Stranger Things rarely ends on a truly dark note. Season one’s finale focused on the survival of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) over the alleged death of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Then, even that Eleven-y tragedy was overturned with the season 2 premiere, “MADMAX.” Eight episodes later, the season 2 finale gave its heroes a near resounding triumph against new Big Bad, the Mind Flayer.
However, the ending of Stranger Things season 3, “Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt,” isn’t nearly so cheery. People die. In fact, a lot of people die — even more than you probably realise. While you’re likely focused on the apparent death of Jim Hopper (David Harbour), there’s a lot more tragedy to go around in Hawkins, IN. Keep reading for a full casualty recap of “Starcourt,” with each and every death explained in detail. This list is the only way you’re going to be ready for a prospective season 4.
Billy (Dacre Montgomery) spent his time on Stranger Things as a seemingly racist antagonist-turned-malevolent, Mind Flayer-possessed villain. Yet, he died a hero. Stranger Things managed to give us a real look into Billy’s psyche throughout season 3. We already knew his dad, Neil (Will Chase) was an abusive terror, but “E Pluribus Unum” revealed just how much Billy’s childhood made the teen we see today.
Originally, Billy was a sweet California boy who loved surfing, the beach, and his mom (Beth Reisgraf). Neil belittled Billy throughout his childhood and became increasingly violent towards his wife. Eventually, Billy started displaying his father’s aggression to prove his own toughness and his mom ran away from home.
In the finale, Eleven reminds Billy — who is trying to kill her — of that past and the kindness of his mom. For a moment, Billy is able to overcome the Mind Flayer’s control. Billy uses that autonomy to stand up to the Mind Flayer's monster, which the villain created to terrorise Eleven and her friends. In response, the monster claws into Billy repeatedly, eventually stabbing him through the chest with a tentacle. Billy is fatally wounded and dies once the gate to the Upside Down is closed.
Thanks to the one true moment of valour, Billy’s little step-sister Max (Sadie Sink) tearfully mourns over his dead body. There is absolutely no way he is coming back.
If there’s one Stranger Things tragedy the internet will be in shambles over, it’s the unexpected death of hero Jim Hopper. As usual, Stranger tradition, there is a three-prong plan to defeating the Mind Flayer in the finale. Hopper, Joyce Byers (Winonoa Ryder), and Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) are tasked with breaking into the secret Russian facility underneath Starcourt Mall to turn off the machine currently keeping the gate to the Upside Down open.
Grigori, the Terminator-esque Russian enforcer determined to protect the Starcourt project, interrupts Hop and Joyce right as they’re about the destroy the machine. A fight ensues. Grigori and Hop eventually end up next to machine — rather than in the safety of the control room — at the exact moment Joyce has the chance to close the gate. With tears in his eyes, Hop nods to Joyce, telling her to destroy the machine and kill him in the process.
She does. The machine self-destructs. We see electric zaps eviscerate the Russian scientists in the room. Hopper, who was standing closest to the machine, is also gone. Everyone takes this as proof Hopper is dead. Hop's emotional letter to Eleven — which she reads three months later in a flash-forward — stands as his heartstring-pulling goodbye.
Except, Stranger Thing leaves one bread crumb suggesting Hop may live on. In a post credits scene, the action jumps to a Soviet facility much like the one under Starcourt, only this time it’s in Kamchatka, Russia (and is housing a Demogorgon). A guards mentions an American is held in one of the cells. Could Hop live? Was he not killed by the machine, but rather transported to a different Russian base performing a similar experiment to the one in Hawkins? Well, answering these questions is what season 4 is for.
Grigori the Hit Man
Hop wasn’t the only killed by the Russians’ machine. During his and Grigori’s “Battle of Starcourt” fight, Hop tosses the Russian into the machine, which grinds him to a pulp. Bye-bye, Grigori. There’s not even a chance he was sent to a Demogorgon-holding facility in snowy Russian.
Technically, Heather (Francesca Reale) died in “E Pluribus Unum” when her entire body melted off of her skeleton and joined the Mind Flayer’s monster. However, the possibility of Heather living is completely eliminated in the finale when the monster dies, taking her body with it.
The Mind Flayer's Army
Heather isn’t the only person who died with the Mind Flayer’s monster. As we see in “E Pluribus,” dozens of possessed Hawkins citizens — if not more — melt down and join the monster. That means dozens of families in Hawkins lost loved ones without a real explanation.
After all, it’s not like the government informed the general public that Russia opened up a secret facility in the basement of the new mall, that facility aided the growth of a malevolent dimension-hoping being, that being eventually infected countless citizens, and then all of those citizens liquified into a megabeast that terrorised a small band of teens in said mall. As the lovably cheesy news reel shown towards the close of “Battle” says, an “electrical fire” is the only concrete explanation given for the many deaths in Hawkins. Not one person likely believes this.
The Mind Flayer
Destroying the machine in the Russian facility closed the gate to the Upside Down once and for all, severing the Mind Flayer from our world and killing its monstrous weapon in the process. We know this because the finale didn’t hop to some looming image of the Mind Flayer over Hawkins like last season. Instead, Stranger Things signals it has moved on to another villain by showing a Demogorgon in the last second of the post-credits sequence. Mind Flayer, who?
Dr. Alexei, aka “Smirnoff”
Alexei (Alec Utgoff) technically dies at the end of penultimate season 3 episode “The Bite.” However, his raison d’etre — destroying the machine he built — isn’t accomplished until the finale. So, let’s pour one out for Stranger Things’ cutest little scientist. May it be all cherry Slurpees and giant stuffed birds in the afterlife.
Stranger Things is available to stream on Netflix now