'Stranger Things' Stars Then and Now: Wow, They've Really Grown Up

You might barely recognize Millie Bobby Brown and friends these days.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Stranger Things stars at season 4 premiere
1 of 40 Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Look at them now

Cast members from Stranger Things posed on the red carpet on May 14, 2022, at the season 4 premiere in New York. From left to right, they are Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), and Priah Ferguson (Erica Sinclair).

Correction: An earlier version of this caption incorrectly included David Harbour.

Eleven in season 1 of Stranger Things
2 of 40 Netflix

Eleven was just 11

Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, was fittingly just 11 years old when she was cast in 2015. She looks so young and vulnerable here, as her character has just escaped from the lab where her powers were being tested.

Eleven looking a little older in Stranger Things
3 of 40 Netflix

Eleven grows up

Eleven got to wear actual clothes and grow out her hair as she slowly fit in with the Hawkins kids.

Eleven with longer hair in season 3
4 of 40 Netflix

Eleven discovers the mall

In season 3, Eleven and Max strike up a 1980s-girl friendship and enjoy a crazy shopping day at Starcourt Mall.

Eleven being held by the arm in season 4
5 of 40 Netflix

Eleven in trouble

Eleven moves to California with the Byers family in season 4, and she sure looks a lot more grown-up. But she can't escape her past.

Dustin looks out a window in season 1
6 of 40 Netflix

Dustin sees all

Science geek Dustin is seen here in the first season. Actor Gaten Matarazzo was born with cleidocranial dysplasia, and that was written into Dustin's storyline, too. The condition mostly affects bones and teeth.

Dustin at the dance in season 2
7 of 40 Netflix

Dustin at the dance

Dustin cleans up pretty well. Here he is at the dance at the end of season 2.

Dustin back from science camp in season 3
8 of 40 Netflix

Dustin home from camp

In season 3, Dustin returns home from science camp and can't stop talking about his new girlfriend, Suzie. She helps the kids out at a pivotal moment.

Dustin and his buddies look at a computer screen
9 of 40 Netflix

Dustin and pals

Looks like Dustin will again be a major presence in the fourth season. And his curly hair remains the same, season to season.

Mike rides a bike in season 1
10 of 40 Netflix

Mike on a bike

Finn Wolfhard plays Mike Wheeler, seen here looking especially young in season 1.

A young Mike looks scared and confused in season 2
11 of 40 Netflix

Mike in season 2

Mike and friends struggle to understand what's up in Hawkins in season 2.

Mike and Eleven sit on a bed together in season 3
12 of 40 Netflix

Mike and Eleven date

In season 3, Mike and Eleven begin a relationship, and Mike's looking a little more mature. Police Chief Jim Hopper, Eleven's adoptive dad, isn't happy about the young couple.

13 of 40 Netflix

Mike in Hellfire Club shirt

Mike loses Eleven to California in season 4. Maybe he finds comfort in the Hellfire Club, the Hawkins D&D club, as seen on his shirt.

14 of 40 Netflix

Will Byers is about to disappear

Noah Schnapp plays Will Byers, whose abduction in the first season kicks off the entire series.

15 of 40 Netflix

Will tries to recover

Will does get home, but he's not exactly the same after his abduction. His hair is kind of the same, though.

Will has soaked hair and a spooked look in season 1
16 of 40 Netflix

Will is still suffering

The Mind Flayer continues to haunt Will in season 3, giving him a haunted look.

Caleb McLaughlin plays Lucas Sinclair in season 1
17 of 40 Netflix

Young Lucas and pals

Caleb McLaughlin plays Lucas Sinclair. McLaughlin is the oldest of the kid group on the show, as he was 14 when cast on the show.

Lucas looks serious, and more grown up, in season 2
18 of 40 Netflix

Lucas gets serious

In season 2, Lucas meets Max, who will become his girlfriend.

Lucas holds up his right hand in season 3
19 of 40 Netflix

Hand it to Lucas

Lucas saves the day with some smart fireworks hoarding in the big mall battle of season 3.

Season 4 Lucas looks way more grown up
20 of 40 Netflix

Lucas on the court

Season 4 Lucas looks much more grown-up than previous seasons, and apparently he's a basketball player now. When season 4 premieres, McLaughlin will be 20 years old.

Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers in season 1
21 of 40 Netflix

Jonathan hunts for Will

British actor Charlie Heaton plays Jonathan Byers, brother of the missing Will in season 1. He was 22 when he started on the show.

Jonathan talks to Nancy in season 2
22 of 40 Netflix

Jonathan in season 2

Jonathan stepped out of his nerdy scapegoat role in season 2 and developed a stronger relationship with Nancy.

Jonathan working as a newspaper intern in season 3
23 of 40 Netflix

Jonathan as a newspaper intern

In season 3, Jonathan and Nancy both work as interns at the Hawkins Post newspaper.

Stranger Things characters Steve and Nancy with big '80s hair
24 of 40 Netflix

Steve and Nancy, and their 1980s hair

Joe Keery plays Steve "The Hair" Harrington, and Natalia Dyer plays Nancy Wheeler. Though they play high schoolers, Keery was 24 and Dyer was 21 when the show started.

Nancy has a new hairdo in season 2
25 of 40 Netflix

Nancy in season 2

Nancy moves away from Steve and toward Jonathan as the show progresses. She's seen here with shorter, more modern hair in season 2.

Nancy holds a telephone receiver to her ear in season 3
26 of 40 Netflix

Nancy as newspaper intern

Nancy's hair is a little more styled in season 3, when she works as an intern at the Hawkins Post and is mockingly nicknamed "Nancy Drew" by the employees.

Natalia Dyer as Nancy in season 4
27 of 40 Netflix

Season 4 Nancy

Season 4 Nancy has been through a lot and isn't giving up. Dyer will be 27 when the fourth season premieres.

Natalia Dyer and Joe Keery in the lunch room
28 of 40 Netflix

Out to lunch

Check out those very-1980s hairstyles on Natalia Dyer and Joe Keery.

Joe Keery as Steve at the wheel of a car
29 of 40 Netflix

Steve 'The Hair' Harrington

Face it, Steve was a jerk in season 1, but he began redeeming himself in season 2.

Steve in his Scoops Ahoy uniform
30 of 40 Netflix

Steve works at Scoops Ahoy

Steve really came into his own in season 3, with a job at Scoops Ahoy and a big-brother friendship with Dustin.

Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield looks lovingly at Lucas in season 2
31 of 40 Netflix

Mad Max

Sadie Sink joined the cast as Max Mayfield in season 2.

Max and Eleven eat ice cream in season 3
32 of 40 Netflix

Max the mall queen

Max helps Eleven find herself some cool 1980s outfits at Starcourt Mall in season 3.

Steve looking older in season 4
33 of 40 Netflix

Steve and pals in season 4

Think Steve is looking pretty adult? Keery is 30 now.

Dacre Montgomery as Billy with a mullet
34 of 40 Netflix

Bad Billy comes to town

Australian actor Dacre Montgomery hasn't had as much time to change as the other actors, as he's only been on the show for two seasons. He plays bad boy Billy Hargrove.

Billy is shirtless as a lifeguard in season 3
35 of 40 Netflix

Billy the lifeguard

The Hawkins mothers drool over Billy the lifeguard. Sadly, this is about the highlight of the season for him.

Lucas' little sister Erica with her hair up
36 of 40 Netflix

You can't spell America without Erica

Lucas' little sister, Erica, has no fear of the bigger kids. Priah Ferguson was just 9 when she started playing the role.

Erica eats ice cream in season 3
37 of 40 Netflix

Ice, ice, baby

Season 3 Erica is invaluable to the bigger kids when it comes to tracking down the Russian lab.

Erica, Dustin and Lucas in season 4
38 of 40 Netflix

Erica's back for season 4

Erica is one of the gang again in season 4.

Maya Hawke as Robin, shown lying on the floor in season 3
39 of 40 Netflix

Robin gets the scoop

Maya Hawke joined the show in season 3, playing Robin, Steve's co-worker at Scoops Ahoy. Hawke is the daughter of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

A look at Robin, back for season 4
40 of 40 Netflix

Robin returns for fourth season

Hooray, Robin is back for season 4!

More Galleries

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone

18 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
Go Inside the Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro: See How the New iPhones Look and Work
iphone 15 in different color from an angled view

Go Inside the Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro: See How the New iPhones Look and Work

21 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos
Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

16 Photos
CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

9 Photos
2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

14 Photos