The third season of Stranger Things built up to one incredible finale. From Russians to the Mind Flayer possessing more innocent people, Stranger Things didn’t hold back. The final episode of season 3 features the epic Battle of Starcourt, as Eleven and the gang go to war with the monster created by the Mind Flayer while Hopper and Joyce try to close the gate to the Upside Down once and for all. Not everyone makes it out of the finale alive. Grab your tissues and buckle those seatbelts because we’re breaking down the most essential finale moments.
1. Hopper’s death. Joyce and Hopper descend to the Russian base below the Starcourt Mall to stop the Russians from keeping the gate to the Upside Down open. Hopper and Joyce make it to the machine, but the evil Russian who has been after Hopper since the beginning shows up for another brawl. Hopper and the Russian get into a brutal fight right next to the machine, and at one point, it looks as if the Russian is going to kill Hopper. Hopper manages to get the upper hand and throws the Russian right into the machine, turning him into nothing but blood and guts. Time continues to run out and Hopper knows what has to happen. With tears in his eyes, he looks at Joyce, who is the room above, and gives her the OK. Joyce turns the keys that will stop the machine from running. When she does that, there’s a massive explosion that instantly kills the four Russians in hazmat suits standing near the machine. When Joyce looks for Hopper in the aftermath, he’s nowhere to be found. There’s nothing but smoke where he just stood. It appears that Hopper is dead.
2. Billy sacrifices himself for Eleven. Billy was the new host for the Mind Flayer in season 3, but he became a hero in the end. Right before he’s about to hand El over to be killed by the monster, El reaches Billy’s humanity. She tells Billy about what she saw in his memory, a special moment between him and his mother. The monster is ready to devour El when Billy stops it. He sacrifices himself for El as Max watches. Max runs to his side as he takes his last breaths. “I’m sorry,” Billy says before he dies.
3. The Byers move away — with Eleven. Three months after Hopper’s death, the Byers are leaving Hawkins. It’s an emotional moment for everyone and the beginning of a new chapter. Since Hopper is gone, Joyce and the Byers take El in. The final moments of season 3 feature the Byers and Eleven driving out of Hawkins with Mike, Nancy, Max, Dustin, and Lucas watching them go.
4. Eleven tells Mike that she loves him. Eleven broke up with Mike early on in the season, but their feelings for each other never wavered. Mike admitted he loved El during a fight with Max in episode 6. While he thought she didn’t hear him, she definitely heard him. Right before she leaves with the Byers, El tries to get Mike to talk about his feelings. When he stutters a bit, she says four words that make Mileven shippers swoon: “I love you, too.” And then she kisses him.
5. Dustin’s girlfriend is very real. Listen, everyone thought Suzie, Dustin’s mysterious girlfriend he met at science camp, was fake. Turns out, their love is alive and well. When Planck’s constant is the code that Hopper and Joyce need to grab the keys that will stop the machine from keeping the gate to the Upside Down open, Suzie comes in for the save. Dustin finally gets in touch with Suzie using his makeshift radio tower. After performing The NeverEnding Story title song in an epic musical moment, Suzie gives Dustin the numbers he needs.
6. Steve and Robin are BFFs now. In the beginning, Steve and Robin were just co-workers at Scoops Ahoy together, but they quickly form a lasting friendship. They team up with Dustin and Erica to discover the Russian headquarters beneath the Starcourt Mall. They stick together when they’re kidnapped and interrogated by the Russians. When they escape, Steve reveals that he has feelings for Robin, who then tells Steve that she’s gay. When the Starcourt Mall is destroyed, Steve and Robin head to Family Video to get new jobs. While Robin easily gets a job, she has to convince Keith to hire Steve. She’s not leaving Steve behind. They’re a dynamic duo now.
7. Hopper’s heartbreaking speech to Eleven and Mike. Hopper was supposed to talk to Eleven and Mike about their relationship prior to all Russian and Mind Flayer drama going down. Joyce finds Hopper’s speech in his uniform pocket when she’s packing away his things. She gives the note to El, who sits down and reads it. His speech, in full, reads: “There’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you both about. I know this is a difficult conversation but I care about you both very much. And I know you care about each other very much. And that’s why it’s important that we set these boundaries moving forward, so we can build an environment where we all feel comfortable, trusted, and open to sharing our feelings. Feelings. The truth is, for so long, I’d forgotten what those even were. I’ve been stuck in one place, in a cave, you might say. A deep, dark cave. And then, I left some Eggos out in the woods, and you came into my life and for the first time in a long time, I started to feel things again. I started to feel happy. But, lately, I guess I’ve been feeling distant from you. Like you’re pulling away from me or something. I miss playing board games every night, making triple-decker Eggo extravaganzas at sunrise, watching westerns together before we doze off. But I know you’re getting older. Growing. Changing. And I guess if I’m being really honest, that’s what scares me. I don’t want things to change. So, I think maybe that’s why I came in here, to try to maybe… stop that change. To turn back the clock. To make things go back to how they were. But I know that’s naive. It’s just not how life works. It’s moving. Always moving, whether you like it or not. And, yeah, sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s sad. And sometimes… It’s surprising. Happy. So, you know what? Keep on growing up, kid. Don’t let me stop you. Make mistakes, learn from ‘em, and when life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave. But, please, if you don’t mind, for the sake of your poor old dad, keep the door open three inches.”