The Richest Stranger Things Cast Member Might Surprise You

Netflix celebrated the fifth anniversary of "Stranger Things" with a tribute video in July 2021, recapping all the iconic and meme-worthy moments from the first three seasons of its flagship show. The young stars of the throwback sci-fi series have grown considerably since Season 1 dropped in 2016, and, thanks to the continued success of the show, so have their respective fortunes. 

The cast all received bonuses (per Deadline) ahead of Season 2, and when the time came for contracts to be renegotiated ahead of Season 3, "Stranger Things" was so big that significant pay rises were in order. "Sources say the new pacts for the child actors are worth roughly 12 times their previous deals," claimed The Hollywood Reporter.

It wasn't just the child stars who got rewarded handsomely, either. Reports suggest that everyone on the principal cast of "Stranger Things" made big bucks during Season 3, though one has managed to pull ahead of the pack by some distance. Which "Stranger Things" cast member has the most money? The answer might surprise you.

Sadie Sink was late to the party

Sadie Sink was a latecomer to the "Stranger Things" party, debuting as Cali girl Maxine "Max" Mayfield in Season 2. Before she popped up in Hawkins, Sink was best known for her run on the NBC show "American Odyssey," in which she played the daughter of U.S. Army sergeant Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel). She also had one-off roles in "The Americans," "Blue Bloods" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," but she was propelled to all-new levels of fame when the second season of "Stranger Things" dropped.

"I think now with like the masks and everything it's harder to get recognized, but I remember struggling with that at the beginning, getting really anxious whenever people would ask for pictures," Sink told Elle in September 2021, just a few weeks before filming on the COVID-hit fourth season of "Stranger Things" recommenced. "Luckily, I've got an amazing cast that are going through the exact same thing that I am, so I've got a very strong support system." She's clearly close with her onscreen friends, but she doesn't earn anywhere near as much as they do, reports suggest.

According to documents obtained by TMZ, Sink was paid around $23,000 per episode during her debut season, and that figure went up by just $1,000 an appearance for Season 3. She's since starred in the critically acclaimed "Fear Street" trilogy, however, and with two more feature films on the horizon as of this writing, she's estimated to have a net worth of around $1 million.

Maya Hawke dropped her debut album

As the child of Hollywood royalty, Maya Hawke was famous by proxy when she landed the role of Robin Buckley on "Stranger Things." Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman's daughter came aboard the Netflix hit ahead of the third season, when all the established cast members were getting hefty pay rises. The other "teens" on the show (Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, and Joe Keery, aka the "C tier") took home $150,000 per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter, though whether or not Hawke came straight in on that salary is unclear. What we do know is that she's already amassed a sizeable fortune for such a young star.

Her net worth might not be anything close to her mom and dad's (who are worth $45 million and $55 million respectively), but Hawke has quietly gone about establishing herself in both the acting and music worlds. She opened strong when she debuted in the BBC's critically acclaimed three-part adaptation of "Little Women" in 2017, and she went on to feature in a handful of films (including Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood") in the years that followed. Her debut album "Blush," described as "a tender, forthright collection of folk-rock tales of the heart" by NME, dropped in 2020. All in all, the multi-talented celebrity scion is said to be worth approximately $3 million.

Caleb McLaughlin is launching a music career

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Caleb McLaughlin in the role of Lucas Sinclair, but that was almost the case. The New Yorker learned how to act at the Pied Piper Children's Theatre in NYC and debuted on Broadway prior to "Stranger Things," playing Young Simba in "The Lion King." He was met with a spate of rejections when he first tried to break into TV, however. "I was a little bit upset about that," he told Backstage. "I was about to tell my mom I didn't want to audition for ['Stranger Things'], but then I was like, 'You know what? I'll do it because this is what I wanna do, I wanna act.'"

It was a wise decision by McLaughlin, who has been part of the main "Stranger Things" cast ever since. He reportedly made $30,000 per episode during the first two seasons, which is far from chump change when you're barely a teenager. According to both Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, McLaughlin saw his pay rise to as much as $250,000 per episode for Season 3, contributing significantly to his net worth of $3 million. That figure is likely to go up now that he's established himself on the big screen with a critically acclaimed turn opposite Idris Elba in "Concrete Cowboy," and McLaughlin has revealed that he plans on dropping an album, too. "It's like neo-soul, R&B, a lot of Afrobeats," he explained while on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in April 2021. He's since released songs like "Soul Travel" and "Neighborhood."

Noah Schnapp is a TikTok star

It's no secret that "Strangers Things" was heavily influenced by the work of Steven Spielberg, who just so happens to be the first director that Noah Schnapp ever worked with. He was just 9 years old when he landed a role in the film "Bridge of Spies," playing the son of Tom Hanks. "I learned everything I know now," he told Paper magazine. "Tom Hanks is my role model, and I really just hope to be like him when I'm older. Just really successful and have a lot of experience in different movies, but still stay grounded and a nice person." Schnapp is off to a good start — not only is he well-liked (especially on TikTok, where he has an army of followers), he's been working hard to kickstart his movie career.

In 2020, Schnapp appeared in the Adam Sandler-led Netflix film "Hubie Halloween," but that same year he proved that he wants to be taken seriously as an actor. The teen took on the lead role in the World War II film "Waiting for Anya," a project close to his heart. "I'm Jewish, so it really resonates with me," he said. He remains best known for the role of Will Byers in "Stranger Things," however, which is (more or less) what gives him a net worth of $3 million. Like his young co-stars, Schnapp was reportedly bumped up to $250,000 per episode for Season 3.

Joe Keery isn't selling out

He rubbed shoulders with Ryan Reynolds in his first big Hollywood movie (2021's "Free Guy"), but Joe Keery didn't have particularly lofty ambitions when he first jumped into the acting game. "My goal pretty much was like, 'If you could just pay your rent, then you're doing great and that's fine,'" he told GQ in 2021. His first gig after graduating from Chicago's DePaul University was waiting tables, but roles slowly began to trickle in. He booked a few commercials, and guest spots on "Sirens," "Chicago Fire," and "Empire" followed, but Keery was back working in a burger joint by mid-2015. That's when he learned that he'd secured the part of Steve Harrington.

"I figured I was going to get killed, to be honest with you, because I played the douchey sort of boyfriend, which is the first guy to die," Keery told the men's mag. The creators of the show did intend on killing Steve off during the first season, but Keery's nuanced performance made them think twice. Come Season 2, he was part of the main cast and a firm fan favorite. His salary jumped to "roughly $150,000 an episode" for Season 3 according to The Hollywood Reporter, and with a net worth of around $4 million, he's very comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that he was able to turn down a "bunch of money" when a hair-care brand came calling. "It would be a sellout move," he said.

Natalia Dyer has appeared in multiple movies

Natalia Dyer was a theater kid growing up, but she caught the movie bug after landing the role of Clarissa Granger in 2009's "Hannah Montana: The Movie." She told Backstage that she "must've been 13 or 14" years old at the time. "I was only there for a couple days, but it was huge," she added. "That opened the door in its own way to other things, [but] it's hard to talk about a big break and not talk about 'Stranger Things.'" The Netflix hit has certainly boosted Dyer's profile considerably, and her net worth has grown along with it. According to The Hollywood Reporter, she pocketed $150,000 per episode for "Stranger Things" Season 3, a cool $1.2 million in total.

She's a genuine TV star these days, but Dyer has been working hard to establish herself on the big screen, too. The Nashville native has plied her trade in several feature films in recent years (she appeared in five movies in 2019 alone, including the critically acclaimed "Yes, God, Yes"), cementing her fame and bolstering her fortune. Dyer is thought to be worth around $4 million, though you won't see her bragging about it. Unlike some of her castmates, she's not into social media and only uses it for vital updates. "Some people really enjoy it," she told Elle. "For me, it kind of just seems like a lot of anxiety and asks a lot."

Charlie Heaton became an overnight sensation

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Charlie Heaton (who portrays Jonathan Byers on "Stranger Things") is considered a "C tier" star by producers, the same category that Joe Keery and Natalia Dyer fall into. Like Keery and Dyer, Heaton was contracted to $150,000 per episode for the third season of the show and likely has a net worth in the same region (around $4 million), bolstered by the fashion campaigns he's fronted since hitting the big time. The British actor has had a "crazy trajectory," he told GQ, revealing, "I went from literally living in a hostel in L.A. at the beginning of 2015 to shooting 'Stranger Things' at the end of 2015."

Heaton turned to acting after his band, Comanechi, broke up. He only had a couple of minor credits to his name when he managed to win over Matt and Ross Duffer, the creators of the hit Netflix show, during a Skype call. "They said they were looking for people who weren't necessarily known actors, and I told them how much I related to this character as I was from a working class background and really into music," the Yorkshire native told the Evening Standard. "I was flown over to the U.S. for a screen test and got the role very quickly. Then it came out and almost overnight it became a phenomenon." He went on to land the role of Samuel "Sam" Guthrie (a.k.a Cannonball) in the superhero flick "The New Mutants."

Finn Wolfhard is a model and movie star

Finn Wolfhard's road to stardom began on Craigslist, of all places. "You could go on Craigslist and search for gigs," the Vancouver native told The Observer. "And some were, like, sketchy, but you would also find, like, 'Looking for eight-to-11-year-old boy and girl to play younger versions of Canadian indie band.'" He appeared in his first music video at the age of 9 and would go on to play in bands himself (he's currently one-half of the indie-pop duo The Aubreys and was previously a part of Calpurnia), but he's best known for his portrayal of Mike Wheeler on "Stranger Things."

Wolfhard managed to land small roles in "The 100" and "Supernatural" after turning his attention to television, but his film career got off to a false start. He secured a part in a movie that would eventually fall through, leaving him disillusioned, he told The Observer. He was "sick in bed and almost considering not even acting" anymore when the Duffer brothers commenced their search for an unknown cast of kids, but he sent in an audition tape anyway, and the rest is history.

He pocketed $30,000 per episode during the first two seasons of "Stranger Things," but that jumped to an eye-watering quarter of a million per episode for Season 3, per Deadline. With added paychecks from the "It" movies and "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," as well as his Saint Laurent campaign, Wolfhard has a net worth of at least $4 million.

Gaten Matarazzo produces his own Netflix show

Gaten Matarazzo is the last of the group of actors reportedly referred to as the "B tier," the four main kids that make up the original Party in "Stranger Things." According to The Hollywood Reporter, Matarazzo (who plays fan-favorite Dustin Henderson) got the exact same deal as Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, and Noah Schnapp did when contracts were renegotiated ahead of Season 3: his pay shot up from $30,000 to $250,000 per episode. According to Celebrity Net Worth, however, he is worth around a million dollars more than his cohorts. The website's sources say that Matarazzo — who played Gavroche in the Broadway production of Les Miserables in 2014 and made his TV debut on "The Blacklist" the following year — has a total worth of $5 million.

While a good chunk of Matarazzo's fortune came from his "Stranger Things" third season haul, that's not the only Netflix money he's getting. The young actor earned himself another paycheck from the streamer when he agreed to a deal to host (and executive produce) the show "Prank Encounters," which already has two seasons. More recently, Matarazzo has been earning the bucks with voice acting. He played Bubba in "The Angry Birds Movie 2," voiced Casey the Electrician in the children's cooking series "Waffles + Mochi" (another Netflix production), and he took on the lead role in the animated indie feature "Hump."

David Harbour had a career revival

We've discussed the "C tier" and "B tier" levels of pay given to the younger stars of "Stranger Things," but what about the established actors? The "A tier" money is reserved for the two adult stars of the show, Winona Ryder and David Harbour. Both Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter say that the pair pocketed as much as $350,000 per episode for Season 3, making them the top earners. Harbour's turn as the rugged police chief Jim Hopper kickstarted a career revival for the actor, who had fallen out of love with film and TV. "In Hollywood, I was relegated to number six or seven on the call sheet; I was basically the guy who runs after Denzel with a gun," he told The Guardian.

During his chat with The Guardian, Harbour revealed that "Stranger Things" felt like his last chance to make it in Hollywood. It wasn't until he landed the role that he realized he had been building up to it his whole life. "It makes total sense that I didn't have success until I was able to embody in age the stories that I felt like I was born to tell," he said. He's become part of the furniture in Hollywood since "Stranger Things" blew up, even joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Alexei Shostakov (aka the Red Guardian) in "Black Widow." Sources say David Harbour has a net worth of around $6 million.

Millie Bobby Brown was the breakout star of the show

When the press first caught wind that Netflix was significantly upping the salaries of the "Stranger Things" cast ahead of Season 3, nobody could provide a concrete figure on Millie Bobby Brown, the breakout star of the show. Brown's turn as psychokinetic runaway Eleven propelled her to superstardom (she was nominated for Emmys in both 2017 and 2018), and she found herself in a strong position when it came to contract talks. Deadline said that the Brit was "believed to have landed a bigger raise than her young counterparts," and that checked out with The Hollywood Reporter, which claimed that she was "in her own tier of $300,000 in between the adults and the other kids."

A few months later, Variety reported that Brown was actually getting $350,000 per "Stranger Things" episode (the same amount as David Harbour and Winona Ryder) for Season 3 and was "set to collect additional fees" on top of that. Netflix apparently went above and beyond to keep Brown on board, knowing full well that movie offers were coming. 

She made her big-screen debut in 2019's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" and reprised her role in the 2021 sequel "Godzilla vs. Kong." The two blockbusters sandwiched Brown's critically acclaimed adventure film "Enola Holmes," which she also produced. With a second "Enola Holmes" on the way as of this writing and more "Stranger Things" on the horizon, Brown's net worth of $10 million will continue to rise.

Winona Ryder is the richest Stranger Things cast member by far

We told you the richest "Stranger Things" cast member might surprise you! While Millie Bobby Brown has managed to pull ahead of all the boys, she's still not quite on a level with Winona Ryder, who has been making money in Hollywood for decades. Just like the young stars of the Netflix show, Ryder began her career as a child, earning acclaim for her performances in films like "Beetlejuice," "Heathers," and "Edward Scissorhands." She received Oscar nominations for "The Age of Innocence" and "Little Women" in the mid-90s, and was flying high at the end of the decade, having starred in (and executive produced) "Girl, Interrupted."

Ryder fell off the radar in the 2000s, a combination of her bizarre shoplifting conviction ("Psychologically, I must have been at a place where I just wanted to stop," she told Porter magazine, via Entertainment Tonight) and Hollywood not knowing what to do with her. Her comeback began in 2009 when she played Spock's mother in "Star Trek," forcing viewers to see her in a new light. She followed that up with Best Picture nominee "Black Swan," and would reclaim her place on the A-list when "Stranger Things" exploded. There's been little intel on Season 4 pay grades, but a Variety report released in 2021 suggested that Ryder (whose net worth is estimated to be $18 million) was now earning up to $400,000 per episode of "Stranger Things."