3. Stranger Things season 4
The fourth season of Stranger Things debuted on Netflix in May 2022, arriving almost three years after season 3, so it goes without saying that it needed to make an impression.
Bigger. Badder. Meaner. Scarier. Darker. Larger-than-life. Season 4 was all of those things right from the offset, and not just because its first part consisted of seven hour-long installments. No, the fourth season quickly set itself apart from its predecessors with a story that reached beyond Hawkins (both into the real world and the Upside Down) and a much more mature tone that quickly made it clear that Stranger Things had grown up.
The Mind Flayer was not the threat this time (though he is still out there) as a new evil named Vecna arose, violently killing people across the dimensions, putting everyone in Hawkins at risk of feeling his wrath. Meanwhile, the only person capable of stopping him, a powerless Eleven, struggled fitting in to her new life in California. And while all of this was happening, the beloved Jim Hopper was trapped on the other end of the world in a secret prison.
There was a lot going on in Stranger Things season 4 as the show had a lot of time to explore it. The lengthier episodes do result in occasional pacing issues (which was evident in its premiere and its movie-length finale), and the newer more graphic approach might not be for everyone, but the first part of the season found a way to make the show serious again, all while maintaining that heart we all love so much – and making the world sing “Running Up That Hill” the whole way throughout.