Stranger Things 3 First Reviews: New Season Earns Raves from Critics

Duffer Bros. tweak Netflix series' familiar formula just enough to catapult season 3 to Certified Fresh status.

by | June 30, 2019 | Comments

Stranger Things returns July 4 to a warm reception from critics for its new season. The first reviews out propelled the season 3 to Certified Fresh status within the day on Sunday, in one of the fastest designations in Rotten Tomatoes’ history.

The series sets its third season in the summer, starting out all warm breezes, sunny skies, baking skin, splashing pools, and young romance. But this is Hawkins, Indiana, and stranger things lurk beneath that veneer of ’80s suburban normalcy.

Cue the Netflix series’ Goonies-like crew: supernatural Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Will (Noah Schnapp), Max (Sadie Sink), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Steve (Joe Keery).

Parents and other siblings also return, including scene-stealing Priah Ferguson as Lucas’ sister Erica, Dacre Montgomery as Max’s bully brother Billy, and, of course, Winona Ryder as Will and Jonathan’s mom Joyce and David Harbour as police chief Jim Hopper, who last season adopted the role as Eleven’s father in attachment if not legally. In season 3, their bond is stronger than ever.

See what critics had to say about Stranger Things: Season 3 (2019) 89% below.

Something Old

Stranger Things SEASON Season 3 PHOTO CREDIT Netflix PICTURED Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Sadie Sink, Caleb McLaughlin

(Photo by Netflix)

“Reliable, durable and comfortable, ST3 is what you’d expect and certainly what you want, if what you “want” is seasons 1 and 2, with a few big twists along the way.” — Verne Gay, Newsday

Something New

Stranger Things SEASON Season 3 PHOTO CREDIT Netflix PICTURED Priah Ferguson

(Photo by Netflix)

“Our heroes are not the goofy young kids they used to be. The third series realigns and reconfigures them in new combinations and allegiances.” — Suzi Feay, Financial Times

Something Borrowed

“Though there are signs that Stranger Things is on the verge of slowing down (one-note villains, the missing feeling of an unearthed ’80s treasure), that’s not happening yet in Season 3.” — Tim Surette, TV Guide

Stranger Things finally becomes the sort of extravagant, exceedingly ambitious adventure spectacle that would have ruled the theaters during the ’80s, instead of a TV series merely obsessed with films from that decade.” — Kevin Yeoman, ScreenRant


STRANGER THINGS SEASON Season 3 PHOTO CREDIT Netflix PICTURED David Harbour, Winnona Ryder

(Photo by Netflix)

“On the evidence of this plodding and predictable third season, the Duffers can’t skip town soon enough.” — Ed Power, Daily Telegraph (UK)

“It harnesses a Big Summer Mood, a healthy heap of nostalgia and has plenty of fun references. But its story is also convoluted and far too scattered.” — Allison Keene, Paste Magazine

“It’s a thin imitation of what we used to have, who could blame anyone for clinging to it?” — Judy Berman, TIME Magazine

Final Verdict?

Stranger Things SEASON Season 3 PHOTO CREDIT Netflix PICTURED Maya Hawke, Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo

(Photo by Netflix)

“Season 3 balances good-natured laughs with charming nostalgia through likable characters doing battle against looming horrors. Yet it feels like it’s propping up its past to justify its present.” — Brandon Katz, Observer

“Despite its rocky start, the creators and performers find a way to pull off the impossible and deliver the best season yet, all while honoring their loyal fan base and challenging them to want more from a series known for playing it safe.” — Patrick Cavanaugh,

“By doubling down on relationship stories, Season 3 of Stranger Things delivers an oft-charming, deeper-than-expected, and ultimately enjoyable new chapter.” — Ben Travers, indieWire

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

social media LGBT Pop TV cars RT History travel Certified Fresh vampires Nat Geo 007 Set visit Avengers Rom-Com Holidays Grammys best TV renewals werewolf scary movies Cosplay Lifetime Christmas movies scorecard miniseries Holiday Awards Tour Reality Competition mission: impossible Teen zombies free movies A&E movie blockbuster comic The Arrangement diversity Reality BBC venice Family Epix golden globes YouTube Amazon Prime Video Summer USA Network transformers sag awards OWN Amazon Studios YouTube Premium television mockumentary Freeform Character Guide Esquire 2016 2019 Quiz Interview LGBTQ Thanksgiving political drama cats SundanceTV slashers crime dragons Hulu BET GLAAD Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Toys SDCC Tomatazos DGA San Diego Comic-Con all-time Crunchyroll zero dark thirty Red Carpet cinemax latino MTV breaking bad tv talk Amazon VOD independent discovery GoT 4/20 Sundance Elton John FXX The Witch Peacock 2017 Disney Plus WGN IFC Video Games Musical romance 45 Rock quibi nfl Emmys Music 20th Century Fox Masterpiece Binge Guide Sundance TV jamie lee curtis Musicals Britbox green book franchise Hallmark Christmas movies aliens MCU HBO Max Mindy Kaling child's play TLC SXSW History X-Men sequel joker Kids & Family series films psycho Shondaland Trophy Talk video on demand technology unscripted National Geographic Sundance Now Drama Marvel Studios Mary Tyler Moore First Look PBS batman Netflix Christmas movies Best and Worst Comics on TV Ovation witnail Heroines Brie Larson Trailer Marvel Television Awards serial killer ghosts BBC America elevated horror Infographic Showtime 72 Emmy Awards CNN war Year in Review Logo cartoon Cannes Discovery Channel GIFs documentary BET Awards chucky Disney Channel Fantasy OneApp TCA Winter 2020 nature stand-up comedy dramedy Pop 2018 Biopics robots Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Dark Horse Comics parents The CW NBC Arrowverse Apple TV+ Acorn TV spinoff VH1 indie Mary Poppins Returns The Walking Dead directors strong female leads thriller Amazon Prime CBS E! stop motion cops Columbia Pictures E3 HBO reviews FX The Purge adventure sports Funimation Crackle crime drama Photos TCA 2017 Trivia supernatural festival Chernobyl Mary poppins Hear Us Out Lionsgate hollywood Pixar Lifetime Netflix video obituary A24 sequels game of thrones true crime ABC First Reviews Sony Pictures universal monsters Mudbound casting blaxploitation spain Winter TV Superheroe FX on Hulu RT21 Comedy Walt Disney Pictures New York Comic Con superhero Disney+ Disney Plus Shudder 71st Emmy Awards Animation 2020 CMT based on movie Film Spike Black History Month science fiction Star Wars stoner Apple cults festivals CW Seed APB Lucasfilm justice league CBS All Access comics period drama politics talk show Warner Bros. Rocky Disney streaming service Stephen King Syfy Opinion christmas movies dc natural history Mystery USA Election BAFTA documentaries TCM TV binge Anna Paquin Extras zombie emmy awards halloween American Society of Cinematographers anime Sci-Fi harry potter concert MSNBC crossover football what to watch Superheroes DirecTV hispanic cancelled TV shows Turner Ghostbusters a nightmare on elm street Creative Arts Emmys news remakes Country Cartoon Network docudrama Disney Polls and Games Film Festival doctor who BBC One Food Network spy thriller Spectrum Originals sitcom screenings TCA Awards Hallmark cancelled TV series Valentine's Day Turner Classic Movies cooking Pirates Tarantino movies 21st Century Fox See It Skip It rotten worst historical drama revenge YA hist Apple TV Plus classics satire mutant Winners Star Trek Calendar versus critics Paramount Network TV Land disaster Pet Sematary Tubi dark psychological thriller TNT ITV Baby Yoda biography fast and furious worst movies laika Television Critics Association romantic comedy toronto kids Marvel Black Mirror crime thriller Spring TV Schedule asian-american medical drama ABC Family dogs TIFF Endgame Vudu comiccon Podcast comedies rotten movies we love book IFC Films Comic Book TCA Universal twilight foreign ESPN ratings TruTV children's TV spider-man Tumblr Premiere Dates streaming PaleyFest Nickelodeon Western space WarnerMedia DC Comics El Rey Marathons PlayStation Oscars screen actors guild Comedy Central DC streaming service Ellie Kemper renewed TV shows Television Academy Countdown teaser Starz HBO Go nbcuniversal Horror DC Universe theme song Bravo TBS anthology singing competition canceled TV shows game show south america Paramount Captain marvel Travel Channel Christmas richard e. Grant Watching Series animated die hard cancelled spanish language Pride Month award winner canceled police drama Martial Arts Sneak Peek Song of Ice and Fire composers Box Office 2015 toy story boxoffice facebook Action FOX criterion VICE Adult Swim finale Nominations Super Bowl Emmy Nominations reboot Women's History Month dceu Fall TV adaptation name the review AMC Academy Awards indiana jones Classic Film 24 frames Rocketman Writers Guild of America Fox News cancelled television YouTube Red President NYCC