)

Dustin’s boyish grin lights up the biggest TV screens in the world, reminding us all of that one endlessly optimistic kid we grew up with. The Duffers deciding to rid the series of Dustin would be a gut punch like no other, but it would also make up for the lack of threats to him in the preceding seasons. 

Dustin often doesn’t get any main storylines in the series. He usually runs supporting plots with Steve, Lucas, Mike, or, most recently, Eddie. With Muson’s death hanging over him in the final set of episodes, Dustin may want revenge against Vecna and the forces of the Upside Down for killing his mentor. The increased danger could set up for a shocking Dustin death!

5. Jim Hopper (David Harbour)

Jim Hopper already got his near-death scene at the end of season 3, but the show revived him and gave him a poignant father-daughter moment that crowned the end of the fourth season with plenty of tears. It seems a little tacky and almost like a cop out to kill him off after he already “died” previously, but it gives the Duffers an out when choosing who to eliminate.

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Hopper always protects the kids in Hawkins and puts himself in the most peril of any character. Combining this fact with his previous lethal run-ins makes his potential death the easiest pill to swallow, both for the fans and the Duffers. 

Remember, The Walking Dead almost killed Glenn (Steven Yeun) and then actually killed Glenn just a season later. On second thought, let’s not remember . . . 

4. Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink)

Max might already be dead, so this makes her inclusion on the list a little iffy. The last time we saw the brave redhead, she was in a coma after being utterly crushed by Vecna at the end of the fourth season. The Duffers beautifully crafted Max’s character arc, replete with the viral “Running Up That Hill” rendition in “Chapter Four: Dear Billy.” 

Max’s death seems a little too dark for the Stranger Things narrative. She was already abused and mutilated, with crushed limbs and psychotic terror from Vecna raining down on her. The main reason the Duffers would kill her off is because they already did most of the work in doing so in season 4. It makes it much easier for them to say she died while in her coma than to kill a different character. 

3. Steve Harrington (Joe Keery)

Steve is like Hopper in that they are both courageous, masculine heroes who run headfirst into the action for the ones they love. Steve’s journey from an antiheroic jerk in the first season to a lovable goofball in the fourth season would make fans mourn his death more than just about any other cast member. Fiction writers tend to employ character deaths of strong, beloved supporting characters who have undergone a thorough retconning in the minds of the fans (think Severus Snape in Harry Potter.) Steve fits that template supremely. 

2. Will Byers (Noah Schnapp)

Will is the central catalyst of most of the plot in Stranger Things. Even since his kidnapping by the Demogorgon in the pilot episode, Will has served as the connector between the inner workings of the Upside Down and the humanity of Hawkins. If anyone deserves a happy ending, it’s Will.

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Life doesn’t always work that way, though. Stranger Things could sacrifice the character that has consistently fought for survival and come out the other side stronger, showing that his love and fortitude served a purpose greater than himself. The climax will make even more sense if he gets the love story he deserves before succumbing to evil. 

1. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown)

Eleven has undoubtedly become the main character of Stranger Things. Her death would add to the long history of protagonists who perish in the final season or series finale of a show. Simply by paying tribute to the narrative devices of television’s past, Eleven dying almost needs to happen in season 5. 

Eleven dropped into the laps of the Hawkins community, became ingrained in their lives, found paternal and romantic love along the way, and can now fulfill her destiny as the only one who can kill Vecna. As long as the Duffers pull it off correctly, this is the death that can bookend the show in the most sensical manner.