How the Stranger Things cast has transformed over the years

Stranger Things first hit our screens in July 2016 and the stellar cast has been growing up right before our eyes. The sci-fi horror TV series quickly became one of the most popular shows in Netflix history, with record-breaking viewership numbers.

The first volume of Stranger Things season 4 is arriving shortly, and now that the cast members are all young adults, many of them look completely different.

A selfie of the Stranger Things cast on day one of filming. Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp and Caleb McLaughlin smile for the camera.
The Stranger Things cast on their very first day of shooting. Photo: Instagram/noahschnapp

Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven)

Millie was a pint-sized 11-years-old when she first portrayed the character Eleven, and her character famously sported a shaved head. After escaping from agents, Eleven meets Mike, Lucas and Dustin who join forces with her to fight evil.

Millie Bobby Brown on the left with a shaved head from Stranger Things, on the right with long blonde hair and bangs, wearing a white dress.
Fans were shocked at how much Millie Bobby Brown has changed from her first appearance in Stranger Things. Photo: Netflix / Getty

The British actress recently showed off her new blonde locks with bangs at the Stranger Things season four party, where she was joined by her boyfriend Jake Bongiovi. The pair also dressed up as Barbie and Ken for Millie’s 18th birthday in London, with Jake captioning a photo of the pair “Happy birthday Barbie ily”.


Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler)

The Canadian actor first portrayed the sweet middle child of Mike when he was only 13-years-old and was the character to find Eleven in the woods, taking a special shine on her. The pair developed an onscreen relationship, with the couple being separated at the end of season 3 when Eleven left town with the Byers family.

Finn Wolfhard in his first appearance on Stranger things on the left, on the right, Finn dressed in black for the Stranger Things premiere
Finn Wolfhard in Stranger Things season one compared to now. Photo: Netflix / Getty

Romantic rumours have constantly been circling Finn and Millie for years, but it seems that the pair have stayed firmly as platonic friends. Finn has been busy since first appearing in season one, with a long filmography including the two “It” horror films, and was the lead vocalist for indie rock band Calpurnia from 2017 to 2019.

Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson)

Appearing on our screens as the Dustin, the humorous character of the group, Gaten was also 13-years-old when Stranger Things started. He had been working for a few years already, making his Broadway debut in 2011 in “Pricilla Queen of the Desert”, before playing Gavroche in “Les Miserables”.

Gaten Matarazzo on the left in Stranger Things season one, on the right in 2022 pictured smiling at the camera in front of a Stranger Things 4 promotion.
Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things season one compared to now. Photo: Netflix & GettyPhoto: Netflix / Getty

Fans love the close relationship between characters Dustin and Steve (Joe Keery), and were ecstatic to find out that this spills out into real life. Joe told Vulture that Gaten is “like the 60-year-old uncle that I never had”, crediting the show for bringing their off-screen dynamic onscreen. Now 19-years-old, the star is returning to Broadway this year to be a part of “Dear Evan Hansen”.

Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair)

Caleb was 14-years-old when he joined Stranger Things, making him the oldest out of the young cast. Now aged 20, it’s no surprise that he has had one of the most drastic transformations. The star has been teasing fans about what to expect from season four, telling The Wrap that it’s pretty ‘unpredictable’.

Caleb McLaughlin on the left in Stranger Things season one, on the right, Caleb in an all white spotted outfit and sunglasses at the premiere of Stranger Things 4
Caleb McLaughlin in Stranger Things season one compared to now. Photo: Netflix / Getty

"There’s so many levels and elements to this season that you’re like, ‘Okay, that’s pretty crazy.’ But then something else crazy happens. You never know when it’s going to stop,” the actor warned.

Noah Schnapp (Will Byers)

At the centre of Stranger Things season one was Noah’s character Will. The 11-year-old spent most of his time in the Upside Down while his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) desperately tried to find him. As one of the youngest cast members when the show premiered, Noah now looks completely different.

Noah Schnapp in the left from Stranger Things season one, on the right in a pink suit jacket and white shirt for the Stranger Things season 4 premiere
Noah Schnapp in Stranger Things season one compared to now. Photo: Netflix / Getty

Fans have always gone wild for Noah’s close friendship with Millie, with each describing the other as a “best friend”. Millie has appeared on Noah’s YouTube channel to play the ‘best friend test’ and the actor regularly shares photos of the pair.

Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield)

Sadie joined the cast of Stranger Things in season two when she was 15-years-old. She already had an impressive resume, after playing the title role in Annie on Broadway and a stint on the Emmy-winning series The American. Her character of Max was introduced when she moved into town with her brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery).

Sadie Sink in season 2 of Stranger Things on the left, on the right, Sadie in a white suit jacket for the premiere of Stranger Things season 4
Sadie Sink in Stranger Things season two compared to now. Photo: Netflix & Getty

Since appearing on the hit show, Sadie also added some big credits to her name such as the Fear Street trilogy and Taylor Swift’s All Too Well: The Short Film. According to Digital Spy, the show creators have teased that Sadie’s character Max is the “emotional centre of the season”, as her character deals with Billy’s death at the end of the previous season.

The Stranger Things cast have all grown up. Photo: Getty
The Stranger Things cast have all grown up. Photo: Getty

Two-time Academy Award nominee Winona Ryder recently opened up to E! News, saying she was astounded at the talent her young co-stars have.

“I continue to be blown away by these kids. I was their age when the show takes place. These kids are just magic.”

“Sadie is like Liv Ullmann,” she told the publication. “She’s going to be like Meryl Streep!”

Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.

Or if you have a story idea, email us at