What D&D Character Classes Are the Stranger Things Characters?
The Sinclairs are a family of rogues.
Like the kids in Netflix’s Stranger Things, my husband started playing role-playing games in a school library, eventually moving to a regular game in his friend Greg’s basement. Several of the friendships he made that way are still going strong, and it’s a hobby for him that has extended into our lives as he’s taught our children and me to play Dungeons & Dragons and the like.
Even though we’re more ’90s kids, so much of the show resonates with our experiences and interests. One continuing conversation we’ve had is how the act of role playing influences the storytelling, from the plot device of dungeon crawls in the underground of Hawkins, to the makeup of the “party” in each season finale. We enjoy dissecting how each main character can be linked to one of the major character classes in a game of D&D, and in season three, we noticed development in the sibling team of Erica and Lucas, split between two plot lines as excellent Rogues.
“I hate Rogues” has been a popular refrain of mine since my husband and I started playing tabletop and video game RPGs. I tend to play ranged characters that stand back and cast spells or use arrows, so sneaky rouges are the bane of my existence on the battlefield, quietly stabbing me from behind. Luckily for our band of heroes in Stranger Things, Rogues seem to be an Achilles heel for Russians and the Mindflayer, too.
Humorously, Lucas and Erica are not quiet people in their everyday lives. Often comic relief, Lucas is a fan of the stereotypical teenage boy humor of fart jokes, fireworks, and an innocent first romance. Erica is a smart, sarcastic young girl using her wits to con free ice cream and make fun of her brother.
But in a fight, both will sneak up from behind and end you.
Lucas doesn’t get as much attention for being a hero in the series. Sure, Eleven is the power, Hopper beats up a lot of people, and like Princess Leia before her, Nancy is the best shot, but Lucas is necessary in winning three fights in season three. The fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook explains that “when it comes to combat, Rogues prioritize cunning over brute strength. A Rogue would rather make one precise strike, placing it exactly where the attack will hurt the target the most.”
The Sinclairs’ ingenuity demonstrates this drive. First, as the children battle Billy in the locker room, Lucas nails Billy in the forehead with his slingshot, allowing Max to run over to the group. Then, in the cabin, he’s able to grab the dropped weapon of another character to save the day and chop the tentacle off Eleven’s leg. It’s his suggestion that allows the group to steal fourth of July fireworks to distract and harm the creature during the Battle of Starcourt. Likewise, Erica’s ability to climb through air ducts, and her ingenuity in finding “a deadly weapon” to rescue Steve and Robyn, make her very useful in a Red Dawn-esque adventure.
There’s room for disagreement and different methods for defining each player in Hawkins’ class, influenced by their play in the show, which edition of D&D you use, and the traits you focus on. For example, Dustin is often referenced to as a bard in online discussions, and his Neverending Story duet is evidence, but I’d make the case that Dustin is a druid due to his scientific exploration, connection to the demodogs in season two, and need to place his radio tower in the woods in season three.
When he convinces Dart to let the children pass in the season two tunnels, it echoes the “Animal Friendship” and “Speak with Animals” spells Druids can gain at level 1. My husband points out Jonathan as the modern bard, with a jack-of-all-trades personality and a photography hobby leading to a burgeoning career in journalism.
Steve shows a transition from a stereotypical jock to a Paladin, dedicated to protecting Hawkins and his young friends. All brawn and heart with little brains, he finally won a fight and had his moment of revenge against Billy. Multiple times, he attempts to “tank,” telling his young charges to get behind him. Hopper is a Barbarian, and while season 3 perhaps took this trope a bit too far, true to the D&D handbook, we can see him as drawing “from a reservoir of anger at a world full of pain.” In a fight, his “rage is a power that fuels not just a battle frenzy but also uncanny reflexes, resilience, and feats of strength.”
Will the Wise’s power to sense the creature due to their connection is mirrored in his D&D knowledge, making him the Wizardly keeper of arcane knowledge. Eleven is a Sorcerer, due to her magic coming from her bloodline. Nancy shows Ranger intuition and a use of ranged weaponry, always leaning towards a shotgun.
Joyce and Mike are still a source of discussion for us, with her instincts and mom-yelling mirroring that of a Fighter, while Mike seems mostly useless thus far, but keeps the faith, atoning like a religious Cleric. Max, with her dedication to skateboarding and focus on the body through clothes shopping and healing group injuries, appears to be a Monk, not her made-up Zoomer category. Even Billy’s arc seems to be that of a Warlock—gaining power through a bargain with a demonic source, yet sacrificing himself in the end.
Who knows if the Duffers intended the source material of D&D to align with the characterization of their Stranger Things cast, but for fans of the show who are into RPGs in real life, it’s a way to understand the characters and to see the important role each plays. Thanks to Lucas and Erica, I might even try playing my previously least favorite class the next time I build a character.
Meredith Flory is a freelance writer, military spouse, and mom with a master’s degree in children’s literature from Kansas State University. You can find her work at www.meredithflory.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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