12 Best Dustin Moments From Stranger Things, Ranked

12 Best Dustin Moments From Stranger Things, Ranked

"Stranger Things" continues to impress as arguably one of the best shows ever produced on TV. The series, created by Matt and Ross Duffer, about a group of kids who stumble upon a young girl with extraordinary powers, perfectly blends horror, action, comedy, drama, and a hefty dose of heart, much of which is due to the remarkable cast of actors. Winona Ryder and David Harbour lead the way. Still, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Joe Keery, and Gaten Matarazzo often steal the show.

Of course, perhaps the best of the bunch is Matarazzo as the lovable nerd Dustin, a character as wise as he is silly. Whether pouring through cafeterias to find chocolate pudding, cursing angry adults, or chasing scary monsters, Dustin never ceases to entertain. Instead, he's so much fun I compiled a list of the character's 12 best moments on the show. Check out my selections below, ranked in ascending order, and bask in Dustin's outrageous brilliance.

Finding Chocolate Pudding (Season 1)

Dustin made his mark right out of the gate in Season 1 as Mike Wheeler's (Wolfhard) foul-mouthed pal or the one with cleidocranial dysplasia, a condition that affects the growth of teeth. He chimes in on several occasions, offering theories and essential insight into the happenings around Hawkins, all the while supplying a healthy amount of junk food. At one point, he takes charge and calls his teacher Mr. Clarke (Randy Havens) to ask how to build a sensory deprivation tank.

This mission leads the gang to Hawkins Middle School, where they build said tank so Eleven (Brown) can locate Will (Schnapp) in the Upside Down. Knowing they'll need the energy to keep moving, Dustin heads off for food; his nose turns towards a batch of chocolate pudding he believes lunch lady Phyllis has stowed away somewhere in the cafeteria. No words describe his joy at finding the pudding in a fridge. "I knew she was hoarding it! I knew it," he says. "Bald-faced liar."

Then, he turns and shouts over his shoulder -- his squeaky voice reverberating down the halls -- "Mike, I found the chocolate pudding!" Ah, Dustin, you always know how to make us laugh. Luckily, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the kid's antics; a fun preview of even better things to come. 

Lite-Brite Conversation (Season 4)

Nobody listens to Dustin. Too often, the kid has an idea that proves helpful, but everyone ignores his pearls of wisdom unless backed into a corner. Throughout "Stranger Things" Season 4, he tries to convince the group about his crazy (but often true) theories surrounding Vecna. He explains himself to an exasperating degree. In one of the season's best scenes, he, Lucas (McLaughlin), and Erica (Priah Ferguson) communicate with Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Eddie (Joseph Quinn), and Robin (Maya Hawke) -- trapped in the Upside Down -- through a Lite-Brite. Upon learning his friends are stuck, Dustin implores them to go through one of the other gates, which he believes are located at various "murder sites" throughout Hawkins.

Nancy responds with a question mark, drawing Dustin's rage. "How many times do I have to be right on the money before you guys just trust me," he shouts.

"This kid has gotta get his ego in check," Steve says.

"It's his tone, right?" Eddie replies.

I'd say this is the instant when everyone, including Nancy, stops viewing Dustin as a nerdy schoolboy and sees him for the brilliant man he's become. However, by this point in the series we -- the audience -- had already seen this side of Dustin on multiple occasions, which is why I'm ranking it a little lower.

Dustin Lies To The Cops (Season 4)

Dustin doesn't shy away from blasting people with his honest opinions. However, the kryptonite to his unabashed ego is seemingly law enforcement -- as in the local police. We see the kid completely wilt like never before while speaking with officers Calvin Powell (Rob Morgan) and Phil Callahan (John Paul Reynolds), despite some fairly simplistic questions. Granted, Lucas and Max (Sink) offer little support, but Dustin caves under pressure like a house of straw.

"We went for a walk," Max says after Powell asks why they were at the lake at the time of Patrick McKinney's death.

"A walk? At 9 p.m.," the officer retorts.

"Yes! To the lake," Dustin humorously shrieks, his voice rising, eyes widening to the size of bowling balls. "To, uh, take a little swim. A late night swim.He then lies unconvincingly about knowing Eddie, which draws Erica's ire and leads to an argument among the adults.

We don't always get to see Dustin's humble side. Often, he's too bold for his own good, so it is a welcome change of pace to see the kid squirm under pressure every now and again. Also, his perplexed reaction to Mr. Wheeler's suggestion that they all do a little jail time is downright hilarious. That said, it's a little hard to believe the adults in the room would buy the nonsense our trio is spewing, making this a funny, albeit unrealistic entry on the list.  

Crawling Through The Vents (Season 3)

Admittedly, "Stranger Things" Season 3 is my favorite of the bunch. Every episode feels necessary, while the entire season carries a summer blockbuster aura thanks to the various "Terminator" and "Jaws" references. It helps that we also get a hefty dose of Dustin and Steve banter that cements them as the de facto power couple of the franchise. Their relationship ascends to absurdly entertaining heights and seems to peak right around the point where Dustin urges Steve to touch his butt so he can crawl through a vent.

Let's back up.

Steve, Robin, and Dustin stumble upon a Russian code generated somewhere in the Starcourt Mall and bumble about trying to attain more information. The next step involves accessing an air duct to open a large door where a company known as Lynx delivers supplies. Being the smallest, Dustin jumps at the opportunity to crawl through the vent but predictably gets stuck. He beckons someone to push him, and Steve obliges by grabbing Dustin's feet.

"Not my feet, dumbass," Dustin snaps. "Push my ass! Touch my butt! I don't care!"

This scene makes me laugh every time, mainly because it demonstrates how far these two have come since Season 1. Would early Steve allow Dustin to push him around? Nope, but these types of character beats make "Stranger Things" so special. However, the scene doesn't trump the ultimate Dustin and Steve interaction listed a little further below. Can you feel the suspense?

Battling D'Art (Season 2)

An important subplot to Season 2 centers around Dustin's friendship with a small toad-like creature he lovingly names D'Artagnan, aka Dart. While initially a fun little pet, Dart rapidly grows and eventually reveals itself to be a Demogorgon with a rather large appetite -- the tiny beast eats Dustin's cat, Mews.

Dustin takes drastic measures following this revelation to protect himself and his friends from the slippery critter. Donning baseball gear and wielding a hockey stick, Dustin lays a trail of bologna to guide Dart to his storm cellar, hoping to trap the creature long enough to figure out the next step. Everything goes according to plan until Dart gets a whiff of his master, forcing Dustin to leap from his hiding space to knock the tiny monster into the storm cellar himself. Luckily, his actions pay off, and he successfully locks up Dart. Later in the season, however, Dustin returns and discovers Dart has dug his way out and joined a legion of Demogorgons in their rampage across Hawkins. At least he tried, right?

I initially had Dustin vs. Dart ranked much higher, but decided to push it down a few notches. Sure, it's a creepy bit featuring all of Dustin's patented mannerisms. Plus, as a bonus, we get to see him explore his heroic side. That said, Dustin is far more appealing in the moments listed below, either comically or dramatically.

Speaking With Mr. Wheeler (Season 2)

In Season 2, Dustin steps up to the plate, so to speak, when a subplot involving a baby Demogorgon goes awry. All his friends are off on adventures, leaving Dustin scrambling for help. He tries to contact Lucas for hours and gets chewed out by Lucas' younger sister Erica instead. Later, following numerous futile attempts to call Mike, he visits the Wheeler residence in person and comes face-to-face with his friend's always-exasperated father (Joe Chrest). What follows is one of the best -- but not the best -- exchanges on the entire show.

"Your line has been busy for over two hours, Mr. Wheeler. Do you realize this?" Dustin says.

"Oh, I do realize," Mr. Wheeler says dully. Then, when asked where Mike is, the older man defers to his wife. "Karen, where is our son?" "Will's," she shouts. "Karen, where is Nancy?" "Ally's!" Mr. Wheeler turns back to Dustin. "Our children don't live here anymore, you didn't know that?"

"Son of a b****, you know you're really no help at all," Dustin snaps, turning away.

"Hey! Language," Mr. Wheeler retorts in the father-knows-best way.

Dustin is fearless in showing his true colors to the adults around town, but sometimes gets carried away. We're all for it because it makes for comedy gold. Also, this little instant is precisely the thing that drives him to Steve. So, Mr. Wheeler proved useful after all.

Breaking The News To Eddie's Uncle (Season 4)

Season 4 starts with the mysterious Vecna murdering Chrissy (Grace Van Dien), a cheerleader who sought help from Eddie Munson after she began witnessing strange visions. Due to her proximity to Eddie at the time of her death, many accuse the leader of the Hellfire Club of committing the crime. As such, the townsfolk, goaded by fear and Chrissy's boyfriend Jason (Mason Dye), pursue Eddie throughout the remainder of the season.

Sadly, Eddie incurs a gruesome fate while heroically protecting Dustin (and Hawkins) from Vecna in the Upside Down. Once the dust has settled, Dustin takes it upon himself to tell Eddie's uncle how his nephew died. Through tears, Dustin explains how "even in the end, he never stopped being Eddie, despite everything." Dustin reveals that Eddie could have run, but chose to fight to protect Hawkins, a town that hated him.

This scene packs an emotional punch, primarily due to Matarazzo's acting. It also marks an enormous step up in maturation for Dustin. Speaking to Eddie's uncle took guts. Still, it's hard to see Dustin so vulnerable. Typically, he's the plucky kid protected by an unbreakable spirit. Personally, I like fun, smartass Dustin a little more than sad Dustin, and feel comfortable slotting this piece of drama just outside the Top 5.

Surprise Homecoming (Season 3)

Following the events of Season 2, Dustin heads off to Camp Know Where for the summer. Upon returning, he's dismayed that none of his friends are waiting for him at his house. "At least someone's happy I'm home," he mournfully tells his pet turtle.

Suddenly, his Magic Mike II robot toy buzzes into the room, followed by an electronic R2-D2 figure. Then, his Jolly Chimp starts clashing its cymbals just as a Transformer G1 Ultra Magnus rolls out of his closet, flanked by a legion of tanks, trains, and other oddities. The assortment of toys makes its way out of his room and into the hallway, prompting a bewildered Dustin to follow -- but only after he arms himself with Farrah Fawcett's hairspray.

The camera pans back to reveal Max, Lucas, Will, Mike, and Eleven giggling behind a wall. Eleven is controlling Dustin's toys. She guides Dustin to the living room, and the group forms behind him, bearing a "Welcome Back Dustin" sign. Dustin being Dustin, when his friends yell, "Surprise!" freaks out and shoots Lucas in the eyes with the hairspray. It's an uproarious sequence demonstrating how the Upside Down has impacted Dustin's psyche.

As amazing as this scene is, it doesn't top any of Dustin's four greatest moments -- and that's saying something.

Fighting With Eddie (Season 4)

Dustin certainly has a way with people. Not only does he befriend Steve in Season 2 (see below), but he also develops a bond with heavy metal enthusiast Eddie in Season 4. They become so close, Dustin agrees to venture into the Upside Down to watch his pal distract a swarm of Demobats with a wicked rendition of Metallica's "Master of Puppets." Both characters understand the dangers of their actions, but that doesn't prevent them from engaging in wild antics before their journey commences.

While adorning trash can lids with nails (for shields), Eddie makes a speech -- "Hear me now! There will be no retreating for Eddie the Banished!" -- and he engages in a mock fight with Dustin. The two boys toss each other about, and then Eddie grabs Dustin and implores to him, "Never change!"

"I wasn't planning to," Dustin says, taken back by Eddie's sudden influx of emotion.

By now, many of you likely know how their friendship ends, making this brief character beat all the more heart-wrenching. Still, what helps the scene pop is the nature of Eddie and Dustin's connection. Where Steve urges Dustin to be cooler -- in a good way, mind you -- Eddie helps Dustin realize he doesn't need to change at all -- he's already awesome. You can practically see the admiration radiating from Dustin's eyes during this stretch, making it one of his finest scenes.

Dustin And Steve's Lightsaber Handshake (Season 3)

"Stranger Things" Season 2 made the inspired move to pair Dustin and Steve together for many of the later episodes, resulting in a fun bromance that helped each character grow in their respective ways. Naturally, fans were curious whether this dynamic duo would continue their budding relationship in Season 3. Thankfully, the Duffer brothers waste no time bringing our pals back together via one of the more unforgettable interactions of the entire series.

Having returned from summer camp, Dustin goes to Scoops Ahoy, the ice cream joint where Steve works, and runs into Robin. He asks to see Steve, and before long, our big-haired hero bursts into the scene, positively beaming at the sight of his friend. The two engage in a complicated handshake involving fist bumps, imaginary lightsabers, and disembowelment, which forces Robin to ask her co-worker, "How many children are you friends with?"

Steve has come a long way since his days as a too-cool-for-school jock in Season 1; Dustin changed him for the better, and their goofy banter demonstrates just how far their friendship has developed since we last saw them. Seriously, this would be number one if not for the brilliance of the two remaining entries.   

Snow Ball Dance (Season 2)

After hanging out with Steve through Season 2, Dustin takes his advice and molds himself into something akin to Steve Jr. Arriving at the Hawkins Snow Ball, Dustin sports a wicked new hairdo, some fancy clothes, and a heavy dose of confidence -- though, he still does his silly purr, proving he will never fully move beyond his nerdish tendencies. Once inside the party, Dustin bravely steps up to the plate and asks some girls to dance; they laugh and brush the poor kid aside, leaving him weeping on the sidelines.

Luckily, Nancy spots him, takes pity, and pulls him to the dance floor. Tickled, Dustin enjoys a rare opportunity at the top of the mountain as the girls who turned him down watch scornfully from afar. There are a lot of elements at play in this scene that make it stand out from the pack. At the onset of "Stranger Things," Nancy spent much of her time away from her brother and his assortment of friends. Following their recent adventures, she openly mingles with them, including Dustin.

From Dustin's perspective, dancing with Nancy is when he officially moved into the inner circle with the cool kids. He'll always be valiant little Dustin, but now he comes armed with Steve and Nancy at his side. What could be better than that?

Well, as it turns out, there is something better, and I'm betting you "Stranger Things" fans know exactly what I'm talking about ...

'NeverEnding Story' Song (Season 3)

Hands down, the best Dustin moment from "Stranger Things" occurs towards the tail end of Season 3 when he joins his girlfriend Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) over the radio for a duet. The song? The title theme of "The NeverEnding Story." Dustin and Co. need a critical code during the final battle with the Mind Flayer, and only Suzie can help, but she'll only aid in the quest if he sings the song. Unbeknownst to Suzie, the entire gang -- including Joyce and Hopper -- are listening over the radio waves, leading to bewildered, even amused reactions by all involved.

Until now, Dustin provided the necessary elements to the plot but mostly stepped aside during the more prominent beats. Moreover, when pressed about Suzie, no one believes Dustin has what it takes to start a serious relationship, and consequently refuses to believe she's real. The "NeverEnding Story" duet confirms Suzie's existence and allows our young hero to step into the limelight and memorably accomplish a critical task. Sure, he's goaded for it later on, but I cheered the kid's moxie. After all, not many young men would willingly dote over their significant other so openly -- that takes serious cajones.

Cute, clever, funny, uplifting, and endlessly entertaining, this scene represents peak Dustin -- even when he's awesome, he's still a nerd.

Read this next: The 14 Most Brutal Moments In Stranger Things Ranked

The post 12 Best Dustin Moments From Stranger Things, Ranked appeared first on /Film.

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