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Eleven's Best Stranger Things Scenes Ranked By Ruthlessness

In the world of sci-fi and horror television, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has made quite an impression. You might even suggest the beloved "Stranger Things" character has earned a place in TV history — and you wouldn't be wrong. Over the course of four, heart-pounding seasons, the little girl with mind-blowing psychic powers has hypnotized audiences with her endearing smile, her knack for taking down every baddie in sight, and for her love of waffles.

The record-setting show, created by the Duffer brothers, satisfies an appetite for action-packed sequences and gnarly monster designs, but it also asks questions about young love, morality, regret, and the inevitability of death. While we wait for the fifth and final season (which will reportedly involve a time jump), let's flip back through El's most ruthless scenes, from the obviously brutal to the more subtle moments that underscore her inner turmoil. Spoilers for "Stranger Things" ahead.

12. The bad man

In the much-maligned episode "The Lost Sister," Eleven travels to Chicago to track down a young girl named Kali Prasad (Linnea Berthelsen), who, like her, has psychic abilities. Kali was also forced to undergo ethically-questionable experiments in the Hawkins Lab and she made it her mission to track down all the "bad men" connected to it after she escaped.

Using her mind tricks, Eleven identifies former orderly Ray Carroll (Pruitt Vince) and sets out to find him. Along with Kali and her band of misfits, El storms his apartment and nearly chokes him to death. As she strangles him with her powers, her eyes fall upon a photograph of him and his smiling family. El's heart melts in that moment, realizing that red hot revenge never truly heals. It only causes more unnecessary damage and ruins lives.

The entire episode is a turning point for El. Seeing how cruel Kali has become, she refuses to let resentment, anger, and pain consume her. Instead, she vows to use her powers for good. What could have been a cold-hearted moment blooms into a moment of personal transformation.

11. Troy pees his pants

It's always satisfying to see a bully get a little comeuppance, and "Stranger Things" does this particularly well. In Season 1 episode "The Body," Hawkins mourns the apparent death of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). During Will's memorial service, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) witnesses school bullies Troy (Peyton Wich) and James (Cade Jones) making a joke out of the proceedings and confronts them. "What's there to be sad about anyway?" Troy tells Mike. "Will's in fairy land now, right?" He turns to make his way across the gymnasium, and Mike is hot on his heels.

Mike shoves him to the ground. Fuming, Troy seethes, "You're dead, Wheeler!" Before he can lay a hand on Mike, he freezes mid-lunge. Eleven remains back with the crowd and uses her powers to control his bodily functions. And, well, Troy pees his pants. It's the single most embarrassing thing that can happen to a kid in middle school, and it serves him right. In this case, El's ruthlessness delivers a delicious moment of joyous revenge.

10. The break-up

El's ruthlessness is not solely reliant on her psychic abilities. As we learn in Season 3, she can and does possess the independence to stand up for herself when it comes to romance. After Hopper (David Harbour) told Mike to stay away from his newly-adopted daughter, Mike became distant and cold. El expresses her concerns with her new BFF Max (Sadie Sink), who tells her flat-out that "boyfriends lie all the time."

"I guarantee you, him and Lucas are playing Atari right now," Max speculates. El and Mike had plans to hang out, but he cancels at the last minute, claiming his nana is terribly sick. To take her mind off the situation, Max introduces El to the Starcourt Mall. They spend the afternoon browsing various shops and booths and basically goof around. Later, El telepathically spies on the boys and learns the truth.

Things really go sideways in Episode 2, "The Mall Rats." During another mall trip, Max and El stumble upon Mike, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will outside by the bike rack. "Isn't this a nice surprise?!" Max chides. Mike stutters to make an excuse. El is having none of it. "Why do you lie?" she asks. Silence. The bus home pulls into the parking lot, and El delivers the epically savage line: "I dump your ass." There are few single lines in this show as ruthless and iconic.

9. The shard

"Stranger Things" Season 3 climaxes with a one-two sucker punch. The penultimate episode (titled "The Bite") features a showdown between El and the Mind Flayer inside Hopper's cabin. Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and the rest of the gang are preparing for an all-out war. Nancy comes locked and loaded with a shotgun, as all badasses do, but all the preparations in the world are not enough for what's coming.

The Mind Flayer does what a Mind Flayer does. The monstrous creature rips open the cabin and nearly drags El to her death. The group does manage to get in a few good licks: Jonathan sinks an ax into one of its slithering tentacles, injuring it enough to distract it as Nancy fires off a few rounds into its skin. This gives El a chance to regain her footing, and she wields her powers to tear it in half. As she does, one of the tentacles chomps onto her leg and leaves behind a wiggling shard.

In the finale ("The Battle of Starcourt"), El is getting weaker and weaker. The fragment has sunk deeper into her flesh and it nearly sucks her powers dry. Jonathan tries to dig the piece out of her leg, and El unleashes the most blood-curdling screams. "I can do it," she whimpers. She manages to muster enough strength to rip the shard out of her leg and send it skidding across the marble floor. It takes a real ruthless warrior to put oneself through such excruciating pain.

8. Solitary confinement

Through a series of flashbacks in Season 1's "Holly, Jolly," we get one of our first glimpses into El's past inside Hawkins Lab, and it's chilling. In the episode, we follow an especially traumatic day during her entrapment. The first vignette centers around Dr. Martin Brenner (Mathew Modine) and his order for her to strangle a cat with her powers. She refuses (thank goodness) and is then tossed into confinement.

El struggles to break free, visibly rattled. "Papa!" she screams. Before the guards can lock her in solitary confinement, she slams one into the ceramic wall and twists the other's neck. Their limp, lifeless bodies tumble to the floor. The men in white coats certainly deserved some sort of punishment for their complicity in El's torture, but the way she dispatches them is still shocking to behold. Of course, she had yet to fully comprehend her powers, but she's still utterly ruthless at this moment. Through life experience — and witnessing Kali using her powers willy-nilly — Eleven does come to realize there is more power in restraint than anything else.

7. Billy's sauna test

In Season 3's "The Sauna Test," Eleven lures a possessed Billy (Dacre Montgomery) into the local pool's sauna to test a theory that intense heat can drive out the Mind Flayer. It works, but not before her powers and emotional will are put through the proverbial wringer. Flanked by Max, Lucas, Mike, and Will, she must hold her ground in the face of Billy's venomous taunts and psychological manipulation. The Mind Flayer poses a much greater threat than they anticipated, however.

Billy manages to break the metal chain and rip the door from its hinges. El casts a barbell into his throat and slams him against a brick wall, but Billy overpowers her. It all seems a futile endeavor until Mike clobbers him with a pipe and breaks his concentration for a fraction of a second. El rebounds and sends Billy's body flying through the wall onto the lawn outside. Of course, her real target is the Mind Flayer, but that doesn't change the fact that she's putting the body of another human through the ringer here. It's a brutal battle, and El is ruthless as she goes toe-to-toe with the possessed Billy.

6. Retaliation against Vecna

In the Season 4 finale, Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) closes ranks around Eleven and Max and traps them both inside the red-soaked inner sanctum of his mind. All seems hopeless until El gets the inspired idea to target his humanity, or what's left of it. "Papa's dead!" she sputters. Vecna turns and approaches. "He made you... into this," she continues. Vecna then peels back the layers of the Upside Down to reveal how he created the Mind Flayer. He surmises that El is actually the one responsible for making him into a monster.

As Vecna's tentacles tighten around her throat, El nearly gives up. In the real world, her body convulses. Mike, Jonathan, Will, and Argyle remove her from the makeshift sensory deprivation tank. Mike leans in and finally says everything he's been wanting to say but has been too scared to express. "I love you!" he admits. His confession empowers El — she loosens the tentacle and blasts Vecna into a gooey pillar, giving him a healthy dose of his own medicine.

There's no doubt that Vecna/Henry/One deserves to be punished, but once you understand him as a tortured soul abused by Brenner and the system, there is a sliver of compassion for him. That said, Eleven tried to appeal to his human side and got nowhere, so being ruthless was really her only option.

5. The roller skate

Dealing with bullies is like playing Whack-a-Mole — you boop one, and another pops up in their place. That being said, Eleven boops Angela (Elodie Grace Orkin) so hard in Season 4 that she will no doubt think twice about bullying again. We meet the conniving popular girl early on as the season picks up months after Joyce (Winona Ryder), Will, Jonathan, and El have moved to California to start a new life. Lenora Hills High is just like any other high school. There are papers to write, and spitballs to avoid. For an upcoming class project, El makes a visual aid for a heroic historical figure. She chooses Hopper. During her presentation, the cruel Angela mocks the choice openly in class.

When Mike comes to visit, El takes him to the local skating rink. Of course, Angela and her posse show up and decide to torment her in front of the entire arena. Anglea pretends to be her new best friend and invites her out into the center of the rink. It's all a goof, and she shames El, who ends up splattered with milkshake and crumpled on the floor. Later, after Angela refuses to tell Mike it was all a joke, El loses her temper. She grabs a skate from another kid, marches up to Angela, and plants the rubber wheels in the center of her face. The bully hits the floor hard as blood oozes from an open gash above her nose, shocking everyone in attendance. Was it a harsh reaction? Sure. Did Angela deserve it? Absolutely.

4. The monster

After everything she's done and everything she's been through, Eleven frequently questions whether she's a "monster" or not. In Season 1's "The Flea and the Acrobat," the boys consult their middle school science teacher about electromagnetic fields and alternate realities. Dustin, Mike, Lucas, and El venture out into the woods, compasses firmly in hand.

Their journey is easy going at first, but deep in their walk, Dustin realizes their compasses are not being drawn to true north. Something else (perhaps a sinister force or a ripple between worlds) causes their compasses to go haywire. Lucas points out that El has been much quieter than she usually is and realizes she's been using her powers to tinker with their devices. Lucas then accuses her of betraying them and even calls her a real monster for what she's done.

Lucas and Mike exchange harsh words and a physical altercation ensues. El yanks Lucas away and flings him across an abandoned junkyard. He slams his head against a piece of metal and is rendered unconscious. It's ruthless in that she still hasn't managed her emotions and their direct connection to her powers. She meant well, but she could have killed Lucas here.

3. Helicopter down

One of the most gratifying moments in Season 4 occurs after Brenner flees from the underground bunker. The military has descended upon his secret laboratory, where Brenner hoped to reignite El's powers by uncovering repressed memories from her childhood. A military helicopter hovers overhead, and a soldier aboard first dispatches Brenner with several shots in the torso before turning his scope toward Eleven.

Jonathan, Argyle, and the rest of the boys serve as a welcome distraction, as Argyle's pizza van barrels through the desert dust nearby. The soldier only briefly diverts his gaze, giving El enough time to regroup and climb to her feet. When he turns back, she firmly plants her feet in the earth. Her mind hyper-focused, she begins twirling the helicopter like a tilt-o-whirl. The soldier continues firing off rounds, and in one full-chested scream, El brings the war contraption plummeting into a group of army trucks.

An explosion lights up the desert sky. It's an awe-inspiring moment, but it's not without its underlying moral problems. The military men were simply following orders. Those orders were based on what government officials believed to be true. It may have been wrong to hunt El, but they were doing what they were supposed to. El's actions sit in the gray area between good and evil. Out of context, you'd think you were witnessing the birth of a villain.

2. School's out

Leading into the epic Season 1 conclusion, Eleven deals Brenner a hefty blow. When our group breaks into the middle school, they build a sensory deprivation tank to improve El's ability to find Will in the Upside Down. She winds through a dark and cold nothingness, first finding a very dead Barb and then Will hiding inside an alternate version of his backyard fort. Their endeavor is interrupted when Brenner's agents surround the school.

El and the group do their best to hide but are discovered moments later. In a wild and tense face-off, El funnels her fear and anger and sadness into one of the show's most gruesome, unsettling sequences. She squeezes their heads like zits, and blood oozes from their eye sockets. The moment lingers just long enough to leave an indelible impression before their bodies hit the tile floor with a thud. We come to learn that El is not a monster, but you may have had some serious questions in those early days.

1. Breaking Troy's arm

Bullies, here's a little advice for you: You act a fool, you die a fool. Well, maybe not die, but you're bound to get taught a hard lesson at some point. In Season 1's "The Monster," Troy shows his true colors once again. On the outskirts of town, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas are ambushed by Troy and his trusty crony James. Troy is thirsty for payback after inexplicably wetting his pants in front of a huge crowd at school, and he plans to toss Mike over a nearby cliff. While holding a knife to Dustin's throat, Troy forces Mike to climb to the ledge. Mike fully intends to sacrifice himself to save his best friend, but that's when Eleven enters the equation.

Mike takes a step into the abyss and seemingly to his death, but his body is suspended in mid-air. He hangs there for a moment in utter disbelief before being gently lifted and set back down next to his friends. El charges up the gravel road with a determined look on her face. Using her powers, she shoves James to the ground and snaps Troy's arm like a twig. It's ruthless and the single most satisfying El-related moment in the entire show. We can't help but wonder what Troy is up to these days.